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Title: Bird Neighbors - An Introductory Acquaintance with One Hundred and Fifity - Birds Commonly Found in the Gardens, Meadows, and Woods - About Our Homes
Author: Blanchan, Neltje, 1865-1918
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Bird Neighbors - An Introductory Acquaintance with One Hundred and Fifity - Birds Commonly Found in the Gardens, Meadows, and Woods - About Our Homes" ***

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  [Illustration: GOLDFINCH]





  [Printer's Logo]


  COPYRIGHT, 1904, 1922, BY







  INTRODUCTION BY JOHN BURROUGHS                                   vii

  PREFACE                                                           ix

  LIST OF COLORED PLATES                                            xi


         Their Characteristics and the Representatives of Each
           Family included in "Bird Neighbors"                       1

   II. HABITATS OF BIRDS                                            17

  III. SEASONS OF BIRDS                                             25

   IV. BIRDS GROUPED ACCORDING TO SIZE                              33


         Birds Conspicuously Black                                  39

         Birds Conspicuously Black and White                        51

         Dusky, Gray, and Slate-colored Birds                       65

         Blue and Bluish Birds                                      97

         Brown, Olive or Grayish Brown, and Brown and
           Gray Sparrowy Birds                                     113

         Green, Greenish Gray, Olive, and Yellowish Olive Birds    167

         Birds Conspicuously Yellow and Orange                     187

         Birds Conspicuously Red of any Shade                      213

  INDEX                                                            229


Not to have so much as a bowing acquaintance with the birds that nest
in our gardens or under the very eaves of our houses; that haunt our
wood-piles; keep our fruit-trees free from slugs; waken us with their
songs, and enliven our walks along the roadside and through the woods,
seems to be, at least, a breach of etiquette toward some of our most
kindly disposed neighbors.

Birds of prey, game and water birds are not included in the book. The
following pages are intended to be nothing more than a familiar
introduction to the birds that live near us. Even in the principal
park of a great city like New York, a bird-lover has found more than
one hundred and thirty species; as many, probably, as could be
discovered in the same sized territory anywhere.

The plan of the book is not a scientific one, if the term scientific
is understood to mean technical and anatomical. The purpose of the
writer is to give, in a popular and accessible form, knowledge which
is accurate and reliable about the life of our common birds. This
knowledge has not been collected from the stuffed carcasses of birds
in museums, but gleaned afield. In a word, these short narrative
descriptions treat of the bird's characteristics of size, color, and
flight; its peculiarities of instinct and temperament; its nest and
home life; its choice of food; its songs; and of the season in which
we may expect it to play its part in the great panorama Nature unfolds
with faithful precision year after year. They are an attempt to make
the bird so live before the reader that, when seen out of doors, its
recognition shall be instant and cordial, like that given to a friend.

The coloring described in this book is sometimes more vivid than that
found in the works of some learned authorities whose conflicting
testimony is often sadly bewildering to the novice. In different parts
of the country, and at different seasons of the year, the plumage of
some birds undergoes many changes. The reader must remember,
therefore, that the specimens examined and described were not, as
before stated, the faded ones in our museums, but live birds in their
fresh, spring plumage, studied afield.

The birds have been classed into color groups, in the belief that this
method, more than any other will make identification most easy. The
color of the bird is the first, and often the only, characteristic
noticed. But they have also been classified according to the
localities for which they show decided preferences and in which they
are most likely to be found. Again, they have been grouped according
to the season when they may be expected. In the brief paragraphs that
deal with groups of birds separated into the various families
represented in the book, the characteristics and traits of each clan
are clearly emphasized. By these several aids it is believed the
merest novice will be able to quickly identify any bird neighbor that
is neither local nor rare.

To the uninitiated or uninterested observer, all small, dull-colored
birds are "common sparrows." The closer scrutiny of the trained eye
quickly differentiates, and picks out not only the Song, the Canada,
and the Fox Sparrows, but finds a dozen other familiar friends where
one who "has eyes and sees not" does not even suspect their presence.
Ruskin says: "The more I think of it, I find this conclusion more
impressed upon me, that the greatest thing a human soul ever does in
this world is to _see_ something. Hundreds of people can talk for one
who can think, but thousands can think for one who can see. To see
clearly is poetry, prophecy, and religion--all in one."

While the author is indebted to all the time-honored standard
authorities, and to many ornithologists of the present day--too many
for individual mention--it is to Mr. John Burroughs her deepest debt
is due. To this clear-visioned prophet, who has opened the blind eyes
of thousands to the delights that Nature holds within our easy reach,
she would gratefully acknowledge many obligations; first of all, for
the plan on which "Bird Neighbors" is arranged; next, for his patient
kindness in reading and annotating the manuscript of the book; and,
not least, for the inspiration of his perennially charming writings
that are so largely responsible for the ready-made audience now
awaiting writers on out-of-door topics.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is hoped that the illustrations in this edition of "Bird Neighbors"
will do much to add to the pleasure and profit of the reader. Through
the courtesy of the National Association of Audubon Societies, the
pictures painted by artists who are specialists in bird portraiture
embellish this book. Each portrait has been examined and corrected
when necessary by an authority. The birds are pictured as they are in
life, each according to its own habit of existence.

The author takes this opportunity to express her appreciation of the
work the National Association of Audubon Societies has done and is
doing to prevent the slaughter of birds in all parts of the United
States, to develop bird sanctuaries and inaugurate protective
legislation. Indeed to it, more than to all other agencies combined,
is due the credit of eliminating so much of the Prussian like cruelty
toward birds that once characterized American treatment of them, from
the rising generation.

                                                      NELTJE BLANCHAN.



I do not propose in these introductory remarks to this Nature Library
to discuss the merits or the character of the separate volumes further
than to say that they are all by competent hands and, so far as I can
judge, entirely reliable. While accurate and scientific, I have found
them very readable. The treatment is popular without being

This library is free from the scientific dry rot on the one hand and
from the florid and misleading romanticism of much recent nature
writing on the other. It is a safe guide to the world of animal and
plant life that lies about us. And that is all the wise reader wants.
He should want to explore this world for himself. Indeed,
nature-study, as it appeals to us in books, fails of its chief end if
it does not send us to nature itself. What we want is not the mere
facts about the flowers or the animals--we want through them to add to
the resources of our lives; and I know of nothing better calculated to
do this than the study of nature at first hand. To add to the
resources of one's life--think how much that means! To add to those
things that make us more at home in the world; that help guard us
against ennui and stagnation; that invest the country with new
interest and enticement; that make every walk in the fields or woods
an excursion into a land of unexhausted treasures; that make the
returning seasons fill us with expectation and delight; that make
every rod of ground like the page of a book in which new and strange
things may be read; in short, those things that help keep us fresh and
sane and young, and make us immune to the strife and fever of the

The main thing is to feel an interest in Nature--an interest that
leads to a loving unconscious study of her. Not entirely a scientific
interest, but a human interest as well; science upon the one hand and
an appreciation of the mystery, the beauty, and the bounty of life
upon the other. The child feels a human interest in nature: when the
schoolgirls come to school with their hands full of wild flowers, or
the boys make excursions to the woods in May for wintergreens, or
black birch, or crinkle root, they are all moved by an interest that
is old and deep-seated in the race. Now, if to this interest and
curiosity we can add a little science, just enough to guide them, we
lift these feelings to another plane and give them a longer lease of
life. The boy will not be so likely to rob birds' nests after the
savage in him has been humanized by a touch of real knowledge and he
has come to look upon the bird as something worthy of naming and
studying and that has its place in the economy of the fields and

A touch of real knowledge--how humanizing and elevating it is! Simply
to learn that all the plants have been studied and named, even the
humblest; that they all have vital relations with one another--family
ties; that the great biological laws are operative in them also; that
the deep, mysterious principle of variation, which is at the bottom of
Darwin's theory of the origin of the species, is working in the
lowliest plant we tread upon; to know that the chain of cause and
effect runs through the whole organic world, binding together its
remotest parts; that everywhere is plan, development, evolution--to
know these and kindred things--a few of the fundamentals of
science--is a joy to the spirit and a light to the mind.

Science in the world is like the surveyor and the engineer in a new
country; it opens up highways for the mind; it bridges the chasms and
marshes; it gives us dominion over the wild; it brings order out of
chaos. What a maze, what a tangle the world is till we come to look
upon it with the clews and solutions in mind which science affords!
The heavens seem a haphazard spatter of stars, the earth a wild jumble
of plants, and animals, and blind forces all struggling with one
another--confusion, contradiction, failure everywhere. And so it was
to the early men, and so it still is to those who have not the light
of science, but so it need not remain to the child born into the world
to-day. The great mysteries of life and death, of final causes and
ultimate ends, still remain and will continue, but nature now,
compared with the nature of a few centuries ago, is like a land
subdued and peopled and cultivated compared with a pathless
wilderness. And yet I would not in this connection, when considering
the field of natural history, lay too much stress upon the scientific
aspects of the question. To the real nature-lover the bird in the bush
is worth much more than the bird in the hand, because the nature-lover
is not after a specimen: he is after a living fact; he is after a new
joy in life.

It is an important part, but by no means the main part of what
ornithology holds for us, to be able to name every bird on sight or
call. To love the bird, to appreciate its place in the landscape and
in the season, to relate it to your daily life, to divine its
character, to know it emotionally in your heart--that is much more. To
know the birds as the sportsman knows his game; to experience the same
thrill, purged of all thoughts of slaughter; to make their songs music
in your life--this is indeed something to be desired.

The same with botany. I regard its class-room uses as very slight. The
educational value of the technical part is almost _nil_. But the
humanizing value of a love of the flowers, the hygienic value of a
walk in their haunts, the æsthetic value of the observation of their
forms and tints--these are all vital. The scientific value which
attaches to your knowledge of the names of their parts or of their
families--what is that? Their habits are interesting; their means of
fertilization are interesting; the part insects play in their
lives--the honey-yielders, the pollen-yielders, their means of
scattering their seeds, and so forth--all are interesting. To know
their habitats and seasons; to have associations with them when you go
fishing; to land your trout in a bed of bee-palm or jewel-weed; to
pluck the linnæa in the moss on the Adirondack mountain you are
climbing; to gather pond-lilies from a boat with your friend; to pluck
the arbutus on the first balmy day of April; to see the scarlet
lobelia lighting up a dark nook by the stream as you row by in August;
to walk or drive past vast acres of purple loosestrife, looking like a
lake or sea of color--this is botany with something back of it, and
the only place to learn it is where it grows. The botany that trails
the days and the season and the woods and the fields with it--that is
the kind that has educational value in it.

I confess I have not much sympathy with the laboratory study of
nature, except for economic purposes. Nature under the dissecting
knife and the microscope yields important secrets to the students of
biology, but the unprofessional students want but little of all this.
I know a young woman who took a post-graduate course in biology at a
noted summer school, and the one thing she learned was that certain
bacilli were found only in the aqueous humor of the eyes of white
mice. The world is full of curious facts like that, that have no human
interest or educational value whatever.

If one could number all the trees of the forest and all the leaves
upon the trees, what would it profit him? To know the different kinds
of trees when you see them, and the function of the leaves upon
them--that were more worth while. I have read studies of leaves that
were just as profitless as to know their numbers. I have heard
discourses upon the changes in the plumage of certain water-fowl from
youth to age, and from one moult to another, that were as profitless
and wearisome as studying the variations of the leaves or their

I hardly know why I am impatient when people come to me with their
hands full of different leaves and ask me what tree is this from, and
this, and this? If your business is not with trees, if you live in the
city and care mainly for city things, why bother about the trees,
unless for the pleasure of it during your summer excursions into the
country; and if it affords you pleasure, you will not want any one to
tell you: you will want to identify the trees themselves.

The same with the birds. The main profit of this branch of natural
history is in the pursuit--not in the name, but in the bird. It is the
chase that allures the sportsman, and it is the chase that profits the
nature-student. Did you ever receive a gift of brook-trout by express?
How pitiful they look--stale fish only! But the trout you brought in
at night after threading for miles the mountain stream: its voice all
day in your ears; its sparkle all day in your eyes; the love of its
beauty and purity all day in your heart; wading through bee-balm or
jewel-weed; skirting wild pastures; starting the grouse or the
woodcock with their young; surprising bird and beast at their home
occupations--these were trout with a flavor.

Whatever opens up new doors or windows for us into the world about us,
whatever widens the field of our interests and sympathies, has some
sort of value--moral, intellectual, or æsthetic. But much of the
so-called nature-study opens no new doors or windows; it affords no
mental satisfaction, or illumination, or æsthetic pleasure; it is
mainly pottering with dry, unimportant facts and details. Do you know
the edelweiss of our own matchless arbutus after you have merely
analyzed and classified them? No more than you know a man after having
weighed and measured him. The function of things is always
interesting. What do they do? How do they pay their way in the rigid
economy of nature? How do they survive? How does the bulb of the
common fawn-lily[1] get deeper and deeper into the ground each year?
Why does the wild ginger hide its blossom when nearly all other plants
flaunt theirs? Why are the plants of the common mouse-ear
(_antennaria_)[2] always in groups, one sex here, another there, as if
prohibited from mingling by some moral code in nature? Why do nearly
all our trees have a twist to the right or the left--hard woods one
way, and soft woods the other? Why do the roots of trees flow through
the ground like "runnels of molten metal," often separating and
uniting again while the branches are thrust out in right lines or
curves? Why is our common yellow birch more often than any other tree
planted upon a rock? Why do oaks or chestnuts so often spring up where
a pine or hemlock forest has been cleared away? Why does lightning so
commonly strike a hemlock tree or a pine or an oak, and rarely or
never a beech? Why does the bolt sometimes scatter the tree about, and
at others only plow a channel down its trunk? Why does the bumblebee
complain so loudly when working upon certain flowers? Why does the
honey-bee lose the sting when it stings a person, while the wasp, the
hornet, and the bumblebee do not? How does the chimney-swallow get the
twigs it builds its nest with? From what does the hornet make its

One of Herbert Spencer's questions was, Why do animals and birds of
prey have their eyes in front, and others, as sheep and domestic fowl,
on the side of the head? Man, then, by the position of his eyes
belongs to the predaceous animals. I have never been greatly
interested in spiders, but I have always wanted to know how a certain
spider managed to stretch her cable squarely across the road in the
woods about my height from the ground? Why are mud turtles so wild?
Why is the excrement of the young of some birds carried away by the
parents, while with others it is voided from the nest? Among certain
of our birds the family relation, more or less marked, is kept up a
long time after the young have left the nest. One sees the parent
birds and the young going about in loose flocks often till late into
the fall. Of what birds is this true?

   [1] The adder's tongue.

   [2] Everlasting.

The questions I have suggested are not important; they do not hold the
key to any great storehouse of natural knowledge. Their only value is
as a means to quicken the powers of observation. We see vaguely,
diffusely. Concentrate the attention--not to the extent of missing
total effects, as the specialist so often does, but for the purpose of
reading correctly the play of life that is constantly going about us.

Nature's book is like any other book: you must open the covers; you
must fix your eyes upon the text; you must get into the spirit of it.
When you have read one sentence correctly you are so much the better
prepared to read the next one.

A world of nature about us that we are quite apt to be oblivious to,
except as it results in our annoyance, is the insect world. We do not
take an intelligent interest in the ants, or the bees, or the moths,
or the butterflies, yet here is a field of observation that will amply
repay one. One day in a great city I saw a butterfly calmly winging
its way high above the crowded street. I knew it was the monarch
(_Anosia plexippus_), probably the greatest traveler of all our
butterflies. It is quite certain that they migrate to the South in the
fall, and that many return in the spring. I learn from Mr. Holland's
Butterfly Book in this library that they have even crossed both
oceans--of course, by catching a ride on vessels--and are now found in
Australia and in the Philippines, and they have been collected in
England. Have you not seen its chrysalis suspended from some weed or
bush, looking like the trunk from some tiny warrior encased in
pale-green armor, riveted with gold-headed rivets, a broad, heavy
shield over the abdomen, and plate upon plate over the shoulders and
back? It is a milkweed butterfly, and will serve as a good
introduction to this new world of winged life. Early last spring I
found upon the window of my cabin in the woods a butterfly that had
evidently hybernated in some snug crack or corner of the building.
This was the mourning cloak, with me the first vernal butterfly. When
one sees this butterfly dancing through the open sunny woods in March
or early April he may know spring has really come and that the first
hepatica will soon open its blue eye.

Mr. Howard's Insect Book ought to start many of its readers to
observing flies and bees and prying into their life-histories, many of
which are as yet not fully known. Not a farm-boy but knows of the big
fat grubs in cows' backs in the spring. It was always a mystery to me
how they got there. Now it is known that the creature has traveled all
the way from the cow's stomach, where the egg of its parent--the
bot-fly--was hatched, making its way slowly "through the connective
tissues of the cow, between the skin and the flesh, penetrating
gradually along the neck, and ultimately reaching a point beneath the
skin on the back of the animal."

We have only to look into nature a little more closely and intently,
to whet our powers of observation by the use of such books as this
Nature Library contains, to add vastly to our pleasure in and our
knowledge of the world that lies about us.


I write these few introductory sentences to this volume only to second
so worthy an attempt to quicken and enlarge the general interest in
our birds. The book itself is merely an introduction, and is only
designed to place a few clews in the reader's hands which he himself
or herself is to follow up. I can say that it is reliable and is
written in a vivacious strain and by a real bird lover, and should
prove a help and a stimulus to any one who seeks by the aid of its
pages to become better acquainted with our songsters. The pictures,
with a few exceptions, are remarkably good and accurate, and these,
with the various grouping of the birds according to color, season,
habitat, etc., ought to render the identification of the birds, with
no other weapon than an opera glass, an easy matter.

When I began the study of the birds I had access to a copy of Audubon,
which greatly stimulated my interest in the pursuit, but I did not
have the opera glass, and I could not take Audubon with me on my
walks, as the reader may this volume, and he will find these colored
plates quite as helpful as those of Audubon or Wilson.

But you do not want to make out your bird the first time; the book or
your friend must not make the problem too easy for you. You must go
again and again, and see and hear your bird under varying conditions
and get a good hold of several of its characteristic traits. Things
easily learned are apt to be easily forgotten. Some ladies, beginning
the study of birds, once wrote to me, asking if I would not please
come and help them, and set them right about certain birds in dispute.
I replied that that would be getting their knowledge too easily; that
what I and any one else told them they would be very apt to forget,
but that the things they found out themselves they would always
remember. We must in a way earn what we have or keep. Only thus does
it become _ours_, a real part of us.

Not very long afterward I had the pleasure of walking with one of the
ladies, and I found her eye and ear quite as sharp as my own, and that
she was in a fair way to conquer the bird kingdom without any outside
help. She said that the groves and fields, through which she used to
walk with only a languid interest, were now completely transformed to
her and afforded her the keenest pleasure; a whole new world of
interest had been disclosed to her; she felt as if she was constantly
on the eve of some new discovery; the next turn in the path might
reveal to her a new warbler or a new vireo. I remember the thrill she
seemed to experience when I called her attention to a purple finch
singing in the tree-tops in front of her house, a rare visitant she
had not before heard. The thrill would of course have been greater had
she identified the bird without my aid. One would rather bag one's own
game, whether it be with a bullet or an eyebeam.

The experience of this lady is the experience of all in whom is
kindled this bird enthusiasm. A new interest is added to life; one
more resource against ennui and stagnation. If you have only a city
yard with a few sickly trees in it, you will find great delight in
noting the numerous stragglers from the great army of spring and
autumn migrants that find their way there. If you live in the country,
it is as if new eyes and new ears were given you, with a
correspondingly increased capacity for rural enjoyment.

The birds link themselves to your memory of seasons and places, so
that a song, a call, a gleam of color, set going a sequence of
delightful reminiscences in your mind. When a solitary great Carolina
wren came one August day and took up its abode near me and sang and
called and warbled as I had heard it long before on the Potomac, how
it brought the old days, the old scenes back again, and made me for
the moment younger by all those years!

A few seasons ago I feared the tribe of bluebirds were on the verge of
extinction from the enormous number of them that perished from cold
and hunger in the South in the winter of '94. For two summers not a
blue wing, not a blue warble. I seemed to miss something kindred and
precious from my environment--the visible embodiment of the tender sky
and the wistful soil. What a loss, I said, to the coming generations
of dwellers in the country--no bluebird in the spring! What will the
farm-boy date from? But the fear was groundless: the birds are
regaining their lost ground; broods of young blue-coats are again seen
drifting from stake to stake or from mullen-stalk to mullen-stalk
about the fields in summer, and our April air will doubtless again be
warmed and thrilled by this lovely harbinger of spring.


    _August 17, 07._


                                                           FACING PAGE

  KINGBIRD                                                          12
  MOCKING-BIRD                                                      13
  CROW                                                              28
  RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD                                              29
  PURPLE MARTIN                                                     44
  DOWNY WOODPECKER                                                  45
  TOWHEES                                                           58
  ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS                                           59
  BOBOLINKS                                                         74
  PHOEBE                                                            75
  CHICKADEE                                                         78
  TUFTED TITMOUSE                                                   79
  CATBIRD                                                           86
  WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH                                           87
  CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER                                            94
  BLUE BIRD                                                         95
  KINGFISHER                                                       102
  BLUE JAY                                                         103
  BARN SWALLOW                                                     110
  MOURNING DOVE                                                    111
  HOUSE WREN                                                       118
  BROWN THRASHER                                                   119
  VEERY                                                            126
  WOOD THRUSH                                                      127
  FLICKER                                                          134
  MEADOWLARK                                                       135
  HORNED LARK                                                      138
  WHIPPOORWILL                                                     139
  NIGHT HAWK                                                       154
  YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO                                             155
  CEDAR WAXWING                                                    158
  CHIPPING SPARROW                                                 159
  SONG SPARROW                                                     166
  TREE SPARROW                                                     167
  WHITE-THROATED SPARROW                                           170
  TREE SWALLOW                                                     171
  RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS                                       186
  RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET                                             187
  REDSTART                                                         190
  BALTIMORE ORIOLE                                                 191
  CARDINAL                                                         198
  SCARLET TANAGER                                                  199
  RED CROSSBILL                                                    226
  PURPLE FINCH                                                     226
  ROBIN                                                            226
  ORCHARD ORIOLE                                                   227


                                                           FACING PAGE

  CROW ON NEST                                                      16
  YOUNG FLICKERS ON DAY OF LEAVING NEST                             24
  WINTER VISITORS: REDPOLLS                                         25
  YOUNG KINGFISHERS                                                 48
  GRACKLE'S NEST AND YOUNG                                          49
  YELLOWBIRD'S NEST, SHOWING COWBIRD'S EGG                          54
    WEEKS OLD                                                       55
  ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS, SIX DAYS OLD                             55
  CHIMNEY SWIFT                                                     66
  YOUNG MOCKING-BIRD                                               107
  HUNGRY YOUNG MOCKING-BIRDS                                       107
  A CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER FAMILY                                  122
  FIELD SPARROW BABIES                                             203
  MOTHER OVENBIRD IN NEST; A BABY BIRD ON IT                       218
  THE ROBIN'S MUD-WALLED NURSERY                                   219




_Family Cuculidæ_: CUCKOOS

Long, pigeon-shaped birds, whose backs are grayish brown with a bronze
lustre and whose under parts are whitish. Bill long and curved. Tail
long; raised and drooped slowly while the bird is perching. Two toes
point forward and two backward. Call-note loud and like a tree-toad's
rattle. Song lacking. Birds of low trees and undergrowth, where they
also nest; partial to neighborhood of streams, or wherever the tent
caterpillar is abundant. Habits rather solitary, silent, and
eccentric. Migratory.

    Yellow-billed Cuckoo.
    Black-billed Cuckoo.

_Family Alcedinidæ_: KINGFISHERS

Large, top-heavy birds of streams and ponds. Usually seen perching
over the water looking for fish. Head crested; upper parts slate-blue;
underneath white, and belted with blue or rusty. Bill large and heavy.
Middle and outer toes joined for half their length. Call-note loud and
prolonged, like a policeman's rattle. Solitary birds; little inclined
to rove from a chosen locality. Migratory.

    Belted Kingfisher.


_Family Picidæ_: WOODPECKERS

Medium-sized and small birds, usually with plumage black and white,
and always with some red feathers about the head. (The flicker is
brownish and yellow instead of black and white.) Stocky,
high-shouldered build; bill strong and long for drilling holes in bark
of trees. Tail feathers pointed and stiffened to serve as a prop. Two
toes before and two behind for clinging. Usually seen clinging erect
on tree-trunks; rarely, if ever, head downward, like the nuthatches,
titmice, etc. Woodpeckers feed as they creep around the trunks and
branches. Habits rather phlegmatic. The flicker has better developed
vocal powers than other birds of this class, whose rolling tattoo,
beaten with their bills against the tree-trunks, must answer for their
love-song. Nest in hollowed-out trees.

    Red-headed Woodpecker.
    Hairy Woodpecker.
    Downy Woodpecker.
    Yellow-bellied Woodpecker.



Medium-sized, mottled brownish, gray, black, and white birds of heavy
build. Short, thick head; gaping, large mouth; very small bill, with
bristles at base. Take insect food on the wing. Feet small and weak;
wings long and powerful. These birds rest lengthwise on their perch
while sleeping through the brightest daylight hours, or on the ground,
where they nest.


_Family Micropolidæ_: SWIFTS

Sooty, dusky birds seen on the wing, never resting except in chimneys
of houses, or hollow trees, where they nest. Tips of tail feathers
with sharp spines, used as props. They show their kinship with the
goatsuckers in their nocturnal as well as diurnal habits, their small
bills and large mouths for catching insects or the wing, and their
weak feet. Gregarious, especially at the nesting season.

    Chimney Swift.

_Family Trochilidæ_: HUMMING-BIRDS

Very small birds with green plumage (iridescent red or orange breast
in males); long, needle-shaped bill for extracting insects and nectar
from deep-cupped flowers, and exceedingly rapid, darting flight. Small

    Ruby-throated Humming-bird.

_Order Passeres_: PERCHING BIRDS

_Family Tyrannidæ_: FLYCATCHERS

Small and medium-sized dull, dark-olive, or gray birds, with big heads
that are sometimes crested. Bills hooked at end, and with bristles at
base. Harsh or plaintive voices. Wings longer than tail; both wings
and tails usually drooped and vibrating when the birds are perching.
Habits moody and silent when perching on a conspicuous limb, telegraph
wire, dead tree, or fence rail and waiting for insects to fly within
range. Sudden, nervous, spasmodic sallies in midair to seize insects
on the wing. Usually they return to their identical perch or lookout.
Pugnacious and fearless. Excellent nest builders and devoted mates.

    Wood Pewee.
    Acadian Flycatcher.
    Great Crested Flycatcher.
    Least Flycatcher.
    Olive-sided Flycatcher.
    Yellow-bellied Flycatcher.
    Say's Flycatcher.

_Family Alaudidæ_: LARKS

The only true larks to be found in this country are the two species
given below. They are the kin of the European skylark, of which
several unsuccessful attempts to introduce the bird have been made in
this country. These two larks must not be confused with the meadow
larks and titlarks, which belong to the blackbird and pipit families
respectively. The horned larks are birds of the ground, and are seen
in the United States only in the autumn and winter. In the nesting
season at the North their voices are most musical. Plumage grayish and
brown, in color harmony with their habitats. Usually found in flocks;
the first species on or near the shore.

    Horned Lark.
    Prairie Horned Lark.

_Family Corvidæ_: CROWS AND JAYS

The crows are large black birds, walkers, with stout feet adapted for
the purpose. Fond of shifting their residence at different seasons
rather than strictly migratory, for, except at the northern limit of
range, they remain resident all the year. Gregarious. Sexes alike.
Omnivorous feeders, being partly carnivorous, as are also the jays.
Both crows and jays inhabit wooded country. Their voices are harsh and
clamorous; and their habits are boisterous and bold, particularly the
jays. Devoted mates; unpleasant neighbors.

    Common Crow.
    Fish Crow.
    Northern Raven.
    Blue Jay.
    Canada Jay.

_Family Icteridæ_: BLACKBIRDS, ORIOLES, ETC.

Plumage black or a brilliant color combined with black. (The meadow
lark a sole exception.) Sexes unlike. These birds form a connecting
link between the crows and the finches. The blackbirds have strong
feet for use upon the ground, where they generally feed, while the
orioles are birds of the trees. They are both seed and insect eaters.
The bills of the bobolink and cowbird are short and conical, for they
are conspicuous seed eaters. Bills of the others long and conical,
adapted for insectivorous diet. About half the family are gifted

    Red-winged Blackbird.
    Rusty Blackbird.
    Purple Grackle.
    Bronzed Grackle.
    Meadow Lark.
    Western Meadow Lark.
    Orchard Oriole.
    Baltimore Oriole.


Generally fine songsters. Bills conical, short, and stout for cracking
seeds. Length from five to nine inches, usually under eight inches.
This, the largest family of birds that we have (about one-seventh of
all our birds belong to it), comprises birds of such varied plumage
and habit that, while certain family resemblances may be traced
throughout, it is almost impossible to characterize the family as
such. The _sparrows_ are comparatively small gray and brown birds with
striped upper parts, lighter underneath. Birds of the ground, or not
far from it, elevated perches being chosen for rest and song. Nest in
low bushes or on the ground. (Chipping sparrow often selects tall
trees.) Coloring adapted to grassy, dusty habitats. Males and females
similar. Flight labored. About forty species of sparrows are found in
the United States; of these, fourteen may be met with by a novice, and
six, at least, surely will be.

The _finches_ and their larger kin are chiefly bright-plumaged birds,
the females either duller or distinct from males; bills heavy, dull,
and conical, befitting seed eaters. Not so migratory as insectivorous
birds nor so restless. Mostly phlegmatic in temperament. Fine

    Chipping Sparrow.                  Pine Siskin (or Finch).
    English Sparrow.                   Purple Finch.
    Field Sparrow.                     Goldfinch.
    Fox Sparrow.                       Redpoll.
    Grasshopper Sparrow.               Greater Redpoll.
    Savanna Sparrow.                   Red Crossbill.
    Seaside Sparrow.                   White-winged Red Crossbill.
    Sharp-tailed Sparrow.              Cardinal Grosbeak.
    Song Sparrow.                      Rose-breasted Grosbeak.
    Swamp Song Sparrow.                Pine Grosbeak.
    Tree Sparrow.                      Evening Grosbeak.
    Vesper Sparrow.                    Blue Grosbeak.
    White-crowned Sparrow.             Indigo Bunting.
    White-throated Sparrow.            Junco.
    Lapland Longspur.                  Snowflake.
    Smith's Painted Longspur.          Chewink.

_Family Tanagridæ_: TANAGERS

Distinctly an American family, remarkable for their brilliant plumage,
which, however, undergoes great changes twice a year, Females
different from males, being dull and inconspicuous. Birds of the
tropics, two species only finding their way north, and the summer
tanager rarely found north of Pennsylvania. Shy inhabitants of woods.
Though they may nest low in trees, they choose high perches when
singing or feeding upon flowers, fruits, and insects. As a family, the
tanagers have weak, squeaky voices, but both our species are good
songsters. Suffering the fate of most bright-plumaged birds, immense
numbers have been shot annually.

    Scarlet Tanager.
    Summer Tanager.

_Family Hirundinidæ_: SWALLOWS

Birds of the air, that take their insect food on the wing. Migratory.
Flight strong, skimming, darting; exceedingly graceful. When not
flying they choose slender, conspicuous perches like telegraph wires,
gutters, and eaves of barns. Plumage of some species dull, of others
iridescent blues and greens above, whitish or ruddy below. Sexes
similar. Bills small; mouths large. Long and pointed wings, generally
reaching the tip of the tail or beyond. Tail more or less forked. Feet
small and weak from disuse. Song a twittering warble without power.
Gregarious birds.

    Barn Swallow.
    Bank Swallow.
    Cliff (or Eaves) Swallow.
    Tree Swallow.
    Bough-winged Swallow.
    Purple Martin.

_Family Ampelidæ_: WAXWINGS

Medium-sized Quaker-like birds, with plumage of soft browns and grays.
Head crested; black band across forehead and through the eye. Bodies
plump from indolence. Tail tipped with yellow; wings with red tips to
coverts, resembling sealing-wax. Sexes similar. Silent, gentle,
courteous, elegant birds. Usually seen in large flocks feeding upon
berries in the trees or perching on the branches, except at the
nesting season. Voices resemble a soft, lisping twitter.

    Cedar Bird.
    Bohemian Waxwing.

_Family Laniidæ_: SHRIKES

Medium-sized grayish, black-and-white birds, with hooked and hawk-like
bill for tearing the flesh of smaller birds, field-mice, and large
insects that they impale on thorns. Handsome, bold birds, the terror
of all small, feathered neighbors, not excluding the English sparrow.
They choose conspicuous perches when on the lookout for prey: a
projecting or dead limb of a tree, the cupola of a house, the
ridge-pole or weather-vane of a barn, or a telegraph wire, from which
to suddenly drop upon a victim. Eyesight remarkable. Call-notes harsh
and unmusical. Habits solitary and wandering. The first-named species
is resident during the colder months of the year; the latter is a
summer resident only north of Maryland.

    Northern Shrike.
    Loggerhead Shrike.

_Family Vireonidæ_: VIREOS OR GREENLETS

Small greenish-gray or olive birds, whitish or yellowish underneath,
their plumage resembling the foliage of the trees they hunt, nest, and
live among. Sexes alike. More deliberate in habit than the restless,
flitting warblers that are chiefly seen darting about the ends of
twigs. Vireos are more painstaking gleaners; they carefully explore
the bark, turn their heads upward to investigate the under side of
leaves, and usually keep well hidden among the foliage. Bill hooked at
tip for holding worms and insects. Gifted songsters, superior to the
warblers. This family is peculiar to America.

    Red-eyed Vireo.
    Solitary Vireo.
    Warbling Vireo.
    White-eyed Vireo.
    Yellow-throated Vireo.

_Family Mniotiltidæ_: WOOD WARBLERS

A large group of birds, for the most part smaller than the English
sparrow; all, except the ground warblers, of beautiful plumage, in
which yellow, olive, slate-blue, black, and white are predominant
colors. Females generally duller than males. Exceedingly active,
graceful, restless feeders among the terminal twigs of trees and
shrubbery; haunters of tree-tops in the woods at nesting time.
Abundant birds, especially during May and September, when the majority
are migrating to and from regions north of the United States; but they
are strangely unknown to all but devoted bird lovers, who seek them
out during these months that particularly favor acquaintance. Several
species are erratic in their migrations and choose a different course
to return southward from the one they travelled over in spring. A few
species are summer residents, and one, at least, of this tropical
family, the myrtle warbler, winters at the north. The habits of the
family are not identical in every representative; some are more
deliberate and less nervous than others; a few, like the Canadian and
Wilson's warblers, are expert flycatchers, taking their food on the
wing, but not usually returning to the same perch, like true
flycatchers; and a few of the warblers, as, for example, the
black-and-white, the pine, and the worm-eating species, have the
nuthatches' habit of creeping around the bark of trees. Quite a number
feed upon the ground. All are insectivorous, though many vary their
diet with blossom, fruit, or berries, and naturally their bills are
slender and sharply pointed, rarely finch-like. The yellow-breasted
chat has the greatest variety of vocal expressions. The ground
warblers are compensated for their sober, thrush-like plumage by their
exquisite voices, while the great majority of the family that are
gaily dressed have notes that either resemble the trill of midsummer
insects or, by their limited range and feeble utterance, sadly belie
the family name.

    Bay-breasted Warbler.               Nashville Warbler.
    Blackburnian Warbler.               Palm Warbler.
    Blackpoll Warbler.                  Parula Warbler.
    Black-throated Blue Warbler.        Pine Warbler.
    Black-throated Green Warbler.       Prairie Warbler.
    Black-and-white Creeping Warbler.   Redstart.
    Blue-winged Warbler.                Wilson's Warbler.
    Canadian Warbler.                   Worm-eating Warbler.
    Chestnut-sided Warbler.             Yellow Warbler.
    Golden-winged Warbler.              Yellow Palm Warbler.
    Hooded Warbler.                     Ovenbird.
    Kentucky Warbler.                   Northern Water Thrush.
    Magnolia Warbler.                   Louisiana Water Thrush.
    Mourning Warbler.                   Maryland Yellowthroat.
    Myrtle Warbler.                     Yellow-breasted Chat

_Family Motacillidæ_: WAGTAILS AND PIPITS

Only three birds of this family inhabit North America, and of these
only one is common enough, east of the Mississippi, to be included in
this book. Terrestrial birds of open tracts near the coast,
stubble-fields, and country roadsides, with brownish plumage to
harmonize with their surroundings. The American pipit, or titlark, has
a peculiar wavering flight when, after being flushed, it reluctantly
leaves the ground. Then its white tail feathers are conspicuous. Its
habit of wagging its tail when perching is not an exclusive family
trait, as the family name might imply.

    American Pipit, or Titlark.

_Family Troglodytidæ_: THRASHERS, WRENS, ETC.


Apparently the birds that comprise this large general family are too
unlike to be related, but the missing links or intermediate species
may all be found far South. The first subfamily is comprised of
distinctively American birds. Most numerous in the tropics. Their long
tails serve a double purpose--in assisting their flight and acting as
an outlet for their vivacity. Usually they inhabit scrubby undergrowth
bordering woods. They rank among our finest songsters, with
ventriloquial and imitative powers added to sweetness of tone.

    Brown Thrasher.

   [Illustration: KINGBIRD]

   [Illustration: MOCKING-BIRD]

_Subfamily Troglodytinæ_: WRENS

Small brown birds, more or less barred with darkest brown above, much
lighter below. Usually carry their short tails erect. Wings are small,
for short flight. Vivacious, busy, excitable, easily displeased, quick
to take alarm. Most of the species have scolding notes in addition to
their lyrical, gushing song, that seems much too powerful a
performance for a diminutive bird. As a rule, wrens haunt thickets or
marshes, but at least one species is thoroughly domesticated. All are

    Carolina Wren.
    House Wren.
    Winter Wren.
    Long-billed Marsh Wren.
    Short-billed Marsh Wren.

_Family Certhiidæ_: CREEPERS

Only one species of this Old World family is found in America. It is a
brown, much mottled bird, that creeps spirally around and around the
trunks of trees in fall and winter, pecking at the larvæ in the bark
with its long, sharp bill, and doing its work with faithful exactness
but little spirit. It uses its tail as a prop in climbing, like the

    Brown Creeper.


Two distinct subfamilies are included under this general head.

The nuthatches (_Sittinæ_) are small, slate-colored birds, seen
chiefly in winter walking up and down the barks of trees, and
sometimes running along the under side of branches upside down, like
flies. Plumage compact and smooth. Their name is derived from their
habit of wedging nuts (usually beech-nuts) in the bark of trees, and
then hatching them open with their strong straight bills.

    White-breasted Nuthatch.
    Red-breasted Nuthatch.

The titmice or chickadees (_Parinæ_) are fluffy little gray birds, the
one crested, the other with a black cap. They are also expert
climbers, though not such wonderful gymnasts as the nuthatches. These
cousins are frequently seen together in winter woods or in the
evergreens about houses. Chickadees are partial to tree-tops,
especially to the highest pine cones, on which they hang fearlessly.
Cheerful, constant residents, retreating to the deep woods only to

    Tufted Titmouse.


The kinglets (_Regulinæ_) are very small greenish-gray birds, with
highly colored crown patch, that are seen chiefly in autumn, winter,
and spring south of Labrador. Habits active; diligent flitters among
trees and shrubbery from limb to limb after minute insects. Beautiful
nest builders. Song remarkable for so small a bird.

    Golden-crowned Kinglet.
    Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

The one representative of the distinctly American subfamily of
gnatcatchers (_Polioptilinæ_) that we have, is a small blue-gray bird,
whitish below. It is rarely found outside moist, low tracts of
woodland, where insects abound. These it takes on the wing with
wonderful dexterity. It is exceedingly graceful and assumes many
charming postures. A bird of trees, nesting in the high branches. A
bird of strong character and an exquisitely finished though feeble

    Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.


This group includes our finest songsters. Birds of moderate size,
stout build; as a rule, inhabitants of woodlands, but the robin and
the bluebird are notable exceptions. Bills long and slender, suitable
for worm diet. Only casual fruit-eaters. Slender, strong legs for
running and hopping. True thrushes are grayish or olive-brown above;
buff or whitish below, heavily streaked or spotted.

    Alice's Thrush.
    Hermit Thrush.
    Olive-backed Thrush.
    Wilson's Thrush (Veery).
    Wood Thrush.

Order _Columbæ_: PIGEONS AND DOVES

Family _Columbidæ_: PIGEONS AND DOVES

The wild pigeon is now too rare to be included among our bird
neighbors; but its beautiful relative, without the fatally gregarious
habit, still nests and sings _a-coo-oo-oo_ to its devoted mate in
unfrequented corners of the farm or the borders of woodland.
Delicately shaded fawn-colored and bluish plumage. Small heads,
protruding breasts. Often seen on ground. Flight strong and rapid,
owing to long wings.

    Mourning or Carolina Dove.

   [Illustration: CROW ON NEST.]





Acadian Flycatcher, Great Crested Flycatcher, Least Flycatcher,
Olive-sided Flycatcher, Say's Flycatcher, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher,
Kingbird, Ph[oe]be, Wood Pewee, Purple Martin, Chimney Swift, Barn
Swallow, Bank Swallow, Cliff Swallow, Tree Swallow, Rough-winged
Swallow, Canadian Warbler, Blackpoll, Wilson's Warbler, Nighthawk,
Whippoorwill, Ruby-throated Humming-bird, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.


Scarlet Tanager, Summer Tanager, Baltimore Oriole, Orchard Oriole,
Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, nearly all the
Warblers except the Ground Warblers; Cedar Bird, Bohemian Waxwing, the
Vireos, Robin, Red Crossbill, White-winged Crossbill, Purple Grackle,
Bronzed Grackle, Redstart, Northern Shrike, Loggerhead Shrike, Crow,
Fish Crow, Raven, Purple Finch, Tree and Chipping Sparrows, Cardinal,
Blue Jay, Kingbird, the Crested and other Flycatchers.


Black-billed Cuckoo, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, the Sparrows, the Thrushes,
the Grosbeaks, Goldfinch, Summer Yellowbird and other Warblers; the
Wrens, Bluebird, Mocking-bird, Catbird, Brown Thrasher, Maryland
Yellowthroat, Yellow-breasted Chat.


Hairy Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Red-headed Woodpecker,
Yellow-bellied Woodpecker, Flicker, White-breasted Nuthatch,
Red-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse,
Golden-crowned Kinglet, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Black-and-white Creeping
Warbler, Blue-winged Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler, Pine Warbler,
Blackpoll Warbler, Whippoorwill, Nighthawk.


Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, the Nuthatches, Brown Creeper, the
Kinglets, Pine Warbler, Black-and-white Creeping Warbler and all the
Warblers except the Ground Warblers; Pine Siskin, Cedar Bird and
Bohemian Waxwing (in juniper and cedar trees), Pine Grosbeak, Red
Crossbill, White-winged Crossbill, the Grackles, Crow, Raven, Pine


The Red-eyed Vireo, White-eyed Vireo, Warbling Vireo, Solitary Vireo,
Yellow-throated Vireo, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Ruby-crowned Kinglet,
Black-billed Cuckoo, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Yellow Warbler or Summer
Yellowbird, nearly all the Warblers except the Pine and the Ground
Warblers; the Flycatchers, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.


Northern Shrike, Loggerhead Shrike, Kingbird, the Wood Pewee, the
Ph[oe]be and other Flycatchers, the Swallows, Kingfisher, Crows,
Grackles, Blue Jay and Canada Jay; the Song, the White-throated, and
the Fox Sparrows; the Grosbeaks, Cedar Bird, Goldfinch, Robin, Purple
Finch, Cowbird, Brown Thrasher while in song.


Bluebird, Robin; the English, Song, White-throated, Vesper,
White-crowned, Fox, Chipping, and Tree Sparrows; Ph[oe]be, Wood Pewee,
the Least Flycatcher, Crested Flycatcher, Kingbird, Brown Thrasher,
Wood Thrush, Mocking-bird, Catbird, House Wren; nearly all the
Warblers, especially at blossom time among the shrubbery and fruit
trees; Cedar Bird, Purple Martin, Eaves Swallow, Barn Swallow, Purple
Finch, Cowbird, Baltimore and Orchard Orioles, Purple Grackle, Bronzed
Grackle, Blue Jay, Crow, Fish Crow, Chimney Swift, Ruby-throated
Humming-bird, the Woodpeckers, Flicker, the Nuthatches, Chickadee,
Tufted Titmouse, the Cuckoos, Mourning Dove, Junco, Starling.


The Warblers almost without exception; the Thrushes, the Woodpeckers,
the Flycatchers, the Winter and the Carolina Wrens, the Tanagers, the
Nuthatches and Titmice, the Kinglets, the Water Thrushes, the Vireos,
Whippoorwill, Nighthawk, Kingfisher, Cardinal, Ovenbird, Brown
Creeper, Tree Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow,
White-crowned Sparrow, Junco.


The Wrens, the Woodpeckers, the Flycatchers, the Warblers, Purple
Finch, the Cuckoos, Brown Thrasher, Wood Thrush, Cowbird, Brown
Creepers, the Nuthatches and Titmice, the Kinglets, Chewink; the
White-crowned, White-throated, Tree, Fox, and Song Sparrows;
Humming-bird, Bluebird, Junco, the Crossbills, the Grosbeaks,
Nighthawk, Whippoorwill, Mourning Dove, Indigo Bird, Brown Thrasher.


Maryland Yellowthroat, Ovenbird (in woods); Myrtle Warbler, Mourning
Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, and other Warblers during the
migrations; the Shrikes; the White-throated, the Fox, the Song, and
other Sparrows; Chickadee, Junco, Chewink, Rose-breasted Grosbeak,
Cowbird, Red-winged Blackbird, Catbird, Mocking-bird, Wilson's Thrush,
Goldfinch, Redpolls, Maryland Yellowthroat, White-eyed Vireo, Hooded


The Sparrows, Junco, Meadowlark, Horned Lark, Chewink, Robin,
Ovenbird, Pipit or Titlark, Redpoll, Greater Redpoll, Snowflake,
Lapland Longspur, Smith's Painted Longspur, Rusty Blackbird,
Red-winged Blackbird, the Crows, Cowbird, the Water Thrushes,
Bobolink, Canada Jay, the Grackles, Mourning Dove; the Worm-eating,
the Prairie, the Kentucky, and the Mourning Ground Warblers; Flicker.


The Field and Vesper Sparrows, Bobolink, Meadowlark, Horned Lark,
Goldfinch, the Swallows, Pipit or Titlark, Cowbird, Redpoll, Greater
Redpoll, Snowflake, Junco, Lapland Longspur, Smith's Painted Longspur,
Rusty Blackbird, Crow, Fish Crow, Nighthawk, Whippoorwill; the Yellow,
the Palm, and the Prairie Warblers; the Grackles, Flicker, Bluebird,
Indigo Bird.


The Sparrows, Kingbird, Crested Flycatcher, Yellow-breasted Chat,
Indigo Bird, Bluebird, Flicker, Goldfinch, Brown Thrasher, Catbird,
Robin, the Woodpeckers, Yellow Palm Warbler, the Vireos.


Long-billed Marsh Wren, Short-billed Marsh Wren; the Swamp, the
Savanna, the Sharp-tailed, and the Seaside Sparrows; Red-winged


Northern Water Thrush, Louisiana Water Thrush, Ovenbird, Winter Wren,
Carolina Wren, Ph[oe]be; Wood Pewee and the other Flycatchers;
Wilson's Thrush or Veery, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Yellow-breasted Chat;
the Canadian, Wilson's Black-capped, the Maryland Yellowthroat, the
Hooded, and the Yellow-throated Warblers.


Fish Crow, Common Crow, Bank Swallow, Tree Swallow, Savanna Sparrow,
Sharp-tailed Sparrow, Seaside Sparrow, Horned Lark, Pipit or Titlark.


Kingfisher, the Swallows, Northern Water Thrush, Louisiana Water
Thrush, Ph[oe]be, Wood Pewee, the Flycatchers, Winter Wren, Wilson's
Black-capped Warbler, the Canadian and the Yellow Warblers.


Bobolink, Meadowlark, Indigo Bird, Purple Finch, Goldfinch, Ovenbird,
Kingbird, Vesper Sparrow (rarely), Maryland Yellowthroat, Horned Lark,
Kingfisher, the Swallows, Chimney Swift, Nighthawk, Song Sparrow,
Red-winged Blackbird, Pipit or Titlark, Mocking-bird.








    Hairy Woodpecker.                  Swamp Sparrow.
    Downy Woodpecker.                  Song Sparrow.
    Yellow-bellied Woodpecker.         Cedar Bird.
    Red-headed Woodpecker.             Cardinal.
    Flicker.                           Carolina Wren.
    Meadowlark.                        White-breasted Nuthatch.
    Prairie Horned Lark.               Tufted Titmouse.
    Blue Jay.                          Chickadee.
    Crow.                              Robin.
    Fish Crow.                         Bluebird.
    English Sparrow.                   Goldfinch.
    Social Sparrow.                    Starling



     English Sparrow.                  Red-breasted Nuthatch.
     Tree Sparrow.                     Tufted Titmouse.
     White-throated Sparrow.           Chickadee.
     Swamp Sparrow.                    Robin.
     Vesper Sparrow.                   Bluebird.
     White-crowned Sparrow.            Ruby-crowned Kinglet.
     Fox Sparrow.                      Golden-crowned Kinglet.
     Song Sparrow.                     Brown Creeper.
     Snowflake.                        Carolina Wren.
     Junco.                            Winter Wren.
     Horned Lark.                      Pipit.
     Meadowlark.                       Purple Finch.
     Pine Grosbeak.                    Goldfinch.
     Redpoll.                          Pine Siskin.
     Greater Redpoll.                  Lapland Longspur.
     Cedar Bird.                       Smith's Painted Longspur.
     Bohemian Waxwing.                 Evening Grosbeak.
     Hairy Woodpecker.                 Cardinal.
     Downy Woodpecker.                 Blue Jay.
     Yellow-bellied Woodpecker.        Red Crossbill.
     Flicker.                          White-winged Crossbill.
     Myrtle Warbler.                   Crow.
     Northern Shrike.                  Fish Crow.
     White-breasted Nuthatch.          Kingfisher.

   [Illustration: CROW]

   [Illustration: RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD (Upper Figure, Male;
      Lower Figure, Female)]



    Mourning Dove.                     Red-winged Blackbird.
    Black-billed Cuckoo.               Rusty Blackbird.
    Yellow-billed Cuckoo.              Orchard Oriole.
    Kingfisher.                        Baltimore Oriole.
    Red-headed Woodpecker.             Purple Grackle.
    Hairy Woodpecker.                  Bronzed Grackle.
    Downy Woodpecker.                  Crow.
    Yellow-bellied Woodpecker.         Fish Crow.
    Flicker.                           Raven.
    Whippoorwill.                      Blue Jay.
    Nighthawk.                         Canada Jay.
    Chimney Swift.                     Chipping Sparrow.
    Ruby-throated Humming-bird.        English Sparrow.
    Kingbird.                          Field Sparrow.
    Wood Pewee.                        Fox Sparrow.
    Ph[oe]be.                          Grasshopper Sparrow.
    Acadian Flycatcher.                Savanna Sparrow.
    Crested Flycatcher.                Seaside Sparrow.
    Least Flycatcher.                  Sharp-tailed Sparrow.
    Olive-sided Flycatcher.            Swamp Song Sparrow.
    Yellow-bellied Flycatcher.         Song Sparrow.
    Say's Flycatcher.                  Vesper Sparrow.
    Bobolink.                          Rose-breasted Grosbeak.
    Cowbird.                           Blue Grosbeak.
    Indigo Bird.                       Yellow-breasted Chat.
    Scarlet Tanager.                   Maryland Yellowthroat.
    Purple Martin.                     Mocking-bird.
    Barn Swallow.                      Catbird.
    Bank Swallow.                      Brown Thrasher.
    Cliff Swallow.                     House Wren.
    Tree Swallow.                      Carolina Wren.
    Rough-winged Swallow.              Long-billed Marsh Wren.
    Red-eyed Vireo.                    Short-billed Marsh Wren.
    White-eyed Vireo.                  Alice's Thrush.
    Solitary Vireo.                    Hermit Thrush.
    Warbling Vireo.                    Olive-backed Thrush.
    Yellow-throated Vireo.             Wilson's Thrush or Veery.
    Black-and-white Warbler.           Wood Thrush.
    Black-throated Green Warbler.      Meadowlark.
    Blue-winged Warbler.               Western Meadowlark.
    Chestnut-sided Warbler.            Prairie Horned Lark.
    Golden-winged Warbler.             White-breasted Nuthatch.
    Hooded Warbler.                    Chickadee.
    Pine Warbler.                      Tufted Titmouse.
    Prairie Warbler.                   Chewink.
    Parula Warbler.                    Purple Finch.
    Worm-eating Warbler.               Goldfinch.
    Yellow Warbler.                    Cardinal.
    Redstart.                          Robin.
    Ovenbird.                          Bluebird.
    Northern Water Thrush.             Cedar-Bird.
    Louisiana Water Thrush.            Loggerhead Shrike.


  The following Warblers:

    Bay-breasted.                      Myrtle.
    Blackburnian.                      Nashville.
    Blackpolled.                       Wilson's Black-capped.
    Black-throated Blue.               Palm.
    Canadian.                          Yellow Palm.
    Magnolia.                          Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.
    Mourning.                          Summer Tanager.



Bluebird, Robin, the Grackles, Song Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, Red-winged
Blackbird, Kingfisher, Flicker, Purple Finch.


Increased numbers of foregoing group; Cowbird, Meadowlark, Phoebe; the
Field, the Vesper, and the Swamp Sparrows.


The White-throated and the Chipping Sparrows, the Tree and the Barn
Swallows, Rusty Blackbird, the Red-headed and the Yellow-bellied
Woodpeckers, Hermit Thrush, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Pipit; the Pine, the
Myrtle, and the Yellow Palm Warblers; Goldfinch.


Increased numbers of foregoing group; Brown Thrasher; Alice's, the
Olive-backed, and the Wood Thrushes; Chimney Swift, Whippoorwill,
Chewink, the Purple Martin, and the Cliff and the Bank Swallows; Least
Flycatcher; the Black-and-white Creeping, the Parula, and the
Black-throated Green Warblers; Ovenbird, House Wren, Catbird.

MAY 1 TO 15

Increased numbers of foregoing group; Wilson's Thrush or Veery;
Nighthawk, Ruby-throated Humming-bird, the Cuckoos, Crested
Flycatcher, Kingbird, Wood Pewee, the Marsh Wrens, Bank Swallow, the
five Vireos, the Baltimore and Orchard Orioles, Bobolink, Indigo Bird,
Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Scarlet Tanager, Maryland Yellowthroat,
Yellow-breasted Chat, the Water Thrushes; and the Magnolia, the
Yellow, the Black-throated Blue, the Bay-breasted, the Chestnut-sided,
and the Golden-winged Warblers.


Increased numbers of foregoing group; Yellow-bellied Flycatcher,
Mocking-bird, Summer Tanager; and the Blackburnian, the Blackpoll, the
Worm-eating, the Hooded, Wilson's Black-capped, and the Canadian


In June few species of birds are not nesting; in July they may rove
about more or less with their increased families, searching for their
favorite foods; August finds them moulting and moping in silence, but
toward the end of the month, thoughts of returning southward set them
astir again.


Bobolink, Cliff Swallow, Scarlet Tanager, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher,
Purple Martin; the Blackburnian, the Worm-eating, the Bay-breasted,
the Chestnut-sided, the Hooded, the Mourning, Wilson's Black-capped,
and the Canadian Warblers; Baltimore Oriole, Humming-bird.


Increased numbers of foregoing group; Wilson's Thrush, Wood Thrush,
Kingbird, Wood Pewee, Crested Flycatcher; the Least, the Olive-sided,
and the Acadian Flycatchers; the Marsh Wrens, the Cuckoos,
Whippoorwill, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Orchard Oriole, Indigo Bird; the
Warbling, the Solitary, and the Yellow-throated Vireos; the
Black-and-white Creeping, the Golden-winged, the Yellow, and the
Black-throated Blue Warblers; Maryland Yellowthroat, Yellow-breasted
Chat, Redstart.


Increased numbers of foregoing group; Hermit Thrush, Catbird, House
Wren, Ovenbird, the Water Thrushes, the Red-eyed and the White-eyed
Vireos, Wood Pewee, Nighthawk, Chimney Swift, Cowbird, Horned Lark,
Winter Wren, Junco; the Tree, the Vesper, the White-throated, and the
Grasshopper Sparrows; the Blackpoll, the Parula, the Pine, the Yellow
Palm, and the Prairie Warblers; Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse.


Increased numbers of foregoing group; Wood Thrush, Wilson's Thrush or
Veery, Alice's Thrush, Olive-backed Thrush, Robin, Chewink, Brown
Thrasher, Ph[oe]be, Shrike; the Fox, the Field, the Swamp, the
Savanna, the White-crowned, the Chipping, and the Song Sparrows; the
Red-winged and the Rusty Blackbirds; Meadowlark, the Grackles,
Flicker, the Red-headed and the Yellow-bellied Woodpeckers; Purple
Finch, the Kinglets, the Nuthatches, Pine Siskin.




    Humming-bird.                      The Redpolls.
    The Kinglets.                      Goldfinch.
    The Wrens.                         Pine Siskin.
    All the Warblers not               Savanna Sparrow.
       mentioned elsewhere.            Grasshopper Sparrow.
    Redstart.                          Sharp-tailed Sparrow.
    Ovenbird.                          Chipping Sparrow.
    Chickadee.                         Field Sparrow.
    Tufted Titmouse.                   Swamp Song Sparrow.
    Red-breasted Nuthatch.             Indigo-Bunting.
    White-breasted Nuthatch.           Warbling Vireo.
    Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.             Yellow-throated Vireo.
    Yellow-bellied Flycatcher.         Red-eyed Vireo.
    Acadian Flycatcher.                White-eyed Vireo.
    Least Flycatcher.                  Brown Creeper.


    Purple Finch.                      Junco.
    The Crossbills.                    Song Sparrow.
    The Longspurs.                     Solitary Vireo.
    Vesper Sparrow.                    The Water-thrushes.
    Seaside Sparrow.                   Pipit or Titlark.
    Tree Sparrow.                      Downy Woodpecker.


    Yellow-bellied Woodpecker.         The Grosbeaks: Evening, Blue,
    Chimney Swift (apparently).        Pine, Rose-breasted, and Cardinal.
    The Swallows (apparently).         Snowflake.
    Kingbird.                          White-crowned Sparrow.
    Crested Flycatcher.                White-throated Sparrow.
    Phoebe.                            Fox Sparrow.
    Olive-sided Flycatcher.            The Tanagers.
    Wood Pewee.                        Cedar Bird.
    Horned Lark.                       Bohemian Waxwing.
    Bobolink.                          Yellow-breasted Chat.
    Cowbird.                           The Thrushes.
    Orchard Oriole.                    Bluebird.
    Baltimore Oriole.


    Red-headed Woodpecker.             Mourning Dove.
    Hairy Woodpecker.                  The Cuckoos.
    Red-winged Blackbird.              Kingfisher.
    Rusty Blackbird.                   Flicker.
    Loggerhead Shrike.                 Raven.
    Northern Shrike.                   Crow.
    Mocking-bird.                      Fish Crow.
    Catbird.                           Blue Jay.
    Chewink.                           Canada Jay.
    Purple Martin (apparently).        Meadowlark.
    Starling.                          Whippoorwill (apparently).
                                       Nighthawk (apparently).
                                       The Grackles.
                                       Brown Thrasher.




    Common Crow.
    Fish Crow.
    American Raven.
    Purple Grackle.
    Bronzed Grackle.
    Rusty Blackbird.
    Red-winged Blackbird.
    Purple Martin.

See also several of the Swallows; the Kingbird, the Phoebe, the Wood
Pewee and other Flycatchers; the Chimney Swift; and the Chewink.

    The Common Crow

    (_Corvus Aamericanus_) Crow family

    _Called also_: CORN THIEF

    (Illustrations facing pp. 16 and 28)

    _Length_--16 to 17.50 inches.

    _Male_--Glossy black with violet reflections. Wings appear
       saw-toothed when spread, and almost equal the tail in length.

    _Female_--Like male, except that the black is less brilliant.

    _Range_--Throughout North America, from Hudson Bay to the Gulf
       of Mexico.

    _Migrations_--March. October. Summer and winter resident.

If we have an eye for the picturesque, we place a certain value upon
the broad, strong dash of color in the landscape, given by a flock of
crows flapping their course above a corn-field, against an October
sky; but the practical eye of the farmer looks only for his gun in
such a case. To him the crow is an unmitigated nuisance, all the more
maddening because it is clever enough to circumvent every means
devised for its ruin. Nothing escapes its rapacity; fear is unknown to
it. It migrates in broad daylight, chooses the most conspicuous
perches, and yet its assurance is amply justified in its steadily
increasing numbers.

In the very early spring, note well the friendly way in which the crow
follows the plow, ingratiating itself by eating the larvæ, field mice,
and worms upturned in the furrows, for this is its one serviceable act
throughout the year. When the first brood of chickens is hatched, its
serious depredations begin. Not only the farmer's young fledglings,
ducks, turkeys, and chicks, are snatched up and devoured, but the
nests of song birds are made desolate, eggs being crushed and eaten on
the spot, when there are no birds to carry off to the rickety, coarse
nest in the high tree top in the woods. The fish crow, however, is the
much greater enemy of the birds. Like the common crows, this, their
smaller cousin, likes to congregate in winter along the seacoast to
feed upon shell-fish and other sea-food that the tide brings to its

Samuels claims to have seen a pair of crows visit an orchard and
destroy the young in two robins' nests in half an hour. He calculates
that two crows kill, in one day alone, young birds that in the course
of the season would have eaten a hundred thousand insects. When, in
addition to these atrocities, we remember the crow's depredations in
the corn-field, it is small wonder that among the first laws enacted
in New York State was one offering a reward for its head. But the more
scientific agriculturists now concede that the crow is the farmer's
true friend.

    Fish Crow

    (_Corvus ossifragus_) Crow family

    _Length_--14 to 16 inches. About half as large again as the

    _Male and Female_--Glossy black, with purplish-blue
       reflections, generally greener underneath. Chin naked.

    _Range_--Along Atlantic coast and that of the Gulf of Mexico,
       northward to southern New England. Rare stragglers on the
       Pacific coast.

    _Migrations_--March or April. September. Summer resident only
       at northern limit of range. Is found in Hudson River valley
       about half-way to Albany.

Compared with the common crow, with which it is often confounded, the
fish crow is of much smaller, more slender build. Thus its flight is
less labored and more like a gull's, whose habit of catching fish that
may be swimming near the surface of the water it sometimes adopts.
Both Audubon and Wilson, who first made this species known, record its
habit of snatching food as it flies over the southern waters--a rare
practice at the north. Its plumage, too, differs slightly from the
common crow's in being a richer black everywhere, and particularly
underneath, where the "corn thief" is dull. But it is the difference
between the two crows' call-note that we chiefly depend upon to
distinguish these confusing cousins. To say that the fish crow says
_car-r-r_ instead of a loud, clear _caw_, means little until we have
had an opportunity to compare its hoarse, cracked voice with the other
bird's familiar call.

From the farmer's point of view, there is still another distinction:
the fish crow lets his crops alone. It contents itself with picking up
refuse on the shores of the sea or rivers not far inland; haunting the
neighborhood of fishermen's huts for the small fish discarded when the
seines are drawn, and treading out with its toes the shell-fish hidden
in the sand at low tide. When we see it in the fields it is usually
intent upon catching field-mice, grubs, and worms, with which it often
varies its fish diet. It is, however, the worst nest robber we have;
it probably destroys ten times as many eggs and young birds as its
larger cousin.

The fishermen have a tradition that this southern crow comes and goes
with the shad and herring--a saw which science unkindly disapproves.

    American Raven

    (_Corvus corax principalis_) Crow family

    _Called also_: NORTHERN RAVEN

    _Length_--26 to 27 inches. Nearly three times as large as a

    _Male and Female_--Glossy black above, with purplish and
       greenish reflections. Duller underneath. Feathers of the
       throat and breast long and loose, like fringe.

    _Range_--North America, from polar regions to Mexico. Rare
       along Atlantic coast and in the south. Common in the west, and
       very abundant in the northwest.

    _Migrations_--An erratic wanderer, usually resident where it
       finds its way.

The weird, uncanny voice of this great bird that soars in wide circles
above the evergreen trees of dark northern forests seems to come out
of the skies like the malediction of an evil spirit. Without uttering
the words of any language--Poe's "Nevermore" was, of course, a poetic
license--people of all nationalities appear to understand that some
dire calamity, some wicked portent, is being announced every time the
unbirdlike creature utters its rasping call. The superstitious folk
crow with an "I told you so," as they solemnly wag their heads when
they hear of some death in the village after "the bird of ill-omen"
has made an unwelcome visit to the neighborhood. It receives the
blame for every possible misfortune.

When seen in the air, the crow is the only other bird for which the
raven could be mistaken; but the raven does more sailing and less
flapping, and he delights in describing circles as he easily soars
high above the trees. On the ground, he is seen to be a far larger
bird than the largest crow. The curious beard or fringe of feathers on
his breast at once distinguishes him.

These birds show the family instinct for living in flocks large and
small, not of ravens only, but of any birds of their own genera. In
the art of nest building they could instruct most of their relatives.
High up in evergreen trees or on the top of cliffs, never very near
the seashore, they make a compact, symmetrical nest of sticks, neatly
lined with grasses and wool from the sheep pastures, adding soft,
comfortable linings to the old nest from year to year for each new
brood. When the young emerge from the eggs, which take many curious
freaks of color and markings, they are pied black and white,
suggesting the young of the western white-necked raven, a similarity
which, so far as plumage is concerned, they quickly outgrow. They
early acquire the fortunate habit of eating whatever their parents set
before them--grubs, worms, grain, field-mice; anything, in fact, for
the raven is a conspicuously omnivorous bird.

   [Illustration: PURPLE MARTIN]

   [Illustration: DOWNY (figs. 1 and 2) and HAIRY WOODPECKERS (fig 3)]

    Purple Grackle

    (_Quiscalus quiscula_) Blackbird family


    (Illustration facing p. 49)

    _Length_--12 to 13 inches. About one-fourth as large again as
       the robin.

    _Male_--Iridescent black, in which metallic violet, blue,
       copper, and green tints predominate. The plumage of this
       grackle has iridescent bars. Iris of eye bright yellow and
       conspicuous. Tail longer than wings.

    _Female_--Less brilliant black than male, and smaller.

    _Range_--Gulf of Mexico to 57th parallel north latitude.

    _Migrations_--Permanent resident in Southern States. Few are
       permanent throughout range. Migrates in immense flocks in
       March and September.

This "refined crow" (which is really no crow at all except in
appearance) has scarcely more friends than a thief is entitled to;
for, although in many sections of the country it has given up its old
habit of stealing Indian corn and substituted ravages upon the
grasshoppers instead, it still indulges a crow-like instinct for
pillaging nests and eating young birds.

Travelling in immense flocks of its own kind, a gregarious bird of the
first order, it nevertheless is not the social fellow that its cousin,
the red-winged blackbird, is. It especially holds aloof from mankind,
and mankind reciprocates its suspicion.

The tallest, densest evergreens are not too remote for it to build its
home, according to Dr. Abbott, though in other States than New Jersey,
where he observed them, an old orchard often contains dozens of nests.
One peculiarity of the grackles is that their eggs vary so much in
coloring and markings that different sets examined in the same groups
of trees are often wholly unlike. The average groundwork, however, is
soiled blue or greenish, waved, streaked, or clouded with brown. These
are laid in a nest made of miscellaneous sticks and grasses, rather
carefully constructed, and lined with mud. Another peculiarity is the
bird's method of steering itself by its tail when it wishes to turn
its direction or alight.

Peering at you from the top of a dark pine tree with its staring
yellow eye, the grackle is certainly uncanny. There, very early in the
spring, you may hear its cracked and wheezy whistle, for, being aware
that however much it may look like a crow it belongs to another
family, it makes a ridiculous attempt to sing. When a number of
grackles lift up their voices at once, some one has aptly likened the
result to a "good wheel-barrow chorus!" The grackle's mate alone
appreciates his efforts as, standing on tiptoe, with half-spread wings
and tail, he pours forth his craven soul to her through a disjointed

With all their faults, and they are numerous, let it be recorded of
both crows and grackles that they are as devoted lovers as
turtle-doves. Lowell characterizes them in these four lines:

   "Fust come the black birds, clatt'rin' in tall trees,
    And settlin' things in windy Congresses;
    Queer politicians, though, for I'll be skinned
    If all on 'em don't head against the wind."

          *       *       *       *       *

The Bronzed Grackle (_Quiscalus quiscula æneus_) differs from the
preceding chiefly in the more brownish bronze tint of its plumage and
its lack of iridescent bars. Its range is more westerly, and in the
southwest it is particularly common; but as a summer resident it finds
its way to New England in large numbers. The call-note is louder and
more metallic than the purple grackle's. In nearly all respects the
habits of these two birds are identical.

    Rusty Blackbird

    (_Scolecophagus carolinus_) Blackbird family


    _Length_--9 to 9.55 inches. A trifle smaller than the robin.

    _Male_--In full plumage, glossy black with metallic
       reflections, intermixed with rusty brown that becomes more
       pronounced as the season advances. Pale straw-colored eyes.

    _Female_--Duller plumage and more rusty, inclining to gray.
       Light line over eye. Smaller than male.

    _Range_--North America, from Newfoundland to Gulf of Mexico
       and westward to the Plains.

    _Migrations_--April. November. A few winter north.

A more sociable bird than the grackle, though it travel in smaller
flocks, the rusty blackbird condescends to mingle freely with other
feathered friends in marshes and by brooksides. You can identify it by
its rusty feathers and pale yellow eye, and easily distinguish the
rusty-gray female from the female red-wing that is conspicuously

In April flocks of these birds may frequently be seen along sluggish,
secluded streams in the woods, feeding upon the seeds of various water
or brookside plants, and probably upon insects also. At such times
they often indulge in a curious spluttering, squeaking, musical
concert that one listens to with pleasure. The breeding range is
mostly north of the United States. But little seems to be known of the
birds' habits in their northern home.

Why it should ever have been called a thrush blackbird is one of those
inscrutable mysteries peculiar to the naming of birds which are so
frequently called precisely what they are not. In spite of the
compliment implied in associating the name of one of our finest
songsters with it, the rusty blackbird has a clucking call as
unmusical as it is infrequent, and only very rarely in the spring does
it pipe a note that even suggests the sweetness of the redwing's.

    Red-winged Blackbird

    (_Agelaius ph[oe]niceus_) Blackbird family


    (Illustration facing p. 29)

    _Length_--Exceptionally variable--7.50 to 9.80 inches. Usually
       about an inch smaller than the robin.

    _Male_--Coal-black. Shoulders scarlet, edged with yellow.

    _Female_--Feathers finely and inconspicuously speckled with
       brown, rusty black, whitish, and orange. Upper wing-coverts
       rusty black, tipped with white, or rufous and sometimes
       spotted with black and red.

    _Range_--North America. Breeds from Texas to Columbia River,
       and throughout the United States. Commonly found from Mexico
       to 57th degree north latitude.

    _Migrations_--March. October. Common summer resident.

In oozy pastures where a brook lazily finds its way through the farm
is the ideal pleasure ground of this "bird of society." His notes,
"_h'-wa-ker-ee_" or "_con-quer-ee_" (on an ascending scale), are
liquid in quality, suggesting the sweet, moist, cool retreats where he
nests. Liking either heat or cold (he is fond of wintering in Florida,
but often retreats to the north while the marshes are still frozen);
enjoying not only the company of large flocks of his own kind with
whom he travels, but any bird associates with whom he can scrape
acquaintance; or to sit quietly on a tree-top in the secluded,
inaccessible bog while his mate is nesting; satisfied with cut-worms,
grubs, and insects, or with fruit and grain for his food--the
blackbird is an impressive and helpful example of how to get the best
out of life.

Yet, of all the birds, some farmers complain that the blackbird is the
greatest nuisance. They dislike the noisy chatterings when a flock is
simply indulging its social instincts. They complain, too, that the
blackbirds eat their corn, forgetting that having devoured innumerable
grubs from it during the summer, the birds feel justly entitled to a
share of the profits. Though occasionally guilty of eating the
farmer's corn and oats and rice, yet it has been found that nearly
seven-eighths of the redwing's food is made up of weed-seeds or of
insects injurious to agriculture.

This bird builds its nest in low bushes on the margin of ponds or low
in the bog grass of marshes. From three to five pale-blue eggs,
curiously streaked, spotted, and scrawled with black or purple,
constitute a brood. Nursery duties are soon finished, for in July the
young birds are ready to gather in flocks with their elders.

   "The blackbirds make the maples ring
    With social cheer and jubilee;
    The red-wing flutes his 'O-ka-lee!'"


   [Illustration: YOUNG KINGFISHERS]

   [Illustration: GRACKLE'S NEST AND YOUNG.]

    Purple Martin

    (_Progne subis_) Swallow family

    (Illustration facing p. 44)

    _Length_--7 to 8 inches. Two or three inches smaller than the

    _Male_--Rich glossy black with bluish and purple reflections;
       duller black on wings and tail. Wings rather longer than the
       tail, which is forked.

    _Female_--More brownish and mottled; grayish below.

    _Range_--Peculiar to America. Penetrates from Arctic Circle to
       South America.

    _Migrations_--Late April. Early September. Summer resident.

In old-fashioned gardens, set on a pole over which honeysuckle and
roses climbed from a bed where China pinks, phlox, sweet Williams, and
hollyhocks crowded each other below, martin boxes used always to be
seen with a pair of these large, beautiful swallows circling overhead.
But now, alas! the boxes, where set up at all, are quickly monopolized
by the English sparrow, a bird that the martin, courageous as a
kingbird in attacking crows and hawks, tolerates as a neighbor only
when it must.

Bradford Torrey tells of seeing quantities of long-necked squashes
dangling from poles about the negro cabins all through the South. One
day he asked an old colored man what these squashes were for.

"Why, deh is martins' boxes," said Uncle Remus. "No danger of hawks
carryin' off de chickens so long as de martins am around."

The Indians, too, have always had a special liking for this bird. They
often lined a hollowed-out gourd with bits of bark and fastened it in
the crotch of their tent poles to invite its friendship. The Mohegan
Indians have called it "the bird that never rests"--a name better
suited to the tireless barn swallow, Dr. Abbott thinks.

Wasps, beetles, and all manner of injurious garden insects constitute
its diet--another reason for its universal popularity. It is simple
enough to distinguish the martins from the other swallows by their
larger size and iridescent dark coat, not to mention their song, which
is very soft and sweet, like musical laughter, rippling up through the


    (_Molothrus ater_) Blackbird family


    _Length_--7 to 8 inches. About one-fifth smaller than the robin.

    _Male_--Iridescent black, with head, neck, and breast
       glistening brown. Bill dark brown, feet brownish.

    _Female_--Dull grayish-brown above, a shade lighter below, and
       streaked with paler shades of brown.

    _Range_--United States, from coast to coast. North into
       British America, south into Mexico.

    _Migrations_--March. November. Common summer resident.

The cowbird takes its name from its habit of walking about among the
cattle in the pasture, picking up the small insects which the cattle
disturb in their grazing. The bird may often be seen within a foot or
two of the nose of a cow or heifer, walking briskly about like a
miniature hen, intently watching for its insect prey.

Its marital and domestic character is thoroughly bad. Polygamous and
utterly irresponsible for its offspring, this bird forms a striking
contrast to other feathered neighbors, and indeed is almost an anomaly
in the animal kingdom. In the breeding season an unnatural mother may
be seen skulking about in the trees and shrubbery, seeking for nests
in which to place a surreptitious egg, never imposing it upon a bird
of its size, but selecting in a cowardly way a small nest, as that of
the vireos or warblers or chipping sparrows, and there leaving the
hatching and care of its young to the tender mercies of some already
burdened little mother. It has been seen to remove an egg from the
nest of the red-eyed vireo in order to place one of its own in its
place. Not finding a convenient nest, it will even drop its eggs on
the ground, trusting them to merciless fate, or, still worse,
devouring them. The eggs are nearly an inch long, white speckled with
brown or gray. (Illustration facing p. 54.)

Cowbirds are gregarious. The ungrateful young birds, as soon as they
are able to go roaming, leave their foster-parents and join the flock
of their own kind. In keeping with its unclean habits and unholy life
and character, the cowbird's ordinary note is a gurgling, rasping
whistle, followed by a few sharp notes.

    The Starling

    (_Sturnus vulgaris_)

    _Length_--8 to 9 inches. Weight about equals that of robin,
       but the starling, with its short, drooping tail, is chunkier
       in appearance.

    _Male_--Iridescent black with glints of purple, green, and
       blue. On back the black feathers, with iridescence of green,
       and bronze, are tipped with brown, as are some of the tail and
       wing feathers. In autumn and early winter feathers of sides of
       head, breast, flanks and underparts are tipped with white,
       giving a gray, mottled appearance. During the winter most of
       the white tips on breast and underparts wear off. Until the
       first moult in late summer the young birds are a dark
       olive-brown in color, with white or whitish throat. These
       differences in plumage at different seasons and different ages
       make starlings hard to identify. Red-winged blackbirds and
       grackles are often mistaken for them. From early spring till
       mid-June, starling's rather long, sharp bill is yellow. Later
       in summer it darkens. No other black bird of ours has this
       yellow bill at any season.

    _Female_--Similar in appearance.

    _Range_--Massachusetts to Maryland. Not common beyond 100
       miles inland. (Native of northern Europe and Asia.)

    _Migrations_--Permanent resident, but flocks show some
       tendency to drift southward in winter.

This newcomer to our shores is by no means so black as he has been
painted. Like many other European immigrants he landed at or near
Castle Garden, New York City, and his descendants have not cared to
wander very far from this vicinity, preferring regions with a pretty
numerous human population. The starlings have increased so fast in
this limited region since their first permanent settlement in Central
Park about 1890 that farmers and suburban dwellers have feared that
they might become as undesirable citizens as some other Europeans--the
brown rat, the house mouse, and the English sparrow. But a very
thorough investigation conducted by the United States Bureau of
Biological Survey (Bulletin No. 868, 1921) is most reassuring in its

Let us first state the case for the prosecution: (1) the starling must
plead guilty to a fondness for cultivated cherries; (2) he is often a
persecutor of native birds, like the bluebird and flicker; (3) his
roosts, where he sometimes congregates in thousands in the autumn, are
apt to become public nuisances, offensive alike to the eye, the nose
and the ear.

But these offences are not so very serious after all. He does not eat
so many cherries as our old friend the robin, though his depredations
are more conspicuous, for whereas the robins in ones and twos will
pilfer steadily from many trees for many days without attracting
notice, a crowd of starlings is occasionally observed to descend _en
masse_ upon a single tree and strip it in a few hours. Naturally such
high-handed procedure is observed by many and deeply resented by the
owner of the tree, who suffers the steady but less spectacular raids
of the robins without serious disquiet.

Less can be said in defense of the starling's scandalous treatment of
some native birds. "Unrelenting perseverance dominates the starling's
activities when engaged in a controversy over a nesting site. More of
its battles are won by dogged persistence in annoying its victim than
by bold aggression, and its irritating tactics are sometimes carried
to such a point that it seems almost as if the bird were actuated
more by a morbid pleasure of annoying its neighbors than by any
necessity arising from a scarcity of nesting sites....

"In contests with the flicker the starling frequently makes up in
numbers what disadvantage it may have in size. Typical of such combats
was the one observed on May 9, at Hartford, Conn., where a group of
starlings and a flicker were in controversy over a newly excavated
nest. The number of starlings varied, but as many as 6 were noted at
one time. Attention was first attracted to the dispute by a number of
starlings in close proximity to the hole and by the sounds of a tussle
within. Presently a flicker came out dragging a starling after him.
The starling continued the battle outside long enough to allow one of
its comrades to slip into the nest. Of course the flicker had to
repeat the entire performance. He did this for about half an hour,
when he gave up, leaving the starlings in possession of the nest....

"Economically considered, the starling is the superior of either the
flicker, the robin, or the English sparrow, three of the species with
which it comes in contact in its breeding operations. The eggs and
young of bluebirds and wrens may be protected by the use of nest boxes
with circular openings 1-1/2 inches or less in diameter. This leaves
the purple martin the only species readily subject to attack by the
starling, whose economic worth may be considered greater than that of
the latter, but in no case was the disturbance of a well-established
colony of martins noted."

As for the nuisance of a big established roost of starlings, it may be
abated by nightly salvos of Roman candles or blank cartridges,
continued for a week or at most ten days.

So much for the starling in his aspect as an undesirable citizen.
Government investigators, by a long-continued study, have discovered
that his good deeds far outnumber his misdemeanors. Primarily he feeds
on noxious insects and useless wild fruits. Small truck gardens and
individual cherry trees may be occasionally raided by large flocks
with disastrous results in a small way. But on the whole he is a
useful frequenter of our door-yards who pays his way by destroying
hosts of cut-worms and equally noxious insects. "A thorough
consideration of the evidence at hand indicates that, based on food
habits, the adult starling is the economic superior of the robin,
catbird, flicker, red-winged blackbird, or grackle." Need more be said
for him?


    Red-headed Woodpecker
    Hairy Woodpecker
    Downy Woodpecker
    Yellow-bellied Woodpecker
    Rose-breasted Grosbeak
    Blackpoll Warbler
    Black-and-white Creeping Warbler

See also the Swallows; the Shrikes; Nuthatches and Titmice; the
Kingbird and other Flycatchers; the Nighthawk; the Redstart; and the
following Warblers: the Myrtle; the Bay-breasted; the Blackburnian;
and the Black-throated Blue Warbler.

    Red-headed Woodpecker

    (_Melanerpes erythrocephalus_) Woodpecker family

    _Called also_: TRI-COLOR, RED-HEAD

    _Length_--8.50 to 9.75 inches. An inch or less smaller than
       the robin.

    _Male and Female_--Head, neck, and throat crimson; breast and
       underneath white; back black and white; wings and tail blue
       black, with broad white band on wings conspicuous in flight.

    _Range_--United States, east of Rocky Mountains and north to

    _Migrations_--Abundant but irregular migrant. Most commonly
       seen in Autumn, and rarely resident.

In thinly populated sections, where there are few guns about, this is
still one of the commonest as it is perhaps the most conspicuous
member of the woodpecker family, but its striking glossy
black-and-white body and its still more striking crimson head,
flattened out against the side of a tree like a target, where it is
feeding, have made it all too tempting a mark for the rifles of the
sportsmen and the sling-shots of small boys. As if sufficient
attention were not attracted to it by its plumage, it must needs keep
up a noisy, guttural rattle, _ker-r-ruck, ker-r-ruck,_ very like a
tree-toad's call, and flit about among the trees with the restlessness
of a flycatcher. Yet, in spite of these invitations for a shot to the
passing gunner, it still multiplies in districts where nuts abound,
being "more common than the robin" about Washington, says John

All the familiar woodpeckers have two characteristics most prominently
exemplified in this red-headed member of their tribe. The hairy, the
downy, the crested, the red-bellied, the sapsucker, and the flicker
have each a red mark somewhere about their heads as if they had been
wounded there and bled a little--some more, some less; and the figures
of all of them, from much flattening against tree-trunks, have become
high-shouldered and long-waisted.

The red-headed woodpecker selects, by preference, a partly decayed
tree in which to excavate a hole for its nest, because the digging is
easier, and the sawdust and chips make a softer lining than green
wood. Both male and female take turns in this hollowing-out process.
The one that is off duty is allowed "twenty minutes for refreshments,"
consisting of grubs, beetles, ripe apples or cherries, corn, or
preferably beech-nuts. At a loving call from its mate in the hollow
tree, it returns promptly to perform its share of the work, when the
carefully observed "time is up." The heap of sawdust at the bottom of
the hollow will eventually cradle from four to six glossy-white eggs.

This woodpecker has the thrifty habit of storing away nuts in the
knot-holes of trees, between cracks in the bark, or in decayed fence
rails--too often a convenient storehouse at which the squirrels may
help themselves. But it is the black snake that enters the nest and
eats the young family, and that is a more deadly foe than even the
sportsman or the milliner.




    The Hairy Woodpecker

    (_Dryobates villosus_) Woodpecker family

    (Illustration facing p. 45)

    _Length_--9 to 10 inches. About the size of the robin.

    _Male_--Black and white above, white beneath. White stripe down
       the back, composed of long hair-like feathers. Bright-red
       band on the nape of neck. Wings striped and dashed with black
       and white. Outer tail feathers white, without bars. White
       stripe about eyes and on sides of the head.

    _Female_--Without the red band on head, and body more brownish
       than that of the male.

    _Range_--Eastern parts of United States, from the Canadian
       border to the Carolinas.

    _Migrations_--Resident throughout its range.

The bill of the woodpecker is a hammering tool, well fitted for its
work. Its mission in life is to rid the trees of insects, which hide
beneath the bark, and with this end in view, the bird is seen clinging
to the trunks and branches of trees through fair and wintry weather,
industriously scanning every inch for the well-known signs of the
boring worm or destructive fly.

In the autumn the male begins to excavate his winter quarters,
carrying or throwing out the chips, by which this good workman is
known, with his beak, while the female may make herself cosey or not,
as she chooses, in an abandoned hole. About her comfort he seems
shamefully unconcerned. Intent only on his own, he drills a perfectly
round hole, usually on the under side of a limb where neither snow nor
wind can harm him, and digs out a horizontal tunnel in the dry,
brittle wood in the very heart of the tree, before turning downward
into the deep, pear-shaped chamber, where he lives in selfish
solitude. But when the nesting season comes, how devoted he is
temporarily to the mate he has neglected and even abused through the
winter! Will she never learn that after her clear-white eggs are laid
and her brood raised he will relapse into the savage and forget all
his tender wiles?

The hairy woodpecker, like many another bird and beast, furnishes much
doubtful weather lore for credulous and inexact observers. "When the
woodpecker pecks low on the trees, expect warm weather" is a common
saying, but when different individuals are seen pecking at the same
time, one but a few feet from the ground, and another among the high
branches, one may make the prophecy that pleases him best.

The hairy woodpeckers love the deep woods. They are drummers, not
singers; but when walking in the desolate winter woods even the
drumming and tapping of the busy feathered workmen on a resonant limb
is a solace, giving a sense of life and cheerful activity which is

    The Downy Woodpecker

    (_Dryobates pubescens_) Woodpecker family

    (Illustration facing p. 45)

    _Length_--6 to 7 inches. About the size of the English sparrow.

    _Male_--Black above, striped with white. Tail shaped like a
       wedge. Outer tail feathers white, and barred with black.
       Middle tail feathers black. A black stripe on top of head, and
       distinct white band over and under the eyes. Red patch on
       upper side of neck. Wings, with six white bands crossing them
       transversely; white underneath.

    _Female_--Similar, but without scarlet on the nape, which is white.

    _Range_--Eastern North America, from Labrador to Florida.

    _Migrations_--Resident all the year throughout its range.

The downy woodpecker is similar to his big relative, the hairy
woodpecker, in color and shape, though much smaller. His outer tail
feathers are white, barred with black, but the hairy's white outer
tail feathers lack these distinguishing marks.

He is often called a sapsucker--though quite another bird alone merits
that name--from the supposition that he bores into the trees for the
purpose of sucking the sap; but his tongue is ill adapted for such
use, being barbed at the end, and most ornithologists consider the
charge libellous. It has been surmised that he bores the numerous
little round holes close together, so often seen, with the idea of
attracting insects to the luscious sap. The woodpeckers never drill
for insects in live wood. The downy actually drills these little holes
in apple and other trees to feed upon the inner milky bark of the
tree--the cambium layer. The only harm to be laid to his account is
that, in his zeal, he sometimes makes a ring of small holes so
continuous as to inadvertently damage the tree by girdling it. The
bird, like most others, does not debar himself entirely from fruit
diet, but enjoys berries, especially poke-berries.

He is very social with birds and men alike. In winter he attaches
himself to strolling bands of nuthatches and chickadees, and in summer
is fond of making friendly visits among village folk, frequenting the
shade trees of the streets and grapevines of back gardens. He has even
been known to fearlessly peck at flies on window panes.

In contrast to his large brother woodpecker, who is seldom drawn from
timber lands, the little downy member of the family brings the comfort
of his cheery presence to country homes, beating his rolling tattoo in
spring on some resonant limb under our windows in the garden with a
strength worthy of a larger drummer.

This rolling tattoo, or drumming, answers several purposes: by it he
determines whether the tree is green or hollow; it startles insects
from their lurking places underneath the bark, and it also serves as a
love song.

    Yellow-bellied Woodpecker

    (_Sphyrapicus varius_) Woodpecker family

    _Called also_: THE SAPSUCKER

    _Length_--8 to 8.6 inches. About one-fifth smaller than the robin.

    _Male_--Black, white, and yellowish white above, with
       bright-red crown, chin, and throat. Breast black, in form of
       crescent. A yellowish-white line, beginning at bill and
       passing below eye, merges into the pale yellow of the bird
       underneath. Wings spotted with white, and coverts chiefly
       white. Tail black; white on middle of feathers.

    _Female_--Paler, and with head and throat white.

    _Range_--Eastern North America, from Labrador to Central America.

    _Migrations_--April. October. Resident north of Massachusetts.
       Most common in autumn.

It is sad to record that this exquisitely marked woodpecker, the most
jovial and boisterous of its family, is one of the very few bird
visitors whose intimacy should be discouraged. For its useful appetite
for slugs and insects which it can take on the wing with wonderful
dexterity, it need not be wholly condemned. But as we look upon a
favorite maple or fruit tree devitalized or perhaps wholly dead from
its ravages, we cannot forget that this bird, while a most abstemious
fruit-eater, has a pernicious and most intemperate thirst for sap.
Indeed, it spends much of its time in the orchard, drilling holes into
the freshest, most vigorous trees; then, when their sap begins to
flow, it siphons it into an insatiable throat, stopping in its orgie
only long enough to snap at the insects that have been attracted to
the wounded tree by the streams of its heart-blood now trickling down
its sides. Another favorite pastime is to strip the bark off a tree,
then peck at the soft wood underneath--almost as fatal a habit. It
drills holes in maples in early spring for sap only. If it drills
holes in fruit trees it is for the cambium layer, a soft, pulpy,
nutritious under-bark.

These woodpeckers have a variety of call-notes, but their rapid
drumming against the limbs and trunks of trees is the sound we always
associate with them and the sound that Mr. Bicknell says is the
love-note of the family.

Unhappily, these birds, that many would be glad to have decrease in
numbers, take extra precautions for the safety of their young by
making very deep excavations for their nests, often as deep as
eighteen or twenty inches.

    The Chewink

    (_Pipilo erythrophthalmus_) Finch family


    _Length_--8 to 8.5 inches. About one-fifth smaller than the

    _Male_--Upper parts black, sometimes margined with rufous.
       Breast white; chestnut color on sides and rump. Wings marked
       with white. Three outer feathers of tail striped with white,
       conspicuous in flight. Bill black and stout. Red eyes; feet

    _Female_--Brownish where the male is black. Abdomen shading
       from chestnut to white in the centre.

    _Range_--From Labrador, on the north, to the Southern States;
       west to the Rocky Mountains.

    _Migrations_--April. September and October. Summer resident.
       Very rarely a winter resident at the north.

The unobtrusive little chewink is not infrequently mistaken for a
robin, because of the reddish chestnut on its under parts. Careful
observation, however, shows important distinctions. It is rather
smaller and darker in color; its carriage and form are not those of
the robin, but of the finch. The female is smaller still, and has an
olive tint in her brown back. Her eggs are inconspicuous in color,
dirty white speckled with brown, and laid in a sunken nest on the
ground. Dead leaves and twigs abound, and form, as the anxious mother
fondly hopes, a safe hiding place for her brood. So careful
concealment, however, brings peril to the fledglings, for the most
cautious bird-lover may, and often does, inadvertently set his foot on
the hidden nest.

The chewink derives its name from the fancied resemblance of its note
to these syllables, while those naming it "towhee" hear the sound
_to-whick_, _to-whick_, _to-whee_. Its song is rich, full, and
pleasing, and given only when the bird has risen to the branches above
its low foraging ground.

It frequents the border of swampy places and bushy fields. It is
generally seen in the underbrush, picking about among the dead leaves
for its steady diet of earthworms and larvæ of insects, occasionally
regaling itself with a few dropping berries and fruit.

When startled, the bird rises not more than ten or twelve feet from
the earth, and utters its characteristic calls. On account of this
habit of flying low and grubbing among the leaves, it is sometimes
called the ground robin. In the South our modest and useful little
food-gatherer is often called grasel, especially in Louisiana, where
it is white-eyed, and is much esteemed, alas! by epicures.

   [Illustration: TOWHEE (Upper Figure, Female; Lower Figure, Male)]

   [Illustration: ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK (Upper Figure, Female;
      Lower Figure, Male)]


    (_Plectrophenax nivalis_) Finch family


    _Length_--7 to 7.5 inches. About one-fourth smaller than the

    _Male and Female_--Head, neck, and beneath soiled white, with
       a few reddish-brown feathers on top of head, and suggesting an
       imperfect collar. Above, grayish brown obsoletely streaked
       with black, the markings being most conspicuous in a band
       between shoulders. Lower tail feathers black; others, white
       and all edged with white. Wings brown, white, and gray.
       Plumage unusually variable. In summer dress (in arctic
       regions) the bird is almost white.

    _Range_--Circumpolar regions to Kentucky (in winter only).

    _Migrations_--Midwinter visitor; rarely, if ever, resident
       south of arctic regions.

These snowflakes (mentioned collectively, for it is impossible to
think of the bird except in great flocks) are the "true spirits of the
snowstorm," says Thoreau. They are animated beings that ride upon it,
and have their life in it. By comparison with the climate of the
arctic regions, no doubt our hardiest winter weather seems luxuriously
mild to them. We associate them only with those wonderful midwinter
days when sky, fields, and woods alike are white, and a "hard, dull
bitterness of cold" drives every other bird and beast to shelter. It
is said they often pass the night buried beneath the snow. They have
been seen to dive beneath it to escape a hawk.

Whirling about in the drifting snow to catch the seeds on the tallest
stalks that the wind in the open meadows uncovers, the snowflakes
suggest a lot of dead leaves being blown through the all-pervading
whiteness. Beautiful soft brown, gray, and predominating
black-and-white coloring distinguish these capricious visitors from
the slaty junco, the "snowbird" more commonly known. They are, indeed,
the only birds we have that are nearly white; and rarely, if ever, do
they rise far above the ground their plumage so admirably imitates.

At the far north, travellers have mentioned their inspiriting song,
but in the United States we hear only their cheerful twitter. Nansen
tells of seeing an occasional snow bunting in that desolation of
arctic ice where the _Fram_ drifted so long.

    The Rose-breasted Grosbeak

    (_Habia ludoviciana_) Finch family

    (Illustrations facing pp. 55 and 59)

    _Length_--7.75 to 8.5 inches. About one-fifth smaller than the

    _Male_--Head and upper parts black. Breast has rose-carmine
       shield-shaped patch, often extending downward to the centre of
       the abdomen. Underneath, tail quills, and two spots on wings
       white. Conspicuous yellow, blunt beak.

    _Female_--Brownish, with dark streakings, like a sparrow. No
       rose-color. Light sulphur yellow under wings. Dark brown,
       heavy beak.

    _Range_--Eastern North America, from southern Canada to

    _Migrations_--Early May. September. Summer resident.

A certain ornithologist tells with complacent pride of having shot
over fifty-eight rose-breasted grosbeaks in less than three weeks
(during the breeding season) to learn what kind of food they had in
their crops. This kind of devotion to science may have quite as much
to do with the growing scarcity of this bird in some localities as the
demands of the milliners, who, however, receive all of the blame for
the slaughter of our beautiful songsters. The farmers in Pennsylvania,
who, with more truth than poetry, call this the potato-bug bird, are
taking active measures, however, to protect the neighbor that is more
useful to their crop than all the insecticides known. It also eats
flies, wasps, and grubs.

Seen upon the ground, the dark bird is scarcely attractive with his
clumsy beak overbalancing a head that protrudes with stupid-looking
awkwardness; but as he rises into the trees his lovely rose-colored
breast and under-wing feathers are seen, and before he has had time to
repeat his delicious, rich-voiced warble you are already in love with
him. Vibrating his wings after the manner of the mocking-bird, he
pours forth a marvellously sweet, clear, mellow song (with something
of the quality of the oriole's, robin's, and thrush's notes), making
the day on which you first hear it memorable. This is one of the few
birds that sing at night. A soft, sweet, rolling warble, heard when
the moon is at its full on a midsummer night, is more than likely to
come from the rose-breasted grosbeak.

It is not that his quiet little sparrow-like wife has advanced notions
of feminine independence that he takes his turn at sitting upon the
nest, but that he is one of the most unselfish and devoted of mates.
With their combined efforts they construct only a coarse, unlovely
cradle in a thorn-bush or low tree near an old, overgrown pasture lot.
The father may be the poorest of architects, but as he patiently sits
brooding over the green, speckled eggs, his beautiful rosy breast just
showing above the grassy rim, he is a sufficient adornment for any
bird's home.

    The Bobolink

    (_Dolichonyx oryzivorus_) Blackbird family


    (Illustration facing p. 74)

    _Length_--7 inches. A trifle larger than the English sparrow.

    _Male_--_In spring plumage_: black, with light-yellow patch on
       upper neck, also on edges of wings and tail feathers. Rump and
       upper wings splashed with white. Middle of back streaked with
       pale buff. Tail feathers have pointed tips. _In autumn
       plumage_, resembles female.

    _Female_--Dull yellow-brown, with light and dark dashes on
       back, wings, and tail. Two decided dark stripes on top of

    _Range_--North America, from eastern coast to western
       prairies. Migrates in early autumn to Southern States, and in
       winter to South America and West Indies.

    _Migrations_--Early May. From August to October. Common summer

Perhaps none of our birds have so fitted into song and story as the
bobolink. Unlike a good child, who should "be seen and not heard," he
is heard more frequently than seen. Very shy, of peering eyes, he
keeps well out of sight in the meadow grass before entrancing our
listening ears. The bobolink never soars like the lark, as the poets
would have us believe, but generally sings on the wing, flying with a
peculiar self-conscious flight horizontally thirty or forty feet above
the meadow grass. He also sings perched upon the fence or tuft of
grass. He is one of the greatest _poseurs_ among the birds.

In spring and early summer the bobolinks respond to every poet's
effort to imitate their notes. "Dignified 'Robert of Lincoln' is
telling his name," says one; "Spink, spank, spink," another hears him
say. But best of all are Wilson Flagg's lines:

           ... "Now they rise and now they fly;
   They cross and turn, and in and out,
    and down the middle and wheel about,
   With a 'Phew, shew, Wadolincon;
    listen to me Bobolincon!'"

After midsummer the cares of the family have so worn upon the jollity
of our dashing, rollicking friend that his song is seldom heard. The
colors of his coat fade into a dull yellowish brown like that of his
faithful mate, who has borne the greater burden of the season, for he
has two complete moults each year.

The bobolinks build their nest on the ground in high grass. The eggs
are of a bluish white. Their food is largely insectivorous:
grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, spiders, with seeds of grass
especially for variety.

In August they begin their journey southward, flying mainly by night.
Arriving in the Southern States, they become the sad-colored,
low-voiced rice or reed bird, feeding on the rice fields, where they
descend to the ignominious fate of being dressed for the plate of the

Could there be a more tragic ending to the glorious note of the gay
songster of the north?

    Blackpoll Warbler

    (_Dendroica striata_) Wood Warbler family

    _Length_--5.5 to 6 inches. About an inch smaller than the
       English sparrow.

    _Male_--Black cap; cheeks and beneath grayish white, forming a
       sort of collar, more or less distinct. Upper parts striped
       gray, black, and olive. Breast and under parts white, with
       black streaks. Tail olive-brown, with yellow-white spots.

    _Female_--Without cap. Greenish-olive above, faintly streaked
       with black. Paler than male. Bands on wings, yellowish.

    _Range_--North America, to Greenland and Alaska. In winter, to
       northern part of South America.

    _Migrations_--Last of May. Late October.

A faint "_screep_, _screep_," like "the noise made by striking two
pebbles together," Audubon says, is often the only indication of the
blackpoll's presence; but surely that tireless bird-student had heard
its more characteristic notes, which, rapidly uttered, increasing in
the middle of the strain and diminishing toward the end, suggest the
shrill, wiry hum of some midsummer insect. After the opera-glass has
searched him out we find him by no means an inconspicuous bird. A
dainty little fellow, with a glossy black cap pulled over his eyes, he
is almost hidden by the dense foliage on the trees by the time he
returns to us at the very end of spring. Giraud says that he is the
very last of his tribe to come north, though the bay-breasted warbler
has usually been thought the bird to wind up the spring procession.

The blackpoll has a certain characteristic motion that distinguishes
him from the black-and-white creeper, for which a hasty glance might
mistake him, and from the jolly little chickadee with his black cap.
Apparently he runs about the tree-trunk, but in reality he so flits
his wings that his feet do not touch the bark at all; yet so rapidly
does he go that the flipping wing-motion is not observed. He is most
often seen in May in the apple trees, peeping into the opening
blossoms for insects, uttering now and then his slender, lisping,
brief song.

Vivacious, a busy hunter, often catching insects on the wing like the
flycatchers, he is a cheerful, useful neighbor the short time he
spends with us before travelling to the far north, where he mates and
nests. A nest has been found on Slide Mountain, in the Catskills, but
the hardy evergreens of Canada, and sometimes those of northern New
England, are the chosen home of this little bird that builds a nest of
bits of root, lichens, and sedges, amply large for a family twice the
size of his.

    Black-and-white Creeping Warbler

    (_Mniotilta varia_) Wood Warbler family


    _Length_--5 to 5.5 inches. About an inch smaller than the
       English sparrow.

    _Male_--Upper parts white, varied with black. A white stripe
       along the summit of the head and back of the neck, edged with
       black. White line above and below the eye. Black cheeks and
       throat, grayish in females and young. Breast white in middle,
       with black stripes on sides. Wings and tail rusty black, with
       two white cross-bars on former, and soiled white markings on
       tail quills.

    _Female_--Paler and less distinct markings throughout.

    _Range_--Peculiar to America. Eastern United States and
       westward to the plains. North as far as the fur countries.
       Winters in tropics south of Florida.

    _Migrations_--April. Late September. Summer resident.

Nine times out of ten this active little warbler is mistaken for the
downy woodpecker, not because of his coloring alone, but also on
account of their common habit of running up and down the trunks of
trees and on the under side of branches, looking for insects, on which
all the warblers subsist. But presently the true warbler
characteristic of restless flitting about shows itself. A woodpecker
would go over a tree with painstaking, systematic care, while the
black-and-white warbler, no less intent upon securing its food,
hurries off from tree to tree, wherever the most promising _menu_ is

Clinging to the mottled bark of the tree-trunk, which he so closely
resembles, it would be difficult to find him were it not for these
sudden flittings and the feeble song, "_Weachy_, _weachy_, _weachy_,
_'twee_, _'twee_, _'tweet_," he half lisps, half sings between his
dashes after slugs. Very rarely indeed can his nest be found in an old
stump or mossy bank, where bark, leaves, and hair make the downy
cradle for his four or five tiny babies.


    Chimney Swift                      Junco
    Kingbird                           White-breasted Nuthatch
    Wood Pewee                         Red-breasted Nuthatch
    Ph[oe]be and Say's Ph[oe]be        Loggerhead Shrike
    Crested Flycatcher                 Northern Shrike
    Olive-sided Flycatcher             Bohemian Waxwing
    Least Flycatcher                   Bay-breasted Warbler
    Chickadee                          Chestnut-sided Warbler
    Tufted Titmouse                    Golden-winged Warbler
    Canada Jay                         Myrtle Warbler
    Catbird                            Parula Warbler
    Mocking-bird                       Black-throated Blue Warbler

See also the Grayish Green and the Grayish Brown Birds, particularly
the Cedar Bird, several Swallows, the Acadian and the Yellow-bellied
Flycatchers; Alice's and the Olive-backed Thrushes; the Louisiana
Water Thrush; the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher; and the Seaside Sparrow. See
also the females of the following birds: Pine Grosbeak; White-winged
Red Crossbill; Purple Martin; and the Nashville, the Pine, and the
Magnolia Warblers.

   [Illustration: CHIMNEY SWIFT (_One-half natural size_)]

    Chimney Swift

    (_Chætura pelagica_) Swift family


    (Illustration facing p. 66)

    _Length_--5 to 5.45 inches. About an inch shorter than the
       English sparrow. Long wings make its length appear greater.

    _Male and Female_--Deep sooty gray; throat of a trifle lighter
       gray. Wings extend an inch and a half beyond the even tail,
       which has sharply pointed and very elastic quills, that serve
       as props. Feet are muscular, and have exceedingly sharp claws.

    _Range_--Peculiar to North America east of the Rockies, and
       from Labrador to Panama.

    _Migrations_--April. September or October. Common summer resident.

The chimney swift is, properly speaking, not a swallow at all, though
chimney swallow is its more popular name. Rowing towards the roof of
your house, as if it used first one wing, then the other, its flight,
while swift and powerful, is stiff and mechanical, unlike the
swallow's, and its entire aspect suggests a bat. The nighthawk and
whippoorwill are its relatives, and it resembles them not a little,
especially in its nocturnal habits.

So much fault has been found with the misleading names of many birds,
it is pleasant to record the fact that the name of the chimney swift
is everything it ought to be. No other birds can surpass and few can
equal it in its powerful flight, sometimes covering a thousand miles
in twenty-four hours, it is said, and never resting except in its
roosting places (hollow trees or chimneys of dwellings), where it does
not perch, but rather clings to the sides with its sharp claws, partly
supported by its sharper tail. Audubon tells of a certain plane tree
in Kentucky where he counted over nine thousand of these swifts
clinging to the hollow trunk.

Their nest, which is a loosely woven twig lattice, made of twigs of
trees, which the birds snap off with their beaks and carry in their
beaks, is glued with the bird's saliva or tree-gum into a solid
structure, and firmly attached to the inside of chimneys, or hollow
trees where there are no houses about. Two broods in a season usually
emerge from the pure white, elongated eggs.

What a twittering there is in the chimney that the swifts appropriate
after the winter fires have died out! Instead of the hospitable column
of smoke curling from the top, a cloud of sooty birds wheels and floats
above it. A sound as of distant thunder fills the chimney as a host of
these birds, startled, perhaps, by some indoor noise, whirl their way
upward. Woe betide the happy colony if a sudden cold snap in early
summer necessitates the starting of a fire on the hearth by the
unsuspecting householder! The glue being melted by the fire, "down comes
the cradle, babies and all" into the glowing embers. A prolonged, heavy
rain also causes their nests to loosen their hold and fall with the soot
to the bottom.

Thrifty New England housekeepers claim that bedbugs, commonly found on
bats, infest the bodies of swifts also, which is one reason why wire
netting is stretched across the chimney tops before the birds arrive
from the South.


    (_Tyrannus tyrannus_) Flycatcher family


    (Illustration facing p. 12)

    _Length_--8 inches. About two inches shorter than the robin.

    _Male_--Ashy black above; white, shaded with ash-color,
       beneath. A concealed crest of orange-red on crown. Tail black,
       terminating with a white band conspicuous in flight. Wing
       feathers edged with white. Feet and bill black.

    _Female_--Similar to the male, but lacking the crown.

    _Range_--United States to the Rocky Mountains. British
       provinces to Central and South America.

    _Migrations_--May. September. Common summer resident.

If the pugnacious propensity of the kingbird is the occasion of its
royal name, he cannot be said to deserve it from any fine or noble
qualities he possesses. He is a born fighter from the very love of
it, without provocation, rhyme, or reason. One can but watch with a
degree of admiration his bold sallies on the big, black crow or the
marauding hawk, but when he bullies the small inoffensive birds in
wanton attacks for sheer amusement, the charge is less entertaining.
Occasionally, when the little victim shows pluck and faces his
assailant, the kingbird will literally turn tail and show the white
feather. His method of attack is always when a bird is in flight; then
he swoops down from the telegraph pole or high point of vantage, and
strikes on the head or back of the neck, darting back like a flash to
the exact spot from which he started. By these tactics he avoids a
return blow and retreats from danger. He never makes a fair
hand-to-hand fight, or whatever is equivalent in bird warfare. It is a
satisfaction to record that he does not attempt to give battle to the
catbird, but whenever in view makes a grand detour to give him a wide

The kingbird feeds on beetles, canker-worms, and winged insects, with
an occasional dessert of berries. He is popularly supposed to prefer
the honey-bee as his favorite tidbit, but the weight of opinion is
adverse to the charge of his depopulating the beehive, even though he
owes his appellation bee martin to this tradition. One or two
ornithologists declare that he selects only the drones for his diet,
which would give him credit for marvellous sight in his rapid motion
through the air. The kingbird is preëminently a bird of the garden and
orchard. The nest is open, though deep, and not carefully concealed.
Eggs are nearly round, bluish white spotted with brown and lilac. With
truly royal exclusiveness, the tyrant favors no community of interest,
but sits in regal state on a conspicuous throne, and takes his grand
flights alone or with his queen, but never with a flock of his kind.

    Wood Pewee

    (_Contopus virens_) Flycatcher family

    _Length_--6.50 inches. A trifle larger than the English sparrow.

    _Male_--Dusky brownish olive above, darkest on head; paler on
       throat, lighter still underneath, and with a yellowish tinge
       on the dusky gray under parts. Dusky wings and tail, the wing
       coverts tipped with soiled white, forming two indistinct bars.
       Whitish eye-ring. Wings longer than tail.

    _Female_--Similar, but slightly more buff underneath.

    _Range_--Eastern North America, from Florida to northern
       British provinces. Winters in Central America.

    _Migrations_--May. October. Common summer resident.

The wood pewee, like the olive-sided flycatcher, has wings decidedly
longer than its tail, and it is by no means a simple matter for the
novice to tell these birds apart or separate them distinctly in the
mind from the other members of a family whose coloring and habits are
most confusingly similar. This dusky haunter of tall shady trees has
not yet learned to be sociable like the ph[oe]be; but while it may not
be so much in evidence close to our homes, it is doubtless just as
common. The orchard is as near the house as it often cares to come. An
old orchard, where modern insecticides are unknown and neglect allows
insects to riot among the decayed bark and fallen fruit, is a happy
hunting ground enough; but the bird's real preferences are decidedly
for high tree-tops in the woods, where no sunshine touches the
feathers on his dusky coat. It is one of the few shade-loving birds.
In deep solitudes, where it surely retreats by nesting time, however
neighborly it may be during the migrations, its pensive, pathetic
notes, long drawn out, seem like the expression of some hidden sorrow.
_Pe-a-wee_, _pe-a-wee_, _pewee-ah-peer_ is the burden of its plaintive
song, a sound as depressing as it is familiar in every walk through
the woods, and the bird's most prominent characteristic.

To see the bird dashing about in his aërial chase for insects, no one
would accuse him of melancholia. He keeps an eye on the "main chance,"
whatever his preying grief may be, and never allows it to affect his
appetite. Returning to his perch after a successful sally in pursuit
of the passing fly, he repeats his "sweetly solemn thought" over and
over again all day long and every day throughout the summer.

The wood pewees show that devotion to each other and to their home,
characteristic of their family. Both lovers work on the construction
of the flat nest that is saddled on some mossy or lichen-covered limb,
and so cleverly do they cover the rounded edge with bits of bark and
lichen that sharp eyes only can detect where the cradle lies.
Creamy-white eggs, whose larger end is wreathed with brown and lilac
spots, are guarded with fierce solicitude.

Trowbridge has celebrated this bird in a beautiful poem.


    (_Sayornis ph[oe]be_) Flycatcher family


    (Illustration facing p. 75)

    _Length_--7 inches. About an inch longer than the English

    _Male and Female_--Dusky olive-brown above; darkest on head,
       which is slightly crested. Wings and tail dusky, the outer
       edges of some tail feathers whitish. Dingy yellowish white
       underneath. Bill and feet black.

    _Range_--North America, from Newfoundland to the South
       Atlantic States, and westward to the Rockies. Winters south of
       the Carolinas, into Mexico, Central America, and the West

    _Migrations_--March. October. Common summer resident.

The earliest representative of the flycatcher family to come out of
the tropics where insect life fairly swarms and teems, what does the
friendly little ph[oe]be find to attract him to the north in March
while his prospective dinners must all be still in embryo? He looks
dejected, it is true, as he sits solitary and silent on some
projecting bare limb in the garden, awaiting the coming of his tardy
mate; nevertheless, the date of his return will not vary by more than
a few days in a given locality year after year. Why birds that are
mated for life, as these are said to be, and such devoted lovers,
should not travel together on their journey north, is another of the
many mysteries of bird-life awaiting solution.

The reunited, happy couple go about the garden and outbuildings like
domesticated wrens, investigating the crannies on piazzas, where
people may be coming and going, and boldly entering barn-lofts to find
a suitable site for the nest that it must take much of both time and
skill to build.

_Pewit_, _ph[oe]be_, _ph[oe]be_; _pewit_, _ph[oe]be_, they contentedly
but rather monotonously sing as they investigate all the sites in the
neighborhood. Presently a location is chosen under a beam or rafter,
and the work of collecting moss and mud for the foundation and hair
and feathers or wool to line the exquisite little home begins. But the
labor is done cheerfully, with many a sally in midair either to let
off superfluous high spirits or to catch a morsel on the wing, and
with many a vivacious outburst of what by courtesy only we may name a

When not domesticated, as these birds are rapidly becoming the
ph[oe]bes dearly love a cool, wet woodland retreat. Here they hunt and
bathe; here they also build in a rocky bank or ledge of rocks or
underneath a bridge, but always with clever adaptation of their nest
to its surroundings, out of which it seems a natural growth. It is one
of the most finished, beautiful nests ever found.

A pair of ph[oe]bes become attached to a spot where they have once
nested; they never stray far from it, and return to it regularly,
though they may not again occupy the old nest. This is because it soon
becomes infested with lice from the hen's feathers used in lining it,
for which reason too close relationship with this friendly
bird-neighbor is discouraged by thrifty housekeepers. When the baby
birds have come out from the four or six little white eggs, their
helpless bodies are mercilessly attacked by parasites, and are often
so enfeebled that half the brood die. The next season another nest
will be built near the first, the following summer still another,
until it would appear that a colony of birds had made their homes in
the place.

Throughout the long summer--for as the ph[oe]be is the first
flycatcher to come, so it is the last to go--the bird is a tireless
hunter of insects, which it catches on the wing with a sharp click of
its beak, like the other members of its dexterous family.

       *       *       *       *       *

Say's Ph[oe]be (_Sayornis saya_) is the Western representative of the
Eastern species, which it resembles in coloring and many of its
habits. It is the bird of the open plains, a tireless hunter in midair
sallies from an isolated perch, and has the same vibrating motion of
the tail that the Eastern ph[oe]be indulges in when excited. This bird
differs chiefly in its lighter coloring, but not in habits, from the
black pewee of the Pacific slope.

    Great-crested Flycatcher

    (_Myiarchus crinitus_) Flycatcher family

    _Called also_: CRESTED FLYCATCHER

    (Illustration facing p. 106)

    _Length_--8.50 to 9 inches. A little smaller than the robin.

    _Male and Female_--Feathers of the head pointed and erect.
       Upper parts dark grayish-olive, inclining to rusty brown on
       wings and tail. Wing coverts crossed with two irregular bars
       of yellowish white. Throat gray, shading into sulphur-yellow
       underneath, that also extends under the wings. Inner vane of
       several tail quills rusty red. Bristles at base of bill.

    _Range_--From Mexico, Central America, and West Indies
       northward to southern Canada and westward to the plains. Most
       common in Mississippi basin; common also in eastern United
       States, south of New England.

    _Migrations_--May. September. Common summer resident.

The most dignified and handsomely dressed member of his family, the
crested flycatcher has, nevertheless, an air of pensive melancholy
about him when in repose that can be accounted for only by the pain he
must feel every time he hears himself screech. His harsh, shrill call,
louder and more disagreeable than the kingbird's, cannot but rasp his
ears as it does ours. And yet it is chiefly by this piercing note,
given with a rising inflection, that we know the bird is in our
neighborhood; for he is somewhat of a recluse, and we must often
follow the disagreeable noise to its source in the tree-tops before we
can catch a glimpse of the screecher. Perched on a high lookout, he
appears morose and sluggish, in spite of his aristocratic-looking
crest, trim figure, and feathers that must seem rather gay to one of
his dusky tribe. A low soliloquy, apparently born of discontent, can
be overheard from the foot of his tree. But another second, and he has
dashed off in hot pursuit of an insect flying beyond our sight, and
with extremely quick, dexterous evolutions in midair, he finishes the
hunt with a sharp click of his bill as it closes over the unhappy
victim, and then he returns to his perch. On the wing he is
exceedingly active and joyous; in the tree he appears just the
reverse. That he is a domineering fellow, quite as much of a tyrant as
the notorious kingbird, that bears the greater burden of opprobrium,
is shown in the fierce way he promptly dashes at a feathered stranger
that may have alighted too near his perch, and pursues it beyond the
bounds of justice, all the while screaming his rasping cry into the
intruder's ears, that must pierce as deep as the thrusts from his
relentless beak. He has even been known to drive off woodpeckers and
bluebirds from the hollows in the trees that he, like them, chooses
for a nest, and appropriate the results of their labor for his
scarcely less belligerent mate. With a slight but important and
indispensable addition, the stolen nest is ready to receive her four
cream-colored eggs, that look as if a pen dipped in purple ink had
been scratched over them.

The fact that gives the great-crested flycatcher a unique interest
among all North American birds is that it invariably lines its nest
with snake-skins if one can be had. Science would scarcely be worth
the studying if it did not set our imaginations to work delving for
plausible reasons for Nature's strange doings. Most of us will
doubtless agree with Wilson (who made a special study of these
interesting nests and never found a single one without cast
snake-skins in it, even in districts where snakes were so rare they
were supposed not to exist at all), that the lining was chosen to
terrorize all intruders. The scientific mind that is unwilling to
dismiss any detail of Nature's work as merely arbitrary and haphazard,
is greatly exercised over the reason for the existence of crests on
birds. But, surely, may not the sight of snake-skins that first greet
the eyes of the fledgling flycatchers as they emerge from the shell be
a good and sufficient reason why the feathers on their little heads
should stand on end? "In the absence of a snake-skin, I have found an
onion skin and shad scales in the nest," says John Burroughs, who
calls this bird "the wild Irishman of the flycatchers."

   [Illustration: BOBOLINK (Upper Figure, Male; Lower Figure, Female)]

   [Illustration: THE PH[OE]BE]

    Olive-sided Flycatcher

    (_Contopus borealis_) Flycatcher family

    _Length_--7 to 7.5 inches. About an inch longer than the
       English sparrow.

    _Male and Female_--Dusky olive or grayish brown above; head
       darkest. Wings and tail blackish brown, the former sometimes,
       but not always, margined and tipped with dusky white. Throat
       yellowish white; other under parts slightly lighter shade than
       above. Olive-gray on sides. A tuft of yellowish-white, downy
       feathers on flanks. Bristles at base of bill.

    _Range_--From Labrador to Panama. Winters in the tropics.
       Nests usually north of United States, but it also breeds in
       the Catskills.

    _Migrations_--May. September. Resident only in northern part
       of its range.

Only in the migrations may people south of Massachusetts hope to see
this flycatcher, which can be distinguished from the rest of its kin
by the darker under parts, and by the fluffy, yellowish-white tufts of
feathers on its flanks. Its habits have the family characteristics: it
takes its food on the wing, suddenly sallying forth from its perch,
darting about midair to seize its prey, then as suddenly returning to
its identical point of vantage, usually in some distended, dead limb
in the tree-top; it is pugnacious, bold, and tyrannical; mopish and
inert when not on the hunt, but wonderfully alert and swift when in
pursuit of insect or feathered foe. The short necks of the flycatchers
make their heads appear large for their bodies, a peculiarity slightly
emphasized in this member of the family.

High up in some evergreen tree, well out on a branch, over which the
shapeless mass of twigs and moss that serves as a nest is saddled,
four or five buff-speckled eggs are laid, and by some special
dispensation rarely fall out of their insecure cradle. A sharp, loud
whistle, _wheu--o-wheu-o-wheu-o_, rings out from the throat of this
olive-sided tyrant, warning all intruders off the premises; but
however harshly he may treat the rest of the feathered world, he has
only gentle devotion to offer his brooding mate.

    Least Flycatcher

    (_Empidonax minimus_) Flycatcher family

    _Called also_: CHEBEC

    _Length_--5 to 5.5 inches. About an inch smaller than the
       English sparrow.

    _Male_--Gray or olive-gray above, paler on wings and lower
       part of back, and a more distinct olive-green on head.
       Underneath grayish white, sometimes faintly suffused with pale
       yellow. Wings have whitish bars. White eye-ring. Lower half of
       bill horn-color.

    _Female_--Is slightly more yellowish underneath.

    _Range_--Eastern North America, from tropics northward to Quebec.

    _Migrations_--May. September. Common summer resident.

This, the smallest member of its family, takes the place of the more
southerly Acadian flycatcher, throughout New England and the region of
the Great Lakes. But, unlike his Southern relative, he prefers
orchards and gardens close to our homes for his hunting grounds rather
than the wet recesses of the forests. _Che-bec_, _che-bec_, the
diminutive olive-pated gray sprite calls out from the orchard between
his aërial sallies after the passing insects that have been attracted
by the decaying fruit, and chebec is the name by which many New
Englanders know him.

While giving this characteristic call-note, with drooping jerking
tail, trembling wings, and uplifted parti-colored bill, he, looks
unnerved and limp by the effort it has cost him. But in the next
instant a gnat flies past. How quickly the bird recovers itself, and
charges full-tilt at his passing dinner! The sharp click of his little
bill proves that he has not missed his aim; and after careering about
in the air another minute or two, looking for more game to snap up on
the wing, he will return to the same perch and take up his familiar
refrain. Without hearing this call-note one might often mistake the
bird for either the wood pewee or the ph[oe]be, for all the three are
similarly clothed and have many traits in common. The slightly larger
size of the ph[oe]be and pewee is not always apparent when they are
seen perching on the trees. Unlike the "tuft of hay" to which the
Acadian flycatcher's nest has been likened, the least flycatcher's
home is a neat, substantial cup-shaped cradle softly lined with down
or horsehair, and placed generally in an upright crotch of a tree,
well above the ground.

    The Chickadee

    (_Parus atricapillus_) Titmouse family


    (Illustration facing p. 78)

    _Length_--5 to 5.5 inches. About an inch smaller than the
       English sparrow.

    _Male and Female_--Not crested. Crown and nape and throat
       black. Above gray, slightly tinged with brown. A white space,
       beginning at base of bill, extends backward, widening over
       cheeks and upper part of breast, forming a sort of collar that
       almost surrounds neck. Underneath dirty white, with pale
       rusty-brown wash on sides. Wings and tail gray, with white
       edgings. Plumage downy.

    _Range_--Eastern North America. North of the Carolinas to
       Labrador. Does not migrate in the North.

    _Migrations_--Late September. May. Winter resident; permanent
       resident in northern parts of the United States.

No "fair weather friend" is the jolly little chickadee. In the depth
of the autumn equinoctial storm it returns to the tops of the trees
close by the house, where, through the sunshine, snow, and tempest of
the entire winter, you may hear its cheery, irrepressible
_chickadee-dee-dee-dee_ or _day-day-day_ as it swings around the
dangling cones of the evergreens. It fairly overflows with good
spirits, and is never more contagiously gay than in a snowstorm. So
active, so friendly and cheering, what would the long northern winters
be like without this lovable little neighbor?

It serves a more utilitarian purpose, however, than bracing
faint-hearted spirits. "There is no bird that compares with it in
destroying the female canker-worm moths and their eggs," writes a
well-known entomologist. He calculates that as a chickadee destroys
about 5,500 eggs in one day, it will eat 138,750 eggs in the
twenty-five days it takes the canker-worm moth to crawl up the trees.
The moral that it pays to attract chickadees about your home by
feeding them in winter is obvious. Mrs. Mabel Osgood Wright, in her
delightful and helpful book "Birdcraft," tells us how she makes a sort
of a bird-hash of finely minced raw meat, waste canary-seed,
buckwheat, and cracked oats, which she scatters in a sheltered spot
for all the winter birds. The way this is consumed leaves no doubt of
its popularity. A raw bone, hung from an evergreen limb, is equally

Friendly as the chickadee is--and Dr. Abbott declares it the tamest
bird we have--it prefers well-timbered districts, especially where
there are red-bud trees, when it is time to nest. It is very often
clever enough to leave the labor of hollowing out a nest in the
tree-trunk to the woodpecker or nuthatch, whose old homes it readily
appropriates; or, when these birds object, a knot-hole or a hollow
fence-rail answers every purpose. Here, in the summer woods, when
family cares beset it, a plaintive, minor whistle replaces the
_chickadee-dee-dee_ that Thoreau likens to "silver tinkling" as he
heard it on a frosty morning.

   "Piped a tiny voice near by,
    Gay and polite, a cheerful cry--
    Chick-chickadeedee! saucy note
    Out of sound heart and merry throat,
    As if it said, 'Good-day, good Sir!
    Fine afternoon, old passenger!
    Happy to meet you in these places
    Where January brings few faces.'"

    Tufted Titmouse

    (_Parus bicolor_) Titmouse family


    (Illustration facing p. 79)

    _Length_--6 to 6.5 inches. About the size of the English sparrow.

    _Male and Female_--Crest high and pointed. Leaden or ash-gray
       above; darkest on wings and tail. Frontlet, bill, and
       shoulders black; space between eyes gray. Sides of head dull
       white. Under parts light gray; sides yellowish, tinged with red.

    _Range_--United States east of plains, and only rarely seen so
       far north as New England.

    _Migrations_--October. April. Winter resident, but also found
       throughout the year in many States.

"A noisy titmouse is Jack Frost's trumpeter" may be one of those few
weather-wise proverbs with a grain of truth in them. As the chickadee
comes from the woods with the frost, so it may be noticed his cousin,
the crested titmouse, is in more noisy evidence throughout the winter.

One might sometimes think his whistle, like a tugboat's, worked by
steam. But how effectually nesting cares alone can silence it in

Titmice always see to it you are not lonely as you walk through the
woods. This lordly tomtit, with his jaunty crest, keeps up a
persistent whistle at you as he flits from tree to tree, leading you
deeper into the forest, calling out "_Here-here-here!_" and looking
like a pert and jaunty little blue jay, minus his gay clothes. Mr.
Nehrling translates one of the calls "_Heedle-dee-dle-dee-dle-dee!_"
and another "_Peto-peto-peto-daytee-daytee!_" But it is at the former,
sharply whistled as the crested titmouse gives it, that every dog
pricks up his ears.

Comparatively little has been written about this bird, because it is
not often found in New England, where most of the bird _litterateurs_
have lived. South of New York State, however, it is a common resident,
and much respected for the good work it does in destroying injurious
insects, though it is more fond of varying its diet with nuts,
berries, and seeds than that all-round benefactor, the chickadee.

   [Illustration: CHICKADEE]

   [Illustration: _National Association of Audubon Societies_
      _See page 37_   TUFTED TITMOUSE]

    Canada Jay

    (_Perisoreus canadensis_) Crow and Jay family


    _Length_--11 to 12 inches. About two inches larger than the robin.

    _Male and Female_--Upper parts gray; darkest on wings and tail;
       back of the head and nape of the neck sooty, almost black.
       Forehead, throat, and neck white, and a few white tips on wings
       and tail. Underneath lighter gray. Tail long. Plumage fluffy.

    _Range_--Northern parts of the United States and British
       provinces of North America.

    _Migrations_--Resident where found.

The Canada jay looks like an exaggerated chickadee, and both birds are
equally fond of bitter cold weather, but here the similarity stops
short. Where the chickadee is friendly the jay is impudent and bold;
hardly less of a villain than his blue relative when it comes to
marauding other birds' nests and destroying their young. With all his
vices, however, intemperance cannot be attributed to him, in spite of
the name given him by the Adirondack lumbermen and guides. "Whisky
John" is a purely innocent corruption of "Wis-ka-tjon," as the Indians
call this bird that haunts their camps and familiarly enters their
wigwams. The numerous popular names by which the Canada jays are known
are admirably accounted for by Mr. Hardy in a bulletin issued by the
Smithsonian Institution.

"They will enter the tents, and often alight on the bow of a canoe,
where the paddle at every stroke comes within eighteen inches of them.
I know nothing which can be eaten that they will not take, and I had
one steal all my candles, pulling them out endwise, one by one, from a
piece of birch bark in which they were rolled, and another peck a
large hole in a keg of castile soap. A duck which I had picked and
laid down for a few minutes, had the entire breast eaten out by one or
more of these birds. I have seen one alight in the middle of my canoe
and peck away at the carcass of a beaver I had skinned. They often
spoil deer saddles by pecking into them near the kidneys. They do
great damage to the trappers by stealing the bait from traps set for
martens and minks and by eating trapped game. They will sit quietly
and see you build a log trap and bait it, and then, almost before your
back is turned, you hear their hateful _ca-ca-ca!_ as they glide down
and peer into it. They will work steadily, carrying off meat and
hiding it. I have thrown out pieces, and watched one to see how much
he would carry off. He flew across a wide stream, and in a short time
looked as bloody as a butcher from carrying large pieces; but his
patience held out longer than mine. I think one would work as long as
Mark Twain's California jay did trying to fill a miner's cabin with
acorns through a knot-hole in the roof. They are fond of the berries
of the mountain ash, and, in fact, few things come amiss; I believe
they do not possess a single good quality except industry."

One virtue not mentioned by Mr. Hardy is their prudent saving from the
summer surplus to keep the winter storeroom well supplied like a
squirrel's. Such thrift is the more necessary when a clamorous, hungry
family of young jays must be reared while the thermometer is often as
low as thirty degrees below zero at the end of March. How eggs are
ever hatched at all in a temperature calculated to freeze any sitting
bird stiff, is one of the mysteries of the woods. And yet four or five
fluffy little jays, that look as if they were dressed in gray fur,
emerge from the eggs before the spring sunshine has unbound the icy
rivers or melted the snowdrifts piled high around the evergreens.


    (_Galeoscoptes carolinensis_) Mocking-bird family

    _Called also_: BLACK-CAPPED THRUSH

    (Illustration facing p. 86)

    _Length_--9 inches. An inch shorter than the robin.

    _Male and Female_--Dark slate above; below somewhat paler; top
       of head black. Distinct chestnut patch under the tail, which
       is black; feet and bill black also. Wings short, more than two
       inches shorter than the tail.

    _Range_--British provinces to Mexico; west to Rocky Mountains,
       rarely to Pacific coast. Winters in Southern States, Central
       America, and Cuba.

    _Migrations_--May. November. Common summer resident.

Our familiar catbird, of all the feathered tribe, presents the most
contrary characteristics, and is therefore held in varied
estimation--loved, admired, ridiculed, abused. He is the veriest "Dr.
Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" of birds. Exquisitely proportioned, with finely
poised black head and satin-gray coat, which he bathes most carefully
and prunes and prinks by the hour, he appears from his toilet a Beau
Brummell, an aristocratic-looking, even dandified neighbor. Suddenly,
as if shot, he drops head and tail and assumes the most hang-dog air,
without the least sign of self-respect; then crouches and lengthens
into a roll, head forward and tail straightened, till he looks like a
little, short gray snake, lank and limp. Anon, with a jerk and a
sprint, every muscle tense, tail erect, eyes snapping, he darts into
the air intent upon some well-planned mischief. It is impossible to
describe his various attitudes or moods. In song and call he presents
the same opposite characteristics. How such a bird, exquisite in
style, can demean himself to utter such harsh, altogether hateful
catcalls and squawks as have given the bird his common name, is a
wonder when in the next moment his throat swells and beginning
_phut-phut-coquillicot_, he gives forth a long glorious song, only
second to that of the wood thrush in melody. He is a jester, a
caricaturist, a mocking-bird.

The catbird's nest is like a veritable scrap-basket, loosely woven of
coarse twigs, bits of newspaper, scraps, and rags, till this rough
exterior is softly lined and made fit to receive the four to six
pretty dark green-blue eggs to be laid therein.

As a fruit thief harsh epithets are showered upon the friendly,
confiding little creature at our doors; but surely his depredations
may be pardoned, for he is industrious at all times and unusually
adroit in catching insects, especially in the moth stage.

    The Mocking-bird

    (_Mimus polyglottus_) Mocking-bird family

    (Illustrations facing pp. 13 and 107)

    _Length_--9 to 10 inches. About the size of the robin.

    _Male and Female_--Gray above; wings and wedge-shaped tail
       brownish; upper wing feathers tipped with white; outer tail
       quills white, conspicuous in flight; chin white; underneath
       light gray, shading to whitish.

    _Range_--Peculiar to torrid and temperate zones of two Americas.

    _Migrations_--No fixed migrations; usually resident where seen.

North of Delaware this commonest of Southern birds is all too rarely
seen outside of cages, yet even in midwinter it is not unknown in
Central Park, New York. This is the angel that it is said the catbird
was before he fell from grace. Slim, neat, graceful, imitative,
amusing, with a rich, tender song that only the thrush can hope to
rival, and with an instinctive preference for the society of man, it
is little wonder he is a favorite, caged or free. He is a most devoted
parent, too, when the four or six speckled green eggs have produced as
many mouths to be supplied with insects and berries.

In the Connecticut Valley, where many mocking-birds' nests have been
found, year after year, they are all seen near the ground, and without
exception are loosely, poorly constructed affairs of leaves, feathers,
grass, and even rags.

With all his virtues, it must be added, however, that this charming
bird is a sad tease. There is no sound, whether made by bird or beast
about him, that he cannot imitate so clearly as to deceive every one
but himself. Very rarely can you find a mocking-bird without
intelligence and mischief enough to appreciate his ventriloquism. In
Sidney Lanier's college note-book was found written this reflection:
"A poet is the mocking-bird of the spiritual universe. In him are
collected all the individual songs of all individual natures." Later
in life, with the same thought in mind, he referred to the bird as
"yon slim Shakespeare on the tree." His exquisite stanzas, "To Our
Mocking-bird," exalt the singer with the immortals:

   "Trillets of humor,--shrewdest whistle-wit--
    Contralto cadences of grave desire,
    Such as from off the passionate Indian pyre
    Drift down through sandal-odored flames that split
    About the slim young widow, who doth sit
    And sing above,--midnights of tone entire,--
    Tissues of moonlight, shot with songs of fire;--
    Bright drops of tune, from oceans infinite
    Of melody, sipped off the thin-edged wave
    And trickling down the beak,--discourses brave
    Of serious matter that no man may guess,--
    Good-fellow greetings, cries of light distress--
    All these but now within the house we heard:
    O Death, wast thou too deaf to hear the bird?

          *       *       *       *       *

    Nay, Bird; my grief gainsays the Lord's best right.
    The Lord was fain, at some late festal time,
    That Keats should set all heaven's woods in rhyme,
    And Thou in bird-notes. Lo, this tearful night
    Methinks I see thee, fresh from Death's despite,
    Perched in a palm-grove, wild with pantomime
    O'er blissful companies couched in shady thyme.
    Methinks I hear thy silver whistlings bright
    Meet with the mighty discourse of the wise,--
    'Till broad Beethoven, deaf no more, and Keats,
    'Midst of much talk, uplift their smiling eyes
    And mark the music of thy wood-conceits,
    And half-way pause on some large courteous word,
    And call thee 'Brother,' O thou heavenly Bird!"


    (_Junco hyemalis_) Finch family


    _Length_--5.5 to 6.5 inches. About the size of the English sparrow.

    _Male_--Upper parts slate-colored; darkest on head and neck,
       which are sometimes almost black and marked like a cowl. Gray
       on breast, like a vest. Underneath white. Several outer tail
       feathers white, conspicuous in flight.

    _Female_--Lighter gray, inclining to brown.

    _Range_--North America. Not common in warm latitudes. Breeds
       in the Catskills and northern New England.

    _Migrations_--September. April. Winter resident.

"Leaden skies above; snow below," is Mr. Parkhurst's suggestive
description of this rather timid little neighbor, that is only starved
into familiarity. When the snow has buried seed and berries, a flock
of juncos, mingling sociably with the sparrows and chickadees about
the kitchen door, will pick up scraps of food with an intimacy quite
touching in a bird naturally rather shy. Here we can readily
distinguish these "little gray-robed monks and nuns," as Miss Florence
Merriam calls them.

They are trim, sprightly, sleek, and even natty; their dispositions
are genial and vivacious, not quarrelsome, like their sparrow cousins,
and what is perhaps best about them, they are birds we may surely
depend upon seeing in the winter months. A few come forth in
September, migrating at night from the deep woods of the north, where
they have nested and moulted during the summer; but not until frost
has sharpened the air are large numbers of them seen. Rejoicing in
winter, they nevertheless do not revel in the deep and fierce arctic
blasts, as the snowflakes do, but take good care to avoid the open
pastures before the hard storms overtake them.

Early in the spring their song is sometimes heard before they leave us
to woo and to nest in the north. Mr. Bicknell describes it as "a crisp
call-note, a simple trill, and a faint, whispered warble, usually much
broken, but not without sweetness."

    White-breasted Nuthatch

    (_Sitta carolinensis_) Nuthatch family


    (Illustration facing p. 87)

    _Length_--5.5 to 6 inches. A trifle smaller than the English sparrow.

    _Male and Female_--Upper parts slate-color. Top of head and
       nape black. Wings dark slate, edged with black, that fades to
       brown. Tail feathers brownish black, with white bars. Sides of
       head and underneath white, shading to pale reddish under the
       tail. (Female's head leaden.) Body flat and compact. Bill
       longer than head.

    _Range_--British provinces to Mexico. Eastern United States.

    _Migrations_--October. April. Common resident. Most prominent
       in winter.

   "Shrewd little haunter of woods all gray,
    Whom I meet on my walk of a winter day--
    You're busy inspecting each cranny and hole
    In the ragged bark of yon hickory bole;
    You intent on your task, and I on the law
    Of your wonderful head and gymnastic claw!

    The woodpecker well may despair of this feat--
    Only the fly with you can compete!
    So much is clear; but I fain would know
    How you can so reckless and fearless go,
    Head upward, head downward, all one to you,
    Zenith and nadir the same in your view?"

                                 --_Edith M. Thomas._

Could a dozen lines well contain a fuller description or more apt
characterization of a bird than these "To a Nuthatch"?

With more artless inquisitiveness than fear, this lively little
acrobat stops his hammering or hatcheting at your approach, and
stretching himself out from the tree until it would seem he must fall
off, he peers down at you, head downward, straight into your upturned
opera-glasses. If there is too much snow on the upper side of a
branch, watch how he runs along underneath it like a fly, busily
tapping the bark, or adroitly breaking the decayed bits with his bill,
as he searches for the spider's eggs, larvæ, etc., hidden there; yet
somehow, between mouthfuls, managing to call out his cheery _quank!_
_quank!_ _hank!_ _hank!_

Titmice and nuthatches, which have many similar characteristics, are
often seen in the most friendly hunting parties on the same tree. A
pine woods is their dearest delight. There, as the mercury goes down,
their spirits only seem to go up higher. In the spring they have been
thought by many to migrate in flocks, whereas they are only retreating
with their relations away from the haunts of men to the deep, cool
woods, where they nest. With infinite patience the nuthatch excavates
a hole in a tree, lining it with feathers and moss, and often
depositing as many as ten white eggs (speckled with red and lilac) for
a single brood.

    Red-breasted Nuthatch

    (_Sitta canadensis_) Nuthatch family

    Called also: CANADA NUTHATCH

    (Illustration facing p. 87)

    _Length_--4 to 4.75 inches. One-third smaller than the English

    _Male_--Lead-colored above; brownish on wings and tail. Head, neck,
       and stripe passing through eye to shoulder, black. Frontlet,
       chin, and shoulders white; also a white stripe over eye, meeting
       on brow. Under parts light, rusty red. Tail feathers barred with
       white near end, and tipped with pale brown.

    _Female_--Has crown of brownish black, and is lighter beneath
       than male.

    _Range_--Northern parts of North America. Not often seen south
       of the most northerly States.

    _Migrations_--November. April. Winter resident.

The brighter coloring of this tiny, hardy bird distinguishes it from
the other and larger nuthatch, with whom it is usually seen, for the
winter birds have a delightfully social manner, so that a colony of
these Free masons is apt to contain not only both kinds of nuthatches
and chickadees, but kinglets and brown creepers as well. It shares the
family habit of walking about the trees, head downward, and running
along the under side of limbs like a fly. By Thanksgiving Day the
_quank!_ _quank!_ of the white-breasted species is answered by the
_tai-tai-tait!_ of the red-breasted cousin in the orchard, where the
family party is celebrating with an elaborate _menu_ of slugs,
insects' eggs, and oily seeds from the evergreen trees.

For many years this nuthatch, a more northern species than the
white-breasted bird, was thought to be only a spring and autumn
visitor, but latterly it is credited with habits like its congener's
in nearly every particular.

   [Illustration: CATBIRD]

   [Illustration: WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH, Upper Figures, Male and Female
      RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH, Lower Figures, Male and Female]

    Loggerhead Shrike

    (_Lanius ludovicianus_) Shrike family

    _Length_--8.5 to 9 inches. A little smaller than the robin.

    _Male and Female_--Upper parts gray; narrow black line across
       forehead, connecting small black patches on sides of head at
       base of bill. Wings and tail black, plentifully marked with
       white, the outer tail feathers often being entirely white and
       conspicuous in flight. Underneath white or very light gray.
       Bill hooked and hawk-like.

    _Range_--Eastern United States to the plains.

    _Migrations_--May. October. Summer resident.

It is not easy, even at a slight distance, to distinguish the
loggerhead from the Northern shrike. Both have the pernicious habit of
killing insects and smaller birds and impaling them on thorns; both
have the peculiarity of flying, with strong, vigorous flight and much
wing-flapping, close along the ground, then suddenly rising to a tree,
on the lookout for prey. Their harsh, unmusical call-notes are similar
too, and their hawk-like method of dropping suddenly upon a victim on
the ground below is identical. Indeed, the same description very
nearly answers for both birds. But there is one very important
difference. While the Northern shrike is a winter visitor, the
loggerhead, being his Southern counterpart, does not arrive until
after the frost is out of the ground, and he can be sure of a truly
warm welcome. A lesser distinction between the only two
representatives of the shrike family that frequent our
neighborhood--and they are two too many--is in the smaller size of the
loggerhead and its lighter-gray plumage. But as both these birds
select some high, commanding position, like a distended branch near
the tree-top, a cupola, house-peak, lightning-rod, telegraph wire, or
weather-vane, the better to detect a passing dinner, it would be quite
impossible at such a distance to know which shrike was sitting up
there silently plotting villainies, without remembering the season
when each may be expected.

    Northern Shrike

    (_Lanius borealis_) Shrike family

    _Called also_: BUTCHER-BIRD; NINE-KILLER

    _Length_--9.5 to 10.5 inches. About the size of the robin.

    _Male_--Upper parts slate-gray; wing quills and tail black,
       edged and tipped with white, conspicuous in flight; a white
       spot on centre of outer wing feathers. A black band runs from
       bill, through eye to side of throat. Light gray below, tinged
       with brownish, and faintly marked with waving lines of darker
       gray. Bill hooked and hawk-like.

    _Female_--With eye-band more obscure than male's, and with more
       distinct brownish cast on her plumage.

    _Range_--Northern North America. South in winter to middle portion of
       United States.

    _Migrations_--November, April. A roving winter resident.

"Matching the bravest of the brave among birds of prey in deeds of
daring, and no less relentless than reckless, the shrike compels that
sort of deference, not unmixed with indignation, we are accustomed to
accord to creatures of seeming insignificance whose exploits demand
much strength, great spirit, and insatiate love for carnage. We cannot
be indifferent to the marauder who takes his own wherever he finds
it--a feudal baron who holds his own with undisputed sway--and an ogre
whose victims are so many more than he can eat, that he actually keeps
a private graveyard for the balance." Who is honestly able to give the
shrikes a better character than Dr. Coues, just quoted? A few offer
them questionable defence by recording the large numbers of English
sparrows they kill in a season, as if wanton carnage were ever

Not even a hawk itself can produce the consternation among a flock of
sparrows that the harsh, rasping voice of the butcher-bird creates,
for escape they well know to be difficult before the small ogre swoops
down upon his victim, and carries it off to impale it on a thorn or
frozen twig, there to devour it later piecemeal. Every shrike thus
either impales or else hangs up, as a butcher does his meat, more
little birds of many kinds, field-mice, grasshoppers, and other large
insects than it can hope to devour in a week of bloody orgies.
Field-mice are perhaps its favorite diet, but even snakes are not

More contemptible than the actual slaughter of its victims, if
possible, is the method by which the shrike often lures and sneaks
upon his prey. Hiding in a clump of bushes in the meadow or garden, he
imitates with fiendish cleverness the call-notes of little birds that
come in cheerful response, hopping and flitting within easy range of
him. His bloody work is finished in a trice. Usually, however, it must
be owned, the shrike's hunting habits are the reverse of sneaking.
Perched on a point of vantage on some tree-top or weather-vane, his
hawk-like eye can detect a grasshopper going through the grass fifty
yards away.

What is our surprise when some fine warm day in March, just before our
butcher, ogre, sneak, and fiend leaves us for colder regions, to hear
him break out into song! Love has warmed even his cold heart, and with
sweet, warbled notes on the tip of a beak that but yesterday was
reeking with his victim's blood, he starts for Canada, leaving behind
him the only good impression he has made during a long winter's visit.

    Bohemian Waxwing

    (_Ampelis garrulus_) Waxwing family


    _Length_--8 to 9.5 inches. A little smaller than the robin.

    _Male and Female_--General color drab, with faint brownish
       wash above, shading into lighter gray below. Crest
       conspicuous, being nearly an inch and a half in length;
       rufous at the base, shading into light gray above.
       Velvety-black forehead, chin, and line through the eye. Wings
       grayish brown, with very dark quills, which have two white
       bars; the bar at the edge of the upper wing coverts being
       tipped with red sealing-wax-like points, that give the bird
       its name. A few wing feathers tipped with yellow on outer
       edge. Tail quills dark brown, with yellow band across the end,
       and faint red streaks on upper and inner sides.

    _Range_--Northern United States and British America. Most
       common in Canada and northern Mississippi region.

    _Migrations_--Very irregular winter visitor.

When Charles Bonaparte, Prince of Canino, who was the first to count
this common waxwing of Europe and Asia among the birds of North
America, published an account of it in his "Synopsis," it was
considered a very rare bird indeed. It may be these waxwings have
greatly increased, but however uncommon they may still be considered,
certainly no one who had ever seen a flock containing more than a
thousand of them, resting on the trees of a lawn within sight of New
York City, as the writer has done, could be expected to consider the
birds "very rare."

The Bohemian waxwing, like the only other member of the family that
ever visits us, the cedar-bird, is a roving gipsy. In Germany they say
seven years must elapse between its visitations, which the
superstitious old cronies are wont to associate with woful stories of
pestilence--just such tales as are resurrected from the depths of
morbid memories here when a comet reappears or the seven-year locust
ascends from the ground.

The goings and comings of these birds are certainly most erratic and
infrequent; nevertheless, when hunger drives them from the far north
to feast upon the juniper and other winter berries of our Northern
States, they come in enormous flocks, making up in quantity what they
lack in regularity of visits and evenness of distribution.

Surely no bird has less right to be associated with evil than this
mild waxwing. It seems the very incarnation of peace and harmony. Part
of a flock that has lodged in a tree will sit almost motionless for
hours and whisper in softly hissed twitterings, very much as a company
of Quaker ladies, similarly dressed, might sit at yearly meeting.
Exquisitely clothed in silky-gray feathers that no berry juice is ever
permitted to stain, they are dainty, gentle, aristocratic-looking
birds, a trifle heavy and indolent, perhaps, when walking on the
ground or perching; but as they fly in compact squads just above the
tree-tops their flight is exceedingly swift and graceful.

    Bay-breasted Warbler

    (_Dendroica castanea_) Wood Warbler family

    _Length_--5.25 to 5.75 inches. A little smaller than the
       English sparrow.

    _Male_--Crown, chin, throat, upper breast, and sides dull
       chestnut. Forehead, sides of head, and cheeks black. Above
       olive-gray, streaked with black. Underneath buffy. Two white
       wing-bars. Outer tail quills with white patches on tips.
       Cream-white patch on either side of neck.

    _Female_--Has more greenish-olive above.

    _Range_--Eastern North America, from Hudson's Bay to Central
       America. Nests north of the United States. Winters in tropical
       limit of range.

    _Migrations_--May. September. Rare migrant.

The chestnut breast of this capricious little visitor makes him look
like a diminutive robin. In spring, when these warblers are said to
take a more easterly route than the one they choose in autumn to
return by to Central America, they may be so suddenly abundant that
the fresh green trees and shrubbery of the garden will contain a dozen
of the busy little hunters. Another season they may pass northward
either by another route or leave your garden unvisited; and perhaps
the people in the very next town may be counting your rare bird
common, while it is simply perverse.

Whether common or rare, before your acquaintance has had time to ripen
into friendship, away go the freaky little creatures to nest in the
tree-tops of the Canadian coniferous forests.

    Chestnut-sided Warbler

    (_Dendroica pennsylvanica_) Wood Warbler family

    _Called also_: BLOODY-SIDED WARBLER

    (Illustrations facing pp. 94 and 122)

    _Length_--About 5 inches. More than an inch shorter than the
       English sparrow.

    _Male_--Top of head and streaks in wings yellow. A black line
       running through the eye and round back of crown, and a black
       spot in front of eye, extending to cheeks. Ear coverts, chin,
       and underneath white. Back greenish gray and slate, streaked
       with black. Sides of bird chestnut. Wings, which are streaked
       with black and yellow, have yellowish-white bars. Very dark
       tail with white patches on inner vanes of the outer quills.

    _Female_--Similar, but duller. Chestnut sides are often
       scarcely apparent.

    _Range_--Eastern North America, from Manitoba and Labrador to
       the tropics, where it winters.

    _Migrations_--May. September. Summer resident, most common in

In the Alleghanies, and from New Jersey and Illinois northward, this
restless little warbler nests in the bushy borders of woodlands and
the undergrowth of the woods, for which he forsakes our gardens and
orchards after a very short visit in May. While hopping over the
ground catching ants, of which he seems to be inordinately fond, or
flitting actively about the shrubbery after grubs and insects, we may
note his coat of many colors--patchwork in which nearly all the
warbler colors are curiously combined. With drooped wings that often
conceal the bird's chestnut sides, which are his chief distinguishing
mark, and with tail erected like a redstart's, he hunts incessantly.
Here in the garden he is as refreshingly indifferent to your interest
in him as later in his breeding haunts he is shy and distrustful. His
song is bright and animated, like that of the yellow warbler.

    Golden-winged Warbler

    (_Helminthophila chrysoptera_) Wood Warbler family

    _Length_--About 5 inches. More than an inch shorter than the
       English sparrow.

    _Male_--Yellow crown and yellow patches on the wings. Upper
       parts bluish gray, sometimes tinged with greenish. Stripe
       through the eye and throat black. Sides of head, chin, and
       line over the eye white. Underneath white, grayish on sides. A
       few white markings on outer tail feathers.

    _Female_--Crown duller; gray where male is black, with olive
       upper parts and grayer underneath.

    _Range_--From Canadian border to Central America, where it winters.

    _Migrations_--May. September. Summer resident.

After one has seen a golden-winged warbler fluttering hither and
thither about the shrubbery of a park within sight and sound of a
great city's distractions and with blissful unconcern of them all,
partaking of a hearty lunch of insects that infest the leaves before
one's eyes, one counts the bird less rare and shy than one has been
taught to consider it. Whoever looks for a warbler with gaudy yellow
wings will not find the golden-winged variety. His wings have golden
patches only, and while these are distinguishing marks, they are
scarcely prominent enough features to have given the bird the rather
misleading name he bears. But, then, most warblers' names are
misleading. They serve their best purpose in cultivating patience and
other gentle virtues in the novice.

Such habits and choice of haunts as characterize the blue-winged
warbler are also the golden-winged's. But their voices are quite
different, the former's being sharp and metallic, while the latter's
_zee, zee, zee_ comes more lazily and without accent.

    Myrtle Warbler

    (_Dendroica coronata_) Wood Warbler family


    _Length_--5 to 5.5 inches. About an inch smaller than the
       English sparrow.

    _Male_--_In summer plumage_: A yellow patch on top of head,
       lower back, and either side of the breast. Upper parts bluish
       slate, streaked with black. Upper breast black; throat white;
       all other under parts whitish, streaked with black. Two white
       wing-bars, and tail quills have white spots near the tip. _In
       winter_: Upper parts olive-brown, streaked with black; the
       yellow spot on lower back the only yellow mark remaining.
       Wing-bars grayish.

    _Female_--Resembles male in winter plumage.

    _Range_--Eastern North America. Occasional on Pacific slope.
       Summers from Minnesota and northern New England northward to
       Fur Countries. Winters from Middle States southward into
       Central America; a few often remaining at the northern United
       States all the winter.

    _Migrations_--April. October. November. Also, but more rarely,
       a winter resident.

The first of the warblers to arrive in the spring and the last to
leave us in the autumn, some even remaining throughout the northern
winter, the myrtle warbler, next to the summer yellowbird, is the most
familiar of its multitudinous kin. Though we become acquainted with it
chiefly in the migrations, it impresses us by its numbers rather than
by any gorgeousness of attire. The four yellow spots on crown, lower
back, and sides are its distinguishing marks; and in the autumn these
marks have dwindled to only one, that on the lower back or rump. The
great difficulty experienced in identifying any warbler is in its
restless habit of flitting about.

For a few days in early May we are forcibly reminded of the Florida
peninsula, which fairly teems with these birds; they become almost
superabundant, a distraction during the precious days when the rarer
species are quietly slipping by, not to return again for a year,
perhaps longer, for some warblers are notoriously irregular in their
routes north and south, and never return by the way they travelled in
the spring.

But if we look sharply into every group of myrtle warblers, we are
quite likely to discover some of their dainty, fragile cousins that
gladly seek the escort of birds so fearless as they. By the last of
May all the warblers are gone from the neighborhood except the
constant little summer yellowbird and redstart.

In autumn, when the myrtle warblers return after a busy enough summer
passed in Canadian nurseries, they chiefly haunt those regions where
juniper and bay-berries abound. These latter (_Myrica cerifera_), or
the myrtle wax-berries, as they are sometimes called, and which are
the bird's favorite food, have given it their name. Wherever the
supply of these berries is sufficient to last through the winter,
there it may be found foraging in the scrubby bushes. Sometimes driven
by cold and hunger from the fields, this hardiest member of a family
that properly belongs to the tropics, seeks shelter and food close to
the outbuildings on the farm.

    Parula Warbler

    (_Compsothlypis americana_) Wood Warbler family


    _Length_--4.5 to 4.75 inches. About an inch and a half shorter
       than the English sparrow.

    _Male and Female_--Slate-colored above, with a greenish-yellow
       or bronze patch in the middle of the back. Chin, throat, and
       breast yellow. A black, bluish, or rufous band across the
       breast, usually lacking in female. Underneath white, sometimes
       marked with rufous on sides, but these markings are variable.
       Wings have two white patches; outer tail feathers have white
       patch near the end.

    _Range_--Eastern North America. Winters from Florida southward.

    _Migrations_--April. October. Summer resident.

Through an open window of an apartment in the very heart of New York
City, a parula warbler flew this spring of 1897, surely the daintiest,
most exquisitely beautiful bird visitor that ever voluntarily lodged
between two brick walls.

A number of such airy, tiny beauties flitting about among the blossoms
of the shrubbery on a bright May morning and swaying on the slenderest
branches with their inimitable grace, is a sight that the memory
should retain into old age. They seem the very embodiment of life,
joy, beauty, grace; of everything lovely that birds by any possibility
could be. Apparently they are wafted about the garden; they fly with
no more effort than a dainty lifting of the wings, as if to catch the
breeze, that seems to lift them as it might a bunch of thistledown.
They go through a great variety of charming posturings as they hunt
for their food upon the blossoms and tender fresh twigs, now creeping
like a nuthatch along the bark and peering into the crevices, now
gracefully swaying and balancing like a goldfinch upon a slender,
pendent stem. One little sprite pauses in its hunt for the insects to
raise its pretty head and trill a short and wiry song.

But the parula warbler does not remain long about the gardens and
orchards, though it will not forsake us altogether for the Canadian
forests, where most of its relatives pass the summer. It retreats only
to the woods near the water, if may be, or to just as close a
counterpart of a swampy southern woods, where the Spanish or Usnea
"moss" drapes itself over the cypresses, as it can find here at the
north. Its rarely beautiful nest, that hangs suspended from a slender
branch very much like the Baltimore oriole's, is so woven and
festooned with this moss that its concealment is perfect.


   [Illustration: BLUEBIRD]

    Black-throated Blue Warbler

    (_Dendroica cærulescens_) Wood Warbler family

    _Length_---5.30 inches. About an inch shorter than the English

    _Male_--Slate-color, not blue above; lightest on forehead and
       darkest on lower back. Wings and tail edged with bluish.
       Cheeks, chin, throat, upper breast, and sides black. Breast
       and underneath white. White spots on wings, and a little white
       on tail.

    _Female_--Olive-green above; underneath soiled yellow. Wing-spots
       inconspicuous. Tail generally has a faint bluish tinge.

    _Range_--Eastern North America, from Labrador to tropics,
       where it winters.

    _Migrations_--May. September. Usually a migrant only in the
       United States.

Whoever looks for this beautifully marked warbler among the bluebirds,
will wish that the man who named him had possessed a truer eye for
color. But if the name so illy fits the bright slate-colored male, how
grieved must be his little olive-and-yellow mate to answer to the name
of black-throated blue warbler when she has neither a black throat nor
a blue feather! It is not easy to distinguish her as she flits about
the twigs and leaves of the garden in May or early autumn, except as
she is seen in company with her husband, whose name she has taken with
him for better or for worse. The white spot on the wings should always
be looked for to positively identify this bird.

Before flying up to a twig to peck off the insects, the birds have a
pretty vireo trick of cocking their heads on one side to investigate
the quantity hidden underneath the leaves. They seem less nervous and
more deliberate than many of their restless family.

Most warblers go over the Canada border to nest, but there are many
records of the nests of this species in the Alleghanies as far south
as Georgia, in the Catskills, in Connecticut, northern Minnesota and
Michigan. Laurel thickets and moist undergrowth of woods in the United
States, and more commonly pine woods in Canada, are the favorite
nesting haunts. A sharp _zip_, _zip_, like some midsummer insect's
noise, is the bird's call-note, but its love-song, _zee_, _zee_,
_zee_, or _twee_, _twea_, _twea-e-e_, as one authority writes it, is
only rarely heard in the migrations. It is a languid, drawling little
strain, with an upward slide that is easily drowned in the full bird
chorus of May.


    Indigo Bunting
    Belted Kingfisher
    Blue Jay
    Blue Grosbeak
    Barn Swallow
    Cliff Swallow
    Mourning Dove
    Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Look also among Slate-colored Birds in preceding group, particularly
among the Warblers there, or in the group of Birds conspicuously,
Yellow and Orange.

    The Bluebird

    (_Sialia sialis_) Thrush family

    _Called also_: BLUE ROBIN

    (Illustration facing p. 95)

    _Length_--7 inches. About an inch longer than the English sparrow.

    _Male_--Upper parts, wings, and tail bright blue, with rusty
       wash in autumn. Throat, breast, and sides cinnamon-red.
       Underneath white.

    _Female_--Has duller blue feathers, washed with gray, and a
       paler breast than male.

    _Range_--North America, from Nova Scotia and Manitoba to Gulf
       of Mexico. Southward in winter from Middle States to Bermuda
       and West Indies.

    _Migrations_--March. November. Summer resident. A few
       sometimes remain throughout the winter.

With the first soft, plaintive warble of the bluebirds early in March,
the sugar camps, waiting for their signal, take on a bustling
activity; the farmer looks to his plough; orders are hurried off to
the seedsmen; a fever to be out of doors seizes one: spring is here.
Snowstorms may yet whiten fields and gardens, high winds may howl
about the trees and chimneys, but the little blue heralds persistently
proclaim from the orchard and garden that the spring procession has
begun to move. _Tru-al-ly_, _tru-al-ly_, they sweetly assert to our
incredulous ears.

The bluebird is not always a migrant, except in the more northern
portions of the country. Some representatives there are always with
us, but the great majority winter south and drop out of the spring
procession on its way northward, the males a little ahead of their
mates, which show housewifely instincts immediately after their
arrival. A pair of these rather undemonstrative, matter-of-fact lovers
go about looking for some deserted woodpecker's hole in the orchard,
peering into cavities in the fence-rails, or into the bird-houses
that, once set up in the old-fashioned gardens for their special
benefit, are now appropriated too often by the ubiquitous sparrow.
Wrens they can readily dispossess of an attractive tenement, and do.
With a temper as heavenly as the color of their feathers, the
bluebird's sense of justice is not always so adorable. But sparrows
unnerve them into cowardice. The comparatively infrequent nesting of
the bluebirds about our homes at the present time is one of the most
deplorable results of unrestricted sparrow immigration. Formerly they
were the commonest of bird neighbors.

Nest-building is not a favorite occupation with the bluebirds, that
are conspicuously domestic none the less. Two, and even three, broods
in a season fully occupy their time. As in most cases, the mother-bird
does more than her share of the work. The male looks with wondering
admiration at the housewifely activity, applauds her with song, feeds
her as she sits brooding over the nestful of pale greenish-blue eggs,
but his adoration of her virtues does not lead him into emulation.

    "Shifting his light load of song,
     From post to post along the cheerless fence,"

Lowell observed that he carried his duties quite as lightly.

When the young birds first emerge from the shell they are almost
black; they come into their splendid heritage of color by degrees,
lest their young heads might be turned. It is only as they spread
their tiny wings for their first flight from the nest that we can see
a few blue feathers.

With the first cool days of autumn the bluebirds collect in flocks,
often associating with orioles and kingbirds in sheltered, sunny
places where insects are still plentiful. Their steady, undulating
flight now becomes erratic as they take food on the wing--a habit that
they may have learned by association with the kingbirds, for they have
also adopted the habit of perching upon some conspicuous lookout and
then suddenly launching out into the air for a passing fly and
returning to their perch. Long after their associates have gone
southward, they linger like the last leaves on the tree. It is indeed
"good-bye to summer" when the bluebirds withdraw their touch of
brightness from the dreary November landscape.

The bluebirds from Canada and the northern portions of New England
and New York migrate into Virginia and the Carolinas; the birds from
the Middle States move down into the Gulf States to pass the winter.
It was there that countless numbers were cut off by the severe winter
of 1894-95, which was so severe in that section.

    Indigo Bunting

    (_Passerina cyanea_) Finch family

    _Called also_: INDIGO BIRD

    _Length_--5.5 to 6 inches. Smaller than the English sparrow,
       or the size of a canary.

    _Male_--In certain lights rich blue, deepest on head. In
       another light the blue feathers show verdigris tints. Wings,
       tail, and lower back with brownish wash, most prominent in
       autumn plumage. Quills of wings and tail deep blue, margined
       with light.

    _Female_--Plain sienna-brown above. Yellowish on breast and
       shading to white underneath, and indistinctly streaked. Wings
       and tail darkest, sometimes with slight tinge of blue in outer
       webs and on shoulders.

    _Range_--North America, from Hudson Bay to Panama. Most common
       in eastern part of United States. Winters in Central America
       and Mexico.

    _Migrations_--May. September. Summer resident.

The "glowing indigo" of this tropical-looking visitor that so
delighted Thoreau in the Walden woods, often seems only the more
intense by comparison with the blue sky, against which it stands out
in relief as the bird perches singing in a tree-top. What has this
gaily dressed, dapper little cavalier in common with his dingy sparrow
cousins that haunt the ground and delight in dust-baths, leaving their
feathers no whit more dingy than they were before, and in temper, as
in plumage, suggesting more of earth than of heaven? Apparently he has
nothing, and yet the small brown bird in the roadside thicket, which
you have misnamed a sparrow, not noticing the glint of blue in her
shoulders and tail, is his mate. Besides the structural resemblances,
which are, of course, the only ones considered by ornithologists in
classifying birds, the indigo buntings have several sparrow-like
traits. They feed upon the ground, mainly upon seeds of grasses and
herbs, with a few insects interspersed to give relish to the grain;
they build grassy nests in low bushes or tall, rank grass; and their
flight is short and labored. Borders of woods, roadside thickets, and
even garden shrubbery, with open pasture lots for foraging grounds
near by, are favorite haunts of these birds, that return again and
again to some preferred spot. But however close to our homes they
build theirs, our presence never ceases to be regarded by them with
anything but suspicion, not to say alarm. Their metallic _cheep_,
_cheep_, warns you to keep away from the little blue-white eggs,
hidden away securely in the bushes; and the nervous tail twitchings
and jerkings are pathetic to see. Happily for the safety of their
nest, the brooding mother has no tell-tale feathers to attract the
eye. Dense foliage no more conceals the male bird's brilliant coat
than it can the tanager's or oriole's.

With no attempt at concealment, which he doubtless understands would
be quite impossible, he chooses some high, conspicuous perch to which
he mounts by easy stages, singing as he goes; and there begins a loud
and rapid strain that promises much, but growing weaker and weaker,
ends as if the bird were either out of breath or too weak to finish.
Then suddenly he begins the same song over again, and keeps up this
continuous performance for nearly half an hour. The noonday heat of an
August day that silences nearly every other voice, seems to give to
the indigo bird's only fresh animation and timbre.

  [Illustration: BELTED KINGFISHER (Upper Figure, Female;
     Lower Figure, Male)]

   [Illustration: BLUE JAY]

    The Belted Kingfisher

    (_Ceryle alcyon_) Kingfisher family

    _Called also_: THE HALCYON

    (Illustration facing p. 48)

    _Length_--12 to 13 inches. About one-fourth as large again as
       the robin.

    _Male_--Upper part grayish blue, with prominent crest on head
       reaching to the nape. A white spot in front of the eye. Bill
       longer than the head, which is large and heavy. Wings and the
       short tail minutely speckled and marked with broken bands of
       white. Chin, band around throat, and underneath white. Two
       bluish bands across the breast and a bluish wash on sides.

    _Female_--Female and immature specimens have rufous bands
       where the adult male's are blue. Plumage of both birds oily.

    _Range_--North America, except where the Texan kingfisher
       replaces it in a limited area in the Southwest. Common from
       Labrador to Florida, east and west. Winters chiefly from
       Virginia southward to South America.

    _Migrations_--March. December. Common summer resident. Usually
       a winter resident also.

If the kingfisher is not so neighborly as we could wish, or as he used
to be, it is not because he has grown less friendly, but because the
streams near our homes are fished out. Fish he must and will have, and
to get them nowadays it is too often necessary to follow the stream
back through secluded woods to the quiet waters of its source: a
clear, cool pond or lake whose scaly inmates have not yet learned
wisdom at the point of the sportsman's fly.

In such quiet haunts the kingfisher is easily the most conspicuous
object in sight, where he perches on some dead or projecting branch
over the water, intently watching for a dinner that is all
unsuspectingly swimming below. Suddenly the bird drops--dives; there
is a splash, a struggle, and then the "lone fisherman" returns
triumphant to his perch, holding a shining fish in his beak. If the
fish is small it is swallowed at once, but if it is large and bony it
must first be killed against the branch. A few sharp knocks, and the
struggles of the fish are over, but the kingfisher's have only begun.
How he gags and writhes, swallows his dinner, and then, regretting his
haste, brings it up again to try another wider avenue down his throat!
The many abortive efforts he makes to land his dinner safely below in
his stomach, his grim contortions as the fishbones scratch his
throat-lining on their way down and up again, force a smile in spite
of the bird's evident distress. It is small wonder he supplements his
fish diet with various kinds of the larger insects, shrimps, and
fresh-water mollusks.

Flying well over the tree-tops or along the waterways, the kingfisher
makes the woodland echo with his noisy rattle, that breaks the
stillness like a watchman's at midnight. It is, perhaps, the most
familiar sound heard along the banks of the inland rivers. No love or
cradle song does he know. Instead of softening and growing sweet, as
the voices of most birds do in the nesting season, the endearments
uttered by a pair of mated kingfishers are the most strident, rattly
shrieks ever heard by lovers It sounds as if they were perpetually
quarrelling, and yet they are really particularly devoted.

The nest of these birds, like the bank swallow's, is excavated in the
face of a high bank, preferably one that rises from a stream; and at
about six feet from the entrance of the tunnel six or eight clear,
shining white eggs are placed on a curious nest. All the fishbones and
scales that, being indigestible, are disgorged in pellets by the
parents, are carefully carried to the end of the tunnel to form a
prickly cradle for the unhappy fledglings. Very rarely a nest is made
in the hollow trunk of a tree; but wherever the home is, the
kingfishers become strongly attached to it, returning again and again
to the spot that has cost them so much labor to excavate. Some
observers have accused them of appropriating the holes of the

In ancient times of myths and fables, kingfishers or halcyons were
said to build a floating nest on the sea, and to possess some
mysterious power that calmed the troubled waves while the eggs were
hatching and the young birds were being reared, hence the term
"halcyon days," meaning days of fair weather.

    Blue Jay

    (_Cyanocitta cristata_) Crow and Jay family

    (Illustration facing p. 103)

    _Length_--11 to 12 inches. A little larger than the robin.

    _Male and Female_--Blue above. Black band around the neck,
       joining some black feathers on the back. Under parts dusky
       white. Wing coverts and tail bright blue, striped transversely
       with black. Tail much rounded. Many feathers edged and tipped
       with white. Head finely crested; bill, tongue, and legs black.

    _Range_--Eastern coast of North America to the plains, and
       from northern Canada to Florida and eastern Texas.

    _Migrations_--Permanent resident. Although seen in flocks
       moving southward or northward, they are merely seeking happier
       hunting grounds, not migrating.

No bird of finer color or presence sojourns with us the year round
than the blue jay. In a peculiar sense his is a case of "beauty
covering a multitude of sins." Among close students of bird traits, we
find none so poor as to do him reverence. Dishonest, cruel,
inquisitive, murderous, voracious, villainous, are some of the
epithets applied to this bird of exquisite plumage. Emerson, however,
has said in his defence he does "more good than harm," alluding, no
doubt, to his habit of burying nuts and hard seeds in the ground, so
that many a waste place is clothed with trees and shrubs, thanks to
his propensity and industry.

He is mischievous as a small boy, destructive as a monkey, deft at
hiding as a squirrel. He is unsociable and unamiable, disliking the
society of other birds. His harsh screams, shrieks, and most
aggressive and unmusical calls seem often intended maliciously to
drown the songs of the sweet-voiced singers.

From April to September, the breeding and moulting season, the blue
jays are almost silent, only sallying forth from the woods to pillage
and devour the young and eggs of their more peaceful neighbors. In a
bulky nest, usually placed in a tree-crotch high above our heads, from
four to six eggs, olive-gray with brown spots, are laid and most
carefully tended.

Notwithstanding the unlovely characteristics of the blue jay, we could
ill spare the flash of color, like a bit of blue sky dropped from
above, which is so rare a tint even in our land, that we number not
more than three or four true blue birds, and in England, it is said,
there is none.

    Blue Grosbeak

    (_Guiraca cærulea_) Finch family

    _Length_--7 inches. About an inch larger than the English sparrow.

    _Male_--Deep blue, dark, and almost black on the back; wings
       and tail black, slightly edged with blue, and the former
       marked with bright chestnut. Cheeks and chin black. Bill heavy
       and bluish.

    _Female_--Grayish brown above, sometimes with bluish tinge on
       head, lower back, and shoulders. Wings dark olive-brown, with
       faint buff markings; tail same shade as wings, but with
       bluish-gray markings. Underneath brownish cream-color, the
       breast feathers often blue at the base.

    _Range_--United States, from southern New England westward to
       the Rocky Mountains and southward into Mexico and beyond. Most
       common in the Southwest. Rare along the Atlantic seaboard.

    _Migrations_--May. September. Summer resident.

This beautiful but rather shy and solitary bird occasionally wanders
eastward to rival the bluebird and the indigo bunting in their rare
and lovely coloring, and eclipse them both in song. Audubon, we
remember, found the nest in New Jersey. Pennsylvania is still favored
with one now and then, but it is in the Southwest only that the blue
grosbeak is as common as the evening grosbeak is in the Northwest.
Since rice is its favorite food, it naturally abounds where that
cereal grows. Seeds and kernels of the hardest kinds, that its heavy,
strong beak is well adapted to crack, constitute its diet when it
strays beyond the rice-fields.

Possibly the heavy bills of all the grosbeaks make them look stupid
whether they are or not--a characteristic that the blue grosbeak's
habit of sitting motionless with a vacant stare many minutes at a time
unfortunately emphasizes.

When seen in the roadside thickets or tall weeds, such as the field
sparrow chooses to frequent, it shows little fear of man unless
actually approached and threatened, but whether this fearlessness
comes from actual confidence or stupidity is by no means certain.
Whatever the motive of its inactivity, it accomplishes an end to be
desired by the cleverest bird; its presence is almost never suspected
by the passer-by, and its grassy nest on a tree-branch, containing
three or four pale bluish-white eggs, is never betrayed by look or
sign to the marauding small boy.


   [Illustration: Copyright, 1900, by A. R Dugmore

   [Illustration: YOUNG MOCKING-BIRD]

    Barn Swallow

    (_Chelidon erythrogaster_) Swallow family

    (Illustration facing p. 110)

    _Length_--6.5 to 7 inches. A trifle larger than the English
       sparrow. Apparently considerably larger, because of its wide

    _Male_--Glistening steel-blue shading to black above. Chin,
       breast, and underneath bright chestnut-brown and brilliant
       buff that glistens in the sunlight. A partial collar of
       steel-blue. Tail very deeply forked and slender.

    _Female_--Smaller and paler, with shorter outer tail feathers,
       making the fork less prominent.

    _Range_--Throughout North America. Winters in tropics of both

    _Migrations_--April. September. Summer resident.

Any one who attempts to describe the coloring of a bird's plumage
knows how inadequate words are to convey a just idea of the delicacy,
richness, and brilliancy of the living tints. But, happily, the
beautiful barn swallow is too familiar to need description. Wheeling
about our barns and houses, skimming over the fields, its bright sides
flashing in the sunlight, playing "cross tag" with its friends at
evening, when the insects, too, are on the wing, gyrating, darting,
and gliding through the air, it is no more possible to adequately
describe the exquisite grace of a swallow's flight than the glistening
buff of its breast.

This is a typical bird of the air, as an oriole is of the trees and a
sparrow of the ground. Though the swallow may often be seen perching
on a telegraph wire, suddenly it darts off as if it had received a
shock of electricity, and we see the bird in its true element.

While this swallow is peculiarly American, it is often confounded with
its European cousin _Hirundo rustica_ in noted ornithologies.

Up in the rafters of the barn, or in the arch of an old bridge that
spans a stream, these swallows build their bracket-like nests of clay
or mud pellets intermixed with straw. Here the noisy little broods
pick their way out of the white eggs curiously spotted with brown and
lilac that were all too familiar in the marauding days of our

    Cliff Swallow

    (_Petrochelidon lunifrons_) Swallow family


    _Length_--6 inches. A trifle smaller than the English sparrow.
       Apparently considerably larger because of its wide

    _Male and Female_--Steel-blue above, shading to blue-black on
       crown of head and on wings and tail. A brownish-gray ring
       around the neck. Beneath dusty white, with rufous tint.
       Crescent-like frontlet. Chin, throat, sides of head, and tail
       coverts rufous.

    _Range_--North and South America. Winters in the tropics.

    _Migrations_--Early April. Late September. Summer resident.

Not quite so brilliantly colored as the barn swallow, nor with tail so
deeply forked, and consequently without so much grace in flying, and
with a squeak rather than the really musical twitter of the gayer
bird, the cliff swallow may be positively identified by the rufous
feathers of its tail coverts, but more definitely by its
crescent-shaped frontlet shining like a new moon; hence its specific
Latin name from _luna_ = moon, and _frons_ = front.

Such great numbers of these swallows have been seen in the far West
that the name of Rocky Mountain swallows is sometimes given to them;
though however rare they may have been in 1824, when DeWitt Clinton
thought he "discovered" them near Lake Champlain, they are now common
enough in all parts of the United States.

In the West this swallow is wholly a cliff-dweller, but it has learned
to modify its home in different localities. As usually seen, it is
gourd-shaped, opened at the top, built entirely of mud pellets
("bricks without straw"), softly lined with feathers and wisps of
grass, and attached by the larger part to a projecting cliff or eave.

Like all the swallows, this bird lives in colonies, and the
clay-colored nests beneath the eaves of barns are often so close
together that a group of them resembles nothing so much as a gigantic
wasp's nest. It is said that when swallows pair they are mated for
life; but, then, more is said about swallows than the most tireless
bird-lover could substantiate. The tradition that swallows fly low
when it is going to rain may be easily credited, because the air
before a storm is usually too heavy with moisture for the winged
insects, upon which the swallows feed, to fly high.

    Mourning Dove

    (_Zenaidura macroura_) Pigeon family


    (Illustration facing p. 111)

    _Length_--12 to 13 inches. About one-half as large again as
       the robin.

    _Male_--Grayish Drown or fawn-color above, varying to bluish
       gray. Crown and upper part of head greenish blue, with green
       and golden metallic reflections on sides of neck. A black spot
       under each ear. Forehead and breast reddish buff; lighter
       underneath. (General impression of color, bluish fawn.) Bill
       black, with tumid, fleshy covering; feet red; two middle tail
       feathers longest; all others banded with black and tipped
       with ashy white. Wing coverts sparsely spotted with black.
       Flanks and underneath the wings bluish.

    _Female_--Duller and without iridescent reflections on neck.

    _Range_--North America, from Quebec to Panama, and westward to
       Arizona. Most common in temperate climate, east of Rocky

    _Migrations_--March. November. Common summer resident; not
       migratory south of Virginia.

The beautiful, soft-colored plumage of this incessant and rather
melancholy love-maker is not on public exhibition. To see it we must
trace the _a-coo-o, coo-o, coo-oo, coo-o_ to its source in the thick
foliage in some tree in an out-of-the-way corner of the farm, or to an
evergreen near the edge of the woods. The slow, plaintive notes, more
like a dirge than a love-song, penetrate to a surprising distance.
They may not always be the same lovers we hear from April to the end
of summer, but surely the sound seems to indicate that they are. The
dove is a shy bird, attached to its gentle and refined mate with a
devotion that has passed into a proverb, but caring little or nothing
for the society of other feathered friends, and very little for its
own kind, unless after the nesting season has passed. In this respect
it differs widely from its cousins, the wild pigeons, flocks of which,
numbering many millions, are recorded by Wilson and other early
writers before the days when netting these birds became so fatally

What the dove finds to adore so ardently in the "shiftless housewife,"
as Mrs. Wright calls his lady-love, must pass the comprehension of the
ph[oe]be, that constructs such an exquisite home, or of a bustling,
energetic Jenny wren, that "looketh well to the ways of her household
and eateth not the bread of idleness." She is a flabby, spineless
bundle of flesh and pretty feathers, gentle and refined in manners,
but slack and incompetent in all she does. Her nest consists of a few
loose sticks, without rim or lining; and when her two babies emerge
from the white eggs, that somehow do not fall through or roll out of
the rickety lattice, their tender little naked bodies must suffer from
many bruises. We are almost inclined to blame the inconsiderate mother
for allowing her offspring to enter the world unclothed--obviously not
her fault, though she is capable of just such negligence. Fortunate
are the baby doves when their lazy mother scatters her makeshift nest
on top of one that a robin has deserted, as she frequently does. It
is almost excusable to take her young birds and rear them in
captivity, where they invariably thrive, mate, and live happily,
unless death comes to one, when the other often refuses food and
grieves its life away.

In the wild state, when the nesting season approaches, both birds make
curious acrobatic flights above the tree-tops; then, after a short
sail in midair, they return to their perch. This appears to be their
only giddiness and frivolity, unless a dust-bath in the country road
might be considered a dissipation.

In the autumn a few pairs of doves show slight gregarious tendencies,
feeding amiably together in the grain fields and retiring to the same
roost at sundown.

    Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

    (_Polioptila cærulea_) Gnatcatcher family

    _Called also_: SYLVAN FLYCATCHER

    _Length_--4.5 inches. About two inches smaller than the
       English sparrow.

    _Male_--Grayish blue above, dull grayish white below. Grayish
       tips on wings. Tail with white outer quills changing gradually
       through black and white to all black on centre quills. Narrow
       black band over the forehead and eyes. Resembles in manner and
       form a miniature catbird.

    _Female_--More grayish and less blue, and without the black on head.

    _Range_--United States to Canadian border on the north, the
       Rockies on the west, and the Atlantic States, from Maine to
       Florida; most common in the Middle States. A rare bird north
       of New Jersey. Winters in Mexico and beyond.

    _Migrations_--May. September. Summer resident.

In thick woodlands, where a stream that lazily creeps through the
mossy, oozy ground attracts myriads of insects to its humid
neighborhood, this tiny hunter loves to hide in the denser foliage of
the upper branches. He has the habit of nervously flitting about from
twig to twig of his relatives, the kinglets, but unhappily he lacks
their social, friendly instincts, and therefore is rarely seen.
Formerly classed among the warblers, then among the flycatchers, while
still as much a lover of flies, gnats, and mosquitoes as ever, his
vocal powers have now won for him recognition among the singing birds.
Some one has likened his voice to the squeak of a mouse, and Nuttall
says it is "scarcely louder," which is all too true, for at a little
distance it is quite inaudible. But in addition to the mouse-like
call-note, the tiny bird has a rather feeble but exquisitely finished
song, so faint it seems almost as if the bird were singing in its

If by accident you enter the neighborhood of its nest, you soon find
out that this timid, soft-voiced little creature can be roused to
rashness and make its presence disagreeable to ears and eyes alike as
it angrily darts about your unoffending head, pecking at your face and
uttering its shrill squeak close to your very ear-drums. All this
excitement is in defence of a dainty, lichen-covered nest, whose
presence you may not have even suspected before, and of four or five
bluish-white, speckled eggs well beyond reach in the tree-tops.

During the migrations the bird seems not unwilling to show its
delicate, trim little body, that has often been likened to a
diminutive mocking-bird's, very near the homes of men. Its graceful
postures, its song and constant motion, are sure to attract attention.
In Central Park, New York City, the bird is not unknown.

   [Illustration: BARN SWALLOW]

   [Illustration: MOURNING DOVE]


    House Wren                         Bank Swallow and
    Carolina Wren                        Rough-winged Swallow
    Winter Wren                        Cedar Bird
    Long-billed Marsh Wren             Brown Creeper
    Short-billed Marsh Wren            Pine Siskin
    Brown Thrasher                     Smith's Painted Longspur
    Wilson's Thrush or Veery           Lapland Longspur
    Wood Thrush                        Chipping Sparrow
    Hermit Thrush                      English Sparrow
    Alice's Thrush                     Field Sparrow
    Olive-backed Thrush                Fox Sparrow
    Louisiana Water Thrush             Grasshopper Sparrow
    Northern Water Thrush              Savanna Sparrow
    Flicker                            Seaside Sparrow
    Meadowlark and                     Sharp-tailed Sparrow
      Western Meadowlark               Song Sparrow
    Horned Lark and                    Swamp Song Sparrow
      Prairie Horned Lark              Tree Sparrow
    Pipit or Titlark                   Vesper Sparrow
    Whippoorwill                       White-crowned Sparrow
    Nighthawk                          White-throated Sparrow
    Black-billed Cuckoo

See also winter plumage of the Bobolink, Goldfinch, and Myrtle
Warbler. See females of Red-winged Blackbird, Rusty Blackbird, the
Grackles, Bobolink, Cowbird, the Redpolls, Purple Finch, Chewink,
Bluebird, Indigo Bunting, Baltimore Oriole, Cardinal, and of the
Evening, the Blue, and the Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. See also Purple
Finch, the Redpolls, Mourning Dove, Mocking-bird, Robin.

    House Wren

    (_Troglodytes aëdon_) Wren family

    (Illustration facing p. 118)

    _Length_--4.5 to 5 inches. Actually about one-fourth smaller
       than the English sparrow; apparently only half as large
       because of its erect tail.

    _Male and Female_--Upper parts cinnamon-brown. Deepest shade
       on head and neck; lightest above tail, which is more rufous.
       Back has obscure, dusky bars; wings and tail are finely
       barred. Underneath whitish, with grayish-brown wash and faint
       bands most prominent on sides.

    _Range_--North America, from Manitoba to the Gulf. Most common
       in the United States, from the Mississippi eastward. Winters
       south of the Carolinas.

    _Migrations_--April. October. Common summer resident.

Early some morning in April there will go off under your window that
most delightful of all alarm-clocks--the tiny, friendly house wren,
just returned from a long visit south. Like some little mountain
spring that, having been imprisoned by winter ice, now bubbles up in
the spring sunshine, and goes rippling along over the pebbles,
tumbling over itself in merry cascades, so this little wren's song
bubbles, ripples, cascades in a miniature torrent of ecstasy.

Year after year these birds return to the same nesting places: a box
set up against the house, a crevice in the barn, a niche under the
eaves; but once home, always home to them. The nest is kept
scrupulously clean; the house-cleaning, like the house-building and
renovating, being accompanied by the cheeriest of songs, that makes
the bird fairly tremble by its intensity. But however angelic the
voice of the house wren, its temper can put to flight even the English
sparrow. Need description go further?

Six to eight minutely speckled, flesh-colored eggs suffice to keep the
nervous, irritable parents in a state bordering on frenzy whenever
another bird comes near their habitation. With tail erect and head
alert, the father mounts on guard, singing a perfect ecstasy of love
to his silent little mate, that sits upon the nest if no danger
threatens; but both rush with passionate malice upon the first
intruder, for it must be admitted that Jenny wren is a sad shrew.

While the little family is being reared, or, indeed, at any time, no
one is wise enough to estimate the millions of tiny insects from the
garden that find their way into the tireless bills of these wrens.

It is often said that the house wren remains at the north all the
year, which, though not a fact, is easily accounted for by the coming
of the winter wrens just as the others migrate in the autumn, and by
their return to Canada when Jenny wren makes up her feather-bed under
the eaves in the spring.

    Carolina Wren

    (_Thryothorus ludovicianus_) Wren family

    _Called also_: MOCKING WREN

    _Length_--6 inches. Just a trifle smaller than the English sparrow.

    _Male and Female_--Chestnut-brown above. A whitish streak,
       beginning at base of bill, passes through the eye to the nape
       of the neck. Throat whitish. Under parts light buff-brown.
       Wings and tail finely barred with dark.

    _Range_--United States, from Gulf to northern Illinois and
       southern New England.

    _Migrations_--A common resident except at northern boundary of
       range, where it is a summer visitor.

This largest of the wrens appears to be the embodiment of the entire
family characteristics: it is exceedingly active, nervous, and easily
excited, quick-tempered, full of curiosity, peeping into every hole
and corner it passes, short of flight as it is of wing, inseparable
from its mate till parted by death, and a gushing lyrical songster
that only death itself can silence. It also has the wren-like
preference for a nest that is roofed over, but not too near the homes
of men.

Undergrowths near water, brush heaps, rocky bits of woodland, are
favorite resorts. The Carolina wren decidedly objects to being stared
at, and likes to dart out of sight in the midst of the underbrush in a
twinkling while the opera-glasses are being focussed.

To let off some of his superfluous vivacity, Nature has provided him
with two safety-valves: one is his voice, another is his tail. With
the latter he gesticulates in a manner so expressive that it seems to
be a certain index to what is passing in his busy little
brain--drooping it, after the habit of the catbird, when he becomes
limp with the emotion of his love-song, or holding it erect as, alert
and inquisitive, he peers at the impudent intruder in the thicket
below his perch.

But it is his joyous, melodious, bubbling song that is his chief
fascination. He has so great a variety of strains that many people
have thought that he learned them from other birds, and so have called
him what many ornithologists declare that he is not--a mocking wren.
And he is one of the few birds that sing at night--not in his sleep or
only by moonlight, but even in the total darkness, just before dawn,
he gives us the same wide-awake song that entrances us by day.

    Winter Wren

    (_Troglodytes hiemalis_) Wren family

    _Length_--4 to 4.5 inches. About one-third smaller than the
       English sparrow. Apparently only half the size.

    _Male and Female_--Cinnamon-brown above, with numerous short,
       dusky bars. Head and neck without markings. Underneath rusty,
       dimly and finely barred with dark brown. Tail short.

    _Range_--United States, east and west, and from North Carolina
       to the Fur Countries.

    _Migrations_--October, April. Summer resident. Commonly a
       winter resident in the South and Middle States only.

It all too rarely happens that we see this tiny mouse-like wren in
summer, unless we come upon him suddenly and overtake him unawares as
he creeps shyly over the mossy logs or runs literally "like a flash"
under the fern and through the tangled underbrush of the deep, cool
woods. His presence there is far more likely to be detected by the ear
than the eye.

Throughout the nesting season music fairly pours from his tiny throat;
it bubbles up like champagne; it gushes forth in a lyrical torrent and
overflows into every nook of the forest, that seems entirely pervaded
by his song. While music is everywhere, it apparently comes from no
particular point, and, search as you may, the tiny singer still
eludes, exasperates, and yet entrances.

If by accident you discover him balancing on a swaying twig, never far
from the ground, with his comical little tail erect, or more likely
pointing towards his head, what a pert, saucy minstrel he is! You are
lost in amazement that so much music could come from a throat so tiny.

Comparatively few of his admirers, however, hear the exquisite notes
of this little brown wood-sprite, for after the nesting season is over
he finds little to call them forth during the bleak, snowy winter
months, when in the Middle and Southern States he may properly be
called a neighbor. Sharp hunger, rather than natural boldness, drives
him near the homes of men, where he appears just as the house wren
departs for the South. With a forced confidence in man that is almost
pathetic in a bird that loves the forest as he does, he picks up
whatever lies about the house or barn in the shape of food--crumbs
from the kitchen door, a morsel from the dog's plate, a little seed in
the barn-yard, happily rewarded if he can find a spider lurking in
some sheltered place to give a flavor to the unrelished grain. Now he
becomes almost tame, but we feel it is only because he must be.

The spot that decided preference leads him to, either winter or
summer, is beside a bubbling spring. In the moss that grows near it
the nest is placed in early summer, nearly always roofed over and
entered from the side, in true wren-fashion; and as the young
fledglings emerge from the creamy-white eggs, almost the first lesson
they receive from their devoted little parents is in the fine art of
bathing. Even in winter weather, when the wren has to stand on a rim
of ice, he will duck and splash his diminutive body. It is recorded of
a certain little individual that he was wont to dive through the icy
water on a December day. Evidently the wrens, as a family, are not far
removed in the evolutionary scale from true water-birds.

   [Illustration: HOUSE WREN]

   [Illustration: BROWN THRASHER]

    Long-billed Marsh Wren

    (_Cistothorus palustris_) Wren family

    _Length_--4.5 to 5.2 inches. Actually a little smaller than
       the English sparrow. Apparently half the size.

    _Male and Female_--Brown above, with white line over the eye,
       and the back irregularly and faintly streaked with white.
       Wings and tail barred with darker cinnamon-brown. Underneath
       white. Sides dusky. Tail long and often carried erect. Bill
       extra long and slender.

    _Range_--United States and southern British America.

    _Migrations_--May. September. Summer resident.

Sometimes when you are gathering cat-tails in the river marshes an
alert, nervous little brown bird rises startled from the rushes and
tries to elude you as with short, jerky flight it goes deeper and
deeper into the marsh, where even the rubber boot may not follow. It
closely resembles two other birds found in such a place, the swamp
sparrow and the short-billed marsh wren; but you may know by its long,
slender bill that it is not the latter, and by the absence of a bright
bay crown that it is not the shyest of the sparrows.

These marsh wrens appear to be especially partial to running water;
their homes are not very far from brooks and rivers, preferably those
that are affected in their rise and flow by the tides. They build in
colonies, and might be called inveterate singers, for no single bird
is often permitted to finish his bubbling song without half the colony
joining in a chorus.

Still another characteristic of this particularly interesting bird is
its unique architectural effects produced with coarse grasses woven
into globular form and suspended in the reeds. Sometimes adapting its
nest to the building material at hand, it weaves it of grasses and
twigs, and suspends it from the limb of a bush or tree overhanging the
water, where it swings like an oriole's. The entrance to the nest is
invariably on the side.

More devoted homebodies than these little wrens are not among the
feathered tribe. Once let the hand of man desecrate their nest, even
before the tiny speckled eggs are deposited in it, and off go the
birds to a more inaccessible place, where they can enjoy their home
unmolested. Thus three or four nests may be made in a summer.

    Short-billed Marsh Wren

    (_Cistothorus stellaris_) Wren family

    _Length_--4 to 5 inches. Actually about one-third smaller than
       the English sparrow, but apparently only half its size.

    _Male and Female_--Brown above, faintly streaked with white, black,
       and buff. Wings and tail barred with same. Underneath white, with
       buff and rusty tinges on throat and breast. Short bill.

    _Range_--North America, from Manitoba southward in winter to
       Gulf of Mexico. Most common in north temperate latitudes.

    _Migrations_--Early May. Late September.

Where red-winged blackbirds like to congregate in oozy pastures or
near boggy woods, the little short-billed wren may more often be heard
than seen, for he is more shy, if possible, than his long-billed
cousin, and will dive down into the sedges at your approach, very much
as a duck disappears under water. But if you see him at all, it is
usually while swaying to and fro as he clings to some tall stalk of
grass, keeping his balance by the nervous, jerky tail motions
characteristic of all the wrens, and singing with all his might.
Oftentimes his tail reaches backward almost to his head in a most
exaggerated wren-fashion.

Samuels explains the peculiar habit both the long-billed and the
short-billed marsh wrens have of building several nests in one season,
by the theory that they are made to protect the sitting female, for it
is noticed that the male bird always lures a visitor to an empty nest,
and if this does not satisfy his curiosity, to another one, to prove
conclusively that he has no family in prospect.

Wild rice is an ideal nesting place for a colony of these little marsh
wrens. The home is made of sedge grasses, softly lined with the softer
meadow grass or plant-down, and placed in a tussock of tall grass, or
even upon the ground. The entrance is on the side. But while fond of
moist places, both for a home and feeding ground, it will be noticed
that these wrens have no special fondness for running water, so dear
to their long-billed relatives. Another distinction is that the eggs
of this species, instead of being so densely speckled as to look
brown, are pure white.

    Brown Thrasher

    (_Harporhynchus rufus_) Thrasher and Mocking-bird family


    (Illustration facing p. 119)

    _Length_--11 to 11.5 inches. Fully an inch longer than the robin.

    _Male_--Rusty red-brown or rufous above; darkest on wings, which
       have two short whitish bands. Underneath white, heavily
       streaked (except on throat) with dark-brown, arrow-shaped spots.
       Tail very long. Yellow eyes. Bill long and curved at tip.

    _Female_--Paler than male.

    _Range_--United States to Rockies. Nests from Gulf States to
       Manitoba and Montreal. Winters south of Virginia.

    _Migrations_--Late April. October. Common summer resident.

    "There's a merry brown thrush sitting up in a tree;
     He is singing to me! He is singing to me!
     And what does he say, little girl, little boy?
     'Oh, the world's running over with joy!'"

The hackneyed poem beginning with this stanza that delighted our
nursery days, has left in our minds a fairly correct impression of the
bird. He still proves to be one of the perennially joyous singers,
like a true cousin of the wrens, and when we study him afield,
he appears to give his whole attention to his song with a
self-consciousness that is rather amusing than the reverse. "What
musician wouldn't be conscious of his own powers," he seems to
challenge us, "if he possessed such a gift?" Seated on a conspicuous
perch, as if inviting attention to his performance, with uplifted head
and drooping tail he repeats the one exultant, dashing air to which
his repertoire is limited, without waiting for an encore. Much
practice has given the notes a brilliancy of execution to be compared
only with the mocking-bird's; but in spite of the name "ferruginous
mocking-bird" that Audubon gave him, he does not seem to have the
faculty of imitating other birds' songs. Thoreau says the
Massachusetts farmers, when planting their seed, always think they
hear the thrasher say, "Drop it, drop it--cover it up, cover it
up--pull it up, pull it up, pull it up."

One of the shatterings of childish impressions that age too often
brings is when we learn by the books that our "merry brown thrush" is
no thrush at all, but a thrasher--first cousin to the wrens, in spite
of his speckled breast, large size, and certain thrush-like instincts,
such as never singing near the nest and shunning mankind in the
nesting season, to mention only two. Certainly his bold, swinging
flight and habit of hopping and running over the ground would seem to
indicate that he is not very far removed from the true thrushes. But
he has one undeniable wren-like trait, that of twitching, wagging, and
thrashing his long tail about to help express his emotions. It swings
like a pendulum as he rests on a branch, and thrashes about in a most
ludicrous way as he is feeding on the ground upon the worms, insects,
and fruit that constitute his diet.

Before the fatal multiplication of cats, and in unfrequented, sandy
locations still, the thrasher builds her nest upon the ground, thus
earning the name "ground thrush" that is often given her; but with
dearly paid-for wisdom she now most frequently selects a low shrub or
tree to cradle the two broods that all too early in the summer
effectually silence the father's delightful song.

    Wilson's Thrush

    (_Turdus fuscescens_) Thrush family

    _Called also_: VEERY; TAWNY THRUSH

    (Illustration facing p. 126)

    _Length_--7 to 7.5 inches. About one-fourth smaller than the robin.

    _Male and Female_--Uniform olive-brown, with a tawny cast above.
       Centre of the throat white, with cream-buff on sides of throat
       and upper part of breast, which is lightly spotted with
       wedge-shaped, brown points. Underneath white, or with a faint
       grayish tinge.

    _Range_--United States, westward to plains.

    _Migrations_--May. October. Summer resident.

To many of us the veery, as they call the Wilson's thrush in New
England, is merely a voice, a sylvan mystery, reflecting the sweetness
and wildness of the forest, a vocal "will-o'-the-wisp" that, after
enticing us deeper and deeper into the woods, where we sink into the
spongy moss of its damp retreats and become entangled in the wild
grapevines twined about the saplings and underbrush, still sings to us
from unapproachable tangles. Plainly, if we want to see the bird, we
must let it seek us out on the fallen log where we have sunk exhausted
in the chase.

Presently a brown bird scuds through the fern. It is a thrush, you
guess in a minute, from its slender, graceful body. At first you
notice no speckles on its breast, but as it comes nearer, obscure
arrow-heads are visible--not heavy, heart-shaped spots such as
plentifully speckle the larger wood thrush or the smaller hermit. It
is the smallest of the three commoner thrushes, and it lacks the ring
about the eye that both the others have. Shy and elusive, it slips
away again in a most unfriendly fashion, and is lost in the wet tangle
before you have become acquainted. You determine, however, before you
leave the log, to cultivate the acquaintance of this bird the next
spring, when, before it mates and retreats to the forest, it comes
boldly into the gardens and scratches about in the dry leaves on the
ground for the lurking insects beneath. Miss Florence Merriam tells of
having drawn a number of veeries about her by imitating their
call-note, which is a whistled _wheew, whoit_, very easy to
counterfeit when once heard. "_Taweel-ab, taweel-ab, twil-ab,
twil-ab!_" Professor Ridgeway interprets their song, that descends in
a succession of trills without break or pause; but no words can
possibly convey an idea of the quality of the music. The veery, that
never claims an audience, sings at night also, and its weird, sweet
strains floating through the woods at dusk, thrill one like the
mysterious voice of a disembodied spirit.

Whittier mentions the veery in "The Playmate":

    "And here in spring the veeries sing
     The song of long ago."



    Wood Thrush

    (_Turdus mustelinus_) Thrush family


    (Illustrations facing pp. 123 and 127)

    _Length_--8 to 8.3 inches. About two inches shorter than the

    _Male and Female_--Brown above, reddish on head and shoulders,
       and shading into olive-brown on tail. Throat, breast, and
       underneath white, plain in the middle, but heavily marked on
       sides and breast with heart-shaped spots of very dark brown.
       Whitish eye-ring.

    _Migrations_--Late April or early May. October. Summer resident.

When Nuttall wrote of "this solitary and retiring songster," before
the country was as thickly settled as it is to-day, it possibly had
not developed the confidence in men that now distinguishes the wood
thrush from its shy congeners that are distinctly wood birds, which it
can no longer strictly be said to be. In city parks and country
places, where plenty of trees shade the village streets and lawns, it
comes near you, half hopping, half running, with dignified
unconsciousness and even familiarity, all the more delightful in a
bird whose family instincts should take it into secluded woodlands
with their shady dells. Perhaps, in its heart of hearts, it still
prefers such retreats. Many conservative wood thrushes keep to their
wild haunts, and it must be owned not a few liberals, that discard
family traditions at other times, seek the forest at nesting time. But
social as the wood thrush is and abundant, too, it is also eminently
high-bred; and when contrasted with its tawny cousin, the veery, that
skulks away to hide in the nearest bushes as you approach, or with the
hermit thrush, that pours out its heavenly song in the solitude of the
forest, how gracious and full of gentle confidence it seems! Every
gesture is graceful and elegant; even a wriggling beetle is eaten as
daintily as caviare at the king's table. It is only when its
confidence in you is abused, and you pass too near the nest, that
might easily be mistaken for a robin's, just above your head in a
sapling, that the wood thrush so far forgets itself as to become
excited. _Pit, pit, pit_, sharply reiterated, is called out at you
with a strident quality in the tone that is painful evidence of the
fearful anxiety your presence gives this gentle bird.

Too many guardians of nests, whether out of excessive happiness or
excessive stupidity, have a dangerous habit of singing very near them.
Not so the wood thrush. "Come to me," as the opening notes of its
flute-like song have been freely translated, invites the intruder
far away from where the blue eggs lie cradled in ambush.
"_Uoli-a-e-o-li-noli-nol-aeolee-lee!_" is as good a rendering into
syllables of the luscious song as could very well be made. Pure, liquid,
rich, and luscious, it rings out from the trees on the summer air and
penetrates our home like a strain of music from a stringed quartette.

    Hermit Thrush

    (_Turdus aonalaschkæ pallasii_) Thrush family


    _Length_--7.25 to 7.5 inches. About one-fourth smaller than
       the robin.

    _Male and Female_--Upper parts olive-brown, reddening near the
       tail, which is pale rufous, quite distinct from the color of
       the back. Throat, sides of neck, and breast pale buff.
       Feathers of throat and neck finished with dark arrow-points at
       tip; feathers of the breast have larger rounded spots. Sides
       brownish gray. Underneath white. A yellow ring around the eye.
       Smallest of the thrushes.

    _Range_--Eastern parts of North America. Most common in the
       United States to the plains. Winters from southern Illinois
       and New Jersey to Gulf.

    _Migrations_--April. November. Summer resident.

The first thrush to come and the last to go, nevertheless the hermit
is little seen throughout its long visit north. It may loiter awhile
in the shrubby roadsides, in the garden or the parks in the spring
before it begins the serious business of life in a nest of moss,
coarse grass, and pine-needles placed on the ground in the depths of
the forest, but by the middle of May its presence in the neighborhood
of our homes becomes only a memory. Although one never hears it at its
best during the migrations, how one loves to recall the serene,
ethereal evening hymn! "The finest sound in Nature," John Burroughs
calls it. "It is not a proud, gorgeous strain like the tanager's or
the grosbeak's," he says; "it suggests no passion or emotion--nothing
personal, but seems to be the voice of that calm, sweet solemnity one
attains to in his best moments. It realizes a peace and a deep, solemn
joy that only the finest souls may know."

Beyond the question of even the hypercritical, the hermit thrush has a
more exquisitely beautiful voice than any other American bird, and
only the nightingale's of Europe can be compared with it. It is the
one theme that exhausts all the ornithologists' musical adjectives in
a vain attempt to convey in words any idea of it to one who has never
heard it, for the quality of the song is as elusive as the bird
itself. But why should the poets be so silent? Why has it not called
forth such verse as the English poets have lavished upon the
nightingale? Undoubtedly because it lifts up its heavenly voice in the
solitude of the forest, whereas the nightingales, singing in loud
choruses in the moonlight under the poet's very window, cannot but
impress his waking thoughts and even his dreams with their melody.

Since the severe storm and cold in the Gulf States a few winters ago,
where vast numbers of hermit thrushes died from cold and starvation,
this bird has been very rare in haunts where it used to be abundant.
The other thrushes escaped because they spend the winter farther

    Alice's Thrush

    (_Turdus aliciæ_) Thrush family

    _Called also_: GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH

    _Length_--7.5 to 8 inches. About the size of the bluebird.

    _Male and Female_--Upper parts uniform olive-brown. Eye-ring
       whitish. Cheeks gray; sides dull grayish white. Sides of the
       throat and breast pale cream-buff, speckled with arrow-shaped
       points on throat and with half-round dark-brown marks below.

    _Range_--North America, from Labrador and Alaska to Central

    _Migrations_--Late April or May. October. Chiefly seen in
       migrations, except at northern parts of its range.

One looks for a prettier bird than this least attractive of all the
thrushes in one that bears such a suggestive name. Like the
olive-backed thrush, from which it is almost impossible to tell it
when both are alive and hopping about the shrubbery, its plumage above
is a dull olive-brown that is more protective than pleasing.

Just as Wilson hopelessly confused the olive-backed thrush with the
hermit, so has Alice's thrush been confounded by later writers with
the olive-backed, from which it differs chiefly in being a trifle
larger, in having gray cheeks instead of buff, and in possessing a few
faint streaks on the throat. Where it goes to make a home for its
greenish-blue speckled eggs in some low bush at the northern end of
its range, it bursts into song, but except in the nesting grounds its
voice is never heard. Mr. Bradford Torrey, who heard it singing in the
White Mountains, describes the song as like the thrush's in quality,
but differently accented: "_Wee-o-wee-o-tit-ti-wee-o!_"

In New England and New York this thrush is most often seen during its
autumn migrations. As it starts up and perches upon a low branch
before you, it appears to have longer legs and a broader, squarer tail
than its congeners.

   [Illustration: VEERY OR WILSON'S THRUSH]

   [Illustration: WOOD THRUSH]

    Olive-backed Thrush

    (_Turdus ustulatus swainsonii_) Thrush family

    _Called also_: SWAINSON'S THRUSH

    _Length_--7 to 7.50 inches. About one-fourth smaller than the

    _Male and Female_--Upper parts olive-brown. Whole throat and
       breast yellow-buff, shading to ashy on sides and to white
       underneath. Buff ring around eye. Dark streaks on sides of
       throat (none on centre), and larger, more spot-like marks on

    _Range_--North America to Rockies; a few stragglers on Pacific
       slope. Northward to arctic countries.

    _Migrations_--April. October. Summer resident in Canada.
       Chiefly a migrant in United States.

Mr. Parkhurst tells of finding this "the commonest bird in the Park
(Central Park, New York), not even excepting the robin," during the
last week of May on a certain year; but usually, it must be owned, we
have to be on the lookout to find it, or it will pass unnoticed in the
great companies of more conspicuous birds travelling at the same time.
White-throated sparrows often keep it company on the long journeys
northward, and they may frequently be seen together, hopping sociably
about the garden, the thrush calling out a rather harsh note--_puk!
puk!_--quite different from the liquid, mellow calls of the other
thrushes, to resent either the sparrows' bad manners or the
inquisitiveness of a human disturber of its peace. But this gregarious
habit and neighborly visit end even before acquaintance fairly begins,
and the thrushes are off for their nesting grounds in the pine woods
of New England or Labrador if they are travelling up the east coast,
or to Alaska, British Columbia, or Manitoba if west of the
Mississippi. There they stay all summer, often travelling southward
with the sparrows in the autumn, as in the spring.

Why they should prefer coniferous trees, unless to utilize the needles
for a nest, is not understood. Low trees and bushes are favorite
building sites with them as with others of the family, though these
thrushes disdain a mud lining to their nests. Those who have heard the
olive-backed thrush singing an even-song to its brooding mate compare
it with the veery's, but it has a break in it and is less simple and
pleasing than the latter's.

    Louisiana Water Thrush

    (_Seiurus motacilla_) Wood Warbler family

    _Length_--6 to 6.28 inches. Just a trifle smaller than the
       English sparrow.

    _Male and Female_--Grayish olive-brown upper parts, with
       conspicuous white line over the eye and reaching almost to the
       nape. Underneath white, tinged with pale buff. Throat and line
       through the middle, plain. Other parts streaked with very dark
       brown, rather faintly on the breast, giving them the speckled
       breast of the thrushes. Heavy, dark bill.

    _Range_--United States, westward to the plains; northward to
       southern New England. Winters in the tropics.

    _Migrations_--Late April. October. Summer resident.

This bird, that so delighted Audubon with its high-trilled song as he
tramped with indefatigable zeal through the hammocks of the Gulf
States, seems to be almost the counterpart of the Northern water
thrush, just as the loggerhead is the Southern counterpart of the
Northern shrike. Very many Eastern birds have their duplicates in
Western species, as we all know, and it is most interesting to trace
the slight external variations that different climates and diet have
produced on the same bird, and thus differentiated the species. In
winter the Northern water thrush visits the cradle of its kind, the
swamps of Louisiana and Florida, and, no doubt, by daily contact with
its congeners there, keeps close to their cherished traditions, from
which it never deviates farther than Nature compels, though it
penetrate to the arctic regions during its summer journeys.

With a more southerly range, the Louisiana water thrush does not
venture beyond the White Mountains and to the shores of the Great
Lakes in summer, but even at the North the same woods often contain
both birds, and there is opportunity to note just how much they
differ. The Southern bird is slightly the larger, possibly an inch; it
is more gray, and it lacks a few of the streaks, notably on the
throat, that plentifully speckle its Northern counterpart; but the
habits of both of these birds appear to be identical. Only for a few
days in the spring or autumn migrations do they pass near enough to
our homes for us to study them, and then we must ever be on the alert
to steal a glance at them through the opera-glasses, for birds more
shy than they do not visit the garden shrubbery at any season. Only
let them suspect they are being stared at, and they are under cover in
a twinkling.

Where mountain streams dash through tracts of mossy, spongy ground
that is carpeted with fern and moss, and overgrown with impenetrable
thickets of underbrush and tangles of creepers--such a place is the
favorite resort of both the water thrushes. With a rubber boot
missing, clothes torn, and temper by no means unruffled, you finally
stand over the Louisiana thrush's nest in the roots of an upturned
tree immediately over the water, or else in a mossy root-belaced bank
above a purling stream. A liquid-trilled warble, wild and sweet,
breaks the stillness, and, like Audubon, you feel amply rewarded for
your pains though you may not be prepared to agree with him in
thinking the song the equal of the European nightingale's.

    Northern Water Thrush

    (_Seiurus noveboracensis_) Wood Warbler family


    _Length_--5 to 6 inches. A trifle smaller than the English

    _Male and Female_--Uniform olive or grayish brown above. Pale
       buff line over the eye. Underneath, white tinged with
       sulphur-yellow, and streaked like a thrush with very dark
       brown arrow-headed or oblong spots that are also seen
       underneath wings.

    _Range_--United States, westward to Rockies and northward
       through British provinces. Winters from Gulf States southward.

    _Migrations_--Late April. October. Summer resident.

According to the books we have before us, a warbler; but who, to look
at his speckled throat and breast, would ever take him for anything
but a diminutive thrush; or, studying him from some distance through
the opera-glasses as he runs in and out of the little waves along the
brook or river shore, would not name him a baby sandpiper? The rather
unsteady motion of his legs, balancing of the tail, and sudden jerking
of the head suggest an aquatic bird rather than a bird of the woods.
But to really know either man or beast, you must follow him to his
home, and if you have pluck enough to brave the swamp and the almost
impenetrable tangle of undergrowth where the water thrush chooses to
nest, there "In the swamp in secluded recesses, a shy and hidden bird
is warbling a song;" and this warbled song that Walt Whitman so adored
gives you your first clue to the proper classification of the bird. It
has nothing in common with the serene, hymn-like voices of the true
thrushes; the bird has no flute-like notes, but an emphatic smacking
or chucking kind of warble. For a few days only is this song heard
about the gardens and roadsides of our country places. Like the
Louisiana water thrush, this bird never ventures near the homes of men
after the spring and autumn migrations, but, on the contrary, goes as
far away from them as possible, preferably to some mountain region,
beside a cool and dashing brook, where a party of adventurous young
climbers from a summer hotel or the lonely trout fisherman may startle
it from its mossy nest on the ground.


    (_Colaptes auratus_) Woodpecker family


    (Illustrations facing pp. 24 and 134)

    _Length_--12 to 13 inches. About one-fourth as large again as
       the robin.

    _Male and Female_--Head and neck bluish gray, with a red
       crescent across back of neck and a black crescent on breast.
       Male has black cheek-patches, that are wanting in female.
       Golden brown shading into brownish-gray, and barred with black
       above. Underneath whitish, tinged with light chocolate and
       thickly spotted with black. Wing linings, shafts of wing, and
       tail-quills bright yellow. Above tail white, conspicuous when
       the bird flies.

    _Range_--United States, east of Rockies; Alaska and British
       America, south of Hudson Bay. Occasional on Pacific slope.

    _Migrations_--Most commonly seen from April to October.
       Usually resident.

If we were to follow the list of thirty-six aliases by which this
largest and commonest of our woodpeckers is known throughout its wide
range, we should find all its peculiarities of color, flight, noises,
and habits indicated in its popular names. It cannot but attract
attention wherever seen, with its beautiful plumage, conspicuously
yellow if its outstretched wings are looked at from below,
conspicuously brown and white if seen upon the ground. At a distance
it suggests the meadowlark. Both birds wear black, crescent breast
decorations, and the flicker also has the habit of feeding upon the
ground, especially in autumn, a characteristic not shared by its

Early in the spring this bird of many names and many voices makes
itself known by a long, strong, sonorous call, a sort of proclamation
that differs from its song proper, which Audubon calls "a prolonged
jovial laugh" (described by Mrs. Wright as "_Wick, wick, wick,
wick!_"), and differs also from its rapidly repeated, mellow, and most
musical _cuh, cuh, cuh, cuh, cuh_, uttered during the nesting season.

Its nasal _kee-yer_, vigorously called out in the autumn, is less
characteristic, however, than the sound it makes while associating
with its fellows on the feeding ground--a sound that Mr. Frank M.
Chapman says can be closely imitated by the swishing of a willow wand.

A very ardent and ridiculous-looking lover is this bird, as, with tail
stiffly spread, he sidles up to his desired mate and bows and bobs
before her, then retreats and advances, bowing and bobbing again, very
often with a rival lover beside him (whom he generously tolerates)
trying to outdo him in grace and general attractiveness. Not the least
of the bird's qualities that must commend themselves to the bride is
his unfailing good nature, genial alike in the home and in the field.

The "high-holders" have the peculiar and silly habit of boring out a
number of superfluous holes for nests high up in the trees, in
buildings, or hollow wooden columns, only one of which they intend to
use. Six white eggs is the proper number for a household, but Dr.
Coues says the female that has been robbed keeps on laying three or
even four sets of eggs without interruption.


    (_Sturnella magna_) Blackbird family

    _Called also_: FIELD LARK; OLDFIELD LARK

    (Illustration facing p. 135)

    _Length_--10 to 11 inches. A trifle larger than the robin.

    _Male_--Upper parts brown, varied with chestnut, deep brown,
       and black. Crown streaked with brown and black, and with a
       cream-colored streak through the centre. Dark-brown line
       apparently running through the eye; another line over the eye,
       yellow. Throat and chin yellow; a large, conspicuous black
       crescent on breast. Underneath yellow, shading into buffy
       brown, spotted or streaked with very dark brown. Outer tail
       feathers chiefly white, conspicuous in flight. Long, strong
       legs and claws, adapted for walking. Less black in winter
       plumage, which is more grayish brown.

    _Female_--Paler than male.

    _Range_--North America, from Newfoundland to the Gulf of
       Mexico, and westward to the plains, where the Western
       meadowlark takes its place. Winters from Massachusetts and
       Illinois southward.

    _Migrations_--April. Late October. Usually a resident, a few
       remaining through the winter.

In the same meadows with the red-winged blackbirds, birds of another
feather, but of the same family, nevertheless, may be found flocking
together, hunting for worms and larvæ, building their nests, and
rearing their young very near each other with the truly social
instinct of all their kin.

The meadowlarks, which are really not larks at all, but the
blackbirds' and orioles' cousins, are so protected by the coloring of
the feathers on their backs, like that of the grass and stubble they
live among, that ten blackbirds are noticed for every meadowlark,
although the latter is very common. Not until you flush a flock of
them as you walk along the roadside or through the meadows and you
note the white tail feathers and the black crescents on the yellow
breasts of the large brown birds that rise towards the tree-tops with
whirring sound and a flight suggesting the quail's, do you suspect
there are any birds among the tall grasses.

Their clear and piercing whistle, "_Spring o' the y-e-a-r, Spring o'
the year!_" rings out from the trees with varying intonation and
accent, but always sweet and inspiriting. To the bird's high vantage
ground you may not follow, for no longer having the protection of the
high grass, it has become wary and flies away as you approach, calling
out _peent-peent_ and nervously flitting its tail (again showing the
white feather), when it rests a moment on the pasture fence-rail.

It is like looking for a needle in a haystack to try to find a
meadowlark's nest, an unpretentious structure of dried grasses partly
arched over and hidden in a clump of high timothy, flat upon the
ground. But what havoc snakes and field-mice play with the
white-speckled eggs and helpless fledglings! The care of rearing two
or three broods in a season and the change of plumage to duller winter
tints seem to exhaust the high spirits of the sweet whistler. For a
time he is silent, but partly regains his vocal powers in the autumn,
when, with large flocks of his own kind, he resorts to marshy feeding
grounds. In the winter he chooses for companions the horned larks,
that walk along the shore, or the snow buntings and sparrows of the
inland pastures, and will even include the denizens of the barn-yard
when hunger drives him close to the haunts of men.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Western Meadowlark or Prairie Lark (_Sturnella magna neglecta_),
which many ornithologists consider a different species from the
foregoing, is distinguished chiefly by its lighter, more grayish-brown
plumage, by its yellow cheeks, and more especially by its richer,
fuller song. In his "Birds of Manitoba," Mr. Ernest E. Thompson says of
this meadowlark: "In richness of voice and modulation it equals or
excels both wood thrush and nightingale, and in the beauty of its
articulation it has no superior in the whole world of feathered
choristers with which I am acquainted."

    Horned Lark

    (_Otocoris alpestris_) Lark family

    _Called also_: SHORE LARK

    (Illustration facing p. 138)

    _Length_--7.5 to 8 inches. About one-fifth smaller than the

    _Male_--Upper parts dull brown, streaked with lighter on edges
       and tinged with pink or vinaceous; darkest on back of head,
       neck, shoulders, and nearest the tail. A few erectile feathers
       on either side of the head form slight tufts or horns that are
       wanting in female. A black mark from the base of the bill
       passes below the eye and ends in a horn-shaped curve on
       cheeks, which are yellow. Throat clear yellow. Breast has
       crescent-shaped black patch. Underneath soiled white, with
       dusky spots on lower breast. Tail black, the outer feathers
       margined with white, noticed in flight.

    _Female_--Has yellow eye-stripe; less prominent markings,
       especially on head, and is a trifle smaller.

    _Range_--Northeastern parts of North America, and in winter
       from Ohio and eastern United States as far south as North

    _Migrations_--October and November. March. Winter resident.

Far away to the north in Greenland and Labrador this true lark, the
most beautiful of its genus, makes its summer home. There it is a
conspicuously handsome bird with its pinkish-gray and chocolate
feathers, that have greatly faded into dull browns when we see them in
the late autumn. In the far north only does it sing, and, according to
Audubon, the charming song is flung to the breeze while the bird soars
like a skylark. In the United States we hear only its call-note.

Great flocks come down the Atlantic coast in October and November, and
separate into smaller bands that take up their residence in sandy
stretches and open tracts near the sea or wherever the food supply
looks promising, and there the larks stay until all the seeds, buds of
bushes, berries, larvæ, and insects in their chosen territory are
exhausted. They are ever conspicuously ground birds, walkers, and when
disturbed at their dinner, prefer to squat on the earth rather than
expose themselves by flight. Sometimes they run nimbly over the frozen
ground to escape an intruder, but flying they reserve as a last
resort. When the visitor has passed they quickly return to their
dinner. If they were content to eat less ravenously and remain
slender, fewer victims might be slaughtered annually to tickle the
palates of the epicure. It is a mystery what they find to fatten upon
when snow covers the frozen ground. Even in the severe midwinter
storms they will not seek the protection of the woods, but always
prefer sandy dunes with their scrubby undergrowth or open meadow
lands. Occasionally a small flock wanders toward the farms to pick up
seeds that are blown from the hayricks or scattered about the
barn-yard by overfed domestic fowls.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Prairie Horned Lark (_Otocoris alpestris praticola_) is similar to
the preceding, but a trifle smaller and paler, with a white instead of
a yellow streak above the eye, the throat yellowish or entirely white
instead of sulphur-yellow, and other minor differences. It has a far
more southerly range, confined to northern portions of the United
States from the Mississippi eastward. Once a distinctly prairie bird,
it now roams wherever large stretches of open country that suit its
purposes are cleared in the East, and remains resident. This species
also sings in midair on the wing, but its song is a crude,
half-inarticulate affair, barely audible from a height of two hundred

   [Illustration: FLICKER]

   [Illustration: MEADOWLARK]

    American Pipit

    (_Anthus pensilvanicus_) Wagtail family

    _Called also_: TITLARK; BROWN OR RED LARK

    _Length_--6.38 to 7 inches. About the size of a sparrow.

    _Male and Female_--Upper parts brown; wings and tail dark
       olive-brown; the wing coverts tipped with buff or whitish, and
       ends of outer tail feathers white, conspicuous in flight.
       White or yellowish eye-ring, and line above the eye.
       Underneath light buff brown, with spots on breast and sides,
       the under parts being washed with brown of various shades.
       Feet brown. Hind toe-nail as long as or longer than the toe.

    _Range_--North America at large. Winters south of Virginia to
       Mexico and beyond.

    _Migrations_--April. October or November. Common in the United
       States, chiefly during the migrations.

The color of this bird varies slightly with age and sex, the under
parts ranging from white through pale rosy brown to a reddish tinge;
but at any season, and under all circumstances, the pipit is a
distinctly brown bird, resembling the water thrushes not in plumage
only, but in the comical tail waggings and jerkings that alone are
sufficient to identify it. However the books may tell us the bird is a
wagtail, it certainly possesses two strong characteristics of true
larks: it is a walker, delighting in walking or running, never hopping
over the ground, and it has the angelic habit of singing as it flies.

During the migrations the pipits are abundant in salt marshes or open
stretches of country inland, that, with lark-like preference, they
choose for feeding grounds. When flushed, all the flock rise together
with uncertain flight, hovering and wheeling about the place, calling
down _dee-dee_, _dee-dee_ above your head until you have passed on
your way, then promptly returning to the spot from whence they were
disturbed. Along the roadsides and pastures, where two or three birds
are frequently seen together, they are too often mistaken for the
vesper sparrows because of their similar size and coloring, but their
easy, graceful walk should distinguish them at once from the hopping
sparrow. They often run to get ahead of some one in the lane, but
rarely fly if they can help it, and then scarcely higher than a
fence-rail. Early in summer they are off for the mountains in the
north. Labrador is their chosen nesting ground, and they are said to
place their grassy nest, lined with lichens or moss, flat upon the
ground--still another lark trait. Their eggs are chocolate-brown
scratched with black.


    (_Antrostomus vociferus_) Goatsucker family

    (Illustration facing p. 139)

    _Length_--9 to 10 inches. About the size of the robin.
       Apparently much larger, because of its long wings and wide

    _Male_--A long-winged bird, mottled all over with reddish
       brown, grayish black, and dusky white; numerous bristles
       fringing the large mouth. A narrow white band across the upper
       breast. Tail quills on the end and under side white.

    _Female_--Similar to male, except that the tail is dusky in
       color where that of the male is white. Band on breast buff
       instead of white.

    _Range_--United States, to the plains. Not common near the sea.

    _Migrations_--Late April to middle of September. Summer resident.

The whippoorwill, because of its nocturnal habits and plaintive note,
is invested with a reputation for occult power which inspires a
chilling awe among superstitious people, and leads them insanely to
attribute to it an evil influence; but it is a harmless, useful night
prowler, flying low and catching enormous numbers of hurtful insects,
always the winged varieties, in its peculiar fly-trap mouth.

It loves the rocky, solitary woods, where it sleeps all day; but it is
seldom seen, even after painstaking search, because of its dull,
mottled markings conforming so nearly to rocks and dry leaves, and
because of its unusual habit of stretching itself lengthwise on a tree
branch or ledge, where it is easily confounded with a patch of lichen,
and thus overlooked. If by accident one happens upon a sleeping bird,
it suddenly rouses and flies away, making no more sound than a passing
butterfly--a curious and uncanny silence that is quite remarkable.
When the sun goes down and as the gloaming deepens, the bird's
activity increases, and it begins its nightly duties, emitting from
time to time, like a sentry on his post or a watchman of the night,
the doleful call which has given the bird its common name. It

    "Mourns unseen, and ceaseless sings
     Ever a note of wail and woe,"

that our Dutch ancestors interpreted as "_Quote-kerr-kee_" and so
called it. They had a tradition that no frost ever appeared after the
bird had been heard calling in the spring, and that it wisely left for
warmer skies before frost came in the autumn. Prudent bird, never
caught napping!

It is erratic in its choice of habitations, even when rock and
solitude seem suited to its taste. Very rarely is this odd bird found
close to the seashore, and in the Hudson River valley it keeps a half
mile or more back from the river.

The eggs, generally two in number, are creamy white, dashed with dark
and olive spots, and laid on the ground on dry leaves, or in a little
hollow in rock or stump--never in a nest built with loving care. But
in extenuation of such carelessness it may be said that, if disturbed
or threatened, the mother shows no lack of maternal instinct, and
removes her young, carrying them in her beak as a cat conveys her
kittens to secure shelter.

   [Illustration: HORNED LARK (_One-half natural size_)]

   [Illustration: WHIP-POOR-WILL]


    (_Chordeiles virginianus_) Goatsucker family


    (Illustration facing p. 154)

    _Length_--9 to 10 inches. About the same length as the robin,
       but apparently much longer because of its very wide

    _Male and Female_--Mottled blackish brown and rufous above,
       with a multitude of cream-yellow spots and dashes. Lighter
       below, with waving bars of brown on breast and underneath.
       White mark on throat, like an imperfect horseshoe; also a band
       of white across tail of male bird. These latter markings are
       wanting in female. Heavy wings, which are partly mottled, are
       brown on shoulders and tips, and longer than tail. They have
       large white spots, conspicuous in flight, one of their
       distinguishing marks from the whippoorwill. Head large and
       depressed, with large eyes and ear-openings. Very small bill.

    _Range_--From Mexico to arctic islands.

    _Migrations_--May. October. Common summer resident.

The nighthawk's misleading name could not well imply more that the
bird is not: it is not nocturnal in its habits, neither is it a hawk,
for if it were, no account of it would be given in this book, which
distinctly excludes birds of prey. Stories of its chicken-stealing
prove to be ignorant rather than malicious slanders. Any one disliking
the name, however, surely cannot complain of a limited choice of other
names by which, in different sections of the country, it is quite as
commonly known.

Too often it is mistaken for the whippoorwill. The nighthawk does not
have the weird and woful cry of that more dismal bird, but gives
instead a harsh, whistling note while on the wing, followed by a
vibrating, booming, whirring sound that Nuttall likens to "the rapid
turning of a spinning wheel, or a strong blowing into the bung-hole of
an empty hogshead." This peculiar sound is responsible for the name
nightjar, frequently given to this curious bird. It is said to be made
as the bird drops suddenly through the air, creating a sort of
stringed instrument of its outstretched wings and tail. When these
wings are spread, their large white spots running through the feathers
to the under side should be noted to further distinguish the
nighthawk from the whippoorwill, which has none, but which it
otherwise closely resembles. This booming sound, coming from such a
height that the bird itself is often unseen, was said by the Indians
to be made by the shad spirits to warn the scholes of shad about to
ascend the rivers to spawn in the spring, of their impending fate.

The flight of the nighthawk is free and graceful in the extreme.
Soaring through space without any apparent motion of its wings,
suddenly it darts with amazing swiftness like an erratic bat after the
fly, mosquito, beetle, or moth that falls within the range of its
truly hawk-like eye.

Usually the nighthawks hunt in little companies in the most sociable
fashion. Late in the summer they seem to be almost gregarious. They
fly in the early morning or late afternoon with beak wide open,
hawking for insects, but except when the moon is full they are not
known to go a-hunting after sunset. During the heat of the day and at
night they rest on limbs of trees, fence-rails, stone walls,
lichen-covered rocks or old logs--wherever Nature has provided
suitable mimicry of their plumage to help conceal them.

With this object in mind, they quite as often choose a hollow surface
of rock in some waste pasture or the open ground on which to deposit
the two speckled-gray eggs that sixteen days later will give birth to
their family. But in August, when family cares have ended for the
season, it is curious to find this bird of the thickly wooded country
readily adapting itself to city life, resting on Mansard roofs,
darting into the streets from the house-tops, and wheeling about the
electric lights, making a hearty supper of the little, winged insects
they attract.

    Black-billed Cuckoo

    (_Coccyzus erythrophthalmus_) Cuckoo family

    _Called also_: RAIN CROW

    _Length_--11 to 12 inches. About one-fifth larger than the

    _Male_--Grayish brown above, with bronze tint in feathers.
       Underneath grayish white; bill, which is long as head and
       black, arched and acute. Skin about the eye bright red. Tail
       long, and with spots on tips of quills that are small and

    _Female_--Has obscure dusky bars on the tail.

    _Range_--Labrador to Panama; westward to Rocky Mountains.

    _Migrations_--May. September. Summer resident.

    "O cuckoo! shall I call thee bird?
     Or but a wandering voice?"

From the tangled shrubbery on the hillside back of Dove Cottage,
Keswick, where Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy listened for the
coming of this "darling of the spring"; in the willows overhanging
Shakespeare's Avon; from the favorite haunts of Chaucer and Spenser,

    "Runneth meade and springeth blede,"

we hear the cuckoo calling; but how many on this side of the Atlantic
are familiar with its American counterpart? Here, too, the cuckoo
delights in running water and damp, cloudy weather like that of an
English spring; it haunts the willows by our river-sides, where as yet
no "immortal bard" arises to give it fame. It "loud sings" in our
shrubbery, too. Indeed, if we cannot study our bird afield, the next
best place to become acquainted with it is in the pages of the English
poets. But due allowance must be made for differences of temperament.
Our cuckoo is scarcely a "merry harbinger"; his talents, such as they
are, certainly are not musical. However, the guttural cluck is not
discordant, and the black-billed species, at least, has a soft, mellow
voice that seems to indicate an embryonic songster. "_K-k-k-k,
kow-kow-ow-kow-ow!_" is a familiar sound in many localities, but the
large, slim, pigeon-shaped, brownish-olive bird that makes it,
securely hidden in the low trees and shrubs that are its haunts, is
not often personally known. Catching a glimpse only of the
grayish-white under parts from where we stand looking up into the tree
at it, it is quite impossible to tell the bird from the yellow-billed
species. When, as it flies about, we are able to note the red circles
about its eyes, its black bill, and the absence of black tail
feathers, with their white "thumb-nail" spots, and see no bright
cinnamon feathers on the wings (the yellow-billed specie's
distinguishing marks), we can at last claim acquaintance with the
black-billed cuckoo. Our two common cuckoos are so nearly alike that
they are constantly confused in the popular mind and very often in the
writings of ornithologists. At first glance the birds look alike.
Their haunts are almost identical; their habits are the same; and, as
they usually keep well out of sight, it is not surprising if confusion

Neither cuckoo knows how to build a proper home; a bunch of sticks
dropped carelessly into the bush, where the hapless babies that emerge
from the greenish eggs will not have far to fall when they tumble out
of bed, as they must inevitably do, may by courtesy only be called a
nest. The cuckoo is said to suck the eggs of other birds; but, surely,
such vice is only the rarest dissipation. Insects of many kinds and
"tent caterpillars" chiefly are their chosen food.

    Yellow-billed Cuckoo

    (_Coccyzus americanus_) Cuckoo family

    Called _also_: RAIN CROW

    (Illustrations facing pp. 155 and 202)

    _Length_--11 to 12 inches. About one-fifth longer than the

    _Male and Female_--Grayish brown above, with bronze tint in
       feathers. Underneath grayish white. Bill, which is as long as
       head, arched, acute, and more robust than the black-billed
       species, and with lower mandible yellow. Wings washed with
       bright cinnamon-brown. Tail has outer quills black,
       conspicuously marked with white thumb-nail spots. Female

    _Range_--North America, from Mexico to Labrador. Most common
       in temperate climates. Rare on Pacific slope.

    _Migrations_--Late April. September. Summer resident.

"_Kak, k-kuk, k-kuk, k-kuk!_" like an exaggerated tree-toad's rattle,
is a sound that, when first heard, makes you rush out of doors
instantly to "name" the bird. Look for him in the depths of the tall
shrubbery or low trees, near running water, if there is any in the
neighborhood, and if you are more fortunate than most people, you will
presently become acquainted with the yellow-billed cuckoo. When seen
perching at a little distance, his large, slim body, grayish brown,
with olive tints above and whitish below, can scarcely be
distinguished from that of the black-billed species. It is not until
you get close enough to note the yellow bill, reddish-brown wings, and
black tail feathers with their white "thumb-nail" marks, that you know
which cuckoo you are watching. In repose the bird looks dazed or
stupid, but as it darts about among the trees after insects,
noiselessly slipping to another one that promises better results, and
hopping along the limbs after performing a series of beautiful
evolutions among the branches as it hunts for its favorite "tent
caterpillars," it appears what it really is: an unusually active,
graceful, intelligent bird.

A solitary wanderer, nevertheless one cuckoo in an apple orchard is
worth a hundred robins in ridding it of caterpillars and inch-worms,
for it delights in killing many more of these than it can possibly
eat. In the autumn it varies its diet with minute fresh-water
shell-fish from the swamp and lake. Mulberries, that look so like
caterpillars the bird possibly likes them on that account, it devours

Family cares rest lightly on the cuckoos. The nest of both species is
a ramshackle affair--a mere bundle of twigs and sticks without a rim
to keep the eggs from rolling from the bush, where they rest, to the
ground. Unlike their European relative, they have the decency to rear
their own young and not impose this heavy task on others; but the
cuckoos on both sides of the Atlantic are most erratic and irregular
in their nesting habits. The overworked mother-bird often lays an egg
while brooding over its nearly hatched companion, and the two or three
half-grown fledglings already in the nest may roll the large greenish
eggs out upon the ground, while both parents are off searching for
food to quiet their noisy clamorings. Such distracting mismanagement
in the nursery is enough to make a homeless wanderer of any father. It
is the mother-bird that tumbles to the ground at your approach from
sheer fright; feigns lameness, trails her wings as she tries to entice
you away from the nest. The male bird shows far less concern; a no
more devoted father, we fear, than he is a lover. It is said he
changes his mate every year.

Altogether, the cuckoo is a very different sort of bird from what our
fancy pictured. The little Swiss creatures of wood that fly out of the
doors of clocks and call out the bed-hour to sleepy children, are
chiefly responsible for the false impressions of our mature years. The
American bird does not repeat its name, and its harsh, grating "_kuk,
kuk_," does not remotely suggest the sweet voice of its European

    Bank Swallow

    (_Clivicola riparia_) Swallow family

    _Called also_: SAND MARTIN; SAND SWALLOW

    _Length_--5 to 5.5 inches. About an inch shorter than the
       English sparrow, but apparently much larger because of its
       wide wing-spread.

    _Male and Female_--Grayish brown or clay-colored above. Upper
       wings and tail darkest. Below, white, with brownish band
       across chest. Tail, which is rounded and more nearly square
       than the other swallows, is obscurely edged with white.

    _Range_--Throughout North America south of Hudson Bay.

    _Migrations_--April. October. Summer resident.

Where a brook cuts its way through a sand bank to reach the sea is an
ideal nesting ground for a colony of sand martins. The face of the
high bank shows a number of clean, round holes indiscriminately bored
into the sand, as if the place had just received a cannonading; but
instead of war an atmosphere of peace pervades the place in midsummer,
when you are most likely to visit it. Now that the young ones have
flown from their nests that your arm can barely reach through the
tunnelled sand or clay, there can be little harm in examining the
feathers dropped from gulls, ducks, and other water-birds with which
the grassy home is lined.

The bank swallow's nest, like the kingfisher's, which it resembles, is
his home as well. There he rests when tired of flying about in pursuit
of insect food. Perhaps a bird that has been resting in one of the
tunnels, startled by your innocent house-breaking, will fly out across
your face, near enough for you to see how unlike the other swallows he
is: smaller, plainer, and with none of their glinting steel-blues and
buffs about him. With strong, swift flight he rejoins his fellows,
wheeling, skimming, darting through the air above you, and uttering
his characteristic "giggling twitter," that is one of the cheeriest
noises heard along the beach. In early October vast numbers of these
swallows may be seen in loose flocks along the Jersey coast, slowly
making their way South. Clouds of them miles in extent are recorded.

Closely associated with the sand martin is the Rough-winged Swallow
(_Stelgidopteryx serripennis_), not to be distinguished from its
companion on the wing, but easily recognized by its dull-gray throat
and the absence of the brown breast-band when seen at close range.

    Cedar Bird

    (_Ampelis cedrorum_) Waxwing family


    (Illustration facing p. 158)

    _Length_--7 to 8 inches. About one-fifth smaller than the

    _Male_--Upper parts rich grayish brown, with plum-colored
       tints showing through the brown on crest, throat, breast,
       wings, and tail. A velvety-black line on forehead runs through
       the eye and back of crest. Chin black; crest conspicuous;
       breast lighter than the back, and shading into yellow
       underneath. Wings have quill-shafts of secondaries elongated,
       and with brilliant vermilion tips like drops of sealing-wax,
       rarely seen on tail quills, which have yellow bands across the

    _Female_--With duller plumage, smaller crest, and narrower

    _Range_--North America, from northern British provinces to
       Central America in winter.

    _Migrations_--A roving resident, without fixed seasons for

As the cedar birds travel about in great flocks that quickly exhaust
their special food in a neighborhood, they necessarily lead a nomadic
life--here to-day, gone to-morrow--and, like the Arabs, they "silently
steal away." It is surprising how very little noise so great a company
of these birds make at any time. That is because they are singularly
gentle and refined; soft of voice, as they are of color, their plumage
suggesting a fine Japanese water-color painting on silk, with its
beautiful sheen and exquisitely blended tints.

One listens in vain for a song; only a lisping "_Twee-twee-ze_," or "a
dreary whisper," as Minot calls their low-toned communications with
each other, reaches our ears from their high perches in the cedar
trees, where they sit, almost motionless hours at a time, digesting
the enormous quantities of juniper and whortle berries, wild
cherries, worms, and insects upon which they have gormandized.

Nuttall gives the cedar birds credit for excessive politeness to each
other. He says he has often seen them passing a worm from one to
another down a whole row of beaks and back again before it was finally

When nesting time arrives--that is to say, towards the end of the
summer--they give up their gregarious habits and live in pairs,
billing and kissing like turtle-doves in the orchard or wild
crab-trees, where a flat, bulky nest is rather carelessly built of
twigs, grasses, feathers, strings--any odds and ends that may be lying
about. The eggs are usually four, white tinged with purple and spotted
with black.

Apparently they have no moulting season; their plumage is always the
same, beautifully neat and full-feathered. Nothing ever hurries or
flusters them, their greatest concern apparently being, when they
alight, to settle themselves comfortably between their over-polite
friends, who are never guilty of jolting or crowding. Few birds care
to take life so easily, not to say indolently.

Among the French Canadians they are called Récollet, from the color of
their crest resembling the hood of the religious order of that name.
Every region the birds pass through, local names appear to be applied
to them, a few of the most common of which are given above.

Of the three waxwings known to scientists, two are found in America,
and the third in Japan.

    Brown Creeper

    (_Certbia familiaris americana_) Creeper family

    _Length_--5 to 5.75 inches. A little smaller than the English

    _Male and Female_--Brown above, varied with ashy-gray stripes
       and small, lozenge-shaped gray mottles. Color lightest on
       head, increasing in shade to reddish brown near tail. Tail
       paler brown and long; wings brown and barred with whitish.
       Beneath grayish white. Slender, curving bill.

    _Range_--United States and Canada, east of Rocky Mountains.

    _Migrations_--April. September. Winter resident.

This little brown wood sprite, the very embodiment of virtuous
diligence, is never found far from the nuthatches, titmice, and
kinglets, though not strictly in their company, for he is a rather
solitary bird. Possibly he repels them by being too exasperatingly

Beginning at the bottom of a rough-barked tree (for a smooth bark
conceals no larvæ), the creeper silently climbs upward in a sort of
spiral, now lost to sight on the opposite side of the tree, then
reappearing just where he is expected to, flitting back a foot or two,
perhaps, lest he overlooked a single spider egg, but never by any
chance leaving a tree until conscience approves of his thoroughness.
And yet with all this painstaking workman's care, it takes him just
about fifty seconds to finish a tree. Then off he flits to the base of
another, to repeat the spiral process. Only rarely does he adopt the
woodpecker process of partly flitting, partly rocking his way with the
help of his tail straight up one side of the tree.

Yet this little bird is not altogether the soulless drudge he appears.
In the midst of his work, uncheered by summer sunshine, and clinging
with numb toes to the tree-trunk some bitter cold day, he still finds
some tender emotion within him to voice in a "wild, sweet song" that
is positively enchanting at such a time. But it is not often this song
is heard south of his nesting grounds.

The brown creeper's plumage is one of Nature's most successful feats
of mimicry--an exact counterfeit in feathers of the brown-gray bark on
which the bird lives. And the protective coloring is carried out in
the nest carefully tucked under a piece of loosened bark in the very
heart of the tree.

    Pine Siskin

    (_Spinus pinus_) Finch family

    _Called also_: PINE FINCH; PINE LINNET

    _Length_--4.75 to 5 inches. Over an inch smaller than the
       English sparrow.

    _Male and Female_--Olive-brown and gray above, much streaked
       and striped with very dark brown everywhere. Darkest on head
       and back. Lower back, base of tail, and wing feathers pale
       sulphur-yellow. Under parts very light buff brown, heavily

    _Range_--North America generally. Most common in north
       latitudes. Winters south to the Gulf of Mexico.

    _Migrations_--Erratic winter visitor from October to April.
       Uncommon in summer.

A small grayish-brown brindle bird, relieved with touches of yellow on
its back, wings, and tail, may be seen some winter morning roving on
the lawn from one evergreen tree to another, clinging to the pine
cones and peering attentively between the scales before extracting the
kernels. It utters a call-note so like the English sparrow's that you
are surprised when you look up into the tree to find it comes from a
stranger. The pine siskin is an erratic visitor, and there is always
the charm of the unexpected about its coming near our houses that
heightens our enjoyment of its brief stay.

As it flies downward from the top of the spruce tree to feed upon the
brown seeds still clinging to the pigweed and goldenrod stalks
sticking out above the snow by the roadside, it dips and floats
through the air like its charming little cousin, the goldfinch. They
have several characteristics in common besides their flight and their
fondness for thistles. Far at the north, where the pine siskin nests
in the top of the evergreens, his sweet-warbled love-song is said to
be like that of our "wild canary's," only with a suggestion of
fretfulness in the tone.

Occasionally some one living in an Adirondack or other mountain camp
reports finding the nest and hearing the siskin sing even in
midsummer; but it is, nevertheless, considered a northern species,
however its erratic habits may sometimes break through the
ornithologist's traditions.

    Smith's Painted Longspur

    (_Calcarius pictus_) Finch family

    _Length_--6.5 inches. About the size of a large English sparrow.

    _Male and Female_--Upper parts marked with black, brown, and
       white, like a sparrow; brown predominant. Male bird with more
       black about head, shoulders, and tail feathers, and a whitish
       patch, edged with black, under the eye. Underneath pale brown,
       shading to buff. Hind claw or spur conspicuous.

    _Range_--Interior of North America, from the arctic coast to
       Illinois and Texas.

    _Migrations_--Winter visitor. Without fixed season.

Confined to a narrower range than the Lapland longspur, this bird,
quite commonly found on the open prairie districts of the middle West
in winter, is, nevertheless, so very like its cousin that the same
description of their habits might very well answer for both. Indeed,
both these birds are often seen in the same flock. Larks and the
ubiquitous sparrows, too, intermingle with them with the familiarity
that only the starvation rations of midwinter, and not true
sociability, can effect; and, looking out upon such a heterogeneous
flock of brown birds as they are feeding together on the frozen
ground, only the trained field ornithologist would find it easy to
point out the painted longspurs.

Certain peculiarities are noticeable, however. Longspurs squat while
resting; then, when flushed, they run quickly and lightly, and "rise
with a sharp click, repeated several times in quick succession, and
move with an easy, undulating motion for a short distance, when they
alight very suddenly, seeming to fall perpendicularly several feet to
the ground." Another peculiarity of their flight is their habit of
flying about in circles, to and fro, keeping up a constant chirping or
call. It is only in the mating season, when we rarely hear them, that
the longspurs have the angelic manner of singing as they fly, like the
skylark. The colors of the males, among the several longspurs, may
differ widely, but the indistinctly marked females are so like each
other that only their mates, perhaps, could tell them apart.

    Lapland Longspur

    (_Calcarius lapponicus_) Finch family


    _Length_--6.5 to 7 inches. A trifle larger than the English

    _Male_--Color varies with season. _Winter plumage_: Top of
       head black, with rusty markings, all feathers being tipped
       with white. Behind and below the eye rusty black. Breast and
       underneath grayish white, faintly streaked with black. Above,
       reddish brown with black markings. Feet, which are black, have
       conspicuous, long hind claws or spur.

    _Female_--Rusty gray above, less conspicuously marked. Whitish

    _Range_--Circumpolar regions; northern United States;
       occasional in Middle States; abundant in winter as far as
       Kansas and the Rocky Mountains.

    _Migrations_--Winter visitors, rarely resident, and without a
       fixed season.

This arctic bird, although considered somewhat rare with us, when seen
at all in midwinter is in such large flocks that, before its visit in
the neighborhood is ended, and because there are so few other birds
about, it becomes delightfully familiar as it nimbly runs over the
frozen ground, picking up grain that has blown about from the barn,
when the seeds of the field are buried under snow. This lack of fear
through sharp hunger, that often drives the shyest of the birds to our
very doors in winter, is as pathetic as it is charming. Possibly it is
not so rare a bird as we think, for it is often mistaken for some of
the sparrows, the shore larks, and the snow buntings, that it not only
resembles, but whose company it frequently keeps, or for one of the
other longspurs.

At all seasons of the year a ground bird, you may readily identify the
Lapland longspur by its tracks through the snow, showing the mark of
the long hind claw or spur. In summer we know little or nothing about
it, for, with the coming of the flowers, it is off to the far north,
where, we are told, it depresses its nest in a bed of moss upon the
ground, and lines it with fur shed from the coat of the arctic fox.

    Chipping Sparrow

    (_Spizella socialis_) Finch family


    (Illustration facing p. 159)

    _Length_--5 to 5.5 inches. An inch shorter than the English

    _Male_--Under the eye, on the back of the neck, underneath,
       and on the lower back ash-gray. Gray stripe over the eye, and
       a blackish brown one apparently through it. Dark red-brown
       crown. Back brown, slightly rufous, and feathers streaked with
       black. Wings and tail dusty brown. Wing-bars not conspicuous.
       Bill black.

    _Female_--Lacks the chestnut color on the crown, which is
       streaked with black. In winter the frontlet is black. Bill

    _Range_--North America, from Newfoundland to the Gulf of
       Mexico and westward to the Rockies. Winters in Gulf States and
       Mexico. Most common in eastern United States.

    _Migrations_--April. October. Common summer resident, many
       birds remaining all the year from southern New England

Who does not know this humblest, most unassuming little neighbor that
comes hopping to our very doors; this mite of a bird with "one talent"
that it so persistently uses all the day and every day throughout the
summer? Its high, wiry trill, like the buzzing of the locust, heard in
the dawn before the sky grows even gray, or in the middle of the
night, starts the morning chorus; and after all other voices are
hushed in the evening, its tremolo is the last bed-song to come from
the trees. But however monotonous such cheerfulness sometimes becomes
when we are surfeited with real songs from dozens of other throats,
there are long periods of midsummer silence that it punctuates most

Its call-note, _chip! chip!_ from which several of its popular names
are derived, is altogether different from the trill which must do duty
as a song to express love, contentment, everything that so amiable a
little nature might feel impelled to voice.

But with all its virtues, the chippy shows lamentable weakness of
character in allowing its grown children to impose upon it, as it
certainly does. In every group of these birds throughout the summer we
can see young ones (which we may know by the black line-stripes on
their breasts) hopping around after their parents, that are often no
larger or more able-bodied than they, and teasing to be fed; drooping
their wings to excite pity for a helplessness that they do not possess
when the weary little mother hops away from them, and still
persistently chirping for food until she weakly relents, returns to
them, picks a seed from the ground and thrusts it down the bill of the
sauciest teaser in the group. With two such broods in a season the
chestnut feathers on the father's jaunty head might well turn gray.

Unlike most of the sparrows, the little chippy frequents high trees,
where its nest is built quite as often as in the low bushes of the
garden. The horsehair, which always lines the grassy cup that holds
its greenish-blue, speckled eggs, is alone responsible for the name
hair-bird, and not the chippy's hair-like trill, as some suppose.

    English Sparrow

    (_Passer domesticus_) Finch family

    _Called also_: HOUSE SPARROW

    _Length_--6.33 inches.

    _Male_--Ashy above, with black and chestnut stripes on back
       and shoulders. Wings have chestnut and white bar, bordered by
       faint black line. Gray crown, bordered from the eye backward
       and on the nape by chestnut. Middle of throat and breast
       black. Underneath grayish white.

    _Female_--Paler; wing-bars indistinct, and without the black
       marking on throat and breast.

    _Range_--Around the world. Introduced and naturalized in
       America, Australia, New Zealand.

    _Migrations_--Constant resident.

"Of course, no self-respecting ornithologist will condescend to
enlarge his list by counting in the English sparrow--too pestiferous
to mention," writes Mr. H. E. Parkhurst, and yet of all bird neighbors
is any one more within the scope of this book than the audacious
little gamin that delights in the companionship of humans even in
their most noisy city thoroughfares?

In a bulletin issued by the Department of Agriculture it is shown that
the progeny of a single pair of these sparrows might amount to
275,716,983,698 in ten years! Inasmuch as many pairs were liberated in
the streets of Brooklyn, New York, in 1851, when the first importation
was made, the day is evidently not far off when these birds, by no
means meek, "shall inherit the earth."

In Australia Scotch thistles, English sparrows, and rabbits, three
most unfortunate importations, have multiplied with equal rapidity
until serious alarm fills the minds of the colonists. But in England a
special committee appointed by the House of Commons to investigate
the character of the alleged pest has yet to learn whether the
sparrow's services as an insect-destroyer do not outweigh the injury
it does to fruit and grain.

    Field Sparrow

    (_Spizella pusilla_) Finch family


    (Illustration facing p. 203)

    _Length_--5.5 to 5.75 inches. A little smaller than the
       English sparrow.

    _Male_--Chestnut crown. Upper back bright chestnut, finely
       streaked with black and ashy brown. Lower back more grayish.
       Whitish wing-bars. Cheeks, line over the eye, throat, pale
       brownish drab. Tail long. Underneath grayish white, tinged
       with palest buff on breast and sides. Bill reddish.

    _Female_--Paler; the crown edged with grayish.

    _Range_--North America, from British provinces to the Gulf,
       and westward to the plains. Winters from Illinois and Virginia

    _Migrations_--April. November. Common summer resident.

Simply because both birds have chestnut crowns, the field sparrow is
often mistaken for the dapper, sociable chippy; and, no doubt because
it loves such heathery, grassy pastures as are dear to the vesper
sparrow, and has bay wings and a sweet song, these two cousins also
are often confused. The field sparrow has a more reddish-brown upper
back than any of its small relatives; the absence of streaks on its
breast and of the white tail quills so conspicuous in the vesper
sparrow's flight, sufficiently differentiate the two birds, while the
red bill of the field sparrow is a positive mark of identification.

This bird of humble nature, that makes the scrubby pastures and
uplands tuneful from early morning until after sunset, flies away with
exasperating shyness as you approach. Alighting on a convenient
branch, he lures you on with his clear, sweet song. Follow him, and he
only hops about from bush to bush, farther and farther away, singing
as he goes a variety of strains, which is one of the bird's
peculiarities. The song not only varies in individuals, but in
different localities, which may be one reason why no two
ornithologists record it alike. Doubtless the chief reason for the
amusing differences in the syllables into which the songs of birds are
often translated in the books, is that the same notes actually sound
differently to different individuals. Thus, to people in Massachusetts
the white-throated sparrow seems to say, "_Pea-bod-y, Pea-bod-y,
Pea-bod-y!_" while good British subjects beyond the New England border
hear him sing quite distinctly, "_Sweet Can-a-da, Can-a-da,
Can-a-da!_" But however the opinions as to the syllables of the field
sparrow's song may differ, all are agreed as to its exquisite quality,
that resembles the vesper sparrow's tender, sweet melody. The song
begins with three soft, wild whistles, and ends with a series of
trills and quavers that gradually melt away into silence: a serene and
restful strain as soothing as a hymn. Like the vesper sparrows, these
birds sometimes build a plain, grassy nest, unprotected by overhanging
bush, flat upon the ground. Possibly from a prudent fear of field-mice
and snakes, the little mother most frequently lays her bluish-white,
rufous-marked eggs in a nest placed in a bush of a bushy field. Hence
John Burroughs has called the bird the "bush sparrow."

    Fox Sparrow

    (_Passerella ilica_) Finch family

        FOXY FINCH

    _Length_--6.5 to 7.25 inches. Nearly an inch longer than the
       English sparrow.

    _Male and Female_--Upper parts reddish brown, varied with ash
       gray, brightest on lower back, wings, and tail. Bluish slate
       about the head. Underneath whitish; the throat, breast, and
       sides heavily marked with arrow-heads and oblong dashes of
       reddish brown and blackish.

    _Range_--Alaska and Manitoba to southern United States.
       Winters chiefly south of Illinois and Virginia. Occasional
       stragglers remain north most of the winter.

    _Migrations_--March. November. Most common in the migrations.

There will be little difficulty in naming this largest, most plump and
reddish of all the sparrows, whose fox-colored feathers, rather than
any malicious cunning of its disposition, are responsible for the name
it bears. The male bird is incomparably the finest singer of its
gifted family. His faint _tseep_ call-note gives no indication of his
vocal powers that some bleak morning in early March suddenly send a
thrill of pleasure through you. It is the most welcome "glad surprise"
of all the spring. Without a preliminary twitter or throat-clearing of
any sort, the full, rich, luscious tones, with just a tinge of
plaintiveness in them, are poured forth with spontaneous abandon. Such
a song at such a time is enough to summon anybody with a musical ear
out of doors under the leaden skies to where the delicious notes issue
from the leafless shrubbery by the roadside. Watch the singer until
the song ends, when he will quite likely descend among the dead leaves
on the ground and scratch among them like any barn-yard fowl, but
somehow contriving to use both feet at once in the operation, as no
chicken ever could. He seems to take special delight in damp thickets,
where the insects with which he varies his seed diet are plentiful.

Usually the fox sparrows keep in small, loose flocks, apart by
themselves, for they are not truly gregarious; but they may sometimes
be seen travelling in company with their white-throated cousins. They
are among the last birds to leave us in the late autumn or winter. Mr.
Bicknell says that they seem indisposed to sing unless present in
numbers. Indeed, they are little inclined to absolute solitude at any
time, for even in the nesting season quite a colony of grassy
nurseries may be found in the same meadow, and small companies haunt
the roadside shrubbery during the migrations.

   [Illustration: NIGHTHAWK]

   [Illustration: YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO]

    Grasshopper Sparrow

    (_Ammodramus savannarum passerinus_) Finch family

    _Called also_: YELLOW-WINGED SPARROW

    _Length_--5 to 5.4 inches. About an inch smaller than the
       English sparrow.

    _Male and Female_--A cream-yellow line over the eye; centre of
       crown, shoulders, and lesser wing coverts yellowish. Head
       blackish; rust-colored feathers, with small black spots on
       back of the neck; an orange mark before the eye. All other
       upper parts varied red, brown, cream, and black, with a drab
       wash. Underneath brownish drab on breast, shading to soiled
       white, and without streaks. Dusky, even, pointed tail feathers
       have grayish-white outer margins.

    _Range_--Eastern North America, from British provinces to Cuba.
       Winters south of the Carolinas.

    _Migrations_--April. October. Common summer resident.

It is safe to say that no other common bird is so frequently
overlooked as this little sparrow, that keeps persistently to the
grass and low bushes, and only faintly lifts up a weak, wiry voice
that is usually attributed to some insect. At the bend of the wings
only are the feathers really yellow, and even this bright shade often
goes unnoticed as the bird runs shyly through an old dairy field or
grassy pasture. You may all but step upon it before it takes wing and
exhibits itself on the fence-rail, which is usually as far from the
ground as it cares to go. If you are near enough to this perch you may
overhear the _zee-e-e-e-e-e-e-e_ that has earned it the name of
grasshopper sparrow. If you persistently follow it too closely, away
it flies, then suddenly drops to the ground where a scrubby bush
affords protection. A curious fact about this bird is that after you
have once become acquainted with it, you find that instead of being a
rare discovery, as you had supposed, it is apt to be a common resident
of almost every field you walk through.

    Savanna Sparrow

    (_Ammodramus sandwichensis savanna_) Finch family

    _Called also_: SAVANNA BUNTING

    _Length_--5.5 to 6 inches. A trifle smaller than the English

    _Male and Female_--Cheeks, space over the eye, and on the bend
       of the wings pale yellow. General effect of the upper parts
       brownish drab, streaked with black. Wings and tail dusky, the
       outer webs of the feathers margined with buff. Under parts
       white, heavily streaked with blackish and rufous, the marks on
       breast feathers being wedge-shaped. In the autumn the plumage
       is often suffused with a yellow tinge.

    _Range_--Eastern North America, from Hudson Bay to Mexico.
       Winters south of Illinois and Virginia.

    _Migrations_--April. October. A few remain in sheltered
       marshes at the north all winter.

Look for the savanna sparrow in salt marshes, marshy or upland
pastures, never far inland, and if you see a sparrowy bird, unusually
white and heavily streaked beneath, and with pale yellow markings
about the eye and on the bend of the wing, you may still make several
guesses at its identity before the weak, little insect-like trill
finally establishes it. Whoever can correctly name every sparrow and
warbler on sight is a person to be envied, if, indeed, he exists at

In the lowlands of Nova Scotia and, in fact, of all the maritime
provinces, this sparrow is the one that is perhaps most commonly seen.
Every fence-rail has one perched upon it, singing "_Ptsip, ptsip,
ptsip, zee-e-e-e-e_" close to the ear of the passer-by, who otherwise
might not hear the low grasshopper-like song. At the north the bird
somehow loses the shyness that makes it comparatively little known
farther south. Depending upon the scrub and grass to conceal it, you
may almost tread upon it before it startles you by its sudden rising
with a whirring noise, only to drop to the ground again just as
suddenly a few yards farther away, where it scuds among the underbrush
and is lost to sight. Tall weeds and fence-rails are as high and
exposed situations as it is likely to select while singing. It is most
distinctively a ground bird, and flat upon the pasture or in a
slightly hollowed cup it has the merest apology for a nest. Only a few
wisps of grass are laid in the cavity to receive the pale-green eggs,
that are covered most curiously with blotches of brown of many shapes
and tints.

    Seaside Sparrow

    (_Ammodramus maritimus_) Finch family


    _Length_--6 inches. A shade smaller than the English sparrow.

    _Male and Female_--Upper parts dusky grayish or olivaceous
       brown, inclining to gray on shoulders and on edges of some
       feathers. Wings and tail darkest. Throat yellowish white,
       shading to gray on breast, which is indistinctly mottled and
       streaked. A yellow spot before the eye and on bend of the
       wing, the bird's characteristic marks. Blunt tail.

    _Range_--Atlantic seaboard, from Georgia northward. Usually
       winters south of Virginia.

    _Migrations_--April. November. A few remain in sheltered
       marshes all winter.

The savanna, the swamp, the sharp-tailed, and the song sparrows may
all sometimes be found in the haunts of the seaside sparrow, but you
may be certain of finding the latter nowhere else than in the salt
marshes within sight or sound of the sea. It is a dingy little bird,
with the least definite coloring of all the sparrows that have
maritime inclinations, with no rufous tint in its feathers, and less
distinct streakings on the breast than any of them. It has no black
markings on the back.

Good-sized flocks of seaside sparrows live together in the marshes;
but they spend so much of their time on the ground, running about
among the reeds and grasses, whose seeds and insect parasites they
feed upon, that not until some unusual disturbance in the quiet place
flushes them does the intruder suspect their presence, Hunters after
beach-birds, longshoremen, seaside cottagers, and whoever follows the
windings of a creek through the salt meadows to catch crabs and eels
in midsummer, are well acquainted with the "meadow chippies," as the
fishermen call them. They keep up a good deal of chirping,
sparrow-fashion, and have four or five notes resembling a song that is
usually delivered from a tall reed stalk, where the bird sways and
balances until his husky performance has ended, when down he drops
upon the ground out of sight. Sometimes, too, these notes are uttered
while the bird flutters in the air above the tops of the sedges.

    Sharp-tailed Sparrow

    (_Ammodramus caudacutus_) Finch family

    _Length_--5.25 to 5.85 inches. A trifle smaller than the
       English sparrow.

    _Male and Female_--Upper parts brownish or grayish olive, the
       back with black streaks, and gray edges to some feathers. A
       gray line through centre of crown, which has maroon stripes;
       gray ears enclosed by buff lines, one of which passes through
       the eye and one on side of throat; brownish orange, or buff,
       on sides of head. Bend of the wing yellow. Breast and sides
       pale buff, distinctly streaked with black. Underneath whitish.
       Each narrow quill of tail is sharply pointed, the outer ones

    _Range_--Atlantic coast. Winters south of Virginia.

    _Migrations_--April. November. Summer resident.

This bird delights in the company of the dull-colored seaside sparrow,
whose haunts in the salt marshes it frequents, especially the drier
parts; but its pointed tail-quills and more distinct markings are
sufficient to prevent confusion. Mr. J. Dwight, Jr., who has made a
special study of maritime birds, says of it: "It runs about among the
reeds and grasses with the celerity of a mouse, and it is not apt to
take wing unless closely pressed." (Wilson credited it with the
nimbleness of a sandpiper.) "It builds its nest in the tussocks on the
bank of a ditch, or in the drift left by the tide, rather than in the
grassier sites chosen by its neighbors, the seaside sparrows."

Only rarely does one get a glimpse of this shy little bird, that darts
out of sight like a flash at the first approach. Balancing on a
cat-tail stalk or perched upon a bit of driftwood, it makes a feeble,
husky attempt to sing a few notes; and during the brief performance
the opera-glasses may search it out successfully. While it feeds upon
the bits of sea-food washed ashore to the edge of the marshes, it
gives us perhaps the best chance we ever get, outside of a museum, to
study the bird's characteristics of plumage.

"Both the sharp-tailed and the seaside finches are crepuscular," says
Dr. Abbott, in "The Birds About Us." They run up and down the reeds
and on the water's edge long after most birds have gone to sleep.

    Song Sparrow

    (_Melospiza fasciata_) Finch family

    (Illustration facing p. 166)

    _Length_--6 to 6.5 inches. About the same size as the English

    _Male and Female_--Brown head, with three longitudinal gray
       bands. Brown stripe on sides of throat. Brownish-gray back,
       streaked with rufous. Underneath gray, shading to white,
       heavily streaked with darkest brown. A black spot on breast.
       Wings without bars. Tail plain grayish brown.

    _Range_--North America, from Fur Countries to the Gulf States.
       Winters from southern Illinois and Massachusetts to the Gulf.

    _Migrations_--March. November. A few birds remain at the north
       all the year.

Here is a veritable bird neighbor, if ever there was one; at home in
our gardens and hedges, not often farther away than the roadside,
abundant everywhere during nearly every month in the year, and yet was
there ever one too many? There is scarcely an hour in the day, too,
when its delicious, ecstatic song may not be heard; in the darkness of
midnight, just before dawn, when its voice is almost the first to
respond to the chipping sparrow's wiry trill and the robin's warble;
in the cool of the morning, the heat of noon, the hush of evening--
ever the simple, homely, sweet melody that every good American has
learned to love in childhood. What the bird lacks in beauty it
abundantly makes up in good cheer. Not at all retiring, though never
bold, it chooses some conspicuous perch on a bush or tree to deliver
its outburst of song, and sings away with serene unconsciousness. Its
artlessness is charming. Thoreau writes in his "Summer" that the
country girls in Massachusetts hear the bird say: "_Maids, maids,
maids, hang on your teakettle, teakettle-ettle-ettle._" The call-note,
a metallic _chip_, is equally characteristic of the bird's
irrepressible vivacity. It has still another musical expression,
however, a song more prolonged and varied than its usual performance,
that it seems to sing only on the wing.

Of course, the song sparrow must sometimes fly upward, but whoever
sees it fly anywhere but downward into the thicket that it depends
upon to conceal it from too close inspection? By pumping its tail as
it flies, it seems to acquire more than the ordinary sparrow's

Its nest, which is likely to be laid flat on the ground, except where
field-mice are plentiful (in which case it is elevated into the crotch
of a bush), is made of grass, strips of bark, and leaves, and lined
with finer grasses and hair. Sometimes three broods may be reared in a
season, but even the cares of providing insects and seeds enough for
so many hungry babies cannot altogether suppress the cheerful singer.
The eggs are grayish white, speckled and clouded with lavender and
various shades of brown.

In sparsely settled regions the song sparrows seem to show a fondness
for moist woodland thickets, possibly because their tastes are
insectivorous. But it is difficult to imagine the friendly little
musician anything but a neighbor.

   [Illustration: CEDAR WAXWING (_One-half natural size_)]

   [Illustration: CHIPPING SPARROW]

    Swamp Song Sparrow

    (_Melospiza georgiana_) Finch family


    _Length_--5 to 5.8 inches. A little smaller than the English

    _Male_--Forehead black; crown, which in winter has black
       stripes, is always bright bay; line over the eye, sides of the
       neck gray. Back brown, striped with various shades. Wing-edges
       and tail reddish brown. Mottled gray underneath, inclining to
       white on the chin.

    _Female_--Without black forehead and stripes on head.

    _Range_--North America, from Texas to Labrador.

    _Migrations_--April. October. A few winter at the north.

In just such impenetrable retreats as the marsh wrens choose, another
wee brown bird may sometimes be seen springing up from among the
sedges, singing a few sweet notes as it flies and floats above them,
and then suddenly disappearing into the grassy tangle. It is too
small, and its breast is not streaked enough to be a song sparrow,
neither are their songs alike; it has not the wren's peculiarities of
bill and tail. Its bright-bay crown and sparrowy markings finally
identify it. A suggestion of the bird's watery home shows itself in
the liquid quality of its simple, sweet note, stronger and sweeter
than the chippy's, and repeated many times almost like a trill that
seems to trickle from the marsh in a little rivulet of song. The
sweetness is apt to become monotonous to all but the bird itself, that
takes evident delight in its performance. In the spring, when flocks
of swamp sparrows come north, how they enliven the marshes and waste
places! And yet the song, simple as it is, is evidently not uttered
altogether without effort, if the tail-spreading and teetering of the
body after the manner of the ovenbird, are any indications of

Nuttall says of these birds: "They thread their devious way with the
same alacrity as the rail, with whom, indeed, they are often
associated in neighborhood. In consequence of this perpetual brushing
through sedge and bushes, their feathers are frequently so worn that
their tails appear almost like those of rats." But the swamp sparrows
frequently belie their name, and, especially in the South, live in dry
fields, worn-out pasture lands with scrubby, weedy patches in them.
They live upon seeds of grasses and berries, but Dr. Abbott has
detected their special fondness for fish--not fresh fish particularly,
but rather such as have lain in the sun for a few days and become dry
as a chip.

Their nest is placed on the ground, sometimes in a tussock of grass or
roots of an upturned tree quite surrounded by water. Four or five
soiled white eggs with reddish-brown spots are laid usually twice in a

    Tree Sparrow

    (_Spizella monticola_) Finch family


    (Illustration facing p. 167)

    _Length_--6 to 6.35 inches. About the same size as the English

    _Male_--Crown of head bright chestnut. Line over the eye,
       cheeks, throat, and breast gray, the breast with an indistinct
       black spot on centre. Brown back, the feathers edged with
       black and buff. Lower back pale grayish brown. Two whitish
       bars across dusky wings; tail feathers bordered with grayish
       white. Underneath whitish.

    _Female_--Smaller and less distinctly marked.

    _Range_--North America, from Hudson Bay to the Carolinas, and
       westward to the plains.

    _Migrations_--October. April. Winter resident.

A revised and enlarged edition of the friendly little chipping
sparrow, that hops to our very doors for crumbs throughout the mild
weather, comes out of British America at the beginning of winter to
dissipate much of the winter's dreariness by his cheerful twitterings.
Why he should have been called a tree sparrow is a mystery, unless
because he does not frequent trees--a reason with sufficient
plausibility to commend the name to several of the early
ornithologists, who not infrequently called a bird precisely what it
was not. The tree sparrow actually does not show half the preference
for trees that its familiar little counterpart does, but rather keeps
to low bushes when not on the ground, where we usually find it. It
does not crouch upon the ground like the chippy, but with a lordly
carriage holds itself erect as it nimbly runs over the frozen crust.
Sheltered from the high, wintry winds in the furrows and dry ditches
of ploughed fields, a loose flock of these active birds keep up a
merry hunt for fallen seeds and berries, with a belated beetle to give
the grain a relish. As you approach the feeding ground, one bird gives
a shrill alarm-cry, and instantly five times as many birds as you
suspected were in the field take wing and settle down in the scrubby
undergrowth at the edge of the woods or by the way-side. No still cold
seems too keen for them to go a-foraging; but when cutting winds blow
through the leafless thickets the scattered remnants of a flock seek
the shelter of stone walls, hedges, barns, and cozy nooks about the
house and garden. It is in midwinter that these birds grow most
neighborly, although even then they are distinctly less sociable than
their small chippy cousins.

By the first of March, when the fox sparrow and the bluebird attract
the lion's share of attention by their superior voices, we not
infrequently are deaf to the modest, sweet little strain that answers
for the tree sparrow's love-song. Soon after the bird is in full
voice, away it goes with its flock to their nesting ground in Labrador
or the Hudson Bay region. It builds, either on the ground or not far
from it, a nest of grasses, rootlets, and hair, without which no true
chippy counts its home complete.

    Vesper Sparrow

    (_Po[oe]cetes gramineus_) Finch family


    _Length_--5.75 to 6.25 inches. A little smaller than the
       English sparrow.

    _Male and Female_--Brown above, streaked and varied with gray.
       Lesser wing coverts bright rufous. Throat and breast whitish,
       striped with dark brown. Underneath plain soiled white. Outer
       tail-quills, which are its special mark of identification, are
       partly white, but apparently wholly white as the bird flies.
       _Range_--North America, especially common in eastern parts
       from Hudson Bay to Gulf of Mexico. Winters south of Virginia.

    _Migrations_--April. October. Common summer resident.

Among the least conspicuous birds, sparrows are the easiest to
classify for that very reason, and certain prominent features of the
half dozen commonest of the tribe make their identification simple
even to the merest novice. The distinguishing marks of this sparrow
that haunts open, breezy pasture lands and country waysides are its
bright, reddish-brown wing coverts, prominent among its dingy, pale
brownish-gray feathers, and its white tail-quills, shown as the bird
flies along the road ahead of you to light upon the fence-rail. It
rarely flies higher, even to sing its serene, pastoral strain, restful
as the twilight, of which, indeed, it seems to be the vocal
expression. How different from the ecstatic outburst of the song
sparrow! Pensive, but not sad, its long-drawn silvery notes continue
in quavers that float off unended like a trail of mist. The song is
suggestive of the thoughts that must come at evening to some New
England saint of humble station after a well-spent, soul-uplifting

But while the vesper sparrow sings oftenest and most sweetly in the
late afternoon and continues singing until only he and the
rose-breasted grosbeak break the silence of the early night, his is
one of the first voices to join the morning chorus. No "early worm,"
however, tempts him from his grassy nest, for the seeds in the pasture
lands and certain tiny insects that live among the grass furnish meals
at all hours. He simply delights in the cool, still morning and
evening hours and in giving voice to his enjoyment of them.

The vesper sparrow is preëminently a grass-bird. It first opens its
eyes on the world in a nest neatly woven of grasses, laid on the
ground among the grass that shelters it and furnishes it with food and
its protective coloring. Only the grazing cattle know how many nests
and birds are hidden in their pastures. Like the meadowlarks, their
presence is not even suspected until a flock is flushed from its
feeding ground, only to return to the spot when you have passed on
your way. Like the meadowlark again, the vesper sparrow occasionally
sings as it soars upward from its grassy home.

    White-crowned Sparrow

    (_Zonotrichia leucophrys_) Finch family

    _Length_--7 inches. A little larger than the English sparrow.

    _Male_--White head, with four longitudinal black lines marking
       off a crown, the black-and-white stripes being of about equal
       width. Cheeks, nape, and throat gray. Light gray underneath,
       with some buff tints. Back dark grayish brown, some feathers
       margined with gray. Two interrupted white bars across wings.
       Plain, dusky tail; total effect, a clear ashen gray.

    _Female_--With rusty head inclining to gray on crown. Paler
       throughout than the male.

    _Range_--From high mountain ranges of western United States
       (more rarely on Pacific slope) to Atlantic Ocean, and from
       Labrador to Mexico. Chiefly south of Pennsylvania.

    _Migrations_--October. April. Irregular migrant in Northern
       States. A winter resident elsewhere.

The large size and handsome markings of this aristocratic-looking
Northern sparrow would serve to distinguish him at once, did he not
often consort with his equally fine-looking white-throated cousins
while migrating, and so too often get overlooked. Sparrows are such
gregarious birds that it is well to scrutinize every flock with
especial care in the spring and autumn, when the rarer migrants are
passing. This bird is more common in the high altitudes of the Sierra
Nevada and Rocky Mountains than elsewhere in the United States. There
in the lonely forest it nests in low bushes or on the ground, and
sings its full love-song, as it does in the northern British
provinces, along the Atlantic coast; but during the migrations it
favors us only with selections from its repertoire. Mr. Ernest
Thompson says, "Its usual song is like the latter half of the
white-throat's familiar refrain, repeated a number of times with a
peculiar, sad cadence and in a clear, soft whistle that is
characteristic of the group." "The song is the loudest and most
plaintive of all the sparrow songs," says John Burroughs. "It begins
with the words _fe-u, fe-u, fe-u_, and runs off into trills and
quavers like the song sparrow's, only much more touching." Colorado
miners tell that this sparrow, like its white-throated relative, sings
on the darkest nights. Often a score or more birds are heard singing
at once after the habit of the European nightingales, which, however,
choose to sing only in the moonlight.

    White-throated Sparrow

    (_Zonotrichia albicollis_) Finch family


    (Illustration facing p. 170)

    _Length_--6.75 to 7 inches. Larger than the English sparrow.

    _Male and Female_--A black crown divided by narrow white line.
       Yellow spot before the eye, and a white line, apparently
       running through it, passes backward to the nape. Conspicuous
       white throat. Chestnut back, varied with black and whitish.
       Breast gray, growing lighter underneath. Wings edged with
       rufous and with two white cross-bars.

    _Range_--Eastern North America. Nests from Michigan and
       Massachusetts northward to Labrador. Winters from southern New
       England to Florida.

    _Migrations_--April. October. Abundant during migrations, and
       in many States a winter resident.

"_I-I, Pea-body, Pea-body, Pea-body_," are the syllables of the
white-throat's song heard by the good New Englanders, who have a
tradition that you must either be a Peabody or a nobody there; while
just over the British border the bird is distinctly understood to say,
"_Swee-e-e-t Can-a-da, Can-a-da, Can-a-da._" "_All day, whit-tle-ing,
whit-tle-ing, whit-tle-ing,_" the Maine people declare he sings; and
Hamilton Gibson told of a perplexed farmer, Peverly by name, who, as
he stood in the field undecided as to what crop to plant, clearly
heard the bird advise, "_Sow wheat, Pev-er-ly, Pev-er-ly, Pev-er-ly._"
Such divergence of opinion, which is really slight compared with the
verbal record of many birds' songs, only goes to show how little the
sweetness of birds' music, like the perfume of a rose, depends upon a

In a family not distinguished for good looks, the white-throated
sparrow is conspicuously handsome, especially after the spring moult.
In midwinter the feathers grow dingy and the markings indistinct; but
as the season advances, his colors are sure to brighten perceptibly,
and before he takes the northward journey in April, any little lady
sparrow might feel proud of the attentions of so fine-looking and
sweet-voiced a lover. The black, white, and yellow markings on his
head are now clear and beautiful. His figure is plump and

These sparrows are particularly sociable travellers, and cordially
welcome many stragglers to their flocks--not during the migrations
only, but even when winter's snow affords only the barest gleanings
above it. Then they boldly peck about the dog's plate by the kitchen
door and enter the barn-yard, calling their feathered friends with a
sharp _tseep_ to follow them. Seeds and insects are their chosen food,
and were they not well wrapped in an adipose coat under their
feathers, there must be many a winter night when they would go
shivering, supperless, to their perch.

In the dark of midnight one may sometimes hear the white-throat softly
singing in its dreams.

   [Illustration: SONG SPARROW]

   [Illustration: TREE SPARROW]


    Tree Swallow                       Warbling Vireo
    Ruby-throated Humming-bird         Ovenbird
    Golden-crowned Kinglet             Worm-eating Warbler
    Ruby-crowned Kinglet               Acadian Flycatcher
    Solitary Vireo                     Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
    Red-eyed Vireo                     Black-throated Green Warbler
    White-eyed Vireo

Look also among the Olive-brown Birds, especially for the Cuckoos,
Alice's and the Olive-backed Thrushes; and look in the yellow group,
many of whose birds are olive also. See also females of the Red
Crossbill, Orchard Oriole, Scarlet Tanager, Summer Tanager.

    Tree Swallow

    (_Tacbycineta bicolor_) Swallow family

    _Called also_: WHITE-BELLIED SWALLOW

    (Illustration facing p. 171)

    _Length_--5 to 6 inches. A little shorter than the English
       sparrow, but apparently much larger because of its wide

    _Male_--Lustrous dark steel-green above; darker and shading
       into black on wings and tail, which is forked. Under parts
       soft white.

    _Female_--Duller than male.

    _Range_--North America, from Hudson Bay to Panama.

    _Migrations_--End of March. September or later. Summer resident.

    "The stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times: and the
     turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their
     coming."--Jeremiah, viii. 7.

The earliest of the family to appear in the spring, the tree swallow
comes skimming over the freshly ploughed fields with a wide sweep of
the wings, in what appears to be a perfect ecstasy of flight. More shy
of the haunts of man, and less gregarious than its cousins, it is
usually to be seen during migration flying low over the marshes,
ponds, and streams with a few chosen friends, keeping up an incessant
warbling twitter while performing their bewildering and tireless
evolutions as they catch their food on the wing. Their white breasts
flash in the sunlight, and it is only when they dart near you, and
skim close along the surface of the water, that you discover their
backs to be not black, but rich, dark green, glossy to iridescence.

It is probable that these birds keep near the waterways because their
favorite insects and wax-berries are more plentiful in such places;
but this peculiarity has led many people to the absurd belief that
the tree swallow buries itself under the mud of ponds in winter in a
state of hibernation. No bird's breathing apparatus is made to operate
under mud.

In unsettled districts these swallows nest in hollow trees, hence
their name; but with that laziness that forms a part of the degeneracy
of civilization, they now gladly accept the boxes about men's homes
set up for the martins. Thousands of these beautiful birds have been
shot on the Long Island marshes and sold to New York epicures for


   [Illustration: TREE SWALLOW]

    Ruby-throated Humming-bird

    (_Trochilus colubris_) Humming-bird family

    (Illustration facing p. 171)

    _Length_--3.5 to 3.75 inches. A trifle over half as long as
       the English sparrow. The smallest bird we have.

    _Male_--Bright metallic green above; wings and tail darkest,
       with ruddy-purplish reflections and dusky-white tips on outer
       tail-quills. Throat and breast brilliant metallic-red in one
       light, orange flame in another, and dusky orange in another,
       according as the light strikes the plumage. Sides greenish;
       underneath lightest gray, with whitish border outlining the
       brilliant breast. Bill long and needle-like.

    _Female_--Without the brilliant feathers on throat; darker
       gray beneath. Outer tail-quills are banded with black and
       tipped with white.

    _Range_--Eastern North America, from northern Canada to the
       Gulf of Mexico in summer. Winters in Central America.

    _Migrations_--May. October. Common summer resident.

This smallest, most exquisite and unabashed of our bird neighbors
cannot be mistaken, for it is the only one of its kin found east of
the plains and north of Florida, although about four hundred species,
native only to the New World, have been named by scientists. How does
it happen that this little tropical jewel alone flashes about our
Northern gardens? Does it never stir the spirit of adventure and
emulation in the glistening breasts of its stay-at-home cousins in the
tropics by tales of luxuriant tangles of honeysuckle and clematis on
our cottage porches; of deep-cupped trumpet-flowers climbing over the
walls of old-fashioned gardens, where larkspur, narcissus, roses, and
phlox, that crowd the box-edged beds, are more gay and honey-laden
than their little brains can picture? Apparently it takes only the
wish to be in a place to transport one of these little fairies either
from the honeysuckle trellis to the canna bed or from Yucatan to the
Hudson. It is easy to see how to will and to fly are allied in the
minds of the humming-birds, as they are in the Latin tongue. One
minute poised in midair, apparently motionless before a flower while
draining the nectar from its deep cup--though the humming of its wings
tells that it is suspended there by no magic--the next instant it has
flashed out of sight as if a fairy's wand had made it suddenly
invisible. Without seeing the hummer, it might be, and often is,
mistaken for a bee improving the "shining hour."

At evening one often hears of a "humming-bird" going the rounds of the
garden, but at this hour it is usually the sphinx-moth hovering above
the flower-beds--the one other creature besides the bee for which the
bird is ever mistaken. The postures and preferences of this beautiful
large moth make the mistake a very natural one.

The ruby-throat is strangely fearless and unabashed. It will dart
among the vines on the veranda while the entire household are
assembled there, and add its hum to that of the conversation in a most
delightfully neighborly way. Once a glistening little sprite, quite
undaunted by the size of an audience that sat almost breathless
enjoying his beauty, thrust his bill into one calyx after another on a
long sprig of honeysuckle held in the hand.

And yet, with all its friendliness--or is it simply fearlessness?--the
bird is a desperate duellist, and will longe his deadly blade into the
jewelled breast of an enemy at the slightest provocation and quicker
than thought. All the heat of his glowing throat seems to be
transferred to his head while the fight continues, sometimes even to
the death--a cruel, but marvellously beautiful sight as the glistening
birds dart and tumble about beyond the range of peace-makers.

High up in a tree, preferably one whose knots and lichen-covered
excrescences are calculated to help conceal the nest that so cleverly
imitates them, the mother humming-bird saddles her exquisite cradle to
a horizontal limb. She lines it with plant-down, fluffy bits from
cat-tails, and the fronds of fern, felting the material into a circle
that an elm-leaf amply roofs over. Outside, lichens or bits of bark
blend the nest so harmoniously with its surroundings that one may
look long and thoroughly before discovering it. Two infinitesimal,
white eggs tax the nest accommodation to its utmost.

In the mating season the female may be seen perching--a posture one
rarely catches her gay lover in--preening her dainty but sombre
feathers with ladylike nicety. The young birds do a great deal of
perching before they gain the marvellously rapid wing-motions of
maturity, but they are ready to fly within three weeks after they are
hatched. By the time the trumpet-vine is in bloom they dart and sip
and utter a shrill little squeak among the flowers, in company with
the old birds.

During the nest-building and incubation the male bird keeps so
aggressively on the defensive that he often betrays to a hitherto
unsuspecting intruder the location of his home. After the young birds
have to be fed he is most diligent in collecting food, that consists
not alone of the sweet juices of flowers, as is popularly supposed,
but also of aphides and plant-lice that his proboscis-like tongue
licks off the garden foliage literally like a streak of lightning.

Both parents feed the young by regurgitation--a process disgusting to
the human observer, whose stomach involuntarily revolts at the sight
so welcome to the tiny, squeaking, hungry birds.

    Ruby-crowned Kinglet

    (_Regulus calendula_) Kinglet family


    (Illustration facing p. 187)

    _Length_--4.25 to 4.5 inches. About two inches smaller than
       the English sparrow.

    _Male_--Upper parts grayish olive-green, brighter nearer the
       tail; wings and tail dusky, edged with yellowish olive. Two
       whitish wing-bars. Breast and underneath light yellowish gray.
       In the adult male a vermilion spot on crown of his ash-gray

    _Female_--Similar, but without the vermilion crest.

    _Range_--North America. Breeds from northern United States
       northward. Winters from southern limits of its breeding range
       to Central America and Mexico.

    _Migrations_--October. April. Rarely a winter resident at the
       North. Most common during its migrations.

A trifle larger than the golden-crowned kinglet, with a vermilion
crest instead of a yellow and flame one, and with a decided preference
for a warmer winter climate, and the ruby-crown's chief distinguishing
characteristics are told. These rather confusing relatives would be
less puzzling if it were the habit of either to keep quiet long enough
to focus the opera-glasses on their crowns, which it only rarely is
while some particularly promising haunt of insects that lurk beneath
the rough bark of the evergreens has to be thoroughly explored. At all
other times both kinglets keep up an incessant fluttering and
twinkling among the twigs and leaves at the ends of the branches,
jerking their tiny bodies from twig to twig in the shrubbery, hanging
head downward, like a nuthatch, and most industriously feeding every
second upon the tiny insects and larvæ hidden beneath the bark and
leaves. They seem to be the feathered expression of perpetual motion.
And how dainty and charming these tiny sprites are! They are not at
all shy; you may approach them quite close if you will, for the birds
are simply too intent on their business to be concerned with yours.

If a sharp lookout be kept for these ruby-crowned migrants, that too
often slip away to the south before we know they have come, we notice
that they appear about a fortnight ahead of the golden-crested
species, since the mild, soft air of our Indian summer is exactly to
their liking. At this season there is nothing in the bird's "thin,
metallic call-note, like a vibrating wire," to indicate that he is one
of our finest songsters. But listen for him during the spring
migration, when a love-song is already ripening in his tiny throat.
What a volume of rich, lyrical melody pours from the Norway spruce,
where the little musician is simply practising to perfect the richer,
fuller song that he sings to his nesting mate in the far north! The
volume is really tremendous, coming from so tiny a throat. Those who
have heard it in northern Canada describe it as a flute-like and
mellow warble full of intricate phrases past the imitating. Dr. Coues
says of it: "The kinglet's exquisite vocalization defies description."

Curiously enough, the nest of this bird, that is not at all rare, has
been discovered only six times. It would appear to be over-large for
the tiny bird, until we remember that kinglets are wont to have a
numerous progeny in their pensile, globular home. It is made of light,
flimsy material--moss, strips of bark, and plant-fibre well knit
together and closely lined with feathers, which must be a grateful
addition to the babies, where they are reared in evergreens in cold,
northern woods.

    Golden-crowned Kinglet

    (_Regulus satrapa_) Kinglet family


    (Illustration facing p. 187)

    _Length_--4 to 4.25 inches. About two inches smaller than the
       English sparrow.

    _Male_--Upper parts grayish olive-green; wings and tail dusky,
       margined with olive-green. Underneath soiled whitish. Centre
       of crown bright orange, bordered by yellow and enclosed by
       black line. Cheeks gray; a whitish line over the eye.

    _Female_--Similar, but centre of crown lemon-yellow and more
       grayish underneath.

    _Range_--North America generally. Breeds from northern United
       States northward. Winters chiefly from North Carolina to
       Central America, but many remain north all the year.

    _Migrations_--September. April. Chiefly a winter resident
       south of Canada.

If this cheery little winter neighbor would keep quiet long enough, we
might have a glimpse of the golden crest that distinguishes him from
his equally lively cousin, the ruby-crowned; but he is so constantly
flitting about the ends of the twigs, peering at the bark for hidden
insects, twinkling his wings and fluttering among the evergreens with
more nervous restlessness than a vireo, that you may know him well
before you have a glimpse of his tri-colored crown.

When the autumn foliage is all aglow with yellow and flame this tiny
sprite comes out of the north, where neither nesting nor moulting
could rob him of his cheerful spirits. Except the humming-bird and the
winter wren, he is the smallest bird we have. And yet, somewhere
stored up in his diminutive body, is warmth enough to withstand zero
weather. With evident enjoyment of the cold, he calls out a shrill,
wiry _zee, zee, zee_, that rings merrily from the pines and spruces
when our fingers are too numb to hold the opera glasses in an attempt
to follow his restless flittings from branch to branch. Is it one of
the unwritten laws of birds that the smaller their bodies the greater
their activity?

When you see one kinglet about, you may be sure there are others not
far away, for, except in the nesting season, its habits are distinctly
social, its friendliness extending to the humdrum brown creeper, the
chickadees, and the nuthatches, in whose company it is often seen;
indeed, it is likely to be in almost any flock of the winter birds.
They are a merry band as they go exploring the trees together. The
kinglet can hang upside down, too, like the other acrobats, many of
whose tricks he has learned; and it can pick off insects from a tree
with as business-like an air as the brown creeper, but with none of
that soulless bird's plodding precision.

In the early spring, just before this busy little sprite leaves us to
nest in Canada or Labrador--for heat is the one thing that he can't
cheerfully endure--a gushing, lyrical song bursts from his tiny
throat--a song whose volume is so out of proportion to the bird's size
that Nuttall's classification of kinglets with wrens doesn't seem far
wrong after all.

Only rarely is a nest found so far south as the White Mountains. It is
said to be extraordinarily large for so small a bird; but that need
not surprise us when we learn that as many as ten creamy-white eggs,
blotched with brown and lavender, are no uncommon number for the
pensile cradle to hold. How do the tiny parents contrive to cover so
many eggs and to feed such a nestful of fledglings?

    Solitary Vireo

    (_Vireo solitarius_) Vireo or Greenlet family

    _Called also_: BLUE-HEADED VIREO

    _Length_--5.5 to 7 inches. A little smaller than the English

    _Male_--Dusky olive above; head bluish gray, with a white line
       around the eye, spreading behind the eye into a patch. Beneath
       whitish, with yellow-green wash on the sides. Wings dusky
       olive, with two distinct white bars. Tail dusky, some quills
       edged with white.

    _Female_--Similar, but her head is dusky olive.

    _Range_--United States to plains, and the southern British
       provinces. Winters in Florida and southward.

    _Migrations_--May. Early October. Common during migrations;
       more rarely a summer resident south of Massachusetts.

By no means the recluse that its name would imply, the solitary vireo,
while a bird of the woods, shows a charming curiosity about the
stranger with opera-glasses in hand, who has penetrated to the deep,
swampy tangles, where it chooses to live. Peering at you through the
green undergrowth with an eye that seems especially conspicuous
because of its encircling white rim, it is at least as sociable and
cheerful as any member of its family, and Mr. Bradford Torrey credits
it with "winning tameness." "Wood-bird as it is," he says, "it will
sometimes permit the greatest familiarities. Two birds I have seen,
which allowed themselves to be stroked in the freest manner, while
sitting on the eggs, and which ate from my hand as readily as any pet

The solitary vireo also builds a pensile nest, swung from the crotch
of a branch, not so high from the ground as the yellow-throated
vireo's nor so exquisitely finished, but still a beautiful little
structure of pine-needles, plant-fibre, dry leaves, and twigs, all
lichen-lined and bound and rebound with coarse spiders' webs.

The distinguishing quality of this vireo's celebrated song is its
tenderness: a pure, serene uplifting of its loving, trustful nature
that seems inspired by a fine spirituality.

    Red-eyed Vireo

    (_Vireo olivaceus_) Vireo or Greenlet family

    _Called also_: THE PREACHER

    _Length_--5.75 to 6.25 inches. A fraction smaller than the
       English sparrow.

    _Male and Female_--Upper parts light olive-green; well-defined
       slaty-gray cap, with black marginal line, below which, and
       forming an exaggerated eyebrow, is a line of white. A brownish
       band runs from base of bill through the eye. The iris is
       ruby-red. Underneath white, shaded with light greenish yellow
       on sides and on under tail and wing coverts.

    _Range_--United States to Rockies and northward. Winters in
       Central and South America.

    _Migrations_--April. October. Common summer resident.

"You see it--you know it--do you hear me? Do you believe it?" is
Wilson Flagg's famous interpretation of the song of this commonest of
all the vireos, that you cannot mistake with such a key. He calls the
bird the preacher from its declamatory style: an up-and-down warble
delivered with a rising inflection at the close and followed by an
impressive silence, as if the little green orator were saying, "I
pause for a reply."

Notwithstanding its quiet coloring, that so closely resembles the
leaves it hunts among, this vireo is rather more noticeable than its
relatives because of its slaty cap and the black-and-white lines over
its ruby eye, that, in addition to the song, are its marked

Whether she is excessively stupid or excessively kind, the
mother-vireo has certainly won for herself no end of ridicule by
allowing the cowbird to deposit a stray egg in the exquisitely made,
pensile nest, where her own tiny white eggs are lying; and though the
young cowbird crowd and worry her little fledglings and eat their
dinner as fast as she can bring it in, no displeasure or grudging is
shown towards the dusky intruder that is sure to upset the rightful
heirs out of the nest before they are able to fly.

In the heat of a midsummer noon, when nearly every other bird's voice
is hushed, and only the locust seems to rejoice in the fierce
sunshine, the little red-eyed vireo goes persistently about its
business of gathering insects from the leaves, not flitting nervously
about like a warbler, or taking its food on the wing like a
flycatcher, but patiently and industriously dining where it can, and
singing as it goes.

When a worm is caught it is first shaken against a branch to kill it
before it is swallowed. Vireos haunt shrubbery and trees with heavy
foliage, all their hunting, singing, resting, and home-building being
done among the leaves--never on the ground.

    White-eyed Vireo

    (_Vireo noveboracensis_) Vireo or Greenlet family

    _Length_--5 to 5.3 inches. An inch shorter than the English

    _Male and Female_--Upper parts bright olive-green, washed with
       grayish. Throat and underneath white; the breast and sides
       greenish yellow; wings have two distinct bars of yellowish
       white. Yellow line from beak to and around the eye, which has
       a white iris. Feathers of wings and tail brownish and edged
       with yellow.

    _Range_--United States to the Rockies, and to the Gulf regions
       and beyond in winter.

    _Migrations_--May. September. Summer resident.

"Pertest of songsters," the white-eyed vireo makes whatever
neighborhood it enters lively at once. Taking up a residence in the
tangled shrubbery or thickety undergrowth, it immediately begins to
scold like a crotchety old wren. It becomes irritated over the merest
trifles--a passing bumblebee, a visit from another bird to its tangle,
an unsuccessful peck at a gnat--anything seems calculated to rouse its
wrath and set every feather on its little body a-trembling, while it
sharply snaps out what might perhaps be freely constructed into

And yet the inscrutable mystery is that this virago meekly permits the
lazy cowbird to deposit an egg in its nest, and will patiently sit
upon it, though it is as large as three of her own tiny eggs; and when
the little interloper comes out from his shell the mother-bird will
continue to give it the most devoted care long after it has shoved her
poor little starved babies out of the nest to meet an untimely death
in the smilax thicket below.

An unusual variety of expression distinguishes this bird's voice from
the songs of the other vireos, which are apt to be monotonous, as they
are incessant. If you are so fortunate to approach the white-eyed
vireo before he suspects your presence, you may hear him amusing
himself by jumbling together snatches of the songs of the other birds
in a sort of potpourri; or perhaps he will be scolding or arguing with
an imaginary foe, then dropping his voice and talking confidentially
to himself. Suddenly he bursts into a charming, simple little song, as
if the introspection had given him reason for real joy. All these
vocal accomplishments suggest the chat at once; but the minute your
intrusion is discovered the sharp scolding, that is fairly screamed at
you from an enraged little throat, leaves no possible shadow of a
doubt as to the bird you have disturbed. It has the most emphatic call
and song to be heard in the woods; it snaps its words off very short.
"_Chick-a-rer chick_" is its usual call-note, jerked out with great

Wilson thus describes the jealously guarded nest: "This bird builds a
very neat little nest, often in the figure of an inverted cone; it is
suspended by the upper end of the two sides, on the circular bend of a
prickly vine, a species of smilax, that generally grows in low
thickets. Outwardly it is constructed of various light materials, bits
of rotten wood, fibres of dry stalks, of weeds, pieces of paper
(commonly newspapers, an article almost always found about its nest,
so that some of my friends have given it the name of the politician);
all these materials are interwoven with the silk of the caterpillars,
and the inside is lined with fine, dry grass and hair."

    Warbling Vireo

    (_Vireo gilvus_) Vireo or Greenlet family

    _Length_--5.5 to 6 inches. A little smaller than the English

    _Male and Female_--Ashy olive-green above, with head and neck
       ash-colored. Dusky line over the eye. Underneath whitish,
       faintly washed with dull yellow, deepest on sides; no bars on

    _Range_--North America, from Hudson Bay to Mexico.

    _Migrations_--May. Late September or early October. Summer

This musical little bird shows a curious preference for rows of trees
in the village street or by the roadside, where he can be sure of an
audience to listen to his rich, continuous warble. There is a
mellowness about his voice, which rises loud, but not altogether
cheerfully, above the bird chorus, as if he were a gifted but slightly
disgruntled contralto. Too inconspicuously dressed, and usually too
high in the tree-top to be identified without opera-glasses, we may
easily mistake him by his voice for one of the warbler family, which
is very closely allied to the vireos. Indeed, this warbling vireo
seems to be the connecting link between them.

Morning and afternoon, but almost never in the evening, we may hear
him rippling out song after song as he feeds on insects and berries
about the garden. But this familiarity lasts only until nesting time,
for off he goes with his little mate to some unfrequented lane near a
wood until their family is reared, when, with a perceptibly happier
strain in his voice, he once more haunts our garden and row of elms
before taking the southern journey.


    (_Seiurus aurocapillus_) Wood Warbler family


    (Illustration facing p. 218)

    _Length_--6 to 6.15 inches. Just a shade smaller than the
       English sparrow.

    _Male and Female_--Upper parts olive, with an orange-brown
       crown, bordered by black lines that converge toward the bill.
       Under parts white; breast spotted and streaked on the sides.
       White eye-ring.

    _Range_--United States, to Pacific slope.

    _Migrations_--May. October. Common summer resident.

Early in May you may have the good fortune to see this little bird of
the woods strutting in and out of the garden shrubbery with a certain
mock dignity, like a child wearing its father's boots. Few birds can
walk without appearing more or less ridiculous, and however gracefully
and prettily it steps, this amusing little wagtail is no exception.
When seen at all--which is not often, for it is shy--it is usually on
the ground, not far from the shrubbery or a woodland thicket, under
which it will quickly dodge out of sight at the merest suspicion of a
footstep. To most people the bird is only a voice calling, "_Teacher,
Teacher, Teacher, Teacher, TEACHER!_" as Mr. Burroughs has interpreted
the notes that go off in pairs like a series of little explosions,
softly at first, then louder and louder and more shrill until the bird
that you at first thought far away seems to be shrieking his
penetrating crescendo into your very ears. But you may look until you
are tired before you find him in the high, dry wood, never near water.

In the driest parts of the wood, here the ground is thickly carpeted
with dead leaves, you may some day notice a little bunch of them, that
look as if a plant, in pushing its way up through the ground, had
raised the leaves, rootlets, and twigs a trifle. Examine the spot
more carefully, and on one side you find an opening, and within the
ball of earth, softly lined with grass, lie four or five cream-white,
speckled eggs. It is only by a happy accident that this nest of the
ovenbird is discovered. The concealment could not be better. It is
this peculiarity of nest construction--in shape like a Dutch
oven--that has given the bird what DeKay considers its "trivial name."
Not far from the nest the parent birds scratch about in the leaves
like diminutive barn-yard fowls, for the grubs and insects hiding
under them. But at the first suspicion of an intruder their alarm
becomes pitiful. Panic-stricken, they become fairly limp with fear,
and drooping her wings and tail, the mother-bird drags herself hither
and thither over the ground.

As utterly bewildered as his mate, the male darts, flies, and tumbles
about through the low branches, jerking and wagging his tail in
nervous spasms until you have beaten a double-quick retreat.

In nesting time, at evening, a very few have heard the "luxurious
nuptial song" of the ovenbird; but it is a song to haunt the memory
forever afterward. Burroughs appears to be the first writer to record
this "rare bit of bird melody." "Mounting by easy flight to the top of
the tallest tree," says the author of "Wake-Robin," "the ovenbird
launches into the air with a sort of suspended, hovering flight, like
certain of the finches, and bursts into a perfect ecstasy of
song--clear, ringing, copious, rivalling the goldfinch's in vivacity
and the linnet's in melody."

    Worm-eating Warbler

    (_Helmintherus vermivorus_) Wood Warbler family

    _Length_--5.50 inches. Less than an inch shorter than the
       English sparrow.

    _Male and Female_--Greenish olive above. Head yellowish brown,
       with two black stripes through crown to the nape; also black
       lines from the eyes to neck. Under parts buffy and white.

    _Range_--Eastern parts of United States. Nests as far north as
       southern Illinois and southern Connecticut. Winters in the
       Gulf States and southward.

    _Migrations_--May. September. Summer resident.

In the Delaware Valley and along the same parallel, this inconspicuous
warbler is abundant, but north of New Jersey it is rare enough to give
an excitement to the day on which you discover it. No doubt it is
commoner than we suppose, for its coloring blends so admirably with
its habitats that it is probably very often overlooked. Its call-note,
a common chirp, has nothing distinguishing about it, and all
ornithologists confess to having been often misled by its song into
thinking it came from the chipping sparrow. It closely resembles that
of the pine warbler also. If it were as nervously active as most
warblers, we should more often discover it, but it is quite as
deliberate as a vireo, and in the painstaking way in which it often
circles around a tree while searching for spiders and other insects
that infest the trunks, it reminds us of the brown creeper. Sunny
slopes and hillsides covered with thick undergrowth are its preferred
foraging and nesting haunts. It is often seen hopping directly on the
dry ground, where it places its nest, and it never mounts far above
it. The well-drained, sunny situation for the home is chosen with the
wisdom of a sanitary expert.

    Acadian Flycatcher

    (_Empidonax virescens_) Flycatcher family


    _Length_--5.75 to 6 inches. A trifle smaller than the English

    _Male_--Dull olive above. Two conspicuous yellowish wing-bars.
       Throat white, shading into pale yellow on breast. Light gray
       or white underneath. Upper part of bill black; lower mandible
       flesh-color. White eye-ring.

    _Female_--Greener above and more yellow below.

    _Range_--From Canada to Mexico, Central America, and West
       Indies. Most common in south temperate latitudes. Winters in
       southerly limit of range.

    _Migrations_--April. September. Summer resident.

When all our northern landscape takes on the exquisite, soft green,
gray, and yellow tints of early spring, this little flycatcher, in
perfect color-harmony with the woods it darts among, comes out of the
south. It might be a leaf that is being blown about, touched by the
sunshine filtering through the trees, and partly shaded by the young
foliage casting its first shadows.

Woodlands, through which small streams meander lazily, inviting swarms
of insects to their boggy shores, make ideal hunting grounds for the
Acadian flycatcher. It chooses a low rather than a high, conspicuous
perch, that other members of its family invariably select; and from
such a lookout it may be seen launching into the air after the passing
gnat--darting downward, then suddenly mounting upward in its aërial
hunt, the vigorous clicks of the beak as it closes over its tiny
victims testifying to the bird's unerring aim and its hearty appetite.

While perching, a constant tail-twitching is kept up; and a faint,
fretful "_Tshee-kee, tshee-kee_" escapes the bird when inactively
waiting for a dinner to heave in sight.

In the Middle Atlantic States its peeping sound and the clicking of
its parti-colored bill are infrequently heard in the village streets
in the autumn, when the shy and solitary birds are enticed from the
deep woods by a prospect of a more plentiful diet of insects,
attracted by the fruit in orchards and gardens.

Never far from the ground, on two or more parallel branches, the
shallow, unsubstantial nest is laid. Some one has cleverly described
it as "a tuft of hay caught by the limb from a load driven under it,"
but this description omits all mention of the quantities of blossoms
that must be gathered to line the cradle for the tiny, cream white
eggs spotted with brown.

    Yellow-bellied Flycatcher

    (_Empidonax flaviventris_) Flycatcher family

    _Length_--5 to 5.6 inches. About an inch smaller than the
       English sparrow.

    _Male_--Rather dark, but true olive-green above. Throat and
       breast yellowish olive, shading into pale yellow underneath,
       including wing linings and under tail coverts. Wings have
       yellowish bars. Whitish ring around eye. Upper part of bill
       black, under part whitish or flesh-colored.

    _Female_--Smaller, with brighter yellow under parts and more
       decidedly yellow wing-bars.

    _Range_--North America, from Labrador to Panama, and westward
       from the Atlantic to the plains. Winters in Central America.

    _Migrations_--May. September, Summer resident. More commonly a
       migrant only.

This is the most yellow of the small flycatchers and the only Eastern
species with a yellow instead of a white throat. Without hearing
its call-note, "_pse-ek-pse-ek_," which it abruptly sneezes rather
than utters, it is quite impossible, as it darts among the trees,
to tell it from the Acadian flycatcher, with which even Audubon
confounded it. Both these little birds choose the same sort of
retreats--well-timbered woods near a stream that attracts myriads of
insects to its spongy shores--and both are rather shy and solitary.
The yellow-bellied species has a far more northerly range, however,
than its Southern relative or even the small green-crested flycatcher.
It is rare in the Middle States, not common even in New England,
except in the migrations, but from the Canada border northward its
soft, plaintive whistle, which is its love-song, may be heard in every
forest where it nests. All the flycatchers seem to make a noise with
so much struggle, such convulsive jerkings of head and tail, and
flutterings of the wings that, considering the scanty success of their
musical attempts, it is surprising they try to lift their voices at
all when the effort almost literally lifts them off their feet.

While this little flycatcher is no less erratic than its Acadian
cousin, its nest is never slovenly. One couple had their home in a
wild-grape bower in Pennsylvania; a Virginia creeper in New Jersey
supported another cradle that was fully twenty feet above the ground;
but in Labrador, where the bird has its chosen breeding grounds, the
bulky nest is said to be invariably placed either in the moss by the
brookside or in some old stump, should the locality be too swampy.

    Black-throated Green Warbler

    (_Dendroica virens_) Wood Warbler family

    _Length_--5 inches. Over an inch smaller than the English

    _Male_--Back and crown of head bright yellowish olive-green.
       Forehead, band over eye, cheeks, and sides of neck rich
       yellow. Throat, upper breast, and stripe along sides black.
       Underneath yellowish white. Wings and tail brownish olive, the
       former with two white bars, the latter with much white in
       outer quills. In autumn, plumage resembling the female's.

    _Female_--Similar; chin yellowish; throat and breast dusky,
       the black being mixed with yellowish.

    _Range_--Eastern North America, from Hudson Bay to Central
       America and Mexico. Nests north of Illinois and New York.
       Winters in tropics.

    _Migrations_--May. October. Common summer resident north of
       New Jersey.

There can be little difficulty in naming a bird so brilliantly and
distinctly marked as this green, gold, and black warbler, that lifts
up a few pure, sweet, tender notes, loud enough to attract attention
when he visits the garden. "_See-see, see-saw_," he sings, but there
is a tone of anxiety betrayed in the simple, sylvan strain that always
seems as if the bird needed reassuring, possibly due to the rising
inflection, like an interrogative, of the last notes.

However abundant about our homes during the migrations, this warbler,
true to the family instinct, retreats to the woods to nest--not always
so far away as Canada, the nesting ground of most warblers, for in
many Northern States the bird is commonly found throughout the summer.
Doubtless it prefers tall evergreen trees for its mossy, grassy nest;
but it is not always particular, so that the tree be a tall one with a
convenient fork in an upper branch.

Early in September increased numbers emerge from the woods, the
plumage of the male being less brilliant than when we saw it last, as
if the family cares of the summer had proved too taxing. For nearly a
month longer they hunt incessantly, with much flitting about the
leaves and twigs at the ends of branches in the shrubbery and
evergreens, for the tiny insects that the warblers must devour by the
million during their all too brief visit.




    Yellow-throated Vireo              Prairie Warbler
    American Goldfinch                 Wilson's Warbler or Black-cap
    Evening Grosbeak                   Yellow Warbler or
    Blue-winged Warbler                  Summer Yellowbird
    Canadian Warbler                   Yellow Redpoll Warbler
    Hooded Warbler                     Yellow-breasted Chat
    Kentucky Warbler                   Maryland Yellowthroat
    Magnolia Warbler                   Blackburnian Warbler
    Mourning Warbler                   Redstart
    Nashville Warbler                  Baltimore Oriole
    Pine Warbler

Look also among the Yellowish Olive Birds in the preceding group; and
among the Brown Birds for the Meadowlark and Flicker. See also Parula
Warbler (Slate) and Yellow-bellied Woodpecker (Black and White).

    Yellow-throated Vireo

    (_Vireo flavifrons_) Vireo or Greenlet family

    _Length_--5.5 to 6 inches. A little smaller than the English

    _Male and Female_--Lemon-yellow on throat, upper breast; line
       around the eye and forehead. Yellow, shading into olive-green,
       on head, back, and shoulders. Underneath white. Tail dark
       brownish, edged with white. Wings a lighter shade, with two
       white bands across, and some quills edged with white.

    _Range_--North America, from Newfoundland to Gulf of Mexico,
       and westward to the Rockies. Winters in the tropics.

    _Migrations_--May. September. Spring and autumn migrant; more
       rarely resident.

This is undoubtedly the beauty of the vireo family--a group of neat,
active, stoutly built, and vigorous little birds of yellow, greenish,
and white plumage; birds that love the trees, and whose feathers
reflect the coloring of the leaves they hide, hunt, and nest among.
"We have no birds," says Bradford Torrey, "so unsparing of their
music: they sing from morning till night."

The yellow-throated vireo partakes of all the family characteristics,
but, in addition to these, it eclipses all its relatives in the
brilliancy of its coloring and in the art of nest-building, which it
has brought to a state of hopeless perfection. No envious bird need
try to excel the exquisite finish of its workmanship. Happily, it has
wit enough to build its pensile nest high above the reach of small
boys, usually suspending it from a branch overhanging running water
that threatens too precipitous a bath to tempt the young climbers.

However common in the city parks and suburban gardens this bird may be
during the migrations, it delights in a secluded retreat overgrown
with tall trees and near a stream, such as is dear to the solitary
vireo as well when the nesting time approaches. High up in the trees
we hear its rather sad, persistent strain, that is more in harmony
with the dim forest than with the gay flower garden, where, if the
truth must be told, its song is both monotonous and depressing. Mr.
Bicknell says it is the only vireo that sings as it flies.

    American Goldfinch

    (_Spinus tristis_) Finch family


    (See frontispiece)

    _Length_--5 to 5.2 inches. About an inch smaller than the
       English sparrow.

    _Male_--_In summer plumage_: Bright yellow, except on crown of
       head, frontlet, wings, and tail, which are black. Whitish
       markings on wings give effect of bands. Tail with white on
       inner webs. _In winter plumage_: Head yellow-olive; no
       frontlet; black drab, with reddish tinge; shoulders and throat
       yellow; soiled brownish white underneath.

    _Female_--Brownish olive above, yellowish white beneath.

    _Range_--North America, from the tropics to the Fur Countries
       and westward to the Columbia River and California. Common
       throughout its range.

    _Migrations_--May--October. Common summer resident, frequently
       seen throughout the winter as well.

An old field, overgrown with thistles and tall, stalky wild flowers,
is the paradise of the goldfinches, summer or winter. Here they
congregate in happy companies while the sunshine and goldenrod are as
bright as their feathers, and cling to the swaying slender stems that
furnish an abundant harvest, daintily lunching upon the fluffy seeds
of thistle blossoms, pecking at the mullein-stalks, and swinging
airily among the asters and Michaelmas daisies; or, when snow covers
the same field with a glistening crust, above which the brown stalks
offer only a meagre dinner, the same birds, now sombrely clad in
winter feathers, cling to the swaying stems with cheerful fortitude.

At your approach, the busy company rises on the wing, and with
peculiar, wavy flight rise and fall through the air, marking each
undulation with a cluster of notes, sweet and clear, that come
floating downward from the blue ether, where the birds seem to bound
along exultant in their motion and song alike.

In the spring the plumage of the goldfinch, which has been drab and
brown through the winter months, is moulted or shed--a change that
transforms the bird from a sombre Puritan into the gayest of
cavaliers, and seems to wonderfully exalt his spirits. He bursts into
a wild, sweet, incoherent melody that might be the outpouring from two
or three throats at once instead of one, expressing his rapture
somewhat after the manner of the canary, although his song lacks the
variety and the finish of his caged namesake. What tone of sadness in
his music the man found who applied the adjective _tristis_ to his
scientific name it is difficult to imagine when listening to the notes
that come bubbling up from the bird's happy heart.

With plumage so lovely and song so delicious and dreamy, it is small
wonder that numbers of our goldfinches are caught and caged, however
inferior their song may be to the European species recently introduced
into this country. Heard in Central Park, New York, where they were
set at liberty, the European goldfinches seemed to sing with more
abandon, perhaps, but with no more sweetness than their American
cousins. The song remains at its best all through the summer months,
for the bird is a long wooer. It is nearly July before he mates, and
not until the tardy cedar birds are house-building in the orchard do
the happy pair begin to carry grass, moss, and plant-down to a crotch
of some tall tree convenient to a field of such wild flowers as will
furnish food to a growing family. Doubtless the birds wait for this
food to be in proper condition before they undertake parental duties
at all--the most plausible excuse for their late nesting. The cares
evolving from four to six pale-blue eggs will suffice to quiet the
father's song for the winter by the first of September, and fade all
the glory out of his shining coat. As pretty a sight as any garden
offers is when a family of goldfinches alights on the top of a
sunflower to feast upon the oily seeds--a perfect harmony of brown and

   [Illustration: REDSTART (Upper Figure, Female; Lower Figure, Male)]

   [Illustration: BALTIMORE ORIOLE (Upper Figure, Male;
      Lower Figure, Female)]

    Evening Grosbeak

    (_Coccothraustes vespertinus_) Finch family

    _Length_--8 inches. Two inches shorter than the robin.

    _Male_--Forehead, shoulders, and underneath clear yellow: dull
       yellow on lower back; sides of the head, throat, and breast
       olive-brown. Crown, tail, and wings black, the latter with
       white secondary feathers. Bill heavy and blunt, and yellow.

    _Female_--Brownish gray, more or less suffused with yellow.
       Wings and tail blackish, with some white feathers.

    _Range_--Interior of North America. Resident from Manitoba
       northward. Common winter visitor in northwestern United States
       and Mississippi Valley; casual winter visitor in northern
       Atlantic States.

In the winter of 1889-90 Eastern people had the rare treat of becoming
acquainted with this common bird of the Northwest, that, in one of its
erratic travels, chose to visit New England and the Atlantic States,
as far south as Delaware, in great numbers. Those who saw the evening
grosbeaks then remember how beautiful their yellow plumage--a rare
winter tint--looked in the snow-covered trees, where small companies
of the gentle and even tame visitors enjoyed the buds and seeds of the
maples, elders, and evergreens. Possibly evening grosbeaks were in
vogue for the next season's millinery, or perhaps Eastern
ornithologists had a sudden zeal to investigate their structural
anatomy. At any rate, these birds, whose very tameness, that showed
slight acquaintance with mankind, should have touched the coldest
heart, received the warmest kind of a reception from hot shot. The few
birds that escaped to the solitudes of Manitoba could not be expected
to tempt other travellers eastward by an account of their visit. The
bird is quite likely to remain rare in the East.

But in the Mississippi Valley and throughout the northwest, companies
of from six to sixty may be regularly counted upon as winter neighbors
on almost every farm. Here the females keep up a busy chatting, like a
company of cedar birds, and the males punctuate their pauses with a
single shrill note that gives little indication of their vocal powers.
But in the solitude of the northern forests the love-song is said to
resemble the robin's at the start. Unhappily, after a most promising
beginning, the bird suddenly stops, as if he were out of breath.

    Blue-Winged Warbler

    (_Helminthophila pinus_) Wood Warbler family


    (Illustration facing p. 17)

    _Length_--4.75 inches. An inch and a half shorter than the
       English sparrow.

    _Male_--Crown of head and all under parts bright yellow. Back
       olive-green. Wings and tail bluish slate, the former with
       white bars, and three outer tail quills with large white
       patches on their inner webs.

    _Female_--Paler and more olive.

    _Range_--Eastern United States, from southern New England and
       Minnesota, the northern limit of its nesting range, to Mexico
       and Central America, where it winters.

    _Migrations_--May. September. Summer resident.

In the naming of warblers, bluish slate is the shade intended when
blue is mentioned; so that if you see a dainty little olive and yellow
bird with slate-colored wings and tail hunting for spiders in the
blossoming orchard or during the early autumn you will have seen the
beautiful blue-winged warbler. It has a rather leisurely way of
hunting, unlike the nervous, restless flitting about from twig to twig
that is characteristic of many of its many cousins. The search is
thorough--bark, stems, blossoms, leaves are inspected for larvæ and
spiders, with many pretty motions of head and body. Sometimes, hanging
with head downward, the bird suggests a yellow titmouse. After blossom
time a pair of these warblers, that have done serviceable work in the
orchard in their all too brief stay, hurry off to dense woods to nest.
They are usually to be seen in pairs at all seasons. Not to "high
coniferous trees in northern forests"--the Mecca of innumerable
warblers--but to scrubby, second growth of woodland borders, or lower
trees in the heart of the woods, do these dainty birds retreat. There
they build the usual warbler nest of twigs, bits of bark, leaves, and
grasses, but with this peculiarity: the numerous leaves with which the
nest is wrapped all have their stems pointing upward. Mr. Frank
Chapman has admirably defined their song as consisting of "two
drawled, wheezy notes--_swee-chee_, the first inhaled, the second

    Canadian Warbler

    (_Sylvania canadensis_) Wood Warbler family


    _Length_--5 to 5.6 inches. About an inch shorter than the
       English sparrow.

    _Male_--Immaculate bluish ash above, without marks on wings or
       tail; crown spotted with arrow-shaped black marks. Cheeks,
       line from bill to eye, and underneath clear yellow. Black
       streaks forming a necklace across the breast.

    _Female_--Paler, with necklace indistinct.

    _Range_--North America, from Manitoba and Labrador to tropics.

    _Migrations_---May. September. Summer resident; most abundant
       in migrations.

Since about one-third of all the song-birds met with in a year's
rambles are apt to be warblers, the novice cannot devote his first
attention to a better group, confusing though it is by reason of its
size and the repetition of the same colors in so many bewildering
combinations. Monotony, however, is unknown in the warbler family.
Whoever can rightly name every warbler, male and female, on sight is
uniquely accomplished.

The jet necklace worn on this bird's breast is its best mark of
identification. Its form is particularly slender and graceful, as
might be expected in a bird so active, one to whom a hundred tiny
insects barely afford a dinner that must often be caught piecemeal as
it flies past. To satisfy its appetite, which cannot but be dainty in
so thoroughly charming a bird, it lives in low, boggy woods, in such
retreats as Wilson's black-capped warbler selects for a like reason.
Neither of these two "flycatcher" warblers depends altogether on
catching insects on the wing; countless thousands are picked off the
under sides of leaves and about the stems of twigs in true warbler

The Canadian's song is particularly loud, sweet, and vivacious. It is
hazardous for any one without long field practice to try to name any
warbler by its song alone, but possibly this one's animated music is
as characteristic as any.

The nest is built on the ground on a mossy bank or elevated into the
root crannies of some large tree, where there is much water in the
woods. Bits of bark, dead wood, moss, and fine rootlets, all carefully
wrapped with leaves, go to make the pretty cradle. Unhappily, the
little Canada warblers are often cheated out of their natural rights,
like so many other delightful song-birds, by the greedy interloper
that the cowbird deposits in their nest.

    Hooded Warbler

    (_Sylvania mitrata_) Wood Warbler family

    _Length_--5 to 5.75 inches. About an inch shorter than the
       English sparrow.

    _Male_--Head, neck, chin, and throat black like a hood in
       mature male specimens only. Hood restricted, or altogether
       wanting in female and young. Upper parts rich olive. Forehead,
       cheeks, and underneath yellow. Some conspicuous white on tail

    _Female_--Duller, and with restricted cowl.

    _Range_--United States east of Rockies, and from southern
       Michigan and southern New England to West Indies and tropical
       America, where it winters. Very local.

    _Migrations_--May. September. Summer resident.

This beautifully marked, sprightly little warbler might be mistaken in
his immaturity for the yellowthroat; and as it is said to take him
nearly three years to grow his hood, with the completed cowl and cape,
there is surely sufficient reason here for the despair that often
seizes the novice in attempting to distinguish the perplexing
warblers. Like its Southern counterpart, the hooded warbler prefers
wet woods and low trees rather than high ones, for much of its food
consists of insects attracted by the dampness, and many of them must
be taken on the wing. Because of its tireless activity the bird's
figure is particularly slender and graceful--a trait, too, to which we
owe all the glimpses of it we are likely to get throughout the summer.
It has a curious habit of spreading its tail, as if it wished you to
take special notice of the white spots that adorn it; not flirting it,
as the redstart does his more gorgeous one, but simply opening it like
a fan as it flies and darts about.

Its song, which is particularly sweet and graceful and with more
variation than most warblers' music, has been translated
"_Che-we-eo-tsip, tsip, che-we-eo_," again interpreted by Mr. Chapman
as "You must come to the woods, or you won't see me."

    Kentucky Warbler

    (_Geothlypis formosa_) Wood Warbler family

    _Length_--5.5 inches. Nearly an inch shorter than the English

    _Male_--Upper parts olive-green; under parts yellow; a yellow
       line from the bill passes over and around the eye. Crown of
       head, patch below the eye, and line defining throat, black.

    _Female_--Similar, but paler, and with grayish instead of
    black markings.

    _Range_--United States eastward from the Rockies, and from
    Iowa and Connecticut to Central America, where it winters.

    _Migrations_--May. September. Summer resident.

No bird is common at the extreme limits of its range, and so this
warbler has a reputation for rarity among the New England
ornithologists that would surprise people in the middle South and
Southwest. After all that may be said in the books, a bird is either
common or rare to the individual who may or may not have happened to
become acquainted with it in any part of its chosen territory. Plenty
of people in Kentucky, where we might judge from its name this bird is
supposed to be most numerous, have never seen or heard of it, while a
student on the Hudson River, within sight of New York, knows it
intimately. It also nests regularly in certain parts of the
Connecticut Valley. "Who is my neighbor?" is often a question
difficult indeed to answer where birds are concerned. In the chapter,
"Spring at the Capital," which, with every reading of "Wake Robin,"
inspires the bird-lover with fresh zeal, Mr. Burroughs writes of the
Kentucky warbler: "I meet with him in low, damp places, in the woods,
usually on the steep sides of some little run. I hear at intervals a
clear, strong, bell-like whistle or warble, and presently catch a
glimpse of the bird as he jumps up from the ground to take an insect
or worm from the under side of a leaf. This is his characteristic
movement. He belongs to the class of ground warblers, and his range is
very low, indeed lower than that of any other species with which I am

Like the ovenbird and comparatively few others, for most birds hop
over the ground, the Kentucky warbler _walks_ rapidly about, looking
for insects under the fallen leaves, and poking his inquisitive beak
into every cranny where a spider may be lurking. The bird has a
pretty, conscious way of flying up to a perch, a few feet above the
ground, as a tenor might advance towards the footlights of a stage, to
pour forth his clear, penetrating whistle, that in the nesting season
especially is repeated over and over again with tireless persistency.

    Magnolia Warbler

    (_Dendroica maculosa_) Wood Warbler family


    _Length_--4.75 to 5 inches. About an inch and a half smaller
       than the English sparrow.

    _Male_--Crown of head slate-color, bordered on either side by
       a white line; a black line, apparently running through the
       eye, and a yellow line below it, merging into the yellow
       throat. Lower back and under parts yellow. Back, wings, and
       tail blackish olive. Large white patch on the wings, and the
       middle of the tail-quills white. Throat and sides heavily
       streaked with black.

    _Female_--Has greener back, is paler, and has less distinct

    _Range_--North America, from Hudson Bay to Panama. Summers
       from northern Michigan and northern New England northward;
       winters in Central America and Cuba.

    _Migrations_--May. October. Spring and summer migrant.

In spite of the bird's name, one need not look for it in the glossy
magnolia trees of the southern gardens more than in the shrubbery on
New England lawns, and during the migrations it is quite as likely to
be found in one place as in the other. Its true preference, however,
is for the spruces and hemlocks of its nesting ground in the northern
forests. For these it deserts us after a brief hunt about the tender,
young spring foliage and blossoms, where the early worm lies
concealed, and before we have become so well acquainted with its
handsome clothes that we will instantly recognize it in the duller
ones it wears on its return trip in the autumn. The position of the
white marks on the tail feathers of this warbler, however, is the clue
by which it may be identified at any season or any stage of its
growth. If the white bar runs across the _middle_ of the warbler's
tail, you can be sure of the identity of the bird. A nervous and
restless hunter, it nevertheless seems less shy than many of its kin.
Another pleasing characteristic is that it brings back with it in
October the loud, clear, rapid whistle with which it has entertained
its nesting mate in the Canada woods through the summer.

    Mourning Warbler

    (_Geothlypis philadelphia_) Wood Warbler family


    _Length_--5 to 5.6 inches. About an inch smaller than the
       English sparrow.

    _Male_--Gray head and throat; the breast gray; the feathers
       with black edges that make them look crinkled, like crape. The
       black markings converge into a spot on upper breast. Upper
       parts, except head, olive. Underneath rich yellow.

    _Female_--Similar, but duller; throat and breast buff and
       dusky where the male is black. Back olive-green.

    _Range_--"Eastern North America; breeds from eastern Nebraska,
       northern New York, and Nova Scotia northward, and southward
       along the Alleghanies to Pennsylvania. Winters in the

    _Migrations_--May. September. Spring and autumn migrant.

Since Audubon met with but one of these birds in his incessant
trampings, and Wilson secured only an immature, imperfectly marked
specimen for his collection, the novice may feel no disappointment if
he fails to make the acquaintance of this "gay and agreeable widow."
And yet the shy and wary bird is not unknown in Central Park, New York
City. Even where its clear, whistled song strikes the ear with a
startling novelty that invites to instant pursuit of the singer, you
may look long and diligently through the undergrowth without finding
it. Dr. Merriam says the whistle resembles the syllables "_true, true,
true, tru, too_, the voice rising on the first three syllables and
falling on the last two." In the nesting season this song is repeated
over and over again with a persistency worthy of a Kentucky warbler.
It is delivered from a perch within a few feet of the ground, as high
as the bird seems ever inclined to ascend.

   [Illustration: CARDINAL]

   [Illustration: SCARLET TANAGER Male, in mature plumage, perching;
      female on nest.]

    Nashville Warbler

    (_Helminthophila ruficapilla_) Wood Warbler family

    _Length_--4.75 to 5 inches. About an inch and a half smaller
       than the English sparrow.

    _Male_--Olive-green above; yellow underneath. Slate-gray head
       and neck. Partially concealed chestnut patch on crown. Wings
       and tail olive-brown and without markings.

    _Female_--Dull olive and paler, with brownish wash underneath.

    _Range_--North America, westward to the plains; north to the
       Fur Countries, and south to Central America and Mexico. Nests
       north of Illinois and northern New England; winters in

    _Migrations_--April. September or October.

It must not be thought that this beautiful warbler confines itself to
backyards in the city of Nashville simply because Wilson discovered it
near there and gave it a local name, for the bird's actual range
reaches from the fur trader's camp near Hudson Bay to the adobe
villages of Mexico and Central America, and over two thousand miles
east and west in the United States. It chooses open rather than dense
woods and tree-bordered fields. It seems to have a liking for hemlocks
and pine trees, especially if near a stream that attracts insects to
its shores; and Dr. Warren notes that in Pennsylvania he finds small
flocks of these warblers in the autumn migration, feeding in the
willow trees near little rivers and ponds. Only in the northern parts
of the United States is their nest ever found, for the northern
British provinces are their preferred nesting ground. One seen in the
White Mountains was built on a mossy, rocky ledge, directly on the
ground at the foot of a pine tree, and made of rootlets, moss, needles
from the trees overhead, and several layers of leaves outside, with a
lining of fine grasses that cradled four white, speckled eggs.

Audubon likened the bird's feeble note to the breaking of twigs.

    Pine Warbler

    (_Dendroica vigorsii_) Wood Warbler family

    _Called also_: PINE-CREEPING WARBLER

    _Length_--5.5 to 6 inches. A trifle smaller than the English

    _Male_--Yellowish olive above; clear yellow below, shading to
       grayish white, with obscure dark streaks on side of breast.
       Two whitish wing-bars; two outer tail feathers partly white.

    _Female_--Duller; grayish white only faintly tinged with
       yellow underneath.

    _Range_--North America, east of the Rockies; north to
       Manitoba, and south to Florida and the Bahamas. Winters from
       southern Illinois southward.

    _Migrations_--March or April. October or later. Common summer

The pine warbler closely presses the myrtle warbler for the first
place in the ranks of the family migrants, but as the latter bird
often stays north all winter, it is usually given the palm. Here is a
warbler, let it be recorded, that is fittingly named, for it is a
denizen of pine woods only; most common in the long stretches of pine
forests at the south and in New York and New England, and
correspondingly uncommon wherever the woods-man's axe has laid the
pine trees low throughout its range. Its "simple, sweet, and drowsy
song," writes Mr. Parkhurst, is always associated "with the smell of
pines on a sultry day." It recalls that of the junco and the social
sparrow or chippy.

Creeping over the bark of trees and peering into every crevice like a
nuthatch; running along the limbs, not often hopping nervously or
flitting like the warblers; darting into the air for a passing insect,
or descending to the ground to feed on seeds and berries, the pine
warbler has, by a curious combination, the movements that seem to
characterize several different birds.

It is one of the largest and hardiest members of its family, but not
remarkable for its beauty. It is a sociable traveller, cheerfully
escorting other warblers northward, and welcoming to its band both the
yellow redpolls and the myrtle warblers. These birds are very often
seen together in the pine and other evergreen trees in our lawns and
in the large city parks.

    Prairie Warbler

    (_Dendroica discolor_) Wood Warbler family

    _Length_--4.75 to 5 inches. About an inch and a half shorter
       than the English sparrow.

    _Male_--Olive-green above, shading to yellowish on the head,
       and with brick-red spots on back between the shoulders. A
       yellow line over the eye; wing-bars and all under parts bright
       yellow, heavily streaked with black on the sides. Line through
       the eye and crescent below it, black. Much white in outer tail

    _Female_--Paler; upper parts more grayish olive, and markings
       less distinct than male's.

    _Range_--Eastern half of the United States. Nests as far north
       as New England and Michigan. Winters from Florida southward.

    _Migrations_--May. September. Summer resident.

Doubtless this diminutive bird was given its name because it prefers
open country rather than the woods--the scrubby undergrowth of oaks,
young evergreens, and bushes that border clearings being as good a
place as any to look for it, and not the wind-swept, treeless tracts
of the wild West. Its range is southerly. The Southern and Middle
States are where it is most abundant. Here is a wood warbler that is
not a bird of the woods--less so, in fact, than either the summer
yellowbird (yellow warbler) or the palm warbler, that are eminently
neighborly and fond of pasture lands and roadside thickets. But the
prairie warblers are rather more retiring little sprites than their
cousins, and it is not often we get a close enough view of them to
note the brick-red spots on their backs, which are their
distinguishing marks. They have a most unkind preference for briery
bushes, that discourage human intimacy. In such forbidding retreats
they build their nest of plant-fibre, rootlets, and twigs, lined with
plant-down and hair.

The song of an individual prairie warbler makes only a slight
impression. It consists "of a series of six or seven quickly repeated
_zees_ the next to the last one being the highest" (Chapman). But the
united voices of a dozen or more of these pretty little birds, that
often sing together, afford something approaching a musical treat.

    Wilson's Warbler

    (_Sylvania pusilla_) Wood Warbler family


    _Length_--4.75 to 5 inches. About an inch and a half shorter
       than the English sparrow.

    _Male_--Black cap; yellow forehead; all other upper parts
       olive-green; rich yellow underneath.

    _Female_--Lacks the black cap.

    _Range_--North America, from Alaska and Nova Scotia to Panama.
       Winters south of Gulf States. Nests chiefly north of the
       United States.

    _Migrations_--May. September. Spring and autumn migrant.

To see this strikingly marked little bird one must be on the sharp
lookout for it during the latter half of May, or at the season of
apple bloom, and the early part of September. It passes northward with
an almost scornful rapidity. Audubon mentions having seen it in Maine
at the end of October, but this specimen surely must have been an
exceptional laggard.

In common with several others of its family, it is exceedingly expert
in catching insects on the wing; but it may be known as no true
flycatcher from the conspicuous rich yellow of its under parts, and
also from its habit of returning from a midair sally to a different
perch from the one it left to pursue its dinner. A true flycatcher
usually returns to its old perch after each hunt.

To indulge in this aërial chase with success, these warblers select
for their home and hunting ground some low woodland growth where a
sluggish stream attracts myriads of insects to the boggy neighborhood.
Here they build their nest in low bushes or upon the ground. Four or
five grayish eggs, sprinkled with cinnamon-colored spots in a circle
around the larger end, are laid in the grassy cradle in June. Mr. H.
D. Minot found one of these nests on Pike's Peak at an altitude of
11,000 feet, almost at the limit of vegetation. The same authority
compares the bird's song to that of the redstart and the yellow


   [Illustration: FIELD SPARROW BABIES.]

    Yellow Redpoll Warbler

    (_Dendroica palmarum hypochrysea_) Wood Warbler family

    _Called also_: YELLOW PALM WARBLER

    _Length_--5.5 to 5.75 inches. A little smaller than the
       English sparrow.

    _Male and Female_--Chestnut crown. Upper parts brownish olive;
       greenest on lower back. Underneath uniform bright yellow,
       streaked with chestnut on throat, breast, and sides. Yellow
       line over and around the eye. Wings unmarked. Tail edged with
       olive-green; a few white spots near tips of outer quills. More
       brownish above in autumn, and with a grayish wash over the
       yellow under parts.

    _Range_--Eastern parts of North America. Nests from Nova
       Scotia northward. Winters in the Gulf States.

    _Migrations_--April. October. Spring and autumn migrant.

While the uniform yellow of this warbler's under parts in any plumage
is its distinguishing mark, it also has a flycatcher's trait of
constantly flirting its tail, that is at once an outlet for its
superabundant vivacity and a fairly reliable aid to identification.
The tail is jerked, wagged, and flirted like a baton in the hands of
an inexperienced leader of an orchestra. One need not go to the woods
to look for the restless little sprite that comes northward when the
early April foliage is as yellow and green as its feathers. It prefers
the fields and roadsides, and before there are leaves enough on the
undergrowth to conceal it we may come to know it as well as it is
possible to know any bird whose home life is passed so far away.
Usually it is the first warbler one sees in the spring in New York and
New England. With all the alertness of a flycatcher, it will dart into
the air after insects that fly near the ground, keeping up a constant
_chip, chip_, fine and shrill, at one end of the small body, and the
liveliest sort of tail motions at the other. The pine warbler often
bears it company.

With the first suspicion of warm weather, off goes this hardy little
fellow that apparently loves the cold almost well enough to stay north
all the year like its cousin, the myrtle warbler. It builds a
particularly deep nest, of the usual warbler construction, on the
ground, but its eggs are rosy rather than the bluish white of others.

In the Southern States the bird becomes particularly neighborly, and
is said to enter the streets and gardens of towns with a chippy's

       *       *       *       *       *

Palm Warbler or Redpoll Warbler (_Dendroica palmarum_) differs from
the preceding chiefly in its slightly smaller size, the more
grayish-brown tint in its olive upper parts, and the uneven shade of
yellow underneath that varies from clear yellow to soiled whitish. It
is the Western counterpart of the yellow redpoll, and is most common
in the Mississippi Valley. Strangely enough, however, it is this
warbler, and not _hypochrysea_, that goes out of its way to winter in
Florida, where it is abundant all winter.

    Yellow Warbler

    (_Dendroica æstiva_) Wood Warbler family


    _Length_--4.75 to 5.2 inches. Over an inch shorter than the
       English sparrow.

    _Male_--Upper parts olive-yellow, brightest on the crown;
       under parts bright yellow, streaked with reddish brown. Wings
       and tail dusky olive-brown, edged with yellow.

    _Female_--Similar; but reddish-brown streakings less distinct.

    _Range_--North America, except Southwestern States, where the
       prothonotary warbler reigns in its stead. Nests from Gulf
       States to Fur Countries. Winters south of the Gulf States, as
       far as northern parts of South America.

    _Migrations_--May. September. Common summer resident.

This exquisite little creature of perpetual summer (though to find it
it must travel back and forth between two continents) comes out of the
south with the golden days of spring. From much living in the sunshine
through countless generations, its feathers have finally become the
color of sunshine itself, and in disposition, as well, it is nothing
if not sunny and bright. Not the least of its attractions is that it
is exceedingly common everywhere: in the shrubbery of our lawns, in
gardens and orchards, by the road and brookside, in the edges of
woods--everywhere we catch its glint of brightness through the long
summer days, and hear its simple, sweet, and happy song until the end
of July.

Because both birds are so conspicuously yellow, no doubt this warbler
is quite generally confused with the goldfinch; but their distinctions
are clear enough to any but the most superficial glance. In the first
place, the yellow warbler is a smaller bird than the goldfinch; it has
neither black crown, wings, nor tail, and it does have reddish-brown
streaks on its breast that are sufficiently obsolete to make the
coloring of that part look simply dull at a little distance. The
goldfinch's bill is heavy, in order that it may crack seeds, whereas
the yellow warbler's is slender, to enable it to pick minute insects
from the foliage. The goldfinch's wavy, curved flight is unique, and
that of his "double" differs not a whit from that of all nervous,
flitting warblers. Surely no one familiar with the rich, full,
canary-like song of the "wild canary," as the goldfinch is called,
could confuse it with the mild "_Wee-chee, chee, cher-wee_" of the
summer yellowbird. Another distinction, not always infallible, but
nearly so, is that when seen feeding, the goldfinch is generally below
the line of vision, while the yellow warbler is either on it or not
far above it, as it rarely goes over twelve feet from the ground.

No doubt, the particularly mild, sweet amiability of the yellow
warbler is responsible for the persistent visitations of the cowbird,
from which it is a conspicuous sufferer. In the exquisite, neat little
matted cradle of glistening milkweed flax, lined with down from the
fronds of fern, the skulking housebreaker deposits her surreptitious
egg for the little yellow mother-bird to hatch and tend. But
amiability is not the only prominent trait in the female yellow
warbler's character. She is clever as well, and quickly builds a new
bottom on her nest, thus sealing up the cowbird's egg, and depositing
her own on the soft, spongy floor above it. This operation has been
known to be twice repeated, until the nest became three stories high,
when a persistent cowbird made such unusual architecture necessary.

The most common nesting place of the yellow warbler is in low willows
along the shores of streams.

    Yellow-breasted Chat

    (_Icteria virens_) Wood Warbler family


    _Length_--7.5 inches. A trifle over an inch longer than the
       English sparrow.

    _Male and Female_--Uniform olive-green above. Throat, breast,
       and under side of wings bright, clear yellow. Underneath
       white. Sides grayish. White line over the eye, reaching to
       base of bill and forming partial eye-ring. Also white line on
       sides of throat. Bill and feet black.

    _Range_--North America, from Ontario to Central America and
       westward to the plains. Most common in Middle Atlantic States.

    _Migrations_--Early May. Late August or September. Summer

This largest of the warblers might be mistaken for a dozen birds
collectively in as many minutes; but when it is known that the jumble
of whistles, parts of songs, chuckles, clucks, barks, quacks, whines,
and wails proceed from a single throat, the yellow-breasted chat
becomes a marked specimen forthwith--a conspicuous individual never to
be confused with any other member of the feathered tribe. It is indeed
absolutely unique. The catbird and the mocking-bird are rare mimics;
but while the chat is not their equal in this respect, it has a large
repertoire of weird, uncanny cries all its own--a power of throwing
its voice, like a human ventriloquist, into unexpected corners of the
thicket or meadow. In addition to its extraordinary vocal feats, it
can turn somersaults and do other clown-like stunts as well as any
variety actor on the Bowery stage.

Only by creeping cautiously towards the roadside tangle, where this
"rollicking polyglot" is entertaining himself and his mate, brooding
over her speckled eggs in a bulky nest set in a most inaccessible
briery part of the thicket, can you hope to hear him rattle through
his variety performance. Walk boldly or noisily past his retreat, and
there is "silence there and nothing more." But two very bright eyes
peer out at you through the undergrowth, where the trim,
elegant-looking bird watches you with quizzical suspicion until you
quietly seat yourself and assume silent indifference. "_Whew, whew!_"
he begins, and then immediately, with evident intent to amuse, he
rattles off an indescribable, eccentric medley until your ears are
tired listening. With bill uplifted, tail drooping, wings fluttering
at his side, he cuts an absurd figure enough, but not so comical as
when he rises into the air, trailing his legs behind him
stork-fashion. This surely is the clown among birds. But any though he
is, he is as capable of devotion to his Columbine as Punchinello, and
remains faithfully mated year after year. However much of a tease and
a deceiver he may be to the passer-by along the roadside, in the
privacy of the domestic circle he shows truly lovable traits.

He has the habit of singing in his unmusical way on moonlight nights.
Probably his ventriloquial powers are cultivated not for popular
entertainment, but to lure intruders away from his nest.

    Maryland Yellowthroat

    (_Geothlypis trichas_) Wood Warbler family


    _Length_--5.33 inches. Just an inch shorter than the typical
       English sparrow.

    _Male_--Olive-gray on head, shading to olive-green on all the
       other upper parts. Forehead, cheeks, and sides of head black,
       like a mask, and bordered behind by a grayish line. Throat and
       breast bright yellow, growing steadily paler underneath.

    _Female_--Either totally lacks black mask or its place is
       indicated by only a dusky tint. She is smaller and duller.

    _Range_--Eastern North America, west to the plains; most
       common east of the Alleghanies. Nests from the Gulf States to
       Labrador and Manitoba; winters south of Gulf States to Panama.

    _Migrations_--May. September. Common summer resident.

"Given a piece of marshy ground with an abundance of skunk cabbage and
a fairly dense growth of saplings, and near by a tangle of green brier
and blackberry, and you will be pretty sure to have it tenanted by a
pair of yellowthroats," says Dr. Abbott, who found several of their
nests in skunk-cabbage plants, which he says are favorite cradles. No
animal cares to touch this plant if it can be avoided; but have the
birds themselves no sense of smell?

Before and after the nesting season these active birds, plump of form,
elegant of attire, forceful, but not bold, enter the scrubby pastures
near our houses and the shrubbery of old-fashioned, overgrown gardens,
and peer out at the human wanderer therein with a charming curiosity.
The bright eyes of the male masquerader shine through his black mask,
where he intently watches you from the tangle of syringa and snowball
bushes; and as he flies into the laburnum with its golden chain of
blossoms that pale before the yellow of his throat and breast, you are
so impressed with his grace and elegance that you follow too
audaciously, he thinks, and off he goes. And yet this is a bird that
seems to delight in being pursued. It never goes so far away that you
are not tempted to follow it, though it be through dense undergrowth
and swampy thickets, and it always gives you just glimpse enough of
its beauties and graces before it flies ahead, to invite the hope of a
closer inspection next time. When it dives into the deepest part of
the tangle, where you can imagine it hunting about among the roots and
fallen leaves for the larvæ, caterpillars, spiders, and other insects
on which it feeds, it sometimes amuses itself with a simple little
song between the hunts. But the bird's indifference, you feel sure,
arises from preoccupation rather than rudeness.

If, however, your visit to the undergrowth is unfortunately timed and
there happens to be a bulky nest in process of construction on the
ground, a quickly repeated, vigorous _chit, pit, quit_, impatiently
inquires the reason for your bold intrusion. Withdraw discreetly and
listen to the love-song that is presently poured out to reassure his
plain little maskless mate. The music is delivered with all the force
and energy of his vigorous nature and penetrates to a surprising
distance. "_Follow me, follow me, follow me_," many people hear him
say; others write the syllables, "_Wichity, wichity, wichity,
wichity_"; and still others write them, "_I beseech you, I beseech
you, I beseech you_," though the tones of this self-assertive bird
rather command than entreat. Mr. Frank Chapman says of the
yellowthroats: "They sing throughout the summer, and in August add a
flight-song to their repertoire. This is usually uttered toward
evening, when the bird springs several feet into the air, hovers for a
second, and then drops back to the bushes."

    Blackburnian Warbler

    (_Dendroica blackburniæ_) Wood Warbler family


    _Length_--4.5 to 5.5 inches. An inch and a half smaller than
       the English sparrow.

    _Male_--Head black, striped with orange-flame; throat and
       breast orange, shading through yellow to white underneath;
       wings, tail, and part of back black, with white markings.

    _Female_--Olive-brown above, shading into yellow on breast,
       and paler under parts.

    _Range_--Eastern North America to plains. Winters in tropics.

    _Migrations_--May. September. Spring and autumn migrant.

"The orange-throated warbler would seem to be his right name, his
characteristic cognomen," says John Burroughs, in ever-delightful
"Wake Robin"; "but no, he is doomed to wear the name of some
discoverer, perhaps the first who robbed his nest or rifled him of his
mate--Blackburn; hence, Blackburnian warbler. The _burn_ seems
appropriate enough, for in these dark evergreens his throat and breast
show like flame. He has a very fine warble, suggesting that of the
redstart, but not especially musical."

No foliage is dense enough to hide, and no autumnal tint too brilliant
to outshine this luminous little bird that in May, as it migrates
northward to its nesting ground, darts in and out of the leafy shadows
like a tongue of fire.

It is by far the most glorious of all the warblers--a sort of
diminutive oriole. The quiet-colored little mate flits about after
him, apparently lost in admiration of his fine feathers and the ease
with which his thin tenor voice can end his lover's warble in a high

Take a good look at this attractive couple, for in May they leave us
to build a nest of bark and moss in the evergreens of Canada--that
paradise for warblers--or of the Catskills and Adirondacks, and in
autumn they hurry south to escape the first frosts.


    (_Setophaga ruticilla_) Wood Warbler family

    _Called also_: YELLOW-TAILED WARBLER

    (Illustration facing p. 190)

    _Length_--5 to 5.5 inches.

    _Male_--_In spring plumage_: Head, neck, back, and middle
       breast glossy black, with blue reflections. Breast and
       underneath white, slightly flushed with salmon, increasing to
       bright salmon-orange on the sides of the body and on the wing
       linings. Occasional specimens show orange-red. Tail feathers
       partly black, partly orange, with broad black band across the
       end. Orange markings on wings. Bill and feet black. _In
       autumn_: Fading into rusty black, olive, and yellow.

    _Female_--Olive-brown, and yellow where the male is orange.
       Young browner than the females.

    _Range_--North America to upper Canada. West occasionally, as
       far as the Pacific coast, but commonly found in summer in the
       Atlantic and Middle States.

    _Migrations_--Early May. End of September. Summer resident.

Late some evening, early in May, when one by one the birds have
withdrawn their voices from the vesper chorus, listen for the
lingering "_'tsee, 'tsee, 'tseet_" (usually twelve times repeated in a
minute), that the redstart sweetly but rather monotonously sings from
the evergreens, where, as his tiny body burns in the twilight, Mrs.
Wright likens him to a "wind-blown firebrand, half glowing, half

But by daylight this brilliant little warbler is constantly on the
alert. It is true he has the habit, like the flycatchers (among which
some learned ornithologists still class him), of sitting pensively on
a branch, with fluffy feathers and drooping wings; but the very next
instant he shows true warbler blood by making a sudden dash upward,
then downward through the air, tumbling somersaults, as if blown by
the wind, flitting from branch to branch, busily snapping at the tiny
insects hidden beneath the leaves, clinging to the tree-trunk like a
creeper, and singing between bites.

Possibly he will stop long enough in his mad chase to open and shut
his tail, fan-fashion, with a dainty egotism that, in the peacock,
becomes rank vanity.

The Germans call this little bird _roth Stert_ (red tail), but, like
so many popular names, this is a misnomer, as, strictly speaking, the
redstart is never red, though its salmon-orange markings often border
on to orange-flame.

In a fork of some tall bush or tree, placed ten or fifteen feet from
the ground, a carefully constructed little nest is made of moss,
horsehair, and strippings from the bark, against which the nest is
built, the better to conceal its location. Four or five whitish eggs,
thickly sprinkled with pale brown and lilac, like the other warblers',
are too jealously guarded by the little mother-bird to be very often

    Baltimore Oriole

    (_Icterus galbula_) Oriole and Blackbird family


    (Illustration facing p. 191)

    _Length_--7 to 8 inches. About one-fifth smaller than the

    _Male_--Head, throat, upper part of back glossy black. Wings
       black, with white spots and edgings. Tail-quills black, with
       yellow markings on the tips. Everywhere else orange, shading
       into flame.

    _Female_--Yellowish olive. Wings dark brown, and quills
       margined with white. Tail yellowish brown, with obscure,
       dusky bars.

    _Range_--The whole United States. Most numerous in Eastern
       States below 55° north latitude.

    _Migrations_--Early May. Middle of September. Common summer

A flash of fire through the air; a rich, high, whistled song floating
in the wake of the feathered meteor: the Baltimore oriole cannot be
mistaken. When the orchards are in blossom he arrives in full plumage
and song, and awaits the coming of the female birds, that travel
northward more leisurely in flocks. He is decidedly in evidence. No
foliage is dense enough to hide his brilliancy; his temper, quite as
fiery as his feathers, leads him into noisy quarrels, and his
insistent song with its martial, interrogative notes becomes almost
tiresome until he is happily mated and family cares check his

Among the best architects in the world is his plain but energetic
mate. Gracefully swung from a high branch of some tall tree, the nest
is woven with exquisite skill into a long, flexible pouch that rain
cannot penetrate, nor wind shake from its horsehair moorings. Bits of
string, threads of silk, and sometimes yarn of the gayest colors, if
laid about the shrubbery in the garden, will be quickly interwoven
with the shreds of bark and milkweed stalks that the bird has found
afield. The shape of the nest often differs, because in unsettled
regions, where hawks abound, it is necessary to make it deeper than
seven inches (the customary depth when it is built near the homes of
men), and to partly close it at the top to conceal the sitting bird.
From four to six whitish eggs, scrawled over with black-brown, are
hatched by the mother oriole, and most jealously guarded by her now
truly domesticated mate.

The number of grubs, worms, flies, caterpillars, and even cocoons,
that go to satisfy the hunger of a family of orioles in a day, might
indicate, if it could be computed, the great value these birds are
about our homes, aside from the good cheer they bring.

There is a popular tradition about the naming of this gorgeous bird:
When George Calvert, the first Lord Baltimore, worn out and
discouraged by various hardships in his Newfoundland colony, decided
to visit Virginia in 1628, he wrote that nothing in the Chesapeake
country so impressed him as the myriads of birds in its woods. But the
song and color of the oriole particularly cheered and delighted him,
and orange and black became the heraldic colors of the first lords
proprietors of Maryland.

                                Hush!'tis he!
    My Oriole, my glance of summer fire,
    Is come at last; and ever on the watch,
    Twitches the pack-thread I had lightly wound
    About the bough to help his housekeeping.
    Twitches and scouts by turns, blessing his luck,
    Yet fearing me who laid it in his way.
    Nor, more than wiser we in our affairs,
    Divines the Providence that hides and helps.
    _Heave, ho! Heave, ho!_ he whistles as the twine
    Slackens its hold; _once more, now!_ and a flash
    Lightens across the sunlight to the elm
    Where his mate dangles at her cup of felt.

                                   --_James Russell Lowell._


    Cardinal Grosbeak
    Summer Tanager
    Scarlet Tanager
    Pine Grosbeak
    American Crossbill and the White-winged Crossbill
    Redpoll and Greater Redpoll
    Purple Finch
    Orchard Oriole

See the Red-winged Blackbird (Black). See also the males of the
Rose-breasted Grosbeak, the Woodpeckers, the Chewink (Black and
White), the Red-breasted Nuthatch, the Bay-breasted and the
Chestnut-sided Warblers (Slate and Gray); the Bluebird and Barn
Swallow (Blue); the Flicker (Brown); the Humming-bird and the Kinglets
(Greenish Gray); and the Blackburnian and Redstart Warblers, and the
Baltimore Oriole (Orange).

    Cardinal Grosbeak

    (_Cardinalis cardinalis_) Finch family


    (Illustration facing p. 198)

    _Length_--8 to 9 inches. A little smaller than the robin.

    _Male_--Brilliant cardinal; chin and band around bill black.
       Beak stout and red. Crest conspicuous. In winter dress, wings
       washed with gray.

    _Female_--Brownish yellow above, shading to gray below. Tail
       shorter than the male's. Crest, wings, and tail reddish.
       Breast sometimes tinged with red.

    _Range_--Eastern United States. A Southern bird, becoming more
       and more common during the summer in States north of Virginia,
       especially in Ohio, south of which it is resident throughout
       the year.

    _Migrations_--Resident rather than migrating birds, remaining
       throughout the winter in localities where they have found
       their way. Travel in flocks.

Among the numerous names by which this beautiful bird is known, it has
become immortalized under the title of Mr. James Lane Allen's
exquisite book, "The Kentucky Cardinal." Here, while we are given a
most charmingly sympathetic, delicate account of the bird "who has
only to be seen or heard, and Death adjusts an arrow," it is the
cardinal's pathetic fate that impresses one most. Seen through less
poetical eyes, however, the bird appears to be a haughty autocrat, a
sort of "F. F. V." among the feathered tribes, as, indeed, his title,
"Virginia redbird," has been unkindly said to imply. Bearing himself
with a refined and courtly dignity, not stooping to soil his feet by
walking on the ground like the more democratic robin, or even
condescending below the level of the laurel bushes, the cardinal is
literally a shining example of self-conscious superiority--a bird to
call forth respect and admiration rather than affection. But a group
of cardinals in a cedar tree in a snowy winter landscape makes us
forgetful of everything but their supreme beauty.

As might be expected in one of the finch family, the cardinal
is a songster--the fact which, in connection with his lovely
plumage, accounts for the number of these birds shipped in cages
to Europe, where they are known as Virginia nightingales. Commencing
with a strong, rich whistle, like the high notes of a fife,
"_Cheo-cheo-cheo-cheo_," repeated over and over as if to make perfect
the start of a song he is about to sing, suddenly he stops, and you
learn that there is to be no glorious performance after all, only a
prelude to--nothing. The song, such as it is, begins, with both male
and female, in March, and lasts, with a brief intermission, until
September--"the most melodious sigh," as Mr. Allen calls it. Early in
May the cardinals build a bulky and loosely made nest, usually in the
holly, laurel, or other evergreen shrubs that they always love to
frequent, especially if these are near fields of corn or other grain.
And often two broods in a year come forth from the pale-gray,
brown-marked eggs, bearing what is literally for them the "fatal gift
of beauty."

    Summer Tanager

    (_Piranga rubra_) Tanager family


    _Length_--7.5 inches. About one-fourth smaller than the robin.

    _Male_--Uniform red. Wings and tail like the body.

    _Female_--Upper parts yellowish olive-green; underneath
       inclining to orange-yellow.

    _Range_--Tropical portions of two Americas and eastern United
       States. Most common in Southern States. Rare north of
       Pennsylvania. Winters in the tropics.

    _Migrations_--In Southern States: April. October. Irregular
       migrant north of the Carolinas.

Thirty years ago, it is recorded that so far north as New Jersey the
summer redbird was quite as common as any of the thrushes. In the
South still there is scarcely an orchard that does not contain this
tropical-looking beauty--the redbird _par excellence_, the sweetest
singer of the family. Is there a more beautiful sight in all nature
than a grove of orange trees laden with fruit, starred with their
delicious blossoms, and with flocks of redbirds disporting themselves
among the dark, glossy leaves? Pine and oak woods are also favorite
resorts, especially at the north, where the bird nowadays forsakes the
orchards to hide his beauty, if he can, unharmed by the rifle that
only rarely is offered so shining a mark. He shows the scarlet
tanager's preference for tree-tops, where his musical voice, calling
"_Chicky-tucky-tuk_," alone betrays his presence in the woods. The
Southern farmers declare that he is an infallible weather prophet, his
"_WET, WET, WET_," being the certain indication of rain--another
absurd saw, for the call-note is by no means confined to the rainy

The yellowish-olive mate, whose quiet colors betray no nest secrets,
collects twigs and grasses for the cradle to be saddled on the end of
some horizontal branch, though in this work the male sometimes
cautiously takes an insignificant part. After her three or four eggs
are laid she sits upon them for nearly two weeks, being only rarely
and stealthily visited by her mate with some choice grub, blossom, or
berry in his beak. But how cheerfully his fife-like whistle rings out
during the temporary exile! Then his song is at its best. Later in the
summer he has an aggravating way of joining in the chorus of other
birds' songs, by which the pleasant individuality of his own voice is

A nest of these tanagers, observed not far from New York City, was
commenced the last week of May on the extreme edge of a hickory limb
in an open wood; four eggs were laid on the fourth of June, and twelve
days later the tiny fledglings, that all look like their mother in the
early stages of their existence, burst from the greenish-white,
speckled shells. In less than a month the young birds were able to fly
quite well and collect their food.



    Scarlet Tanager

    (_Piranga erythromelas_) Tanager family


    (Illustration facing p. 199)

    _Length_--7 to 7.5 inches. About one-fourth smaller than the

    _Male_--_In spring plumage_: Brilliant scarlet, with black
       wings and tail. Under wing coverts grayish white. _In autumn_:
       Similar to female.

    _Female_--Olive-green above; wings and tail dark, lightly
       margined with olive. Underneath greenish yellow.

    _Range_--North America to northern Canada boundaries, and
       southward in winter to South America.

    _Migrations_--May. October. Summer resident.

The gorgeous coloring of the scarlet tanager has been its snare and
destruction. The densest evergreens could not altogether hide this
blazing target for the sportsman's gun, too often fired at the
instigation of city milliners. "Fine feathers make fine birds"--and
cruel, silly women, the adage might be adapted for latter-day use.
This rarely beautiful tanager, thanks to them, is now only an
infrequent flash of beauty in our country roads.

Instinct leads it to be chary of its charms; and whereas it used to be
one of the commonest of bird neighbors, it is now shy and solitary. An
ideal resort for it is a grove of oak or swamp maple near a stream or
pond where it can bathe. Evergreen trees, too, are favorites, possibly
because the bird knows how exquisitely its bright scarlet coat is set
off by their dark background.

High in the tree-tops he perches, all unsuspected by the visitor
passing through the woods below, until a burst of rich, sweet melody
directs the opera-glasses suddenly upward. There we detect him
carolling loud and cheerfully, like a robin. He is an apparition of
beauty--a veritable bird of paradise, as, indeed, he is sometimes
called. Because of their similar coloring, the tanager and cardinal
are sometimes confounded, but an instant's comparison of the two birds
shows nothing in common except red feathers, and even those of quite
different shades. The inconspicuous olive-green and yellow of the
female tanager's plumage is another striking instance of Nature's
unequal distribution of gifts; but if our bright-colored birds have
become shockingly few under existing conditions, would any at all
remain were the females prominent, like the males, as they brood upon
the nest? Both tanagers construct a rather disorderly-looking nest of
fibres and sticks, through which daylight can be seen where it rests
securely upon the horizontal branch of some oak or pine tree; but as
soon as three or four bluish-green eggs have been laid in the cradle,
off goes the father, wearing his tell-tale coat, to a distant tree.
There he sings his sweetest carol to the patient, brooding mate,
returning to her side only long enough to feed her with the insects
and berries that form their food.

Happily for the young birds' fate, they are clothed at first in
motley, dull colors, with here and there only a bright touch of
scarlet, yellow, and olive to prove their claim to the parent whose
gorgeous plumage must be their admiration. But after the moulting
season it would be a wise tanager that knew its own father.
His scarlet feathers are now replaced by an autumn coat of olive
and yellow not unlike his mate's.

    Pine Grosbeak

    (_Pinicola enucleator_) Finch family

    _Called also_: PINE BULLFINCH

    _Length_--Variously recorded from 6.5 to 11 inches. Specimen
       measured 8.5 inches. About one-fifth smaller than the robin.

    _Male_--General color strawberry-red, with some slate-gray
       fleckings about head, under wings, and on legs. Tail brown;
       wings brown, marked with black and white and slate. A
       band-shaped series of markings between the shoulders.
       Underneath paler red, merging into grayish green. Heavy,
       conspicuous bill.

    _Female_--Ash-brown. Head and hind neck yellowish brown, each
       feather having central dusky streak. Cheeks and throat
       yellowish. Beneath ash-gray, tinged with brownish yellow
       under tail.

    _Range_--British American provinces and northern United States.

    _Migrations_--Irregular winter visitors; length of visits as
       uncertain as their coming.

As inseparable as bees from flowers, so are these beautiful winter
visitors from the evergreen woods, where their red feathers, shining
against the dark-green background of the trees, give them charming
prominence; but they also feed freely upon the buds of various
deciduous trees.

South of Canada we may not look for them except in the severest winter
weather. Even then their coming is not to be positively depended upon;
but when their caprice--or was it an unusually fierce northern
blast?--sends them over the Canada border, it is a simple matter to
identify them when such brilliant birds are rare. The brownish-yellow
and grayish females and young males, however, always seem to be in the
majority with us, though our Canadian friends assure us of the
irreproachable morals of this gay bird.

Wherever there are clusters of pine or cedar trees, when there is a
flock of pine grosbeaks in the neighborhood, you may expect to find a
pair of birds diligently feeding upon the seeds and berries. No
cheerful note escapes them as they persistently gormandize, and, if
the truth must be confessed, they appear to be rather stupid and
uninteresting, albeit they visit us at a time when we are most
inclined to rapture over our bird visitors. They are said to have a
deliciously sweet song in the nesting season. When, however, few
except the Canadian _voyageurs_ hear it.

    American Crossbill

    (_Loxia curvirostra minor_) Finch family

    _Called also_: RED CROSSBILL

    (Illustration facing p. 226)

    _Length_--6 to 7 inches. About the size of the English

    _Male_--General color Indian red, passing into brownish gray,
       with red tinge beneath. Wings (without bands), also tail,
       brown. Beak crossed at the tip.

    _Female_--General color greenish yellow, with brownish tints.
       Dull-yellowish tints on head, throat, breast, and underneath.
       Wings and tail pale brown. Beak crossed at tip.

    _Range_--Pennsylvania to northern British America. West of
       Mississippi, range more southerly.

    _Migrations_--Irregular winter visitor. November. Sometimes
       resident until April.

It is a rash statement to say that a bird is rare simply because you
have never seen it in your neighborhood, for while you are going out
of the front door your _rara avis_ may be eating the crumbs about your
kitchen. Even with our eyes and ears constantly alert for some fresh
bird excitement, our phlegmatic neighbor over the way may be enjoying
a visit from a whole flock of the very bird we have been looking and
listening for in vain all the year. The red crossbills are capricious
little visitors, it is true, but by no means uncommon.

About the size of an English sparrow, of a brick or Indian red color,
for the most part, the peculiarity of its parrot-like beak is its
certain mark of identification.

Longfellow has rendered into verse the German legend of the crossbill,
which tells that as the Saviour hung upon the cross, a little bird
tried to pull out the nails that pierced His hands and feet, thus
twisting its beak and staining its feathers with the blood.

At first glance the birds would seem to be hampered by their crossed
beaks in getting at the seeds in the pine cones--a superficial
criticism when the thoroughness and admirable dexterity of their work
are better understood.

Various seeds of fruits, berries, and the buds of trees enlarge their
bill of fare. They are said to be inordinately fond of salt. Mr.
Romeyn B. Hough tells of a certain old ice-cream freezer that
attracted flocks of crossbills one winter, as a salt-lick attracts
deer. Whether the traditional salt that may have stuck to the bird's
tail is responsible for its tameness is not related, but it is certain
the crossbills, like most bird visitors from the far north, are
remarkably gentle, friendly little birds. As they swing about the pine
trees, parrot-fashion, with the help of their bill, calling out _kimp,
kimp_, that sounds like the snapping of the pine cones on a sunny day,
it often seems easily possible to catch them with the hand.

There is another species of crossbill, called the White-winged (_Loxia
leucoptera_), that differs from the preceding chiefly in having two
white bands across its wings and in being more rare.

    The Redpoll

    (_Acanthis linaria_) Finch family


    (Illustration facing p. 25)

    _Length_--5.25 to 5.5 inches. About an inch shorter than the
       English sparrow.

    _Male_--A rich crimson wash on head, neck, breast, and lower
       back, that is sometimes only a pink when we see the bird in
       midwinter. Grayish-brown, sparrowy feathers show underneath
       the red wash. Dusky wings and tail, the feathers more or less
       edged with whitish. Soiled white underneath; the sides with
       dusky streaks. Bill sharply pointed.

    _Female_--More dingy than male, sides more heavily streaked,
       and having crimson only on the crown.

    _Range_--An arctic bird that descends irregularly into the
       northern United States.

    _Migrations_--An irregular winter visitor.

"Ere long, amid the cold and powdery snow, as it were a fruit of the
season, will come twittering a flock of delicate crimson-tinged birds,
lesser redpolls, to sport and feed on the buds just ripe for them on
the sunny side of a wood, shaking down the powdery snow there in their
cheerful feeding, as if it were high midsummer to them." Thoreau's
beautiful description of these tiny winter visitors, which should be
read entire, shows the man in one of his most sympathetic, exalted
moods, and it is the best brief characterization of the redpoll that
we have.

When the arctic cold becomes too cruel for even the snowbirds and
crossbills to withstand, flocks of the sociable little redpolls flying
southward are the merest specks in the sullen, gray sky, when they can
be seen at all. So high do they keep that often they must pass above
our heads without our knowing it. First we see a quantity of tiny
dots, like a shake of pepper, in the cloud above, then the specks grow
larger and larger, and finally the birds seem to drop from the sky
upon some tall tree that they completely cover--a veritable cloudburst
of birds. Without pausing to rest after the long journey, down they
flutter into the weedy pastures with much cheerful twittering, to feed
upon whatever seeds may be protruding through the snow. Every action
of a flock seems to be concerted, as if some rigid disciplinarian had
drilled them, and yet no leader can be distinguished in the merry
company. When one flies, all fly; where one feeds, all feed, and by
some subtle telepathy all rise at the identical instant from their
feeding ground and cheerfully twitter in concert where they all alight
at once. They are more easily disturbed than the goldfinches, that are
often seen feeding with them in the lowlands; nevertheless, they quite
often venture into our gardens and orchards, even in suburbs
penetrated by the trolley-car.

Usually in winter we hear only their lisping call-note; but if the
birds linger late enough in the spring, when their "fancy lightly
turns to thoughts of love," a gleeful, canary-like song comes from the
naked branches, and we may know by it that the flock will soon
disappear for their nesting grounds in the northern forests.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Greater Redpoll (_Acanthis linaria rostrata_) may be distinguished
from the foregoing species by its slightly larger size, darker upper
parts, and shorter, stouter bill. But the notes, habits, and general
appearance of both redpolls are so nearly identical that the birds are
usually mistaken for each other.

    Purple Finch

    (_Carpodacus purpureus_) Finch family

    _Called also_: PURPLE LINNET

    (Illustration facing p. 226a)

    _Length_--6 to 6.25 inches. About the same size as the English

    _Male_--_Until two years old_, sparrow-like in appearance like
       the female, but with olive-yellow on chin and lower back.
       _Afterwards_ entire body suffused with a bright raspberry-red,
       deepest on head, lower back, and breast, and other parts only
       faintly washed with this color. More brown on back; and wings
       and tail, which are dusky, have some reddish-brown feathers.
       Underneath grayish white. Bill heavy. Tail forked.

    _Female_--Grayish olive-brown above; whitish below; finely
       streaked everywhere with very dark brown, like a sparrow.
       Sides of breast have arrow-shaped marks. Wings and tail

    _Range_--North America, from Columbia River eastward to
       Atlantic, and from Mexico northward to Manitoba. Most common
       in Middle States and New England. Winters south of

    _Migrations_--March. November. Common summer resident. Rarely
       individuals winter at the north.

In this "much be-sparrowed country" of ours familiarity is apt to
breed contempt for any bird that looks sparrowy, in which case one of
the most delicious songsters we have might easily be overlooked. It is
not until the purple finch reaches maturity in his second year that
his plumage takes on the raspberry-red tints that some ornithologists
named purple. Oriental purple is our magenta, it is true, but not a
raspberry shade. Before maturity, but for the yellow on his lower back
and throat, he and his mate alike suggest a song-sparrow; and it is
important to note their particularly heavy, rounded bills, with the
tufts of feathers at the base, and their forked tails, to name them
correctly. But the identification of the purple finch, after all,
depends quite as much upon his song as his color. In March, when
flocks of these birds come north, he has begun to sing a little; by
the beginning of May he is desperately in love, and sudden, joyous
peals of music from the elm or evergreen trees on the lawn enliven the
garden. How could his little brown lady-love fail to be impressed with
a suitor so gayly dressed, so tender and solicitous, so deliciously
sweet-voiced? With fuller, richer song than the warbling vireo's,
which Nuttall has said it resembles, a perfect ecstasy of love pours
incessantly from his throat during the early summer days. There is a
suggestion of the robin's love-song in his, but its copiousness,
variety, and rapidity give it a character all its own.

In some old, neglected hedge or low tree about the country-place a
flat, grassy nest, lined with horsehair, contains four or five green
eggs in June, and the old birds are devotion itself to each other, and
soon to their young, sparrowy brood.

But when parental duties are over, the finches leave our lawns and
gardens to join flocks of their own kind in more remote orchards or
woods, their favorite haunts. Their subdued warble may be heard during
October and later, as if the birds were humming to themselves.

Much is said of their fondness for fruit blossoms and tree buds, but
the truth is that noxious insects and seeds of grain constitute their
food in summer, the berries of evergreens in winter. To a bird so gay
of color, charming of voice, social, and trustful of disposition,
surely a few blossoms might be spared without grudging.

    The American Robin

    (_Merula migratoria_) Thrush family


    (Illustrations facing pp. 219 and 226b)

    _Length_--10 inches.

    _Male_--Dull brownish olive-gray above. Head black; tail
       brownish black, with exterior feathers white at inner tip.
       Wings dark brownish. Throat streaked with black and white.
       White eyelids. Entire breast bright rusty red; whitish below
       the tail.

    _Female_--Duller and with paler breast, resembling the male in

    _Range_--North America, from Mexico to arctic regions.

    _Migrations_--March. October or November. Often resident
       throughout the year.

It seems almost superfluous to write a line of description about a
bird that is as familiar as a chicken; yet how can this nearest of our
bird neighbors be passed without a reference? Probably he was the very
first bird we learned to call by name.

The early English colonists, who had doubtless been brought up, like
the rest of us, on "The Babes in the Wood," named the bird after the
only heroes in that melancholy tale; but in reality the American robin
is a much larger bird than the English robin-redbreast and less
brilliantly colored. John Burroughs calls him, of all our birds, "the
most native and democratic."

How the robin dominates birddom with his strong, aggressive
personality! His voice rings out strong and clear in the early morning
chorus, and, more tenderly subdued at twilight, it still rises above
all the sleepy notes about him. Whether lightly tripping over the lawn
after the "early worm," or rising with his sharp, quick cry of alarm,
when startled, to his nest near by, every motion is decided, alert,
and free. No pensive hermit of the woods, like his cousins, the
thrushes, is this joyous vigorous "bird of the morning." Such a
presence is inspiriting. Does any bird excel the robin in the great
variety of his vocal expressions? Mr. Parkhurst, in his charming
"Birds' Calendar," says he knows of "no other bird that is able to
give so many shades of meaning to a single note, running through the
entire gamut of its possible feelings. From the soft and mellow
quality, almost as coaxing as a dove's note, with which it encourages
its young when just out of the nest, the tone, with minute gradations,
becomes more vehement, and then harsh and with quickened reiteration,
until it expresses the greatest intensity of a bird's emotions. Love,
contentment, anxiety, exultation, rage--what other bird can throw such
multifarious meaning into its tone? And herein the robin seems more
nearly human than any of its kind."

There is no one thing that attracts more birds about the house than a
drinking-dish--large enough for a bathtub as well; and certainly no
bird delights in sprinkling the water over his back more than a robin,
often aided in his ablutions by the spattering of the sparrows. But
see to it that this drinking-dish is well raised above the reach of
lurking cats.

While the robin is a famous splasher, his neatness stops there. A
robin's nest is notoriously dirty within, and so carelessly
constructed of weed-stalks, grass, and mud, that a heavy summer shower
brings more robins' nests to the ground than we like to contemplate.
The color of the eggs, as every one knows, has given their name to the
tint. Four is the number of eggs laid, and two broods are often reared
in the same nest.

Too much stress is laid on the mischief done by the robins in the
cherry trees and strawberry patches, and too little upon the quantity
of worms and insects they devour. Professor Treadwell, who
experimented upon some young robins kept in captivity, learned that
they ate sixty-eight earthworms daily--"that is, each bird ate
forty-one per cent. more than its own weight in twelve hours! The
length of these worms, if laid end to end, would be about fourteen
feet. Man, at this rate, would eat about seventy pounds of flesh a
day, and drink five or six gallons of water."

   [Illustration: RED CROSSBILL]

   [Illustration: PURPLE FINCH (Upper Figure, Male; Lower Figure,

   [Illustration: ROBIN]

   [Illustration: ORCHARD ORIOLE (Upper figure, adult male; middle
      figure, young male; Lower Figure, Female)]

    Orchard Oriole

    (_Icterus spurius_) Blackbird and Oriole family


    _Length_--7 to 7.3 inches. About one-fourth smaller than the

    _Male_--Head, throat, upper back, tail, and part of wings
       black. Breast, rump, shoulders, under wing and tail coverts,
       and under parts bright reddish brown. Whitish-yellow markings
       on a few tail and wing feathers.

    _Female_--Head and upper parts olive, shading into brown;
       brighter on head and near tail. Back and wings dusky brown,
       with pale-buff shoulder-bars and edges of coverts. Throat
       black. Under parts olive, shading into yellow.

    _Range_--Canada to Central America. Common in temperate
       latitudes of the United States.

    _Migrations_--Early May. Middle of September. Common summer

With a more southerly range than the Baltimore oriole and less
conspicuous coloring, the orchard oriole is not so familiar a bird in
many Northern States, where, nevertheless, it is quite common enough
to be classed among our would-be intimates. The orchard is not always
as close to the house as this bird cares to venture; he will pursue an
insect even to the piazza vines.

His song, says John Burroughs, is like scarlet, "strong, intense,
emphatic," but it is sweet and is more rapidly uttered than that of
others of the family. It is ended for the season early in July.

This oriole, too, builds a beautiful nest, not often pendent like the
Baltimore's, but securely placed in the fork of a sturdy fruit tree,
at a moderate height, and woven with skill and precision, like a
basket. When the dried grasses from one of these nests were stretched
and measured, all were found to be very nearly the same length,
showing to what pains the little weaver had gone to make the nest neat
and pliable, yet strong. Four cloudy-white eggs with dark-brown spots
are usually found in the nest in June.


    _The figures in black-faced type indicate the page upon which
     the biography of the bird is given._

  Accentor, Golden-crowned (_see_ Ovenbird), 180.

  Bellbird (_see_ Wood Thrush), 123.

  Bird, Blue (_see_ Bluebird), 99.
    Butcher (_see_ Northern Shrike), 87.
    Butter (_see_ Bobolink), 61.
    Cardinal (_see_ Cardinal Grosbeak), 215.
    Cedar, 9, 19, 20, 21, 27, 29, 36, =144=.
    Cow-pen (_see_ Cowbird), 49.
    Grass (_see_ Vesper Sparrow), 162.
    Grease (_see_ Canada Jay), 79.
    Meadow (_see_ Bobolink), 61.
    Meat (_see_ Canada Jay), 79.
    Moose (_see_ Canada Jay), 79.
    Myrtle (_see_ Myrtle Warbler), 92.
    Peabody (_see_ Vesper Sparrow), 165.
    Potato Bug (_see_ Rose-breasted Grosbeak), 60.
    Thistle (_see_ American Goldfinch), 190.

  Blackbird (_see_ Rusty Blackbird), 46.
    and Oriole family, 6.
    Cow (_see_ Cowbird), 49.
    Crow (_see_ Purple Grackle), 44.
    Red-winged, 6, 21, 22, 23, 28, 30, 32, 36, =47=.
    Rusty, 6, 22, 28, 30, 32, 36, =46=.
    Skunk (_see_ Bobolink), 61.
    Swamp (_see_ Red-winged Blackbird), 47.
    Thrush (_see_ Rusty Blackbird), 46.

  Black-cap (_see_ Wilson's Warbler), 202.

  Bluebird, 14, 19, 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, 29, 30, 36, =99=.

  Bobolink, 7, 22, 23, 28, 30, 31, 36, =61=.

  Bull-bat (_see_ Nighthawk), 138.

  Bullfinch, Pine (_see_ Pine Grosbeak), 219.

  Bunting, Bay-winged (_see_ Vesper Sparrow), 162.
    Cow (_see_ Cowbird), 49.
    Field (_see_ Field Sparrow), 152.
    Indigo, 8, 21, 22, 23, 29, 30, 31, 35, =101=.

  Bunting, Lapland Lark (_see_ Lapland Longspur), 148.
    Savanna (_see_ Savanna Sparrow), 155.
    Snow (_see_ Snowflake), 59.
    Towhee (_see_ Chewink), 58.
    Tree (_see_ Tree Sparrow), 161.

  Buntings, the, 7.

  Camp Robber (_see_ Canada Jay), 79.

  Canary, Wild (_see_ American Goldfinch), 190.

  Cardinal (_see_ Cardinal Grosbeak), 215.

  Carrion-bird, Canadian (_see_ Canada Jay), 79.

  Catbird, 12, 19, 20, 21, 22, 29, 30, 31, 36, =80=.

  Catbirds, the, 12.

  Cedar Bird (_see_ Bird, Cedar), 144.

  Chat, Polyglot (_see_ Yellow-breasted Chat), 206.
    Yellow-breasted, 12, 19, 21, 22, 29, 30, 31, 36, =206=.

  Chebec (_see_ Least Flycatcher), 75.

  Cherry-bird (_see_ Cedar Bird), 144.

  Chewink, 8, 21, 29, 30, 32, 36, 58.

  Chickadee, 14, 19, 20, 21, 27, 28, 29, 31, 35, =76=.
    family (_see_ Titmouse family), 13.

  Chip-bird (_see_ Chipping Sparrow), 149.

  Chipper, Arctic (_see_ Tree Sparrow), 161.

  Chippy (_see_ Chipping Sparrow), 149.
    Meadow (_see_ Seaside Sparrow), 156.
    Winter (_see_ Tree Sparrow), 161.

  Clape (_see_ Flicker), 130.

  Corn Thief (_see_ Common Crow), 41.

  Cowbird, 7, 20, 21, 22, 28, 30, 31, 36, =49=.

  Creeper, Brown, 13, 20, 21, 28, 35, =145=.
    family, 13.

  Crossbill, American, 8, 19, 20, 28, =220=.
    Red (_see_ American Crossbill), 220.
    White-winged Red, 8, 19, 20, 28, =221=.

  Crossbills, the, 7, 21, 35.

  Crow and Jay family, 6.

  Crow, Common, 6, 19, 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, 36, =41=.
    Fish, 6, 19, 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, 36, 42.
    Rain (_see_ Black-billed Cuckoo) 139; also Yellow-billed Cuckoo, 141.
    Rusty (_see_ Rusty Blackbird), 46.

  Cuckoo family, 3.
    Black-billed, 3, 19, 20, 21, 28, 30, 31, 36, =139=.
    Yellow-billed, 3, 19, 20, 21, 28, 30, 31, 36, =141=.

  Devil Downhead (_see_ White-breasted Nuthatch), 84.

  Dove, Carolina (_see_ Mourning Dove), =108=.
    family (see Pigeon and Dove family), 15.
    Mourning, 15, 21, 22, 28, 36, =108=.
    Turtle (_see_ Mourning Dove), 108.

  Finch family, 7.
    Ferruginous (_see_ Fox Sparrow), 153.
    Foxy (_see_ Fox Sparrow), 153.
    Gold (_see_ Goldfinch), 190.
    Grass (_see_ Vesper Sparrow), 162.
    Pine (_see_ Pine Siskin), 146.
    Purple, 8, 19, 20, 21, 23, 28, 29, 30, 32, 35, =223=.
    Seaside (_see_ Seaside Sparrow), 156.
    Swamp (_see_ Swamp Song Sparrow), 160.
    Towhee Ground (_see_ Chewink), 58.

  Firebird (_see_ Scarlet Tanager), 218.

  Flicker, 4, 19, 21, 22, 27, 28, 30, 32, 36, =130=.

  Flycatcher, Acadian, 5, 19, 22, 28, 31, 35, =182=.
    Canadian (_see_ Canadian Warbler), 194.
    Crested (_see_ Great Crested Flycatcher), 72.
    Dusky (_see_ Ph[oe]be), 71.
    family, 5, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23.
    Great Crested, 5, 19, 20, 22, 28, 30, 31, 35, =72=.
    Least, 5, 19, 20, 22, 28, 30, 31, 35, =75=.
    Olive-sided, 5, 19, 28, 31, 36, =74=.
    Say's, 5, 19, 22, 28, =72=.
    Small Green-crested (_see_ Acadian Flycatcher), 182.
    Sylvan (_see_ Blue-gray Gnatcatcher), 110.
    Tyrant (_see_ Kingbird), 68.
    Wilson's (_see_ Wilson's Warbler), 202.
    Yellow-bellied, 5, 19, 22, 28, 31, 35, =183=.

  Gnatcatcher, Blue-gray, 14, 19, 20, 22, 29, 35, =110=.

  Gnatcatcher family, 14.

  Goatsucker family, 4.
    Long-winged (_see_ Nighthawk), 138.

  Goldcrest, Golden-crowned (_see_ Golden-crowned Kinglet), 174.

  Goldfinch, 8, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 27, 28, 29, 30, 35, =190=.
    European, 191.

  Grackle, Bronzed, 7, 19, 20, 21, 22, 28, 30, 32, 36, =46=.
    Keel-tailed (_see_ Purple Grackle), 44.
    Purple, 7, 19, 20, 21, 22, 28, 30, 32, 36, =44=.
    Rusty (_see_ Rusty Blackbird), 46.

  Grasel (_see_ Chewink), 58.

  Grass-bird, Red (_see_ Swamp Song Sparrow), 160.

  Greenlet family (_see_ Vireo family), 10.

  Grosbeak, Blue, 8, 28, 36, =105=.
    Cardinal, 8, 21, 27, 28, 29, 36, =215=.
    Evening, 8, 28, 36, =192=.
    Pine, 8, 20, 27, 36, =219=.
    Rose-breasted, 8, 21, 28, 30, 31, 36, =60=.

  Grosbeaks, the, 7, 19, 20, 21.

  Hair-bird (_see_ Chipping Sparrow), 149.

  Halcyon (_see_ Belted Kingfisher), 102.

  Hang-nest (_see_ Baltimore Oriole), 211.
    Orchard (_see_ Orchard Oriole), 227.

  Hawk, Mosquito (_see_ Nighthawk), 138.

  Heron, Venison (_see_ Canada Jay), 79.

  High-hole or High-holder (_see_ Flicker), 130.

  Humming-bird family, 5.
    Ruby-throated, 5, 19, 21, 28, 30, 31, 35, =170=.

  Indigo Bird (_see_ Indigo Bunting), 101.

  Jay, Blue, 6, 19, 20, 21, 27, 28, 36, =104=.
    Canada, 6, 20, 21, 22, 28, 36, =79=.
    family (_see_ Crow and Jay family), 6.

  Junco, 8, 21, 22, 27, 31, 35, =83=.

  Kingbird, 5, 19, 20, 22, 23, 28, 30, 31, 35, =68=.

  Kingfisher, Belted, 3, 20, 21, 23, 28, 30, 36, =102=.
    family, 3.

  Kinglet family, 14.
    Golden-crowned, 14, 20, 21. 28, 32, 35, =174=.
    Ruby-crowned, 14, 20, 21, 28, 30, 32, 35, =172=.

  Lark, Brown or Red (_see_ American Pipit), 135.
    family, 5.
    Field (_see_ Meadowlark), 132.
    Horned, 6, 21, 22, 23, 27, 31, 36, =134=.
    Meadow (_see_ Meadowlark), 132.
    Oldfield (_see_ Meadowlark), 132.
    Pine (_see_ Pine Siskin), 146.
    Prairie (_see_ Western Meadowlark), 133.
    Prairie Horned, 6, 22, 27, 29, =135=.
    Purple (_see_ Purple Finch), 223.
    Redpoll (_see_ Redpoll), 222.
    Shore (_see_ Horned Lark), 134.
    Snow (_see_ Snowflake), 59.
    Tit (_see_ American Pipit), 135.

  Linnets, the, 7.

  Longspur, Lapland, 8, 22, 28, 35, =148=.
    Smith's Painted, 8, 22, 28, 35, =147=.

  Maize Thief (_see_ Purple Grackle), 44.

  Martin, Bee (_see_ Kingbird), 68.
    Purple, 9, 19, 21, 29, 30, 31, 36, =48=.
    Sand (_see_ Bank Swallow), 143.

  Mavis (_see_ Brown Thrasher), 121.

  Maybird (_see_ Bobolink), 61.

  Meadowlark, 7, 21, 22, 23, 27, 29, 30, 32, 36, =132=.
    Western, 7, 21, 22, 23, 27, 29, 36, =133=.

  Mocking-bird, 12, 19, 20, 21, 29, 36, =81=.
    Brown (_see_ Brown Thrasher), 121.
    French (_see_ Brown Thrasher), 121.
    Yellow, 206.

  Mocking-birds, the, 12.

  Nighthawk, 4, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 28, 30, 31, 36, =138=.

  Nightingale, European, 125.
    Virginia (_see_ Cardinal Grosbeak), 215.

  Nightjar (_see_ Nighthawk), 138.

  Nine-killer (_see_ Northern Shrike), 87.

  Nuthatch, Canada (_see_ Red-breasted Nuthatch), 85.
    family, 13, 21.
    Red-breasted, 13, 20, 28, 32, 35, =85=.
    White-breasted, 13, 20, 27, 29, 32, 35, =84=.

  Oriole, Baltimore, 7, 19, 21, 28, 30, 31, 36, =211=.
    Brown-headed (_see_ Cowbird), 49.
    family (_see_ Blackbird and Oriole family), 6.
    Golden (_see_ Baltimore Oriole), 211.
    Orchard, 7, 19, 21, 28, 30, 31, 36, =227=.
    Red-winged (_see_ Red-winged Blackbird), 47.
    Rusty (_see_ Rusty Blackbird), 46.

  Ortolan, American (_see_ Bobolink), 61.

  Ovenbird, 12, 21, 22, 23, 29, 30, 31, 35, =180=.

  Pewee, Bridge (_see_ Ph[oe]be), 71.
    Small (_see_ Acadian Flycatcher), 182.
    Water (_see_ Ph[oe]be), 71.
    Wood, 5, 19, 20, 22, 23, 28, 30, 31, 36, =69=.

  Ph[oe]be, 5, 19, 20, 22, 23, 28, 30, 32, 35, =71=.
    Say's, 72.

  Pigeon and Dove family, 15.

  Pipit, American, 12, 21, 22, 23, 28, 30, 35, =135=.

  Pipits, the, 12.

  Piramidig (_see_ Nighthawk), 138.

  Pisk (_see_ Nighthawk), 138.

  Pocket-bird (_see_ Scarlet Tanager), 218.

  Preacher, the (_see_ Red-eyed Vireo), 176.

  Raven, American, 6, 19, 20, 28, 36, =43=.
    Northern (_see_ American Raven), 43.
    White-necked, 44.

  Récollet (_see_ Cedar Bird), 144.

  Redbird, Black-winged (_see_ Scarlet Tanager), 218.
    Crested (_see_ Cardinal Grosbeak), 215.
    (_see_ Summer Tanager), 216.
    Smooth-headed (_see_ Summer Tanager), 216.
    Virginia (_see_ Cardinal Grosbeak), 215.

  Redhead (_see_ Red-headed Woodpecker) 53.

  Redpoll, 8, 21, 22, 27, 35, =222=.
    Greater, 8, 21, 22, 27, 35, =223=.
    Lesser (_see_ Redpoll), =222=.

  Redstart, 12, 19, 29, 31, 35, =210=.

  Reedbird (_see_ Bobolink), 61.

  Robin, American, 14, 19, 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, 29, 30, 32, =225=.
    Blue (_see_ Bluebird), 99.
    Canada (_see_ Cedar Bird), 144.
    English (_see_ Baltimore Oriole), 211.
    Golden (_see_ Baltimore Oriole), 211.
    Ground (_see_ Chewink), 58.
    Redbreast (_see_ American Robin), 225.
    Wood (_see_ Wood Thrush), 123.

  Sapsucker (_see_ Yellow-bellied Woodpecker), 57.

  Shrike family, 9.
    Loggerhead, 10, 19, 20, 21, 29, 36, =86=.
    Northern, 10, 19, 20, 21, 27, 32, 36, =87=.

  Silktail (_see_ Bohemian Waxwing), 88.

  Siskin, Pine, 8, 20, 28, 32, 35, =146=.

  Skylark, European, 5.

  Snowbird (_see_ Junco), 83; also Snowflake, 59.
    Lapland (_see_ Lapland Longspur), 148.
    Little (_see_ Redpoll), 222.
    Slate-colored (_see_ Junco), 83.

  Snowflake, 8, 22, 27, 36, =59=.

  Sparrow, Bush (_see_ Field Sparrow), 152.
    Canada (see Tree Sparrow), 161;
      also White-throated Sparrow, 165.
    Chipping, 7, 19, 20, 22, 27, 28, 30, 35, =149=.
    English, 7, 20, 22, 27, 28, =151=.
    Field, 7, 22, 28, 30, 32, =152=.
    Fox, 7, 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, 29, 32, 36, =153=.
    Fox-colored (_see_ Fox Sparrow), =153=.
    Grasshopper, 7, 22, 28, 31, 35, =154=.
    House (_see_ English Sparrow), 151.
    Marsh (_see_ Swamp Song Sparrow), 160.
    Savanna, 7, 22, 28, 32, 35, =155=.
    Seaside, 7, 22, 28, 35, =156=.
    Sharp-tailed, 7, 22, 28, 35, =157=.
    Social (_see_ Chipping Sparrow), 149.
    Song, 8, 20, 21, 22, 23, 27, 28, 30, 35, =158=.
    Swamp (_see_ Swamp Song Sparrow), 160.
    Swamp Song, 8, 22, 27, 28, 30, 32, 35, =160=.
    Tree, 8, 19, 20, 21, 22, 27, 31, 35, =161=.
    Vesper, 8, 20, 22, 23, 27, 28, 30, 31, 35, =162=.
    White-crowned, 8, 20, 21, 22, 27, 32, 36, =164=.
    White-throated, 8, 20, 21, 22, 27, 30, 31, 36, =165=.
    Wood (_see_ Field Sparrow), 152.
    Yellow-winged (_see_ Grasshopper Sparrow), 154.

  Sparrows, the, 7, 19, 21, 22.

  Starling, 50
    Orchard Starling, 227
    Red-winged (_see_ Red-winged Blackbird), 47.

  Swallow, Bank, 9, 19, 22, 23, 29, 30, 35, =143=.
    Barn, 9, 19, 21, 22, 23, 29, 30, 35, =106=.
    Chimney (_see_ Chimney Swift), 67.
    Cliff, 9, 19, 21, 22, 23, 29, 30, 31, 35, =107=.
    Crescent (_see_ Cliff Swallow), 107.
    Eave (_see_ Cliff Swallow), 107.
    family, 9, 20, 22, 23.
    Rocky Mountain (_see_ Cliff Swallow), 107.
    Rough-winged, 9, 19, 22, 23, 29, 35, =144=.
    Sand (_see_ Bank Swallow), 143.
    Tree, 9, 19, 22, 23, 29, 30, 35, =169=.
    White-bellied (_see_ Tree Swallow), 169.

  Swamp Angel (_see_ Hermit Thrush), 125.

  Swift, American (_see_ Chimney Swift), 67.

  Swift, Chimney, 5, 19, 21, 23, 28, 30, 31, 35, =67=.
    family, 4.

  Tanager, Canada (_see_ Scarlet Tanager), 218.
    family, 8, 21.
    Scarlet, 8, 19, 28, 30, 31, 36, =218=.
    Summer, 8, 19, 29, 36, =216=.

  Teacher, the (_see_ Ovenbird), 180.

  Thrasher, Brown, 12, 19, 20, 21, 22, 29, 30, 32, 36, =121=.

  Thrashers, the, 12.

  Thrush, Alice's, 15, 29, 30, 32, 36, =126=.
    Aquatic (_see_ Northern Water Thrush), 129.
    Black-capped (_see_ Catbird), 80.
    Brown (_see_ Brown Thrasher), 121.
    family, 14, 19, 21.
    Gray-cheeked (_see_ Alice's Thrush), 126.
    Golden-crowned (_see_ Ovenbird), 180.
    Ground (_see_ Brown Thrasher), 121.
    Hermit, 15, 29, 30, 31, 36, =125=.
    Little (_see_ Hermit Thrush), 125.
    Louisiana Water, 12, 21, 22, 23, 29, 30, 31, 35, =128=.
    New York (_see_ Northern Water Thrush), 129.
    Northern Water, 12, 21, 22, 23, 29, 30, 31, 35, =126=.
    Olive-backed, 15, 29, 30, 32, 36, =127=.
    Red (_see_ Brown Thrasher), 121.
    Red-breasted or Migratory (_see_ American Robin), 225.
    Song (_see_ Wood Thrush), 123.
    Swainson's (_see_ Olive-backed Thrush), 127.
    Tawny (_see_ Wilson's Thrush), 122.
    Wilson's, 15, 21, 22, 29, 30, 31, 32, 36, =122=.
    Wood, 15, 20, 21, 29, 30, 31, 32, 36, =123=.

  Tit, Black-capped (_see_ Chickadee), 76.

  Titlark (_see_ American Pipit), 135.

  Titmouse Black-capped (_see_ Chickadee), 76.
    Crested (_see_ Tufted Titmouse), 78.
    family, 13, 21.
    Tufted, 14, 19, 20, 21, 27, 28, 29, 31, 35, =78=.

  Tomtit, Crested (_see_ Tufted Titmouse), 78.

  Torch-bird (_see_ Blackburnian Warbler), 209.

  Towhee (_see_ Chewink), 58.

  Tree-mouse (_see_ White-breasted Nuthatch), 84.

  Tricolor (_see_ Red-headed Woodpecker), 53.

  Veery (see Wilson's Thrush), 122.

  Vireo, Blue-headed (_see_ Solitary Vireo), 175.
    family, 10, 19, 21, 22.
    Red-eyed, 10, 20, 22, 29, 30, 31, 35, =176=.
    Solitary, 10, 20, 22, 29, 30, 31, 35, =175=.
    Warbling, 10, 20, 22, 29, 30, 31, 35, =179=.
    White-eyed, 10, 20, 21, 22, 29, 30, 31, 35, =177=.
    Yellow-throated, 10, 20, 22, 29, 30, 31, 35, =189=.

  Wagtail, Aquatic Wood (_see_ Northern Water Thrush), 129.
    Golden-crowned (_see_ Ovenbird), 180.
    Wood (_see_ Ovenbird), 180.

  Wagtails, the, 12.

  Wake-up (_see_ Flicker), 130.

  Warbler, Bay-breasted, 11, 29, 30, 31, =90=.
    Black-and-white Creeping, 10, 20, 29, 30, 31, =64=.
    Black-and-yellow (_see_ Magnolia Warbler), 197.
    Blackburnian, 11, 29, 31, =209=.
    Black-masked Ground (_see_ Maryland Yellowthroat), 207.
    Blackpoll, 11, 19, 20, 29, =63=.
    Black-throated Blue, 11, 29, 30, 31, =95=.
    Black-throated Green, 11, 29, 30, =184=.
    Bloody-sided (_see_ Chestnut-sided Warbler), 90.
    Blue-headed Yellow-rumped (_see_ Magnolia Warbler), 197.
    Blue-winged, 11, 20, 29, =193=.
    Blue-winged Yellow (_see_ Blue-winged Warbler), 193.
    Blue Yellow-backed (_see_ Parula Warbler), 94.
    Canadian, 11, 19, 22, 23, 29, 31, =194=.
    Chestnut-sided, 11, 29, 30, 31, =90=.
    Golden (_see_ Yellow Warbler), 204.
    Golden-winged, 11, 29, 30, 31, =91=.
    Green Black-capped (_see_ Wilson's Warbler), 202.
    Hemlock (_see_ Blackburnian Warbler), 209.
    Hooded, 11, 21, 22, 20, 31, =195=.
    Kentucky, 11, 22, =196=.
    Magnolia, 11, 29, 30, =197=.
    Mourning, 11, 21, 22, 29, =198=.
    Mourning Ground (_see_ Mourning Warbler), 198.
    Myrtle, 11, 21, 27, 29, 30, =92=.
    Nashville, 11, 29, =199=.
    Orange-throated (_see_ Blackburnian Warbler), 209.
    Palm, 11, 22, 29, =204=.
    Parula, 11, 29, 30, 31, =94=.
    Pine, 11, 20, 29, 30, 31, =200=.
    Pine Creeping (_see_ Pine Warbler), 200.
    Prairie, 11, 22, 29, 31, =201=.
    Redpoll (_see_ Palm Warbler), 204.
    Ruby-crowned (_see_ Ruby-crowned Kinglet), 172.
    Spotted (_see_ Magnolia Warbler), 197.
    Spotted Canadian (_see_ Canadian Warbler), 194.
    Wilson's, 12, 19, 22, 23, 29, 31, =202=.
    Worm-eating, 12, 20, 22, 29, 31, =181=.
    Yellow, 12, 19, 20, 22, 23, 29, 30, 31, =204=.
    Yellow-crowned (_see_ Myrtle Warbler), 92.
    Yellow Palm (_see_ Yellow Redpoll Warbler), 203.
    Yellow Redpoll, 12, 22, 29, 30, 31, =203=.
    Yellow-rumped (_see_ Myrtle Warbler), 92.
    Yellow-tailed (_see_ Redstart), 210.

  Waxwing, Black-throated (_see_ Bohemian Waxwing), 88.
    Bohemian, 9, 19, 20, 27, 36, =88=.
    Cedar (_see_ Cedar Bird), 144.
    family, 9.
    Lapland (_see_ Bohemian Waxwing), 88.

  Whisky Jack or John (_see_ Canada Jay) 79.

  Whitebird (_see_ Snowflake), 59.

  Whippoorwill, 4, 19, 20, 21, 22, 28, 31, 35, =136=.

  Will-o'-the-Wisp (_see_ Nighthawk), 138.

  Woodpecker, Downy, 4, 19, 27, 28, 35, =55=.
    family, 3, 21, 22.
    Golden-winged (_see_ Flicker), 130.
    Hairy, 4, 19, 27, 28, 36, =54=.
    Pigeon (_see_ Flicker), 130.
    Red-headed, 4, 19, 27, 28, 30, 32, 36, =53=.
    Yellow-bellied, 4, 19, 27, 28, 30, 32, 35, =57=.
    Yellow-shafted (_see_ Flicker), 130.

  Wood Warbler family, 10, 19, 20, 21, 35.

  Wren, Carolina, 13, 21, 22, 27, 28, 29, =116=.
    family, 13, 19, 21, 22, 35.
    Fiery-crowned (_see_ Golden-crowned Kinglet), 174.
    House, 13, 20, 29, 30, 31, =115=.
    Long-billed Marsh, 13, 22, 29, 30, 31, =119=.
    Mocking (_see_ Carolina Wren), 116.
    Ruby-crowned (_see_ Ruby-crowned Kinglet), 172.
    Short-billed Marsh, 13, 29, 30, 31, =120=.
    Winter, 13, 21, 22, 23, 28, 31, =117=.

  Yarup (_see_ Flicker), 130.

  Yellowbird (_see_ American Goldfinch) 190.
    Summer (_see_ Yellow Warbler), 204.

  Yellowhammer (_see_ Flicker), 130.

  Yellow Poll (_see_ Yellow Warbler), 204.

  Yellowthroat, Maryland, 12, 19, 21, 22, 23, 29, 30, 31, =207=.

Transcriber's Notes

With the exception of the correction detailed below, the text is a
transcription of the original printed book. Several minor corrections
were made where punctuation was missing (comma or period) or
formatting differed from that used for similar sections elsewhere.
Several forms of the verb travel appear with an alternative spelling
than is common in the present era. For example, travelled and
travelling are used. The OE/oe ligatures are displayed as [OE] and
[oe] respectively. The placeholders for the book's images were moved
so that they are between the descriptive passages rather than interrupt
the "flow" of the text by just moving them between paragraphs as is
typically done.

  Page  Correction
  ===== ==================================
          and page number  xi => xviii
  162   Pooc[oe]tes -- Po[oe]cetes
  226   that => than
  229   Vesper Sparrow => White-throated
  232   Louisiana Water Thrush: 125 => 128
  232   Northern Water Thrush:  126 => 129

Emphasis Notation

  _Text_  -  Italic

  =Text=  -  Bold

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