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Title: The Birds of Washington (Volume 1 of 2)
 - A complete, scientific and popular account of the 372 species of birds found in the state
Author: Dawson, William Leon, Bowles, John Hooper
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Birds of Washington (Volume 1 of 2)
 - A complete, scientific and popular account of the 372 species of birds found in the state" ***

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                        The Birds of Washington


Of this work in all its editions 1250 copies have been printed and the
plates destroyed.

Of the Original Edition 350 copies have been printed and bound, of which
this copy is No._298_.

                  [Illustration: HEPBURN’S LEUCOSTICTE
                           MALE, ⅚ LIFE SIZE
              From a Water-color Painting by Allan Brooks]



                        THE BIRDS OF WASHINGTON


 A COMPLETE, SCIENTIFIC AND POPULAR ACCOUNT OF THE 372 SPECIES OF BIRDS
                           FOUND IN THE STATE

                                   BY
             WILLIAM LEON DAWSON, A. M., B. D., of Seattle
                     AUTHOR OF “THE BIRDS OF OHIO”

                              ASSISTED BY
                     JOHN HOOPER BOWLES, of Tacoma

   ILLUSTRATED BY MORE THAN 300 ORIGINAL HALF-TONES OF BIRDS IN LIFE,
    NESTS, EGGS, AND FAVORITE HAUNTS, FROM PHOTOGRAPHS BY THE AUTHOR
                              AND OTHERS.

    TOGETHER WITH 40 DRAWINGS IN THE TEXT AND A SERIES OF FULL-PAGE
                             COLOR-PLATES.
                                   BY
                              ALLAN BROOKS


                 PRINTED ONLY FOR ADVANCE SUBSCRIBERS.

                                VOLUME I

                                SEATTLE
                     THE OCCIDENTAL PUBLISHING CO.
                                  1909
                         _ALL RIGHTS RESERVED_

                            Copyright, 1909,
                                   by
                          William Leon Dawson

        Half-tone work chiefly by The Bucher Engraving Company.
    Composition and Presswork by The New Franklin Printing Company.
                  Binding by The Ruggles-Gale Company.


                                 To the
                               _Members_
                                 of the
                            _Caurinus Club_,
               in grateful recognition of their friendly
                   services, and in expectation that
                  under their leadership the interests
                     of ornithology will prosper in
                         the Pacific Northwest,
                       this work is respectfully
                              _Dedicated_



                              EXPLANATORY.



                         TABLE OF COMPARISONS.


                                                             INCHES.
      Pygmy size                                   Length up to 5.00
      Warbler size                                         5.00-6.00
      Sparrow size                                         6.00-7.50
      Chewink size                                         7.50-9.00
      Robin size                                          9.00-12.00
      Little Hawk size, Teal size, Tern size             12.00-16.00
      Crow size                                          16.00-22.00
      Gull size, Brant size                              22.00-30.00
      Eagle size, Goose size                             30.00-42.00
      Giant size                                    42.00 and upward

Measurements are given in inches and hundredths and in millimeters, the
latter enclosed in parentheses.



                         KEY OF ABBREVIATIONS.


     References under Authorities are to faunal lists, as follows:

  T.      Townsend, Catalog of Birds, Narrative, 1839, pp. 331-336.
  C&S.    Cooper and Suckley, Rep. Pac. R. R. Surv., Vol. XII., pt. II.,
          1860, pp. 140-287.
  L¹.     Lawrence, Birds of Gray’s Harbor, Auk, Jan. 1892, pp. 39-47.
  L².     Lawrence, Further Notes on Birds of Gray’s Harbor, Auk, Oct.
          1892, pp. 352-357.
  Rh.     Rhoads, Birds Observed in B. C. and Wash., Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci.
          Phila., 1893, pp. 21-65. (Only records referring explicitly to
          Washington are noted.)
  D¹.     Dawson, Birds of Okanogan County, Auk, Apr. 1897, pp. 168-182.
  Sr.     Snyder, Notes on a Few Species, Auk, July 1900, pp. 242-245.
  Kb.     Kobbé, Birds of Cape Disappointment, Auk, Oct. 1900, pp. 349-358.
  Ra.     Rathbun, Land Birds of Seattle, Auk, Apr. 1902, pp. 131-141.
  D².     Dawson, Birds of Yakima County, Wilson Bulletin, June 1902, pp.
          59-67.
  Ss¹.    Snodgrass, Land Birds from Central Wash., Auk, Apr. 1903, pp.
          202-209.
  Ss².    Snodgrass, Land Birds Central and Southeastern Wash., Auk, Apr.
          1904, pp. 223-233.
  Kk.     Keck, Birds of Olympia, Wilson Bulletin, June 1904, pp. 33-37.
  J.      Johnson, Birds of Cheney, Condor, Jan. 1906, pp. 25-28.
  B.      Bowles, Birds of Tacoma, Auk, Apr. 1906, pp. 138-148.
  E.      Edson, Birds of Bellingham Bay Region, Auk, Oct. 1908, pp.
          425-439.

     For fuller account of these lists see Bibliography in Vol. II.


       References under Specimens are to collections, as follows:

  U. of W.    University of Washington Collection; (U. of W.) indicates
              lack of locality data.
  P.          Pullman (State College) Collection. P¹. indicates local
              specimen.
  Prov.       Collection Provincial Museum, Victoria, B. C.
  B.          Collection C. W. & J. H. Bowles. Only Washington specimens
              are listed.
  C.          Cantwell Collection.
  BN.         Collection Bellingham Normal School.
  E.          Collection J. M. Edson.



                                PREFACE.


Love of the birds is a natural passion and one which requires neither
analysis nor defense. The birds live, we live; and life is sufficient
answer unto life. But humanity, unfortunately, has had until recently
other less justifiable interests—that of fighting pre-eminent among
them—so that out of a gory past only a few shadowy names of bird-lovers
emerge, Aristotle, Pliny the Elder, Ælian. Ornithology as a science is
modern, at best not over two centuries and a half old, while as a
popular pursuit its age is better reckoned by decades. It is, therefore,
highly gratifying to those who feel this primal instinct strongly to be
able to note the rising tide of interest in their favorite study.
Ornithology has received unwonted attention of late, not only in
scientific works but also in popular literature, and it has taken at
last a deserved place upon the curriculum of many of our colleges and
secondary schools.

We of the West are just waking, not too tardily we hope, to a
realization of our priceless heritage of friendship in the birds. Our
homesteads have been chosen and our rights to them established; now we
are looking about us to take account of our situation, to see whether
indeed the lines have fallen unto us in pleasant places, and to reckon
up the forces which make for happiness, welfare, and peace. And not the
least of our resources we find to be the birds of Washington. They are
here as economic allies, to bear their part in the distribution of plant
life, and to wage with us unceasing warfare against insect and rodent
foes, which would threaten the beneficence of that life. They are here,
some of them, to supply our larder and to furnish occupation for us in
the predatory mood. But above all, they are here to add zest to the
enjoyment of life itself; to please the eye by a display of graceful
form and piquant color; to stir the depths of human emotion with their
marvelous gift of song; to tease the imagination by their exhibitions of
flight; or to goad aspiration as they seek in their migrations the
mysterious, alluring and ever insatiable Beyond. Indeed, it is scarcely
too much to say that we may learn from the birds manners which will
correct our own; that is, stimulate us to the full realization in our
own lives of that ethical program which their tender domestic relations
so clearly foreshadow.

In the matter herein recorded account has of course been taken of nearly
all that has been done by other workers, but the literature of the birds
of Washington is very meager, being chiefly confined to annotated lists,
and the conclusions reached have necessarily been based upon our own
experience, comprising some thirteen years residence in the State in the
case of Mr. Bowles, and a little more in my own. Field work has been
about equally divided between the East-side and the West-side and we
have both been able to give practically all our time to this cause
during the nesting seasons of the past four years. Parts of several
seasons have been spent in the Cascade Mountains, but there remains much
to learn of bird-life in the high Cascades, while the conditions
existing in the Blue Mountains and in the Olympics are still largely to
be inferred. Two practically complete surveys were made of island life
along the West Coast, in the summers of 1906 and 1907; and we feel that
our nesting sea-birds at least are fairly well understood.

Altho necessarily bulky, these volumes are by no means exhaustive. No
attempt has been made to tell all that is known or may be known of a
given species. It has been our constant endeavor, however, to present
something like a true proportion of interest as between the birds, to
exhibit a species as it appears to a Washingtonian. On this account
certain prosy fellows have received extended treatment merely because
they are ours and have to be reckoned with; while others, more
interesting, perhaps, have not been considered at length simply because
we are not responsible for them as characteristic birds of Washington.
In writing, however, two classes of readers have had to be
considered,—first, the Washingtonian who needs to have his interest
aroused in the birds of his home State, and second, the serious
ornithological student in the East. For the sake of the former we have
introduced some familiar matter from other sources, including a previous
work[1] of the author’s, and for this we must ask the indulgence of
ornithologists. For the sake of the latter we have dilated upon certain
points not elsewhere covered in the case of certain Western
birds,—matters of abundance, distribution, sub-specific variety, etc.,
of dubious interest to our local patrons; and for this we must in turn
ask their indulgence.

The order of treatment observed in the following pages is substantially
the reverse of that long followed by the American Ornithologists’ Union,
and is justifiable principally on the ground that it follows a certain
order of interest and convenience. Beginning, as it does, with the
supposedly highest forms of bird-life, it brings to the fore the most
familiar birds, and avoids that rude juxtaposition of the lowest form of
one group with the highest of the one above it, which has been the
confessed weakness of the A. O. U. arrangement.

The outlines of classification may be found in the Table of Contents to
each volume, and a brief synopsis of generic, family, and ordinal
characters, in the Analytical Key prepared by Professor Jones. It has
not been thought best to give large place to these matters nor to
intrude them upon the text, because of the many excellent manuals which
already exist giving especial attention to this field.

The nomenclature is chiefly that of the A. O. U. Check-List, Second
Edition, revised to include the Fourteenth Supplement, to which
reference is made by number. Departures have in a few instances been
made, changes sanctioned by Ridgway or Coues, or justified by a
consideration of local material. It is, of course, unfortunate that the
publication of the Third Edition of the A. O. U. Check-List has been so
long delayed, insomuch that it is not even yet available. On this
account it has not been deemed worth while to provide in these volumes a
separate check-list, based on the A. O. U. order, as had been intended.

Care has been exercised in the selection of the English or vernacular
names of the birds, to offer those which on the whole seem best fitted
to survive locally. Unnecessary departures from eastern usage have been
avoided, and the changes made have been carefully considered. As matter
of fact, the English nomenclature has of late been much more stable than
the Latin. For instance, no one has any difficulty in tracing the
Western Winter Wren thru the literature of the past half century; but
the bird referred to has, within the last decade, posed successively
under the following scientific names: _Troglodytes hiemalis pacificus_,
_Anorthura h. p._, _Olbiorchilus h. p._, and _Nannus h. p._, and these
with the sanction of the A. O. U. Committee—certainly a striking example
of how _not_ to secure stability in nomenclature. With such an example
before us we may perhaps be pardoned for having in instances failed to
note the latest discovery of the name-hunter, but we have humbly tried
to follow our agile leaders.

In the preparation of plumage descriptions, the attempt to derive them
from local collections was partially abandoned because of the meagerness
of the materials offered. If the work had been purely British Columbian,
the excellent collection of the Provincial Museum at Victoria would have
been nearly sufficient; but there is crying need of a large, well-kept,
central collection of skins and mounted birds here in Washington. A
creditable showing is being made at Pullman under the energetic
leadership of Professor W. T. Shaw, and the State College will always
require a representative working collection. The University of
Washington, however, is the natural repository for West-side specimens,
and perhaps for the official collection of the State, and it is to be
devoutly hoped that its present ill-assorted and ill-housed
accumulations may early give place to a worthy and complete display of
Washington birds. Among private collections that of Mr. J. M. Edson, of
Bellingham, is the most notable, representing, as it does, the patient
occupation of extra hours for the past eighteen years. I am under
obligation to Mr. Edson for a check-list of his collection (comprising
entirely local species), as also for a list of the birds of the Museum
of the Bellingham Normal School. The small but well-selected assortment
of bird-skins belonging to Messrs. C. W. and J. H. Bowles rests in the
Ferry Museum in Tacoma. Here also Mr. Geo. C. Cantwell has left his
bird-skins, partly local and partly Alaskan, on view.

Fortunately the task of redescribing the plumage of Washington birds has
been rendered less necessary for a work of such scope as ours, thru the
appearance of the Fifth Edition of Coues Key,[2] embodying, as it does
the ripened conclusions of a uniquely gifted ornithological writer, and
above all, by the great definitive work from the hand of Professor
Ridgway,[3] now more than half completed. These final works by the
masters of our craft render the careful repetition of such effort
superfluous, and I have no hesitation in admitting that we are almost as
much indebted to them as to local collections, altho a not
inconsiderable part of the author’s original work upon plumage
description in “The Birds of Ohio” has been utilized, or re-worked,
wherever applicable.

In compiling the General Ranges, we wish to acknowledge indebtedness
both to the A. O. U. Check-List (2nd Edition) and to the summaries of
Ridgway and Coues in the works already mentioned. In the Range in
Washington, we have tried to take account of all published records, but
have been obliged in most instances to rely upon personal experience,
and to express judgments which must vary in accuracy with each
individual case.

The final work upon migrations in Washington is still to be done. Our
own task has called us hither and yonder each season to such an extent
that consecutive work in any one locality has been impossible, and there
appears not to be any one in the State who has seriously set himself to
record the movements of the birds in chronological order. Success in
this line depends upon coöperative work on the part of many widely
distributed observers, carried out thru a considerable term of years. It
is one of the aims of these volumes to stimulate such endeavor, and the
author invites correspondence to the end that such an undertaking may be
carried out systematically.

In citing authorities, we have aimed to recall the first publication of
each species as a bird of Washington, giving in italics the name
originally assigned the bird, if different from the one now used,
together with the name of the author in bold-face type. In many
instances early references are uncertain, chiefly by reason of failure
to distinguish between the two States now separated by the Columbia
River, but once comprehended under the name Oregon Territory. Such
citations are questioned or bracketed, as are all those which omit or
disregard scientific names. The abbreviated references are to standard
faunal lists appearing in the columns of “The Auk” and elsewhere, and
these are noted more carefully under the head of Bibliography, among the
Appendices.

At the outset I wish to explain the peculiar relation which exists
between myself and the junior author, Mr. J. H. Bowles. Each of us had
long had in mind the thought of preparing a work upon the birds of
Washington; but Mr. Bowles, during my residence in Ohio, was the first
to undertake the task, and had a book actually half written when I
returned to the scene with friendly overtures. Since my plans were
rather more extended than his, and since it was necessary that one of us
should devote his entire time to the work, Mr. Bowles, with unbounded
generosity, placed the result of his labors at my disposal and declared
his willingness to further the enterprise under my leadership in every
possible way. Except, therefore, in the case of signed articles from his
pen, and in most of the unsigned articles on Grouse and Ducks, where our
work has been a strict collaboration, the actual writing of the book has
fallen to my lot. In practice, therefore, I have found myself under
every degree of indebtedness to Mr. Bowles, according as my own
materials were abundant or meager, or as his information or mine was
more pertinent in a given case.

Mr. Bowles has been as good as his word in the matter of coöperation,
and has lavished his time in the quest of new species, or in the
discovery of new nests, or in the location of choice subjects for the
camera, solely that the book might profit thereby. In several
expeditions he has accompanied me. On this account, therefore, the text
in its pronouns, “I,” “we,” or “he,” bears witness to a sort of sliding
scale of intimacy, which, unless explained, might be puzzling to the
casual reader. I am especially indebted to Mr. Bowles for extended
material upon the nesting of the birds; and my only regret is that the
varying requirements of the task so often compelled me to condense his
excellent sketches into the meager sentences which appear under the head
“Nesting.” Not infrequently, however, I have thrown a few adjectives
into Mr. Bowles’s paragraphs and incorporated them without
distinguishing comment, in expectation that our joint indebtedness will
hardly excite the curiosity of any disengaged “higher critic” of
ornithology. Let me, then, express my very deep gratitude to Mr. Bowles
for his generosity and my sincere appreciation of his abilities so
imperfectly exhibited, I fear, in the following pages, where I have
necessarily usurped the opportunity.

It is matter of regret to the author that the size of these volumes, now
considerably in excess of that originally contemplated, has precluded
the possibility of an extended physical and climatic survey of
Washington. The striking dissimilarity of conditions which obtain as
between the eastern side of the State and the western are familiar to
its citizens and may be easily inferred by others from a perusal of the
following pages. Our State is excelled by none in its diversity of
climatic and physiographic features. The ornithologist, therefore, may
indulge his proclivities in half a dozen different bird-worlds without
once leaving our borders. Especially might the taxonomist, the
subspecies-hunter, revel in the minute shades of difference in plumage
which characterize the representatives of the same species as they
appear in different sections of our State. We have not gone into these
matters very carefully, because our interests are rather those of avian
psychology, and of the domestic and social relations of the birds,—in
short, the _life_ interests.

While the author’s point of view has been that of a bird-lover, some
things herein recorded may seem inconsistent with the claim of that
title. The fact is that none of us are quite consistent in our attitude
toward the bird-world. The interests of sport and the interests of
science must sometimes come into conflict with those of sentiment; and
if one confesses allegiance to all three at once he will inevitably
appear to the partisans of either in a bad light. However, a real
principle of unity is found when we come to regard the bird’s value to
society. The question then becomes, not, Is this bird worth more to _me_
in my collection or upon my plate than as a living actor in the drama of
life? but, In what capacity can this bird best serve the interests of
mankind? There can be no doubt that the answer to the latter question is
usually and increasingly, _As a living bird_. Stuffed specimens we need,
but only a representative number of them; only a limited few of us are
fitted to enjoy the pleasures of the chase, and the objects of our
passion are rapidly passing from view anyway; but never while the hearts
of men are set on peace, and the minds of men are alert to receive the
impressions of the Infinite, will there be too many birds to speak to
eye and ear, and to minister to the hidden things of the spirit. The
birds belong to the people, not to a clique or a coterie, but to all the
people as heirs and stewards of the good things of God.

It is of the esthetic value of the bird that we have tried to speak, not
alone in our descriptions but in our pictures. The author has a pleasant
conviction, born of desire perhaps, that the bird in art is destined to
figure much more largely in future years than heretofore. We have
learned something from the Japanese in this regard, but more perhaps
from the camera, whose revelations have marvelously justified the
conventional conclusions of Japanese decorative art. Nature is ever the
nursing mother of Art. While our function in the text has necessarily
been interpretative, we have preferred in the pictures to let Nature
speak for herself, and we have held ourselves and our artists to the
strictest accounting for any retouching or modification of photographs.
Except, therefore, as explicitly noted, the half-tones from photographs
are faithful presentations of life. If they inspire any with a sense of
the beauty of things as they are, or suggest to any the theme for some
composition, whether of canvas, fresco, vase, or tile, in things as they
might be, then our labor shall not have been in vain.

In this connection we have to congratulate ourselves upon the discovery,
virtually in our midst, of such a promising bird-artist as Mr. Allan
Brooks. I can testify to the fidelity of his work, as all can to the
delicacy and artistic feeling displayed even under the inevitable
handicap of half-tone reproduction. My sincerest thanks are due Mr.
Brooks for his hearty and generous coöperation in this enterprise; and
if our work shall meet with approval, I shall feel that a large measure
of credit is due to him.

The joy of work is in the doing of it, while as for credit, or “fame,”
that is a mere by-product. He who does not do his work under a sense of
privilege is a hireling, a clock-watcher, and his sufficient as coveted
meed is the pay envelope. But those of us who enjoy the work are
sufficiently rewarded already. What tho the envelope be empty! We’ve had
our fun and—well, yes, we’d do it again, especially if you thought it
worth while.

But the chief reward of this labor of love has been the sense of
fellowship engendered. The progress of the work under what seemed at
times insuperable difficulties has been, nevertheless, a continuous
revelation of good will. “Everybody helps” is the motto of the Seattle
spirit, and it is just as characteristic of the entire Pacific
Northwest. Everybody has helped and the result is a composite
achievement, a monument of patience, fidelity, and generosity far other
than my own.

I gratefully acknowledge indebtedness to Professor Robert Ridgway for
counsel and assistance in determining State records; to Dr. A. K. Fisher
for records and for comparison of specimens; to Dr. Chas. W. Richmond
for confirmation of records; to Messrs. William L. Finley, Herman T.
Bohlman, A. W. Anthony, W. H. Wright, Fred. S. Merrill, Warburton Pike,
Walter I. Burton, A. Gordon Bowles, and Walter K. Fisher, for the use of
photographs; to Messrs. J. M. Edson, D. E. Brown, A. B. Reagan, E. S.
Woodcock, and to a score of others beside for hospitality and for
assistance afield; to Samuel Rathbun, Prof. E. S. Meany, Prof. O. B.
Johnson, Prof. W. T. Shaw, Miss Adelaide Pollock, and Miss Jennie V.
Getty, for generous coöperation and courtesies of many sorts; to Francis
Kermode, Esq., for use of the Provincial Museum collections, and to
Prof. Trevor Kincaid for similar permission in case of the University of
Washington collections. My special thanks are due my friend, Prof. Lynds
Jones, the proven comrade of many an ornithological cruise, who upon
brief notice and at no little sacrifice has prepared the Analytical Key
which accompanies this work.

My wife has rendered invaluable service in preparing manuscript for
press, and has shared with me the arduous duties of proof-reading. My
father, Rev. W. E. Dawson, of Blaine, has gone over most of the
manuscript and has offered many highly esteemed suggestions.

To our patrons and subscribers, whose timely and indulgent support has
made this enterprise possible, I offer my sincerest thanks. To the
trustees of the Occidental Publishing Company I am under a lasting debt
of gratitude, in that they have planned and counselled freely, and in
that they have so heartily seconded my efforts to make this work as
beautiful as possible with the funds at command.

One’s roll of obligations cannot be reckoned complete without some
recognition also of the dumb things, the products of stranger hearts and
brains, which have faithfully served their uses in this undertaking: my
Warner-and-Swasey binoculars (8-power)—I would not undertake to write a
bird-book without them; the Graflex camera, which has taken most of the
life portraits; the King canvas boat which has made study of the
interior lake life possible;—all deserve honorable mention.

Then there is the physical side of the book itself. One cannot reckon up
the myriad hands that have wrought upon it, engravers, printers,
binders, paper-makers, messengers, even the humble goatherds in far-off
Armenia, each for a season giving of his best—out of love, I trust.
Brothers, I thank you all!

Of the many shortcomings of this work no one could be more sensible than
its author. We should all prefer to spend a life-time writing a book,
and having written it, to return and do it over again, somewhat
otherwise. But book-making is like matrimony, for better or for worse.
There is a finality about it which takes the comfort from one’s muttered
declaration, “I could do it better another time.” What I have written I
have written. I go now to spend a quiet day—with the birds.

                                                    William Leon Dawson.



                         CONTENTS OF VOLUME I.


                                                              NOS. PAGE.
  Dedication                                                          i.
  Explanatory                                                       iii.
  Preface                                                             v.
  List of Full-page Illustrations                                    xv.
  Description of Species Nos. 1-181.
    Order Passeres—Perching Birds.
      Suborder _OSCINES_—Song Birds.
        Family _Corvidæ_—The Crows and Jays                    1-14    1
              _Icteridæ_—The Troupials                        15-22   43
              _Fringillidæ_—The Finches                       23-68   68
              _Tanagridæ_—The Tanagers                           69  170
              _Mniotiltidæ_—The Wood Warblers                 70-86  172
              _Alaudidæ_—The Larks                            87-89  212
              _Motacillidæ_—The Wagtails and Pipits              90  221
              _Turdidæ_—The Thrushes                         91-102  225
              _Sylviidæ_—The Old World Warblers, Kinglets,
                    and Gnatcatchers                        103-105  262
              _Paridæ_—The Titmice                          106-110  273
              _Sittidæ_—The Nuthatches                      111-113  287
              _Certhiidæ_—The Creepers                     114, 115  295
              _Troglodytidæ_—The Wrens                      116-122  301
              _Mimidæ_—The Mockingbirds                    123, 124  320
              _Cinclidæ_—The Dippers                            125  325
              _Hirundinidæ_—The Swallows                    126-132  329
              _Ampelidæ_—The Waxwings                      133, 134  348
              _Laniidæ_—The Shrikes                         135-137  352
              _Vireonidæ_—The Vireos                        138-141  358
      Suborder _CLAMATORES_—Songless Perching Birds.
        Family _Tyrannidæ_—The Tyrant Flycatchers           142-151  369
    Order Macrochires—Goatsuckers, Swifts, etc.
      Suborder _TROCHILI_—Hummers.
        Family _Trochilidæ_—The Hummingbirds                152-155  393
      Suborder _CAPRIMULGI_—Goatsuckers.
        Family _Caprimulgidæ_—The Nighthawks (Goatsuckers,
                    etc.)                                   156-158  404
      Suborder _CYPSELI_—Swifts.
        Family _Micropodidæ_—The Swifts                     159-161  410
    Order Pici—Picarian Birds.
        Family _Picidæ_—The Woodpeckers                     162-179  418
    Order Coccyges—Cuculiform Birds.
      Suborder _CUCULI_—Cuckoos.
        Family _Cuculidæ_—The Cuckoos                           180  452
      Suborder _ALCYONES_—Kingfishers.
        Family _Alcedinidæ_—The Kingfishers                     181  454



                    LIST OF FULL-PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS.


                                                    PAGE OR FACING PAGE.
  Hepburn’s Leucosticte (Color-plate)                       Frontispiece
  Northern Raven (Half-tone)                                           3
  American Magpie (Half-tone)                                         25
  Bullock Orioles (Color-plate)                                       52
  Western Evening Grosbeaks (Color-plate)                             68
  Audubon Warbler (Color-plate)                                      182
  Townsend Warblers, Male and Female (Half-tone)                     191
  Tolmie Warblers (Half-tone)                                        199
  Golden Warbler (Color-plate)                                       208
  Chestnut-backed Chickadee (Half-tone)                              283
  Violet-green Swallow (Color-plate)                                 346
  Calliope Hummers (Color-plate)                                     400
  Gairdner Woodpecker (Half-tone)                                    425
  Red-breasted Sapsucker (Color-plate)                               434



                        The Birds of Washington


                                VOL. I.
                   Description of Species Nos. 1-181



                      _Corvidæ_—The Crows and Jays


                                 No. 1.
                            NORTHERN RAVEN.

  A.O.U. No. 486a. Corvus corax principalis Ridgw.

  Synonym.—Formerly called the American Raven.

  Description.—Color uniform lustrous black; plumage, especially on
  breast, scapulars and back, showing steel-blue or purplish
  iridescence; feathers of the throat long, narrow, pointed, light gray
  basally; primaries whitening at base. Length two feet or over, female
  a little smaller; wing 17.00-18.00 (438); tail 10.00 (247); bill 3.20
  (76.5); depth of bill at nostril 1.00 (28.5); tarsus 2.68 (68).

  Recognition Marks.—Large size,—about twice as big as a Crow; long
  rounded tail; harsh croaking notes; uniform black coloration.
  Indistinguishable afield from _sinuatus_.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: a large but compact mass of sticks, lined with grass,
  wool, cow-hair, etc., placed high in fir trees or upon inaccessible
  cliffs. _Eggs_: 4-7 (8 of record), usually 5, pale bluish green or
  olive, spotted, blotched, and dashed with greenish brown and obscure
  lilac or purple. Av. size, 1.90 × 1.33 (48.26 × 33.78). _Season_:
  April 15; one brood.

  General Range.—“Arctic and Boreal Provinces of North America; south to
  Eastern British Provinces, portions of New England, and Atlantic Coast
  of United States, higher Alleghenies, region of the Great Lakes,
  western and northern Washington, etc.” (Ridgway).

  Range in Washington.—Found sparingly in the Cascade and Olympic
  Mountains, more commonly along the Pacific Coast.

  Migrations.—Resident but wide ranging.

  Authorities.—[Lewis and Clark, Hist. Ex. (1814), Ed Biddle: Coues.
  Vol. II. p. 185.] _Corvus carnivorus_ Bartram, Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R.
  Surv. IX. 1858, pp. 561, 562, 563. (T). C&S. L¹. D¹(?). B. E.

  Specimens.—(U. of. W.) Prov. C.

Altho nowhere abundant, in the sense which obtains among smaller
species, nor as widely distributed as some, there is probably no other
bird which has attracted such universal attention, or has left so deep
an impress upon history and literature as the Raven. Primitive man has
always felt the spell of his sombre presence, and the Raven was as
deeply imbedded in the folklore of the maritime Grecian tribes as he is
today in that of the Makahs and Quillayutes upon our own coast. _Korax_,
the Greek called him, in imitation of his hoarse cry, _Kraack, kraack_;
while the Sanskrit name, _Karava_, reveals the ancient root from which
have sprung both _Crow_ and _Raven_.

Quick-sighted, cunning, and audacious, this bird of sinister aspect has
been invested by peoples of all ages with a mysterious and semi-sacred
character. His ominous croakings were thought to have prophetic import,
while his preternatural shrewdness has made him, with many, a symbol of
divine knowledge. We may not go such lengths, but we are justified in
placing this bird at the head of our list; and we must agree with
Professor Alfred Newton that the Raven is “the largest of the Birds of
the Order Passeres, and probably the most highly developed of all
Birds.”

The Raven is a bird of the wilderness; and, in spite of all his cunning,
he fares but ill in the presence of breech-loaders and iconoclasts.
While it has not been the object of any special persecution in
Washington, it seems to share the fate reserved for all who lift their
heads above the common level; and it is now nearly confined in its local
distribution to the Olympic peninsula; and is nowhere common, save in
the vicinity of the Indian villages which still cling to our western
shore.

In appearance the Raven presents many points of difference from the
Common Crow, especially when contrasted with the dwarf examples of the
northwestern race. It is not only larger, but its tail is relatively
much longer, and fully rounded. The head, too, is fuller, and the bill
proportionately stouter with more rounded culmen. The feathers of the
neck are loosely arranged, resulting in an impressive shagginess; and
there is a sort of uncouthness about these ancient birds, as compared
with the more dapper Crow.

Ravens are unscrupulous in diet, and therefrom has arisen much of the
dislike which has attached to them. They not only subsist upon insects,
worms, frogs, shellfish, and cast-up offal, but devour the eggs and
young of sea-birds; and, when pressed by hunger, do not scruple to
attack rabbits, young lambs, or seal pups. In fact, nothing fleshly and
edible comes amiss to them. In collecting along the sea-coast I once
lost some sandpipers,—which I had not had time to prepare the evening
before—because the dark watcher was “up first”. Like the Fish Crow, they
hang about the Indian villages to some extent, and dispute with the
ubiquitous Indian dog the chance at decayed fish and offal.

                    [Illustration: NORTHERN RAVEN.]

Altho by force of circumstances driven to accept shelter and nesting
sites in the dense forests of the western Olympic slope, the Raven is a
great lover of the sea-cliffs and of all wild scenery. Stormy days are
his especial delight and he soars about in the teeth of the gale,
exulting, like Lear, in the tumult: “Blow winds, and crack your cheeks!”
The sable bird is rather majestic on the wing, and he soars aloft at
times with something of the motion and dignity of the Eagle. But the
Corvine character is complex; and its gravest representatives do some
astonishingly boyish things. For instance, according to Nelson, they
will take sea-urchins high in air and drop them on the cliffs, for no
better reason, apparently, than to hear them smash. Or, again, they will
catch the luckless urchins in mid-air with all the delight of
school-boys at tom-ball.

Nests are to be found midway of sea-cliffs in studiously inaccessible
places, or else high in evergreen trees. Eggs, to the number of five or
six, are deposited in April; and the young are fed upon the choicest
which the (egg) market affords. We shall need to apologize occasionally
for the shortcomings of our favorites, and we confess at the outset to
shameless inconsistency; for even bird _villains_ are dear to us, if
they be not too bad, and especially if their badness be not directed
against us. Who would wish to see this bold, black brigand, savage,
cunning, and unscrupulous as he is, disappear entirely from our shores?
He is the deep shadow of the world’s chiaroscuro; and what were white,
pray, without black by which to measure it?

  [Illustration: _Taken in Clallam County._    _Photo by the Author._
    POINT-OF-THE-ARCHES GROUP, A CHARACTERISTIC HAUNT OF THE RAVEN.]


                                 No. 2.
                             MEXICAN RAVEN.

  A. O. U. No. 486. Corvus corax sinuatus (Wagler).

  Synonyms.—American Raven. Southern Raven.

  Description.—Like preceding but averaging smaller; bill relatively
  smaller and narrower; tarsus not so stout. Length up to 26 inches, but
  averaging less. Culmen 2.85 (72).

  Recognition Marks.—As in preceding—distinguishable only by range.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: placed on ledge or in crannies of basalt cliffs, more
  rarely in pine trees.

  General Range.—Western United States chiefly west of the Rocky
  Mountains; in its northerly extension nearly coincident with the Upper
  Sonoran life zone, south to Honduras.

  Range in Washington.—May be arbitrarily defined as restricted to the
  East-side, but common only on the treeless plains and in the Blue
  Mountain region. Resident.

  Authorities.—_Corvus carnivorus_ Bart., Cooper and Suckley, Rep. Pac.
  R. R. Surv. XII. pt. II. 1860, p. 210. Bendire, Life Hist. N. A.
  Birds, Vol. II. p. 396 f.

It is no mere association of ideas which has made the Raven the bird of
ill omen. Black is his wing, and black is his heart, as well. While it
may be allowed that he works no direct damage upon the human race, we
cannot but share in sympathy the burden of the bird-world which regards
him as the _bete noir_, diabolical in cunning, patient as fate, and
relentless in the hour of opportunity.

As I sit on an early May morning by the water’s edge on a lonely island
in the Columbia River, all nature seems harmonious and glad. The
Meadowlarks are pricking the atmosphere with goads of good cheer in the
sage behind; the Dove is pledging his heart’s affection in the
cottonwood hard by; the river is singing on the rapids; and my heart is
won to follow on that buoyant tide—when suddenly a mother Goose cries
out in terror and I leap to my feet to learn the cause. I have not long
to wait. Like a death knell comes the guttural croak of the Raven. He
has spied upon her, learned her secret, swept in when her precious eggs
were uncovered; and he bears one off in triumph,—a feast for his carrion
brood. When one has seen this sort of thing a dozen times, and heard the
wail of the wild things, the croak of the Raven comes to be fraught with
menace, the veritable voice of doom.

To be sure, the Raven is not really worse than his kin, but he is
distinguished by a bass voice; and does not the villain in the play
always sing bass? Somehow, one never believes the ill he hears of the
soulful tenor, even tho he sees him do it; but beware of the bird or man
who croaks at low C.

Of all students of bird-life in the West, Captain Bendire has enjoyed
the best opportunities for the study of the Raven; and his situation at
Camp Harney in eastern Oregon was very similar to such as may be found
in the southeastern part of our own State. Of this species, as observed
at that point, he says:

     [Illustration: _Taken near Wallula._    _Photo by the Author._
                           THE RAVEN’S FIEF.]

“They are stately and rather sedate-looking birds, remain mated thru
life, and are seemingly very much attached to each other, but apparently
more unsocial to others of their kind. On the ground their movements are
deliberate and dignified; their walk is graceful and seldom varied by
hurried hops or jumps. They appear to still better advantage on the
wing, especially in winter and early spring, when pairs may be
frequently seen playing with each other, performing extraordinary feats
in the air, such as somersaults, trying to fly on their backs, etc. At
this season they seem to enjoy life most and to give vent to their
usually not very exuberant spirits by a series of low chuckling and
gurgling notes, evidently indifferent efforts at singing.

“Their ordinary call is a loud _Craack-craack_, varied sometimes by a
deep grunting _koerr-koerr_, and again by a clucking, a sort of
self-satisfied sound, difficult to reproduce on paper; in fact they
utter a variety of notes when at ease and undisturbed, among others a
metallic sounding _klunk_, which seems to cost them considerable effort.
In places where they are not molested they become reasonably tame, and I
have seen Ravens occasionally alight in my yard and feed among the
chickens, a thing I have never seen Crows do. * * *

[Illustration: _Taken in Walla Walla County._    _Photo by the Author._
                  NESTING HAUNT OF THE MEXICAN RAVEN.]

“Out of some twenty nests examined only one was placed in a tree. It was
in a good sized dead willow, twenty feet from the ground, on an island
in Sylvies River, Oregon, and easily reached; it contained five fresh
eggs on April 13, 1875. The other nests were placed on cliffs, and, with
few exceptions, in positions where they were comparatively secure.
Usually the nest could not be seen from above, and it generally took
several assistants and strong ropes to get near them, and even then it
was frequently impossible to reach the eggs without the aid of a long
pole with a dipper attached to the end. A favorite site was a cliff with
a southern exposure, where the nest was completely covered from above by
a projecting rock.”

Having once chosen a nesting site, the Ravens evince a great attachment
for that particular locality; and, rather than desert it, will avoid
notice by deferring the nesting season, or by visiting the eggs or young
only at night.

We have no records of the taking of Raven’s eggs in Washington, but it
does unquestionably breed here. A nest was reported to us on a cliff in
the Crab Creek Coulee. While we were unable to visit it in season, we
did come upon a family group some weeks later, comprising the two adults
and five grown young. This is possibly the northernmost breeding station
of the Mexican Raven yet reported.


                                 No. 3.
                             WESTERN CROW.

  A. O. U. No. 488b. Corvus brachyrhynchos hesperis (Ridgw.).

  Synonyms.—California Crow. Common Crow. American Crow.

  Description.—Entire plumage glossy black, for the most part with
  greenish blue, steel-blue, and purplish reflections; feathers of the
  neck normal, rounded. Bill and feet black; iris brown. Length
  16.00-20.00; wing 12.00 (302); tail 6.70 (170); bill 1.83 (46.5);
  depth at nostril .65 (16.5). Female averages smaller than male.

  Recognition Marks.—Distinguishable from Northwest Crow by larger size
  and clearer voice.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: a neat hemisphere of sticks and twigs carefully lined
  with bark, roots and trash, and placed 10-60 feet high in
  trees,—willow, aspen, pine, or fir. _Eggs_: 4-6, usually 5, same
  coloring as Raven’s. Occasionally fine markings produce a uniform
  olive-green, or even olive-brown effect. Av. size 1.66 × 1.16 (42.2 ×
  29.5). _Season_: April 15-May 15; one brood.

  General Range.—Western United States from Rocky Mts. to Pacific Coast,
  save shores of northwestern Washington, north in the interior of
  British Columbia, south to Arizona.

  Range in Washington.—Of general distribution along streams and in
  settled portions of State, save along shores of Puget Sound, the
  Straits, and the Pacific north of Gray’s Harbor. Not found in the
  mountains nor the deeper forests, and only locally on the sage-brush
  plains.

  Migrations.—Resident but gregarious and localized in winter. The
  winter “roosts” break up late in February.

  Authorities.—_Corvus americanus_ Aud., Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R. Surv.
  IX. 1858, 566 (part). Brewster, B. N. O. C. VII. 227. T. C&S. D¹. Kb.
  Ra. D². Ss¹. Ss². Kk. J. B. E.

  Specimens.—BN(?).

While the Raven holds a secure place in mythology and literature, it is
the Crow, rather, which is the object of common notice. No landscape is
too poor to boast this jetty adornment; and no morning chorus is
complete without the distant sub-dominant of his powerful voice, harsh
and protesting tho it be.

The dusky bird is a notorious mischief-maker, but he is not quite so
black as he has been painted. More than any other bird he has
successfully matched his wits against those of man, and his frequent
easy victories and consequent boastings are responsible in large measure
for the unsavory reputation in which he is held. It is a familiar adage
in ebony circles that the proper study of Crow-kind is man, and so well
has he pursued this study that he may fairly be said to hold his own in
spite of fierce and ingenious persecution. He rejoices in the name of
outlaw, and ages of ill-treatment have only served to sharpen his wits
and intensify his cunning.

  [Illustration: _Taken in Oregon._    _Photo by Bohlman and Finley._
                         WESTERN CROW AT NEST.]

That the warfare waged against him is largely unnecessary, and partly
unjust, has been pretty clearly proven of late by scientists who have
investigated the Crow’s food habits. It is true that he destroys large
numbers of eggs and nestlings, and, if allowed to, that he will
occasionally invade the poultry yard—and for such conduct there can be
no apology. It is true, also, that some damage is inflicted upon corn in
the roasting-ear stage, and that corn left out thru the winter
constitutes a staple article of Crow diet. But it is estimated that
birds and eggs form only about one-half of one per cent of their total
diet; and in the case of grain, certainly they perform conspicuous
services in raising the crop. Besides the articles of food mentioned,
great quantities of crickets, beetles, grasshoppers, caterpillars,
cut-worms, and spiders, are consumed. Frogs, lizards, mice, and snakes
also appear occasionally upon the bill of fare. On the whole, therefore,
the Crow is not an economic Gorgon, and his destruction need not largely
concern the farmer, altho it is always well to teach the bird a proper
reverence.

The psychology of the Crow is worthy of a separate treatise. All birds
have a certain faculty of direct perception, which we are pleased to
call instinct; but the Crow, at least, comes delightfully near to
reasoning. It is on account of his phenomenal brightness that a young
Crow is among the most interesting of pets. If taken from the nest and
well treated, a young Crow can be given such a large measure of freedom
as fully to justify the experiment from a humanitarian standpoint. Of
course the sure end of such a pet is death by an ignorant neighbor’s
gun, but the dear departed is embalmed in memory to such a degree that
all Crows are thereafter regarded as upon a higher plane.

     [Illustration: _Taken in Benton Co._    _Photo by the Author._
                    NEST AND EGGS OF WESTERN CROW.]

Everyone knows that Crows talk. Their cry is usually represented by a
single syllable, _caw_, but it is capable of many and important
modifications. For instance, _keraw, keraw_, comes from some irritated
and apprehensive female, who is trying to smuggle a stick into the
grove; _kawk-kawk-kawk_ proclaims sudden danger, and puts the flock into
instant commotion; while _caw-aw, caw-aw, caw-aw_ reassures them again.
Once in winter when the bird-man, for sport, was mystifying the local
bird population by reproducing the notes of the Screech Owl, a company
of Crows settled in the tops of neighboring trees, and earnestly
discussed the probable nature of the object half-concealed under a
camera cloth. Finally, they gave it up and withdrew—as I supposed. It
seems that one old fellow was not satisfied, for as I ventured to shift
ever so little from my strained position, he set up a derisive
_Ca-a-a-aw_ from a branch over my head,—as who should say, “Aw, ye can’t
fool me. Y’re just a ma-a-an,” and flapped away in disgust.

Crows attempt certain musical notes as well; and, unless I mistake, the
western bird has attained much greater proficiency in these. These notes
are deeply guttural, and evidently entail considerable effort on the
bird’s part. _Hunger-o-ope, hunger-o-ope_, one says; and it occurs to me
that this is allied to the _delary, delary_, or springboard cry, of the
Blue Jay (_Cyanocitta cristata_),—plunging notes they have also been
called.

Space fails in which to describe the elaborate structure of Crow
society; to tell of the military and pedagogical systems which they
enforce; of the courts of justice and penal institutions which they
maintain; of the vigilantes who visit vengeance upon evil-minded owls
and other offenders; or even of the games which they play,—tag, hide and
seek, blind-man’s-buff and pull-away. These things are sufficiently
attested by competent observers; we may only spare a word for that most
serious business of life, nesting.

A typical Crow’s nest is a very substantial affair, as our illustration
shows. Upon a basis of coarse sticks, a mat of dried leaves, grasses,
bark-strips, and dirt, or mud, is impressed. The deep rounded bowl thus
formed is carefully lined with the inner bark of the willow or with
twine, horse-hair, cow-hair, rabbit-fur, wool, or any other soft
substance available. When completed the nesting hollow is seven or eight
inches across and three or four deep. The expression “Crow’s nest,” as
used to indicate disarray, really arises from the consideration of _old_
nests. Since the birds resort to the same locality year after year, but
never use an old nest, the neighboring structures of successive years
come to represent every stage of dilapidation.

West of the mountains nests are almost invariably placed well up in fir
trees, hard against the trunk, and so escape the common observation.
Upon the East-side, however, nests are usually placed in aspen trees or
willows; in the former case occurring at heights up to fifty feet, in
the latter from ten to twenty feet up. Escape by mere elevation being
practically impossible, the Crows resort more or less to out-of-the-way
places,—spring draws, river islands, and swampy thickets.

Notwithstanding the fact that the spring season opens much earlier than
in the East, the Crows, true to the traditions of a northern latitude,
commonly defer nesting till late in April. Fresh eggs may be found by
the 20th of April, but more surely on the 1st of May. Incubation lasts
from fourteen to eighteen days; and the young, commonly five but
sometimes six in number, are born naked and blind.

It is when the Crow children are hatched that Nature begins to groan. It
is then that birds’ eggs are quoted by the crate; and beetles by the
hecatomb are sacrificed daily in a vain effort to satisfy the Gargantuan
appetites of these young ebons. I once had the misfortune to pitch camp
in a grove of willows which contained a nestful of Crows. The old birds
never forgave me, but upbraided me in bitter language from early morn
till dewy eve. The youngsters also suffered somewhat, I fear, for as
often as a parent bird approached, cawing in a curiously muffled voice,
choked with food, and detected me outside the tent, it swallowed its
burden without compunction, in order that it might the more forcibly
berate me.

If the male happened to discover my out-of-doorness in the absence of
his mate, he would rush at her when she hove in sight, in an officious,
blustering way, and shout, “Look out there! Keep away! The Rhino is on
the rampage again!”

I learned, also, to recognize the appearance of hawks in the offing. At
the first sign the Crow, presumably the male, begins to roll out
objurgatory gutturals as he hurries forward to meet the intruder. His
utterances, freely translated, run somewhat as follows: “That blank,
blank Swainson Hawk! I thought I told him to keep away from here. Arrah,
there, you slab-sided son of an owl! What are ye doing here? Git out o’
this! (Biff! Biff!) Git, I tell ye! (Biff!) If ever I set eyes on ye
again, I’ll feed ye to the coyotes. Git, now!” And all this without the
slightest probability that the poor hawk would molest the hideous young
pickaninnies if he did discover them. For when was a self-respecting
hawk so lost to decency as to be willing to “eat crow”?


                                 No. 4.
                            NORTHWEST CROW.

  A. O. U. No. 489. Corvus brachyrhynchos caurinus (Baird).

  Synonyms.—Fish Crow. Western Fish Crow. Northwest Fish Crow. Puget
  Sound Crow. Tidewater Crow.

  Description.—Similar to _C. b. hesperis_, but decidedly smaller, with
  shorter tarsus and relatively smaller feet. Length 15.00-17.00; wing
  11.00 (280); tail 6.00 (158); bill 1.80 (46); tarsus 1.95 (50).

  Recognition Marks.—An undersized Crow. Voice hoarse and flat as
  compared with that of the Western Crow. Haunts beaches and sea-girt
  rocks.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: a compact mass of twigs and bark-strips with
  occasionally a foundation of mud; lined carefully with fine
  bark-strips and hair; 4.00 deep and 7.00 across inside; placed 10-20
  feet high in orchard or evergreen trees, sometimes in loose colony
  fashion. _Eggs_: 4 or 5, indistinguishable in color from those of the
  Common Crow, but averaging smaller. A typical set averages 1.56 × 1.08
  (39.6 × 27.4). _Season_: April 15-June 1; one brood.

  General Range.—American coasts of the North Pacific Ocean and its
  estuaries from Olympia and the mouth of the Columbia River north at
  least to the Alaskan peninsula.

  Range in Washington.—Shores and islands of Puget Sound, the Straits of
  Juan de Fuca, and the West Coast (at least as far south as Moclips,
  presumably to Cape Disappointment). Strictly resident.

  Authorities.—[Lewis and Clark, Hist. Ex. (1814), ed. Biddle: Coues,
  Vol. II. p. 185.] _Corvus caurinus_ Baird, Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R.
  Surv. IX. June 29, 1858, 569, 570. T. C&S. L¹. Rh. Kb. Ra. Kk. B. E.

  Specimens.—U. of W. Prov. E. B.

After lengthy discussion it is pretty well settled that the Crow of the
northwestern sea-coasts is merely a dwarfed race of the _Corvus
brachyrhynchos_ group; and that it shades perfectly into the prevailing
western type, _C. b. hesperis_, wherever that species occupies adjacent
regions. This area of intergradation lies chiefly south and west of
Puget Sound, in Washington; for the Crow is ever fond of the half-open
country, and does not take kindly to the unmitigated forest depths, save
where, as in the case of the Fish Crow, he may find relief upon the
broad expanses of shore and tide-flats. The case is quite analogous to
that of native man. The larger, more robust types were found in the
eastern interior, while those tribes which were confined exclusively to
residence upon the sea-shore tended to become dwarfed and stunted; and
the region of intergradation lay not chiefly along the western slopes of
the Cascades with their crushing weight of tall timber, but in the
prairie regions bordering Puget Sound upon the south.

It is impossible, therefore, to pronounce with certainty upon the
subspecific identity of Crows seen near shore in Mason, Thurston,
Pierce, or even King County; but in Clallam, Jefferson, San Juan, and
the other counties of the Northwest, one has no difficulty in
recognizing the dwarf race. Not only are these Crows much smaller in
point of size, but the voice is weaker, flatter, and more hoarse, as tho
affected by an ever-present fog. So marked is this vocal change, that
one may note the difference between birds seen along shore in Pierce
County and those which frequent the uplands. However,—and this caution
must be noted—the upland birds do visit the shore on occasion; and the
regular shore dwellers are by no means confined thereto, as are the more
typical birds found further north.

The early observers were feeling for these differences, and if Nature
did not afford sufficient ground for easy discrimination, imagination
could supply the details. The following paragraph from the much quoted
work[4] of John Keast Lord is interesting because deliciously untrue.

“The sea-coast is abandoned when the breeding time arrives early in May,
when they resort in pairs to the interior; selecting a patch of open
prairie, where there are streams and lakes and where the wild crab apple
and white-thorn grows, in which they build nests precisely like that of
the Magpie, arched over the top with sticks. The bird enters by a hole
on one side but leaves by an exit hole in the opposite. The inside is
plastered with mud; a few grass stalks strewn loosely on the bottom keep
the eggs from rolling. This is so marked a difference to the Barking
Crow’s nesting [“Barking Crow” is J. K. L.’s solecism for the Western
Crow, _C. b. hesperis_], as in itself to be a specific distinction. The
eggs are lighter in blotching and much smaller. I examined great numbers
[! !] of nests at this prairie and on the Columbia, but invariably found
that the same habit of doming prevailed. After nesting, they return with
the young to the sea-coasts, and remain in large flocks often associated
with Barking Crows until nesting time comes again.”—No single point of
which has been confirmed by succeeding observers.

     [Illustration: _Taken at Neah Bay._    _Photo by the Author._
                          THE PHANTOM CROWS.]

Dr. Cooper wrote[5] with exact truthfulness: “This fish-crow frequents
the coast and inlets of this Territory in large numbers, and is much
more gregarious and familiar than the common Crow. Otherwise it much
resembles that bird in habits, being very sagacious, feeding on almost
everything animal and vegetable, and having nearly the same cries,
differing rather in tone than character. Its chief dependence for food
being on the sea, it is generally found along the beach, devouring dead
fish and other things brought up by the waves. It is also very fond of
oysters, which it breaks by carrying them upward and dropping again on a
rock or other hard material. When the tide is full they resort to the
fields or dwellings near the shore and devour potatoes and other
vegetables, offal, etc. They, like the gulls, perceive the instant of
change of the tide, and flocks will then start off together for a
favorite feeding ground. They are very troublesome to the Indians,
stealing their dried fish and other things, while from superstitious
feelings the Indians never kill them but set a child to watch and drive
them away. They build in trees near the shore in the same way as the
common crow and the young are fledged in May.”

Mr. J. F. Edwards, a pioneer of ’67, tells me that in the early days a
small drove of pigs was an essential feature of every well-equipped
saw-mill on Puget Sound. The pigs were given the freedom of the
premises, slept in the saw dust, and dined behind the mess-house.
Between meals they wandered down to the beach and rooted for clams at
low tide. The Crows were not slow to learn the advantages of this
arrangement and posted themselves promptly in the most commanding and
only safe positions; viz., on the backs of the pigs. The pig grunted and
squirmed, but Mr. Crow, mindful of the blessings ahead, merely extended
a balancing wing and held on. The instant the industrious rooter turned
up a clam, the Crow darted down, seized it in his beak and made off;
resigning his station to some sable brother, and leaving the porker to
reflect discontentedly upon the rapacity of the upper classes. Mr.
Edwards declares that he has seen this little comedy enacted, not once,
but a hundred times, at Port Madison and at Alberni, V. I.

The Fish Crows have learned from the gulls the delights of sailing the
main on driftwood. I have seen numbers of them going out with the tide a
mile or more from shore, and once a Crow kept company with three gulls
on a float so small that the gulls had continually to strive for
position; but the Crow stood undisturbed.

                 [Illustration: _Photo by the Author._
                     BIRDS AND BOATS AT NEAH BAY.]

Speaking of their aquatic tendencies, Mr. A. B. Reagan, of La Push,
assures me that he has repeatedly seen them catch smelt in the ocean
near shore. These fish become involved in the breakers and may be
snatched from above by the dextrous bird without any severe wetting.

Crows are still the most familiar feature of Indian village life. The
Indian, perhaps, no longer cherishes any superstition regarding him, but
he is reluctant to banish such a familiar evil. The Quillayutes call the
bird _Kah-ah-yó_: and it is safe to say that fifty pairs of these Fish
Crows nest within half a mile of the village of La Push. They nest,
indifferently, in the saplings of the coastal thickets, or against the
trunks of the larger spruces, and take little pains to escape
observation. The birds are, however, becoming quite shy of a gun. Seeing
a half dozen of them seated in the tip of a tall spruce in the open
woods, I raised my fowling piece to view, whereupon all flew with
frantic cries. Indeed it required considerable manœuvering and an
ambuscade to secure the single specimen needed.

    [Illustration: _Taken on Waldron Id._    _Photo by the Author._
                           THE CROW’S FARE.]

At Neah Bay the Fish Crows patrol the beach incessantly and allow very
little of the halibut fishers’ largess to float off on the tide. And the
_Oke-t(c)ope_, as the Makahs call the birds, have little fear of the
Indians, altho they are very suspicious of a strange white man. I once
saw a pretty sight on this beach: a three year old Indian girl chasing
the Crows about in childish glee. The birds enjoyed the frolic as much
as she, and fell in behind her as fast as she shooed them away in
front—came within two or three feet of her, too, and made playful dashes
at her chubby legs. But might I be permitted to photograph the scene at,
say, fifty yards? _Mit nichten!_ Arragh! To your tents, O Israel!

In so far as this Crow consents to perform the office of scavenger, he
is a useful member of society. Nor is his consumption of shell-fish a
serious matter. But when we come to consider the quality and extent of
his depredations upon colonies of nesting sea-birds, we find that he
merits unqualified condemnation. For instance, two of us bird-men once
visited the west nesting of Baird Cormorants on Flattop, to obtain
photographs. As we retired down the cliff, I picked up a broken shell of
a Cormorant’s egg, from which the white, or plasma, was still dripping.
As we pulled away from the foot of the cliff a Crow flashed into view,
lighted on the edge of a Shag’s nest, seized an egg, and bore it off
rapidly into the woods above, where the clamor of expectant young soon
told of the disposition that was being made of it. Immediately the
marauder was back again, seized the other egg, and was off as before.
All this, mind you, in a trice, before we were sufficiently out of range
for the Cormorants to reach their nests again, altho they were hastening
toward them. Back came the Crow, but the first nest was exhausted; the
second had nothing in it; the Shags were on the remainder; moments were
precious—he made a dive at a Gull’s nest, but the Gulls made a dive at
him; and they too hastened to their eggs.

Subsequent investigation discovered rifled egg-shells all over the
island, and it was an easy matter to pick up a hatful for evidence. As
he is at Flattop, so he is everywhere, an indefatigable robber of birds’
nests, a sneaking, thieving, hated, black marauder. It is my deliberate
conviction that the successful rearing of a nestful of young Crows costs
the lives of a hundred sea-birds. The Baird Cormorant is, doubtless, the
heaviest loser; and she appears to have no means of redress after the
mischief is done, save to lay more eggs,—more eggs to feed more Crows,
to steal more eggs, etc.


                                 No. 5.
                          CLARK’S NUTCRACKER.

  A.O.U. No. 491. Nucifraga columbiana (Wils.).

  Synonyms.—Clark’s Crow. Pine Crow. Gray Crow. “Camp Robber.” (Thru
  confusion with the Gray Jay, _Perisoreus_ sp.).

  Description.—_Adults_: General plumage smoky gray, lightening on head,
  becoming sordid white on forehead, lores, eyelids, malar region and
  chin; wings glossy black, the secondaries broadly tipped with white;
  under tail-coverts and four outermost pairs of rectrices white, the
  fifth pair with outer web chiefly white and the inner web chiefly
  black, the remaining (central) pair of rectrices and the upper
  tail-coverts black; bill and feet black; iris brown. Shade of gray in
  plumage of adults variable—bluish ash in freshly moulted specimens,
  darker and browner, or irregularly whitening in worn plumage. _Young_
  like adults, but browner. Length 11.00-13.00; wing 7.00-8.00 (192);
  tail 4.50 (115); bill 1.60 (40.7); tarsus 1.45 (36.8). Female smaller
  than male.

  Recognition Marks.—Kingfisher size; gray plumage with abruptly
  contrasting black-and-white of wings and tail; harsh “_char-r_” note.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: basally a platform of twigs on which is massed fine
  strips of bark with a lining of bark and grasses, placed well out on
  horizontal limb of evergreen tree, 10-50 feet up. _Eggs_: 2-5, usually
  3, pale green sparingly flecked and spotted with lavender and brown
  chiefly about larger end. Av. size, 1.30 × .91 (33 × 23.1). _Season_:
  March 20-April 10; one brood.

  General Range.—Western North America in coniferous timber, from
  Arizona and New Mexico to Alaska; casual east of the Rockies.

  Range in Washington.—Of regular occurrence in the mountains thruout
  the State. Resident in the main but visits the foothills and lower
  pine-clad levels of eastern Washington at the close of the nesting
  season.

  Authorities.—_Corvus columbianus_, Wilson, Am. Orn. iii. 1811, 29. T.
  C&S. D¹. D². J. E.

  Specimens.—(U. of W.). Prov. E. C.

No bird-lover can forget his first encounter with this singular
Old-Bird-of-the-Mountains. Ten to one the bird brought the man up
standing by a stentorian _char’r’r, char’r’r, char’r’r_, which led him
to search wildly in his memory whether Rocs are credited with voices. If
the bird was particularly concerned at the man’s intrusion, he presently
revealed himself sitting rather stolidly on a high pine branch,
repeating that harsh and deafening cry. The grating voice is decidedly
unpleasant at close quarters, and it is quite out of keeping with the
unquestioned sobriety of its grizzled owner. A company of Nutcrackers in
the distance finds frequent occasion for outcry, and the din is only
bearable as it is softened and modified by the re-echoing walls of some
pine-clad gulch, or else dissipated by the winds which sweep over the
listening glaciers.

                  [Illustration: CLARK’S NUTCRACKER.]

Clark’s Nutcracker is the presiding genius of the East-side slopes and
light-forested foothills, as well as of the rugged fastnesses of the
central Cordilleras. His presence, during fall and winter, at the lower
altitudes depends in large measure upon the pine-cone crop, since pine
seeds are his staple, tho by no means his exclusive diet. This black and
white and gray “Crow” curiously combines the characteristics of
Woodpecker and Jay as well. Like the Lewis Woodpecker, he sometimes
hawks at passing insects, eats berries from bushes, or alights on the
ground to glean grubs, grasshoppers, and black crickets. In the
mountains it shares with the Jays of the _Perisoreus_ group the names
“meat-bird” and “camp-robber,” for nothing that is edible comes amiss to
this bird, and instances are on record of its having invaded not only
the open-air kitchen, but the tent, as well, in search of “supplies.”

Of its favorite food, John Keast Lord says: “Clark’s ‘Crows’ have, like
the Cross-bills, to get out the seeds from underneath the scaly
coverings constituting the outward side of the fir-cone; nature has not
given them crossed mandibles to lever open the scales, but instead, feet
and claws, that serve the purpose of hands, and a powerful bill like a
small crowbar. To use the crowbar to advantage the cone needs steadying,
or it would snap at the stem and fall; to accomplish this one foot
clasps it, and the powerful claws hold it firmly, whilst the other foot
encircling the branch, supports the bird, either back downward, head
downward, on its side, or upright like a woodpecker, the long clasping
claws being equal to any emergency; the cone thus fixed and a firm hold
maintained on the branch, the seeds are gouged out from under the
scales.”

These Nutcrackers are among the earliest and most hardy nesters. They
are practically independent of climate, but are found during the nesting
months—March, or even late in February, and early April—only where there
is a local abundance of pine (or fir) seeds. They are artfully silent at
this season, and the impression prevails that they have “gone to the
mountains”; or, if in the mountains already, the presence of a dozen
feet of snow serves to allay the oölogist’s suspicions.

The nest is a very substantial affair of twigs and bark-strips, heavily
lined, as befits a cold season, and placed at any height in a pine or
fir tree, without noticeable attempt at concealment. The birds take
turns incubating and—again because of the cold season—are very close
sitters. Three eggs are usually laid, of about the size and shape of
Magpies’ eggs, but much more lightly colored. Incubation, Bendire
thinks, lasts sixteen or seventeen days, and the young are fed solely on
hulled pine seeds, at the first, presumably, regurgitated.

If the Corvine affinities of this bird were nowhere else betrayed, they
might be known from the hunger cries of the young. The importunate _añh,
añh, añh_ of the expectant bantling, and the subsequent _gullú, gullú,
gullú_ of median deglutition (and boundless satisfaction) will always
serve to bind the Crow, Magpie, and Nutcracker together in one compact
group. When the youngsters are “ready for college,” the reserve of early
spring is set aside and the hillsides are made to resound with much
practice of that uncanny yell before mentioned. Family groups are
gradually obliterated and, along in June, the birds of the foothills
begin to retire irregularly to the higher ranges, either to rest up
after the exhausting labors of the season, or to revel in midsummer
gaiety with scores and hundreds of their fellows.


                                 No. 6.
                               PINON JAY.

  A. O. U. No. 492. Cyanocephalus cyanocephalus (Maxim.).

  Synonyms.—Blue Crow. Maximilian’s Jay. Pine Jay.

  Description.—_Adults_: Plumage dull grayish blue, deepening on crown
  and nape, brightening on cheeks, paling below posteriorly, streaked
  and grayish white on chin, throat and chest centrally; bill and feet
  black; iris brown. _Young_ birds duller, gray rather than blue, except
  on wings and tail. Length of adult males 11.00-12.00; wing 6.00 (154);
  tail 4.50 (114); bill 1.42 (36); tarsus 1.50 (38). Female somewhat
  smaller.

  Recognition Marks.—Robin size; blue color; crow-like aspect.

  Nesting.—Not supposed to nest in State.

  General Range.—Piñon and juniper woods of western United States; north
  to southern British Columbia (interior), Idaho, etc.; south to
  Northern Lower California, Arizona, New Mexico, and western Texas;
  casually along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mts.

  Range in Washington.—One record by Capt. Bendire, Fort Simcoe, Yakima
  Co., June, 1881, “quite numerous.” Presumably casual at close of
  nesting season.

  Authorities.—[“Maximilian’s Nutcracker,” Johnson, Rep. Gov. W. T. 1884
  (1885), 22.] _Cyanocephalus cyanocephalus_ (Wied), Bendire, Life Hist.
  N. A. Birds, Vol. II. p. 425 (1895).

  Specimens.—C.

Captain Bendire who is sole authority for the occurrence of this bird in
Washington may best be allowed to speak here from his wide experience:

“The Piñon Jay, locally known as ‘Nutcracker,’ ‘Maximilian’s Jay,’ ‘Blue
Crow,’ and as ‘Pinonario’ by the Mexicans, is rather a common resident
in suitable localities throughout the southern portions of its range,
while in the northern parts it is only a summer visitor, migrating
regularly. It is most abundantly found throughout the piñon and
cedar-covered foothills abounding between the western slopes of the
Rocky Mountains and the eastern bases of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade
ranges in California, Nevada, and Oregon.

“It is an eminently sociable species at all times, even during the
breeding season, and is usually seen in large compact flocks, moving
about from place to place in search of feeding grounds, being on the
whole rather restless and erratic in its movements; you may meet with
thousands in a place to-day and perhaps to-morrow you will fail to see a
single one. It is rarely met with at altitudes of over 9,000 feet in
summer, and scarcely ever in the higher coniferous forests; its favorite
haunts are the piñon-covered foothills of the minor mountain regions,
the sweet and very palatable seeds of these trees furnishing its
favorite food during a considerable portion of the year. In summer they
feed largely on insects of all kinds, especially grasshoppers, and are
quite expert in catching these on the wing; cedar and juniper berries,
small seeds of various kinds, and different species of wild berries also
enter largely into their bill of fare. A great deal of time is spent on
the ground where they move along in compact bodies while feeding, much
in the manner of Blackbirds, the rearmost birds rising from time to
time, flying over the flock and alighting again in front of the main
body; they are rather shy and alert while engaged in feeding. I followed
a flock numbering several thousands which was feeding in the open pine
forest bordering the Klamath Valley, Oregon, for more than half a mile,
trying to get a shot at some of them, but in this I was unsuccessful.
They would not allow me to get within range, and finally they became
alarmed, took wing, and flew out of sight down the valley. On the next
day, September 18, 1882, I saw a still larger flock, which revealed its
presence by the noise made; these I headed off, and awaited their
approach in a dense clump of small pines in which I had hidden; I had
not long to wait and easily secured several specimens. On April 4, 1883,
I saw another large flock feeding in the open woods, evidently on their
return to their breeding grounds farther north, and by again getting in
front of them I secured several fine males. These birds are said to
breed in large numbers in the juniper groves near the eastern slopes of
the Cascade Mountains, on the head waters of the Des Chutes River,
Oregon. I have also seen them in the Yakima Valley, near old Fort
Simcoe, in central Washington, in June, 1881, in an oak opening, where
they were quite numerous. Their center of abundance, however, is in the
piñon or nut-pine belt, which does not extend north of latitude 40°, if
so far, and wherever these trees are found in large numbers the Piñon
Jay can likewise be looked for with confidence.

“Their call notes are quite variable; some of them are almost as harsh
as the ‘_chaar_’ of the Clarke’s Nutcracker, others partake much of the
gabble of the Magpie, and still others resemble more those of the Jays.
A shrill, querulous ‘_peeh, peeh_,’ or ‘_whee, whee_,’ is their common
call note. While feeding on the ground they kept up a constant
chattering, which can be heard for quite a distance, and in this way
often betray their whereabouts.”


                                 No. 7.
                            AMERICAN MAGPIE.

  A. O. U. No. 475. Pica pica hudsonia (Sabine).

  Synonym.—Black-billed Magpie.

  Description.—_Adults_: Lustrous black with violet, purplish, green,
  and bronzy iridescence, brightest on wings and tail; an elongated
  scapular patch pure white; lower breast, upper abdomen, flanks and
  sides broadly pure white; primaries extensively white on inner web; a
  broad band on rump with large admixture of white; tail narrowly
  graduated thru terminal three-fifths; bill and feet black; iris black.
  _Young_ birds lack iridescence on head and are elsewhere duller;
  relative length of tail sure index of age in juvenile specimens.
  Length of adults 15.00-20.00, of which tail 8.00-12.00 (Av. 265); wing
  7.85 (200); bill 1.35 (35.); tarsus 1.85 (47).

  Recognition Marks.—Black-and-white plumage with long tail
  unmistakable.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: normally a large sphere of interlaced sticks, “as big
  as a bushel basket,” placed 5-40 feet high in willow, aspen,
  grease-wood or pine. The nest proper is a contained hemisphere of mud
  8-10 inches across inside, and with walls 1-2 inches in thickness,
  carefully lined for half its depth with twigs surmounted by a mat of
  fine rootlets. _Eggs_: 7 or 8, rarely 10, pale grayish green, quite
  uniformly freckled and spotted with olive green or olive brown.
  Occasionally spots nearly confluent in heavy ring about larger end, in
  which case remainder of egg likely to be less heavily marked than
  usual. Shape variable, rounded ovate to elongate ovate. Av. size, 1.20
  × .88 (30.5 × 22.3). _Season_: March 20-May 1; one brood.

  General Range.—Western North America chiefly in treeless or sparsely
  timbered areas from southern Arizona, New Mexico, and western Texas
  north to northwestern Alaska. Straggles eastward to west shore of
  Hudson Bay, and occurs casually in North Central States, Nebraska,
  etc. Replaced in California west of the Sierras by _Pica nuttalli_.

  Range in Washington.—Confined to East-side during breeding season,
  where of nearly universal distribution. Disappears along east slope of
  Cascades and does not-deeply penetrate the mountain valleys. Migrates
  regularly but sparingly thru mountain passes to West-side at close of
  breeding season.

  Authorities.—[Lewis and Clark, Hist. Ex. (1814) Ed. Biddle: Coues,
  Vol. II. p. 185.] _Pica hudsonica_ Bonap., Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R.
  Surv. IX. pt. II. (1858), 578. T. C&S. Rh. D¹. Ra. D². Ss¹. Ss². J. B.
  E.

  Specimens.—(U. of W.) P. Prov. B. E. BN.

Here is another of those rascals in feathers who keep one alternately
grumbling and admiring. As an abstract proposition one would not stake a
_sou marquee_ on the virtue of a Magpie; but taken in the concrete, with
a sly wink and a saucy tilt of the tail, one will rise to his feet,
excitedly shouting, “Go it, Jackity,” and place all his earnings on this
pie-bald steed in the race for avian honors. It is impossible to
exaggerate this curious contradiction in Magpie nature, and in our
resulting attitude towards it. It is much the same with the mischievous
small boy. He has surpassed the bounds of legitimate naughtiness, and we
take him on the parental knee for well-deserved correction. But the
saucy culprit manages to steal a roguish glance at us,—a glance which
challenges the remembrance of our own boyish pranks, and bids us ask
what difference it will make twenty years after; and it is all off with
discipline for that occasion.

The Magpie is indisputably a wretch, a miscreant, a cunning thief, a
heartless marauder, a brigand bold—Oh, call him what you will! But,
withal, he is such a picturesque villain, that as often as you are
stirred with righteous indignation and impelled to punitive slaughter,
you fall to wondering if your commission as avenger is properly
countersigned, and—shirk the task outright.

The cattle men have it in for him, because the persecutions of the
Magpie sometimes prevent scars made by the branding iron from healing;
and cases are known in which young stock has died because of malignant
sores resulting. This is, of course, a grave misdemeanor; but when the
use of fences shall have fully displaced the present custom of branding,
we shall probably hear no more of it.

   [Illustration: _Taken in Yakima County._    _Photo by the Author._
                     NEST OF MAGPIE IN GREASEWOOD.]

                    [Illustration: AMERICAN MAGPIE.]

Beyond this it is indisputably true that Magpies are professional nest
robbers. At times they organize systematic searching parties, and
advance thru the sage-brush, poking, prying, spying, and devouring, with
the ruthlessness and precision of a pestilence. Not only eggs but young
birds are appropriated. I once saw a Magpie seize a half-grown
Meadowlark from its nest, carry it to its own domicile, and parcel it
out among its clamoring brood. Then, in spite of the best defense the
agonized parents could institute, it calmly returned and selected
another. Sticks and stones shied by the bird-man merely deferred the
doom of the remaining larks. The Magpie was not likely to forget the
whereabouts of such easy meat.

   [Illustration: _Taken in Yakima County._    _Photo by the Author._
                       MAGPIE’S NEST FROM ABOVE.
     WITH CANOPY REMOVED. SAME NEST AS IN ILLUSTRATION ON PAGE 24.]

Nor is such a connoisseur of eggs likely to overlook the opportunities
afforded by a poultry yard. He becomes an adept at purloining eggs, and
can make off with his booty with astonishing ease. One early morning,
seeing a Magpie fly over the corral with something large and white in
his bill, and believing that he had alighted not far beyond, I followed
quickly and frightened him from a large hen’s egg, which bore externally
the marks of the bird’s bill, but which was unpierced. Of course the
only remedy for such a habit is the shot-gun.

To say that Magpies are garrulous would be as trite as to say hens
cackle, and the adjective could not be better defined than “talking like
a Magpie.” The Magpie is the symbol of loquacity. The very type in which
this is printed is small _pica_; that is small _Magpie_. Much of this
bird’s conversation is undoubtedly unfit for print, but it has always
the merit of vivacity. A party of Magpies will keep up a running
commentary on current events, now facetious, now vehement, as they move
about; while a comparative cessation of the racket means, as likely as
not, that some favorite raconteur is holding forth, and that there will
be an explosion of riotous laughter when his tale is done. The pie, like
Nero, aspires to song; but no sycophant will be found to praise him, for
he intersperses his more tuneful musings with chacks and barks and harsh
interjections which betray a disordered taste. In modulation and
quality, however, the notes sometimes verge upon the human; and it is
well known that Magpies can be instructed until they acquire a handsome
repertoire of speech.

In order that their double quartet of youngsters may be lined up for the
egg harvest, the Magpies take an early start at home building. April is
the nesting month, but I have two records for March 30th,—one of five
eggs at Chelan, and one of eight in Yakima County. In the latter
instance the first egg must have been deposited not later than March
18th. And because the season affords him no protection, the Magpie
resorts to two expedients in nest building in lieu of concealment: he
first seeks retirement, the depths of some lonesome swamp, an
unfrequented draw, or wooded spring, in the foothills, and then he
erects a castle which would do credit to a feudal baron. The nest is a
ball of interlacing sticks set about a hollow half-sphere of dried mud.
The amount of labor expended upon one of these structures is prodigious.
The greasewood nest shown in the accompanying cut is three feet deep and
two feet thru, and the component sticks are so firmly interwoven that no
ordinary agency, short of the human hand, can effect an entrance. The
bird enters thru an obscure passage in one side, and, if surprised upon
the nest, has always a way of escape planned thru the opposite wall. The
mud cup is carefully shaped with walls an inch or two in thickness, a
total breadth of eight or ten inches, and a like depth. In the best
construction this cavity is filled to a depth of three or four inches
with a loose mat of fine twigs of a uniform size. Upon this in turn is
placed a coiled mattress of fine, clean rootlets, the whole affording a
very sanitary arrangement.

Another fortress, of single construction, was four feet deep and three
and a half feet thru; and that, too, after making liberal allowance for
chance projections. The component sticks measure up to three feet in
length and three-quarters of an inch in thickness. Nests are repaired
and re-occupied year after year; or if they fall into hopeless decay,
new structures are erected upon the ruins of the old. The tenement
photographed on Homely Island is a double nest (it looks triple, but the
upper third is merely the dome for the central portion, or nest proper),
and measures seven feet from top to bottom. It contained seven eggs on
April 24th, 1905, but altho the oölogist is very fond of little Magpies’
eggs, he left these as a tribute to Mr. and Mrs. Cheops.

   [Illustration: _Taken in Benton County._    _Photo by the Author._
                    MAGPIE’S NEST ON HOMELY ISLAND.]

This historic pile is in marked contrast to one sighted in a willow on
the banks of Crab Creek near Odessa. My attention was attracted to the
spot by a scuffle, which took place between a Magpie and a pair of
Kingbirds; and when I started to examine the nest, I was in honest doubt
whether it might not belong to the Kingbirds. The foundation was of mud,
but this came near constituting the outside of the nest instead of the
inside. The action of the wind upon the willows had compressed the mud
bowl to a boat-shaped receptacle wherein lay five brown beauties,
unmistakable Magpies’ eggs. There was a copious lining of rootlets, and
a light half-cover of thorn twigs; but the whole structure was not over
a foot in diameter and scarcely that in depth.

  [Illustration: _Taken near Spokane._    _Photo by Fred S. Merrill._
                             YOUNG MAGPIE.]

Magpies, like Blue Jays, are discreetly quiet in nesting time, and
especially so if they have attempted to nest in the vicinity of a
farmhouse. When driven to the hills by persecution they accept any
shelter, and will nest in greasewood, sage-brush, or even on the ground.
Arbors of clematis (_clematis ligusticifolia_) offer occasional
concealment, but thornapples (_Cratægus columbianum_, etc.) afford the
safest retreat. A Magpie snugly ensconced in a thornapple fortress may
well bid defiance to any retributive agency short of man. Among several
scores of nests I never saw one in a pine tree in the Yakima country,
yet these are freely utilized in Chelan, Okanogan, and Spokane Counties.
Indeed, in these latter localities there is a suspicion of dawning
preference for the tree-tops and difficult climbs. On the Columbia River
I once found a family of Magpies occupying the basement of a huge
Osprey’s nest, and had reason to believe that the thrifty pies made
efficient, if unwelcome, janitors.

Young Magpies are unsightly when hatched,—“worse than naked,” and
repulsive to a degree equaled only by young Cormorants. Hideous as they
unquestionably are, the devoted parents declare them angels, and are
ready to back their opinions with most raucous vociferations. With the
possible exception of Herons, who are plebes anyhow, Magpies are the
most abusive and profane of birds. When a nest of young birds is
threatened, they not only express such reasonable anxiety as any parent
might feel, but they denounce, upbraid, anathematize, and vilify the
intruder, and decry his lineage from Adam down. They show the ingenuity
of Orientals in inventing opprobrious epithets, and when these run dry,
they fall to tearing at the leaves, the twigs, the branches, or even
light on the ground and rip up the soil with their beaks, in the mad
extremity of their rage.

A pair with whom I experimented near Wallula rather fell into the humor
of the thing. The Magpie is ever a wag, and these must have known that
repeated visits could mean no harm. Nevertheless, as often as I rattled
the nest from my favorite perch on the willow tree, the old pies opened
fresh vials of wrath and emptied their contents upon my devoted head.
When mere utterance became inadequate, the male bird fell to hewing at
the end of a broken branch in most eloquent indignation. He wore this
down four inches in the course of my three visits. Once, when my
attention was diverted, he took a sly crack at my outstretched fingers,
which were hastily withdrawn; and, believe me, we both laughed.

The Black-billed Magpie winters practically thruout its breeding range,
but it also indulges in irregular migratory movements, which in
Washington take the form of excursions to the coast. While never common
on Puget Sound, they are not unlikely to occur anywhere here in the fall
of the year, and are almost certain to be found somewhere about the
southern prairies. They return early in spring by way of the major
passes, and are not again seen within the heavily timbered areas during
the breeding season. Mr. D. E. Brown, then of Glacier, on the north fork
of the Nooksack River, records under date of March 4, 1905, the
appearance of several bands of Magpies passing eastward at a
considerable height, perhaps something between three and five thousand
feet. He says they were unrecognizable until glasses were trained on
them, and he thinks he must have seen at least fifty birds, with chances
for many more to have passed unobserved.

East or west the Magpie becomes a pensioner of the slaughter house in
winter, and his fondness for meat has often proved his undoing in the
cattle country. As a scavenger his services are not inconsiderable. The
only trouble is, as has been said, that he sometimes kills his own meat.

Volumes could be written of the Magpie as a pet. He is a brainy chap as
well as a wag, and infinitely more interesting than a stupid parrot.
Mischief is his special forte: the untying of shoe-strings, the
investigation of cavities, the secreting of spoons, and the aimless
abstraction of gold teeth are his unending delight. Once when the writer
was shelling seed peas in the garden, a spoiled “Jackity” assayed to
fill his (the man’s) ears with these innocent pellets; and when he
discovered a rent in the knee of the man’s trousers, he fairly chortled,
“Well; I see myself busy for a week filling _that_ hole!”

Cage life is irksome for bird or beast; but, if we must be amused, and,
above all, if we feel called upon to pass adverse judgment upon this
gifted bundle of contradictions, as he exists in a state of nature, let
our harshest sentence be sociable confinement with occasional freedom on
parole. A bird in the cage is worth two in the obituary columns.


                                 No. 8.
                            CALIFORNIA JAY.

  A. O. U. No. 481. Aphelocoma californica (Vigors).

  Description.—_Adults_: In general blue, changing to brownish gray on
  back (scapulars and interscapulars), whitening variously on
  underparts; crown, hind neck and sides of neck dull cobalt blue,
  nearly uniform; wings, tail, and upper tail-coverts dull azure blue;
  cheeks and auriculars cobalt blue and dusky; chin, throat, and chest,
  centrally, white, the last-named with admixture of blue in streaks,
  and passing into the clear blue of its sides; breast sordid gray,
  passing into dull white of remaining underparts; shorter under
  tail-coverts pure white, the longer ones tinged with pale blue; bill
  and feet black; iris brown. In _young birds_ the blue of adults is
  supplanted by mouse-gray on head and lower neck, rump, etc., save that
  crown is tinged with blue; the gray of back is of a deeper shade; the
  underparts are white, save for light brownish wash across breast and
  sides. Length of adult males 11.50-12.25; wing 5.00 (127); tail 5.60
  (143); bill 1.00 (25.4); tarsus 1.60 (41). Females slightly smaller.

  Recognition Marks.—Robin size; blue coloration without crest; whitish
  underparts.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: a bed of small twigs without mud and heavily lined
  with fine dead grass; 8 inches across outside by 3½ in depth—thus much
  smaller and lighter than that of the Steller Jay—placed at moderate
  elevation in tree or bush in thicket near water. _Eggs_: 3-6, usually
  4 or 5, deep green of varying shades, spotted with reddish browns. Av.
  size, 1.11 × .82 (28.2 × 20.8). _Season_: first week in May; one
  brood.

  General Range.—Pacific Coast district of United States, including
  eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada and the Cascade Range in Oregon,
  north to southwestern Washington.

  Range in Washington.—Of limited but regular occurrence along the banks
  of the Columbia west of the Cascades. Resident.

  Authorities.—[“California Jay,” Johnson Rep. Gov. W. T. 1884 (1885),
  22]. [Belding, Land Birds Pac. Dist. (1890) p. 111] _Aphelocoma
  californica_, Lawrence, Auk, July, 1892, p. 301.

  Specimens.—C.

Thru the western part of Oregon the breeding limits of the California
Jay do not extend as far north as the Columbia River. I have never known
of this species nesting about Portland, yet thirty miles south and
southwest it is not at all uncommon. Thru the Willamette Valley, one
meets this bird about as often as the Steller Jay. The habits of the two
jays are much the same, yet the birds are easily distinguished by their
dress, the California Jay having more resemblance to the Blue Jay of the
East in color but lacking the crest, while the Steller Jay has a dark
blue and blackish coat with the long crest.

  [Illustration: _Taken in Oregon._    _Photo by Finley and Bohlman._
                         YOUNG CALIFORNIA JAY.]

According to popular opinion, the California Jay is a bird of bad
reputation. Many people think he does nothing but go about wrecking the
homes of other birds and feasting on their eggs. This is not true, altho
occasionally a Jay will destroy the home of another bird. In Oregon I
have often seen this bird feeding on wheat about the edge of the fields
after the grain has been cut. Fruit, grain, grasshoppers and other
insects make up a large part of his food.

Several years ago I saw a small flock of California Jays along the
Columbia River in the dead of winter. During the nesting season the jay
is too quiet to show his real character. During the autumn and winter he
throws off all restraint, picks up a few mates and goes wandering about
from place to place in search of food. The bold and boisterous squawk of
the Blue Jay always comes to my ear as a welcome and fitting note to
relieve the cold quiet of the winter woods.

One day I was watching several English Sparrows that were feeding on the
ground under an oak when a pair of California Jays came flying thru the
trees. With a loud squawk one swooped down, with his wings and tail
spread and his feathers puffed out as much as possible, evidently
expecting to scare the sparrows. He dropped right in their midst with a
screech which plainly said, “Get out of here or I’ll eat you up alive!”
The bluff might have worked with any bird except an Englisher. The
Sparrows sputtered in contempt and were ready to fight but the Jay’s
attitude changed in a second. He took on an air of meekness and
unconcern and hopped off looking industriously in the grass for
something he had no idea of finding. I thought it a good touch of Jay
character.

                                                      William L. Finley.


                                 No. 9.
                             STELLER’S JAY.

  A. O. U. No. 478. Cyanocitta stelleri (Gmelin).

  Synonyms.—“BLue Jay.” “Jaybird.”

  Description.—_Adults_: Head and neck all around, and back, sooty
  black, touched with streaks of cerulean blue on forehead, and pale
  gray on chin and throat, this color passing insensibly into dull blue
  on breast and rump and richer blue on wings and tail; terminal portion
  of tail and wings crossed with fine black bars, sharply on secondaries
  and tertials, faintly or not at all on greater coverts. Bill and feet
  black; iris brown. _Young birds_ are more extensively sooty, and
  wing-bars are faint or wanting. Length of adults about 12.00; wing
  5.90 (150); tail 5.43 (138); bill 1.18 (30); tarsus 1.80 (46).

  Recognition Marks.—Robin size; harsh notes; blue and black coloration
  unmistakable.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: a bulky mass of fine twigs thickly plastered
  centrally with mud and lined with fine rootlets, placed 6-30 feet high
  in evergreen tree of thicket, or near edge of clearing. _Eggs_: 3-5,
  usually 4, pale bluish green, uniformly but moderately spotted with
  olive brown and pale rufous and with numerous “shell-markings” of
  lavender. Av. size, 1.23 × .90 (31.2 × 22.8). _Season_: April 20-May
  10; one brood.

  General Range.—North Pacific Coast district from Gray’s Harbor and
  Puget Sound north to Cook’s Inlet, except Prince of Wales Island and
  the Queen Charlotte group (where displaced by _C. s. carlottæ_).

  Range in Washington.—Entire western portion from summit of Cascades,
  shading into _C. s. carbonacea_ along north bank of the Columbia.
  Resident.

  Authorities.—? _Cyanura stelleri_ Swains., Orn. Com., Journ. Ac. Nat.
  Sci. Phila. VII. 1837, 193. _Cyanocitta stelleri_, Newberry, Rep. Pac.
  R. R. Surv. VI. pt. IV. 1857, p. 85. T. C&S. L¹: Rh. Ra. Kk. B. E.

  Specimens.—U. of W. Prov. E. B. BN.

Mischief and the “Blue Jay” are synonymous. Alert, restless, saucy,
inquisitive, and provoking, yet always interesting, this handsome
brigand keeps his human critics in a perpetual see-saw between wrath and
admiration. As a sprightly piece of Nature, the Steller Jay is an
unqualified success. As the hero-subject of a guessing contest he is
without a peer, for one never knows what he is doing until he has done
it, and none may predict what he will do next.

The pioneers are especially bitter against him, and they are unanimous
in accusing the bird of malicious destructiveness in the gardens, which
are dearer than the apple of the eye during the first years of
wilderness life. The birds will eat anything, and so, tiring of bugs and
slugs, are not averse to trying corn, cabbage leaves, or, best of all,
potatoes. They have observed the tedious operation of the gardener in
planting, and know precisely where the coveted tubers lie. Bright and
early the following morning they slip to the edge of the clearing, post
one of their number as lookout, then silently deploy upon their ghoulish
task. If they weary of potatoes, sprouting peas or corn will do. Or
perhaps there may be something interesting at the base of this young
tomato plant. And when the irate farmer appears upon the scene, the
marauders retire to the forest shrieking with laughter at the
discomfitted swain. Ay! there’s the rub! We may endure injury but not
insult. Bang! Bang!

As a connoisseur of birds’ eggs, too, the Steller Jay enjoys a bad
eminence. The sufferers in this case are chiefly the lesser song birds;
but no eggs whatever are exempt from his covetous glance, if left
unguarded. The Jay has become especially proficient in the discovery and
sacking of Bush-tits’ nests. Mr. D. E. Brown assures me that he has
found as high as fifteen nests of this bird in a single swamp, all
gutted by Jays. When it is remembered that these busy little workers
make one of the handsomest nests in the world, the shame of this piracy
gets upon the nerves. The investigation of Tits’ nests has something of
the fascination of the gaming table for the Jay, since he never knows
what the wonder pouches may contain, until he has ripped a hole in the
side and inserted his piratical beak.

The dense forests of Puget Sound are not so well patrolled by these
feathered grafters as are the forests of the East by the true Blue Jay
(_Cyanocitta cristata_). But then our bird has the advantage of denser
cover, and we do not know how often we have been scrutinized or
shadowed. Upon discovery the Steller Jay sets up a great outcry and
makes off thru the thickets shrieking lustily. A favorite method of
retreat is to flit up into the lower branches of a fir tree and, keeping
close to the trunk, to ascend the succeeding limbs as by a spiral
staircase. The bird, indeed, takes a childish delight in this mad
exercise, and no sooner does he quit one tree-top than he dashes down to
a neighboring tree to run another frenzied gamut.

Owls have abundant cover in western Washington, but should one of them
be startled by day, the Steller blue-coat is the first to note the
villain’s flight. The alarm is sounded and an animated pursuit begins.
When the Owl is brought to bay, the deafening objurgation of the Jays is
not the least indignity which he is made to suffer. The Jay, in fact,
seeks to make the world forget his own offenses by heaping obloquy upon
this blinking sinner.

The notes of the Steller Jay are harsh and expletive to a degree.
_Shaack, shaack, shaack_ is a common (and most exasperating) form; or,
by a little stretch of the imagination one may hear _jay, jay, jay_. A
mellow _klook, klook, klook_ sometimes varies the rasping imprecations
and serves to remind one that the Jay is cousin to the Crow. Other and
minor notes there are for the lesser and rarer emotions, and some of
these not unmusical. Very rarely the bird attempts song, and succeeds in
producing a medley which quite satisfies _her_ that he could if he
would.

_C. stelleri_, like _C. cristata_ again, is something of a mimic. The
notes of the Western Red-tail (_Buteo borealis calurus_) and other hawks
are reproduced with especial fidelity. For such an effort the Jay
conceals himself in the depths of a large-leafed maple or in a fir
thicket, and his sole object appears to be that of terrorizing the
neighboring song-birds. One such I heard holding forth from a shade tree
on the Asylum grounds at Steilacoom. Uncanny sounds are, of course, not
unknown here, but an exploratory pebble served to unmask the cheat, and
drove forth a very much chastened Blue Jay before a company of
applauding Juncoes.

It is well known that the gentleman burglar takes a conscientious pride
in the safety and welfare of his own home. Nothing shall molest _his_
dear ones. The Jay becomes secretive and silent as the time for
nest-building approaches. The nest is well concealed in a dense thicket
of fir saplings, or else set at various heights in the larger fir trees.
If one but looks at it before the complement of eggs is laid the
locality is deserted forthwith. If, however, the enterprise is
irretrievably launched, the birds take care not to be seen in the
vicinity of their nest until they are certain of its discovery, in which
case they call heaven and earth to witness that the man is a monster of
iniquity, and that he is plotting against the innocent.

In our experience, Steller’s Jay is not, as has been sometimes reported,
a bird of the mountains. To be sure, it may be found in the mountain
_valleys_, but if so it is practically confined to them. The bird, is,
however, ubiquitous thruout the lowlying countries of Puget Sound,
Gray’s Harbor, and adjacent regions, giving way only upon the south to
the dubious Grinnell Jay (_S. s. carbonacea_).


                                No. 10.
                            GRINNELL’S JAY.

  A. O. U. No. 478e. Cyanocitta stelleri carbonacea J. Grinnell.

  Synonyms.—“Blue Jay.” Coast Jay (A. O. U.).

  Description.—“Similar to _C. s. stelleri_, but paler thruout, and
  averaging slightly smaller; color of head very nearly as in _C. s.
  stelleri_, but averaging browner or more sooty, the forehead always
  conspicuously streaked with blue, and throat more extensively or
  uniformly pale grayish; back and foreneck much paler, slaty brown or
  brownish slate, instead of deep sooty; blue of rump, upper
  tail-coverts, and under parts of body light dull cerulean or verditer
  blue, advancing more over chest, where more abruptly defined against
  the sooty or brownish slate color of foreneck.” (Ridgway). Adult
  males: wing 6.10 (150.5); tail 5.51 (140); bill 1.15 (29.1); tarsus
  1.75 (44.5).

  General Range.—Pacific Coast district from Monterey county,
  California, north to Columbia River.

  Range in Washington.—Has only theoretical status in State, but
  specimens taken along north banks of Columbia would appear to belong
  here.

  Authorities.—? _Corvus stelleri_, Nuttall, Man. Orn. U. S. and Can. I.
  1832, 229 (“Columbia River”). ? Orn. Com. Journ. Ac. Nat. Sci. Phila.
  VII. 1837, 193. _C. s. frontalis_, R. H. Lawrence, Auk XVII. Oct.
  1892, p. 355 (Gray’s Harbor). _C. s. carbonacea_ Grinnell, Ridgway,
  Birds of No. and Mid. Am. Vol. III. p. 354 (footnote). L. Kb.

Ornithology is the furthest refined of the systematic sciences. So
zealous have been her devotees and so sagacious her high priests, that
no shade of difference in size, form or hue of a bird is allowed to pass
unnoticed, or its owner unnamed. It is unquestionably annoying to the
novice to be confronted with such subtleties, and the recognition of
subspecies in the vernacular names of our birds is of doubtful wisdom;
but the fashion is set and we will all be foolish together—so that none
may laugh.

The normal range of Grinnell’s Jay, as defined, extends northward to the
Columbia River; and since the district lying between the Columbia and
Puget Sound presents intergrades between _C. stelleri_ and _C. s.
carbonacea_, obviously, those Jays which inhabit the southern portion of
this debatable ground are better entitled to be called _carbonacea_ than
_stelleri_.


                                No. 11.
                           BLACK-HEADED JAY.

  A. O. U. No. 478c. Cyanocitta stelleri annectens (Baird).

  Synonyms.—“Blue Jay.” Pine Jay. Mountain Jay.

  Description.—_Adults_: Similar to _C. stelleri_, but marked with a
  small lengthened white spot over eye; streaks on forehead (when
  present) paler blue or whitish; streaks on chin and upper throat
  whiter and more distinct; blue areas slightly paler and rather more
  greenish in tone. Size indistinguishable.

  Recognition Marks.—As in _C. stelleri_. White spot over eye
  distinctive.

  Nesting.—As in _C. stelleri_.

  General Range.—Eastern British Columbia and the northern Rocky
  Mountains, south to Wahsatch Range in Utah, west to eastern slopes of
  Cascade Range in Washington and Oregon.

  Range in Washington.—Forests of eastern Washington, shading into
  typical _stelleri_ in Cascade Range. Nearly confined to pine timber.

  Authorities.—_Cyanocitta stelleri annectens_, Brewster, Bull. Nutt.
  Orn. Club, VII., 1882, 229. (C&S.)  D¹. D². J.

There is no such difference of plumage between _C. stelleri_ and _C. s.
annectens_ as is suggested by the name “Black-headed”; but in
endeavoring to mark eight shades of difference between tweedledum and
tweedledee within the limits of a single species, we are naturally
pretty hard put to it for appropriate names. _Annectens_ marks the
annexion, or welding together, of two branching lines in the _C.
stelleri_ group. It is the head of the wish-bone, whose divergent arms
run down the Sierras to Lower California and along the Rockies to
Guatemala respectively.

With a hypothetical center of distribution somewhere in southeastern
British Columbia, this subspecies inosculates with _stelleri_ in the
mountains of that province, and is roughly separated from the western
stock by the central ridge of the Cascades, in Washington.

Black-headed Jays in Washington are normally confined to the limits of
coniferous timber, being therefore most abundant in the northern
portion, in the Blue Mountains, and along the eastern slopes of the
Cascades. We have, however, like Bendire, discovered them on occasion
skulking in the willows along creek bottoms some twenty miles from pine
timber. On the other hand, they do not assert, with the Gray Jays and
Clark Crows, the right to range the mountain heights: but are quite
content to maintain their unholy inquisition amidst the groves and
thickets of the valley floors.

They are, perhaps, not so noisy as the Steller Jays, being less
confident of their cover; and their notes are rather more musical
(breath of pines is better than fog for the voice); but for the rest
they are the same vivacious, intrepid, resourceful mischief-makers as
their kin-folk everywhere.


                                No. 12.
                           WHITE-HEADED JAY.

  A. O. U. No. 484a. Perisoreus canadensis capitalis Ridgw.

  Synonyms.—Rocky Mountain Jay. “Canada” Jay. Whiskey Jack. Wisskachon.
  Camp Robber. Moose-bird. Meat Hawk. Meat-bird.

  Description.—_Adults_: General color plumbeous ash lightening below;
  whole head white save space about and behind eye connected with broad
  nuchal patch of slaty gray; wings and tail blackish overlaid with
  silver gray; tail tipped with white and wings more or less edged with
  the same. Bill and feet black; iris brown. _Young birds_ much darker
  and more uniform in coloration than adults—slaty gray to sooty slate
  with lighter crown and some whitish edging on underparts. Length
  12.00-13.00; wing 6.00 (152); tail 5.75 (145); bill .82 (21); tarsus
  1.38 (35).

  Recognition Marks.—Robin size; slaty gray coloration. White of head
  with its abruptly defined patch of slate on hind neck distinctive as
  compared with related species of the genus _Perisoreus_.

  Nesting.—Has not been reported for Washington but bird undoubtedly
  breeds in the Kalispell range. _Nest_: in coniferous tree, a large
  compacted mass of the softest and warmest substances,—twigs for a
  foundation, then grasses, abundant moss, plant-down and feathers.
  _Eggs_: 3-5, usually 4, grayish white, spotted and blotched with brown
  having a tinge of purplish. Av. size 1.15 × .85 (29.2 × 21.6).
  _Season_: Feb.-April; one brood.

  General Range.—Higher ranges of the Rocky Mountain district from
  British Columbia to Arizona.

  Range in Washington.—Mountains of northeastern corner of State and
  (probably) the Blue Mountains.

  Authorities.—[“White-headed Jay,” Johnson, Rep. Gov. W. T., 1884
  (1885) 22.] Ridgway, Birds of North and Middle America, Vol. III. p.
  371, (“Sinzoknoteen Depot, etc.”).

The casual observer, camping first on Calispell Peak in Stevens County,
and later on Mt. Stuart, in southern Chelan County, might fail to note
any difference in the soberly-dressed Jays, who are the self-appointed
overseers of camp economics. For while the birds of the two localities
really represent two species, the resemblance in general appearance and
behavior is so close as to be virtually negligible afield.

    [Illustration: _Taken near Spokane._    _Photo by W. H. Wright._
                           WHITE-HEADED JAY.]

Of this bird in Colorado, Mr. Frank M. Drew has observed[6]: “In autumn
when on his first tour of inspection around the house he hops along in a
curious sidelong manner, just like a school-girl in a slow hurry.
White-headed, grave, and sedate, he seems a very paragon of propriety,
and if you appear to be a suitable personage, he will be apt to give you
a bit of advice. Becoming confidential he sputters out a lot of nonsense
in a manner which causes you to think him a veritable ‘Whisky Jack’;
yet, whenever he is disposed, a more bland,
mind-his-own-business-appearing bird will be hard to find, as will also
be many small articles around camp after one of his visits, for his
whimsical brain has a great fancy for anything which may be valuable to
you, but perfectly useless to him.”


                                No. 13.
                              OREGON JAY.

  A. O. U. No. 485. Perisoreus obscurus (Ridgway).

  Synonyms.—Camp Robber. Meat Bird. Deer Hunter.

  Description.—_Adults_: In general upperparts deep brownish gray;
  underparts white tinged with brownish; forehead and nasal plumules
  most nearly clear white; chin, throat, cheeks, auriculars, and obscure
  band around neck white more or less tinged with brownish; crown and
  nape sooty brown, nearly black; feathers of back with white shafts
  more or less exposed; wings and tail drab gray, the former with
  whitish edging on middle and greater coverts and tertials. Bill and
  feet black; iris brown. _Young birds_ are nearly uniform sooty brown
  lightening below. Length 10.00-11.00; wing 5.30 (135); tail 5.00
  (127); bill .71 (18); tarsus 1.30 (33).

  Recognition Marks.—Robin size; brownish gray coloration, familiar,
  fearless ways. Not certainly distinguishable afield from the next
  form.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: a bulky compacted structure of twigs, plant-fibers
  and tree-moss with warm lining of fine mosses and feathers, placed
  well up in fir tree. _Eggs_: 4 or 5, light gray or pale greenish gray
  spotted with grayish brown and dull lavender. Av. size 1.04 × .79
  (26.4 × .20). _Season_: Feb.-April; one brood.

  General Range.—Pacific Coast district from Humboldt county,
  California, north to Vancouver Island. Imperfectly made out as regards
  following form.

  Range in Washington.—Probably the Olympic Mountains and irregularly
  thru the heavier forests of southwestern Washington.

  Authorities.—_P. canadensis_ Bonap., Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R. Surv. IX.
  pt. II. 1858, 591 part. Ridgway, Bull. Essex Inst. V. Nov. 1873, 194.
  (T) C&S. L¹. Rh. Ra. B. E(?).

  Specimens.—U. of W. Prov. E. C.

The relative distribution of the Oregon Jay and the more recently
distinguished Gray Jay is still very imperfectly understood. It would
appear probable that this form is the bird of the rainy district,
including all lowlands of western Washington, the Olympic Mountains, and
the western slopes of the Cascades, and that it gives place to _P. o.
griseus_ not only upon the heights and eastern slopes of the Cascades,
but in the deep valleys which penetrate these mountains from the west.

Certainly it is the Oregon Jay which abounds in the Olympic Mountains,
and among the dense spruce forests of the adjoining coasts. While the
bird is more abundant on the lowlands in winter, the prevalent opinion
that the Oregon Jay is exclusively a bird of the mountains is probably
incorrect. Altho bold enough where undisturbed, the birds soon learn
caution; and their nests have been found near Renton where their
presence during the breeding season would otherwise have gone
unsuspected. The depths of the forest have no terrors for this quiet
ghost, and there are other reasons besides color why he remains _the
obscure one_.


                                No. 14.
                               GRAY JAY.

  A. O. U. No. 485a. Perisoreus obscurus griseus Ridgw.

  Synonyms.—Camp Robber, etc.

  Description.—“Similar to _P. o. obscurus_, but decidedly larger
  (except feet), and coloration much grayer; back, etc., deep mouse
  gray, instead of brown, remiges and tail between gray (No. 6) and
  smoke gray, instead of drab gray, and under parts grayish white
  instead of brownish white.” (Ridgway). Length (Av. of three Glacier
  specimens) 11.16 (283.5); wing 5.82 (147.6); tail 5.48 (139.1); bill
  .75 (19); tarsus 1.25 (31.7).

  General Range.—Central mountain ranges of central California, Oregon,
  Washington, and British Columbia.

  Range in Washington.—Thruout the Cascade Mountains and irregularly
  along their lower slopes west (?) to tidewater.

  Authorities.—? _P. canadensis_ Bonap., Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R. Surv.,
  Vol. IX, pt. II, 1858, p. 591 (Cascade Mts. W. T.). Ridgway, Auk, Vol.
  XVI., July, 1899, 225. Kk. ?

The “Camp-Robber” appears promptly as interested neighbor and
smell-feast before all who invade the precincts of the mountains. The
hunter, the trapper, the prospector, the timber cruiser, the mere
camper-out, all know him, and they speak well or ill of him according to
their kind. The Gray Jay appears to have forsworn the craftiness of his
race, and he wins by an exhibition of artless simplicity, rather than by
wiles. The bird is mildly curious and hungry—oh, very hungry—but this is
Arcadia, and the shepherds draw nigh with never a doubt of their
welcome. There is a childlike insouciance about the way in which the
bird annexes a piece of frizzled bacon, humbly intended for the man.
“’Shoo,’ did you say? Why, what do you mean? Can’t I have it?” And the
bird retires before a flying chip, baffled and injured by such a
manifest token of ill-breeding. He complains mildly to his fellows. They
discuss the question in gentle _whews_; generously conclude you didn’t
mean it, and return unabashed to the quest.

Hunger is the chief characteristic of these docile birds, and no
potential food is refused, nuts, acorns, insects, berries, or even, as a
last resort, the buds of trees. Meat of any sort has an especial
attraction to them; and they are the despair of the trapper because of
their propensity for stealing bait. The hunter knows them for arch
sycophants, and he is occasionally able to trace a wounded deer, or to
locate a carcass by the movements of these expectant heirs. Says Mr. A.
W. Anthony[7]: “While dressing deer in the thick timber I have been
almost covered with Jays flying down from the neighboring trees. They
would settle on my back, head, or shoulders, tugging and pulling at each
loose shred of my coat until one would think that their only object was
to help me in all ways possible.”

In the higher latitudes “Whisky Jack,” in spite of carefully secreted
stores, often becomes very emaciated in winter, a mere bunch of bones
and feathers, no heavier than a Redpoll. While the jays of our kindlier
clime do not feel so keenly the belly pinch of winter, they have the
same thrifty habits as their northern kinfolk. Food is never refused,
and a well-stuffed specimen will still carry grub from camp and secrete
it in bark-crevice or hollow, against the unknown hour of need.

  [Illustration: _Taken in Rainier National Park._    _Photo by J. H.
                                Bowles._
                           A BACHELOR’S PET.]

I have never heard the Gray Jay titter more than a soft cooing _whee ew_
repeated at random; but Bendire credits it with a near approach to
song[8]; and Mrs. Bailey says of the Jays on Mt. Hood[9]: “Their notes
were pleasantly varied. One call was remarkably like the chirp of a
robin. Another of the commonest was a weak and rather complaining cry
repeated several times. A sharply contrasting one was a pure clear
whistle of one note followed by a three-syllabled call something like
_Ka-wé-ah_. The regular rallying cry was still different, a loud and
striking two-syllabled _ka-whee_.”

The eggs of the Gray Jay have not yet been reported from this State, but
it is known that the bird builds a very substantial nest of twigs,
grasses, plant fibre, and mosses without mud, and that it provides a
heavy lining of soft gray mosses for the eggs. The nest is usually well
concealed in a fir tree, and may be placed at any height from ten or
fifteen feet upward, altho usually at sixty or eighty feet. Only one
brood is reared in a season, and family groups hunt together until late
in the summer.



                        _Icteridæ_—The Troupials


                                No. 15.
                                COWBIRD.

  A. O. U. No. 495. Molothrus ater (Bodd.).

  Synonyms.—Cow Blackbird. Cuckold.

  Description.—_Adult male_: Head and neck wood-, seal-, or coffee-brown
  (variable); remaining plumage black with metallic greenish or bluish
  iridescence. _Female_: Dark grayish brown, showing slight greenish
  reflections, darkest on wings and tail, lightening on breast and
  throat. _Young in first plumage_: Like female but lighter below and
  more or less streaky; above somewhat mottled by buffy edgings of
  feathers. The young males present a striking appearance when they are
  assuming the adult black, on the installment plan, by chunks and
  blotches. Length 7.50-8.00 (190.5-203.2); wing 4.40 (111.8); tail
  3.00-3.40 (76.2-86.4); bill .65 (16.5); tarsus .95-1.10 (24.1-27.9).
  Female, length, wing, and tail one-half inch less.

  Recognition Marks.—Chewink size; brown head and black body of male;
  brown of female.

  Nesting.—The Cowbird invariably deposits her eggs in the nests of
  other birds. _Eggs_: 1 or 2, rarely 3 or 4, with a single hostess,
  white, often faintly tinged with bluish or greenish, evenly speckled
  with cinnamon, brown or umber. Av. size, .85 × .65 (21.6 × 16.5), but
  quite variable. _Season_: April-June.

  General Range.—United States from the Atlantic to the Pacific, north
  into southern British America, south in winter, into Mexico.

  Range in Washington.—Of limited but regular occurrence east of the
  Cascades, increasing; rare or casual in western Washington. Summer
  resident.

  Authorities.—Bendire, Life Histories of N. A. Birds, Vol. II., p. 434.
  D¹. D². Ss². J. B. E.

  Specimens.—C. P.

While I was chatting with my host at milking time (at the head of Lake
Chelan in the ante-tourist days), a dun-colored bird with light
underparts flew down into the corral, and began foraging as tho to the
manor born. One by one the cows sniffed at the stranger and nosed it
about, following it up curiously. But the bird only side-stepped or
walked unconcernedly ahead. When I returned with the gun, a moment
later, I found a calf investigating the newcomer, and it was difficult
to separate the creature from bossikin’s nose. The date was August 3rd;
the bird proved to be a young male Cowbird in the lightest juvenile
phase of plumage, a waif cuckold far from any of his kin, but shifting
for himself with the nonchalance which characterizes his worthless kind.

If our hero had lived (and I make no apology for his demise in the first
act), he would have exchanged his inconspicuous livery for the rich,
iridescent black of the adult; and he would have done this on the
installment plan, by chunks and blotches, looking the while like a
ragpicker, tricked out in cast-off finery.

In the month of March Cowbirds mingle more or less with other blackbirds
in the migrations, but if the main flock halts for refreshments and
discussion _en route_, a group of these rowdies will hunt up some
disreputable female of their own kind, and make tipsy and insulting
advances to her along some horizontal limb or fence rail. Taking a
position about a foot away from the coy drab, the male will make two or
three accelerating hops toward her, then stop suddenly, allowing the
impulse of motion to tilt him violently forward and throw his tail up
perpendicularly, while at the same moment he spews out the disgusting
notes which voice his passion.

Of the mating, Chapman says: “They build no nest, and the females,
lacking every moral instinct, leave their companions only long enough to
deposit their eggs in the nests of other and smaller birds. I can
imagine no sight more strongly suggestive of a thoroly despicable nature
than a female Cowbird sneaking thru the trees and bushes in search of a
victim upon whom to shift the duties of motherhood.”

The egg, thus surreptitiously placed in another bird’s nest, usually
hatches two or three days before those of the foster mother, and the
infant Cowbird thus gains an advantage which he is not slow to improve.
His loud clamoring for food often drives the old birds to abandon the
task of incubation; or if the other eggs are allowed to remain until
hatched, the uncouth stranger manages to usurp attention and food
supplies, and not infrequently to override or stifle the other occupants
of the nest, so that their dead bodies are by-and-by removed to make
room for his hogship. It is asserted by some that in the absence of the
foster parents the young thug forcibly ejects the rightful heirs from
the nest, after the fashion of the Old World Cuckoos. I once found a
nest which contained only a lusty Cowbird, while three proper
fledgelings clung to the shrubbery below, and one lay dead upon the
ground.

When the misplaced tenderness of foster parents has done its utmost for
the young upstart, he joins himself to some precious crew of his own
blood, and the cycle of a changeling is complete.

While not common anywhere west of the Rockies, the Cowbird is no longer
rare east of the Cascades, and it is making its appearance at various
points on Puget Sound. The earlier writers make no mention of its
occurrence in Washington, and it seems probable that its presence has
followed tardily upon the introduction of cattle. Bendire was the first
to report it from this State, having taken an egg near Palouse Falls on
June 18, 1878, from a nest of the Slate-colored Sparrow (_Passerella
iliaca schistacea_).

Its presence among us is, doubtless, often overlooked because of the
superficial resemblance which it bears in note and appearance to
Brewer’s Blackbird (_Euphagus cyanocephalus_). The note of the former is
distinctive,—a shrill, hissing squeak in two tones with an interval of a
descending third, uttered with great effort and apparent
nausea—honestly, a disgusting sound.


                                No. 16.
                          BREWER’S BLACKBIRD.

  A. O. U. No. 510. Euphagus cyanocephalus (Wagler).

  Description.—_Adult male_: Glossy black with steel blue and violet
  reflections on head, with fainter greenish or bronzy reflections
  elsewhere; bill and feet black; iris pale lemon yellow or light cream.
  _Adult female_: Head and neck all around deep brownish gray with
  violet reflections; underparts brownish slate to blackish with faint
  greenish iridescence; upperparts blackish, or outright black on wings
  and tail, which are glossed with bluish-green; bill and feet as in
  male, but iris brown. _Immature males in first winter plumage_
  resemble adults but have some edging of pale grayish brown. Length of
  adult males: 10.00 (254); wing 5.00 (128); tail 3.90 (99); bill .89
  (22.6); tarsus 1.27 (32.3). Adult female: length 9.25 (235); wing 4.60
  (117); tail 3.50 (89); bill .79 (20); tarsus 1.20 (30.5).

  Recognition Marks.—Robin size; pure black coloration and whitish eye
  of male. Larger than Cowbird (_Molothrus ater_) with which alone it is
  likely to be confused.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: placed at moderate height in bush clump or thicket,
  less frequently on ground at base of bush, more rarely in cranny of
  cliff or cavity of decayed tree-trunk, a sturdy, tidy structure of
  interlaced grasses, strengthened by a matrix of mud or dried cow-dung
  and carefully lined with coiled rootlets or horsehair. Nests in
  straggling colonies. _Eggs_: 4-7, usually 5 or 6, presenting two
  divergent types of coloration with endless variations and intermediate
  phases. _Light type_: ground color light gray or greenish gray,
  spotted and blotched with brown of varying shades, walnut, russet, and
  sepia. (In some examples there is purplish brown scrawling, which
  suggests the Redwing type. One egg in the writer’s collection is
  indistinguishable from that of a Cowbird, save for size.) _Dark type_:
  ground color completely obscured by overlay of fine brown dots
  resulting in nearly uniform shade of mummy brown or Vandyke brown. Av.
  size 1.03 × .72 (26.2 × 18.3). _Season_: April 20-May 10; one or two
  broods.

  General Range.—Western North America from the plains to the Pacific,
  and from the Saskatchewan region south to the highlands of Mexico to
  Oaxaca.

  Range in Washington.—Of general distribution thruout the State but
  found chiefly in more open situations in vicinity of streams and ponds
  and in cultivated sections. Normally migratory but increasingly
  resident especially on West-side.

  Authorities.—[Lewis and Clark, Hist. Ex. (1814) Ed. Biddle: Coues,
  Vol. II. p. 185.] _Scolecophagus mexicanus_, Newberry, Rep. Pac. R. R.
  Surv. VI. pt. IV. 1857, p. 86. (T) C&S. L¹. Rh. D¹. Ra. D². Ss¹. Ss².
  Kk. J. B. E.

  Specimens.—U. of W. Prov. B. E. P.

“Blackbirds” are not usually highly esteemed in the East, where the
memory of devastated cornfields keeps the wrath of the farmer warm; but
if all species were as inoffensive as this confiding pensioner of the
West, prejudice would soon vanish. He is a handsome fellow, our
Washington grackle, sleek, vivacious, interesting, and serviceable
withal. We know him best, perhaps, as an industrious gleaner of
pastures, corrals, streets, and “made” lands. He is not only the
farmer’s “hired man,” waging increasing warfare against insect life,
especially in its noxious larval forms, but he has an accepted place in
the economy of city and village as well.

  [Illustration: _Taken in Douglas County._    _Photo by the Author._
                         BREWER’S BLACKBIRDS.]

As one approaches a feeding flock, he notes the eagerness with which the
birds run forward, or rise and flit past their fellows, now diving at a
nimble weevil, now leaping to catch a passing bug, but always pushing on
until one perceives a curious rolling effect in the total movement.

As we draw near, some timid individual takes alarm, and instantly all
are up, to alight again upon the fence or shrubbery where they clack and
whistle, not so much by way of apprehension as thru sheer exuberance of
nervous force. As we pass (we must not stop short, for they resent
express attention) we note the droll white eyes of the males, as they
twist and perk and chirp in friendly impudence; and the snuffy brown
heads of the females with their soft hazel irides, as they give a
motherly fluff of the feathers, or yawn with impatience over the
interrupted meal. When we are fairly by, the most venturesome dives from
his perch, and the rest follow by twos and tens, till the ground is
again covered by a shifting, chattering band.

Like all Blackbirds, the Brewers are gregarious; but they are somewhat
more independent than most, flocks of one or two score being more
frequent than those of a hundred. During migrations and in autumnal
flocking they associate more or less with Redwings; but, altho they are
devoted to the vicinity of water, they care nothing for the fastnesses
of reed and rush, which are the delight of Redwing and Yellowhead. Their
preference is for more open situations, so that they are most abundant
upon the East-side. Here a typical breeding haunt is a strip of willows
fringing a swamp; or, better still, a line of dark green thorn-bushes
clinging to the bank of the rolling Columbia.

Altho isolated nests may now and then be found, colonies are the rule;
and I have found as high as forty nests in a single patch of greenery.
There is room, of course, for individual choice of nesting sites, but
the community choice is the more striking. Thus, one recalls the
greasewood nesting, the rose-briar nesting, the thorn-bush nesting,
where all the members of the colony conformed to the locally established
rule in nest position. Mr. Bowles records the most remarkable instance
of this: One season the nests of the South Tacoma colony were all placed
in small bushes, the highest not over four feet from the ground; but in
the season following the birds were all found nesting in cavities near
the top of some giant fir stubs, none of them less than 150 feet from
the ground. On the other hand, in the Usk nesting of 1906, on the placid
banks of the Pend d’Oreille, one pair had recessed its nest in a stump
at a height of eighteen feet, while three other pairs had sunk theirs
into the ground at the base of bushes.

In construction the nest of the Brewer Blackbird varies considerably,
but at its best it is quite a handsome affair. Composed externally of
twigs, weed-stalks, and grasses, its characteristic feature is an
interior mould, or matrix, of dried cow-dung or mud, which gives form
and stability to the whole. The lining almost invariably includes fine
brown rootlets, but horsehair is also welcomed wherever available.

The eggs of Brewer’s Blackbird are the admiration of oölogists. Ranging
in color from clear greenish gray with scattered markings thru denser
patterns to nearly uniform umber and chocolate, they are the natural
favorites of “series” hunters. The range of variation is, indeed,
curious, but it proves to be entirely individual and casual without
trace of local or constant differences. Eggs from the same nest are
usually uniform in coloration, but even here there is notable diversity.
In some instances, after three or four eggs are laid, the pigment gives
out, and the remainder of the set is lighter colored. Again, single eggs
are heavily pigmented half way, and finished with a clear green
ground-color.

Fresh eggs may be taken in the Yakima country during the last week in
April, and in one case noted, deposition began on April 14th; but May
1st-15th is the usual rule there and elsewhere. Five eggs is the common
set, but six to a clutch is not rare. Of twenty-eight nests examined in
Yakima County, May 4, 1906, eleven contained six eggs each; while, of
something over two hundred seen altogether, two nests contained seven
each.

  [Illustration: _Taken in Stevens County._    _Photo by the Author._
                   GROUND NEST OF BREWER BLACKBIRD.]

It is in his notes that the Brewer Blackbird betrays his affinities best
of all. The melodiously squeaking chatter of mating time is, of course,
most like that of the Rusty Blackbird (_S. carolinus_), but it lacks the
bubbling character. He has then the swelling note of the Grackles
proper, _fff-weet_, the latter part rendered with something of a trill,
the former merely as an aspirate; and the whole accompanied by expansion
of body, slight lifting of wings, and partial spreading of tail. This
note is uttered not only during the courting season, but on the occasion
of excitement of any kind. _Kooreé_ has a fine metallic quality which
promptly links it to the _Keyring_ note of the Redwing. _Chup_ is the
ordinary note of distrust and alarm, or of stern inquiry, as when the
bird-man is caught fingering the forbidden ovals. A harsh low rattle, or
rolling note, is also used when the birds are squabbling among
themselves, or fighting for position.

Unquestionably this species has gradually extended its range within the
borders of the State, for the earlier investigators did not regard it as
resident on Puget Sound. It has profited greatly and deservedly by the
spread of settlement everywhere, and this is especially true of the more
open situations. Not a little it owes, also, to the introduction of
cattle; for it is as great a rustler about corrals and stamping grounds
as its renegade cousin, the Cowbird.


                                No. 17.
                           BULLOCK’S ORIOLE.

  A. O. U. No. 508. Icterus bullockii (Swainson).

  Description.—_Adult male_: Black, white, and orange; bill, lore, a
  line thru eye, and throat (narrowly) jet black; pileum, back,
  scapulars, lesser wing-coverts, primary coverts, and tertials chiefly
  black, or with a little yellowish skirting; remiges black edged with
  white; middle and greater coverts continuous with edging of tertials
  and secondaries, white, forming a large patch; tail chiefly yellow but
  central pair of rectrices black terminally, and remaining pairs tipped
  with blackish; remaining plumage, including supraloral areas
  continuous with superciliaries, orange yellow, most intense on sides
  of throat and chest, shading thru cadmium on breast to chrome on rump,
  tail-coverts, etc. In _young adults_ the orange is less intense and,
  encroaches upon the black of forehead, hind-neck, etc., altho the tail
  is more extensively black. _Adult female_: Above drab-gray, clearest
  on rump and upper tail-coverts; wings fuscous with whitish edging;
  pattern of white in coverts of male retained but much reduced in area;
  tail nearly uniform dusky chrome; underparts in general sordid white;
  chin and lores white; forehead, superciliary, (indistinct), cheeks,
  hind-neck and chest more or less tinged with chrome yellow. _Young
  males_ resemble the female but soon gain in intensity of yellow on the
  foreparts, gradually acquiring adult black along median line of throat
  and in streaks on pileum. Length of adult male about 8.25 (209.5);
  wing 3.89 (99); tail 3.07 (78); bill .73 (18.5); tarsus .98 (25).
  Female a little smaller.

  Recognition Marks.—Chewink size; black, white, and orange of male
  distinctive; slender blackish bill of female strongly contrasting with
  the heavy light-colored bill of female Western Tanager with which
  alone it is likely to be confused by the novice. General coloration of
  female ashy or drab rather than olivaceous, yellow of tail contrasting
  with whitish or light drab of tail-coverts.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: a pouch of cunningly interwoven grasses, vegetable
  fibers, string, etc., 5 to 9 inches deep and lashed by brim to
  branches of deciduous tree. _Eggs_: usually 5, smoky white as to
  ground color, sometimes tinged with pale blue, more rarely with faint
  claret, spotted, streaked and elaborately scrawled with purplish black
  or dark sepia, chiefly about larger end. Elongate ovate; av. size .94
  × .63 (23.9 × 16). _Season_: May 20-June 15; one brood.

  General Range.—Western United States, southern British Provinces and
  plateau of Mexico; breeding north to southern British Columbia,
  Alberta and southern Assiniboia east to eastern border of Great Plains
  in South Dakota, Nebraska, etc., south to northern Mexico; in winter
  south to central Mexico.

  Range in Washington.—Regular summer resident in eastern Washington
  thruout settled sections and along water courses; rare or casual west
  of Cascades.

  Migrations.—_Spring_: Yakima County, May 2, 1900; Moses Lake, May 15,
  1906; Chelan, May 21, 1896.

  Authorities.—_Icterus bullockii_ Bon., Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R. Surv.
  IX. pt. II. 1858, p. 550. T. C&S. D¹. D². Ss¹. Ss². J. B.

  Specimens.—(U. of W.) Prov. C. P¹.

Bird of sunshine and good cheer, springtime’s ripest offering and emblem
of summer achieved, is this happy-hearted creature who flits about the
orchards and timber cultures of eastern Washington. The willows of the
brook, the cottonwoods and the quaking asps, were his necessary home
until the hand of the pioneer made ready the locust, the maple and the
Lombardy poplars, which are now his favorite abiding places. And so, for
many years, the droning of bees, the heavy-scented breath of the acacia,
and the high, clear whistling of the Oriole have been associated
memories.

                   [Illustration: BULLOCK’S ORIOLE.]

A little less dandified than his eastern cousin, the lordly Bird of
Baltimore, the Bullock Oriole fulfills much the same economy in habit,
song, and nesting as that well-known bird. He is, if anything, a little
less musical, also, and not so conspicuous.

The males arrive a week or two in advance of their mates, and appear
quite ill at ease until joined by their shy companions. Marriage
compacts have to be settled at the beginning of the season, but rivalry
is chiefly between the under-colored young blades who must make their
peace with the sweet girl graduates of the previous year. Orioles are
very closely attached to a suitable locality, once chosen, and a group
of nests in a single tree presenting successive annual stages of
preservation, is fairly eloquent of conjugal fidelity.

   [Illustration: _Taken near Spokane._    _Photo by F. S. Merrill._
                        FEMALE BULLOCK ORIOLE.]

The purse-shaped nest of the Bullock Oriole is a marvel of industry and
skill, fully equal in these respects to that of the Baltimore Bird. A
specimen before me, from a small willow on Crab Creek, in Lincoln
County, taken just after its completion, is composed entirely of
vegetable fibers, the frayed inner bark of dead willows being chiefly in
evidence, while plant-downs of willow, poplar, and clematis are felted
into the interstices of the lower portion. This pouch is lashed at the
brim by a hundred tiny cables to the sustaining twigs, and hangs to a
depth of six inches, with a mean diameter of nearly three, yet so
delicate are the materials and so fine the workmanship, that the whole
structure weighs less than half an ounce.

A more bulky, loose-meshed affair, taken at Brook Lake No. 4, in Douglas
County, has a maximum depth of nine inches outside, a mean depth of six
and a half inches inside, and a greater diameter of five inches.

Near farm houses or in town the birds soon learn the value of string,
thread, frayed rope, and other waste materials, and nests are made
entirely of these less romantic substances. Occasionally a bird becomes
entangled in the coils of a refractory piece of string or horse-hair,
and tragedies of Orioles hanged at their own doorstep are of record.

The eggs of this species, four to six in number, are usually of a pale
smoky gray color, and upon this ground appear curious and intricate
scrawlings of purplish black, as tho made by a fine pen, held unsteadily
while the egg was twirled. The purpose of this bizarre ornamentation, if
indeed it has any, may be thought to appear where scanty coils of black
horse-hair in the lining of the nest show up in high relief against the
normal white background of vegetable felt. I can testify that under
these circumstances the eggs are sometimes indistinguishable at first
glance from their surroundings.

  [Illustration: _Taken in Douglas County._    _Photo by the Author._
                  NESTING SITE OF THE BULLOCK ORIOLE.]

The value of the pouch-shaped nest is less clear than in the case of the
Baltimore Oriole, whose home is the pendant branch of the elm tree; for
the nest of the Bullock Oriole is often attached to stocky branches,
pines even, which yield little in the wind. Nor is there any such
obvious attempt in the case of this bird to escape enemies by placing
the eggs out of reach. The Magpie would search Sheol for a maggot, and
any effort to best him would bankrupt the longest purse.

                     [Illustration: BULLOCK ORIOLES
                      MALE AND FEMALE, ½ LIFE SIZE
              From a Water-color Painting by Allan Brooks]

Tired of the confinement of the nest, the ambitious fledgelings clamber
up the sides and perch upon the brim. From this less secure position
they are not infrequently dislodged before they are quite ready to face
the world. Some years ago a friend of mine, Mr. Chas. W. Robinson, of
Chelan, secured a fledgeling Oriole which he rescued from the water of
the lake where it had evidently just fallen from an overhanging nest.
When taken home it proved a ready pet, and was given the freedom of the
place. Some two weeks later my friend rescued a nestling from another
brood under precisely similar circumstances, and put it in a cage with
the older bird. The newcomer had not yet learned to feed himself, but
only opened his mouth and called with childish insistence. Judge of the
owner’s delight, and mine as a witness, when the older bird, himself
little more than a fledgeling, began to feed the orphan with all the
tender solicitude of a parent. It was irresistibly cunning and heartsome
too, for the bird to select with thoughtful, brotherly kindness, a
morsel of food, and hop over toward the clamoring stranger and drop it
into his mouth; after this to stand back as if to say, “There, baby! how
did you like that?” This trait was not shown by a chance exhibition
alone, but became a regular habit, which was still followed when the
older bird had attained to fly-catching. It upset all one’s notions
about instinct, and made one think of a golden rule for birds.


                                No. 18.
                    CALIFORNIAN BICOLORED BLACKBIRD.

  A. O. U. No. 499. Agelaius gubernator californicus Nelson.

  Description.—_Adult male_: “Uniform deep black, with a faint bluish
  green gloss in certain lights; lesser wing-coverts rich poppy red or
  vermilion; middle coverts black, or (if not entirely black) at least
  broadly tipped with black, the basal portion tawny buff or ochraceous;
  bill, legs, and feet black; iris brown” (Ridgway). _Adult female in
  breeding plumage_: Dark sooty brown more or less streaked on crown and
  back; chin and throat whitish or pinkish buff streaked with brown;
  faint superciliary stripe composed of narrow whitish streaks on sooty
  ground. _Adult female in winter_: Feathers more or less edged with
  rusty. _Immature male_: Lesser wing-coverts partly black, the
  remaining red not clear, ochraceous-rufous or orange-tawny. Length of
  adult male: (skins) 8.62 (219); wing 5.78 (136.9); tail 3.67 (93.2);
  bill .84 (21.3); tarsus 1.28 (32.5). Adult female 6.93 (176); wing
  4.27 (108.5); tail 2.82 (71.6); bill .72 (18.3); tarsus 1.10 (27.9).

  Recognition Marks.—Like Redwing Blackbird but epaulets pure red
  without exposed buff.

  Nesting.—_Nest_ and _Eggs_ like those of the Northwestern Red-wing.
  Said to be less prolific.

  General Range.—Central and northern coast districts of California
  north to Washington; straggles irregularly eastward and southward in
  California in winter.

  Range in Washington.—Recorded breeding at Cape Disappointment and may
  possibly extend north to Gray’s Harbor.

  Authorities.—_Agelaius gubernator_ Bonaparte, Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R.
  Surv. IX. 1858, p. 530 (Columbia River by J. K. Townsend). Allen, B.
  N. O. C. VI. p. 128. R. H. Lawrence, Auk IX. 1892, 45. Kobbé.

We accept this bird as a resident of this State chiefly on the testimony
of William H. Kobbé, who listed it[10] as a breeding bird of Cape
Disappointment. He found it closely associated with the Northwestern
Red-wing (_A. phœniceus caurinus_) altho the latter frequently pursued
it in the attempt to expel it from the small swamp which both were
compelled to occupy. This probably represents the northernmost extension
of this species, the Gray’s Harbor record of Mr. Lawrence[11] being at
least open to question in the matter of identification.

The habits of the Bicolored Blackbird do not differ in any known
particular from those of the familiar Red-wing, of which it is a
discontinuous offshoot.


                                No. 19.
                          COLUMBIAN RED-WING.

  A. O. U. No. 498. Agelaius phœniceus neutralis Ridgway.

  Synonyms.—San Diego Red-wing. Interior Red-wing. Red-winged Blackbird.
  Red-shouldered Blackbird. Swamp Blackbird.

  Description.—_Adult male in summer_: Glossy black; lesser wing-coverts
  bright red (poppy-red, vermilion or scarlet); middle coverts buffy or
  ochraceous-buff—the two forming thus a conspicuous epaulet, or
  shoulder patch. Bill, legs, and feet horn black; irides brown. _Adult
  male in winter_: Middle wing-coverts more deeply buffy; scapulars and
  feathers of black more or less edged with rusty. In _immature males_
  the black of the plumage is more or less extensively margined with
  rusty-buffy or whitish; the wing-coverts have an admixture of black
  and the “red” of the lesser coverts is of a sickly hue (orange-tawny,
  etc.). _Adult female in summer_: Brownish gray, everywhere mottled and
  streaked, or striped, with dusky, finely on chin, cheeks, and
  superciliaries, where also more or less rubescent, heavily below, less
  distinctly above; lesser coverts brownish-gray or dull red; middle
  coverts black edged with buffy. Bill dusky lightening below; feet and
  legs dusky. _Adult female in winter_: Plumage of upperparts more or
  less margined with rusty or ochraceous; sides of head and underparts
  tinged with buffy. Length of adult males (skins): 8.39 (213.1); wing
  4.84 (122.9); tail 3.57 (90.7); bill .90 (23.1); tarsus 1.19 (30.2).
  Adult females (skins): 7.11 (181.9); wing 3.98 (101.3); tail 2.85
  (72.4); bill .77 (19.6); tarsus 1.06 (26.9).

  Recognition Marks.—Chewink to Robin size; bright red epaulets of male;
  general streakiness of female. Female lighter-colored and not so
  heavily streaked as in _A. p. caurinus_.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: a neatly woven but rather bulky basket of grasses,
  cat-tail leaves or hemp, usually lashed to upright stalks of cat-tail,
  occasionally on bushes, as willow and the like; lining of fine grasses
  of uniform size. _Eggs_: 4-7, usually 4, light blue to dull grayish
  blue, scrawled, blotched or clouded with dark purple, purplish brown
  or black, chiefly about the large end. Av. size 1.04 × .70 (26.4 ×
  17.8). _Season_: last week in April, June; two broods.

  General Range.—Western United States in the interior north to eastern
  British Columbia, restricted by Rocky Mountains and Cascades in
  northern portion of range but reaching coast in San Diego and Los
  Angeles Counties in California and breeding as far east as western
  Texas, southward to northern Chihuahua and northern Lower California;
  displaced in Lower Colorado Valley and southern Arizona by _A. p.
  sonoriensis_; south in winter to southern Texas, etc.

  Range in Washington.—Found in all suitable localities east of the
  Cascades.

  Migrations.—Irregularly resident but numbers always greatly augmented
  about March 1st.

  Authorities.—_Agelaius phœniceus_ Vieil., Cooper and Suckley, Rep.
  Pac. R. R. Surv. XII. pt. II. 1860, 207. Allen, Bull. Nutt. Orn. Club,
  VI. 1881, 128. D¹. D². Ss¹. Ss². J.

  Specimens.—U. of W. C. P.

A meadowlark may pipe from a sunny pasture slope in early February, and
a Merrill Song Sparrow may rehearse his cheerful message in midwinter,
but it takes the chorus of returning Blackbirds to bring boisterous
tidings of awakening spring. What a world of jubilation there is in
their voluble whistlings and chirpings and gurglings, a wild medley of
March which strikes terror to the faltering heart of winter. A sudden
hush falls upon the company as the bird-man draws near the tree in which
they are swarming; but a dusky maiden pouts, “Who cares?” and they all
fall to again, hammer and tongs, timbrel, pipes, and hautboy. Brewer’s
Blackbirds and Cowbirds occasionally make common cause with Red-wings in
the northern migrations, but it is always the last-named who
preponderate, and it is they who are most vivacious, most resplendent,
and most nearly musical. The Red-wing’s mellow _kongqueree_ or
occasional tipsy _whoop-er-way-up_ is the life of the party.

Almost before we know it our friends, to the number of a dozen pairs or
more, have taken up their residence in a cat-tail swamp—nowhere else, if
you please, unless driven to it—and here, about the third week in April,
a dozen baskets of matchless weave are swung, or lodged midway of the
growing plants. Your distant approach is commented upon from the tops of
bordering willows by _keyrings_ and other notes. At close range the
lordly male, he of the brilliant epaulets and the proper military
swagger, shakes out his fine clothes and says, _Kongqueree_, in a voice
wherein anxiety is quite outweighed by vanity and proffered
good-fellowship withal. But if you push roughly thru the outlying
sedges, anxiety obtains the mastery. There is a hubbub in the marsh.
Bustling, frowsy females appear and scold you roundly. The lazy gallants
are all fathers now, and they join direful threats to courteous
expostulations, as they flutter wildly around the intruder’s head. To
the mischievous boy the chance of calling out these frantic attentions
is very alluring, even when no harm is intended.

I have said that the Red-wing prefers cat-tails for nesting; there is
probably no undisturbed area of cat-tails in eastern Washington which
does not harbor Columbian Red-wings; yet, even so, the cover does not
suffice and they are impelled to occupy the extensive tulé beds which
border the larger lakes. For the second nesting, which occurs in June,
the Blackbirds are likely to try the willows, now covered with foliage;
or, in default of these, may venture into any coarse vegetation which
lines the swamp.

   [Illustration: _Taken near Spokane._    _Photo by F. S. Merrill._
                NEST AND EGGS OF THE COLUMBIAN REDWING.]

Four or five eggs are commonly laid and sets of six are very rare. On
the 18th of May, 1896, I took a set of eight eggs, all believed to be
the product of one female, from a nest in Okanogan County, and this set
is now in the Oberlin College Museum.

Of the economic value of the Red-wing there can be no question. The bird
is chiefly insectivorous and destroys an immense amount of insect life,
particularly in the larval state, injurious to vegetation. Its single
fault is a weakness for young corn, but as corn is not a staple crop in
Washington, this fault may be readily condoned in view of the bird’s
valuable services to stockman and orchardist.


                                No. 20.
                         NORTHWESTERN RED-WING.

  A. O. U. No. 498f. Agelaius phœniceus caurinus Ridgway.

  Synonyms.—Red-winged Blackbird. Red-shouldered Blackbird. Marsh
  Blackbird. Swamp Blackbird.

  Description.—Similar to _A. p. neutralis_ but female much darker,
  heavily streaked with black below; in winter feather skirtings of
  female more extensively rusty. Measurements not essentially different.

  Recognition Marks.—As in preceding. Female darker and more heavily
  streaked than in _A. p. neutralis_.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: as in preceding; dimensions 5 in. wide by 6 in. deep
  outside, 3 × 3 inside. _Eggs_: 3 or 4, rarely 5, colored as before;
  dimensions varying from 1.05 × .76 (26.6 × 19.3) to 1.00 × .66 (25.4 ×
  16.7). _Season_: second to last week in April, June (Tacoma, April 6,
  1906, 3 eggs); two broods.

  General Range.—Northwest coast district from northern California north
  to British Columbia on Vancouver Island and mainland.

  Range in Washington.—Common in suitable localities west of the
  Cascades. Irregularly resident.

  Authorities.—_Agelaius phœniceus_ Vieil, Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R. Surv.
  IX. 1858, 528. T. C&S. Rh. Kb. Ra. Kk. B. E.

  Specimens.—(U. of W.) Prov. B. E.

The bird-man was sitting Turk-fashion on a great mossy log which ran far
out into the rustling depths of the South Tacoma swamp. The April sun
flooded the scene with warm light and made one blink like a blissful
drowsy frog, while the marsh sent up a grateful incense of curling
vapor. A pocket lunch of bread and cheese was the ostensible occasion of
this noontide bliss, but victuals had small charms beside those of the
sputtering Tulé Wrens who played hide and seek among the stems, or the
dun Coots, who sowed their _pulque pulque pulque_ notes along the reedy
depths.

Upon this scene of marshy content burst a vision of Phœnician splendor,
Caurinus I., the military satrap of South Tacoma, the authentic tyee of
Blackbirds. He was a well-aged bird, and as is the proper way with
feathered folk, resplendent in proportion to his years. His epaulets
seemed a half larger again than others, and their scarlet was of the
brightest hue, contrasting with a black mantle which fairly shone. He
appeared an amiable old fellow, and as he lighted ponderously on an
uplifted branch of my tree, he remarked, “_Whoo-kuswee-ung_,” so
hospitably that I felt impelled to murmur, “Thanks,” and assured him of
my unhostile intent. “_Conqueree?_” he questioned, richly. “Er—well,
yes, if you are the conqueror.”

But the general had other interests to watch. An upstart male of the
second year with shoulder-straps of a sickly orange hue, was descried a
rod away climbing hand-over-hand up a cat-tail stem. _Keyring, keyring_,
the despot warned him; and because the presumptuous youth did not heed
him quickly enough, he launched his splendor over the spot, whereat the
youth sank in dire confusion. And next, our hero caught sight of a
female fair to look upon peeping at him furtively from behind her
lattice of reeds. To see was to act, he flung his heart at the maiden
upon the instant, and followed headlong after, thru I know not what
reedy mazes. Oh, heart ever young, and pursuit never wearying!

Northwestern Red-wings find rather restricted range thruout western
Washington, but they appear wherever there are fresh-water marshes or
reed-bordered lakes. In default of cat-tails they will accept the
shelter of dwarf willows, or coarse dense grass of any sort.

Nesting is undertaken at Tacoma at least by the third week in April, and
we have found eggs as early as the sixth of that month. The nest of the
accompanying illustration (photogravure) is composed solely of the
coiled stems of the dried bulrushes, amongst which it is placed, with a
lining of clean dried grass-stems.

Few eggs exceed in beauty those of the Red-winged Black-bird. The
background is a pale bluish green of great delicacy, and upon this occur
sharply-defined spots, blotches, marblings, traceries, and “pen-work” of
dark sepia, purplish black, drab, and heliotrope purple. Or a spot of
color appears to be deeply imbedded in the fine, strong texture of the
shell, and carries about it an aura of diminishing color. Occasionally,
the whole egg is suffused with pale brownish, or, more rarely, it is
entirely unmarked.

Incubation lasts fourteen days and the young are ready to leave the nest
in a little over two weeks more. They are frizzly, helpless, complaining
little creatures, but if they cannot fly well they can clamber, and they
cling with the grip of terrified monkeys.

Our Northwestern Red-wings are normally migratory, but they also winter
with us irregularly; and this habit appears to be gaining ground as the
guarantee of food becomes more certain. Numbers of them subsist in both
Seattle and Tacoma in the vicinity of grain elevators, where they will
have comfortable sustenance until such time as the augmented English
Sparrows decree death to all native birds.


                                No. 21.
                        YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD.

  A. O. U. No. 497. Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus (Bonap.).

  Description.—_Adult male_: Head, neck all around, and breast orange
  yellow; lores and feathers skirting eyes and bill, black; a double
  white patch on folded wing formed by greater and lesser coverts, but
  interrupted by black of bastard wing; usually a little yellow about
  vent and on tibiæ; the remaining plumage black, dull or subdued, and
  turning brown on wing-tips and tail. _Female_: Dark brown; line over
  eye, throat, and upper breast dull yellow. Length 10.00-11.00
  (254-279.4); wing 5.30-5.60 (134.6-142.2); tail 4.00-4.50
  (101.6-114.3); bill .90 (22); tarsus 1.25 (31.8). Female smaller,
  length 8.00-9.50 (203.2-241.3).

  Recognition Marks.—Robin size; yellow head and breast; white
  wing-patches.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: a bulky but usually neat fabric of dried grasses,
  reeds or cat-tails lashed to growing ones; 5-7 inches in diameter
  outside by 5-8 deep; inside deeply cupped. _Eggs_: 3-6, grayish green
  spotted or clouded with reddish brown, rarely scrawled as in
  _Agelaius_; elongate ovate in shape. Av. size, 1.10 × .75 (27.9 × 19).
  _Season_: May or June; one brood.

  General Range.—Western North America from Wisconsin, Illinois and
  Texas to the Pacific Coast, and from British Columbia and the
  Saskatchewan River southward to the Valley of Mexico. Accidental in
  Middle and Atlantic States.

  Range in Washington.—Of local distribution in eastern Washington
  chiefly east of the Columbia River. Rare or casual west of the
  Cascades. Summer resident.

  Authorities.—[“Yellow-headed Blackbird,” Johnson, Rep. Gov. W. T. 1884
  (1885), 22.] Bendire, Life Hist. N. A. Birds, Vol. II. 1895, p. 447.
  Ss^r. J.

  Specimens.—Prov. C. P.

Oh, well for the untried nerves that the Yellow-headed Blackbird sings
by day, when the sun is shining brightly, and there are no supporting
signs of a convulsion of Nature! Verily, if love affected us all in
similar fashion, the world would be a merry mad-house. The Yellow-head
is an extraordinary person—you are prepared for that once you catch
sight of his resplendent gold-upon-black livery—but his avowal of the
tender passion is a revelation of incongruity. Grasping a reed firmly in
both fists, he leans forward, and, after premonitory gulps and gasps,
succeeds in pressing out a wail of despairing agony which would do
credit to a dying catamount. When you have recovered from the first
shock, you strain the eyes in astonishment that a mere bird, and a bird
in love at that, should give rise to such a cataclysmic sound. But he
can do it again, and his neighbor across the way can do as well—or
worse. When your nerves have somewhat recovered, modesty overcomes you,
and you retire, not without a chastened sense of privilege that you have
lived to hear the Yellow-head pop the question,—“and also you lived
after.”

The expiring Romeo cry is quite the finest of the Xanthocephaline
repertory, but there are others not devoid of interest. _Ok-eh-ah-oh-oo_
is a musical series of startling brilliancy, comparable in a degree to
the yodelling of a street urchin,—a succession of sounds of varying
pitches, produced as tho by altering the oral capacity. It may be noted
thus: [Illustration: music] The last note is especially mellow and
pleasing, recalling to some ears the liquid gurgle of the Bobolink, to
which, of course, our bird is distinctly related.

                 [Illustration: _Photo by the Author._
                           MALE YELLOW HEAD.]

Alternating with the last named, and more frequently heard from the
depths of the nesting swamp is _gur, gurrl_; or, as oftenest, _yewi(nk),
yewi(nk), gur-gurrl_. In this phrase the _gurrl_ is drawn out with
comical effect, as tho the gallant were down on his knees before some
unyielding maiden.

The Yellow-head’s ordinary note of distrust, equivalent to the _dink_
note of the Red-wing, is _kluck_ or _koluck’_. In flight this becomes
almost invariably _oo’kluk, oo’kluk_.

At rest, again, this is sometimes prolonged into a thrilling passage of
resonant “l” notes, probably remonstratory in character. The alarm cry
is built upon the same basis, and is uttered with exceeding vehemence,
_klookoloy, klookoloy, klook ooooo_.

Finally, if one may presume to speak finally of so versatile a genius,
they have a harsh, rasping note very similar in quality to the scolding
note of the Steller Jay, only lighter in weight and a little higher in
pitch. This is the note of fierce altercation, or the distress cry in
imminent danger. The last time I heard it was in the rank herbage
bordering upon a shallow lake in Douglas County. I rushed in to find a
big blow-snake coiling just below a nestful of young birds, while the
agonized parents and sympathetic neighbors hovered over the spot crying
piteously. To stamp upon the reptile was but the work of a moment; and
when I dropped the limp ophidian upon the bare ground, all the blackbird
population gathered about the carcass, shuddering but exultant,
and—perhaps it was only fancy—grateful too.

For all the Yellow-head is so decided in utterance, in disposition he is
somewhat phlegmatic, the male bird especially lacking the vivacity which
characterizes the agile Brewer Blackbird. Except when hungry, or
impelled by passion, he is quite content to mope for hours at a time in
the depths of the reeds; and even in nesting time, when his precincts
are invaded, he oftener falls to admiring his own plumage in the
flooding sunshine than tries to drive off the intruder. Let the homely
and distrait female attend to that.

[Illustration: _Taken in Douglas County._    _Photo by W. Leon Dawson._
               NEST OF YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD IN TULES.]

This bird is essentially a plains-loving species, and its favorite
haunts with us are the reedy borders of the treeless lakes, and the
upland sloughs of eastern Washington. It is highly gregarious,
especially in the fall and early spring, but confesses to about the same
degree of domesticity as the Red-wing, in late spring and early summer.

  [Illustration: _Taken in Douglas County._    _Photo by the Author._
                        A STOUTLY-WOVEN BASKET.]

The nests are stoutly-woven baskets of reeds and grasses, light and dry
and handsome. No mud or other matrix material is used in construction,
and the interior is always carefully lined with fine dry grass. The
illimitable bulrushes are the favorite cover, but rank herbage of any
sort is used if only it be near or over water. The most humble
situations suffice; and the nest is often placed within a foot of the
water, or its equivalent of black ooze.


                                No. 22.
                          WESTERN MEADOWLARK.

  A. O. U. No. 501.1. Sturnella neglecta Audubon.

  Synonyms.—Field Lark. Old-field Lark. Medlark. Medlar (poetical).
  Mudlark (corruption).

  Description.—_Adult male_: General color of upperparts brownish black
  modified by much tawny and buffy-gray edgings of the feathers which
  throw the black into stripes and bars with suggestion of herring-bone
  pattern; the tawny heaviest on secondaries and upper tail-feathers
  where taking the form of partial bands, a median crown stripe and
  posterior portion of superciliary sordid white or buffy; anterior
  portion of superciliary, cheeks, chin, upper throat, breast (broadly)
  and middle belly rich lemon yellow (inclining to orange in older
  specimens); a large black crescent on upper breast; sides and flanks
  black-streaked and spotted with pale brown on a buffy or whitish
  ground. Bill variegated, tawny, black and white. _Female_: Like male
  but smaller and paler with some substitutions of brown for black in
  streaking; black of jugulum veiled by grayish tips of feathers; yellow
  of breast duller, etc. The plumage of both sexes is duller in fall and
  winter, the normal colors being restrained by buffy overlay. Length of
  adult male: 10.00-11.00 (254-279.4); wing 4.85 (123.2); tail 3.00
  (76.2); bill 1.30 (33); tarsus 1.46 (37.1). Female smaller.

  Recognition Marks.—Robin size; yellow breast with black collar
  distinctive; general streaky appearance above; yellow cheeks as
  distinguished from the Eastern Meadowlark (_Sturnella magna_).

  Nesting.—_Nest_: on the ground in thick grass or weeds; a slight
  depression lined (carefully or not) and usually overarched with dried
  grasses. _Eggs_: 4-6, white, speckled and spotted, sometimes very
  sparingly, with cinnamon brown or purplish; very variable in shape,
  elliptical ovate to almost round. Av. size, 1.12 × .80 (28.5 × 20.3).
  _Season_: April and June; two broods. Tacoma, April 5, 1906, 4 fresh
  eggs.

  General Range.—Western United States, southwestern British Provinces,
  and northwestern Mexico, east to prairie districts of Mississippi
  Valley, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, etc., occasionally to Illinois and
  Michigan; breeding thruout its range.

  Range in Washington.—Abundant east and west of the Cascades; largely
  resident on the West-side, partially on the East-side; numbers
  augmented from the south during last week in February.

  Authorities.—[Lewis and Clark, Hist. Ex. (1814), Ed. Biddle: Coues.
  Vol II. p. 186.] _Sturnella neglecta_ Aud., Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R.
  Surv. IX. 1858, 539. T. C&S. L². Rh. D¹. Sr. Ra. D². Ss¹. Ss². Kk. B.
  E.

  Specimens.—(U. of W.) Prov. B. E. BN. P¹.

Summer silences the birds so gradually and we ourselves have become so
much absorbed in business during the prosy days of September that we
have almost forgotten the choruses of springtime and have come to accept
our uncheered lot as part of the established order of things. But on a
nippy October morning, as we are bending over some dull task, there
comes a sound which brings us to our feet. We hasten to the window,
throw up the sash and lean out into the cool, fresh air while a
Meadowlark rehearses, all at a sitting, the melodies of the year’s
youth. It all comes back to us with a rush; the smell of lush grasses,
the splendor of apple blossoms, the courage of lengthening days, the
ecstacies of courtship—all these are recalled by the lark-song. It is as
tho this forethoughted soul had caught the music of a May day, just at
its prime, in a crystal vase, and was now pouring out the imprisoned
sound in a gurgling, golden flood. What cheer! What heartening! Yea;
what rejuvenation it brings! Wine of youth! Splashes of color and gay
delight!

It is impossible not to rhapsodize over the Meadowlark. He is a
rhapsodist himself. Born of the soil and lost in its embraces for such
time as it pleases him, he yet quits his lowly station ever and again,
mounts some fence-post or tree-top, and publishes to the world an
unquenchable gladness in things-as-they-are. If at sunrise, then the
gleams of the early ray flash resplendent from his golden
breastplate,—this high-priest of morning; and all Nature echoes his
joyous blast: “Thank God for sunshine!” Or if the rain begins to fall,
who so quickly grateful for its refreshment as this optimist of the
ground, this prophet of good cheer! There is even an added note of
exultation in his voice as he shouts: “Thank God for rain!” And who like
him can sing farewell to parting day! Piercing sweet from the meadows
come the last offerings of day’s daysmen, peal and counterpeal from
rival friendly throats, unfailing, unfaltering, unsubdued: “It is good
to live. It is good to rest. Thank God for the day now done!”

The Meadowlark of the East has a poet’s soul but he lacks an adequate
instrument of expression. His voice does not respond to his requirement.
Perhaps his early education, as a species, was neglected. Certain it is
that in passing westward across the prairies of Iowa or Minnesota one
notices an instant change in the voices of the Meadowlarks. The song of
the western bird is sweeter, clearer, louder, longer and more varied.
The difference is so striking that we can explain it only upon the
supposition of an independent development. The western bird got his
early training where prairie wild flowers of a thousand hues ministered
to his senses, where breath of pine mingled faintly with the aroma of
neighboring cactus bloom, and where the sight of distant mountains fired
the imagination of a poet race. At any rate we of the West are proud of
the Western Meadowlark and would have you believe that such a blithe
spirit could evolve only under such circumstances.

Bird song never _exactly_ conforms to our musical notation, and there is
no instrument save the human “whistle” which will even passably
reproduce the quality of the Meadowlark’s song. Nevertheless, many
interesting experiments have been made in recording these songs and a
little attention will convince the least accomplished musician that
there is a fascinating field for study here.

A formal song of the Western Meadowlark comprises from four to a dozen
notes, usually six or seven. The song phrases vary endlessly in detail,
yet certain types are clearly distinguishable, types which reappear in
different parts of the country, apparently without regard to local
traditions or suppositional schools of song. Thus a Chelan singer says,
“_Oku wheel′er, ku wheel′er_”, and he may not have a rival in a hundred
miles; yet another bird on the University campus in Seattle sings, _Eh
heu, wheel′iky, wheel′iky_, or even _Eh heu wheel′iky, wheel′iky,
wheel′iky_, and you recognize it instantly as belonging to the same
type. In like manner _Owy′hee, rec′itative_ was heard with perfect
distinctness both at Wallula and in Okanogan County.

Each bird has a characteristic song-phrase by which he may be recognized
and traced thru a season, or thru succeeding years. One boisterous
spirit in Chelan I shall never forget for he insisted on shouting, hour
after hour, and day after day, “_Hip! Hip! Hurrah! boys; three cheers!_”
Yet, while this is true, no bird is confined to one style of song. An
autumnal soloist in Ravenna Park rendered no less than six distinct
songs or song-phrases in a rehearsal lasting five minutes. He gave them
without regard to sequence, now repeating the same phrase several times
in succession, now hurrying on to new forms, pausing only after each
utterance for breath.

Nor is the effort of the Western Meadowlark confined to the formal song
for he often pours out a flood of warbling, chattering and gurgling
notes which at close range are very attractive. Not infrequently he will
interrupt one of these meditative rhapsodies with the clarion call, and
return immediately to his minor theme.

In the presence of a stranger the lark serves frequent notice of
intended departure in a vigorous _toop_, or _toob_, accompanying the
sound with an emphatic flirt of the wings and jerk of the tail. Now and
then the actual departure is accompanied by a beautiful yodelling song.
After several preliminary _toobs_ the bird launches himself with
fantastic exaggeration of effort and rolls out, _O′ly o′ly o′ly o′ly
o′ly_, with ravishing sweetness.

At nesting time the parent birds have many causes for apprehension, and
as they move about in search of food they give vent to the _toob_ note
of distrust in a fashion which soon becomes chronic. In Douglas County
this note is doubled, _two′ bit_, or _two′ whit_, and one cannot recall
the varied life of the sage in June without hearing as an undertone the
half melancholy _two′ bit_ of a mother Meadowlark as she works her way
homeward by fearful stages.

At nesting time the Western Meadowlark enjoys a wide distribution in
Washington. It is found not only on all grassy lowlands and in
cultivated sections but in the open sage as well and upon the half-open
pine-clad foothills up to an altitude of four thousand feet.

The Meadowlark is an assiduous nester. This not because of any unusual
amativeness but because young Meadowlarks are the _morceaux délicieux_
of all the powers that prey, skunks, weasels, mink, raccoons, coyotes,
snakes, magpies, crows. Hawks and owls otherwise blameless in the
bird-world err here—the game is too easy. Even the noble Peregrine does
not disdain this humble, albeit toothsome, quarry, and the Least Falcon
(_Falco sparverius phalæna_) will stoop for a young Meadowlark when all
other avian offerings are virtuously passed by.

  [Illustration: _Taken in Stevens County._    _Photo by the Author._
               NEST AND EGGS OF THE WESTERN MEADOWLARK.]

Fecundity then is the only recourse,—this, and concealment. Not relying
altogether upon its marvelous protective coloration the lark exhibits
great caution in approaching, and, if possible, in quitting its nest. In
either case it sneaks along the ground for a considerable distance,
threading the mazes of the grass so artfully that the human eye can
follow with difficulty or not at all. At the approach of danger a
sitting bird may either steal from her nest unobserved and rise at a
safe distance or else seek to further her deception by feigning lameness
after the fashion of the Shore-birds. Or, again, she may cling to her
charge in desperation hoping against hope till the last possible moment
and taking chances of final mishap. In this way a friend of mine once
discovered a brooding Meadowlark imprisoned underneath his
boot—fortunately without damage for she occupied the deep depression of
a cow-track.

To further concealment the grass-lined depression in which the
Meadowlark places her four or five speckled eggs is almost invariably
over-arched with dried grasses. This renders the eggs practically
invisible from above, and especially if the nest is placed in thick
grass or rank herbage, as is customary. Touching instances of blind
devotion to this arch tradition were, however, afforded by a sheep-swept
pasture near Adrian. Here the salt-grass was cropped close and the very
sage was gnawed to stubs. But the Meadowlarks, true to custom, had
imported long, dried grasses with which to over-arch their nests. As a
result one had only to look for knobs on the landscape. By eye alone we
located six of these pathetic landmarks in the course of a half-hour’s
stroll.

One brood is usually brought off by May 1st and another by the middle of
June. Altho Meadowlarks are classed as altricial, i. e. having young
helpless when hatched and which require to be nurtured in the nest, the
young Meadowlarks are actually very precocious and scatter from the nest
four or five days after hatching, even before they are able to fairly
stand erect. This arrangement lessens the chances of wholesale
destruction but it would appear to complicate the problem from the
parental standpoint. How would you, for instance, like to tend five
babies, each in a separate thicket in a trackless forest, and that
haunted by cougars, and lynxes, and boa-constrictors and things?

We cannot afford to be indifferent spectators to this early struggle for
existence, for it is difficult to overestimate the economic value of the
Meadowlark. The bird is by choice almost exclusively insectivorous. If,
however, when hard pressed, he does take toll of the fallen wheat or
alfalfa seed, he is as easily justifiable as is the hired man who
consumes the farmer’s biscuits that he may have the strength to wield
the hoe against the farmer’s weeds. Being provided with a long and
sensitive bill, the Meadowlark not only gleans its insect prey from the
surface of the ground, but works among the grass roots, and actually
probes the earth in its search for wire- and cut-worms, those most
dreaded pests. Besides devouring injurious grubs and insects of many
kinds, the Lark has a great fondness for grasshoppers, subsisting almost
entirely upon these in the season of their greatest abundance. In the
matter of grasshopper consumption alone Meadowlarks of average
distribution, are estimated by no less an authority than Professor Beal,
to be worth about twenty-four dollars per month, per township, in saving
the hay crop. To the individual farmer this may seem a small matter, but
in the aggregate the saving to the nation amounts to some hundreds of
thousands of dollars each year. Even in winter, when a few individuals
or occasional companies of Larks are still to be found, a large
proportion of their food consists of hardy beetles and other insects,
while weed-seed and scattering grain is laid under tribute, as it were,
reluctantly.

It goes without saying that we cannot regard this bird as lawful game.
We exempt the horse from slaughter not because its flesh is unfit for
food—it is really very sapid—but because the animal has endeared itself
to our race by generations of faithful service. We place the horse in
another category, that of animal friend. And the human race, the best of
it, has some time since discovered compunctions about eating its
friends. Make friends with this bonny bird, the Meadowlark, and you will
be ashamed thenceforth to even discuss assassination. Fricassee of prima
donna! Voice of morning _en brochette_! Bird-of-merry-cheer on toast!
Faugh! And yet that sort of thing passed muster a generation ago—does
yet in the darker parts of Europe!



                       _Fringillidæ_—The Finches


                                No. 23.
                       WESTERN EVENING GROSBEAK.

  A. O. U. No. 514a. Hesperiphona vespertina montana Ridgway.

  Description.—_Adult male_: Forehead and superciliaries gamboge yellow;
  feathers about base of bill, lores, and crown black; wings black with
  large white patch formed by tips of inner secondaries and tertials;
  tail black; remaining plumage sooty olive brown about head and neck,
  shading thru olive and olive-green to yellow on wing and under
  tail-coverts. Bill bluish horn-color and citron yellow; feet brownish.
  _Adult female_: General color deep smoky brownish gray or buffy brown,
  darker on the head, lighter on wings, lighter, more buffy, on sides,
  shading to dull whitish on throat and abdomen, tinged with yellowish
  green on hind-neck, clearing to light yellow on axillars and under
  wing-coverts; a small clear white patch at base of inner primaries;
  white blotches on tips of upper tail-coverts and inner webs of
  tail-feathers in varying proportions. Length about 8.00 (203.2); wing
  4.39 (111.5); tail 2.42 (61.4); bill .82 (20.8); depth at base .62
  (15.9); tarsus. 81 (20.3). Female very slightly smaller.

  Recognition Marks.—Chewink size; olive-brown coloration with black and
  white in masses on wings; large, conical beak distinctive;
  high-pitched call note.

  Nesting.—Has not yet been found breeding in Washington but undoubtedly
  does so. _Nest_ (as reported from New Mexico): principally composed of
  fine rootlets with some Usnea moss and a few sticks, settled upon
  horizontal branches of pine or fir, near tip, and at considerable
  heights; in loose colonies. _Eggs_: 4, “in color, size, form, and
  texture indistinguishable from those of the Red-winged Blackbird”
  (Birtwell).

  General Range.—Western United States and Northern Mexico; east to and
  including Rocky Mountains; north to British Columbia.

  Range in Washington.—Co-extensive with evergreen timber and appearing
  irregularly elsewhere. Resident within State but roving locally.
  Winters regularly in parks of the larger cities.

  Authorities.—? _Fringilla vespertina_ Townsend, Journ. Ac. Nat. Sci.
  Phila. VIII. 1839, 154 (Columbia R.). _Hesperiphona vespertina_ Baird,
  Rep. Pac. R. R. Surv. IX. 1858, 409. T. C&S. Ra. Kk. B. E.

  Specimens.—U. of W. P¹. Prov. B. E.

                [Illustration: WESTERN EVENING GROSBEAKS
                      MALE AND FEMALE, ¾ LIFE SIZE
              From a Water-color Painting by Allan Brooks]

Sparrows are also called Cone-bills; it is, therefore, fair that the
bird with the biggest cone should take precedence in a family history.
But for this primacy there are damaging limitations. The Grosbeak is
neither the most beautiful nor the most tuneful of the Fringillidæ, if
he is by common consent rated the oddest. His garb is a patchwork; his
song a series of shrieks; his motions eccentric; his humor phlegmatic;
and his concepts beyond the ken of man. Altho at times one of the most
approachable of birds, he is, on the whole, an avian freak, a rebus in
feathers.

Perhaps we make too much of a mystery of him, just as we rate the owl
highest in wisdom for the single discretion of silence, which any
dunderhead may attain. But now take this group in the park; just what
are they at? They sit there stolidly in the rowan tree where all the
passersby may take note of them, giving vent ever and anon to explosive
yelps, but _doing nothing_ by the hour, until an insane impulse seizes
one of their number to be off to some other scene no better, be it near
or far, and the rest yield shrieking consent by default of alternative
idea. It is all so unreasonable, so uncanny, that it irritates us.

Evening Grosbeaks are semi-gregarious the year around, but are seen to
best advantage in winter or early spring, when they flock closely and
visit city parks or wooded lawns. One is oftenest attracted to their
temporary quarters by the startling and disconnected noises which are
flung out broadcast. It may be that the flock is absorbed in the depths
of a small fir, so that one may come up near enough to analyze the
sound. Three sorts of notes are plainly distinguishable: a low murmuring
of pure tones, quite pleasant to the ear; a harsh but subdued rattle, or
alarm note, _wzzzt_ or _wzzzp_, familiarly similar to that of the
Crossbill; and the high-pitched shriek, which distinguishes the bird
from all others, _dimp_. A little attention brings to light the fact
that all the birds in the flock bring out this astonishing note at
_precisely the same pitch_. Once distinguished, this note will serve
again and again to draw attention to this uncanny fowl, as it passes
overhead or loses itself in the bosom of some giant conifer.

It is not a little surprising at first thought, that the habits of these
birds are best known in our larger cities, Seattle, Tacoma, Spokane, and
Portland. Why they should be especially attracted to them, it is hard to
say, unless it be that they love the din of urban life, which they help
so valiantly to promote. But it is easy to see why they are more
noticeable there; for their showy and patchy coloration marks them as
distinguished visitors in town, whereas in the forest their colors so
melt into and harmonize with their surroundings that it is difficult to
follow their movements.

These Grosbeaks, or New World Hawfinches, are not to be commended as
horticulturists. In winter they feed largely upon the ground, gleaning
fallen seeds and fruits; and are especially fond of the winged key of
the large-leafed maple (_Acer macrophyllum_). They drop down to such a
feast one by one from the branches above, and it is amusing to note how
the loud cracking of seeds is interspersed with music. A little later
the birds devote themselves to swelling buds, and here too the maple is
a favorite; tho ash, alder, flowering currant, and a dozen more are not
disdained. The damage done is not considerable; for the birds, viewed in
the large, are not numerous enough, all told, to be taken seriously; but
viewed in the concrete, the snip, snip, of those mandibles in the lilac
bushes is no idle joy.

It may be that the key of high C sharp, or whatever it be, _staccato con
moto_, is the accepted love note, and that the green-liveried swain
hurls declarations at his enamorata, like Samson in Handel’s oratorio,
the live-long year. Anyway, his exertions are redoubled in early June,
and he charges about in a reckless frenzy which should make the city
gape. June, 1906, was memorable to us for the abundance of these
Grosbeaks in the vicinity of Spokane. The very air of Cannon Hill and
Hangman’s Creek seemed charged with expectation of Grosbeaks’ nests. But
they were not for us. Nor has the nest yet been taken in Washington.


                                No. 24.
                         ALASKAN PINE GROSBEAK.

  A. O. U. No. 515c. Pinicola enucleator alascensis Ridgway.

  Synonym.—Pine Bullfinch.

  Description.—_Adult male_: In highest plumage rosy red (poppy red);
  back with dusky centers of feathers; lower belly and under
  tail-coverts ashy gray—this high plumage is the exception; in general
  the rosy gives place to ashy gray in varying proportions; wings and
  tail ashy dusky; tips of middle and greater coverts and outer edges of
  exposed tertials white (or rosy). Bill dusky; feet blackish. _Adult
  female_: Similar to male but rosy replaced by dingy yellow (varying
  from olive-yellow, olive-tawny and ochraceous to bricky red) and
  chiefly confined to head, hind-neck and upper tail-coverts (where
  brightest); feathers of back frequently tipped with ochraceous and
  breast with an ochrey wash. Length about 8.60 (218.4); wing 4.60
  (117); tail 3.66 (93); bill .57 (14.5); tarsus .89 (22.7).

  Recognition Marks.—Chewink size; large, rounded conical beak; red and
  gray coloration for size distinctive.

  Nesting.—“_Nest_, composed of a basement of twigs and rootlets within
  which is a more compact fabric of finer materials. _Eggs_, usually 4,
  pale greenish blue, spotted and blotched with dark brown surface
  markings and lilac shell-spots.” Av. size 1.05 × .74 (26.7 × 18.8).
  _Season_: About June 1st; one brood.

  General Range.—“Northwestern North America, except Pacific Coast,
  breeding in interior of Alaska; south, in winter, to eastern British
  Columbia, Montana (Bitterroot Valley), etc.” (Ridgway).

  Range in Washington.—Reported by Allan Brooks as breeding in the Mt.
  Baker district (as below); should occur upon the timbered lowlands in
  winter.

  Authorities.—Allan Brooks _in epist._ Dawson, Auk Vol. XXV. Oct. 1908,
  p. 482.

  Specimens.—Prov.

This large and handsome Finch is of very irregular occurrence in
southern British Columbia excepting the higher mountain ranges, where it
breeds. During some winters it is present in large numbers, while in
others, equally severe, none are seen. The species was very common
throughout the winter of 1906-1907, a very severe one; but in that of
1901-1902, which was notably mild, Pine Grosbeaks were noticed in
considerable numbers as far south as Penticton, 40 miles north of the
international boundary, and they undoubtedly occurred much farther
south.

Their food in the winter months is principally berries, but, strange to
say, they altogether refuse those of the mountain ash, both the
introduced and indigenous species. The former is the favorite food of
the Eastern Pine Grosbeak thruout the winter in Ontario, but trees
loaded with fruit were passed by at Okanagan Landing in the winter of
1906-1907, even after the birds had eaten all the rose hips and snow
berries and were reduced to eating weed seeds with the _Leucostictes_.

Either this sub-species or _montana_ breeds on all the higher mountain
ranges in British Columbia, occupying a zone from timber line downwards
about 2,000 feet.

My first acquaintance with the Pine Grosbeak at its breeding grounds,
was in the Cascade Mountains due north of Mt. Baker, on both sides of
the Forty-ninth Parallel. Here the species was a somewhat sparing
breeder close to timber line among the hemlock and balsam timber. They
were feeding young on the 17th of July; at the same time Crossbills had
fully grown young in flocks. No red males were seen, though many gray
males were singing in the early mornings from the topmost spray of some
balsam.

In the writer’s opinion the red plumage in the male is acquired at the
first moult or immediately after the juvenal dress, and is usually only
retained for one season; in some males a duller red dress is carried
through the second summer, or more rarely a salmon-pink one; but in most
cases the dress of the second summer is a gray one like the females,
with yellow head and rump. Females may sometimes be seen with decidedly
red heads and rumps,—from the size and shape of the bill these seem to
be very old birds. The above remarks as to the red dress in the male
apply also, in the writer’s experience, to the genera _Loxia_,
_Carpodacus_ and _Acanthis_.

                                                           Allan Brooks.


                                No. 25.
                          AMERICAN CROSSBILL.

  A. O. U. No. 521. Loxia curvirostra minor (Brehm.).

  Synonym.—Red Crossbill.

  Description.—_Adult male_: Tips of mandibles crossed either way;
  plumage red, brightest on rump; feathers of back with brownish
  centers; wings and tail fuscous. Shade of red very variable,—orange,
  cinnabar, even vermilion, sometimes toned down by a saffron suffusion.
  _Immature males_ sometimes present a curiously mottled appearance with
  chrome-green and red intermingled. _Female and young_: Dull
  olive-green, brighter and more yellow on head and rump; below gray
  overcast by dingy yellow. Adult male, length 5.50-6.25 (139.7-158.8);
  wings 3.40 (86.4); tail 2.05 (52.1); bill .70 (17.8) or under.

  Recognition Marks.—Sparrow size; crossed mandibles; male red and
  female olive-green; both _without_ white wing-bars.

  “Nest: in forks or among twigs of tree, founded on a mass of twigs and
  bark-strips, the inside felted of finer materials, including small
  twigs, rootlets, grasses, hair, feathers, etc. _Eggs_: 3-4, 0.75 ×
  0.57, pale greenish, spotted and dotted about larger end with dark
  purplish brown, with lavender shell-markings” (Coues). Av. size, .85 ×
  .53 (21.6 × 13.5) (Brewer). _Season_: erratic, Feb.-Oct.; one brood.

  General Range.—Northern North America, resident sparingly south in the
  eastern United States to Maryland and Tennessee, and in the
  Alleghanies, irregularly abundant in winter. Of irregular distribution
  thruout the coniferous forests of the West, save in southern
  California, Arizona, and New Mexico, where replaced by _L. c.
  stricklandi_.

  Range in Washington.—Found thruout the coniferous forests of the
  State; of irregular occurrence locally. Non-migratory but nomadic.

  Authorities.—_Curvirostra americana_ Wils. Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R.
  Surv. IX. pt. II. 1858, 426 part, 427. T. C&S. L¹. D¹. Ra. D². J. B.
  E.

  Specimens.—U. of W. Prov. E. B.

When a bird’s pastures are the tree-tops it is possible for it to live a
quite secluded life here in Washington. And, indeed, we know the
Crossbill chiefly as a wandering voice or, rather, a vocal babel,
passing from summit to summit in the grim fir forest. But on a rare day,
it may be in Spokane, or it may be in Tacoma, the birds descend to human
levels and are discovered feeding busily on their favorite pine cones.
The birds are perfectly indifferent to equilibrium, and feed any side up
without care. While thus engaged they may exhibit little fear of the
beholder and sometimes venture within reach; but as often, for some
whimsical reason they are up and away again as tho seized by evil
spirits.

The Crossbill owes its peculiar mandibles to an age-long hankering for
pine-seeds (using that word in the generic sense), a desire fully
satisfied according to the fashion of that Providence which works so
variously thru Nature, and whose method we are pleased to call
evolution. The bill of the bird was not meant for an organ of
prehension, and Buffon, the Deist, once won a cheap applause by railing
at the Almighty for a supposed oversight in this direction; but as
matter of fact, its wonderful crossed mandibles enable the Crossbill to
do what no other bird can; viz., pry and cut open the scales of a fir
cone, in order to extract the tiny seed with its tongue.

These birds are not entirely confined to a vegetable diet, for I once
detected a group of them feeding industriously in a small elm tree which
was infested with little gray insects, plant-lice or something of the
sort. The presence of these insects, in colonies, caused the edges of
the leaves to shrivel and curl tightly backward into a protective roll.
Close attention showed that the Crossbills were feeding exclusively upon
these aphides. They first slit open a leaf-roll with their
scissor-bills, then extracted the insects with their tongues, taking
care apparently to secure most of the members of each colony before
passing to the next.

Crossbills also feed to some extent upon the ground, where they pick up
fallen seeds and other tidbits. Mr. J. F. Galbraith, a ranger of the
Washington Forest Reserve, first called my attention to another purpose
which the birds have in visiting the ground. He had noticed how at
certain places, and notably where dish-water was habitually thrown, the
Crossbills were wont to congregate, and, turning the head sidewise, to
thrust out the tongue along the bare ground in a most puzzling manner.
Suspecting at last the real state of affairs, he sprinkled the ground
with salt, and upon their return the birds licked it up with great
avidity. Mr. Galbraith claims to have tried this experiment successfully
upon numerous occasions. The birds do not appear to recognize the salt
at first sight, but soon learn to resort to established salt-licks in
open places. Rev. Fred M. McCreary also reports similar habits in
connection with certain mineral springs in the Suiattle country. When we
recall that the normal food of the Crossbill is pine-seeds, this craving
for Nature’s solvent is readily understandable.

Crossbills give out an intermittent rattling cry, or excited titter,
_tew, tew, tew_, while feeding. They have also a flight note which
consists of a short, clear whistle; and a flock composed of separately
undulating individuals affords a pleasing sensation to both eye and ear,
as it rapidly passes. The male is said to have sprightly whistling notes
of a most agreeable character, generically related to that of the Pine
Grosbeak, or Purple Finch, but their exhibition must be rather rare.

After all, there is something a bit uncanny about these cross-billed
creatures, and their eccentricities show nowhere in greater relief than
in their nesting habits. The quasi migrations of the bird are determined
by the local abundance of fir (or pine) cones. Like their food supply,
the birds themselves may abound in a given section one year and be
conspicuously absent the next. Moreover, because there is no choice of
season in gathering the seed crop, the birds may nest whenever the whim
seizes them; and this they do from January to July, or even October. The
communal life is maintained in spite of the occasional defection of
love-lorn couples; and there is nothing in the appearance of a flock of
Crossbills in April to suggest that other such are dutifully nesting.

Mr. Bowles has never taken the eggs near Tacoma, altho he has
encountered half a dozen of their nests in twelve years, the only
occupied one of which we have record being found by a friend on the 25th
of April, 1899. It contained three half-incubated eggs, and was placed
in one of a group of small firs in the prairie country, at an elevation
of some twenty feet. The nest rather closely resembles that of the
California Purple Finch, but is more compactly built and much more
heavily lined. It is composed of twigs and rootlets closely interwoven,
and boasts an inner quilt of felted cow-hair nearly half an inch in
thickness. The female Crossbill exhibits a singular devotion to duty,
once confessed, and in this case the collector had actually to lift her
from the eggs in order that he might examine them.


                                No. 26.
                        WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL.

  A. O. U. No. 522. Loxia leucoptera Gmel.

  Description.—_Male_: Rosy-red or carmine all over, save for grayish of
  nape and black of scapulars, wings, and tail. The black of scapulars
  sometimes meets on lower back. Two conspicuous white wing-bars are
  formed by the tips of the middle and greater coverts. Bill slender and
  weaker than in preceding species. _Female and young_: Light
  olive-yellow, ochraceous, or even pale orange over gray, clearer on
  rump, duller on throat and belly; most of the feathers with dusky
  centers, finer on crown and throat, broader on back and breast; wings
  and tail as in male, but fuscous rather than black; feather-edgings
  olivaceous. Very variable. Length 6.00-6.50 (152.4-165.1); wing 3.50
  (88.9); tail 2.25 (57.2); bill .67 (17).

  Recognition Marks.—Sparrow size; crossed bill; conspicuous white
  wing-bars of both sexes.

  Nesting.—_Nest_ has not yet been taken in Washington but bird
  undoubtedly breeds here. “_Nest_: of twigs and strips of birch-bark,
  covered exteriorly with moss (_Usnea_) and lined with soft moss and
  hair, on the fork of an evergreen, in deep forests. _Eggs_: 3(?), pale
  blue, spotted and streaked near larger end with reddish brown and
  lilac, .80 × .55 (20.3 × 1.4.)” (Chamberlain). _Season_: Feb.-March.

  General Range.—Northern parts of North America and southern Greenland,
  south into the United States in winter. Resident in coniferous timber
  thru the entire northern tier of states and irregularly south in the
  mountains at least to Colorado. Casual in western Europe.

  Range in Washington.—Several records of occurrences in northern
  Cascade Mountains. Doubtless regular and resident.

  Authorities.—Dawson, Auk, Vol. XVII. Oct., 1901, p. 403. D².

  Specimens.—(U. of W.) Prov. C. B.

To tell the truth, no one hereabouts appears to know much about the
White-winged Crossbill. It is presumed to be common in the Cascade
Mountains, but I have only thrice encountered it: once, May 15, 1891, in
the mountains of Yakima County; again, July 23, 1900, on the slopes of
Wright’s Peak near the head of Lake Chelan; and lastly, on the summit of
Cascade Pass, June 25, 1906. There are no other records.[12] This
species is quite as erratic as its more common cousin; and while it is,
perhaps, more nearly confined to the mountains, it should be looked for
wherever _C. minor_ occurs, and especially in flocks of the latter
species.

Of the bird’s occurrence in Alaska, where it is much more abundant,
Nelson says[13]: “It is more familiar than the Grosbeak [i. e.,
_Pinicola enucleator alascensis_], frequently coming low down among the
smaller growth, and it is a common sight to see parties of them swinging
about in every conceivable position from the twigs on the tops of the
cottonwoods or birch trees, where the birds are busily engaged in
feeding upon the buds. They pay no heed to a passing party of sleds,
except, perhaps, that an individual will fly down to some convenient
bush, where he curiously examines the strange procession, and, his
curiosity satisfied or confidence restored, back he goes to his
companions and continues feeding. When fired at they utter chirps of
alarm and call to each other with a long, sweet note, something similar
to that of the Goldfinch (_Spinus tristis_). They keep up a constant
_cheeping_ repetition of this note when feeding in parties, and if one
of their number is shot the others approach closer and closer to the
hunter, and gaze with mingled curiosity and sympathy upon their
fluttering companion.”


                                No. 27.
                       GRAY-CROWNED LEUCOSTICTE.

  A. O. U. No. 524. Leucosticte tephrocotis Swains.

  Synonyms.—Rosy Finch. Swainson’s Rosy Finch.

  Description.—_Adults_: Similar to _L. t. littoralis_ but ashy gray of
  head restricted to sides of crown and occiput—in worn plumages black
  of crown produced backward to meet brown of hind neck. Seasonal
  changes as in succeeding. Size of next.

  Recognition Marks.—Sparrow size; warm brown plumage; ashy gray _not_
  encroaching upon sides of head as distinguished from _L. t.
  littoralis_.

  Nesting.—Not known to breed in Washington. “_Nest_ made of strips of
  bark and grass, built in a fissure of a rock at the side of a bunch of
  grass” (Reed). _Eggs_: 4 or 5, white. _Season_: June; one brood.

  General Range.—Imperfectly made out—probably discontinuous. Reported
  breeding from such widely separated localities as the Rocky Mountains
  of British America and the Sierra Nevada and White Mountains of
  southern California; winters on the eastern slopes of the Rockies and
  irregularly eastward to western Nebraska, Manitoba, etc., westward to
  Cascade and Sierra Nevada ranges (Camp Harvey, Ore. Pullman, Wash.
  Chilliwhack, B. C.).

  Range in Washington.—Probably of regular occurrence during migrations
  and in winter east of the Cascade Mountains only.

  Authorities.—_Not previously reported_; W. T. Shaw _in epistola_, Dec.
  31, 1908.

  Specimens.—Pullman.

Mountain climbing as an art is still in its infancy in the Northwest and
altho the Mountaineers and the Mazamas are attacking the situation
vigorously we have yet much to learn of the wild life upon our
Washington sierras. But what problem could be more fascinating to a
lover of birds and mountains than that of working out accurately the
distribution of the Rosy Finches in America? They are the mountaineers
_par excellence_, they are the Jebusites of the untaken citadels, and
our ignorance of their ways will ere long become a reproach to our
vaunted western enterprise. As it stands, however, only scanty crumbs of
information have come to us concerning this most interesting and widely
distributed race of Highlanders.

The Gray-crowned Leucosticte is considered the central figure of the
genus, shading[14], as it does, into _L. atrata_ of the Bitterroots and
_L. australis_ of Colorado, into _L. t. littoralis_ of southern British
Columbia, Washington and Oregon, and (perhaps _thru littoralis_) into
_griseonucha_ of the Aleutians. This assumes for the species a center of
distribution in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia, Alberta and
Saskatchewan where the bird is known to occur. And so because of the
greater severity of the winters in its normal haunts this form is found
to be the greatest wanderer of its group, being frequently driven in the
fall far out upon the central eastern plains or down the “inside
passage” between the Rockies and Sierras.

It was in this fashion, probably, that a colony of this species became
established in the southern Sierras of California, where it now
maintains a vigorous existence separated, as we suppose, by at least a
thousand miles from the parent stock in British Columbia.


                                No. 28.
                         HEPBURN’S LEUCOSTICTE.

  A. O. U. No. 524a. Leucosticte tephrocotis littoralis (Baird).

  Synonyms.—Rosy Finch. Hepburn’s Rosy Finch. Baird’s Rosy Finch.

  Description.—_Adult male in summer_: Forehead and fore-crown black;
  occiput, broadly, and sides of head, clear ashy gray, color sometimes
  encroaching on chin and throat; nasal plumules grayish white;
  remaining plumage in general chestnut, chocolate, or rich vandyke
  brown, sharply contrasting with ashy gray on hind-neck and sides of
  head, inclining to blackish on throat, streaked with dusky on back and
  with more or less admixture of dusky on feather tips, especially on
  wings and flanks; feathers of upper and under tail-coverts, rump and
  flanks broadly and distinctly tipped with pink (of variable shade);
  wings and tail blackish; lesser and middle coverts broadly tipped with
  pink, the greater coverts, primary coverts and part of the flight
  feathers edged with pink or light carmine; rectrices with more or less
  edging of pinkish gray or light brown; bill black; feet and legs
  black. _Adult female_: of somewhat paler and duller coloration.
  _Adults in winter_: Feathers of back and scapulars edged with light
  brown; pink edgings of wings, etc., paler, and body plumage,
  especially on breast, with more or less pale skirting; bill yellow
  with dusky tip (this character is assumed as early as September).
  Length of adult male: 6.15 (156.2); wing 4.00 (101.6); tail 2.60 (66);
  bill .45 (11.4); tarsus .75 (19).

  Recognition Marks.—Sparrow size; plumage warm brown with rosy
  skirtings; ashy gray on _sides_ of head as distinguished from _L.
  tephrocotis_.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: a thick mat of dried grasses placed in sheltered
  crevice of rock at great altitude. _Eggs_: Not yet taken but doubtless
  like those of _Leucosticte griseonucha_, viz., 4 or 5, pure white; av.
  size .97 × .67 (24.6 × 17). _Season_: June; one brood.

  General Range.—Summer haunts include the higher mountain ranges of
  southeastern Alaska, British Columbia (west of the Rockies?) and
  Washington (possibly Oregon as well); “in winter south to Nevada,
  Utah, and Colorado, and east to eastern base of Rocky Mountains
  (casually to Minnesota), and along the Pacific coast to Kodiak, Sitka,
  Vancouver Island, etc.” (Ridgway).

  Range in Washington.—Breeds thruout the higher Cascades (Wright’s
  Peak, Sahale, Mt. Baker, Mt. Rainier, etc.) and, probably, the
  Olympics. Retreats in winter to the lowlands, chiefly east of the
  Cascade Mountains.

  Authorities.—? J. K. Lord, Nat. in V. Id. & B. C. 1866, p. 154.
  [“Hopburn’s (sic) rosy finch,” Johnson, Rep. Gov. W. T. 1884 (1885),
  22.] Dawson, Auk, XIV. 1897, 92, 177. J. E.

  Specimens.—P. Prov. E. C.

   [Illustration: _Taken in Chelan County._    _Photo by the Author._
                         SHRECKLICH PINNACLES.
                DETAILS OF THE APPROACH TO MT. SAHALE.]

Lives there a man so brutish that his heart does not kindle when he sees
Rainier lit up with the ruddy glow of the evening sacrifice? If such
there be, he is no bird-lover. Lives there a woman who can gaze upon the
virgin snows of Kulshan, Shuksan, or Sahale, and not adore the emblem of
eternal purity thereon displayed? If so, she will not appreciate the
Leucosticte. This bird is the vestal virgin of the snows, the attendant
minister of Nature’s loftiest altars, the guardian of the glacial
sanctuaries.

One who loves the mountains cannot measure his praise nor bound his
enthusiasm. Their sublimity bids him forget his limitations; and if one
happens also to care for birds, it is matter of small justice to laud a
bird whose devotion to the peaks appears as boundless as his own,
besides knowing neither admixture of caution nor limitation of
opportunity. Here is the patron saint of mountaineers! He alone of all
creatures is at home on the heights, and he is not even dependent upon
the scanty vegetation which follows the retreating snows, since he is
able to wrest a living from the very glaciers. Abysses do not appall
him, nor do the flower-strewn meadows of the lesser heights alienate his
snow-centered affections.

   [Illustration: _Taken in Chelan County._    _Photo by the Author._
              “THE CHILLY WILDERNESS OF SNOW-CLAD PEAKS.”]

Looking out on the chilly wilderness of snow-clad peaks which confronts
Leucosticte on an early day in June, one wonders what the bird sees to
justify the assumption of family cares. Save for a few dripping south
exposures of inhospitable rock, there is nothing visible which affords
promise of food unless it be the snow itself. And when one sees a little
company of the finches moving about demurely upon the face of a choppy
snowdrift, pecking at the surface here and there, he begins to harbor an
uncanny suspicion that the birds do eat snow. Closer examination,
however, shows that the surface of all snow-banks, not freshly covered,
is sprinkled with insects,—midges, beetles, wasps, and the like—insects
which the spring gales have swept up to uncongenial heights and dropped,
benumbed or dead with cold. These battered waifs the Leucostictes gather
with untiring patience, and they are thus able to subsist as no other
species can, up to the very summits.

The eggs of the Hepburn Leucosticte have not to our knowledge yet been
taken. Mr. D. E. Brown, then of Glacier, found these birds scooping
hollows under grass tussocks on the middle slopes of Baker, above timber
line, on the 7th of June, 1905. On the 20th of July, 1900, Professor
Lynds Jones and myself found a thick-walled grass nest settled upon bare
rock without protection, on the south slope of the aiguille of Wright’s
Peak, at an elevation of some 9,000 feet, and within a hundred yards of
the summit; this could hardly have belonged to any other species.

In July, 1907, knowing that it was too late for eggs, I yet spent
several days searching the precipitous wall which separates the upper
Horseshoe Basin from the glacier which heads Thunder Creek. Adult birds
to the number of a dozen gleaned scraps from the dump of the Cascade
Mine house; but, altho each made off in business-like fashion when
“loaded,” the stretch of the wall was too vast and its recesses too mazy
to permit of exact work in tracing. I therefore examined carefully but
with difficulty several of the weathered fissures, or _couloirs_, which
ran perpendicularly up the face of the cliff. Here, under cover of rocks
which had lodged in the throat of the fissure, or which had weathered
out unevenly, old nests were found, simple affairs of coiled grasses,
and too dilapidated for exact measurement. From one of these sites a
pebble snapped from the finger must have fallen three hundred feet
before striking the glacier below.

Now and then a passing bird, suspicious of my intent, stopped on some
projecting point of rock, to utter the sole note which does duty for
every mood, _churkk_ or _schthub_, a sound comparable only to the
concussion of a small taut rope on a flag-pole. Finally, near the top of
the Sahale Glacier, I got a line at two hundred yards on an occupied
fissure, and traced both parent Leucostictes into its distant recesses.
Climbing cautiously up a sharp slope of ice, my footsteps were guided by
the almost incessant clamor of young birds. Arrived at the upper lip of
the glacier, however, I found that it stood away from the rock-wall some
fifteen feet, and that a chasm some forty feet in depth yawned beneath.
Into this forbidding _bergschrund_, one of the fledgling Leucostictes
had tumbled. He was not more than two-thirds grown (July 18th) and down
feathers still fluttered from his cheeks, but he was a plucky little
fellow, and had managed to scramble up off the ice onto a piece of flat
rock which caught a bit of the afternoon sun. Here, to judge from his
lusty yelping, there could be no doubt that his parents would notice
him, altho they would be powerless to secure his further release until
his wings were grown. A Carnegie medal hovered suggestively over the
spot, I know; but pray, consider,—the rock wall was perpendicular and
smooth as glass, the ice-wall I stood on was undercut. No; even
philornithy has its limits!

    [Illustration: _Taken in the Rainier National Park._    _From a
             Photograph Copyright, 1908, by W. L. Dawson._
          A GLIMPSE OF MT. RAINIER FROM THE NISQUALLY GLACIER.
             A FAVORITE HAUNT OF THE HEPBURN LEUCOSTICTE.]

The nest containing the remaining youngsters was set well back in a rock
fissure, concealed by projections eighty feet above the fallen
first-born, and inaccessible to man from above or below. With the
possible exception of the Black Cloud Swifts (_Cypseloides niger
borealis_), who are reported to share at times these same cliffs, it is
safe to say that the Leucostictes are the highest nesters on the
continent.


                                No. 29.
                                REDPOLL.

  A. O. U. No. 528. Acanthis linaria (Linn.).

  Synonyms.—Common Redpoll. Lesser Redpoll. Linnet. Lintie.

  Description.—_Adult male_: Crown crimson; breast and shoulders crimson
  in varying proportions according to season; frontlet, lores, and
  throat-patch sooty black; remaining lower parts white, flanks and
  crissum streaked with dusky; above, variegated dusky, flaxen-brown and
  whitish, the feathers having dusky centers and flaxen edgings; rump
  dusky and white in streaks, tinged with rosy; wings and tail dusky
  with flaxen or whitish edgings; two inconspicuous wing-bars formed by
  white tips of middle and greater coverts. _Female_: Similar but
  without red on rump and breast, the latter suffused with buffy
  instead; sides heavily streaked with dusky. _Immature_: Like female
  but without crimson crown. Length 5.50 (139.7) or less; wing 2.80
  (71.1); tail 2.30 (58.4); bill .34 (8.6); depth at base .23 (5.8).

  Recognition Marks.—Warbler to Sparrow size; crimson crown-patch in
  adults; no dusky spot on breast.

  Nesting.—Does not breed in Washington. _Nest_: a bulky affair of twigs
  and grasses, lined with feathers and placed in trees and bushes.
  _Eggs_: 4-6, pale blue, dotted and speckled with reddish brown or
  umber. Av. size, .65 × .50 (16.5 × 12.7).

  General Range.—Northern portions of northern hemisphere, south
  irregularly in winter, in North America to the Middle States, and
  southern Oregon.

  Range in Washington.—Winter resident, abundant on East-side,
  infrequent or casual west of the Cascades.

  Migrations.—Nov. 1-Dec. 15. Feb. 15-March 15. Yakima Co. Oct. 31,
  1899. Chelan March 19, 1896.

  Authorities.—_Ægiothus linaria_ Cab. Cooper and Suckley, Rep. Pac. R.
  R. Surv. Vol. XII. pt. ii, 1860, 198. C&S. D¹. Ra. D². Kk. J. B.

  Specimens.—(U. of W.) Prov. B. C. P.

Those who count themselves familiar with the Goldfinch are apt to let
the first few flocks of Redpolls pass unquestioned. When, however, in
late November, a norther brings down some thousands of these Alaskan
waifs, the bird student is roused to attention. The resemblance between
the two species is most striking in form and appearance as well as in
habit and note. But once the eyes have been assured by a near revelation
of convincing red, that _Acanthis linaria_ is before them, the ears
remark also a slight foreign accent in the _sweetie_ call and in the
rattling flight notes.

Redpolls summer abundantly along the coasts of Alaska, and along the
higher levels down thru British Columbia. The winter movements of this
species are irregular and somewhat confusing. According to Nelson, the
western residents retire into the interior of Alaska to winter, where
they are able to withstand the fiercest cold. The interior birds retire
largely to the south, and under the urgency of bad weather sweep into or
thru eastern Washington in immense numbers. There is also a small
movement setting in a southwesterly direction, so that some birds winter
regularly on Vancouver Island, and a few straggle thru the Puget Sound
country.

                  [Illustration: REDPOLLS IN WINTER.]

While with us, the Redpoll is nowise dependent upon the forests, but
appears to seek the more open country by preference. It subsists chiefly
upon seeds, gleaning them from the ground with much pleasant chatter, or
seeking them in their winter receptacles. Redpoll again proves kinship
with Goldfinch by eating thistle seeds, and with Siskin by his
extravagant fondness for the alder catkin. Redpoll’s manner is very
confiding; and we are sure that he would not begrudge us a share of his
winter viands, if we cared for them. The author is no vegetarian, but he
is bound to admit that a “simple diet of grains, fruits and nuts” makes
for contentment among the birds, even at forty below zero.

As spring comes on, and the gentle hyperboreans prepare to return to
their native heather, we see the deep-dyed crimson of full regalia on
crown and breast. But during the actual breeding season, we are told by
a competent observer in Greenland, Holboell, the male not only becomes
exceedingly shy but loses his rosy coloring. It is hardly to be supposed
that this loss of color is a protective measure, but rather that it is
the result of the exhaustive labors incident to the season. Nature, in
that forbidding clime, cannot afford to dress a busy workman in fine
clothes. It is noteworthy in this connection, also, that caged Redpolls
lose their rosy tints never to regain them.


                                No. 30.
                              PINE SISKIN

  A. O. U. No. 533. Spinus pinus (Wils.).

  Synonyms.—American Siskin. Pine Finch. Pine Linnet.

  Description.—_Adult male and female_: Above brownish buffy; below
  creamy-buff and whitish; everywhere streaked with dusky or dark
  olive-brown; the streakings are finer on the head and foreparts,
  coarser on back and breast; wings fuscous, the flight feathers
  sulphur-yellow at the base, and the primaries edged with the same
  color; tail fuscous, all but the middle feathers sulphur-yellow at
  base. Bill comparatively slender, acute. Length 4.75-5.00 (120.6-127);
  wing 2.75 (69.9); tail 1.80 (45.7); bill .43 (10.9).

  Recognition Marks.—Warbler size; conspicuous general streakiness,
  sulphur-yellow markings of wings and tail, most noticeable in flight.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: saddled upon horizontal limb of evergreen tree, well
  concealed from below, usually at moderate heights; very variable in
  structure, flimsy to massive and ornate; composed of small twigs
  (usually fir), and tree-moss, with a lining of fine rootlets and
  horse- or cow-hair, rarely feathers. An average nest measures
  externally 4½ inches wide by 2¼ in. deep; internally 2 in. wide by 1
  in. deep. _Eggs_: 1-4, usually 3 or 4, pale bluish green lightly
  dotted with rufous and blackish, chiefly about larger end. Av. size
  .67 × .48 (17 × 12.2). _Season_: March-September, but most abundant in
  April; one brood.

  General Range.—North America at large, breeding in higher latitudes,
  and in coniferous forests of the West to southern boundary of United
  States; also sparingly in northeastern United States; irregularly
  south in winter to Gulf of Mexico.

  Range in Washington.—In summer coextensive with evergreen timber, but
  especially common in mountains just below limit of trees; in winter
  more localized, or irregularly absent.

  Authorities.—_Chrysomitris pinus_ Bonap. Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R. Surv.
  IX. pt. II. 1858, p. 425. T. C&S. L². Rh. D¹. D². Kk. J. B. E.

  Specimens.—U. of W. Prov. B. E. P.

In designing the Siskin, Nature achieved another triumph in obscurities.
The heavy streaky pattern, worked out in dusky olive on a buffy brown
base, prepares the bird for self-effacement in any environment; while
the sulphur-colored water-mark of the outspread wings barely redeems its
owner from sheer oblivion. This remark applies, however, only to
plumage. In behavior the Siskin is anything but a forgettable
bird-person.

  [Illustration: _Taken at Longmire’s Springs._    _From a Photograph
                   Copyright, 1908, by W. L. Dawson._
                          SIX LITTLE SISKINS.
                    “THE MOUNTAIN” AS A BACKGROUND.]

Whatever be the time of year, Siskins roam about in happy, rollicking
bands, comprising from a score to several hundred individuals. They move
with energy in the communal flight, while their incessant change of
relative positions in flock suggests those intramolecular vibrations of
matter, which the “new physicists” are telling us about. When a bird is
sighted alone, one sees that it is the graceful, undulatory, or
“looping,” flight of cousin Goldfinch which the social Siskin indulges
so recklessly.

Many of the notes, too, remind us of the Goldfinch. There are first
those little chattering notes indulged a-wing and a-perch, when the
birds are not too busy feeding. The _koodayi_ of inquiry or greeting is
the same. But there is another note quite distinctive. It is a labored,
but singularly penetrating production with a peculiar vowel sound (like
a German umlauted u), _züm_ or _zzeem_. So much effort does the
utterance of this note cost the bird, that it always occasions a display
of the hidden sulphur markings of wings and tail.

               [Illustration: _Photo by W. Leon Dawson._
                       THE DRAPERIES OF PARADISE.
                    RAINIER AS SEEN BY THE SISKIN.]

When fired by passion the Siskin is capable, also, of extended song.
This daytime serenade is vivacious, but not loud except in occasional
passages,—a sort of chattering, ecstatic warble of diverse elements. The
bird has, besides its own peculiar notes, many finch-like phrases and
interpolations, reminding one now of the Goldfinch, and now of the
California Purple Finch. The most striking phrase produced in this
connection is a triple shriek of the Evening Grosbeak, subdued of
course, but very effective.

Tho perhaps not numerically equal to the Western Golden-crowned Kinglet,
nor to the Western Winter Wren, there is not another bird in Washington
which enjoys a more nearly uniform distribution than the Pine Siskin.
Its breeding range coincides with the distribution of evergreen timber;
its feeding forays include all alder trees; and roving bands are likely
to turn up anywhere in eastern Washington, if there is shrubbery larger
or greener than sage-brush at hand.

Much of Siskin’s food is obtained upon the ground. City lawns are
favorite places of resort; these birds, together with California Purple
Finches, appearing to derive more benefit from grass plots, whether as
granaries or insectaria, than does any other species. They share also
with Crossbills a strong interest in the products of fir trees, whether
in cone or leaf. Their peculiar province, however, is the alder catkin,
and the tiny white seeds obtained from this source are the staple supply
of winter. Mr. Brown, of Glacier, has examined specimens in which the
crops were distended by these seeds exclusively. While the observer is
ogling, it may be an over-modest Townsend Sparrow, a flock of Pine
Siskins will charge incontinently into the alders above his very head.
With many _zews_ and _zeems_ they fall to work upon the stubborn
catkins, poking, twisting, prying, standing on their heads if need be,
to dig out the dainty dole. Now and then, without any apparent reason,
one detachment will suddenly desert its claim and settle upon another,
precisely similar, a few feet away; while its place will be taken, as
likely as not, by a new band, charging the tree like a volley of spent
shot.

Nesting time with the Siskin extends from March to September, and the
parental instinct appears in the light of an individual seizure, or
decimating epidemic, rather than as an orderly taking up of life’s
duties. Smitten couples drop out from time to time from the communal
groups, and set up temporary establishments of their own; but there is
never any let-up in the social whirl on the part of those who are left;
and a roistering company of care-free maids and bachelors _en fete_ may
storm the very tree in which the first lullabies are being crooned by a
hapless sister. Once in a while congenial groups agree to retire
together, and a single tree or a clump of neighbors may boast a
half-a-dozen nests; tho which is which and what is whose one cannot
always tell, for the same intimacy which suggested simultaneous
marriage, allows an almost unseemly interest in the private affairs of a
neighbor.

Once embarked upon the sea of matrimony, the female is a very determined
sitter, and the male is not inattentive. In examining the nest of a
sitting bird one may expect the mother to cover her eggs at a foot’s
remove, without so much as by-your-leave.

The nest, in our experience, is invariably built in an evergreen tree,
usually a Douglas spruce (_Pseudotsuga mucronata_), and is commonly
saddled upon a horizontal or slightly ascending limb at some distance
from the tree trunk. Viewed from below, it appears merely as an
accumulation of material at the base of divergent twigs, where moss and
waste is wont to gather. As to distance from the ground, it may vary
from four to a hundred feet. The latter is the limit of investigation,
but there is no particular reason to suppose they do not go higher. Most
of the nests are placed at from eight to twenty feet up.

The materials used in construction are dead fir-twigs, weed-stalks,
strips of cedar-bark, mosses of several sorts, grass, fir, hair, plant
downs, etc. The interior may be carefully lined with fine rootlets, fur,
horse-hair, feathers, altho there is great variation both in material
and workmanship. Some nests appear little better than those of Chipping
Sparrows; while the best cannot certainly be distinguished (without the
eggs) from the elegant creations of the Audubon Warbler. One nest found
near Tacoma in April, 1906, was allowed to pass for two weeks as that of
a Western Golden-crowned Kinglet; it was built in characteristic Kinglet
fashion, chiefly of moss, and was lashed midway of drooping twigs four
inches to one side and below the main stem of the sustaining branch,
near its end.

      [Illustration: _Taken in Tacoma._    _Photo by the Author._
                     NEST AND EGGS OF PINE SISKIN.]

The eggs are three or four in number, tho sets of one and two are not
rare in some seasons. They are a very pale bluish green in color, with
dots, blotches, streaks, and occasional marbling, of rufous and brown,
chiefly about the larger end. They vary considerably in size and shape,
running from subspherical to a slender ovate. Measurements of average
eggs are .68 × .48 inches.

Incubation lasts about twelve days, and the young-are ready to fly in as
many more. The brood does not remain long in a family group but joins
the roving clan as soon as possible. We suspect, therefore, that the
Siskin raises but one brood in a season; and she undoubtedly heaves a
sigh of relief when she may again don her evening gown, and rejoin
“society.”


                                No. 31.
                           WESTERN GOLDFINCH.

  A. O. U. No. 529a. Astragalinus tristis pallidus (Mearns).

  Synonyms.—Pale Goldfinch. “Wild Canary.” “Summer Yellow-bird.”
  Thistle-bird.

  Description.—_Adult male in summer_: General plumage clear lemon or
  canary yellow; crown patch, including forehead and lores, black; wings
  black, varied by white of middle and lesser coverts, tips of greater
  coverts and edges of secondaries; tail black, each feather with white
  spot on inner web; tail coverts broadly tipped with white;
  bill-orange, tipped with black; feet and legs light brown; irides
  brown. _Adult female in summer_: Above grayish brown or olivaceous;
  wings and tail dusky rather than black, with white markings rather
  broader than in male; below whitish with buffy or yellow suffusion
  brightest on throat and sides. _Adult male in winter_: Like adult
  female but brighter by virtue of contrasting black of wing and tail;
  white markings more extended than in summer. _Female in winter_: not
  so yellow as in summer, grayer and browner with more extensive white.
  _Young_: Like winter adults but browner, no clear white anywhere,
  cinnamomeus instead. Length of adult male: (skins) 4.71 (120); wing
  2.95 (75); tail 1.97 (50); bill .41 (10.4); tarsus .55 (14.1).

  Recognition Marks.—Warbler size; black and yellow contrasting, with
  conical bill, distinctive; undulating flight; canary-like notes. Feeds
  on thistle seed as does also _Spinus pinus_, a closely related but
  much less handsome species.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: A beautiful compact structure of vegetable fibers,
  “hemp,” grasses, etc., lined with vegetable cotton or thistle-down,
  and placed at varying heights in trees or bushes, usually in upright
  crotches. _Eggs_: 3-6, pale bluish white, unspotted. Av. size, .65 ×
  .52 (16.5 × 13.2). _Season_: July and August; one brood.

  General Range.—Western United States, except the Pacific coast
  district, north to British Columbia and Manitoba, south to northern
  and eastern Mexico.

  Range in Washington.—East-side, not common resident in half-open
  situations and along streams; resident but roving in winter.

  Authorities.—_Chrysomitris tristis_, Brewster, B. N. O. C. VII. Oct.
  1882, p. 227. (T). D¹. D². Ss¹. Ss². J.

  Specimens.—P. Prov. C.

“Handsome is that handsome does,” we are told, but the Goldfinch fulfils
both conditions in the proper sense, and does not require the doubtful
apology of the proverb, which was evidently devised for plain folk. One
is at a loss to decide whether Nature awarded the Goldfinch his suit of
fine clothes in recognition of his dauntless cheer or whether he is only
happy because of his panoply of jet and gold. At any rate he is the bird
of sunshine the year around, happy, careless, free. Rollicking companies
of them rove the country-side, now searching the heads of the last
year’s mullein stalks and enlivening their quest with much pleasant
chatter, now scattering in obedience to some whimsical command and
sowing the air with their laughter. _Perchic’-opee_ or
_perchic’-ichic’-opee_, says every bird as it glides down each
successive billow of its undulating flight. So enamored are the
Goldfinches of their gypsy life that it is only when the summer begins
to wane that they are willing to make particular choice of mates and
nesting spots. As late as the middle of July one may see roving bands of
forty or fifty individuals, but by the first of August they are usually
settled to the task of rearing young. The nesting also appears to be
dependent in some measure upon the thistle crop. When the weeds are
common and the season forward, nesting may commence in June; but so long
as thistle down is scarce or wanting, the birds seem loath to begin.

Nests are placed in the upright forks of various kinds of saplings, or
even of growing plants, in which latter case the thistle, again, proves
first choice. The materials used are the choicest obtainable. Normally
the inner bark of hemp is employed for warp, and thistle-down for woof
and lining, so that the whole structure bleaches to a characteristic
silver-gray. In the absence or scarcity of these, grasses, weeds, bits
of leaves, etc., are bound together with cobwebs, and the whole felted
with other soft plant-downs, or even horse-hair. The whole is made fast
thruout its depth to the supporting branches, and forms one of the most
durable of summer’s trophies.

From four to six, but commonly five, eggs are laid, and these of a
delicate greenish blue. Fourteen days are required for hatching; and
from the time of leaving the nest the youngsters drone _babee! babee!_
with weary iteration, all thru the stifling summer day.

During the nesting season the birds subsist largely upon insects of
various kinds, especially plant-lice, flies, and the smaller
grasshoppers; but at other times they feed almost exclusively upon
seeds. They are very fond of sunflower seeds, returning to a favorite
head day after day until the crop is harvested. Seeds of the lettuce,
turnips, and other garden plants are levied upon freely where occasion
offers; but thistle seed is a staple article, and that is varied by a
hundred seeds besides, which none could grudge them.

Thruout the winter the Western Goldfinches are much less in evidence,
the majority of them having retired to the southland at that season.
Those which remain are somewhat altered to appearance: the wings and
tail show much pure white, and the yellow proper is now confined to the
throat and the sides of the head and neck. He is thus a lighter and a
brighter bird than his eastern brother. But the western bird has the
same merry notes and sprightly ways which have made the name of
Goldfinch synonymous with sunshine.


                                No. 32.
                           WILLOW GOLDFINCH.

  A. O. U. No. 529b. Astragalinus tristis salicamans (Grinnell).

  Synonyms.—California Goldfinch. “Yellow-bird,” etc.

  Description.—Similar to _A. t. pallidus_, but wings and tail shorter
  and coloration very much darker; adult male in summer plumage has
  tinge of pale olive-green on back, while winter adults and young are
  decidedly darker and browner than corresponding plumage of _A. t.
  pallidus_. Wing (of adult male) 2.75 (70); tail 1.73 (44).

  Recognition Marks.—As in preceding but decidedly darker and browner,
  especially in winter.

  Nesting.—As in _A. t. pallidus_.

  General Range.—Pacific coast district from Lower California (Cerros
  Id.) north to British Columbia. Has been taken at Okanagan Landing, B.
  C. (Brooks).

  Range in Washington.—Not common resident on West-side only, chiefly in
  cultivated valleys.

  Authorities.—_Chrysomitris tristis_ Bon., Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R. Surv.
  IX. 1858, 421, 422, part. C&S. L². Kb. Ra. Kk. B. E.

  Specimens.—(U. of W.) Prov. B. E.

Goldfinches are a bit of a rarity on Puget Sound. Of course we see them
every season, and one may see a great deal of a particular troop, once
its general range is ascertained; but, taken all in all, the bird is not
common. Neither Cooper nor Suckley saw this Goldfinch, altho
particularly wondering at its absence. The clearing of the forests and
the cultivation of the soil is conducive to its increase, however; and
there is every reason to believe that we are seeing more of it year by
year.

There has been a warm discussion as to the subspecific validity of the
Willow Goldfinch, but those who see birds of this form in late winter or
early spring cannot but be impressed with the striking brownness of its
plumage, as well as by the more extensive white upon the wings, as
compared with the eastern bird. Beyond its partiality for willow trees,
it has no further distinguishing traits, unless, perhaps, it may be
reckoned less tuneful, or noisy.


                                No. 33.
                         CASSIN’S PURPLE FINCH.

  A. O. U. No. 518. Carpodacus cassinii Baird.

  Synonym.—Cassin’s Finch.

  Description.—_Adult male_: Crown dull crimson; back and scapulars
  vinaceous mixed with brownish and sharply streaked with dusky; wings
  and tail dusky with more or less edging of vinaceous; remaining
  plumage chiefly dull rosy, passing into white on belly and crissum;
  under tail-coverts white streaked with dusky. _Adult female_:
  Everywhere (save on wings, tail and lower abdomen) sharply streaked
  with dusky, clearly, on a white ground, below; above on an olive-gray
  or olive-buffy ground. _Immature male_: Like female in plumage and
  indistinguishable. Length of adult 6.50-7.00 (165.1-177.8); wing 3.62
  (92); tail 2.56 (65); bill .50 (12.6); tarsus .73 (18.5).

  Recognition Marks.—Sparrow size: red of crown _contrasting_ with back
  distinctive as compared with _C. p. californicus_; general streakiness
  of female (and male in more common plumage).

  Nesting.—_Nest_: of twigs and rootlets lined with horse-hair, string,
  etc., placed in pine or fir tree well out from trunk. _Eggs_: 4 or 5,
  colored as in succeeding species; a little larger. Av. size .85 × .60
  (21.6 × 15.2). _Season_: June; one or two broods according to
  altitude.

  General Range.—Western United States from the eastern base of the
  Rocky Mountains west to (but not including?) the Pacific coast
  district; north to British Columbia; south over plateau region of
  Mexico; found chiefly in the mountains.

  Range in Washington.—At least coextensive with pine timber in eastern
  Washington; found to summit of Cascades but westerly range imperfectly
  made out.

  Authorities.—[“Cassin’s Purple Finch,” Johnson, Rep. Gov. W. T. 1884
  (1885), 22.] _Carpodacus cassini_, Dawson, Auk, Vol. XIV. 1897, p.
  177. D¹. J.

  Specimens.—Prov. C.

Cassin’s Finch is the bird of the eastern Cascades and the timbered
foothills of northern Washington. While ranging higher than other
finches, it shares with them an inclination to urban life, and a full
realization of the advantages of gardens and cultivated patches. At
Stehekin I saw a flock of them gleaning crumbs as complacently as
sparrows, in the yard at the rear of the hotel. At Chelan they haunt the
lonesome pine trees which still dot the shores of the lake, seemingly
regarding their gnarled recesses as citadels where alone they may be
safe from the terrors of the open country.

As the bird-man lay sprawling in the grateful shadow of one of these
grim sentinels, munching a noonday lunch, and remonstrating with
Providence at the unguarded virtues of the all-crawling ant, he spied a
last year’s Oriole’s nest hanging just over his head, while an
accommodating Cassin Finch called his attention to _this_ year’s nest in
process of construction, by going over and helping herself to a beakful
of material, which she pulled out of the structure by main force. She
evened things up, however, (for the bird-man) by immediately visiting
her own nest, pitched on the upper side of a horizontal branch near the
end.

This female Cassin was a wearisome bird, for she sat and twittered
inanely, or coaxed, every minute her husband was in the tree. He, poor
soul, was visibly annoyed at her indolence, not to say her wantonness,
and had as little to do with her as possible. However, he was a young
fellow, without a bit of red on him, and he should not have been
over-critical of his first mate in honeymoon.

On the pine-clad slopes of Cannon Hill in Spokane, there is no more
familiar sound in June than the wanton note of the female Cassin Finch,
_oreé-eh, oreé-eh_, delivered as often as not with quivering wings, and
unmistakably inviting the attentions of the male. Perhaps it is fair to
call this a love note, but it is delivered with the simpering insistence
of a spoiled child.

      [Illustration: _Taken in Spokane._    _Photo by the Author._
                            CASSIN’S FINCH.]

The sight of a singing male in high plumage is memorable. He selects a
position at the tip of a pine branch, or perhaps on a bunch of cones at
the very top of the tree, and throws himself into the work. His color,
crimson, not purple, is pure and clear upon the crown only; elsewhere,
upon nape, shoulders, and breast, it presents merely a suffusion of red.
A song heard near Chelan was much like that of a California Purple Finch
in character, but less musical and more chattering, with the exception
of one strong note thrown in near the close. This note was very like the
characteristic squeal of the Evening Grosbeak, _gimp_, or _thkimp_, out
of all keeping with the remainder—unquestionably borrowed.

The Cassin Finch is quite as successful as a mimic as his cousin from
California. Besides his own wild, exultant notes, he rapidly strings
together those of other birds, and renders the whole with the
spontaneity and something of the accent of the Lark Sparrow. Indeed,
when I first heard one sing on a crisp May morning on the banks of the
Columbia, I thought I was hearing a rare burst of the latter bird, so
much of its song had been appropriated by the Finch. Besides this,
strains of Western Vesper Sparrow, Mountain Bluebird, and Louisiana
Tanager were recognized.


                                No. 34.
                        CALIFORNIA PURPLE FINCH.

  A. O. U. No. 517a. Carpodacus purpureus californicus Baird.

  Description.—_Adult male_: General body plumage rich crimson or rosy
  red, clearest on crown and upper tail-coverts, more or less mingled
  with dusky on back and scapulars, passing into white on crissum and
  under tail-coverts; wings and tail brownish dusky with reddish
  edgings. Bill and feet brownish. _Adult female_: Above olive dusky in
  streaks, with edging or gloss of brighter olivaceous; underparts
  whitish, everywhere, save on middle abdomen, crissum and under
  tail-coverts, streaked with olive dusky, finely on throat, broadly on
  breast and sides, shading into pattern of upperparts on sides of head,
  neck and chest. _Immature male, and male in ordinary(?) plumage_:
  exactly like female in coloration. Length about 5.75 (146); wing 3.07
  (78); tail 2.28 (58); bill .45 (11.5); tarsus .70 (17.9).

  Recognition Marks.—“Warbler size” but sturdier, an unmistakable
  sparrow; rosy coloration of male distinctive (without crossed
  mandibles) but _streaky_ pattern oftenest seen. Distinguishable from
  the Pine Siskin (_Spinus pinus_) by larger size, more sedate ways and
  absence of sulphury wing- and tail-markings.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: well built, of fir twigs, heavily lined with green
  moss, horse-hair, string, etc.; placed in tree (deciduous or
  evergreen) at elevation of 5-40 feet and usually at some distance from
  trunk; measures outside 5 in. wide by 3 in. deep, inside 2½ in. wide
  by 1¼ in. deep. _Eggs_: 4 or 5, light greenish blue, spotted and
  streaked with violaceous and black, chiefly about the larger end.
  Round ovate to elongate ovate; varying in dimensions from .75 × .56
  (19 × 14.2) to .91 × .59 (22.8 × 15). _Season_: first week in May and
  first week in June; two broods.

  General Range.—Pacific coast district from southern California north
  to British Columbia (including Vancouver Island). More or less
  resident thruout range but drifts (casually?) to southeastward in
  Arizona during migrations.

  Range in Washington.—West-side, chiefly at lower levels; especially
  partial to orchards and cultivated sections. Irregularly resident but
  numbers augmented in spring.

  Authorities.—_Carpodacus californicus_ Baird, Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R.
  Surv. IX. 1858, 414. T. C&S. L². Rh. Kb. Ra. Kk. B. E.

  Specimens.—U. of W. Prov. P. B. BN. E.

Of the streaked, streaky is this demure and inoffensive bird in the
olivaceous plumage, in which we usually see him, and always see _her_.
But the sharpness and magnitude of the dusky streaks above and below
confer a measure of distinction, even when there is no trace of the
adult crimsons, miscalled purple. This finch is a familiar object about
the gardens, orchards, and parks in Western Washington. It moves about
for the most part silently, inspecting birds and flowers, sampling
fruit, or gleaning seeds from the ground in company with its own kind,
or with the humbler and equally streaked Siskins. While not altogether
dependent upon human bounty, it probably owes more to man than does any
other native species.

Wright’s Park, in Tacoma, appears to lead the state by two weeks in the
early budding of its flowering plants, and here Purple Finches appear to
the best advantage. In the luxuriant bushes of the red flowering currant
(_Ribes sanguineum_) one may see them feeding during the last week of
March. The Finches pluck the flowers assiduously, and either eat the
fleshy part at the base, the tender ovary, or else press out the nectar
just above, or both. A flower is first plucked off whole and held in the
bill, while the bird appears to _smack its lips_ several times; then the
crimson corolla is allowed to drop upon the ground, which thus becomes
carpeted with rejected beauty. Like many related species, the California
Finch is rather unwary, so that one may study his behavior at close
range.

Because the Purple Finch is usually so unobtrusive, we are startled at
the first outburst of spring song. Nothing more spontaneous could be
desired, and the mellow, musical yodelling of this bird is one of the
choicest things allowed us on the West-side. The song is midway between
a trill and a carol, and has a wild quality which makes it very
attractive. The notes are so limpid and penetrating that one is
sometimes deceived as to the distance of the singer, supposing him to be
in a neighboring copse when, in truth, he occupies a distant fir-top.
_Cheedooreédooreé dooreé dooreé dooreé dooreé dooreé dreeetoreet_ may
afford an idea of the rolling, rollicking character of the song, but is,
of course, absurdly inadequate.

A master singer among the Purple Finches once entertained us from the
top of a fir tree a hundred feet high. He was in the dull plumage, that
is, without red; and altho he sang briskly at intervals we were not
prepared for any unusual exhibition of vocal powers on his part. It was
a long time, therefore, before we put the cry of a distant Steller Jay
up to him. Our suspicions once aroused, however, we caught not only the
Steller jay cry, unmistakably, but also half a dozen others in swift and
dainty succession, after the usual Purple Finch prelude. I clearly
recognized notes of the Flicker, Steller Jay, _Canary_, American
Crossbill, and Seattle Wren. These imitative efforts varied in
correctness of execution, and came to us with the distance of the
original singer plus that of the Finch, so that the result was not a
little confusing, tho very delightful when explained.

During courtship this Finch will execute an aerial song-dance,
consisting of sundry jerks and crazy antics, interspersed with a medley
of ecstatic notes; at the conclusion of which he will make a suggestive
dive at his fianceé, who meanwhile has been poking fun at him.

For some reason nests have been exceedingly hard to find. Many birds are
always pottering about with no apparent concern for nesting time, and
Mr. Bowles hazards that they do not mate until the third year. Apropos
of this, one remarks the scarcity of highly plumaged males at all
seasons. I have gone six months at a time, where Finches were not
uncommon, without seeing a single _red_ bird. In fact, I never found the
latter common except in the vicinity of Tacoma.

Nests are placed, preferably, near water, in evergreen or deciduous
trees, and at heights varying from six to forty feet. They usually occur
on a bough at some distance from the trunk of a supporting tree, seldom
or never being found in a crotch. Composed externally of fir twigs, they
are lined copiously with green moss, horse-hair, and string, and contain
four or five handsome blue-green eggs, spotted and dashed with violet
and black.

Two broods are probably brought off in a season, the first about the
20th of May and the second a month later. A sitting female outdoes a
Siskin in her devotion to duty, and not infrequently requires to be
lifted from her eggs. The male trusts everything to his wife upon these
occasions, but is on hand to do his share of the work when it comes to
feeding the babies.


                                No. 35.
                            ENGLISH SPARROW.

  Introduced. Passer domesticus (Linn.).

  Synonyms.—House Sparrow. Domestic Sparrow. Hoodlum.

  Description.—_Adult male_: Above ashy gray; middle of back and
  scapulars heavily streaked with black and bay; tail dusky; a chestnut
  patch behind eye spreading on shoulders; lesser wing-coverts chestnut;
  middle coverts bordered with white, forming a conspicuous white bar
  during flight; remainder of wing dusky with bay edging; below ashy
  gray or dirty white; a black throat-patch continuous with lores and
  fore-breast; bill and feet horn color. _Adult female_: Brownish rather
  than gray above; bay edging lighter; no chestnut, unmarked below.
  Length 5.50-6.25 (139.7-158.8); wing 3.00 (76.2); tail 2.20 (55.9);
  bill .50 (12.7). Sexes of about equal size.

  Recognition Marks.—“Sparrow size,” black throat and breast of male;
  female obscure brownish and gray.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: a globular mass of grass, weeds and trash, heavily
  lined with feathers, placed in tree and with entrance in side; or else
  heavily lined cavity anywhere. Holes in trees and electric lamps are
  alike favored. _Eggs_: 4-7, whitish, heavily dotted and speckled with
  olive-brown or dull black. The markings often gather about the larger
  end; sometimes they entirely obscure the ground color. Av. size, .86 ×
  .62 (21.8 × 15.8). _Season_: March-September; several broods.

  General Range.—“Nearly the whole of Europe, but replaced in Italy by
  _P. italiæ_, extending eastward to Persia and Central Asia, India, and
  Ceylon” (Sharpe). “Introduced and naturalized in America, Australia,
  New Zealand, etc.” (Chapman).

  Range in Washington.—As yet chiefly confined to larger cities and
  railroad towns, but spreading locally in farming sections.

  Authorities.—Rathbun, Auk, Vol. XIX. Apr. 1902, p. 140. Ra. Kk. B. E.

  Specimens.—B. C.

What a piece of mischief is the Sparrow! how depraved in instinct! in
presence how unwelcome! in habit how unclean! in voice how repulsive! in
combat how moblike and despicable! in courtship how wanton and
contemptible! in increase how limitless and menacing! the pest of the
farmer! the plague of the city! the bane of the bird-world! the despair
of the philanthropist! the thrifty and insolent beneficiary of misguided
sentiment! the lawless and defiant object of impotent hostility too late
aroused! Out upon thee, thou shapeless, senseless, heartless,
misbegotten tyrant! thou tedious and infinite alien! thou myriad cuckoo,
who dost by thy consuming presence bereave us daily of a million dearer
children! Out upon thee, and woe the day!

Without question the most deplorable event in the history of American
ornithology was the introduction of the English Sparrow. The extinction
of the Great Auk, the passing of the Wild Pigeon and the Turkey,—sad as
these are, they are trifles compared to the wholesale reduction of our
smaller birds, which is due to the invasion of this wretched foreigner.
To be sure he was invited to come, but the offense is all the more rank
because it was partly human. His introduction was effected in part by
people who ought to have known better, and would, doubtless, if the
science of ornithology had reached its present status as long ago as the
early Fifties. The maintenance and prodigious increase of the pest is
still due in a measure to the imbecile sentimentality of people who
build bird-houses and throw out crumbs for “the dear little birdies,”
and then care nothing whether honest birds or scalawags get them. Such
people belong to the same class as those who drop kittens on their
neighbors’ door-steps because they wouldn’t have the heart to kill them
themselves, you know.

The increase of this bird in the United States is, to a lover of birds,
simply frightful. Their fecundity is amazing and their adaptability
apparently limitless. Mr. Barrows, in a special report prepared under
the direction of the Government, estimates that the increase of a single
pair, if unhindered, would amount in ten years to 275,716,983,698 birds.

As to its range, we note that the subjugation of the East has long been
accomplished, and that the conquest of the West is succeeding rapidly.
It is not possible to tell precisely when the first Sparrows arrived in
Washington, but it is probable that they appeared in Spokane about 1895.
Of its occurrence in Seattle, Mr. Rathbun says: “Prior to the spring of
1897 I had never seen this species in Seattle, but in June of that year
I noted a pair. The following season I saw fourteen; in 1899 this number
had increased to about seventy, associating in small flocks.”

The favorite means of dissemination has been the box car, and especially
the grain car. The Sparrows, being essentially grain and seed eaters,
frequent the grain cars as they stand in the railroad yards, and are
occasionally imprisoned in them, hopeful stowaways and “gentlemen of
fortune.” On this account, also, the larger cities and railroad towns
are first colonized, and at this time of writing (Jan., 1908) the birds
are practically confined to them, Tacoma having an especial notoriety in
this respect because of its immense grain-shipping interests.

Difficult as it may seem, it is true that the English Sparrow adopts the
policy of Uriah Heep upon first entering a town. With all the unctuous
humility of a band of Mormon apostles, the newcomers talk softly, walk
circumspectly, and either seek to escape notice altogether, or else
assiduously cultivate the good opinion of their destined dupes. Thus, I
resided in the town of Blaine for two months (in 1904) without running
across a single member of the pioneer band of nine English Sparrows,
altho I was assured on good authority that the birds had been there for
at least two years previous.

It requires no testimony to show that the presence of this bird is
absolutely undesirable. It is a scourge to the agriculturist, a plague
to the architect, and the avowed and determined enemy of all other
birds. Its nests are not only unsightly but unsanitary, and the maudlin
racket of their owners unendurable. The bird is, in short, in the words
of the late Dr. Coues, “a nuisance without a redeeming quality.” Altho
we assent to this most heartily, we are obliged to confess on the part
of our race to a certain amount of sneaking admiration for the Sparrow.
And why, forsooth? Because he fights! We are forced to admire, at times,
his bull-dog courage and tenacity of purpose, as we do the cunning of
the weasel and the nimbleness of the flea. He is vermin and must be
treated as such; but, give the Devil his due, of course. What are we
going to do about it? Wage unceasing warfare, as we do against rats.
There will possibly be rats as long as there are men, but a bubonic
plague scare operates very effectually to reduce their numbers. No doubt
there will be English Sparrows in cities as long as there are
brick-bats, but a clear recognition of their detestable qualities should
lead every sensible person to deny them victuals and shelter. The House
Sparrow is no longer exterminable, but he may be, _must be_ kept within
bounds.


                                No. 36.
                               SNOWFLAKE.

  A. O. U. No. 534. Plectrophenax nivalis (Linn.)

  Synonym.—Snow Bunting.

  Description.—_Adult male in summer_: Pure white save for bill, feet,
  middle of back, scapulars, bastard wing, the end half of primaries and
  inner secondaries, and the middle tail-feathers, which are black.
  _Female in summer_: Similar, but upperparts streaked all over with
  black, and the black wings largely replaced by fuscous. _Adults in
  winter_: Entire upperparts overcast with browns—rusty or seal
  brown—clear on crown, grayish and mottled with dusky centers of
  feathers on back, scapulars, etc.; also rusty ear-patches, and a rusty
  collar, with faint rusty wash on sides. The black of wing and
  tail-feathers is less pure (fuscous in the female) and edged with
  white or tawny. Length 6.50-7.00 (165.1-177.8); wing 4.12 (104.6);
  tail 2.54 (64.5); bill .40 (10.2).

  Recognition Marks.—Sparrow size; conspicuously and uniquely white,
  with blacks and browns above.

  Nesting.—Does not breed in Washington. “_Nest_: on the ground in the
  sphagnum and tussocks of Arctic regions, of a great quantity of grass
  and moss, lined profusely with feathers. _Eggs_: 4-6, very variable in
  size and color, about .90 × .65 (22.9 × 16.5), white or whitish,
  speckled, veined, blotched, and marbled with deep browns and neutral
  tints” (Coues.).

  General Range.—“Northern parts of the northern hemisphere, breeding in
  the Arctic regions; in North America south in winter into the northern
  United States, irregularly to Georgia, southern Illinois, Kansas and
  Oregon.”

  Range in Washington.—East-side, of regular occurrence in open country;
  casual west of the Cascades.

  Migrations.—Nov. 4, 1899 (Yakima County). March 17, 1896 (Okanogan
  County).

  Authorities.—[“Snow Bunting,” Johnson, Rep. Gov. W. T. 1884 (1885),
  22.] Dawson, Auk, XIV. 1897, 178. T. D¹. D². B. E.

  Specimens.—(U. of W.) Prov. B. E. P.

I well remember my first meeting with this prince of storm waifs, the
Snowflake. It was in Chelan County on a chilly day in December. A
distant-faring, feathered stranger had tempted me across a bleak
pasture, when all at once a fluttering snowdrift, contrary to Nature’s
wont, rose from earth toward heaven. I held my breath and listened to
the mild babel of _tut-ut-ut-tews_, with which the Snow Buntings greeted
me. The birds were loath to leave the place, and hovered indecisively
while the bird-man devoured them with his eyes. As they moved off
slowly, each bird seemed alternately to fall and struggle upward thru an
arc of five or six feet, independently of his fellows, so that the flock
as a whole produced quite the effect of a troubled snowstorm.

Snowflakes flock indifferently in winter and may occur in numbers up to
several hundred. At other times a single, thrilling, vibrant call-note,
_tew_ or _te-ew_, may be heard during the falling of the real flakes,
while the wandering mystery passes overhead, unseen. Stray birds not
infrequently mingle with flocking Horned Larks; while Snowflakes and
Lapland Longspurs are fast friends in the regions where the latter are
common.

Probably these birds are of regular tho sparing occurrence in the Big
Bend and Palouse countries, but they do not often reach the southern
border of the State; and their appearance on Puget Sound, as upon the
prairies of Pierce County, is quite unusual. While with us they move
aimlessly from field to field in open situations, or glean the
weed-seed, which forms their almost exclusive diet. In time of storm, or
when emboldened by the continuance of winter, they may make their
appearance in the barnyard, or about the outbuildings, where their
sprightly notes and innocent airs are sure to make them welcome.

It is difficult to conceive how these birds may withstand the frightful
temperatures to which they are subjected in a winter upon the
Saskatchewan plains, and yet they endure this by preference to the
effeminizing influences which are believed to prevail south of
“Forty-nine,” and especially west of the Rockies. Close-knit feathers,
the warmest covering known, fortified by layers of fat, render them
quite impervious to cold; and as for the raging blizzard, the birds have
only to sit quietly under the snow and wait till the blast has blown
itself out.

The sun alone prevails, as in the case of the man with the cloak, and at
the first hint of the sun’s return to power, these ice-children hasten
back to find their chilly cradles. A few nest upon the Aleutian Islands,
and along the shores of northern Alaska; but more of them resort to
those ice-wrapped islands of the far North, which are mere names to the
geographer and dismal memories to a few hardy whalers. Peary’s men found
them breeding in Melville Land; and if there is a North Pole, be assured
that some Snowflake is nestling contentedly at the base of it.


                                No. 37.
                           ALASKAN LONGSPUR.

  A. O. U. 536a. Calcarius lapponicus alascensis Ridgw.

  Description.—_Adult male in summer_: Head, throat, and fore-breast
  black; a buffy line behind eye and sometimes over eye; a broad nuchal
  patch, or collar, of chestnut-rufous; remaining upperparts light
  grayish brown, streaked with black and with some whitish edging; below
  white; heavily streaked with black on sides and flanks; tail fuscous
  with oblique white patches on the outer rectrices; feet and legs
  black; bill yellow with black tip. _Adult male in winter_: Lighter
  above; the black of head and chestnut of cervical collar partially
  overlaid with buffy or whitish edging; the black of throat and breast
  more or less obscured by whitish edging. _Adult female in summer_:
  Similar to male in summer, but no continuous black or chestnut
  anywhere; the black of head mostly confined to centers of
  feathers,—these edged with buffy; the chestnut of cervical collar only
  faintly indicated as edging of feathers with sharply outlined dusky
  centers; black of throat and chest pretty thoroly obscured by grayish
  edging, but the general pattern retained; sides and flanks with a few
  sharp dusky streaks. _Adult female in winter_: [Description of October
  specimen taken in Seattle] Above buffy grayish brown streaked
  (centrally upon feathers) with black, wing coverts and tertials with
  rusty areas between the black and the buffy, and tipped with white;
  underparts warm buffy brownish, lightening on lower breast, abdomen,
  and under tail-coverts (where immaculate), lightly streaked with black
  on throat, chest, and sides, sharply on sides and flanks. Length of
  adult males about 6.50; wing 3.77 (95.8); tail 2.50 (63.3); bill .46
  (11.7); tarsus .86 (21.8). Female smaller.

  Recognition Marks.—Sparrow size; terrestrial habits; black head and
  breast of male. The bird may be distinguished from the Horned Lark,
  with which it sometimes associates, by the greater extent of its black
  areas, and by the chirruping or rattling cry which it makes when
  rising from the ground.

  Nesting.—Does not breed in Washington. _Nest_: in grass tussock on
  ground, flimsy or bulky, of grasses and moss, frequently water-soaked,
  and lined carefully with fine coiled grass, and occasionally feathers.
  _Eggs_: 4-6, light clay-color with a pale greenish tinge, variously
  marked,—speckled, spotted, scrawled, blotched, or entirely overlaid
  with light brown or chocolate brown. Av. size .80 × .62 (20.3 × 15.7).
  _Season_: first week in June; one brood.

  General Range.—“The whole of Alaska, including (and breeding on) the
  Pribilof and Aleutian Islands, Unalaska, and the Shumagins; east to
  Fort Simpson, south in winter thru more western parts of North America
  to Nevada (Carson City), eastern Oregon, Colorado, western Kansas,
  etc.” (Ridgway).

  Range in Washington.—Presumably of more or less regular occurrence in
  winter on the East-side. Casual west of the Cascades.

  Authorities.—[“Lapland Longspur,” Johnson, Rep. Gov. W. T. 1884 (1885)
  22.] Dawson, Auk, Vol. XXV. Oct. 1908, p. 483.

By all the rules this bird should be abundant in winter in the stubble
fields of the Palouse country, if not upon the prairies of Pierce,
Thurston, and Chehalis Counties. Bendire reported them from Camp Harney
in eastern Oregon, and Brooks says they are common on Sumas Prairie, B.
C.; but we have only one authentic record for this State, that of a
straggler taken near Seattle in October, 1907. These Longspurs abound in
Alaska during the nesting season, but it would appear that the mountain
barriers habitually deflect their autumnal flight to the eastward, and
that the few which reach us straggle down the coast.

Those who have seen Iowa prairies give up these birds by scores and
hundreds every few rods, have been able to form some conception of their
vast numbers, but it remained for the storm of March 13-14, 1904, to
reveal the real order of magnitude of their abundance. An observer
detailed by the Minnesota State Natural History Survey estimates that a
million and a half of these “Lapland” Longspurs perished in and about
the village of Worthington alone; and he found that this destruction,
tho not elsewhere so intense, extended over an area of fifteen hundred
square miles.

In spite of such buffetings of fortune, those birds which do reach
Alaska bring a mighty cheer with them to the solitudes. As Nelson says:
“When they arrive early in May the ground is still largely covered with
snow with the exception of grassy spots along southern exposures and the
more favorably situated portions of the tundra, and here may be found
these birds in all the beauty of their elegant summer dress. The males,
as if conscious of their handsome plumage, choose the tops of the only
breaks in the monotonous level, which are small rounded knolls and
tussocks. The male utters its song as it flies upward from one of these
knolls and when it reaches the height of ten or fifteen yards, it
extends the points of its wings upwards, forming a large V-shaped
figure, and floats gently to the ground, uttering, as it slowly sinks,
its liquid tones, which fall in tinkling succession upon the ear, and
are perhaps the sweetest notes that one hears during the entire
spring-time in these regions. It is an exquisite jingling melody, having
much less power than that of the Bobolink, but with the same general
character, and, tho shorter, it has even more melody than the song of
that well known bird.”


                                No. 38.
                         WESTERN LARK SPARROW.

  A. O. U. No. 552 a. Chondestes grammacus strigatus (Swains.).

  Synonyms.—Quail-head. Western Lark Finch.

  Description.—_Adult_: Head variegated, black, white, and chestnut;
  lateral head-stripes black in front, chestnut behind; auriculars
  chestnut, bounded by rictal and post-orbital black stripes; narrow
  loral, and broader submalar black stripes; malar, superciliary, and
  median stripes white, the two latter becoming buffy behind; upper
  parts buffish gray brown, clearest on sides of neck, streaked by
  blackish brown centers of feathers on middle back and scapulars,
  persisting as edging on the fuscous wings and tail; tail-feathers,
  except middle pair, broadly tipped with white; below white, purest on
  throat and belly, washed with grayish buff on sides and crissum, also
  obscurely across fore-breast, in which is situated a central black
  spot. Length 6.25 (158.8); wing 3.35 (85); tail 2.68 (68); bill .47
  (12); tarsus .80 (20.3).

                  [Illustration: WESTERN LARK SPARROW.]

  Recognition Marks.—Sparrow size; head variegated black, white, and
  chestnut; fan-shaped tail broadly tipped with white and conspicuous in
  flight (thus easily distinguished from the Western Vesper Sparrow with
  square tail and lateral white feathers).

  Nesting.—_Nest_: of grasses, lined with finer grass, rootlets and
  occasionally horse-hair, on the ground or, rarely, in low bushes or
  trees. _Eggs_: 5, white, pinkish or bluish white, spotted and scrawled
  in zigzags and scrolls with dark browns or purplish blacks, chiefly at
  the larger end; notably rounded in shape. Av. size .82 × .65 (20.8 ×
  16.5). _Season_: May 15-June 5; one brood, rarely two.

  General Range.—Western United States and plateau of Mexico; north to
  middle British Columbia, Manitoba, etc.; east to eastern border of
  Great Plains; west to Pacific Coast, including peninsula of lower
  California; south in winter to Guatemala.

  Range in Washington.—Summer resident east of Cascades only, in Upper
  Sonoran and Arid Transition zones.

  Migrations.—Wallula, May 6, 1907; Yakima Co., May 1, 1906; ibid, May
  3, 1900; Chelan, May 19, 1896.

  Authorities.—[“Western lark finch,” Johnson, Rep. Gov. W. T., 1884
  (1885), 22.] Belding, Land Birds Pacific District (1890), p. 148
  (Walla Walla, J. W. Williams, 1885). (T.) (C&S.) D¹. D². Ss¹. Ss². J.

  Specimens.—(U. of W.) C. P.

  [Illustration: _Taken in Douglas County._    _Photo by the Author._
                           A SAGE-BUSH NEST.]

As in the case of the Sandwich and Savanna Sparrows, the curiously
striped coloration of this bird’s head is evidently intended to
facilitate concealment. The bird peering out of a weed clump is almost
invisible. And yet, as I was once passing along a sage-clad hillside in
Chelan county with an observing young rancher, my companion halted with
a cry. He had caught the gleam of a Lark Sparrow’s eye as she sat
brooding under a perfect mop of dead broom-sage. The camera was brought
into requisition, and the lens pointed downward. The camera-cloth
bellied and flapped in the breeze, yellow tripod legs waved
belligerently, and altogether there was much noise of photographic
commerce, but the little mother clung to her eggs. The stupid glass eve
of the machine, spite of all coaxing, saw nothing but twigs, and we were
obliged to forego a picture of the sitting bird. To get the accompanying
picture of eggs, I was obliged to hack away the protecting brush, having
first slipped in a handkerchief to protect the nest and contents from
showering debris.

     [Illustration: _Taken near Chelan._    _Photo by the Author._
                 GROUND NEST OF WESTERN LARK SPARROW.]

The desert harbors many choice spirits, but none (save the incomparable
Sage Thrasher) more joyous or more talented than the Lark Sparrow.
Whether it is running nimbly along the ground or leaping into the air to
catch a risen grasshopper, one feels instinctively that here is a dainty
breed. The bird loves to trip ahead coquettishly along a dusty road,
only to yield place at last to your insistent steed with an air of
gentle reproach. As it flits away you catch a glimpse of the rounded
tail, held half open, with its terminal rim of white, and you know you
have met the aristocrat of the sage.

Lark Sparrows are somewhat irregular in distribution, but their range
corresponds roughly with the northern extension of the Upper Sonoran
zone, with overflow into the adjacent Arid Transition. Altho prairie
birds, they are fond of scattered trees, fences, telegraph poles, or
anything which will afford sufficient elevation for the sweet sacrament
of song.

This bird, more frequently than others, is found singing in the middle
of the very hottest days in summer, and at such times his tremulous
notes come to the ear like the gurgling of sweet waters. But Ridgway’s
description has not been surpassed:[15] “This song is composed of a
series of chants, each syllable rich, loud, and clear, interspersed with
emotional trills. At the beginning the song reminds one somewhat of that
of the Indigo Bird (_Passerina cyanea_), but the notes are louder and
more metallic, and their delivery more vigorous. Tho seemingly hurried,
it is one continued gush of sprightly music; now gay, now melodious, and
then tender beyond description,—the very expression of emotion. At
intervals the singer falters, as if exhausted by exertion, and his voice
becomes scarcely audible; but suddenly reviving in his joy, it is
resumed in all its vigor, until he appears to be really overcome by the
effort.”

These gentle birds are evidently profiting somewhat by the human
occupation of the soil, and adapt themselves readily to changed
conditions. They are reported as breeding in the valley of the
Willamette in Oregon, but we have no records of their occurrence in
Washington west of the Cascades.


                                No. 39.
                        WESTERN VESPER SPARROW.

  A. O. U. No. 540a. Poœcetes gramineus confinis Baird.

  Synonyms.—Western Grass Finch. Bay-winged Bunting.

  Description.—_Adults_: General tone of upperparts slaty or grayish
  brown on the edges of the feathers, modified by the dusky centers, and
  warmed by delicate traces of rufous, bend of wing bay, concealing
  dusky centers; wings and tail fuscous with pale tawny or whitish
  edgings,—outer tail-feathers principally or entirely white, the next
  two pairs white, or not, in varying amount; below sordid white,
  sharply streaked on breast, flanks, and sides with dusky brown; the
  chin and throat with small arrow marks of the same color and bounded
  by chains of streaks; auriculars clear hair-brown, with buffy or
  lighter center; usually a buffy suffusion on streaked area of breast
  and sides. Length of adult male: 5.75-6.25 (146.1-158.8); wing 3.29
  (83.6); tail 2.59 (65.8); bill .44 (11.2); tarsus .85 (21.6). Female a
  little smaller.

  Recognition Marks.—Sparrow size; general streaked appearance; white
  lateral tail-feathers conspicuous in flight; frequents fields and the
  open sage.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: on ground, usually in depression, neatly lined with
  grasses, rootlets, and horse-hair. _Eggs_: 4 or 5, pinkish-, grayish-,
  or bluish-white, speckled, spotted and occasionally scrawled with
  reddish-brown. Av. size, .82 × .60 (20.8 × 15.2). _Season_: first week
  in May, second week in June; two broods.

  General Range.—Western United States (except Pacific coast district)
  and Canada north to Saskatchewan east to Manitoba, the Dakotas
  (midway), western Nebraska, etc.; breeding from the highlands of
  Arizona and New Mexico northward; in winter from southern California
  east to Texas and south to southern Mexico.

  Range in Washington.—East-side, sparingly distributed in all open
  situations.

  Migrations.—_Spring_: Yakima Co., March 15, 1900; Chelan Co., March
  31, 1896.

  Authorities.—Dawson, Auk, XIV. April 1897, p. 178. Sr. D². Ss¹. Ss².
  J.

  Specimens.—P. Prov. C.

A sober garb cannot conceal the quality of the wearer, even tho Quaker
gray be made to cover alike saint and sinner. Plainness of dress,
therefore, is a fault to be readily forgiven, even in a bird, if it be
accompanied by a voice of sweet sincerity and a manner of
self-forgetfulness. In a family where a modest appearance is no
reproach, but a warrant to health and long life, the Vesper Sparrow is
pre-eminent for modesty. You are not aware of his presence until he
disengages himself from the engulfing grays and browns of the
stalk-strewn ground or dusty roadside, and mounts a fence-post to rhyme
the coming or the parting day.

The arrival of Vesper Sparrow, late in March, may mark the supreme
effort of that particular warm wave, but you are quite content to await
the further travail of the season while you get acquainted with this
amiable newcomer. Under the compulsion of the sun the bleary fields have
been trying to muster a decent green to hide the ugliness of winter’s
devastation. But wherefore? The air is lonely and the sage untenanted.
The Meadowlarks, to be sure, have been romping about for several weeks
and getting bolder every day; but they are roisterous fellows, drunk
with air and mad with sunshine. The winter-sharpened ears wait hungrily
for the poet of common day. The morning he comes a low sweet murmur of
praise is heard on every side. You know it will ascend unceasingly
thenceforth, and spring is different.

Vesper Sparrow is the typical ground bird. He eats, runs, sleeps, and
rears his family upon the ground; but to sing—ah, that is
different!—nothing less than the tip of the highest sage-bush will do
for that; a telegraph pole or wire is better; and a lone tree in a
pasture is not to be despised for this one purpose. The males gather in
spring to engage in decorous concerts of rivalry. The song consists of a
variety of simple, pleasing notes, each uttered two or three times, and
all strung together to the number of four or five. The characteristic
introduction is a mellow whistled _he-ho_, a little softer in tone than
the succeeding notes. The song of the western bird has noticeably
greater variety than that of the eastern. Not only is it less
stereotyped in the matter of pitch and duration, but in quality and
cadence it sometimes shows surprising differences. One heard in Chelan
County would have passed for Brewer’s on a frolic, except for the
preliminary “_hee-ho’s_”: _Heéoo heéoo heéoo ^buzziwuzziwuzzi
wuzziwuzziwuzzi weechee weechee_. And indeed it would not be surprising
if he had learned from _Spizella breweri_, who is a constant neighbor
and a safe guide in matters of sage lore. The scolding note, a
thrasher-like kissing sound, _tsook_, will sometimes interrupt a song if
the strange listener gets too close. Early morning and late evening are
the regular song periods; but the conscientious and indefatigable singer
is more apt than most to interrupt the noontide stillness also.

Since this species is a bird of open country and uplands, it cares
little for the vicinity of water; but it loves the dust of country roads
as dearly as an old hen, and the daily dust-bath is a familiar sight to
every traveler. While seeking its food of weed-seeds and insects, it
runs busily about upon the ground, skulking and running oftener than
flitting for safety. Altho not especially timid it seems to take a sort
of professional pride in being able to slip about among the weed stems
unseen.

  [Illustration: _Taken in Douglas County._    _Photo by the Author._
                               THE ENEMY.
      THE RATTLESNAKE IS THE SCOURGE OF ALL GROUND-NESTING BIRDS.]

It is, of course, at nesting time that the sneak-ability of the bird is
most severely tested. The nest, a simple affair of coiled grasses, is
usually sunk, or chambered in the ground, so that its brim comes flush
with the surface. For the rest, the brooding bird seldom seeks any other
protection than that of “luck,” and her own ability to elude observation
when obliged to quit the nest. Her behavior at this time depends largely
upon the amount of disturbance to which she is subjected. At first
approach of danger she is inclined to stick to her post till the last
possible moment, and then she falls lame as she flutters off. But if
often frightened, she shrewdly learns to rise at a considerable
distance.

Two and sometimes three broods are raised in a season, the first in late
April, the second in late June or early July. Pastures and fallow
grounds are favorite spots for home building, but I have frequently come
upon the nests in the open sage, and here oftenest upon hillsides or
tops of low ridges.

Altho not averse to the wilderness, there is reason to believe that this
bird profits by the advent of civilization, and that its numbers are
slowly increasing.


                                No. 40.
                         OREGON VESPER SPARROW.

  A. O. U. No. 540 b. Poœcetes gramineus affinis Miller.

  Synonyms.—Pacific Vesper Sparrow. Miller’s Grass Finch.

  Description.—Similar to _P. g. confinis_ but smaller and coloration
  darker, browner above, more distinctly buffy below. Length of adult
  male about 5.75 (146); wing 3.04 (77.2); tail 2.28 (57.9); bill .43
  (10.9); tarsus .81 (20.6). Female a little smaller.

  Recognition Marks.—As in preceding, less liable to confusion because
  of absence of Brewer Sparrow, Western Lark Sparrow, etc., from range.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: on ploughed ground or under shelter of fern-stalk,
  fallen branch, or the like; of grasses lined with hair; measures
  externally 3 inches across by 2 in depth, inside 2¼ across by 1¼ in
  depth. _Eggs_: 3 or 4, size and color as in preceding. _Season_: May;
  one brood, rarely two.

  General Range.—Pacific coast district from northern California north
  to British Columbia (including Vancouver Island); south in winter thru
  southern California to Cape St. Lucas.

  Range in Washington.—Of local occurrence on prairies and in cultivated
  valleys west of the Cascades—not common.

  Migrations.—_Spring_: Tacoma April 9, 1906; April 13, 1907.

  Authorities.—_Poocætes gramineus_ Ba[i]rd, Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R.
  Surv. IX. 1858, p. 447 (part). (T). C&S. Ra. B.

  Specimens.—(U. of W.) P. Prov. B. E.

The appearance of a Vesper Sparrow where trees are the rule is something
of an anomaly. Nevertheless, this plains-loving bird seems to do very
well in the prairie region south of Tacoma; and it has been here at
least long enough to begin to assume the darker garb which characterizes
old residents of the Sound region.

The bird is becoming fairly common wherever conditions in the large are
suitable for it. I found it in numbers at Dungeness in the spring of
1906; and the agricultural lands of the Skagit are being accepted by
this gentle songster as tho duly made and provided.

Mr. Bowles finds that eggs may not be looked for in the vicinity of
Tacoma before the first week in May, and they are not certainly found
before the middle of that month. Open prairie is most frequently
selected for a site, and its close-cropped mossy surface often requires
considerable ingenuity of concealment on the bird’s part. Ploughed
ground, where undisturbed, is eagerly utilized. At other times a shallow
cup is scraped at the base of a small fern, or the protection of a
fallen limb is sought.

The eggs, from three to five in number, are perhaps the most handsomely,
certainly the most quaintly marked of any in the sparrow family. The
ground color is grayish white; and this, in addition to sundry
frecklings and cloudings of lavender, is spotted, blotched, and
scrawled, with old chestnut.

The female sits closely and sometimes will not leave the nest until
removed. She seldom flies at that, but steps off and trips along the
ground for some distance. Then she walks about uneasily or pretends to
feed, venturing little expression of concern. Curiously, her liege lord
never appears, either, in defense of his home, but after the young are
hatched he does his fair share in feeding them.


                                No. 41.
                           SANDWICH SPARROW.

  A. O. U. No. 542. Passerculus sandwichensis (Gmelin).

  Synonym.—Larger Savanna Sparrow.

  Description.—_Adults_: General tone of upper plumage grayish brown—the
  feathers blackish centrally with much edging of grayish-brown
  (sometimes bay), flaxen and whitish; a mesial crown-stripe dull buffy,
  or tinged anteriorly with yellowish; lateral stripes with grayish
  brown edging reduced; a broad superciliary stripe yellow, clearest
  over lore, paling posteriorly; cheeks buffy with some mingling and
  outcropping of dusky; underparts whitish, clearest on throat, washed
  with buffy on sides, heavily and sharply streaked on sides of throat,
  breast, sides, flanks and thighs with dusky; streaks nearly confluent
  on sides of throat, thus defining submalar area of whitish; streaks
  darkest and wedge-shaped on breast, more diffused and edged with buffy
  posteriorly; under tail-coverts usually _but not always_ with
  concealed wedge-shaped streaks of dusky; bill dusky or dull horn-color
  above, lighter below; feet palest; iris dark brown. _Fall specimens_
  are brighter; the yellow, no longer prominent in superciliary stripe,
  is diffused over plumage of entire head and, occasionally, down sides;
  the bend of the wing is pale yellow (or not); the sides are more
  strongly suffused with buffy which usually extends across breast.
  Length about 5.75 (146); wing 2.99 (76); tail 2.00 (51); bill .47
  (12); tarsus .88 (22.5).

  Recognition Marks.—Warbler size (but much more robust in appearance
  than a Warbler); general streaky appearance; the striation of the
  head, viewed from before, radiates in twelve alternating areas of
  black and white (or yellow); larger and lighter than the (rare)
  Savanna Sparrow (_P. s. savanna_); larger. darker and browner than the
  common Western Savanna Sparrow (_P. s. alaudinus_).

  Nesting.—Not yet reported breeding in Washington. _Nest_ and _eggs_ as
  in _P. s. alaudinus_.

  General Range.—“Unalaska Island (also Shumagin islands and lower
  portion of Alaska peninsula?) in summer; in winter, eastward and
  southward along the coast to British Columbia, more rarely to Northern
  California” (Ridgway). Also breeds extensively in western British
  Columbia and on Vancouver Island (_Auct._ Fannin, Kermode, Dawson).

  Range in Washington.—Spring and fall migrant on both sides of the
  Cascades (sparingly on East-side); (presumably) resident in winter
  west of the range; possibly summer resident in northwestern portion of
  State.

  Migrations.—_Spring_: April (West-side); South Park April 24, 25, 29,
  1894; May (East-side); Yakima Co. May 8, 10, 1894; _Fall_: September.

  Authorities.—_Passerculus sandwichensis_ Baird, Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R.
  Surv. IX. 1858, p. 445. C&S. Rh. Kb.

  Specimens.—U. of W. Prov. C.

The interrelations and distributions of the _Passerculus sandwichensis_
group are not at all clear as yet, but the migrant birds of spring and
middle fall are usually of this form, and hail from or are bound for the
coast of British Columbia and Alaska. At Blaine I have found them
skulking about the fish-trap timbers of Semiahmoo spit, during the last
week in September; or hiding in the rank grass which lines the little
waterways draining into Campbell Creek. At such times they keep cover
until one is almost upon them, and then break out with a frightened and
protesting _tss_, only to seek shelter again a dozen feet away.


                                No. 42.
                            SAVANNA SPARROW.

  A. O. U. No. 542 a. Passerculus sandwichensis savanna (Wilson).

  Synonyms.—Savannah Sparrow. Meadow Sparrow. Ground Sparrow.

  Description.—_Adult_: Similar to _P. sandwichensis_ but decidedly
  smaller and darker (usually browner as well), with bill both
  relatively and absolutely smaller, and with less or less conspicuous
  yellow in superciliary stripe. Length about 5.60 (142.2) wing 2.68
  (68); tail 1.90 (48.2); bill .41 (10.4); tarsus .82 (20.8).

  Recognition Marks.—Warbler size; 12-radiant pattern of head; general
  streakiness of upperparts; sharply streaked on breast and sides;
  darker.

  Nesting.—Has not been discovered breeding in Washington but probably
  does so. _Nest_ and _Eggs_ as next.

  General Range.—Eastern North America breeding from the northern United
  States to Labrador and the Hudson Bay country; casual(?) in the
  Western United States.

  Range in Washington.—Imperfectly made out; many birds resident on
  West-side believed to be of this form.

  Authorities.—Bowles and Dawson, Auk, Vol. XXV. Oct. 1908, p. 483.

  Specimens.—Bowles, Tacoma, April 28, 1907 (4).

Some specimens we get on Puget Sound are no larger than typical
_Western_ Savanna, but are more strongly and brightly colored—handsome
enough to be _sandwichensis_ proper. Are these _re_saturated forms the
bleached _alaudinus_, so long resident in the wet country as to be now
reassuming the discarded tints of old? Are they, rather, intergrades
between _P. s. sandwichensis_ and _P. s. alaudinus_, theoretically
resident on the lower Sound and in B. C.? Or are they casual overflows
of true _savanna_, ignorant of our western metes and bounds? I do not
know. Tweedledum or tweedledee? Here is a fine problem for the man with
a gun, to whom a new subspecies is more than the lives of a thousand
innocents. But I disclaim all responsibility in the matter.


                                No. 43.
                        WESTERN SAVANNA SPARROW.

  A. O. U. No. 542b. Passerculus sandwichensis alaudinus (Bonap.).

  Synonym.—Gray Savannah Sparrow.

  Description.—Similar to _P. s. savanna_ but decidedly paler and
  grayer; less bay or none in edging of feathers of upperparts; yellow
  of superciliary stripe usually paler, sometimes nearly white; bill
  longer and relatively weaker. Other dimensions about as in _P. s.
  savanna_.

  Recognition Marks.—As in preceding—_paler_.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: in grassy meadow, of dried grasses settled deeply
  into dead grass or, rarely, into ground. _Eggs_: 4 or 5, grayish white
  to light bluish green, profusely dotted or spotted and blotched with
  varying shades of brown and slate, sometimes so heavily as to conceal
  the ground color. Av. size, .75 × .55 (19 × 13.97). _Season_: third
  week in May; one brood.

  General Range.—Western North America from the eastern border of the
  Great Plains breeding from the plateau of Mexico to northwestern
  Alaska; in winter south to Lower California and Guatemala.

  Range in Washington.—Both sides of the Cascades in low-lying meadows.
  Perhaps sparingly resident in winter on West-side.

  Migrations.—_Spring_: About April 1st; Bremerton March 23, 1906.

  Authorities.—_Passerculus alaudinus_ Bonap. Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R.
  Surv. IX. 1858, 447. (T). C&S. L¹. Rh. Ra. Kk. J. B. E.

  Specimens.—U. of W. P¹. Prov. B.

Not every bird can be a beauty any more than every soldier can be a
colonel; and when we consider that ten times as many shot-guns are in
commission in time of peace as rifles in time of war, we cannot blame a
bird for rejoicing in the virtue of humility, envying neither the
epaulets of General Blackbird nor even the pale chevrons of Sergeant
Siskin. A Savanna Sparrow, especially the washed-out western variety, is
a mere detached bit of brown earth done up in dried grasses; a feathered
commonplace which the landscape will swallow up the instant you take
eyes off it. To be sure, if you can get it quite alone and _very_ near,
you see enough to admire in the twelve-radiating pattern of the head,
and you may even perceive a wan tint of yellow in the superciliary
region; but let the birdling drop upon the ground and sit motionless
amidst the grass, or in a criss-cross litter of weed-stalks, and sooner
far will you catch the gleam of the needle in the haystack.

                [Illustration: WESTERN SAVANNA SPARROW.]

Savannas are birds of the meadows, whether fresh or salt, and wherever
well-watered grasses and weeds abound, there they may be looked for.
During migration, indeed, they may appear in most unexpected places. I
saw one last year, at Bremerton, which haunted the vicinity of a tiny
cemented pond in the center of a well-kept lawn. This bird hopped about
coyly, peering behind blades of grass, and affecting a dainty fright at
the sight of water, very much as a Chipping Sparrow might have done. In
their nesting habits these little fellows approach more closely to
colonizing than any other members of the Sparrow family. Large tracts of
land, apparently suitable, are left untenanted; while, in a near-by
field of a few acres, half a dozen pairs may be found nesting. More
recently the birds have accepted the shelter of irrigated tracts upon
the East-side, and their numbers would seem almost certainly to be upon
the increase.

To ascertain the presence of these birds, the ear-test is best, when
once the song is mastered. The latter consists of a series of lisping
and buzzing notes, fine only in the sense of being small, and quite
unmusical, _tsut, tsut, tsu wzzzzztsubut_. The sound instantly recalls
the eastern Grasshopper Sparrow (_Coturniculus savannarum passerinus_),
who is an own cousin; but the preliminary and closing flourishes are a
good deal longer than those of the related species, and the buzzing
strain shorter.

Love-making goes by example as well as by season, so that when the
choral fever is on they are all at it. The males will sing from the
ground rather than keep silence, altho they prefer a weed-top, a fence
post, or even a convenient tree. The female listens patiently near by,
or if she tries to slip away for a bit of food, the jealous lover
recalls her to duty by an ardent chase.

The nest is settled snugly in the dead grasses of last year’s ungathered
crop, and is thus both concealed from above and upborne from below, and
is itself carefully done in fine dead grasses.

The sitting bird does not often permit a close approach, but rises from
the nest at not less than thirty feet. The precise spot is, therefore,
very difficult to locate. If discovered the bird will potter about with
fine affection of listlessness, and seems to consider that she has done
her full duty in not showing the eggs.


                                No. 44.
                            DESERT SPARROW.

  A. O. U. No. 573 a. Amphispiza bilineata deserticola Ridgw.

  Description.—_Adults_: Above brownish gray, browner on middle of back
  and on wings; a conspicuous white superciliary stripe bounded narrowly
  by black above and separated from white malar stripe (not reaching
  base of bill) by gray on sides of head; lores, anterior portion of
  malar region, chin, throat and chest centrally black, the last named
  with convex posterior outline; remaining underparts white tinged with
  grayish on sides and flanks; tail blackish, the outer web of outermost
  rectrix chiefly white, the inner web with white spot on tip, second
  rectrix (sometimes third or even fourth) tipped with white on inner
  web. Bill dusky; feet and legs brownish black. _Young_ birds like
  adults but without black pattern of head markings; chin and throat
  white or flecked with grayish; breast streaked with same and back
  faintly streaked with dusky; some buffy edging on wing. Length of
  adults about 5.35 (135.9); wing 2.55 (65); tail 2.48 (63); bill .40
  (10); tarsus .75 (19).

  Recognition Marks.—Warbler size; grayish coloration; strong white
  superciliary; _black_ throat distinctive.

  Nesting.—Not yet reported from Washington. “_Nest_ in bushes, slight
  and frail, close to the ground; _eggs_ 2-5, 0.72 × 0.58 (18.3 × 14.7),
  white with a pale greenish or bluish tinge, unmarked; laid in May,
  June and later” (Coues).

  General Range.—Arid districts of southwestern United States and
  northwestern Mexico west from western Texas to California north
  probably to southern Idaho and Washington; south, in winter to
  Chihuahua, Sonora and Lower California.

  Range in Washington.—Probably summer resident in Upper Sonoran and
  Arid Transition life-zones; believed to be recently invading State
  from south.

  Authority.—Dawson, Auk, Vol. XXV. Oct. 1908, p. 483.

If one happens to be fairly well acquainted with the licensed musicians
of the sage, the presence of a strange voice in the morning chorus is as
noticeable as a scarlet golf jacket at church. The morning light was
gilding the cool gray of a sage-covered hillside in Douglas County, on
the 31st day of May, 1908, and the bird-man was mechanically checking
off the members of the desert choir, Brewer Sparrow, Lark Sparrow,
Vesper Sparrow and the rest, as they reported for duty, one by one, when
suddenly a fresh voice of inquiry, _Blew chee tee tee_, burst from the
sage at a stone’s cast. The binoculars were instantly levelled and their
use alternated rapidly with that of note-book and pencil as the leading
features of the stranger’s dress were seized upon in order of saliency:
Black chin and throat with rounded extension on chest outlined against
whitish of underparts and separated from grayish dusky of cheeks by
white malar stripe; lores, apparently including eye, black; brilliant
white superciliary stripe; crown and back warm light brown.

The newcomer was a male Desert Sparrow and the interest aroused by his
appearance was considerably heightened when it was recalled that he was
venturing some five hundred miles north of his furthest previously
recorded range. This bird, probably the same individual, was seen and
heard on several occasions subsequent thruout a stretch of half a mile
bordering on Brook Lake. Once a female was glimpsed in company with her
liege lord, flitting coquettishly from bush to bush; but the most
diligent search failed to discover a nest, if such there was. Nesting
was most certainly on the gallant’s mind for he sang at faithful
intervals. The notes of his brief but musical offering had something of
the gushing and tinkling quality of a Lark Sparrow’s. A variant form,
_whew, whew, whiterer_, began nicely but degenerated in the last member
into the metallic clicking of Towhee.

We have here, in all probability, another and a very conspicuous example
of that northward trend of species which we shall have frequent occasion
to remark. The passion of the North Pole quest is not merely a human
weakness; it is a deep-rooted instinct which we only share with the
birds. There was once a near-Eden yonder, a Pliocene paradise, from
which the cruel ice evicted us—birds and men—long, long ago. We go now
to reclaim our own.


                                No. 45.
                             SAGE SPARROW.

  A. O. U. No. 574.1. Amphispiza nevadensis (Ridgw.).

  Synonyms.—Artemisia Sparrow. Nevada Sage Sparrow.

  Description.—_Adults_: Upperparts (including auriculars and sides of
  neck) ashy gray to ashy brown, clearer and grayer anteriorly, browner
  posteriorly; pileum, back and scapulars sharply and narrowly streaked
  with black; wings and tail dull black with light brownish or pale
  grayish edging; the rectrices marked with white much as in preceding
  species; a supraloral spot, an orbital ring and (usually) a short
  median line on forehead white; sides of head slaty gray; lores dusky;
  underparts white, clearest on throat where bounded and set off from
  white of malar area by interrupted chain of dusky streaks,
  occasionally with dusky spot on center of breast, marked on sides and
  flanks with buffy and streaked with dusky; edge of wing pale yellow or
  yellowish white. Bill blackish above, lighter below; legs dark brown,
  toes darker; iris brown. _Young_: “Pileum, hindneck, chest and sides,
  as well as back, streaked with dusky; otherwise essentially as in
  adults” (Ridgway). Underparts save on throat sometimes tinged with
  yellowish or buffy. Length of adult male about 6.00 (152.4); wing 3.11
  (79); tail 2.95 (75); bill .39 (10); tarsus .84 (21.5). Female a
  little smaller.

  Recognition Marks.—Sparrow size (barely); ashy gray plumage; _white_
  throat defined by dusky streaks.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: of twigs, sage bark, and “hemp” warmly lined with
  wool, rabbit-fur, cow-hair or feathers, placed low in crotch of sage
  bush. _Eggs_: 3-5, usually 4, brownish- or greenish-gray as to ground,
  dotted, spotted or clouded, rarely scrawled, with chestnut or sepia
  and with some purplish shell markings. Av. size .80 × .60 (20.3 ×
  15.2). _Season_: April, June; two broods.

  General Range.—Great Basin region of the Western United States, west
  to eastern base of Sierra Nevada, east to eastern base of Rockies,
  north (at least) to northern Washington; south, in winter, into
  southern Arizona, etc.

  Range in Washington.—Upper Sonoran and Arid Transition life zones in
  eastern Washington north at least to the Grand Couleé; summer
  resident.

  Authorities.—[“Sagebrush Sparrow” Johnson, Rep. Gov. W. T. 1884
  (1885), 22.] _Amphispiza belli nevadensis_, Dawson, Wilson Bulletin,
  No. 39, June, 1902, p. 65. Ss¹. Ss².

  Specimens.—U. of W. P.

Thank God for the sage-brush! It is not merely that it clothes the
desert and makes its wastes less arid. No one needs to apologize for the
unclad open, or to shun it as tho it were an unclean thing. Only little
souls do this,—those who, being used to small spaces, miss the support
of crowding elbows, and are frightened into peevish complaint when asked
to stand alone. To the manly spirit there is exultation in mere space.
The ground were enough, the mere Expanse, with the ever-matching blue of
the hopeful sky. But when to this is added the homely verdure of the
untilled ground, the cup of joy is filled. One snatches at the sage as
tho it were the symbol of all the wild openness, and buries his nostrils
in its pungent branches to compass at a whiff this realm of unpent
gladness. Prosy? Monotonous? Faugh! Back to the city with you! You are
not fit for the wilderness unless you love its very wormwood.

[Illustration: _Taken in Douglas County._    _Photo by W. Leon Dawson._
                         SAGE SPARROW ON NEST.
 THIS BIRD WAS NOT THE VICTIM OF THE MISFORTUNE MENTIONED IN THE TEXT.]

The sage has interest or not, to be sure, according to the level from
which it is viewed. Regarded from the supercilious level of the
man-on-horseback, it is a mere hindrance to the pursuit of the erring
steer. The man a-foot has some dim perception of its beauties, but if
his errand is a long one he, too, wearies of his devious course. Those
who are best of all fitted to appreciate its infinite variety of gnarled
branch and velvet leaf, and to revel in its small mysteries, are simple
folk,—rabbits, lizards, and a few birds who have chosen it for their
life portion. Of these, some look up to it as to the trees of an ancient
forest and are lost in its mazes; but of those who know it from the
ground up, none is more loyal than the Sage Sparrow. Whether he gathers
a breakfast, strewn upon the ground, among the red, white, and blue, of
storkbill, chickweed, and fairy-mint, or whether he explores the
crevices of the twisted sage itself for its store of shrinking beetles,
his soul is filled with a vast content.

Here in the springtime he soon gets full enough for utterance, and
mounts the topmost sprig of a sage bush to voice his thanks. In general
character the song is a sort of subdued musical croaking, mellow and
rich at close quarters, but with little carrying power. The bird throws
his head well back in singing, and the tail is carried more nearly
horizontal than is the case with most Sparrows. A song from the Yakima
country ran: _Heo, chip’peway, chip′peway, chip′peway_, but a common
type heard on the banks of the Columbia in Walla Walla County, and
repeated upon the northern limit of the bird’s range in Douglas County,
is _Tup, tup, to weely, chup, tup_. A more pretentious ditty, occupying
two seconds in delivery, runs _Hooriedoppety, weeter wee, doodlety
pootat′er_,—an ecstacy song, wherein the little singer seems to be
intoxicated with the aroma of his favorite sage.

One may search a long time in the neighborhood of the singer—who, by the
way, closes the concert abruptly when he realizes that he is likely to
give his secret away—before finding the humble domicile a foot or two up
in a sage bush. A nest which contained five eggs was composed externally
of sage twigs set into a concealed crotch of the bush, but the bulk of
it consisted of weed-bark and “hemp” of a quite uniform quality; while
the lining contained tufts of wool, rabbit-fur, cow-hair, feathers, and
a few coiled horse-hairs. The feathers were procured at some distant
ranch, and their soft tips were gracefully upturned to further the
concealment of the eggs, already well protected by their grayish green
tints.

Another nest, sighted some forty paces away, contained one egg, and we
had high hopes of being able to secure photographs upon our return with
the camera. But a few rods further we came upon a crew of sneaking
Magpies, scouring the sage with a dozen beady eyes, and passing sneering
or vulgarly jocose remarks upon what they found. When we returned,
therefore, a day or two later, we were not surprised to learn that the
feathered marauders had preferred egg-in-the-bill to souvenir
photographs.


                                No. 46.
                          SLATE-COLORED JUNCO.

  A. O. U. No. 567. Junco hyemalis (Linn.).

  Synonyms.—Snow-bird. Eastern Snow-bird.

  Description.—_Adult male in summer_: Upperparts, throat and breast
  slate-color deepening to slaty-black on pileum, the bluish tinge
  lacking on wings and tail; below, abruptly white from the breast, the
  flanks ashy slate; the two outer pairs of tail-feathers entirely, and
  the third pair principally white; bill flesh-color, usually tipped
  with black. _Adult female_: Similar to male; throat and breast paler;
  a brownish wash over the upperparts, deepest on nape and upper back;
  wings brownish fuscous rather than black, and sides tawny-washed.
  _Adult male in winter_, becoming like female, but still
  distinguishable. Length 6.00-6.50 (152.4-165.1); wing 3.07 (78); tail
  2.80 (71.1); bill .49 (12.5). Female averages slightly smaller than
  male.

  Recognition Marks.—Sparrow size; white lateral tail-feathers; hood
  _slaty_ as compared with _J. oreganus_ and _J. o. shufeldti_.

  Nesting.—Not known to breed in Washington. _Nest_ and _eggs_ as next.

  General Range.—North America, chiefly east of the Rocky Mountains,
  breeding in the hilly portions of the Northern States (east of the
  Rockies) north to the Arctic Coast and west to the valleys of the
  Yukon and Kowak Rivers, Alaska; south in winter as far as the Gulf
  States and sparingly over the Western States to California, Arizona,
  etc.

  Range in Washington.—Casual during migrations; may winter rarely in
  company with _J. oreganus_.

  Authorities.—_Not previously published_: W. T. Shaw _in epist._ Dec.
  1, 1908. J. H. Bowles _in epist._ Jan. 19, 1909.

  Specimens.—P¹.

This the familiar Snow-bird of the East is occasionally seen west of the
Rocky Mountains in winter and during migrations, specimens having been
taken at Sumas, B. C., by Mr. Allan Brooks, and at Corvallis, Oregon, by
Mr. A. R. Woodcock, in addition to the one reported from Pullman. It is
not impossible that the bird is more common than we have been supposing,
because, when found, it appears to be mingling freely with flocks of
allied species, quite unaware of the fact that such actions are of
interest to inquisitive bird-men.


                                No. 47.
                             OREGON JUNCO.

  A. O. U. No. 567a. Junco oreganus (Towns.).

  Synonyms.—“Oregon Snow-finch.” Western Snow-bird. Oregon Snow-bird.
  Townsend’s Junco.

  Description.—_Adult male_: Head and neck all around and chest
  (abruptly defined along convex posterior edge) sooty black; back and
  scapulars and edging of tertials warm reddish brown (nearly walnut
  brown); rump, upper tail-coverts and middle and greater wing-coverts
  slaty gray or ashy gray, sometimes glossed with olivaceous; wings and
  tail dusky, edged with ashy; the outermost rectrix wholly and the
  second chiefly touched with white, the third pair touched with white
  near tip; sides of breast, sides and flanks strongly washed with
  pinkish brown (vinaceous cinnamon); remaining underparts (below chest)
  white. Bill pinkish white with dusky tip; iris claret red. _Adult
  female_: Head and neck all around and chest scarcely contrasting in
  color with upperparts but changing from warm brown (bister) above to
  dull slaty overlaid with brownish on throat and chest; brown of back
  (bister or dull sepia) without reddish tinge; white on second rectrix
  not so extensive as in male; wash of sides duller, not so vinaceous.
  _Young_: Top of head and hind-neck grayish brown streaked with dusky,
  back and scapulars warmer brown streaked with black; throat, chest,
  sides and flanks pale buffy brown streaked with blackish; otherwise as
  in adult. Length of adult males about 6.35 (161.3); wing 2.95 (75);
  tail 2.56 (65); bill .43 (11); tarsus 83 (21). Females smaller.

  Recognition Marks.—Sparrow size; black of head and throat contrasting
  with white of breast; white lateral tail-feathers; head _black_ as
  compared with _J. hyemalis_; back _reddish_ brown as compared with _J.
  o. shufeldti_.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: on ground at base of small bush or under fallen
  branch, sometimes in open wood or set into brushy hillside, of dead
  grasses and weed stems, scantily lined, or not, with hair; dimensions
  2½ inches wide by 1½ inches deep inside. _Eggs_: 2-5, usually 4,
  varying in ground color from pure white to pinkish white or pale blue,
  spotted or freckled and blotched with light reddish brown or brownish
  black, with occasional light cloudings of lavender; long oval to short
  ovate; variable in size, .80 × .60 (20.3 × 15.2) to .73 × .56 (18.5 ×
  14.2). _Season_: fourth week in April to first week in July or August
  according to altitude; two or three broods.

  General Range.—Pacific Coast district; in summer from southern British
  Columbia north to Yakutat Bay, Alaska; in winter south irregularly to
  California (Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties), straggling across the
  Cascade-Sierras into interior.

  Range in Washington.—Formerly summer resident, now chiefly migrant and
  winter resident west of the Cascades; winter resident and migrant east
  of Cascades.

  Authorities.—?Townsend, Journ. Ac. Nat. Sci. Phila. VII., 1837, 188
  (part). _Junco oreganus_ Sclater, Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R. Surv. IX.,
  1858, 467. T. C&S. L¹. Rh. D¹. Kb. Ra. D². Kk. B.

  Specimens.—U. of W. P¹. Prov. B.

In speaking of Juncoes it is necessary to distinguish between the
rufous-backed bird of winter, the Oregon Junco proper, and the
brownish-gray-backed bird of summer, the Shufeldt Junco. A dozen years
ago _oreganus_ was supposed to be the common breeding bird of Puget
Sound and the neighboring foothills, altho Shufeldt’s was well known in
the more open situations. Latterly, however, there has not been any
authentic account of the nesting of the red-backed bird within the
State. 1903 witnessed its last appearance as a summer bird, and that
only in the highlands. Recent specimens taken during the breeding season
at places so remote from each other as the prairies of Pierce County,
the banks of the Pend d’Oreille in Stevens County, and the High Cascades
in Whatcom County, have all proven to be _J. o. shufeldti_.

The fact appears to be that we have detected a Washingtonian instance of
that northward trend of species clearly recognizable in the East, but
obscured to our vision heretofore in the West by reason of varied
conditions and insufficient data. The theory is that the birds are still
following the retreat of the glacial ice. We know that the glacial
ice-sheet, now confined to Greenland and the high North, once covered
half the continent. In our own mountains we see the vestigial traces of
glaciers which were once of noble proportions. We know that the
southward advance of the continental ice-sheet must have driven all
animal life before it; and, likewise, that the territory since
relinquished by the ice has been regained by the animals. What more
natural than that we should witness thru close observation the northward
advance of those varieties of birds which are best suited to withstand
cold, and the corresponding occupation of abandoned territory on the
part of those next south?

Juncoes, moreover, are erratic in their migrations, and in the West, at
least, tend to become non-migratory. While Oregon Juncoes are the common
winter birds of Puget Sound, Shufeldt’s are not entirely absent at this
season, and we may even look to see them hold their own thruout the
year. The problem is further complicated by what we call vertical
migration, by which is meant that mountain birds descend to the valleys
in winter instead of flying southward. Our winter Shufeldts, therefore,
may or may not be strictly resident on, say, Steilacoom Prairie. The
summer birds may retire to California; the winter birds may have
descended from the Olympics or Mount Rainier.


                                No. 48.
                           SHUFELDT’S JUNCO.

  A. O. U. No. 567b. Junco oreganus shufeldti (Coale).

  Synonyms.—Washington Junco. Hybrid Snow-bird (Coues). Rocky Mountain
  Junco (Coues).

  Description.—_Adults_: Similar to _J. oreganus_ but back (in males)
  grayish, or grayish-brown to sepia; in females sepia to drab; black of
  head and throat more slaty; also averaging larger. _Length_: 6.00-6.50
  (152.4-165); wing 3.15 (80); tail 2.72 (69); bill .43 (11); tarsus .83
  (21).

  Recognition Marks.—Sparrow size; black of head and throat contrasting
  with brownish-gray of back and with white of breast; _grayer_ on back
  than preceding.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: much as in preceding, occasionally placed at moderate
  heights in trees. _Eggs_: 4 or 5, pale bluish white, spotted and
  blotched with light reddish brown and lavender, usually in light ring,
  occasionally in confluent mass about larger end; size larger than
  preceding. Av. .80 × .60 (20.3 × 15.2). _Season_: fourth week in April
  to August according to altitude; two broods.

  General Range.—Breeding from northern Oregon north into British
  Columbia east to mountains of Alberta and Idaho; south in winter over
  Rocky Mountain plateau region to Mexico,—northern California.

  Range in Washington.—Common summer resident thruout the State, in or
  near coniferous timber, from sea level to limit of trees; sparingly
  resident in winter chiefly west of Cascades.

  Authorities.—As in preceding. (T). C&S. Sr. Ra. D². J. B. E.

  Specimens.—U. of W. P¹. B. Bn.

However it may fare with the Oregon Junco (q. v.), the southern
invaders, the birds with the rusty gray backs, now appear to possess the
land. They have stolen back sometime in March, so unobtrusively we
scarcely noticed when the substitution of gray-backs for red-backs was
effected; but soon we do notice that the yards and clearings are
frequented by happy rollicking troops of Shufeldt Juncoes, and we notice
too that some pronounced flirtations are being carried on.

There is a jovial restlessness about these birds in flock which is
contagious. Their every movement is accompanied by a happy titter, and
the pursuit of necessities is never so stern that a saucy dare from one
of their number will not send the whole company off pell-mell like a
route of school-boys. Whenever a Junco starts to wing, it flashes a
white signal in the lateral tail-feathers; and this convenient
“recognition mark” enables the birds to keep track of each other thruout
the maddest gambols in brush-lot or tree-top.

   [Illustration: _Taken near Portland._    _Photo by W. L. Finley._
                           SIR! YOU INTRUDE!
                    FEMALE SHUFELDT JUNCO ON NEST.]

On a sunny day in March the Juncoes gather for a grand concert. The
males mount the bush-tops and hold forth in rival strains, while the
females lurk under cover and take counsel of their hearts. Junco’s song
is a sweet little tinkling trill, not very pretentious, but tender and
winsome. Interspersed with this is a variety of sipping and suckling
notes, whose uses are hard to discern. Now and then, also, a forcible
kissing sound may be heard, evidently a note of repulsion instead of
attraction, for it is employed in the breeding season to frighten
enemies. During the progress of the concert some dashing young fellow,
unable fully to express his emotion in song, runs amuck, and goes
charging about thru the woodsy mazes in a fine frenzy—without, however,
quite spilling his brains. Others catch the excitement and the company
breaks up in a mad whirl of amorous pursuit.

      [Illustration: _Taken in Tacoma._    _Photo by the Author._
                           UNDER A TIN ROOF.
                THE NEST IN THE CAN CONTAINS FIVE EGGS.]

At the end of the brief song period, Juncoes deploy thruout the
half-open woods or prairie borders of the entire State, from sea-level
to timber-line. The variety and interest of their nesting habits are
scarcely exceeded by those of any other bird. In general they appear to
be guided by some thought of seclusion or protection in their choice of
nesting sites. Steep hillsides or little banks are, therefore, favorite
places, for here the bird may excavate a cool grotto in the earth, and
allow the drapery of the hillside, mosses and running vines, to festoon
and guard the approaches. At Newport we found them nesting in the
road-cuts. At Snoqualmie the side of a haystack sheltered a confiding
pair. At Tacoma the birds nest at the base of tiny clumps of oak, or
under the shelter of brush-piles. Several nests have been found in old
tin cans flung down upon the prairie and only half obscured by growing
grasses. Again the birds trust to the density of vegetation, and shelter
in the grass of unmowed orchards, weed-lots, and meadows. One site was
found in which the bird occupied a carefully chosen fern arbor in the
midst of a collection of whitened bones, evidently the mortal remains of
a defunct draft horse. The situation was delightfully gruesome, and,
touched no doubt with vanity, the owner sat for her portrait at four
feet, á la Bernhardt.

  [Illustration: _Taken in Whatcom County._    _Photo by the Author._
                   NEST AND EGGS OF SHUFELDT JUNCO.]

Juncoes keep very quiet during the nesting season until disturbed, and
they are very close sitters. When nearly stepped on the bird bursts off,
and, if there are young, crawls and tumbles along the ground within a
few feet of the intruder, displaying wings and tail in a most appealing
manner. The _tssiks_ of both birds are incessantly repeated, and the
whole woodside is set agog with apprehension.

If one posts himself in a suspected locality not too near the nest, it
is only a question of time till the solicitude of the nursing mother
will triumph over fear. One such I traced to a charming mossy bank,
overlooking a woodland pool; but on the first occasion it took the
parent bird exactly half an hour to go thru all the feints and
preliminaries before she ventured on the final plunge. There were
half-grown babies in this nest, and since we were in summer camp (at
Glacier, near the foot of Mt. Baker), I resolved to make friends of this
promising family with a view to portraiture.

As I sat next day watching my Juncoes, and waiting for the sun to get
around and light up the vicinity of the nest, the call to dinner
sounded. The mother bird, not without much misgiving and remonstrance,
had just visited her babies, so I rose to go; but as I did so, caught
sight of a stout garter snake, who lay watching the scene from a
distance of fully twenty feet, a wicked gleam of intelligence in his
eye. With quick suspicion of his purpose, I seized stones and hurled at
his retreating form; but the ground was rough and he managed to escape
into a large brush-pile. At table I ate hurriedly, listening the while
for the faintest note of trouble. When it came, a quick outcry from both
parents, instead of premonitory notes of discovery, I sprang to my feet,
clutched a stick, and rushed down to the spring. Alas for us! Satan had
found our Eden! The nest was emptied and the snake lay coiled over it in
the act of swallowing one of the little birds. Not daring to strike, I
seized him by the throat and released the baby Junco, whose rump only
had disappeared into the devouring jaws. Then with the stick I made
snake’s-head jelly on a rock and flung the loathsome reptile away. But
it was all too late. One young bird lay drowned upon the bottom of the
pool, and the other (I think there were only two) soon died of fright
and the laceration of the hinder parts attendant upon ophidian
deglutition. It was all so horrible! the malignant plan, the stealthy
approach, the sudden alarm, the wanton destruction of the fledglings,
the grief of the agonized parents, the remorse of the helper who came
too late! Is it any wonder that our forbears have pictured the
arch-enemy as a serpent?


                                No. 49.
                         WESTERN TREE SPARROW.

  A. O. U. No. 559 a. Spizella monticola ochracea Brewster.

  Description.—_Adults_: Pileum, a streak behind eye and a small patch
  on side of chest cinnamon-rufous or light chestnut; a superciliary
  stripe and remaining portions of head and neck clear ashy gray; throat
  and chest of same shade superficially but duller by virtue of
  concealed dusky; an ill defined spot of dusky in center of lower
  chest; remaining underparts dull white washed on sides with brownish;
  general color of upperparts light buffy grayish brown, much
  outcropping black on back, scapulars and tertials; some rusty edging
  on back feathers, scapulars and greater wing-coverts; middle and
  greater wing-coverts tipped with white, forming two conspicuous bands;
  flight feathers and rectrices grayish dusky margined with whitish and
  buffy. Bill blackish above, yellow, tipped with dusky, below; legs
  brown, feet darker; iris brown. _In winter_ the cinnamon-rufous of
  crown is slightly veiled, especially along median area, by ashy
  skirtings of feathers, and the buffy of upperparts inclines to
  strengthen. Length about 6.00 (152.4); wing 3.00 (76); tail 2.68 (68);
  bill .39 (10); tarsus .82 (20.8).

  Recognition Marks.—Sparrow size; resembles Western Chipping Sparrow
  but much larger; white wing-bars with chestnut of crown distinctive.

  Nesting.—Does not breed in Washington. “_Nest_, in low bushes or on
  the ground, loosely constructed of bark strips, weeds and grasses,
  warmly lined with feathers. _Eggs_, 4-6, or even 7, pale green,
  minutely and regularly sprinkled with reddish brown spots” (Coues).
  Av. size, .75 × .60 (19.1 × 15.2).

  General Range.—Breeding from the valley of Anderson River, near the
  Arctic coast westward thru Alaska to coast of Bering Sea, and for an
  undetermined distance southward; in winter south thru western North
  America to Arizona, Texas, etc., eastward across Rocky Mts. to Great
  Plains (Ridgway).

  Range in Washington.—Not common winter resident and migrant. Has not
  recently been reported west of the Cascades.

  Authorities.—Brewster, Bull. Nutt. Orn. Club, VII. 1882, pp. 227, 228.
  (T). (C&S). Sr. D².

  Specimens.—(U. of W.). P¹. Prov.

“The sight of the first Tree Sparrow in the fall serves perfectly to
call up a vision of impending winter. Here are the hurrying blasts, the
leaden skies, the piling snow-drifts, all ready to make the beholder
shiver. But here, too, in some unburied weed patch, or thicket of
rose-briars, is a company of Tree Sparrows, stout-hearted and
cold-defying, setting up a merry tinkling chorus, as eloquent of good
cheer as a crackling Yule-log. How many times has the bird-man hastened
out after some cruel cold snap, thinking, ’Surely this will settle for
my birds,’ only to have his fears rebuked by a troop of these hardy
Norsemen revelling in some back pasture as if they had found their
Valhalla on this side the icy gates. Ho! brothers! here is food in these
capsules of mustard and cockle; here is wine distilled from the
rose-hips; here is shelter in the weedy mazes, or under the soft blanket
of the snow. What ho! Lift the light song! Pass round the cup again! Let
mighty cheer prevail!” (Birds of Ohio).

Truth to tell, the Western Tree Sparrows are somewhat rare winter
visitors, in eastern Washington only. In habits they do not appear to
differ materially from the typical form, which is very abundant in
winter thruout the northern tier of eastern states. In the nature of the
case, while with us, their food, consisting as it does of grass- and
weed-seeds and dried berries, is found near the ground; and so, for the
season, the name Tree Sparrow seems inconsistent. When persistently
annoyed, however, the flock will rise to the tree-tops in straggling
fashion, and there either await the withdrawal of the intruder, or else
make off at a good height.

The song of the Tree Sparrow is sweet and tuneful, affording a pleasing
contrast to the monotonous ditty of the Western Chipping Sparrow.
Snatches of song may be heard, indeed, on almost any mild day in winter;
but the spring awakening assures a more pretentious effort. A common
form runs, _Swee-ho, sweet, sweet, sweet_, with notes of a most
flattering tenderness. But we may only guess at the bird’s full powers,
for the home-making is in Alaska.


                                No. 50.
                       WESTERN CHIPPING SPARROW.

  A. O. U. No. 560 a. Spizella passerina arizonæ (Coues).

  Synonyms.—Chippy. Hair-bird.

  Description.—_Adult_: Crown bright chestnut; extreme forehead black
  with ashy median line; a light ashy superciliary stripe; lore and
  postocular streak black; underparts and sides of head and neck ashy
  gray, dullest on breast and sides, clearest on throat where nearly
  white; hind-neck and wings bluish ash, the former more or less
  streaked with blackish; back and scapulars light brown (isabella
  color) heavily streaked with black; wings and tail fuscous. Bill dark;
  feet light; iris brown. _Young birds_ are streaked with dusky above
  and below and lack the chestnut of crown. Length of adult males:
  5.00-5.50 (127-139.7); wing 2.83 (72); tail 2.36 (60); bill .39 (10);
  tarsus .67 (17). Females smaller.

  Recognition Marks.—Warbler size; chestnut crown and whitish
  superciliary distinctive.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: A compact or careless structure of fine twigs,
  grasses, and (most commonly and often exclusively) rootlets, heavily
  lined with horse hair; placed in sage-bush, wild rose thicket or
  shrubbery, or else on horizontal branch of apple tree or evergreen.
  _Eggs_: 3-5, usually 4, greenish blue speckled freely or in narrow
  ring about larger end with reddish brown and black. Av. size, .71 ×
  .51 (18 × 13). _Season_: April-July, usually May and June; two broods.

  General Range.—Western North America from the Rockies to the Coast
  breeding from the southern border of the United States north to the
  Yukon Valley in Alaska, east over the western provinces of Canada;
  south in winter to Mexico and Lower California.

  Range in Washington.—Common summer resident thruout the State chiefly
  in settled portions and more open situations.

  Migrations.—_Spring_: Yakima, April 12, 1900; Chelan, April 24, 1896;
  Tacoma, April 12, 1905, April 11, 1906.

  Authorities.—_Spizella socialis_ Bonap. Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R. Surv.
  IX. 1858, 473 part. (T). C&S. D¹. Ra. D². Ss². Kk. J. B. E.

  Specimens.—U. of W. P¹. Prov. B. E.

Not all birds are fitly named, even in the “immutable Latin,” but this
one has a very accurate title in _Spizella socialis arizonæ_[16], which
we may freely translate as _the friendly little sparrow of the desert_.
An obscure little fellow he is to eye, a skit done in faded browns, with
a chestnut crown which still does not differentiate the owner from a
withered corymb in his native sage. Of the desert he is, for there is no
sage-brush wilderness too dreary to boast the presence of at least a few
Chipping Sparrows. And friendly he is, beyond question, for there are
few dooryards in the eastern part of the State where this bird is not a
trustful visitor; and his presence in western Washington is nearly
coextensive with that of man. For altho the Chipping Sparrow now abounds
in the prairie region of Pierce and adjacent counties, it is instructive
to note that its plumage gives no evidence of resaturation, or of
departure from the bleached type, as would be the case if it belonged to
one of the really “old families” of Puget Sound.

Whatever the weather, Chippy returns to us about the 12th day of April,
posts himself on the tip of a fir branch, like a brave little Christmas
candle, and proceeds to sputter, in the same part. Of all homely sounds
the monotonous trill of the Western Chipping Sparrow is the most
homely,—and the most easily forgivable. As music it scarcely ranks above
the rattle of castanets; but the little singer pours out his soul full
earnestly, and his ardor often leads him to sustained effort thruout the
sultry hours when more brilliant vocalists are sulking in the shade; and
for this we come to prize his homely ditty like the sound of plashing
waters.

   [Illustration: _Taken in Pierce County._    _Photo by the Author._
                             JUST ARRIVED.
                 WESTERN CHIPPING SPARROW, ADULT MALE.]

Two Chipping Sparrow songs heard near Tacoma deserve special mention.
One likened itself in our ears to a tool being ground on a small emery
wheel. The wheel has a rough place on its periphery which strikes
against the tool with additional force and serves to mark a single
revolution, but the continuous burr which underlies the accented points,
or trill-crests, is satisfied by this comparison alone. The other
effort, a peculiar buzz of varying intensity, carries forward the same
idea of continuous sound, but the comparison changes. In this the song
appears to pour from the tiny throat without effort, and its movement is
as tho an unseen hand controlled an electric buzz, whose activity varies
with the amount of “juice” turned on: zzzzzzzzzzt, zzz_zzzz_zzzt,
_zzzz_zzzzzzt, ZZZ_ZZZZ_ZZZT, ZZZZZZZ_ZZZT_.

Chippy’s nest is a frail affair at best, altho often elaborately
constructed of fine twigs, rootlets and grasses with a plentiful lining
of horse-hair. In some instances the last-named material is exclusively
employed. A sage-bush is the favorite situation on the plains of the
Columbia, a horizontal fir branch in the wet country. Rose thickets are
always popular, and where the bird frankly forsakes the wilds,
ornamental shrubbery and vines are chosen. The nests are often so
loosely related to their immediate surroundings as to give the
impression of having been constructed elsewhere, and then moved bodily
to their present site. Some are set as lightly as feathers upon the tips
of evergreen branches, and a heavy storm in season is sure to bring down
a shower of Chippies’ nests.

     [Illustration: _Taken near Chelan._    _Photo by the Author._
                        “FOUR OF THE CUTEST——.”]

Eggs are laid during the first or second week of May in the vicinity of
American Lake and from one to three weeks earlier in the sage country.
They are among the most familiar objects in Nature, and particular
description of them ought to be unnecessary. But every person who knows
that we are interested in birds has to stop us on the street to tell
about the “cunningest little nest, you know, with four of the cutest——”
“Hold on,” we say; “were the eggs blue?” “Yes,” “With dots on them?”
“Why, yes; how did you know?”

Incubation lasts only ten days and two broods are raised in each season.
Chipping Sparrows are very devoted parents and the sitting female will
sometimes allow herself to be taken in the hand. The male bird is not
less sedulous in the care of the young, and he sometimes exercises a
fatherly oversight of the first batch of babies, while his mate is
preparing for the June crop.


                                No. 51.
                           BREWER’S SPARROW.

  A. O. U. No. 562. Spizella breweri Cassin.

  Description.—_Adults_: Upperparts grayish brown, brightest brown on
  back, everywhere (save on remiges and rectrices) streaked with black
  or dusky, narrowly on crown, more broadly on back and scapulars, less
  distinctly on rump; wing-coverts and tertials varied by edgings of
  brownish buff; flight-feathers and rectrices dark grayish brown or
  dusky with some edging of light grayish brown; a broad pale buffy
  superciliary stripe scarcely contrasting with surroundings; underparts
  dull whitish tinged on sides and across breast by pale buffy gray.
  Bill pale brown darkening on tip and along culmen; feet pale brown,
  iris brown. _Young_ birds are less conspicuously streaked above;
  middle and greater coverts broadly tipped with buffy forming two
  distinct bands; breast streaked with dusky. Length 5.30 (1.35); wing
  2.44 (62); tail 2.38 (60.5); bill .38 (8.8); tarsus .68 (17.4).

  Recognition Marks.—Warbler size; general streaked appearance;
  _absence_ of distinguishing marks practically distinctive;
  sage-haunting habits.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: of small twigs and dried grasses, lined with
  horse-hair, set loosely in sage-bush. _Eggs_: 4 or 5, greenish blue,
  dotted and spotted, sometimes in ring about larger end, with reddish
  brown. Av. size .67 × .49 (17 × 12.4). _Season_: April, June; two
  broods.

  General Range.—Sage-brush plains of the West, breeding from Arizona to
  British Columbia and east to western Nebraska and western Texas; south
  in winter to Mexico and Lower California.

  Range in Washington.—Open country of the East-side, abundant summer
  resident; occasionally invades Cascade Mountains (only in late
  summer?).

  Migrations.—_Spring_: Yakima March 29, 1900.

  Authorities.—[“Brewer’s sparrow,” Johnson, Rep. Gov. W. T. 1884
  (1885), 22]. Dawson, Auk, XIV, 1897, 178. D². Ss¹. Ss².

  Specimens.—U. of W. P. C.

It is never quite fair to say that Nature produces a creature which
harmonizes perfectly with its surroundings, for the moment we yield
tribute of admiration to one creature, we discover amid the same
circumstances another as nearly perfect but entirely different. When we
consider the Sage Sparrow we think that Nature cannot improve much upon
his soft grays by way of fitness for his desert environment; but when we
come upon the Brewer Sparrow, we are ready to wager that here the dame
has done her utmost to produce a bird of non-committal appearance. Mere
brown might have been conspicuous by default, but brownish, broken up by
hazy streakings of other brownish or dusky—call it what you will—has
given us a bird which, so far as plumage is concerned, may be said to
have no mark of distinction whatever—just bird.

  [Illustration: _Taken in Douglas County._    _Photo by the Author._
                   NEST AND EGGS OF BREWER SPARROW.]

The Sage Sparrow fits into the gray-green massy scheme of color harmony
in the artemisia, while Brewer’s fits into the somber, brown-and-streaky
scheme of its twigs and branches. To carry out the comparison, do not
look for _breweri_ early in the season, when the breath of the rain
rises from the ground and the air is astir: he is there, of course, but
disregard him. Wait, rather, until the season is advanced, when the
incomparable sun of Yakima has filled the sage-brush full to
overflowing, and it begins to ooze out heat in drowsy, indolent waves.
Then listen: _Weeeezzz, tubitubitubitubitub_, the first part an inspired
trill, and the remainder an exquisitely modulated expirated trill in
descending cadence. Instantly one conceives a great respect for this
plain dot in feathers, whose very existence may have passed unnoticed
before. The descending strain of the common song has, in some
individuals, all the fine shading heard in certain imported canaries.
Pitch is conceded by infinitesimal gradations, whereby the singer, from
some heaven of fancy, brings us down gently to a topmost twig of earthly
attainment. Nor does the song in other forms lack variety. In fact, a
midday chorus of Brewer Sparrows is a treat which makes a tramp in the
sage memorable.

Brewer’s Sparrow is of the sage sagey, and its range in Washington is
almost exactly co-extensive with the distribution of that doughty shrub;
but it is of record that _Spizella breweri_ indulges in some romantic
vacations, a specimen being once taken by me (July 25, 1900) at 8000
feet, upon the glacier levels of Wright’s Peak.


                                No. 52.
                        GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW.

  A. O. U. No. 557. Zonotrichia coronata (Pall.).

  Description.—_Adults_: A broad crown stripe gamboge-yellow, changing
  abruptly to ashy gray on occiput; this bounded on each side by broad
  stripe of silky black meeting fellow on forehead; remaining upperparts
  grayish brown, broadly streaked with black on back, more or less edged
  with dull chestnut on back, wing-coverts and tertials, glossed with
  olive on rump and tail; middle and greater coverts tipped with white
  forming conspicuous bars; chin, throat and sides of head ashy gray
  with obscure vermiculations of dusky; remaining underparts washed with
  buffy brown, darkest on sides and flanks, lightest, to dull white, on
  belly, obsoletely and finely barred on breast. Bill blackish above,
  paler below; feet pale; iris brown. _Immature_: Without definite
  head-stripe; crown broadly dull olive-yellow, clearest on forehead,
  elsewhere sharply flecked with blackish in wedge-shaped marks, giving
  way to grayish brown or dull chestnut behind and to blackish on sides
  (variably according to age?). Length 7.20 (182.8); wing 3.28 (83.3);
  tail 3.06 (77.7); bill .48 (12.2); tarsus .96 (24.3).

  Recognition Marks.—Sparrow size; yellow of crown distinctive in any
  plumage.

  Nesting.—Does not breed in Washington. _Nest_ and _eggs_ said to be
  very similar to those of _Z. l. nuttalli_.

  General Range.—Pacific Coast and Bering Sea districts of Alaska; south
  in winter thru the Pacific States to Lower California; occasionally
  straggles eastward.

  Range in Washington.—Spring and fall migrant both sides of the
  Cascades, more common westerly.

  Migrations.—_Spring_: c. April 21 (West-side); c. May 20 (Chelan).

  Authorities.—?_Emberiza atricapilla_ Aud. Orn. Biog. V. 1839, 47; pl.
  394. Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R. Surv. Vol. IX. 1858, 462. C&S. L². D¹. Kb.
  Ra. Kk. B. E.

  Specimens.—U. of W. Prov. E.

Regal tho he be, this sparrow is discreet in the matter of appearances,
and does not cultivate the public eye. Washington is only a way-station
in his travels, and the splendors and liberties of court life are
reserved for Alaska. Appearing at Tacoma during the last week in April,
demure companies of Golden-crowns may not infrequently be seen
associated with migrating Nuttalls. They are in no hurry, or perhaps the
haste of midnight flight is over when we see them yawning sleepily in
the bushes of a morning. They are languid too as they deploy upon the
park lawns, always within reach of cover, in search of fallen seeds or
lurking beetles. Their leisurely movements contrast strongly with the
bustling activities of the local Nuttalls; for the latter are burdened
with the care of children, before the Alaskan migrants have forsworn
bachelorhood. East of the Cascade Mountains the northward movement of
this species is even more tardy, and May 18-22 are the dates at which I
have recorded it at Chelan.

Migrating Zonotrichias are all coquettishly retiring, and the first hint
of danger sends them scuttling into the bushes. If one presses up to the
edge of the brush, he may hear an uncanny rustling among the leaves and
branches as the birds retreat, but not a single note is uttered. Left to
themselves, the birds become sociable with many _zinks_ common to the
genus; and, if unusually merry, the Golden-crowns indulge a sweet,
preparatory _hoo ^hee_ which reminds one of both the White-crowned (_Z.
leucophrys_) and White-throated (_Z. albicollis_) Sparrows of the East;
but the song has never been completed here to our knowledge.

Suckley said that Golden-crowned Sparrows were abundant in summer both
at Fort Dalles and Fort Steilacoom, but this was undoubtedly a mistake,
as the records of alleged nesting in California proved to be. On the
other hand they may winter with us to some extent, since Mr. Bowles took
a specimen on December 16, 1907, in the Puyallup Valley.


                                No. 53.
                           GAMBEL’S SPARROW.

  A. O. U. No. 554 a. Zonotrichia leucophrys gambelii (Nuttall).

  Synonyms.—Intermediate-crowned Sparrow. Intermediate Sparrow.

  Description.—_Adults_: Crown pure white, becoming gray behind; lateral
  crown-stripes meeting in front, and post-ocular stripes, jet black,
  separated by white stripe continuous with lore; remainder of head,
  neck all around, and entire underparts slaty gray, darkest on nape,
  whitening on chin and belly, with a tawny wash on flanks and crissum;
  back and scapulars brown (burnt umber) edged with gray; rump and upper
  tail-coverts tawny olivaceous; wings and tail fuscous, the tertials
  dark-centered with edgings of bay and white; middle and greater
  coverts tipped with white, forming two inconspicuous wing-bars;
  rectrices with brown shafts and tawny edgings, bill reddish brown
  above, saffron yellow below, with tip of maxilla black. _Young_ of the
  year have the black of head replaced by light chestnut, and the white
  by ochraceo-fuscous or gray; in general darker and browner above than
  adult. Length 6.50-7.00 (165-180); wing 3.07 (78); tail 2.76 (70);
  bill .42 (10.7); tarsus .89 (22.5).

  Recognition Marks.—Sparrow size; broad white crown and jet black
  lateral stripes strongly contrasting; slightly larger and general
  coloration lighter than in _Z. l. nuttalli_; white crown-stripe
  broader.

  Nesting.—As next; not known to breed in Washington but probably does
  so.

  General Range.—Western North America, breeding from Montana, eastern
  Oregon, etc., northward between coast mountains of British Columbia
  and Alaska and the interior plains to the lower Mackenzie and Anderson
  River Valleys, thence westward thruout Alaska to the coast of Bering
  Sea; in winter southward across western United States into Mexico and
  Lower California, straggling eastward across the Great Plains.

  Range in Washington.—Abundant spring and fall migrant on the
  East-side, possibly summer resident; doubtless migrant west of
  Cascades, but no specimens taken.

  Migrations.—_Spring_: April 20-May 20. Wallula, April 24, 1905;
  Chelan, April 24, 1896; Brook Lake, June 7, 1908.

  Authorities.—_Fringilla gambelii_ Nuttall, Man. Orn. U. S. & Canada,
  2d Ed., 1, 1840, 556. _Z. gambeli intermedia_ Brewster, B. N. O. C.
  VII. 1882, p. 227. D¹. Sr. D². Kk. J.

  Specimens.—U. of W. C. P.

It is probably safe to say that during the height of their spring
migrations, viz., April 15th to May 15th, these birds exceed in numbers
all the other sparrows of eastern Washington combined. Indeed, on
certain occasions, it would seem that they are more numerous than all
other birds combined. And this altho they do not move in great flocks in
the open, like Redpolls, but flit and skulk wherever there is show of
cover. Wayside thickets, spring draws, and the timbered banks of streams
are favorite places. The more isolated the cover the more certain it is
to be held as a Zonotrichian stronghold, and they are sometimes so hard
put to it for shelter that they resort in numbers to the sage-brush,
where they affect great secretiveness.

These handsome and courtly gentlemen with their no less interesting, if
somewhat plainer, wives are far more reserved than their talents would
warrant. Our approach has sent a score of them scurrying into cover, a
neglected rose-briar patch which screens a fence, and now we cannot see
one of them. An occasional sharp _dzink_ of warning or protest comes out
of the screen, or a suppressed titter of excitement, as two birds jostle
in their effort to keep out of sight. We are being scrutinized, however,
by twenty pairs of sharp eyes, and when our probation is ended, now one
bird and now another hops up to an exposed branch to see and be seen.

What distinguished foreigners they are, indeed, with their white crowns,
slightly raised and sharply offset by the black stripes which flank
them,—Russians, perhaps, with shakos of sable and ermine. The bird has
an aristocratic air which is unmistakable; and, once he has deigned to
show himself, appears to expect deference as his due. What a pity they
will not make their homes with us, but must needs go further north!

As diligently as I have searched for this species, I have never found a
specimen in the summer months[17], nor is there any record of the bird’s
nesting in Washington. This is the more remarkable in that the type form
(_Z. leucophrys_) breeds extensively “thruout the high mountain
districts of the western United States” (Ridgway), exclusive of
Washington and Oregon, southward to the San Francisco Mountains of
Arizona, “northward to northern California (Mount Shasta, etc.).” In
view of this, one may feel free to suggest that the Camp Harney
record[18], referred to _gambelii_, is really referable to the typical
form, and that as such it represents a northern extension of
_leucophrys_, rather than a southern extension of _gambelii_.


                                No. 54.
                           NUTTALL’S SPARROW.

  A. O. U. No. 554 b.  Zonotrichia leucophrys nuttalli Ridgw.

  Synonyms.—Formerly called Gambel’s Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow
  (name properly confined to _Z. leucophrys_). Crown Sparrow.

  Description.—_Adults_: Like preceding but general tone of coloration
  much darker; streaks of back and scapulars deepest brown or blackish;
  general ground-color of upperparts light olive-gray; median
  crown-stripe narrower, dull white; underparts more strongly washed
  with brownish gray; axillaries and bend of wing more strongly yellow;
  bill yellowish with dark tip. _Immature_: Similar to that of preceding
  form, but underparts yellowish; upperparts light olive buff;
  crown-stripe cinnamomeous, or pale chestnut. _Very young_ birds are
  more extensively black-streaked above, and finely streaked below on
  chin, throat, chest, and sides; bill brighter yellow; feet paler.
  Length of adult males, 5.90-6.70 (150-170); wing 2.95 (75); tail 2.83
  (72); bill .43 (11); tarsus .93 (23.5). Females smaller.

         [Illustration: “A MILITARY GENTLEMAN IN A GRAY CLOAK.”]

  Recognition Marks.—Sparrow size; black-and-white striping of crown
  distinctive in range; much darker than preceding.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: on ground or low in bushes; rarely in trees up to 25
  feet; a rather pretentious structure of bark-strips, dead grass, and
  rootlets, with a lining of fine dead grass and horse-hair; measures
  externally 6 in. wide by 4 deep; internally 2½, wide by 1 deep.
  _Eggs_: 4 or 5, pale bluish white, profusely dotted and spotted, or
  blotched, with varying shades of reddish brown. Av. size .86 × .64
  (21.8 × 16.3). _Season_: Last week in April, and May 25-June 10; two
  broods.

  General Range.—Pacific Coast district, breeding from Monterey,
  California, to Fort Simpson, British Columbia; south in winter to San
  Pedro Martir Mountains, Lower California.

  Range in Washington.—Of general distribution west of the Cascade
  Mountains at lower altitudes; casually winter resident.

  Migrations.—_Spring_: March 25-April 1.

  Authorities.—_Z. gambelii_ Gambel, Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R. Surv. IX.
  1858, 461. (T.) C&S. L¹.(?) L². Rh. Kb. Ra. Kk. B. E.

  Specimens.—U. of W. P. B. BN. E.

When you enter a bit of shrubbery at the edge of town in May or June,
your intrusion is almost sure to be questioned by a military gentleman
in a gray cloak with black-and-white trimmings. Your business may be
personal, not public, but somehow you feel as if the authority of the
law had been invoked, and that you would better be careful how you
conduct yourself in the presence of this military person. Usually
retiring, the Nuttall Sparrow courts exposure where the welfare of his
family is in question, and a metallic scolding note, _zink_, or _dzink_,
is made to do incessant service on such occasions. A thoroly aroused
pair, worms in beak, and crests uplifted, may voice their suspicions for
half an hour from fir-tip and brush-pile, without once disclosing the
whereabouts of their young.

Nuttall’s Sparrow is the familiar spirit of brush-lots, fence tangles,
berry patches, and half-open situations in general. He is among the last
to quit the confines of the city before the advancing ranks of apartment
houses and sky-scrapers, and he maintains stoutly any vantage ground of
vacant lot, disordered hedge-row, or neglected swamplet left to him.
After the Rusty Song Sparrow, he is perhaps the commonest Sparrow in
western Washington—unquestionably so within the borders of settlement.

As a songster this Sparrow is not a conspicuous success, altho he works
at his trade with commendable diligence. He chooses a prominent station,
such as the topmost sprig of a fir sapling, and holds forth at regular
intervals in a prosy, iterative ditty, from which the slight musical
quality vanishes with distance. _Hee ho, chee weé, chee weé chee wééé_
and _Hee, wudge, i-wudge i-wudge i-wéééé_ are vocalized examples. The
preliminary _hee ho_ is sometimes clear and sweet enough to prepare
one’s ear for the Vesper Sparrow’s strain, but the succeeding syllables
are tasteless, and the trill with which the effort concludes has a
wooden quality which we may overlook in a friend but should certainly
ridicule in a stranger. We are humbled in view of the vocal limitations
of this bird when we recall that the voice of the White-crowned Sparrow
(_Z. leucophrys_), of which ours is a local race, is noted for its
sweet, pure quality. Surely our bird has caught a bad cold.

In selecting a nesting site, the Nuttall displays a marked difference of
taste from the Rusty Song Sparrow, in that it selects a dry situation.
The first nest, prepared during the third week in April, is almost
invariably built upon the ground. A slight hollow is scratched at the
base of a bush or sapling, and a rather pretentious structure of bark
strips, dried grasses and rootlets is reared, with a lining of fine
grass and horse-hair. A nest found on Flat-top was set in high grass at
the foot of a tiny oak sapling, and was composed externally of dried
yarrow leaves with a few coarse grasses; internally of fine coiled grass
of a very light color, supplemented by four or five white gull feathers.
The eggs, four or five in number, are of a handsome light green or
bluish green shade, and are heavily dotted, spotted, or blotched with
reddish brown.

      [Illustration: _Taken in Seattle._    _Photo by the Author._
                        FEMALE NUTTALL SPARROW.]

A second set is prepared a month or so later than the first, and
occasionally a third. Second nests are built, as likely as not, in
bushes or trees; and Mr. Bowles has taken them as high as twenty-five
feet from the ground.

Young birds lack the parti-colored head-stripes of the adult, altho the
pattern is sketched in browns; and they are best identified by the
unfailing solicitude of the parents, which attends their every movement.
They are rather bumptious little creatures for all; a company of them
romping about a pasture fence brings a wholesome recollection of
school-boy days, and there are girls among them, too, for my! how they
giggle!


                                No. 55.
                         MOUNTAIN SONG SPARROW.

  A. O. U. No. 581 b. Melospiza melodia montana (Henshaw).

  Description[19].—_Adults_: Crown dull bay streaked with black and
  divided by ashy-gray median stripe; rufous brown post-ocular and
  rictal stripes, enclosing grayish-brown auriculars; remaining
  upperparts ashy-gray varied by reddish brown, the gray due to broad
  edgings of feathers and occupying from one-half to two-thirds the
  total area according to season, feathers of back and scapulars sharply
  streaked with blackish centrally; wings and tail brown varied by minor
  markings and edgings of dusky, brownish gray and ashy-gray; below
  white, or sordid, heavily streaked on sides of throat, breast and
  sides by blackish and rufous, markings wedge-shaped, tear-shaped or
  elongated, confluent on sides of throat as maxillary stripes and often
  on center of breast as indistinct blotch. Bill horn-color above,
  lighter below; feet pale brown, toes darker; iris brown. _Young_: Like
  adults but duller, all markings less sharply defined, streaks of
  underparts narrower. Length of adult male (skins): 6.00 (150); wings
  2.73 (69.3); tail 2.74 (69.6); bill .48 (12.2); tarsus .88 (22.4).

  Recognition Marks.—Sparrow size; heavy streaking of breast and back,
  with _varied head markings_, distinctive; lighter, grayer and more
  sharply streaked as compared with _M. m. merrilli_.

  Nesting.—As next.

  General Range.—“Rocky Mountain district of the United States west to
  and including the Sierra Nevada, in California; north to eastern
  Oregon, southern Idaho and southern Montana; south in winter to
  western Texas and northern Mexico” (Ridgway). Probably also north into
  British Columbia and southwestern Alberta.

  Range in Washington.—Migrant and winter resident along eastern
  borders.

  Authorities.—? Snodgrass, Auk, XX. 1903, 207. W. T. Shaw _in epist._,
  Dec. 31, 1908. Sr?

  Specimens.—P¹ (32 spec.).

Whether or not the Song Sparrows of northern Montana and eastern British
Columbia are typical _montana_, the doctors must settle; but certain it
is that sparrows of a type decidedly lighter, that is, ashier, in
coloration, than our _merrilli_, pass thru our eastern borders during
migrations. Of such a bird, examined narrowly at Spokane on November 4,
1905, my note-book says (comparing at every point with _merrilli_):
“Ashy gray and brown of head strongly contrasting; ashy of back and
scapulars very extensive, brown areas of feathers not exceeding
one-third their total width; underparts clearer white; streaking lighter
rusty and more sharply defined, more narrow on sides.”


                                No. 56.
                        MERRILL’S SONG SPARROW.

  A. O. U. No. 581 k. Melospiza melodia merrilli (Brewster).

  Synonyms.—Dusky Song Sparrow. Silver-tongue.

  Description.—Characters intermediate between those of _M. m. montana_
  and _M. m. morphna_. In general, darker than preceding with plumage
  more blended, proportion of gray in back about one-third; lighter than
  next, not so brown, streakings more distinct.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: a substantial structure of twigs, grasses, coiled
  bark-strips, dead leaves, etc.; lined carefully with fine dead grass,
  rootlets or horse-hair, placed indifferently in bushes or on the
  ground. _Eggs_: 4-6, usually 5, greenish-, grayish-, or bluish-white,
  heavily spotted and blotched with reddish browns which sometimes
  conceal the background. Av. size .83 × .61 (21 × 15.5). _Season_:
  April-July; two or three broods.

  General Range.—The eastern slopes of the Cascades from northern
  California to southern British Columbia, east (at least) to northern
  Idaho.

  Range in Washington.—East-side—theoretically inclusive. Specimens from
  the central valleys of the Cascades may be called _morphna_ and those
  from the Palouse country _montana_, at pleasure.

  Authorities.—_M. fasciata guttata_, Brewster, Bull. Nutt. Orn. Club,
  VII. 1882, 227, 229. D¹. Ss¹. J.

  Specimens.—P¹.

This, the connecting link between _montana_ and _morphna_, is the
characteristic Song Sparrow of eastern Washington, and abounds along
timbered water courses and in all cultivated districts. While closely
resembling the Rusty Song Sparrow of the West-side, it may be
distinguished from it by the sharper color pattern of its plumage; and
the points of divergence from _montana_ are maintained with substantial
uniformity, at least along the eastern slopes of the Cascades, and in
the northern tier of counties.

Altho subjected to considerable rigors in winter, this species is
partially resident, being largely confined during the cold season to the
shelter of tule beds, wild rose thickets, clematis bowers, and the like.
Nesting begins about the second week in April and continues with
undiminished ardor till July or August. Incubation requires twelve days,
and the young are ready to fly in as many more, so that a devoted pair
is able to raise three and sometimes four broods in a season.

At this rate we should be overrun with Song Sparrows if there were not
so many agencies to hold the species in check. A young Song Sparrow is
the choice morsel of everything that preys,—cats, skunks, weasels,
chipmunks, Sharp-shinned Hawks, Crows, Magpies, Black-headed Jays, and
garter snakes. How would this motley company fare were it not for the
annual crop of Song Sparrows? And the wonder of it is that the brave
heart holds out and sings its song of trust and love with the ruins of
three nests behind it and the harvest not yet past.

     [Illustration: _Taken in Oregon._    _Photo by A. W. Anthony._
                       A PROFESSIONAL OOLOGIST.]

A little glimpse of Nature’s prodigality in this regard was afforded by
a pair which nested on my grounds in the Ahtanum Valley. On the 4th of
June I came upon a nest in a rose bush, containing four young just
hatched, and these almost immediately disappeared—a second, or possibly
a third, attempt for the season. On July 4th in an adjoining clump the
same pair was discovered with three well-fledged young, which, for aught
I know, reached days of self-dependence. On July 24th a nest was found
some twenty feet away containing four eggs, which I knew, both by the
familiar notes and by elimination, to belong to this pair; but the nest
was empty on the day following.

At the beginning of the season nests are frequently made upon the ground
under cover of old vegetation, or at the base of protecting bush clumps
in swamps. Occasional ground nests may also be found thruout the season.
One seen at Stehekin on August 3d was nestled loosely in a recumbent
potato vine. At other times any situation in bush or tree, up to twenty
feet, is acceptable, if only within convenient reach of water. A
favorite building site is amid the debris of last year’s flood water,
caught in the willow clumps of creek or lagoon. With high boots one may
wade the bed of a brushy creek near Yakima and count certainly on
finding a Merrill Song Sparrow’s nest every five or ten rods.


                                No. 57.
                          RUSTY SONG SPARROW.

  A. O. U. No. 581 e. Melospiza melodia morphna Oberholser.

  Description.—_Adults_: Somewhat like _M. m. montana_ but coloration
  much more rufescent, general color of upperparts rich rusty brown,
  ashy gray of _M. m. montana_ represented by rusty olive and this
  reduced or (in some plumages) almost wanting; black mesial streaks of
  scapulars, etc., much reduced, indistinct or sometimes wanting;
  underparts heavily and broadly streaked with chestnut usually without
  black shaft lines; sides and flanks washed with olivaceous. “_Young_,
  slightly rufescent bister brown above, the back streaked with
  blackish, beneath dull whitish or very pale buffy grayish, the chest,
  sides and flanks more or less tinged with buffy or pale fulvous and
  streaked with sooty brownish” (Ridgway). Length about 6.40 (162.5);
  wing 2.60 (66); tail 2.56 (65); bill .50 (12.7); tarsus .67 (17).

  Recognition Marks.—Sparrow size; rusty brown coloration; heavily
  spotting of underparts distinctive save for the _Passerella iliaca_
  group from which it is further distinguished by smaller size and
  varied head markings.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: As in preceding. _Eggs_: usually 4, averaging darker
  in coloration and larger than in _M. m. merrilli_. Av. size, .87 × .63
  (22.1 × 16). _Season_: second week in April to July; two or three
  broods.

  General Range.—“Breeding from extreme southern portion of Alaska
  through British Columbia (including Vancouver Island) to western
  Oregon (north of Rogue River Mountains); in winter, south to southern
  California (Fort Tejon, etc.)” (Ridgway).

  Range in Washington.—Common resident west of the Cascades; found
  chiefly in vicinity of water.

  Authorities.—? Audubon, Orn. Biog. V. 1839, 22. _M. rufina_, Baird,
  Rep. Pac. R. R. Surv. IX. 1858, p. 481. (T). C&S. L¹. Rh. Kb. Ra. Kk.
  B. E.

  Specimens.—U. of W. P. Prov. B. BN. E.

If one were to write a book about the blessings of common things, an
early chapter must needs be devoted to the Song Sparrow. How blessed a
thing it is that we do not all of us have to go to greenhouses for our
flowers, nor to foreign shores for birds. Why, there is more lavish
loveliness in a dandelion than there is in an imported orchid; and I
fancy we should tire of the Nightingale, if we had to exchange for him
our sweet poet of common day, the Song Sparrow.

Familiar he certainly is; for while he has none of the vulgar
obtrusiveness of _Passer domesticus_, nor confesses any love for mere
bricks and mortar, there is not a weedy back lot outside of the fire
limits which he has not gladdened with his presence, nor a disordered
wood-pile or brush-heap which he has not explored. Much lurking under
cover in time of rain has darkened his plumage beyond that of the
eastern bird, and close association with the fallen monarchs of the
forest has reddened it, until he himself looks like a rusty fragment of
a mouldering fir log.

It is as a songster, however, that we know this sparrow best.
Silver-tongue’s melody is like sunshine, bountiful and free and ever
grateful. Mounting some bush or upturned root, he greets his childish
listeners with “_Peace, peace, peace be unto you, my children._” And
that is his message to all the world, “Peace, and good-will.” Once we
sat stormbound at the mouth of our tent, and, mindful of the unused
cameras, grumbled at the eternal drizzle. Whereupon the local poet
flitted to a favorite perch on a stump hard by, and, throwing back his
head, sang, with sympathetic earnestness, “Cheer up! Cheer up! Count
your many mercies _now_.” Of course he did say exactly that, and the
childish emphasis he put upon the last word set us to laughing, my
partner and me, until there was no more thought of complaint.

                  [Illustration: SONG SPARROW ASLEEP.]

Even in winter the brave-hearted bird avails himself of the slightest
pretext—an hour of sunlight or a rise of temperature—to mount a bush and
rehearse his cheerful lay. The song is not continuous, but it is
frequently repeated thru periods of several minutes, and is followed by
little intervals of placid contemplation.

But no matter how gentle a bird’s disposition may be, there is ample
use, alack! for the note of warning and distrust. When, therefore, the
Song Sparrow’s nesting haunts are invaded, the bird emits a _chip_ or
_chirp_, still musical, indeed, but very anxious. In winter the resident
birds deny themselves even this characteristic cry; and, except for the
occasional outbursts of full song, they are limited to a high nasal
_tss_, which seems to serve the purpose of a flocking, or recognition,
call. Song Sparrows are not really gregarious birds; nor are they even
seen in close proximity save in mating time; but they like to assure
themselves, nevertheless, that a dozen of their fellows are within call
against a time of need.

Silver-tongue is a bird of the ground and contiguous levels. When
hiding, he does not seek the depths of the foliage in trees, but skulks
among the dead leaves on the ground, or even threads his way thru log
heaps. If driven from one covert, the bird dashes to another with an odd
jerking flight, working its tail like a pump-handle, as tho to assist
progress. Ordinarily the bird is not fearful, altho retiring in
disposition. Apart from the haunts of men the Song Sparrow of western
Washington is closely attached to the water; and is not to be looked for
save in damp woods, in swamps, in the vicinity of open water, whether of
lake or ocean, or along the brushy margins of streams. Indeed, its
habits are beginning to assume a slightly aquatic character. Not only
does it plash about carelessly in shallow water, but it sometimes seizes
and devours small minnows.

Save in favored localities, such as the margins of a tule swamp, nests
of the Rusty Song Sparrow are not obtrusively common. “Back East,” in a
season of all around nesting, about one-fifth of the nests found would
be those of the Song Sparrow. Not so on Puget Sound; for, altho the
birds are common, heavy cover is ten times more common, and I would
sooner undertake to find a dozen Warblers’ nests than as many Song
Sparrows’. Nesting begins about April 1st, at which time nests are
commonly built upon the ground or in a tussock of grass or tules. The
end of a log, overshadowed by growing ferns, is a favorite place later
in the season; while brush-heaps, bushes, fir saplings, trees, or
clambering vines, such as ivy and clematis, are not despised.

The eggs, Mr. Bowles finds, are almost invariably four in number, as in
a very large number of sets examined only one contained five eggs. They
are of a light greenish blue in ground color, and are spotted and
blotched heavily and irregularly with reddish browns, especially about
the larger end. Several broods are raised each season.

The Rusty Song Sparrow, because of its abundance in winter, affords the
impression of being strictly a resident bird in western Washington. Such
may be the case with a majority of the individuals, but there is still
evidence of a southward movement of the race, the place of local birds
being supplied in winter partly by British Columbia birds, which show a
heavier and more uniformly blended type of plumage, approaching that of
_M. c. rufina_.


                                No. 58.
                          SOOTY SONG SPARROW.

  A. O. U. No. 581 f. Melospiza melodia rufina (Bonap.).

  Description.—Similar to _M. m. morphna_ but larger and with coloration
  darker, more blended; general color of upperparts deep sooty brown or
  bister, brightening on greater wing-coverts and tertials; back
  obscurely streaked with darker; median crown-stripe obsolete or at
  least indistinct; streaking of underparts dark brown. Length 6.50
  (165) or over; wing 2.75 (70); tail 2.64 (67); bill .48 (12.3); tarsus
  .92 (23.5).

  Recognition Marks.—Sparrow size; dark brown coloration; plumage of
  upperparts blended, almost uniform. Requires careful distinction from
  _Passerella_ but is smaller and variegation of head still traceable.

  Nesting.—As in preceding. Does not breed in Washington.

  General Range.—“Southern Alaska (islands and coast); north to Cross
  Sound, Glacier Bay, Lynn Canal, etc.; south to north side of Dixon
  Entrance, in winter to coast of British Columbia, Vancouver Island,
  and northwestern Washington (Olympic Mountains)” (Ridgway).

  Range in Washington.—Winter resident in northwestern portion of
  State—not common.

  Authorities.—_M. cinerea rufina_ (Brandt), Ridgway, Birds of North and
  Middle America, Vol I. p. 374. E.

  Specimens.—Prov. E.

These larger and darker birds reach our northern borders in winter only,
having retired thus far from their home in southern Alaska. Their
demeanor while with us is even more modest than that of the local
Silver-tongue; and when one is stalking the dank woods of Whatcom County
on the _qui vive_ for varieties, it requires a second glance to
distinguish this Song Sparrow, with its softly blended plumage, from a
winter Fox Sparrow.


                                No. 59.
                           LINCOLN’S SPARROW.

  A. O. U. No. 583. Melospiza lincolnii (Aud.).

  Synonyms.—Lincoln’s Song Sparrow. Lincoln Finch.

  Description.—_Adults_: Above, much like _M. melodia montana_, but
  crown brighter rufous, and with more decided black markings: back
  browner and more broadly and smartly streaked with black; the gray of
  back sometimes with a bluish and sometimes with an olivaceous tinge;
  below, throat and belly white, the former never quite immaculate, but
  with small arrow-shaped black marks; sides of head and neck and
  remaining underparts creamy buff, everywhere marked by elongated and
  sharply defined black streaks; usually an abrupt dusky spot on center
  of breast; bill blackish above, lighter below, feet brownish. Length
  about 5.75 (146.1); av. of six specimens; wing 2.48 (63); tail 2.11
  (53.6); bill .40 (10.2).

  Recognition Marks.—Warbler size; bears general resemblance to Song
  Sparrow, from which it is clearly distinguished by buffy chest-band,
  and by narrow, sharp streaks of breast and sides.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: much like that of Rusty Song Sparrow, of dried
  grasses, etc., usually on ground, rarely in bushes. _Eggs_: 3 or 4,
  greenish white spotted and blotched with chestnut and grayish. Av.
  size, .80 × .58 (20.3 × 14.7). _Season_: June, July; two (?) broods.

  General Range.—North America at large breeding chiefly north of the
  United States (at least as far as the Yukon Valley) and in the higher
  parts of the Rocky Mountains and the Cascade-Sierras; south in winter
  to Panama.

  Range in Washington.—Imperfectly made out—probably not rare spring and
  fall migrant, at least west of the Cascades; found breeding in the
  Rainier National Park.

  Authorities.—[“Lincoln’s Finch,” Johnson, Rep. Gov. W. T. 1884 (1885),
  22.] Bowles and Dawson, Auk, XXV. Oct. 1908, p. 483.

  Specimens.—(U. of W.) Prov. B.

Modesty is a beautiful trait, and, I suppose, if we had always to choose
between the brazen arrogance of the English Sparrow and the shy
timorousness of this bird-afraid-of-his-shadow, we should feel obliged
to accept the latter. But why should a bird of such inconspicuous color
steal silently thru our forests and slink along our streams with bated
breath as if in mortal dread of the human eye? Are we then such
hobgloblins?

Thrice only have I seen this bird, and then in northern Ohio. On the
first occasion two of us followed a twinkling suspicion along a shadowy
woodland stream for upwards of a hundred yards. Finally we neared the
edge of the woods. There was light! exposure! recognition! With an
inward groan the flitting shape quitted the last brush-pile and rose
twenty feet to a tree-limb. Just an instant—but enough for our
purpose—and he had whisked over our heads, hot-wing upon the dusky back
trail. That same May day we came upon a little company of these Sparrows
halted by the forbidding aspect of Lake Erie, and dallying for the nonce
in the dense thickets which skirted a sluggish tributary. Here they
skulked like moles, and it was only by patient endeavor that we were
able to cut out a single bird and constrain it to intermittent exposure
at the edge of the stream. Here, at intervals, from the opposite bank,
we eagerly took note of its head-stripes, pale streaked breast, and very
demure airs, and listened to snatches of a sweet but very weak song,
with which the bird favored us in spite of our “persecution.” Is it any
wonder that the Lincoln Sparrow is so little known to fame?

While rated a regular summer resident of British America and Alaska,
Lincoln’s Sparrow has also been found breeding in the mountains of
eastern Oregon, California, Utah, and Colorado. It ought, therefore to
occur in Washington; but we have only to shrug our shoulders and say
with the lawyer, _non est inventus_. Indeed, the only positive record we
have of the bird’s occurrence at any season is that of a specimen taken
by A. Gordon Bowles, Jr., in Wright’s Park, Tacoma, May 22, 1906.

So much penned in good faith in April, 1908. In June of the same year
the good fairy of the bird-man piloted him to a spot where the Lincoln
Sparrows were so numerously and so thoroly at home, that he began to
wonder whether he might not have been dreaming after all for the past
quarter of a century. Ten or a dozen pairs were found occupying the
well-known swamp at Longmire’s Springs. On the 30th of June they were
much more in evidence than the Rusty Song Sparrows, which occupied the
same grassy fastnesses; and altho the females were not done waiting on
overgrown babies, the males were loudly urging their second suits.

             [Illustration: _Taken at Longmire’s Springs._
                        LINCOLN’S SONG SPARROW.
                ALLAN BROOKS AFTER PHOTO BY THE AUTHOR.]

The song of the Lincoln Sparrow is of a distinctly musical order, being
gushing, vivacious, and wren-like in quality, rather than lisping and
wooden, like so many of our sparrow songs. Indeed, the bird shows a much
stronger relationship in song to the Purple Finch than to its immediate
congeners, the Song Sparrows. The principal strain is gurgling, rolling,
and spontaneous, and the bird has ever the trick of adding two or three
inconsequential notes at the end of his ditty, quite in approved Purple
Finch fashion. “_Linkup, tinkup perly werly willie willie weeee_ (dim.)”
said one; “_Riggle, jiggle, eet eet eet eer oor_,” another. “_Che willy
willy willy che quill_”; “_Lee lee lee quilly willy willy_,” and other
such, came with full force and freshness at a hundred yards to the
listeners on the back porch at Longmire’s.

When studied in the swamp, the Lincoln Finches were found to be more
reluctant than Song Sparrows to expose themselves, but one pair, anxious
for their young, sat out against a clear sky again and again. The bird
was seen occasionally to erect its crown feathers in inquiry or
excitement, as do Chipping Sparrow, Nuttall Sparrow, _et al._ A Yellow
Warbler, stumbling into the manorial bush, was set upon furiously; but
she made off philosophically, knowing that her punishment was after the
accepted code. A Rusty Song Sparrow, however, was allowed to sit quietly
at a foot’s remove, not, apparently, because he was so much bigger, nor
even because nearer of kin, but rather because of common parental
anxiety. The contrast here was instructive; the Lincoln Sparrow being
not only smaller but more lightly colored and with a sharp-cut
streakiness of plumage. A comparison of many examples showed the
similarity of head pattern between the two Sparrows to be very
noticeable, while the buffy tinge of the Lincoln’s breast would appear
to be one of its least constant marks.

An alleged sub-species, Forbush’s Sparrow, _M. l. striata_, “Similar to
_M. lincolni_ but superciliary stripes and upperparts more strongly
olivaceous, and dark streaks especially on back and upper tail-coverts,
coarser, blacker, and more numerous,” has been ascribed to British
Columbia and western Washington, but the material at hand is meager and
inconclusive, and the proposed form has been passed upon adversely by
Ridgway.


                                No. 60.
                          KADIAK FOX SPARROW.

  A. O. U. No. 585 a (part). Passerella iliaca insularis Ridgway.

  [_Description of Passerella iliaca unalaschensis_ (Shumagin Fox
  Sparrow).—_Adults_: “Pileum and hindneck brownish gray or grayish
  brown (nearly hair brown) passing into clear gray (mouse gray or smoke
  gray) on superciliary region and sides of neck; auricular region
  brownish gray, with narrow and indistinct shaft streaks of whitish;
  back, scapulars, and rump plain hair brown; greater wing-coverts,
  tertials and upper tail-coverts dull cinnamon brown, the rest of wings
  intermediate between the last named color and color of back, except
  edges of outermost primaries, which are pale hair brown; underparts
  white, the foreneck, sides of throat (submalar region), chest, and
  sides of breast marked with triangular spots of deep grayish brown or
  drab; the flanks broadly streaked or striped with the same (both sides
  and flanks mostly grayish brown laterally); malar region white flecked
  with grayish brown; under tail-coverts grayish brown centrally,
  broadly margined with white or buffy white; middle of throat and
  breast usually with a few small spots of brown; maxilla dusky on
  culmen, paler on tomia; mandible pale colored (yellowish in winter,
  pinkish or liliaceous in summer); iris brown; legs and feet brown”
  (Ridgway).]

  Description.—“Similar to _P. i. unalaschensis_ but much browner and
  more uniform in color above (back, etc., warm sepia brown instead of
  grayish brown or brownish gray); spots on chest, etc., larger and
  deeper brown; under tail coverts more strongly tipped with buff”
  (Ridgway). Length of adult male (skins): 6.78 (172.5); wing 3.30
  (83.8); tail 2.92 (74.1); bill .50 (12.7); tarsus 1.02 (25.9).

  Recognition Marks.—Sparrow size; uniform brownish coloration of back;
  underparts heavily spotted with brown; _browner_ than _unalaschensis_
  but duller than _townsendi_; larger than _annectens_; color of crown
  unbroken as compared with Rusty Song Sparrow (_Melospiza melodia
  morphna_), also bird larger.

  General Range.—“Kadiak Island, Alaska, in summer; in winter south
  along the coast slope to southern California.”

  Range in Washington.—Winter resident and migrant west of Cascades.

  Authorities.—_Passerella townsendii_ Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R. Surv. IX.
  1858. p. 489 part (Whitbeys Id., winter).—_Fide_ Ridgway.

  A singular fatality (or, more strictly, _want_ of fatality) has
  attended our efforts to secure a representative series of migrating
  Fox Sparrows on Puget Sound. The birds have only revealed themselves
  in city parks or otherwise in the absence of a gun. It is practically
  certain that all the Alaskan forms described by Mr. Ridgway occur here
  regularly in winter and during migrations but so unobtrusive are the
  birds and so dense the cover afforded that we have been completely
  baffled in our attempts, and find ourselves obliged, at the last
  moment, to fall back upon Mr. Ridgway’s original descriptions in Birds
  of North and Middle America, Vol. I. (p. 389 ff), and for the use of
  these we desire again to express our grateful obligations.

  For additional remarks on the Shumagin Fox Sparrow (_P. i.
  unalaschensis_) and the Yakutat Fox Sparrow (_P. is annectens_) see
  Hypothetical List in Volume II. of this work.

Field identification of the Fox Sparrows by means of binoculars may not
command the respect of precise scientists. But there he sat, placid, at
twenty feet, in a well-lighted grove on the Nisqually Flats, on the 10th
day of February, 1906. See; twenty divided by eight (the magnifying
power of the glasses) equals two and a half. At arm’s length I held him,
while I noted that the upperparts were dull hair-brown thruout, not
noticeably brightening on wings and tail but perhaps a shade darker on
the crown; underparts heavily but _clearly_ spotted with a warmer
brown—so, obviously and indisputably, neither a Sooty nor a Townsend.
Shumagin (_P. i. unalaschensis_) perhaps; but Ridgway[20] enters all
Puget Sound winter records as Kadiaks, and we must follow the gleam
until we are able to perfect the light of our own little lanterns by the
flash of a shot-gun.


                                No. 61.
                          TOWNSEND’S SPARROW.

  A. O. U. No. 585 a (part). Passerella iliaca townsendi (Audubon).

  [_Description of P. i. annectens_ (Yakutat Fox Sparrow).—“Similar to
  _P. i. insularis_ but smaller (the bill especially) and coloration
  slightly browner” (Ridgw.).]

  Description.—_Adults_: Similar to _P. i. annectens_ but coloration
  darker and richer (inclining to chestnut brown); spots on chest, etc.,
  larger. “Above deep vandyke brown, duller (more sooty) on pileum, more
  reddish (inclining to burnt umber or dark chestnut brown) on upper
  tail-coverts and tail; sides of head deep sooty brown, the lores
  dotted, the auricular region finely streaked, with dull whitish;
  general color of underparts white, but everywhere spotted or streaked
  with deep chestnut brown or vandyke brown, the spots mostly of
  triangular (deltoid and cuneate) form, very heavy and more or less
  confluent on chest, smaller on throat and breast; sides and flanks
  almost uniform deep brown, the latter tinged with buffy or pale tawny,
  under tail-coverts deep olive or olive-brown broadly margined with
  buffy or pale fulvous.” Length of adult male (skins): 6.67 (169.4);
  wing 3.17 (80.5); tail 2.78 (70.6); bill .47 (11.9); tarsus 1.00
  (25.4).

  Recognition Marks.—Sparrow size; warm brown (nearly uniform)
  coloration of upperparts; heavy spotting of chest, etc. Absence of
  distinctive head markings will distinguish bird from local Song
  Sparrows, and robust form with conical beak from migrating Hermit
  Thrushes.

  Nesting.—As next. Does not breed in Washington.

  General Range.—“Coast district of southern Alaska (islands and coast
  of mainland from southern side of Cross Sound, Lynn Canal, etc., to
  north side of Dixon Entrance); in winter, south to northern
  California” (Ridgway).

  Range in Washington.—Common migrant and (possibly) winter resident
  west of Cascades.

  Authorities.—? _Fringilla townsendi_ Audubon, Orn. Biog. V. 1839, 236,
  pl. 424, fig. 7 (Columbia River). Townsend, Narrative (1839), p. 345.
  _Passerella townsendii_, Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R. Surv. IX. 1858, p.
  489. C&S. Ra. Kk. B. E(H).

  Specimens.—(U. of W.) Prov. B. C.

Time was when all the various Fox Sparrows of the Pacific Northwest were
lumped together under the name Townsend’s Sparrow. A more critical age,
however, under the leadership of Professor Ridgway, has resolved the
bewildering array of shifting browns into five forms, or subspecies,
assigning to each summer quarters according to the dullness or
brightness of its coat. The end is not yet, of course, but the
distinctions already made are sufficiently attenuated to cause the
public to yawn. Suffice it to say, that this is one of the plastic
species long resident on the Pacific Coast; and that the varying
conditions of rainfall and temperature, to which the birds have been
subjected thruout the greater portion of the year, have given rise to
five recognizable forms of the Townsend Sparrow.

Probably all forms are migratory, but the northernmost member of the
group, the Shumagin Fox Sparrow (_P. i. unalaschensis_) has not been
taken except in its summer home, the Alaska Peninsula, Unalaska, and the
Shumagins. The remaining four are known to retire in winter as far south
as California; but whether they preserve the 2, 3, 4, 5, arrangement in
winter, or whether the order is roughly reversed (as is true in the case
of certain other species), so that number 2 goes farthest south, while
number 5, less anxious as to the severities of winter, migrates, as it
were, half-heartedly, and becomes for a time the northernmost form, we
cannot tell. However this may be, Townsend’s Sparrow proper (_P. i.
townsendi_) appears to outnumber any of the remoter forms during at
least the spring migrations; and because it is our next neighbor on the
north, should be entitled to more consideration than plain heathen
birds.

At no time does the absorptive power of our matchless Puget Sound cover
appear to greater advantage than during the migration of the Fox
Sparrows. However they may choose to move at night, by day they frequent
the dense tangles of salal and salmon brush, or skulk about in cedar
swamps. To search for them is useless, but if you are much out-of-doors
the time will come, while you are footing it softly along some woodland
path, that a demure brown bird will hop out in front of you and look
unconcernedly for tid-bits before your very eyes. The bird is a little
larger than a Song Sparrow, but you will require a second glance to note
that the colors of the upperparts are smoothly blended, that the head
lacks the vague stripiness of _Melospiza_, and that the underparts are
spotted instead of streaked. Or, it may be, that you chance upon him as
he is busily scratching among the fallen alder leaves. Scratching is
hardly the word tho, for the bird leaps forward and executes an
extravagant double kick backward, landing invariably at the edge of the
cleared space. Here, without a moment’s delay, he proceeds to glean
busily, whereas you rather expected him to pause at the end of his
stunt, like the acrobat, awaiting the conventional burst of applause. If
you must needs pursue the path, he hops back into the thicket and you
have seen, perhaps, your last Fox Sparrow for this year, altho his
migrating kinsmen must number millions.


                                No. 62.
                           SOOTY FOX SPARROW.

  A. O. U. No. 585 a (part). Passerella iliaca fuliginosa Ridgway.

  Description.—_Adults_: Upperparts, sides of head, neck, and lateral
  underparts nearly uniform dark brown (sepia brown—“sooty” not
  inappropriate), warming slightly upon exposed surfaces of wings and
  upon rump and outer edges of rectrices; below white save for under
  tail-coverts, which have clear buffy wash, everywhere save on middle
  belly heavily marked with large, chiefly triangular, spots of the
  color of back or darker—spotting heaviest on breast where nearly
  confluent. Bill black above shading on sides into yellow of lower
  mandible; feet pale ruddy brown or wine-color. Length (of a single
  fresh specimen) 7.45 (191.7); wing (av.) 3.21 (81.5); tail 2.91 (77);
  bill .48 (12.2); tarsus 1.02 (25.9).

  Recognition Marks.—Sparrow to Chewink size; uniform sooty brown
  coloration of head and upperparts; heavily spotted below with sepia or
  blackish; darker above and more heavily spotted below than any migrant
  form of the _P. i. unalaschensis_ group.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: a bulky structure with a broad, flat brim, of mosses,
  grasses, twigs, woody fibers, weed-stalks, often heavily lined with
  fine dry grass of contrasting color and with an inner mat of fur, hair
  or feathers; placed at moderate heights in thickets or saplings;
  measures externally 6 inches across by 3 deep, internally 2⅛ across by
  1⅝ deep. _Eggs_: 4, greenish blue, spotted, or spotted and clouded,
  with reddish brown. Av. size, .94 × .68 (23.8 × 17.3). _Season_:
  May-July; two broods.

  General Range.—Summer resident in coast region of British Columbia and
  northwestern Washington; in winter south along the coast to San
  Francisco.

  Range in Washington.—Breeding on the San Juan Islands and upon the
  northern and western shores of the Olympic Peninsula; not uncommon
  migrant on Puget Sound.

  Authorities.—(?) Baird, Rep. Pac., etc., 489 part; (?) Cooper and
  Suckley Rep. Pac., etc., 204 part; (?) Sclater Cat. Am. Birds, 1862,
  119 part (Simiahmoo [sic]); Ridgway, Auk, XVI. Jan. 1899, 36 (Neah
  Bay). Kb. E.

  Specimens.—Prov. BN. E.

The mystery of the Fox Sparrow clears a little as we move northward on
Puget Sound, and may even resolve itself one day as we spend a lazy July
in camp on one of the San Juan islands. We are puzzled, as the tent pegs
are being driven, by certain sprightly songs bursting out now here, now
there, from the copse. We labor under a sense of avian surveillance as
we gather fuel from the beach, but the songs are too joyous and limpid
to make precise connections with anything in previous experience. It is
not till the cool of the evening, when we seek the spring, back in the
depths of the thicket, that we come upon a fair birdmaiden slyly
regaling herself upon a luscious salmon-berry, flushed to the wine-red
of perfection, while three of her suitors peal invitations to separate
bowers in the neighboring tangles. She flees guiltily on detection, but
the secret is out; we know now where these shy wood nymphs keep
themselves in summer.

The male bird is sometimes emboldened by the moment of song to venture
into the tops of willows or alders, but even here he hugs the screen of
leaves and is ready in a trice to dive into the more familiar element of
bushes. Once under cover of the protecting salal, or among the crowding
ferns, the Fox Sparrows are excelled by none in their ability to get
about with a modicum of disturbance; and the longest journeys, such as
are made necessary in the time of clamoring young, appear to be made by
slipping and sliding thru the maze of intersecting stems. The song is
varied and vivacious; but, save for the opening notes, is neither very
strong nor very brilliant. The opening phrase, however, _Pewit, heu_,
comes as a tiny bugle call into which is distilled the essence of all
dank hollows, of all rustling leaves, of all murmuring tides, and of all
free-blowing breezes. It is the authentic voice of the little wild.

  [Illustration: _From a Photograph Copyright, 1907, by W. L. Dawson._
                     CARROLL ISLET—SOUTH EXPOSURE.
       WHERE THE FIRST NEST OF THE SOOTY FOX SPARROW WAS FOUND.]

On a July day a trio of Indian boys, Quillayutes, were showing the
bird-man a round of belated nesters, while he was looking for
opportunities to photograph eggs, and also recording Quillayutan bird
names in passing. A Rusty Song Sparrow’s nest held only weanlings,
mildly hideous, and the leader, a lad of ten, expressed regret that he
could not show me the nest of another kind of Song Sparrow. With excess
of Caucasian pride I assured him that there was only one species of Song
Sparrow to be found locally, but my learned statements drew forth only
puzzled and unconvicted glances. Some days later when I had taken a set
of Sooty Fox Sparrow’s eggs from a neighboring islet, the boys clamored
in triumph, “That’s it; those are the eggs of _Tahbahlilchteh_, the
other Song Sparrow we told you about.” The boys were near enough right;
the Fox Sparrow is for all the ordinary world like a Song Sparrow; and I
venture that not a dozen white boys in Washington ever saw the bird
itself, let alone distinguishing it by name.

   [Illustration: _Taken on Carroll Islet._    _Photo by the Author._
                NEST OF SOOTY FOX SPARROW IN FERN CLUMP.
  THE NEST ITSELF IS ALMOST INVISIBLE BECAUSE BURIED IN MOSS AND FERN
                                LEAVES.]

The eggs referred to were found amid most romantic surroundings, on a
sea-girt islet a mile or two out from the Pacific shore. The island is
given over to sea-birds, and these nest upon its precipitous sides to
the number of thousands; but the center of the rock is crowned with a
grove of spruce trees, which overshadow a dense growth of salmon-berry
bushes. In a clump of the latter at a height of six feet was placed a
very bulky but unusually handsome nest, which held, in the really tiny
cup which occupies the upper center of the structure, three eggs of a
greenish blue color heavily spotted and marbled with warm browns. The
nest measures externally eight and ten inches in width, internally two;
in depth four inches outside and only one and a half inside. It is
composed chiefly of green mosses set in dead spruce twigs with a few
twisted weed stalks; while the lining is of a light-colored, fine, dead
grass, very loosely arranged, and a few breast-feathers of the
Glaucous-winged Gull. A nest full of young Peregrine Falcons were
conversing in screams with their doting parents in the spruce trees
overhead, and terrorizing the island thereby; but the Sooty Fox Sparrows
stepped forward modestly to claim ownership in the nest which “Science”
unfortunately required. The date was July 21, 1906, and the eggs were
nearly upon the point of hatching.

Thus, the north and west slopes of the Olympic Mountains, together with
the islands of lower Puget Sound, appear to mark the southern breeding
range of the coastal Fox Sparrows. This form has not been reported
breeding upon the mainland east of Puget Sound, but it is difficult to
see why it should not do so. It is rather the commonest form during the
spring and fall migrations, and there is no evidence as yet that it
tarries with us in winter.


                                No. 63.
                         SLATE-COLORED SPARROW.

  A. O. U. No. 585 c. Passerella iliaca schistacea (Baird).

  Synonym.—Slate-colored Fox Sparrow.

  Description.—_Adults_: Upperparts slaty gray tinged with olivaceous,
  changing abruptly to russet brown on upper tail-coverts, and tail;
  wings brown brightening, more rusty, on edges of greater coverts and
  secondaries; some white fleckings below eye, and supraloral spot dull
  whitish; underparts white shaded with color of back on sides; the
  sides of throat, chest, and sides of breast heavily and distinctly
  marked with triangular spots of sepia; lower breast (and sometimes
  middle of throat) flecked, and sides and flanks striped, with the same
  shade; under tail-coverts grayish brown centrally edged broadly with
  buffy. _Young birds_ are tinged with brown above and are duller white
  below with less distinct markings. Length of adult male 7.00-7.50
  (177.8-190.5); wing 3.15 (80); tail 3.15 (80); bill .47 (12); tarsus
  .92 (23.3).

  Recognition Marks.—Sparrow to Chewink size; slaty gray and brown
  coloration above with heavy spotting on breast distinctive; _gray_
  instead of brown on back as compared with the five members of the
  _unalaschensis_ group.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: a bulky affair of twigs, weed-stalks, grasses, etc.,
  placed on ground or low in bushes of thicket. _Eggs_: 3-5, usually 4,
  greenish brown sharply spotted or (rarely) blotched with chestnut. Av.
  size .85 × .65 (21.6 × 16.5). _Season_: May-July; two broods.

  General Range.—Rocky Mountain district of United States and British
  Columbia west to and including the Cascade Mountains, the White
  Mountains of southeastern California, and the mountains of
  northeastern California; south in winter to New Mexico, Arizona, etc.

  Range in Washington.—Summer resident in the timbered districts of the
  East-side and in the Cascade Mountains (west to Mt. Rainier).

  Authorities.—[“Slate-colored sparrow,” Johnson, Rep. Gov. W. T. 1884
  (1885), 22]. Bendire, Life Hist. N. A. Birds, Vol. II., p. 435.

The residents of Cannon Hill, in Spokane, are to be congratulated, not
alone for their wealth, for Nature is not curious as to bank accounts,
but for the rare good taste which has been displayed in utilizing the
largess of Nature. Instead of going in with axe and shovel and
fire-brand, first to obliterate the distinctive features of Nature and
then rear mocking platitudes in mortar and stone upon her pale ashes,
they have accepted the glory of her grim lava bastions and the grace of
her unhewn pines; nor have they even despised the tangles of wild
shrubbery, those decent draperies without which both tree and cliff
would be overstark. To be sure the landscape artist with consummate
skill has said to the piny sentinel, “Stand here!” and to the copse,
“Sit there!” but he has not forgotten withal the primeval rights of the
feathered aborigines. As a result _the birds approve_. What higher meed
could mortal ask? Or where is there a better criterion of taste? Taken
all in all I doubt if there is a more delightful spot in Washington in
which to study bird life, certainly not within municipal bounds, than
Cannon Hill affords.

Here, for instance, is this wood sprite, the very genius of the
unravished wild; no one would think of looking for him in a city, yet of
an early morning as the bird-man was passing along Seventh Avenue, he
was arrested by the crisp and hearty notes of a Slate-colored Sparrow,
coming from a bush in an artistically unkempt corner of the adjoining
yard. In the half light, nothing in the pose and appearance of this bird
would have induced an ornithologist to bestow a second glance upon the
evident Song Sparrow, had it not been for the sweet and powerful
challenge which poured from his earnest beak. _Ooree, rickit,
loopiteer_, it said, with varied cadence and minor change, which gave
evidence of no mean ability. There is something so forthright and
winsome about the song of this modest bird, that the listener promptly
surrenders “at discretion,” and begins to ask eager questions of his
dainty captor.

A few yards further on three of these Sparrows were seen feeding on a
well-kept lawn, but ready to skurry at a breath to the shelter of
bush-clumps, thoughtfully provided. And all this in the first week in
June, the very height of nesting time! With this as an example, what
need to speak of Hammond Flycatchers, Mountain Chickadees, Catbirds,
Pine Siskins, Audubon Warblers, Shufeldt Juncoes, Cassin Finches, Pygmy
Nuthatches, American Crossbills, Cassin Vireos, Louisiana Tanagers,
Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Olive-sided Flycatchers, Evening Grosbeaks,
Violet-green Swallows, Black-chinned Hummingbirds, Bobwhites, and a host
of commoner sorts, all residents of the same demesne? “Unto him that
hath shall be given.” Unto these who have shown appreciation and
consideration, has been given the friendship of the birds, and they
deserve their good fortune.

On the 5th of June we visited a nest which had been located a few days
before in a little aspen grove beyond Garden Springs. The nest was
placed upon the ground at the base of a small tree, and it sat so high,
without pretense of concealment, that it was plainly visible with all
its contents two rods away.

The female was brooding, but upon our approach she slipped quietly off
and left her three callow young to the tender mercies of the bird-man
and his big glass eye, set at four feet, while she began searching for
food upon the ground a yard or two away.

 [Illustration: _Taken in Rainier National Park._    _From a Photograph
                   Copyright, 1908, by W. L. Dawson._
                          WITH UNCLOUDED BROW.
                 A HAUNT OF THE SLATE-COLORED SPARROW.]

The male bird appeared, once, upon a bush some twenty feet away, making
no hostile demonstration but beaming rather a hearty confidence, as who
should say, “Well, I see you are getting along nicely at home; that’s
right, enjoy yourselves, and I’ll finish up this bit of hoeing before
supper.”

The mother bird, meanwhile, was uttering no complaint of the strange
presence, preferring instead to glean food industriously from under the
carpet of green leaves. Soon she returned, hopping up daintily. Standing
upon the elevated brim of her nest she carefully surveyed her brood
without proffer of food, as tho merely to assure herself of their
welfare. I “snapped” and she retreated, not hastily, as tho frightened,
but quietly as matter of reasonable prudence. Again and again during the
hour I had her under fire, she returned to her brood. Each time she
retired before the mild roar of the curtain shutter, never hastily or
nervously, but deliberately and demurely. Thrice she fed her brood,
thrusting her beak, which bore no external signs of food, deep down into
the upturned gullets of the three children. Thrice she attempted to
brood her babes, and very handsome and very motherly she looked, with
fluffed feathers and mildly inquisitive eye; but the necessary movement
following an exposure sent her away for a season.

When absent she neither moped nor scolded, but discreetly set about
scratching for food, always within a range of ten or fifteen feet of the
nest. At such times she would look up trustfully and unabashed. Upon the
return she never flew, and there was nothing to advise the waiting
camerist of her approach, save the rustle of leaves as she came hop,
hopping, until she stood upon the familiar brim.

The opportunities for picture-making were simply unlimited, save for the
weakness of the leaf-diluted light. Seldom have I been stirred to such
admiration as in the case of this gentle mother _Schistacea_. So demure,
so even-tempered, and so kindly a bird-person, with such a preserving
air of gentle breeding, I have not often seen. It was an hour to be long
remembered.


                                No. 64.
                          GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE.

  A. O. U. No. 592.1. Oreospiza chlorura (Aud.).

  Synonyms.—Green-tailed Finch. Blanding’s Finch.

  Description.—_Adults_: Crown and occiput rich chestnut; forehead
  blackish gray with whitish loral spot on each side; remaining
  upperparts olive-gray tinged more or less with bright olive-green;
  wings and tail with brighter greenish edgings; bend of wing,
  axillaries and under coverts yellow; chin and throat white bordered by
  dusky submaxillary stripe; sides of head and neck and remaining
  underparts ashy gray, clearing to white on abdomen, tinged with buffy
  or brownish on sides, flanks and crissum. Bill blackish above, paler
  below; legs brown, toes darker; irides cinnamon. _Young birds_ are
  brown above tinged with greenish and streaked with dusky but with
  wings and tail much as in adult. Length of adult about 7.00 (177.8);
  wing 3.15 (80); tail 3.30 (84); bill .50 (12.7); tarsus .94 (24).

  Recognition Marks.—Sparrow size; rufous crown, white throat; greenish
  coloration of upperparts.

  Nesting.—“_Nest_: in bush or on the ground. _Eggs_: .90 × .68 (22.8 ×
  17.2); pale greenish or grayish white, freckled all over with bright
  reddish brown, usually aggregating or wreathing at the larger end”
  (Coues).

  General Range.—“Mountain districts of western United States, from more
  eastern Rocky Mountain ranges to coast range of California; north to
  central Montana and Idaho and eastern Washington” (Ridgway). South in
  winter to Mexico and Lower California.

  Range in Washington.—Presumably summer resident in the Blue Mountains.

  Authorities.—[“Green-tailed towhee,” Johnson, Rep. Gov. W. T. 1884
  (1885), 22]. Ridgway, Birds of North and Middle America, Part I, 401.
  T(?).

Not having ourselves encountered this species we are not able to comment
on Prof. Ridgway’s inclusion[21] of eastern Washington in the bird’s
breeding range. The Green-tailed Towhee appears to be essentially a
mountain-loving species, and if it occurs within our borders, will be
nearly confined to the Blue Mountains of the southeastern corner.

Mr. Trippe, writing from Idaho Springs, Colorado, says of this bird[22]:
“It arrives at Idaho early in May, and soon becomes abundant, remaining
till the close of September or early part of October. It is a sprightly,
active little bird with something wren-like in its movements and
appearance. It is equally at home among the loose stones and rocks of a
hill-side (where it hops about with all the agility of the Rock Wren),
and the densest thickets of brambles and willows in the valleys, amidst
which it loves to hide. It is rather shy, and prefers to keep at a good
distance from any suspicious object; and if a cat or dog approaches its
nest, makes a great scolding, like the Cat-bird, and calls all the
neighbors to its assistance; but if a person walks by, it steals away
very quietly and remains silent till the danger is passed. It has a
variety of notes which it is fond of uttering; one sounds like the mew
of a kitten, but thinner and more wiry; its song is very fine, quite
different from the Towhee’s and vastly superior to it. It builds its
nests in dense clumps of brambles, and raises two broods each season,
the first being hatched about the middle of June.”


                                No. 65.
                            SPURRED TOWHEE.

  A. O. U. No. 588 a. Pipilo maculatus montanus Swarth.

  Synonyms.—Chewink. “Catbird.”

  Description.—_Adult male_: Head and neck all around, chest and
  upperparts black, glossy anteriorly, duller on back; elongated white
  spots on scapulars, on tips of middle and greater coverts and on outer
  web of exposed tertials; edge of wing white and succeeding primaries
  white on outer web; outermost pair of rectrices edged with white on
  outer web; the three outermost pairs terminally blotched with white on
  inner web and the fourth pair touched with same near tip; breast and
  belly white; sides, flanks and crissum light cinnamon rufous,
  bleaching on under tail-coverts to light tawny. Bill black; feet
  brownish; iris red. _Adult female_: Similar to male but duller; black
  of male replaced by slaty with an olivaceous cast. Length of adult
  males: 7.50-8.50 (190.5-215.9); wing 3.17 (86); tail 3.93 (100); bill
  .53 (13.5); tarsus 1.07 (27.7); hind claw .48 (12.2). Female a little
  less.

  Recognition Marks.—Standard of “Chewink” size; black, white and
  cinnamon-rufous unmistakable; _heavily_ spotted with white on
  scapulars and wing as compared with _P. m. oregonus_.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: on the ground in thicket or at base of small sapling,
  a bulky collection of bark-strips, pine needles, coarse dead grass,
  etc., carefully lined with fine dry grass; measures 5 inches in width
  and 3 in depth externally by 2½ wide and 1½ deep inside. _Eggs_: 3-5,
  usually 4, grayish white or pinkish white as to ground, heavily and
  uniformly dotted with light reddish brown. Av. size, .93 × .70 (23.6 ×
  17.8). _Season_: last week in April, last week in May and first week
  in June; two broods.

  General Range.—Breeding in Upper Sonoran and Transition zones from the
  Rocky Mountains to the Cascade-Sierras and in the Pacific coast
  district of central California, and from Lower California and Northern
  Mexico north into British Columbia; retiring from northern portion of
  range in winter.

  Range in Washington.—Common summer resident east of the Cascades,
  found in foothills and mountain valleys up to 3,000 feet; casually
  resident in winter.

  Authorities.—_P. m. megalonyx_, Brewster, B. N. O. C. VII. Oct. 1892,
  p. 227. D². Ss¹. Ss². J.

  Specimens.—(U. of W.) P¹. Prov. C.

Altho of Mexican stock, our western Towhee does not differ greatly in
appearance from the familiar bird (_P. erythrophthalmus_) of the East;
and its habits so closely resemble that of the eastern bird as hardly to
require special description. The Spurred Towhee is a lover of green,
thickety hillsides and brushy draws, such cover, in short, as is lumped
together under the term “chaparral” further south. It is, therefore,
narrowly confined to the vicinity of streams in the more open country,
but it abounds along the foothills and follows up the deeper valleys of
the Cascades nearly to the divide.

                 [Illustration: SPURRED TOWHEE, MALE.]

Tow’hee, as a name, is a manifest corruption of _tow heé_, or _to-hwi′_,
an imitative word, after the bird’s most familiar note. Chewink′ is an
attempt along the same line, but _Marié_ is what the bird seems to me to
say. It is on this account alone that the bird is said to “mew” and is
called “Catbird.” The true Catbird, however, always says _Ma-á ry_, and
there is no cause for confusion. During excitement or alarm the Towhee’s
note is always shortened and sharpened to _Mrie_, with a flirt and jet,
and a flash of the eye. The song variously rendered as “_Chee-terr,
pilly, willy, willy_,” “_Chip, ah, tow-hee-ee_” and “_Yang, kit-er-er_,”
is delivered from the top of a bush or the low limb of a tree; and while
monotonous and very simple, it retains the pleasing quality of that of
the eastern bird. The singer will not stand for close inspection, for,
as Jones says of its cousin[23]: “He is a nervous fellow, emphasizing
his disturbance at your intrusion with a nervous _fluff, fluff_ of the
short wings, and a jerk and quick spreading of the long, rounded tail,
as if he hoped that the flash of white at its end would startle the
intruder away.”

     [Illustration: _Taken in Oregon._    _Photo by A. W. Anthony._
                 NEST AND EGGS OF THE SPURRED TOWHEE.]

For a nest the Spurred Towhee scratches a hollow at the base of a bush
or clump in some dry situation, and lines this carefully, first with
leaves, bark-strips and plant stems, then with fine grasses or rootlets.
The eggs, commonly four in number, are deposited the last week in April
or first in May, and the female clings to her treasures until the
crushing footstep is very imminent. Once flushed, however, she keeps to
the background, scolding intermittently, and she will not return until
long after the excitement has died down.

Two broods are raised each season, and the first one, at least, must
early learn to shift for itself. The young birds are obscure,
dun-colored creatures, quite unlike their parents in appearance, and by
July they infest the buck-brush of the more open mountain sides in such
numbers and apparent variety as to start a dozen false hopes in the
ornithologist’s breast each day.


                                No. 66.
                             OREGON TOWHEE.

  A. O. U. No. 588 b. Pipilo maculatus oregonus (Bell).

  Synonyms.—“Catbird.” Chewink.

  Description.—_Adult male_: Similar to _P. m. montanus_ but darker, the
  white spotting of wing and blotches on tail much reduced; two outer
  pairs of rectrices blotched and the third touched with white near tip;
  cinnamon-rufous of sides, etc., richer and deeper. _Adult female_:
  Like male but black veiled by deep reddish brown (clove brown)
  skirtings of feathers. Length about 8.50 (216); wing 3.33 (84.6); tail
  3.69 (93.7); bill .57 (14.5); tarsus 1.10 (27.9); hind claw .43
  (10.9). Female a little smaller.

  Recognition Marks.—“Chewink” size; black (with white spotting on
  wings) above; white of breast; deep reddish brown of sides; mewing
  cry.

  Nesting.—Like that of preceding species. _Eggs_ a little larger: Av.
  size, 1.04 × .74 (26.4 × 18.8).

  General Range.—Pacific coast district from British Columbia (including
  Vancouver Id.) south to central California; chiefly resident thruout
  its range.

  Range in Washington.—Of general occurrence, save at higher levels,
  west of the Cascades; resident.

  Authorities.—? _Fringilla arctica_, Aud. Orn. Biog. V. 1839, 49; pl.
  394. _P. oregonus_, Bell, Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R. Surv. IX. 1858, pp.
  513, 514. (T). C&S. L². Rh. Kb. Ra. Kk. B. E.

  Specimens.—U. of W. P. Prov. B. BN. E.

Perhaps no bird is better known by voice and less by plumage than this
shy recluse of the under forest. Swampy thickets, brush-piles,
log-heaps, and the edges of clearings are his special delight. Hence it
is that the newcomer, taking up quarters at the edge of town, hears this
mysterious, questioning voice, _me-a**error(yacute)? mea**error(yacute)
uh_? rising from the depths of the brush-lot opposite. He reports the
sound under the name of “Catbird,” and asks the bird-man’s opinion. Or,
if the newcomer has been persistent enough, he has a glowing account to
give of a handsome black bird with red on its sides, “like a Robin,” and
some white below. The bird would only show himself for a moment at a
time, and then he flitted and flirted restlessly before he dived into
cover again, so that the fine points of white spotting on the wing and
white tips on the outer tail feathers were lost out of account.

Of course it is the Oregon Towhee, and the half pleasant, half
complaining notes will insure him notice forever after. The bird is
strictly resident wherever found, and the unmistakable blackness of his
plumage is due rather to the age-long endurance of rain than to any
chance association with blackened logs and stumps, as might be supposed.
Towhee is prince of the underworld, not, of course, in the
Mephistophelian sense, but as the undoubted aristocrat among those
humble folk who skulk under dark ferns, thread marvelous mazes of
interlacing sticks and stalks, explore cavernous recesses of
moss-covered roots, and understand the foundations of things generally.

The handsome bird is a little impatient of the company of his own kind,
his faithful spouse always excepted; but he quite appreciates the mild
deference of Rusty Song Sparrows, the bustling sociability of Western
Winter Wrens, or even the intermittent homage of Seattle Wrens. In
winter the Fox Sparrows attach themselves to this humble itinerant
court, but they are a dozen times more bashful than their chief even.

Only at mating time does Towhee throw caution to the winds. Then he
mounts a sapling and drones away by the hour. The damps of ten thousand
winters have reduced his song to a pitiful wheeze, but he holds forth as
bravely as any of his kin, _whééééé whééééé_, and again, _whééééé_. In
winter the birds employ a peculiar hissing sound, _pssst_ or _bzzzt_,
not I believe, as a warning—rather as a keep-in-touch call. It was
rather heartening tho to hear the full song of Towhee on the 29th of
December at Blaine. Comparisons were unnecessary, and the homely trill
stood out like a benediction against the dripping silence.

In feeding, Towhees resort chiefly to the ground. They are not careful
to observe quiet, and one may follow their movements by the attendant
rustling of leaves. Scratching for food is a favorite employment, and
this they pursue not by the methodical clutch and scrape of the old hen,
but by a succession of spirited backward kicks executed by both feet at
once, and assisted by the wings. By this method, not only fallen seeds
are laid bare but lurking insects of many sorts, which the bird swiftly
devours.


                                No. 67.
                            LAZULI BUNTING.

  A. O. U. No. 599. Passerina amœna (Say).

  Synonyms.—Lazuli Finch.

  Description.—_Adult male_: Head and neck all around cerulean blue;
  this color carried over upperparts but pure only on rump, elsewhere
  appearing as skirting of feathers; middle coverts broadly and greater
  coverts narrowly tipped with white; wings and tail otherwise black;
  some skirting of ochraceous on back, scapulars and tertials; lores
  black; chest ochraceous sharply defined from blue above but shading
  gradually into white of remaining underparts; sides and flanks with
  outcropping bluish dusky. Bill black above, pale bluish below; feet
  brownish dusky; iris brown. _Adult female_: Above grayish brown, the
  color of male recalled by dull greenish blue of rump and upper
  tail-coverts and by skirtings of wing- and tail-feathers; middle and
  greater coverts tipped with light buffy; underparts washed with buffy,
  most strongly on chest and sides, fading to whitish on belly and under
  tail-coverts. _Young_ birds resemble the female but lack the
  bluish-gray of rump and skirtings, and are usually more or less
  streaked below on chest and sides. Length of adult male: 5.25-5.50
  (133.3-139.7); wing 2.87 (73); tail 2.08 (53); bill .39 (9.9); tarsus
  .67 (17). Female smaller.

  Recognition Marks.—Warbler size; color pattern of male
  distinctive,—female not so easy; in general distinguishable by a
  softness and uniformity of the grayish brown.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: a loosely constructed, bulky structure made chiefly
  of dead grasses and strips of soft bark, with a heavy inner lining of
  hair; placed about three feet up in fork of weed, bush or sapling;
  measures, outside, 4¼ inches across by 3 in depth, inside, 2½ wide by
  1½ deep. _Eggs_: 4, very pale blue unmarked or, rarely, dotted with
  reddish brown. Av. size .76 × .56 (19.3 × 14.2). _Season_: first week
  in June; one brood.

  General Range.—Western United States from eastern border of Great
  Plains to the Pacific (less common on Pacific slope) north to southern
  British Columbia (chiefly east of the Cascades); south, in winter, to
  Cape St. Lucas and the Valley of Mexico.

  Range in Washington.—Common summer resident east of Cascade Mountains;
  less common and of irregular distribution in the Puget Sound region;
  breeds in Cascades up to 3,000 feet.

  Migrations.—_Spring_: Yakima County May 5, 1906; Chelan May 21, 1896.

  Authorities.—_? Fringilla amœna_, Audubon, Orn. Biog. V. 1839, 64,
  230; plates 398, 424. _Cyanospiza amœna_ Baird, Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R.
  Surv. IX. 1858, p. 505. T. C&S. D¹. Ra. D². Ss¹. Ss². J. B. E.

  Specimens.—U. of W. P¹. Prov. B. E.

One can scarcely believe his eyes as this jewel flashes from a thicket,
crosses a space of common air, and disappears again all in a trice.
Either there has been some optical illusion, or Nature has grown
careless to fling her turquoises about in such fashion. We must
investigate. Upon arrival, somewhere about the 10th of May, and before
the return of his dun-colored mate, the male Lazuli is quite conscious
of his prominence in the landscape. He avoids notice and goes bounding
away if closely pressed; but love soon makes him bold, and he will
pursue the object of his affections into the very thicket where you
stand. Then, while the female lurks timidly within, he mounts a spray
and yields an outburst of music, piercing and earnest, if not too sweet.
We see that his blue is deep azure, or turquoise, rather than that of
the _lapis lazuli_ from which he is named. The red of his breast is
nearly that of the Robin’s, while the pure white of the remaining
underparts completes a patriotic study in red, white, and blue. The
female shows something of the color pattern of her mate, with the
important exception that dull brown supplants the royal blue of head and
back. After all, then, they are fitted for separate spheres: she to
skulk and hide and escape the hostile eye in the discharge of her
maternal duties; he to lose himself against the blue of heaven, as he
sings reassuringly from a tree-top, or sends down notes of warning upon
the approach of danger.

The song of the Lazuli Bunting is a rambling warble, not unlike that of
the Indigo Bunting (_C. cyanea_), but somewhat less energetic. Its brief
course rises and falls in short cadences and ends with a hasty jumble of
unfinished notes, as tho the singer were out of breath. Moreover, the
bird does not take his task very seriously, and he does not burden the
mid-day air with incessant song, as does his tireless cousin.

Somewhere in the shrubbery and tangle, whether of saplings,
berry-bushes, roses, ferns, or weeds, a rather bulky nest is built about
an upright fork, at a height of two or three feet from the ground. A
nest observed in Yakima County was begun on the 19th of June and
practically completed by the afternoon of the following day,—this altho
the first egg was not laid until the 26th. “Hemp,” milkweed fibers, and
dried grasses were used in construction, and there was an elaborate
lining of horse-hair (poor dears; what _will_ they do when the
automobile has fully supplanted the horse?).

  [Illustration: _Taken near Spokane._    _Photo by Fred S. Merrill._
                       A LAZULI BUNTING’S NEST.]

_Amœna_ means pleasant, but the female amenity is anything else, when
her fancied rights of maternity are assailed. Her vocabulary is limited,
to be sure, to a single note, but her repeated _chip_ is expressive of
all words in _dis_ from distrust to distress and violent disapprobation.


                                No. 68.
                         BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK.

  [Illustration: _Taken in Oregon._    _Photo by Finley and Bohlman._
                             ANTICIPATION.]

  A. O. U. No. 596. Zamelodia melanocephala (Swains).

  Description.—_Adult male_: General coloration black and tawny varied
  with white and yellow; head glossy black, narrowly on chin, and with
  irregular invasion of tawny behind; back, scapulars, wings, and tail
  chiefly black; middle of back with much admixture of tawny; scapulars
  narrowly tipped with yellowish buffy or white, two conspicuous white
  wing patches formed by tips of middle coverts and basal portion of
  primaries; touches of white on tips of greater coverts and
  secondaries, and on outer edge of primaries; touches of yellow (in
  highest plumage) bordering white of wing-coverts, etc.; terminal third
  of two outer pairs of rectrices white on inner webs; lining of wings
  and breast centrally rich lemon yellow; remaining plumage tawny,
  brightest on throat and chest, with admixture of black on sides of
  neck; nearly as bright on rump, but veiled by lighter tips of
  feathers; lightening posteriorly on remaining underparts; nearly white
  on under tail-coverts; bill bluish gray, darker above; feet plumbeous.
  _Adult female_: Like male, but tawny of underparts paler; upperparts
  dark olivaceous brown with admixture of white and pale tawny; head
  blackish with white or brownish median and superciliary stripes; wings
  and tail fuscous, white markings restricted, those on tail reduced or
  wanting; sides and flanks streaked with dusky. Length 7.75-8.50
  (196.85-215.90); wing 3.9 (99); tail 3.15 (80); bill .71 (18); depth
  of bill at base .59 (15); tarsus .95 (24).

  Recognition Marks.—Chewink size; black head and variegated plumage of
  male; large beak, with haunts, distinctive.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: a careless but often bulky collection of twigs or
  weed-stalks, lined, or not, with fine dead grasses; set loosely in
  branches of bush or sapling, 6 to 20 feet up. _Eggs_: 4, greenish
  blue, boldly spotted or blotched with reddish brown, dusky brown and
  lavender, most heavily about larger end. Av. size 1.00 × .68 (25.4 ×
  17.27). _Season_: East-side, May 20; West-side, May 25; one brood.

  Authorities.—? “_Fringilla melanocephala_, Audubon, Orn. Biog. IV.
  1838, 519; pl. 373 (Col. Riv.)”: Baird, 499. Cooper and Suckley, Rep.
  Pac. R. R. Surv. XII. pt. II. 1860, 206. T(?). C&S. Rh. D¹. Ra. D².
  Ss². J. B. E.

  Specimens.—P. B. E.

Those who complain of our lack of song-birds should make the
acquaintance of this really skilled musician. He will not often be found
in the city parks, nor yet in the fir forests; but wherever there are
deciduous trees, not too dense, or tall thickets of willow and alder
beside some lake or sluggish stream, there will this minstrel hold
forth. The Grosbeak’s song is not unlike the longer lay of the Robin,
but it is richer and rounder as well as more subdued. There is about it
all a lingering languor of the Southland; and if the gentleman addressed
you, you would expect him to say “Sah,” with a soft cadence.

  [Illustration: _Taken in Clallam County._    _Photo by the Author._
                     THE GROSBEAK’S CONCERT HALL.]

The bird’s carol has the rolling quality which serves to connect it with
that of the eastern Rose-breasted Grosbeak, but it is sweeter, more
varied, and shows, if anything, a still more strongly marked undertone
of liquid harmonics.

The male Grosbeak is, moreover, an indefatigable singer, choosing for
his purpose the topmost sprays of alder or cottonwood, and taking pains
to give all intruders a wide berth during the concert hours. His
attachment to a given locality becomes apparent only after he has been
pursued from tree to tree in a wide circuit which brings up at the
original station. And yet his shyness is not inspired by caution, for he
will sing upon the nest when he spells his wife at the hopeful task of
incubation.

The more matter-of-fact female has no word of greeting for the stranger
beyond a sharp _kimp_, a beak-clearing note, not unlike that of a
chicken with a crumb in its throat. This the male repeats also, with all
shades of emphasis when the home is beset, or, as a last resort, he
breaks into song at close quarters,—an ample price, surely, for the
fullest immunity.

It is the nest which confirms the southern origin of these gentle birds.
It is a flimsy affair of twigs, grass-stems, or weed-stalks carelessly
interlaced, and caught in the crotch of a sapling at a height of from
five to fifteen feet. The construction is so open, that the blue eggs
with their dark brown and lavender spottings may be counted from below.
The birds, you see, have been accustomed to a warmer climate, to a
tropical range, in fact, where warmth of bedding is no object.

If found upon the nest, the brooding bird cannot think ill of you; or,
if there is ground for misgiving, seeks to disarm hostility by a display
of gentle confidence. Instances are of record where the sitting bird has
been stroked with the hand, and a little discretion will usually insure
a lasting friendship.

  [Illustration: _Taken in Oregon._    _Photo by Finley and Bohlman._
                             REALIZATION.]

This species enjoys a wide range in Washington, being found from
tide-water to the upper reaches of the deeper mountain valleys; but it
is nowhere common enough, let alone abundant.



                        _Tanagridæ_—The Tanagers


                                No. 69.
                        CRIMSON-HEADED TANAGER.

  A. O. U. No. 607. Piranga ludoviciana (Wils.).

  Synonyms.—Louisiana Tanager. Western Tanager.

  Description.—_Adult male_: Back, wings, and tail black; middle coverts
  and tips of greater coverts yellow; remaining plumage rich gamboge
  yellow; clearest (lemon-yellow) on rump and upper tail-coverts,
  darkest (live-yellow to wax-yellow) on breast, changing on head and
  throat to bright carmine or poppy-red. The red increases both in
  extent and intensity with age and is always brightest anteriorly. Bill
  horn color; feet and legs bluish dusky; iris brown. _Adult female_:
  General plumage dingy olive-yellow; darker, nearly olive, above;
  lighter and clearer on under tail-coverts; wings and tail dusky with
  olivaceous wing markings as in male but yellow paler. _Young males_
  resemble the adult female and only gradually acquire the clearer
  brighter plumage of maturity. Length about 7.00 (177.8); wing 3.75
  (95); tail 2.80 (71); bill .59 (15); tarsus .80 (20.5).

  Recognition Marks.—Sparrow size; sedate ways; _pittic_ note. Black and
  yellow with crimson head of male distinctive; dull olive of female not
  likely to be confused when size is discriminated.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: of rather rough, “tropical” construction, composed of
  twigs, rootlets and moss, lined with horse- or cow-hair; measures
  externally 7 inches across by 3 in depth, internally 2¾ wide by 1½
  deep. _Eggs_: 3-5, usually 4, pale greenish blue to deep blue, dotted
  and spotted sparingly with lavender and dark greenish slate, sometimes
  in wreath about larger end; surface heavily glossed; long ovate in
  shape. Av. size .92 × .64 (23.3 × 16.2). _Season_: June; one brood.

  General Range.—Western United States from eastern base of Rocky
  Mountains to Pacific Coast, northward to British Columbia and
  Athabasca; south in winter to Mexico and Guatemala; straggling
  eastward during migrations—has been several times taken in New
  England.

  Range in Washington.—Common summer resident in timbered sections,
  migrant in open country of East-side.

  Migrations.—_Spring_: East-side: Yakima, May 4, 1906, May 9, 1900;
  Chelan, May 19, 1896, May 20, 1905; West-side: Tacoma, April 27, 1906.

  Authorities.—_Piranga ludoviciana_ Bonap., Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R.
  Surv. IX. 1858, p. 304. T. C&S. Rh. D¹. Ra. D². Ss¹. Ss². Kk. J. B. E.

  Specimens.—U. of W. P¹. Prov. B. E.

This handsome Tanager is one of the most characteristic birds of the
more open forest areas of Washington, whether east or west. It is one of
the three species discovered by the intrepid explorers, Lewis and Clark;
and since the Lewis Woodpecker bears the name of one, and the Clark
Nutcracker of the other, there was nothing for it but to call the
Tanager after the region “Louisiana,” whose further reaches they were
then exploring. But we are no longer a part of Louisiana, and we prefer
a color-name for one of our few brilliant birds of plumage.

In the hand, the bright yellow of the male Tanager, shading into the
bright crimson upon the head, would seem to assure a very conspicuous
bird, but afield it is not so. Seen against the changing green of
maples, pines, or fir trees, these brilliant colors are lost to any but
the most attentive eye. A resplendent male does not hesitate to stand
quietly upon the end of a branch and survey you until his curiosity is
fully satisfied. This quiet attitude of genteel curiosity seems to be
characteristic of all Tanagers. Apart from its psychological bearings,
sedateness would seem to play an effective part in modifying the
attractions of bright plumage.

The male birds precede the dull-colored females by several days, and at
such times only may be found in companies. One windy afternoon in May,
the 20th it was, while the Columbia River steamer doddered with its
freight, I took a turn ashore and explored a tiny oasis of willows which
lined a neighboring brook. I soon caught the _pitic_ or _pititic_ of
newly-arrived Tanagers. Judge of my delight upon beholding, not one, but
eight of these beauties, all old males, as they filed out of a willow
clump, where they had evidently taken refuge for the day. A week or so
later I saw Tanagers at home in the meager willow fringes of Crab Creek,
in Lincoln County; and while we were in camp at Brook Lake in Douglas
County, one came out thru the sage, hopping and flitting from bush to
bush, to bring me friendly greetings. It was like meeting a king in a
millet field.

The song of the Louisiana Tanager—pardon the lapse; habit is stronger
than reason—the song of the Crimson-headed Tanager is an étude in R. “It
is remotely comparable to that of the Robin, but it is more stereotyped
in form, briefer, and tittered at intervals rather than continuously
sustained. The notes are sharp-edged and rich in r’s, while the movement
of the whole, tho deliberate, is varied, and the tone cheerful”[24]. I
can detect no constant difference between the song of the Crimson-headed
Tanager and that of the Scarlet Tanager (_P. erythromelas_), save that
that of the former is oftener prefaced with the call note, thus:
_Piteric whew, we soor a-ary e-erie witooer_. This song, however, is
less frequently heard than that of the Scarlet Tanager, East. Its
perfect rendition, moreover, argues the near presence of a demure little
lady in olive, a person who looks like nobody in particular to our
undiscriminating gaze, but who exerts a strange fascination over our
brilliant squire. Young males of the second summer sing hopefully, but
they are less often successful in love than their ruddier rivals.

It behooves the Tanager maiden to be exacting in her choice, for all the
help she will get out of him at best will be sympathy and song. When it
comes to real work, like nest building, she must do it. He will
graciously advise as to the situation, some horizontal branch of fir or
pine, from six to fifty feet high, and from three to twenty feet out. He
will even accompany her on her laborious trips after nesting material,
cooing amiable nothings, and oozing approval at every joint,—but help
her—_nevaire_!

The nest is quite a substantial affair tho rather roughly put together,
of fir twigs, rootlets, and moss, with a more or less heavy lining of
horse- or cow-hair, and other soft substances. The four eggs of greenish
blue, dotted and spotted with lavender and dark greenish slate, appear
especially handsome from above, when viewed against the dark brown nest.
But, as everybody knows, the red fir (_Pseudotsuga mucronata_) is a tree
of moods and tenses. You may dangle with impunity from the very tips of
the branches of some fir trees, while a step from the trunk is fatal in
others of the same general appearance. The Tanagers are quite as apt to
patronize the brittle kind.



                    _Mniotiltidæ_—The Wood Warblers


                                No. 70.
                        ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER.

  A. O. U. No. 646. Helminthophila celata (Say).

  Description.—_Adult male_: Above ashy olive-green, clearing and
  brighter on rump; crown largely ochraceous but color partly veiled by
  olive tips of feathers; wings and tail fuscous with some olive edging;
  below greenish-yellow, dingy, or vaguely streaked with blue on breast
  and sides. _Adult female_: Similar to male but duller, with ochraceous
  crown-patch restricted or wanting. _Immature_: Without ochraceous
  crown; more ashy above; duller below save that abdomen is white;
  eyelids often whitish. Length about 5.00 (127); wing 2.40 (61); tail
  1.95 (49.5); bill .42 (10.7); tarsus .70 (17.8).

  Recognition Marks.—Small warbler size; ochraceous (“orange”)
  crown-patch distinctive from all except _H. c. lutescens_, which is
  the common bird; duller. See next (sub)species.

  Nesting.—Not known to nest in Washington but may do so. As next.

  General Range.—Summer resident in western British America and Alaska
  (save in Pacific coast district), south thru Rocky Mountain district
  to New Mexico; migrating across Central States and casually(?) New
  England, Middle Atlantic States, Pacific States, etc., to Mexico.

  Range in Washington.—Probably common migrant but passing
  undistinguished among more abundant _lutescens_.

  Authorities.—Bowles and Dawson, Auk, Vol. XXV., Oct. 1908, p. 483.

  Specimens.—Bowles. Prov. P.

Most Alaskan species, even of those which retire in winter to South
Carolina, Florida, and the Antilles, may be expected to drift thru our
borders sooner or later. Typical _H. celata_ was first caught in the act
by Mr. Bowles in May, 1907, but we have no means of knowing that the
northern form is not a frequent trespasser. Kermode gives it as a common
summer resident east and west of the Cascades in British Columbia, and
it is not impossible that our northern Cascade records should be
referred to this type.


                                No. 71.
                           LUTESCENT WARBLER.

  A. O. U. No. 646a. Helminthophila celata lutescens Ridgway.

  Description.—_Adults_:—Similar to _H. celata_ but brighter. Above
  bright olive-green; below definitely yellow—olive-yellow, gamboge, or
  even canary (on under tail-coverts). _Immature_: Above plain
  olive-green (not ashy, as in _H. celata_); below buffy yellow tinged
  with olive on breast and sides. Measurements as in preceding.

  Recognition Marks.—Small warbler size; perhaps the most abundant of
  the eight or nine “yellow” warblers of the State; ochraceous
  crown-patch, of course, distinctive; not so bright as the Pileolated
  Warblers (_W. p. pileolata_ and _W. p. chryseola_).

  Nesting.—_Nest_: on the ground sunk in bed of moss, under protection
  of bush or weed, or in shelving bank, of coiled dry grasses, lined
  with finer; 1¾ inches wide by 1 inch deep inside. _Eggs_: 4, rarely 5,
  dull white marked with dots and a few small blotches of yellowish
  brown and lavender; in shape long to short ovate, rarely oval. Av.
  size .67 × .51 (17 × 12.9). _Season_: May 1 and June 1; two broods.

  General Range.—Summer resident in Pacific Coast district from Cook
  Inlet to southern California, east to western ranges of Rocky Mountain
  System, where intergrading with _H. celata_; south in winter to
  western Mexico and Guatemala.

  Range in Washington.—Of general occurrence thruout the lower levels;
  abundant in Puget Sound region.

  Migrations.—_Spring_: April 3, 6, 7 (Seattle). April 24 (Chelan).
  March 28, 1908 (Seattle).

  Authorities.—(?) Townsend, Journ. Ac. Nat. Sci. Phila., VIII., 1839,
  153 part (Columbia River). Cooper and Suckley, Rep. Pac. R. R. Surv.,
  XII., pt. II., 1860, 178. (T.) C&S. L¹, Rh. D¹. Kb. Ra. D². Kk. B. E.

  Specimens.—U. of W. Prov. B. BN. E.

Yellow appears to be the prevailing color among our Washington Wood
Warblers; and even of those which are not frankly all over yellow, as
this one is, there are only two which do not boast a conspicuous area of
this fashionable shade. And of all yellows, yellow-green, as represented
by the back of this bird, is the commonest,—so common, indeed, as to
merit the facetious epithet “museum color.” It is all very well in the
case of the male, for he comes back (to Seattle) during the first week
in April, before the leaves are fully out; and he is so full of
confidence at this season that he poses quite demurely among the
swelling buds of alder, maple, and willow. He is proud of his full
crown-patch of pale orange, contrasting as it does with the dull
yellowish green of the upperparts and the bright greenish yellow of the
underparts,—and he lets you get a good view of it at twenty yards with
the glasses. Besides that, he must stop now and then to vent his
feelings in song. But the case of the female is almost hopeless—for the
novice.

  [Illustration: _Taken in Oregon._    _Photo by Bohlman and Finley._
                            A HUNGRY CHICK.
                 LUTESCENT WARBLER, FEMALE AND YOUNG.]

The song of the Lutescent Warbler appears to have been very largely
overlooked, but it was not the bird’s fault. While waiting for his tardy
mate, he has rehearsed diligently from the taller bushes of the thicket,
or else from some higher vantage point of maple, dogwood, or fir tree.
The burden is intended for fairy ears, but he that hath ears to hear let
him hear a curious vowel scale, an inspirated rattle or trill, which
descends and ends in a simple warble of several notes. The trill, brief
as it is, has three qualities of change which make it quite unique. At
the opening the notes are full and slow, but in the instant necessary to
the entire recital the pace accelerates, the pitch rises slightly, and
the component notes decrease in volume, or size. At the climax the
tension breaks unexpectedly in the gentle, musical cadence of the
concluding phrases, whose notes much resemble certain of the Yellow
Warbler’s. The opening trill carries to a considerable distance, but the
sweetness of the closing warble is lost to any but near listeners. The
whole may be rendered graphically somewhat as follows;
_O-o-ā-ā-i-i-é-é-é-é-é-é wichy, wichy, wichy_.

In the brush and under alarm these birds utter a brusque, metallic
scolding note, which is perfectly distinctive locally, altho it much
resembles that of the _Oporornis_ group East. By this mark alone may the
mere greenish female be certainly discerned.

Lutescent Warblers abound thruout western Washington, and easterly, when
the Cascades are well passed, as upon the Pend d’Oreille. Jungle of any
kind suits them, whether it be a thicket of young firs at Tacoma, an
overgrown burn at Snoqualmie, a willow swamp in Yakima County, or a
salmon-berry tangle on Destruction Island. Nests are of dead grasses
well knitted and sunk flush with the ground, or below it, in some moss
bed, at the base of a bush, or on some sloping hillside. Rarely the
structure may be taken up into a bush. The female is a close sitter, but
once flushed shows implacable resentment. She summons her mate to assist
in the gentle art of exorcism, or else turns the tables and deserts
outright. The latter, you understand, is quite the subtlest and most
baffling form of revenge which a bird may compass in the case of an
oölogist anxious to identify his find.

    [Illustration: _Taken near Tacoma._    _Photo by J. H. Bowles._
                  NEST AND EGGS OF LUTESCENT WARBLER.]


                                No. 72.
                           CALAVERAS WARBLER.

  A. O. U. No. 645a. Helminthophila rubricapilla gutturalis (Ridgw.).

  Description.—_Adult male_: Head above and on sides bluish ash with a
  partially concealed crown-patch of bright chestnut; a whitish
  eye-ring; remaining upperparts bright olive-green becoming yellowish
  green on rump and upper tail-coverts; underparts including crissum,
  bright yellow, but whitening on belly; bill small, short, acute,
  blackish above, brownish below; feet brown. _Adult female_: Like male
  but somewhat duller below; ashy of head less pure, glossed with
  olivaceous and not so abruptly contrasting with yellow of throat;
  chestnut crown-patch less conspicuous or wanting. _Immature_:
  Olive-green of upperparts duller; head and neck grayish brown instead
  of ashy; below dull olive-yellow, clearing on belly and crissum.
  Length of male (skins) 4.05-4.75 (103-121); wing 2.35 (60); tail 1.75
  (45); bill .38 (9.6); tarsus .63 (16). Female smaller.

  Recognition Marks.—Smaller; bright yellow of throat (and underparts),
  contrasting with ashy of head, distinctive.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: usually sunk well into ground or moss at base of
  bush-clump or rank herbage, well made of fine bark-strips and grasses,
  lined with finer grasses, horse-hair and, occasionally, feathers;
  outside, 3 in. wide by 2 in. deep; inside 1¾ wide by 1¼ deep. _Eggs_:
  3-5, usually 4, dull white as to ground-color, but showing two
  distinct types of markings: one heavily sprinkled with fine dots of
  reddish brown, nearly uniform in distribution, or gathered more
  thickly about larger end; the other sparingly dotted, and with large
  blotches or “flowers” of the same pigment. Av. size .64 × .49 (16.3 ×
  12.5). _Season_: May 20-July 20, according to altitude; two broods.
  Chelan Co. July 22, 1900, 3 fresh eggs.

  General Range.—The Pacific States and British Columbia south to
  Calaveras County, California, and east (at least) to northern Idaho;
  found chiefly in the higher mountains; in migrations to Lower
  California and western Mexico.

  Range in Washington.—Summer resident on brushy slopes and in timbered
  valleys of the higher ranges thruout the State, and irregularly at
  lower levels, at least on Puget Sound (Tacoma).

  Migrations.—_Spring_: Wallula, April 23, 1905; Benton County, May 4,
  1907; Chelan, May 21, 1896; Tacoma, April 24, 1897. _Fall_: Last week
  in August (Blaine).

  Authorities.—Dawson, Auk, XVIII. Oct. 1901, 463. (D¹). J. B.

  Specimens.—B.

There is something distinct and well-bred about this demure exquisite,
and the day which discovers one searching the willow tops with genteel
aloofness is sure to be underscored in the note-book. The marks of the
spring male are as unmistakable as they are regal: a bright yellow
breast and throat contrasting with the ashy of cheeks and head, the
latter shade relieved by a white eye-ring, and surmounted by a chestnut
crown-patch. If you stumble upon a company of them at play among the
thorn bushes, you are seized, as like as not, with a sense of low birth,
and feel like retiring in confusion lest you offend royalty.

These gentle despots are bound for the mountains; and since their realms
are not prepared for them till June, they have ample leisure to discuss
the fare of wayside stations. They enter the State from the South during
the last week in April—Wallula, April 23d, is my earliest record; but
May 21st records an unanxious company at the foot of Lake Chelan. As the
season advances they take up quarters on brushy mountain sides, or in
the deciduous skirts of fierce mountain torrents. Here while the female
skurries about thru the buck-brush or vine-maple thickets in search of a
suitable nesting site, the male mounts a fir tree and occupies himself
with song.

If you are spying on this sacred function, the bird first peers down at
you uneasily, then throws his head back and sings with great animation:
_Choopy, choopy, choopy churr_ (tr). The trill is composed of a dozen or
so of large notes which the ear can easily distinguish, but which
because of the vivacious utterance one cannot quite count. The pitch of
the _finale_ is sustained, but there is a slight decrease in volume. If
forced to descend, the singer will join his mate in sharp _chips_ of
protest, somewhat similar to those of the Audubon Warbler, altho not
quite so clear-cut or inflexible.

While the Calaveras Warbler is a bird of the mountains and lives at any
height where suitable cover is afforded, it is a curious fact that it
sometimes prefers the timbered lowlands of Puget Sound, and may be found
in some seasons in considerable numbers about the southern prairies. Mr.
Bowles has found them commonly in scrub-oak patches which border the fir
groves and timbered lakes; and yet during some years they have been
unaccountably absent from the entire region.

Near Tacoma this Warbler places its nest at the base of a young oak or
fir tree, where the spreading branches have protected the grass and
gathered weeds. The nest is sunk well into the ground or moss, and is so
well concealed as to defy discovery unless the bird is flushed. When
frightened from the nest the female instantly disappears, and returns
only after some considerable interval. Then she approaches with the
greatest caution, ready to dart away again upon the first sign of
movement on the part of the intruder. The male, if he happens to be
about at all, neither joins the defense nor consoles his mate in
misfortune, but sets upon her furiously and drives her from bush to
bush, as tho she had wilfully deserted their treasures.

At sea-level two sets of eggs are laid in a season, one fresh about May
18th, the other about June 25th. In the mountains, however, the second
nesting, if indulged in at all, is thrown very late. I took a set of
three fresh eggs from a carelessly constructed nest placed in the top of
an elk-weed (_Echinopanax horridum_) at a height of three feet, on the
22d day of July, 1900.


                                No. 73.
                            YELLOW WARBLER.

  A. O. U. No. 652. Dendroica æstiva (Gmel.).

  Synonyms.—Summer Yellow-bird. Summer Warbler. Wild Canary.

  Description.—_Adult male_: Forehead and fore-crown bright yellow with
  an orange tinge; back bright olive-green; rump greenish yellow; wings
  and tail blackish with greenish yellow edgings, the wing quills edged
  on both webs, the tail-feathers—except middle pair—almost entirely
  yellow on inner webs; sides of head and entire underparts golden
  yellow, the breast and sides heavily streaked with chestnut; bill
  black; feet pale. _Adult female_: Like male but duller; olive-green on
  back, not brighter on forehead; paler yellow below, obscurely or not
  at all streaked with chestnut. _Young males_ resemble the adult
  female. _Young female_ still duller; dusky yellow below. Length
  4.75-5.25 (120.6-133.3); wing 2.51 (63.8); tail 1.68 (42.7); bill .40
  (10.2); tarsus .73 (18.61).

  Recognition Marks.—Medium size; golden yellow coloration; chestnut
  streaks on breast of male; after the Lutescent the commonest of the
  resident Warblers; chiefly confined to the banks of streams and ponds.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: a compact cup of woven “hemp” and fine grasses, lined
  heavily with plant-down, grasses, and, occasionally, horse-hair,
  fastened to upright branch in rose-thickets and the like. _Eggs_: 4 or
  5, white, bluish-, creamy-, or grayish-white, speckled and marked with
  largish spots of reddish brown, burnt umber, etc., often wreathed
  about the larger end. Av. size, .70 × .50 (17.8 × 12.7). _Season_: May
  20-June 20; one brood.

  General Range.—North America at large, except southwestern part,
  giving place to _D. æ. rubiginosa_ in extreme northwest. South in
  winter to Central America and northern South America. Breeds nearly
  thruout its North American range.

  Range in Washington.—Summer resident in deciduous timber, and
  shrubbery lining streams, thruout the State from sea-level to 4,000
  feet.

  Migrations.—_Spring_: Tacoma, April 24-30; Yakima, April 30, 1900;
  Chelan, May 21, 1896. _Fall_: First week in September.

  Authorities.—Cooper and Suckley, Rep. Pac. R. R. Surv., XII., pt. II.,
  1860, p. 181. T. C&S. L¹. Rh. D¹. Ra. D². Ss¹. Ss². Kk. J. B. E.

  Specimens.—B. BN. E. P¹.

The Summer Warbler’s gold is about as common as that of the dandelion,
but its trim little form has not achieved any such distinctness in the
public mind. Most people, if they take notice at all of anything so
tiny, dub the birds “Wild Canaries,” and are done. The name as applied
to the Goldfinch may be barely tolerated, but in the case of the Warbler
it is quite inappropriate, since the bird has nothing in common with the
Canary except littleness and yellowness. Its bill is longer and slimmer,
for it feeds exclusively on insects instead of seeds; and its pure
yellow and olive-green plumage knows no admixture, save for the tasty
but inconspicuous chestnut stripes on the breast of the adult male.
These stripes are lacking in males of the second year, whence Audubon
was once led to elaborate a supposed new species, which he called the
“Children’s Warbler.” The name is not ill-fitting, even tho we know that
it applies only to the Warbler’s children.

The Yellow Warbler is peculiarly a bird of sunshine, and is to be found
chiefly in open situations. It swarms thru the orchards and gardens,
frequents the wayside thickets, and in town takes possession of the
shrubbery in lawn or park. It is abundant in swampy places, and is
invariably present in season along the banks of streams which are lined
with willows, alders, and wild rose bushes.

  [Illustration: _Taken in Oregon._    _Photo by Finley and Bohlman._
                           A CONTENTED BABY.]

The song is sunny, too, and while not elaborate, makes substantial
contribution to the good cheer of spring. Heard in the boskage it sounds
absurdly as if some wag were shaking an attic salt-cellar on a great
green salad. The notes are almost piercing, and sound better perhaps
from across the river than they do in the same tree. Individual
variation in song is considerable, but the high pitch and vigor of
delivery are distinctive. Certain common types may be syllabized as
follows: _Sweet, sweet, sweet, sweetie_; _tsee, tsee, tsit-a-wee, tsee_;
_wee-chee, chee, chee wee-i-u_; _tsu, tsu, tsu, tsu, tseéew_. From its
arrival sometime during the last week in April, until near the close of
its second nesting, late in July, the bird may be found singing thruout
the sunlit hours.

The date of this bird’s annual advent in Washington is far less nearly
fixed than in the East. April 19th is my earliest date, recorded in
Yakima County, but Dr. Cooper once saw large numbers (possibly _D. a.
rubiginosa_) “at the Straits of De Fuca,” on April 8. On the west side
of the mountains this Warbler may not often nest more than once in a
season, but on the East-side it usually raises two broods.

The nest of the Yellow Warbler is quite common, especially easterly,
where its cover is more restricted; and no special pains is taken at
concealment. Nests may be placed at any height in orchard trees, alders,
willows, or even fir saplings; but, without doubt, the most acceptable
site is that afforded by dense thickets of the wild rose (_Rosa
pisocarpa_) wherever found.

     [Illustration: _Taken near Tacoma._    _Photo by the Author._
                        YELLOW WARBLER’S NEST.]

The cradle of this bird is of exquisite fabrication. The tough inner
bark of certain weeds—called indiscriminately “hemp”—together with
grasses and other fibrous materials in various proportions, is woven
into a compact cup around, or settled into, some stout horizontal or
ascending fork of bush or tree. As a result the bushes are full of
Warblers’ nests, two or more seasons old. A fleecy lining, or mat, of
plant-down is a more or less conspicuous feature of every nest. Upon
this as a background a scanty horse-hair lining may exhibit every one of
its strands; or again, as in the case of a nest taken on the Chelan
River, the eggs themselves may be thrown into high relief by a coiled
black mattress.

The male Yellow is very domestic in his tastes, insomuch that, quite
unlike other Warblers, he will often venture to sing from the very bush
in which his mate is sitting. Unless well accustomed to the presence of
humans, the female will not sit patiently under the threat of close
approach. She slips off quickly and her vigorous complaints serve to
summon her husband, when both flit about close to the intruder, and
scold roundly in fierce, accusing notes, which yet have a baby lisp
about them.


                                No. 74.
                            MYRTLE WARBLER.

  A. O. U. No. 655. Dendroica coronata (Linn.).

  Synonym.—Yellow-rumped Warbler.

  Description.—_Adult male in spring_: Above slaty blue with black
  streaks, smaller on sides of crown and nape, broader on back; below
  white, with black on upper breast, sides of middle breast, and sides
  in endless variety of patterns; a large patch on each side of breast,
  a partially concealed patch in center of crown, and rump, bright
  yellow (lemon or canary); superciliary line white; a deep black patch
  on side of head; wings fuscous; tail darker; middle and greater
  coverts narrowly tipped with white, forming two rather conspicuous
  bars; three outer pairs of tail-feathers with white blotches on inner
  webs, decreasing centrally; bill black; feet dark. _Female in spring,
  and both sexes in fall_: Duller; the blue of upperparts overlaid with
  brownish; a brownish wash on sides of breast and flanks; black of
  breast obscure,—restricted to centers of feathers; yellow of
  breast-spots pale or wanting. _Immature_: Brownish above; whitish
  below with a few obscure dusky streaks. Length 5.25-5.75
  (133.3-146.1); av. of five males: wing 2.98 (75.7); tail 2.22 (56.4);
  bill .38 (9.7); tarsus .78 (20).

  Recognition Marks.—Larger; _white_ throat as distinguished from _D.
  auduboni_, which it otherwise closely resembles.

  Nesting.—Not known to breed in Washington. _Nest_ as in next species.
  _Eggs_ indistinguishable.

  General Range.—“Eastern North America chiefly, straggling more or less
  commonly to the Pacific; breeds from the northern United States
  northward, and winters from southern New England and the Ohio Valley
  southward to the West Indies, and through Mexico to Panama” (A. O. U.
  ’95). “An abundant summer resident on Vancouver Island and mainland
  (B. C.), chiefly west of Cascades” (Kermode).

  Range in Washington.—Spring and fall migrant, probably of regular
  occurrence east and west of the Cascades.

  Migrations.—_Spring_: Tacoma, Apr. 27, 1906, 1907; Seattle, May 3,
  1908; Chelan, May 22, 1905; Yakima, Apr. 30, 1891.

  Authorities.—Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R. Surv. IX. pt. II., 1858, 272, 273.
  C&S. Rh. Ra. D². Kk. B. E.

  Specimens.—U. of W. Prov. C.

While only a little less lovely than its local kinsman, the Audubon
Warbler, by as much as it has four patches of gold instead of five, this
beautiful migrant appears to have been very largely lost to sight in the
throng of its more brilliant relatives. Rathbun, writing from Seattle,
says of it: “A regular and not uncommon spring migrant, associating with
_D. auduboni_. Have no fall record.” Bowles from Tacoma says: “An
irregular fall migrant, very numerous some years, the fall of 1905 for
example. Have never seen it in spring.” Yakima, April 30, 1891; Chelan,
May 22, 1905; Tacoma, April 27, 1907, are some of my own records. Fannin
gives the species as “An abundant summer resident, chiefly west of the
Cascades,” in British Columbia, and it should occur regularly within our
borders during migration.

The _tchip_ note of the Myrtle Warbler is indistinguishable from that of
_D. auduboni_, but a single glimpse of the white throat is sufficient to
establish identity. Those seen have necessarily been at close quarters
and ranging low, in willow thickets, along the margins of ponds, etc.,
but it is altogether possible for a migrant troop to hold to the
tree-tops in passing and so elude observation from “Forty-nine” to the
Columbia.


                                No. 75.
                           AUDUBON’S WARBLER.

  A. O. U. 656. Dendroica auduboni (Towns.)

  Synonym.—Western Yellow-rumped Warbler.

  Description.—_Adult male_: Similar to _D. coronata_ but throat rich
  gamboge yellow; auriculars bluish gray instead of black; a large white
  wing patch formed by tips of middle and outer edges of greater
  coverts; tail with white blotches on inner webs of four or five outer
  feathers; usually more extensively black on breast. _Adult female_:
  Similar to adult male but duller (differences closely corresponding
  with those in _D. coronata_); the white of wing patch nearly obsolete;
  the yellow of throat paler and often, especially on chin, more or less
  displaced by white (young females even of the second summer are
  sometimes absolutely without yellow on throat but the more abundant
  white on rectrices is distinctive as compared with _D. coronata_).
  Seasonal changes follow very closely those of _D. coronata_ but yellow
  of throat is usually retained in winter save in young females and
  (occasionally) young-males. Length of adult about 5.50 (139.7); wing
  3.00 (76); tail 2.45 (57); bill .41 (10.4); tarsus .80 (20.3).

  Recognition Marks.—Warbler size; _five_ spots of yellow; extensive
  white blotching of tail; yellow rump distinctive in any plumage save
  as compared with _D. coronata_, from which it is further distinguished
  (usually) by yellow or yellowish of throat (If this character fails,
  the more extensive white on tail will always hold).

             [Illustration: AUDUBON WARBLER MALE, ⅚ LIFE SIZE
               From a Water-color Painting by Allan Brooks]

  Nesting.—_Nest_: a well built, bulky structure of fir twigs, weed
  stems, rootlets, etc., heavily lined with horse-hair and feathers;
  placed usually on branch of conifer from four to fifty feet up,
  sometimes in small tree close against trunk, measures 4 inches in
  width outside by 2¾ in depth; inside 2 by 1½. _Eggs_: 3-5, usually 4,
  dull greenish white sparingly dotted with blackish or handsomely
  ringed, spotted and blotched with reddish brown, black and lavender.
  Av. size, .71 × .54 (18 × 13.7). _Season_: April-June; two broods.
  Tacoma, April 9, 1905, 4 eggs half incubated.

  General Range.—Western North America, north to British Columbia, east
  to western border of the Great Plains, breeding thruout its range (in
  higher coniferous forests of California, northern Arizona, etc.)
  wintering in lower valleys and southward thruout Mexico. Accidental in
  Massachusetts and in Pennsylvania.

  Range in Washington.—Common resident and migrant on West-side from
  tidewater to limit of trees; less common migrant and rare winter
  resident (?) east of the Cascades.

  Migrations.—_Spring_: East-side: Yakima, March 11, 1900 (probably
  winter resident); Yakima, April 13, 1900; Chelan, April 20-24, 1896.
  West-side: Tacoma, April 24, 1906.

  Authorities.—_Sylvia auduboni_ Townsend, Journ. Ac. Nat. Sci. Phila.
  VII. 1837, 191 (“forests of the Columbia River”). C&S. L¹. Rh. D¹. Kb.
  Ra. D². Kk. B. E.

  Specimens.—U. of W. P¹. Prov. B. BN. E.

As one considers the Thrushes, Wrens, and Sparrows of our northern
clime, he is apt to grumble a little at the niggardliness of Mother
Nature in the matter of providing party clothes. The dark mood is
instantly dispelled, however, at the sight of this vision of loveliness.
Black, white, and gray-blue make a very tasty mixture in themselves, as
the Black-throated Gray Warbler can testify, but when to these is added
the splendor of five golden garnishes, crown, gorget, epaulets, and
culet, you have a costume which Pan must notice. And for all he is so
bedecked, _auduboni_ is neither proud nor vain,—properly modest and
companionable withal.

Westerly, at least, he is among the first voices of springtime, and by
the 10th of March, while all other Warblers are still skulking silently
in the Southland, this brave spirit is making the fir groves echo to his
melody. The song is brief and its theme nearly invariable, as is the
case with most Warblers; but there is about it a joyous, racy quality,
which flicks the admiration and calls time on Spring. The singer posts
in a high fir tree, that all may hear, and the notes pour out rapidly,
crowding close upon each other, till the whole company is lost in a
cloud of spray at the end of the ditty. At close quarters, the “filling”
is exquisite, but if one is a little way removed, where he catches only
the crests of the sound waves, it is natural to call the effort a trill.
At a good distance it is even comparable to the pure, monotonous
tinkling of Junco.

I once heard these two dissimilar birds in a song contest. The Warbler
stood upon a favorite perch of his, a spindling, solitary fir some
hundred feet in height, while the Junco held a station even higher on
the tip of another fir a block away. Here they had it back and forth,
with honors surprisingly even, until both were tired, whereupon (and not
till then) an Oregon Towhee ventured to bring forth his prosy rattle. It
was like Sambo and his “bones” after an opera.

The range of Audubon’s Warbler is about coextensive with that of
evergreen timber in Washington. It does not, however, frequent all the
more open pine woods of the lower foot-hills in the eastern part of the
State, nor does it occur habitually in the deeper solitudes of the
western forests. Considered altitudinally, its range extends from
sea-level to timber-line. And altho it is at home in the highest
mountains, it is equally so in the city park and in the shade trees
about the house. Under such varied conditions, therefore, its habits
must vary widely.

We do not know to what extent it is resident, that is, present the year
around, but believe that it is quite extensively so. One may be in the
woods for a dull week in January, and see never a Warbler; but on a
bright day in the same region he may encounter numbers of them. I have
seen them playing about the dense firs on Semiahmoo Point (Lat. 49°) on
Christmas Day, and I feel sure that large numbers of them spend the
winter in the tree-tops, possibly moping, after the well known fashion
of the Sooty Grouse.

It is these winter residents which become active in early spring. In the
vicinity of Tacoma, where they have been studied most carefully, it is
found that April is the typical nesting month, and one at least of the
four eggs of a nest found April 9th, 1905, must have been deposited in
_March_. Along about the 25th of April great numbers of Audubons arrive
from the South, and one may see indolent companies of them lounging thru
the trees, while resident birds are busy feeding young. These migrants
may be destined for our own mountains as well as British Columbia.
East-side birds are likewise tardy in arrival, for pine trees are
inadequate shelter for wintry experiments.

The absorbing duty of springtime is nesting, and to this art the
Audubons give themselves with becoming ardor. The female does the work,
while the male cheers her with song, and not infrequently trails about
after her, useless but sympathetic. Into a certain tidy grove near
Tacoma the bird-man entered one crisp morning in April. The trees stood
about like decorous candlesticks, but the place hummed with Kinglets and
clattered with Juncoes and Audubons. One Audubon, a female, advertised
her business to all comers. I saw her, upon the ground, wrestling with a
large white chicken-feather, and sputtering excitedly between tussles.
The feather was evidently too big or too stiff or too wet for her proper
taste; but finally she flew away across the grove with it, chirping
merrily. And since she repeated her precise course three times, it was
an easy matter to trace her some fifteen rods straight to her nest,
forty feet up on an ascending fir branch.

When the nest was presumed to be ripe, I ascended. It was found settled
into the foliage and steadied by diverging twigs at a point some six or
seven feet out along the limb. None of the branches in the vicinity were
individually safe, but by dint of standing on one, sitting on another,
and clinging to a third, I made an equitable distribution of avoirdupois
and grasped the treasure. Perhaps in justice the supporting branches
should have broken just here, but how could you enjoy the rare beauty of
this handsome structure unless we brought it to you?

The nest is deeply cup-shaped, with a brim slightly turned in, composed
externally of fir twigs, weed-tops, flower-pedicels, rootlets, catkins,
etc., while the interior is heavily lined with feathers which in turn
are bound and held in place by an innermost lining of horse-hairs. One
feather was left to curl daintily over the edge, and so partially
conceal the eggs,—four spotted beauties.

      [Illustration: _Taken in Tacoma._    _Photo by the Author._
                   NEST AND EGGS OF AUDUBON WARBLER.]

These Warblers are connoisseurs in feathers, and if one had all their
nests submitted to him, he could make a rough assignment of locality for
each according to whether feathers of Oregon Ruffed Grouse, Franklin
Grouse, Ptarmigan, or domestic fowls were used.

In the wet region the birds appear to nest in fir trees only, and they
are as likely to use the lowermost limb as any. There is little attempt
at concealment, and Bowles reports a nest only ten feet high over a path
used daily by hundreds of people in Tacoma. On the dry side of the
mountains the Warblers avail themselves freely of deciduous trees and
bushes for nesting sites. A nest on Cannon Hill in Spokane was placed at
the lowermost available crotch of a young elm tree near the sidewalk and
not ten feet up—as bold as a Robin!

According to Mr. Bowles, Audubon Warblers evince a great fondness for
their chosen nesting haunts, and will return to them year after year,
often to the same tree, and sometimes to the same branch. “They are the
most solicitous of all the Washington Warblers concerning their eggs,
sometimes coming to meet the intruder as he climbs toward the nest. At
such times the alarm note of the female soon brings the male, when,
should the nest contain incubated eggs or young, both birds crawl among
the branches, frequently within reach, with wings and tail spread, in
absolute forgetfulness of their own safety.”

Incubation is accomplished in twelve days; and one or two broods are
raised, according to locality and length of season.

We lose sight of most of the birds, especially the smaller ones, after
the heyday of springtime, but here is one who, because he has forsworn
wandering, is making delicate overtures of confidence toward mankind.
This year, especially, now that the dense tract of woods north of the
University has been cut out, they linger about our neighborhood with the
matter-of-factness of Bluebirds. The young ones play about the eaves or
make sallies at passing flies from the window-sills, and yawn with
childish insouciance if mamma suggests, by a sharp _tchip_, that enemies
may lurk behind the curtains. They know it’s only habit with her, and
she doesn’t believe it herself. The adult attire is duller now, and only
the yellow rump-patch remains for recognition by a friend. The year is
waning, no doubt of that, but October sunshine is good enough for us—or
November rains. Let them flit who will! Washington is good enough for
us, you in your fir house and I in mine.


                                No. 76.
                      BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER.

  A. O. U. No. 665. Dendroica nigrescens (Towns.).

  Description.—_Adult male in spring and summer_: A supraloral spot of
  yellow; remaining plumage black, white and blue-gray; head, throat and
  chest black interrupted by superciliary stripes and broad malar
  stripes of white; remaining upperparts blue-gray, marked with black in
  inverted wedge-shaped spots on back, scapulars and upper tail-coverts;
  wings and tail black edged with bluish ash, the middle and greater
  coverts tipped with white, forming two conspicuous wing-bars, the four
  outer rectrices blotched with white on inner webs in sharply
  decreasing area, the outermost chiefly white, the fourth merely
  touched; sides white streaked with black or striped black-and-white;
  remaining underparts white. _Adult female_: Like male but duller, the
  black of crown partly veiled by blue-gray skirting, that of throat
  reduced by white tips of feathers. _Young birds_ resemble the female
  but the black of crown and throat is almost entirely hidden by
  blue-gray and white respectively, and the area of the tail blotches is
  much reduced. Length about 5.00 (127); wing 2.44 (62); tail 1.97 (50);
  bill .36 (9.2); tarsus .69 (17.5).

  Recognition Marks.—Warbler size; black and white and blue-gray
  coloration distinctive.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: a rather loosely built structure of dead grasses,
  silky plant fibers, moss, etc., placed midway on horizontal limb of
  conifer 25-50 feet from ground; measures, externally, 3 inches wide by
  2 deep, internally 1¾ wide by 1 deep. _Eggs_: 4, creamy white, marked,
  chiefly about the larger end with spots and small blotches of varying
  shades of brown, lavender and black. Av. size, .83 × .63 (21 × 16).
  _Season_: last week in May and first week in June; one brood.

      [Illustration: BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLERS, MALE AND FEMALE.]

  General Range.—Western United States (north to Colorado, Utah and
  Washington), and British Columbia west of the Cascades; breeding
  southward to Southern California, southern Arizona and Lower
  California; south in winter thru Mexico and States of Oaxaca and Vera
  Cruz.

  Range in Washington.—Summer resident and migrant west of the Cascade
  Mountains.

  Migrations.—_Spring_: Seattle-Tacoma c. April 12. _Fall_: c. Sept. 1
  (Blaine).

  Authorities.—_Sylvia nigrescens_ Townsend, Journ. Ac. Nat. Sci. Phila.
  VII. 1837, 191 (“forests of the Columbia River”). C&S. L¹. D¹(?). Ra.
  Kk. B. E.

  Specimens.—U. of W. Prov. B. E.

Black and white and gray are sober colors in themselves, but a skillful
arrangement of all three has produced a handsome bird, and one whose
dainty dignity requires no meretricious display of gaudy reds and
yellows. Warblers are such tiny creatures at best that Nature has given
little thought to their protective coloration. This plain-colored bird
does not, therefore, shun the greenery of fir and fern, and yet we feel
a peculiar fitness when he chooses for a song station some bare dead
limb, gray and sober like himself.

Last year the first arrival in Seattle seated himself upon a projecting
limb of a dead cedar which commanded the quiet sylvan depths of Cowan
Park, and left him fairly abreast of the Fifteenth Avenue viaduct. Here
he divided his time between song and enjoyment of the scene, sparing a
friendly glance now and then for the admiring bird-man. His manner was
complaisant and self-contained, and I felt that his little vocal
offerings were a tribute to the perfect morning rather than a bid for
applause.

The song of the Black-throated Gray is quite unpretentious, as Mrs.
Bailey says,[25] “a simple warbler lay, _zee-ee-zee-ee, ze, ze, ze_,
with the quiet woodsy quality of _virens_ and _cœrulescens_, so soothing
to the ear.” It is this droning, woodsy quality alone which must guide
the ear of a listener in a forest, which may be resounding at the same
time to the notes of the Hermit, Townsend, Audubon, Lutescent, and
Tolmie Warblers. Occasionally even this fails. An early song which came
from a young male feeding patiently among the catkins of some tall,
fresh-budding alders, had some of the airy qualities of the Kinglet’s
notes, “_Deo déopli, du du du, deo déo pli, deo deo pli, deo deo pli_”—a
mere fairy sibilation too fine for mortal ears to analyze. Another said
boldly, “_Heo flidgity; heo flidgity_,” and “_Heo flidgity, chu wéo_.”

[Illustration: _Taken near Blaine._    _Photo (retouched) by the Author._
             “UPON THE OVERHANGING LIMB OF AN APPLE TREE.”]

This Warbler is of rather irregular distribution in the western part of
the State, where alone it is found. A preference is shown for rather
open woodland or dense undergrowth with wooded intervals. The fir-dotted
prairies of the Steilacoom area are approved, and the oak groves have
their patronage. During the August migration I have found the bird
almost abundant at Blaine. They are curious, too, and by judicious
screeping I succeeded in calling the bird of the accompanying
illustration down within five feet upon the overhanging limb of an apple
tree.

Of their nesting Mr. Bowles says: “In Washington these Warblers are
strictly confined to the large coniferous timber of the prairie country,
during the breeding season placing their nests midway out on a fir limb,
at from 25 to 50 feet above the ground. Strangely enough, however, in
Oregon they almost always nest low down in the deciduous trees,
sometimes only three or four feet up in a bush. In Washington the nests
are always placed directly on a limb, while in Oregon my brother, Mr. C.
W. Bowles, found them mostly in upright crotches.

“The nest is rather a loosely-built little structure, measuring
externally three inches wide by two inches deep, internally one and
three-quarters inches wide by one deep. It is composed of dead grass,
silky plant fibers, moss, etc., with an ample lining of different kinds
of hair and feathers;—a pretty little nest, tho scarcely as artistic as
that of the Audubon Warbler.

     [Illustration: _Taken in Tacoma._    _Photo by J. H. Bowles._
           NEST AND EGGS OF THE BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER.]

“The eggs are laid during the last week in May and the first week in
June, and are invariably four in number. They are creamy white in color,
marked chiefly around the larger end, with spots and small blotches of
varying shades of brown, lavender, and black. Eggs in my collection from
Washington average .83 × .63 inches in dimensions, while eggs from
Oregon average .67 × .50 inches, the largest egg from Oregon being
smaller than the smallest Washington egg. In shape the eggs vary from
long to short ovate, and only one set is laid in a season.

“The parent birds are very shy in the vicinity of the nest, the female
leaving at the first sign of danger and keeping out of sight.

“In Oregon, my brother noted that the male often accompanied the female
while she was collecting building material, continuously scolding, but
never assisting her in any way. In that section the nests were greatly
preyed upon by that prince of egg-robbers, the California Jay.”


                                No. 77.
                          TOWNSEND’S WARBLER.

  A. O. U. No. 668. Dendroica townsendi (Towns.).

  Description.—_Adult male_: Pileum, hindneck, lores and auriculars,
  chin, throat and upper chest black; supraloral region continuous with
  broad superciliary, a spot under eye and a malar stripe broadening
  behind (and nearly meeting end of superciliary on side of neck)
  yellow, breast yellow heavily streaked on sides with black, the black
  streaks thickening and merging with black of chest in front,
  scattering on flanks and reappearing on under tail-coverts; upper
  sides and flanks and remaining underparts posteriorly white as to
  ground; back, scapulars and rump yellowish olive-green streaked with
  black shading into black of head on hindneck; upper tail-coverts
  abruptly bluish gray; wings and tail blackish with some edgings of
  light gray; two white wing-bars formed by tips of middle and greater
  coverts; three outer pairs of tail feathers blotched with white on
  inner webs in descending ratio. Bill black with paler tomia; feet and
  legs brown; iris brown. _Adult male in fall and winter_: Areas and
  intensity of black much reduced, pileum and hindneck with much
  skirting of olive green thru which black appears mesially on feathers;
  auriculars entirely concealed by olive green feather-tips; black of
  chin and throat nearly concealed by yellow and streaks of sides
  reduced; black streaks of upperparts more or less concealed; upper
  tail-coverts color of back. _Adult female_: Very similar in coloration
  to adult male in fall; throat often more or less black, pileum
  sometimes more extensively black but black streaking of upperparts
  still further reduced. _Young birds in first autumnal plumage_ have no
  clear black, and the yellow of throat and underparts is paler. Length
  about 5.00 (127); wing 2.64 (67); tail 1.97 (50); bill .34 (8.6);
  tarsus .74 (18.8).

  Recognition Marks.—Warbler size; black on crown, cheeks and throat in
  high plumage; in low plumage extensively yellow on sides of head
  enclosing area of darker (olive-green)—yellow of throat combined with
  this character may afford clew to identification of winter specimens.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: a well built, bulky but rather shallow structure,
  chiefly of cedar bark with a few slender fir twigs interwoven; lined
  with stems of moss flowers; placed at moderate heights in young fir
  trees well out on limb or settled against trunk. _Eggs_: 4, white,
  wreathed and speckled with brownish and lilac. Av. size, .61 × .51
  (15.5 × 12.9). _Season_: first week in June; one brood.

  General Range.—Western North America breeding from the mountains of
  southern California north to Alaska and east to Idaho; during
  migrations eastward to Rocky Mountains and southward to Guatemala,
  Lower California, etc.

  Range in Washington.—Not uncommon spring and fall migrant on both
  sides of the Cascade Mountains, summer resident in coniferous timber,
  probably thruout the State; partially resident in winter on Puget
  Sound.

  Migrations.—_Spring_: Seattle April 20, 1907; Ahtanum (Yakima Co.) May
  4, 1906, June 5, 1899; Chelan May 25, 1905. _Fall_: August. _Winter
  records_: Seattle Dec. 31, 1905; Tacoma Dec. 4, 13, 15, 21 and 29,
  1906.

           [Illustration: TOWNSEND WARBLERS, MALE AND FEMALE.]

  Authorities.—_Sylvia townsendi_ “(Nuttall),” Townsend, Journ. Ac. Nat.
  Sci. Phila. VII. pt. II. 1837, 191 (“forests of the Columbia River”).
  C&S. Rh. Ra. D². B. E.

  Specimens.—U. of W. Prov. C. E.

What a morning that was at the old parsonage in the Ahtanum valley, when
the shade trees of the five acre enclosure were lit up by the presence
of a dozen of these fairies! Waste acres of sage lay around, or fields
of alfalfa and growing wheat, hardly more inviting, but the eye of the
leader, winging languidly from the South, at early dawn had spied a
patch of woodsy green, and had ordered a halt for the day in our
comfortable-looking box-elders and insect-harboring apple trees. To be
sure it was absurdly late for migrants, June 5th, but they appeared more
like an embassage of foreign grandees, who deigned to make requisition
upon our hospitality, than mere birds with threats of family cares
ahead. So while they sought breakfasts of aphis and early worm, or
disported among the branches in the growing sunshine, I attended their
movements in rustic wonder. Now and then a member of the party paused to
adjust his golden trappings, or to settle the black head-piece with a
dainty shake. It was, indeed, a notable occasion for the bird-man,
inasmuch as these dandies were in “higher” plumage than any yet
recognized by the best bird-books of the day,[26] in that the shining
black, supposedly confined to the lower throat, now occupied the very
chin as well.

There was a little conversational lisping in a foreign tongue, in which
the ladies of the party were included; and after breakfast the males
ventured song.

Seventy-eight days later, viz., on the 23d of August, a southward bound
party visited our orchard. The males were still in song, and it was
difficult to believe that all the joys and sorrows of wedlock and
child-rearing had intervened; yet such was probably the case.

A bird sighted at Chelan on the 25th day of May, 1905, haunted a pine
and a balm tree at the foot of the Lake, singing constantly. The song
ran, _dzwee, dzwee, dzwee, dzwee, dzweetsee_, the first four notes
drowsy and drawling, the fourth prolonged, and the remainder somewhat
furry and squeaky. The bird hunted patiently thru the long needles of
the pine, under what would seem to an observer great difficulties. Once
he espied an especially desirable tidbit on the under side of a
needle-beset branch. The bird leaned over and peered beneath, until he
quite lost his balance and turned a somersault in the air. But he
returned to the charge again and again, now creeping cautiously around
to the under side, now clinging to the pine needles themselves and again
fluttering bravely in the midst, until he succeeded in exhausting the
little pocket of provender, whatever it was.

In June, 1906, we found these birds in the valley of the Stehekin, and
again in the valley of the Cascade River, near Marblemount, breeding,
undoubtedly, in both places. Here we allowed the notes, _oozi, woozi
lêooli_ to pass for some time, unchallenged, as those of the Hermit
Warbler, but finally caught a _townsendi_ in the act at fifteen feet.
There is, to be sure, a lisping, drawling, obstructed quality in the
opening notes not found in the typical Hermit song, and possibly not at
all, but the lilt at the end, _lêooli_, is inseparable from the Hermit
Warbler, and I do not take it kindly of _townsendi_ to mix up the game
so.

Upon returning to the valley of the Stehekin in June, 1908, Mr. Bowles
found the Townsend Warbler a not uncommon breeder. On the 20th of that
month he discovered two nests, each containing four newly hatched young.
Both were placed about twelve feet up in young fir trees, one about five
feet out on a limb, the other close against the main trunk. In each
instance the brooding female allowed a close approach; then dropped
straight to the ground and disappeared. The birds were extremely shy at
first but after an hour or so became sufficiently accustomed to the
human presence to return to their duties within a few minutes after
being flushed. But repeated visits failed to discover the males in the
vicinity of their nests, and, indeed, they seemed to be wholly occupied
with minstrelsy in the tree-tops.

On the 31st of December, 1905, I saw a Townsend Warbler in the pale
winter plumage in Madrona Park, on the border of Lake Washington. He was
with a group of Audubon Warblers feeding in the alders, but attention
was instantly attracted to the _tsip_ note, which was sharper and more
clear-cut than that of the Audubon; and it had, moreover, a sort of
double quality, or central turn, _tsiip_ or _chiip_. This record of
winter residence was further confirmed by specimens taken at Tacoma by
Mr. Bowles the following December.


                                No. 78.
                            HERMIT WARBLER.

  A. O. U. No. 669. Dendroica occidentalis (Townsend).

  Synonym.—Western Warbler.

  Description.—_Adult male in breeding plumage_: Forehead, crown and
  sides of head and neck, broadly, rich lemon yellow, sharply defined
  below by black of chin, throat and upper chest, less sharply above by
  black of occiput or hindneck; this in turn shading thru mingled olive
  and black into gray of remaining upperparts; upper plumage more or
  less tinged with olive-green and streaked more or less broadly with
  black; wings and tail black with grayish edgings; middle and greater
  coverts tipped with white forming two conspicuous wing-bars,—outermost
  part of tail-feathers chiefly white on both webs, next pair white on
  terminal half of inner web and third pair marked with longitudinal
  spot near tip; black of chest with convex posterior outline sharply
  defined from white of remaining underparts. Bill black; legs and feet
  dark brown; iris brown. _Adult male in fall and winter_: Yellow of
  crown veiled by olive green; black of throat veiled by whitish tips;
  black streaking of upperparts less conspicuous. _Adult female in
  spring_: Like male in spring but duller, yellow of head less
  extensive, gray of upperparts dominating; black streaks reduced or
  obsolete; black of throat, etc., absent, white or dull yellowish
  instead; sometimes dusky spot of various proportions on chest. _Young
  birds_ like adult female but yellow of crown veiled by olive and sides
  washed with brownish. Length of adult about 4.90 (124.4); wing 2.65
  (67.3); tail 2.20 (55.9); bill .40 (10.2); tarsus .44 (11.3).

  Recognition Marks.—Smaller Warbler size; yellow mask of male outlined
  against black of throat and hind neck distinctive—female and young
  more difficult but distinctive pattern of mask with white wing-bars
  usually suggestive.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: saddled on horizontal branch of fir tree at a good
  height; a compact structure of fir twigs, mosses and vegetable down,
  lined with fine grass and horse-hair; measures, outside, 4 wide by 2¾
  deep, inside, 2 wide by 1¼ deep. _Eggs_: 4 or 5, dull white heavily
  blotched and spotted with various shades of red-brown and lavender.
  Av. size, .69 × .53 (17.5 × 13.5). _Season_: c. June 1; one brood.

  General Range.—Pacific coast district and Cascade-Sierra system with
  its outliers north to British Columbia; “in winter south into Lower
  California and through Arizona over Mexican plateau to highlands of
  Guatemala.”

  Range in Washington.—Not common summer resident, in heavier coniferous
  timber only.

  Authorities.—_Sylvia occidentalis_ Townsend, Journ. Ac. Nat. Sci.
  Phila. VII. 1837, 190 (“forests of the Columbia River”). C&S. L¹. D¹.
  B.

  Specimens.—C.

There is a piece of woodland south of Tacoma which we call the Hermit
Woods, because here on any May day may be heard the voice of this
exalted Warbler. The proper hour in which to approach this forest is
early morning, before the winds have begun to stir in its dim aisles,
and while the hush of its nightly peace is upon everything—save the
birds. The soft moss muffles the footsteps, so that the devotee may move
about unheralded from shrine to shrine, as he pays silent homage to
each, in turn, of those morning stars of song, the Wood Warblers. There
is Audubon with his hastening melody of gladness. There is
Black-throated Gray with his still drowsy sonnet of sweet content. Then
there is Hermit hidden aloft in the shapeless greenery of the
under-dawn,—his note is sweetest, gladdest, most seraphic of them all,
_Lilly, lilly, lilly, leê o leet_. It is almost sacrilege to give it
form—besides it is so hopeless. The preparatory notes are like the
tinkle of crystal bells and when our attention is focused, lo! the
wonder happens,—the exquisite lilt of the closing phrase, _leê-oleet._

In broad daylight it is the same. The singers remain in the tree-tops
and tease the imagination with thoughts of a domestic life lived upon a
higher plane than that of earth, an exalted state where all is beatific
and serene. And try you never so hard, with glasses of a high power, it
is a good hour’s work to obtain a satisfactory sight of one of the
uplifted creatures.

In despair, one day, I determined to penetrate this supramundane region
where the Hermit is at home, and selected for the purpose a well
branched tree in the center of the forest and some hundred and fifty
feet in height. The tree was, fortunately, of the tougher sort, and
permitted ascent to a point where the stem might be grasped with the
finger and thumb of one hand. It was a treat to see the forest as a bird
does. The surface viewed from above was surprisingly uneven. Here and
there strong young trees, green and full of sap, rose to the level of
mine, but the majority were lower, and some appeared like green rosettes
set in a well of green. Others still, rugged and uneven as to limb,
towered above my station by fifty or seventy-five feet. My first
discovery upon reaching the top was that the bulk of the bird chorus now
sounded from below. But a few singing Hermits did occupy stations more
lofty than mine. One I marked down—rather, up—fifty feet above and a
hundred yards away. He sang away like a contented eremite from a single
twig, and I was reverently constructing his high biography and trying to
pick out his domicile from the neighboring branches, when flash! he
pitched headlong two hundred feet and was seen no more.

                    [Illustration: HERMIT WARBLERS.]

Mr. Bowles has hit upon a clever scheme for decoying the haughty
Hermits. He resorts to the vicinity of some Cassin Vireo’s nest
containing young, and studies the throng of small birds, which the
masterly scolding of the Vireos invariably attracts. Upon one such
occasion, having lured down an inquisitive pair, he noticed a peculiar
trait: “After examining me closely and apparently deciding that I was a
new kind of stump, the female commenced feeding; but her attention was
soon attracted to a last year’s nest of a Russet-backed Thrush. She at
once flew to it and, hopping in, crouched down and commenced trampling
the bottom, turning around, putting the material on the sides into shape
with her bill, and altogether acting as tho she had nest-building well
under way. This was about the middle of May, and, as I subsequently
discovered, almost a month too early for her to lay her eggs.”[27]

The nest of this species is still rare. The only one taken in Washington
was found by Mr. Bowles, June 11, 1905, in a fir tree near Tacoma, and
contained five eggs, the only set of five yet recorded. The nest was
placed at a height of twenty feet on a horizontal limb six feet from the
trunk of the tree. Mr. Bowles had seen the tail of the bird from below
as it projected over the brim of the nest, and prepared himself to
inspect “another of those Audubons.” When, instead of the yellow
crown-patch of an Audubon, he saw the lemon-yellow head of a Hermit, the
oölogist nearly fainted from surprise and joy. The bird sat so close
that the collector was obliged to lift her from the nest, and she then
flew only a few feet, where she remained, chipping and spreading her
wings and tail. The male at no time put in an appearance.

The nesting range of this species is still imperfectly made out. We
found it common at Newport in Stevens County, and among the pines and
larches of the Calispell range. We counted them common in the valley of
the Stehekin also, but soon encountered that peculiar plagiarism of
song, on the part of the Townsend Warbler, which queered all our local
conclusions. In order, therefore, to guide the student in further
investigations. I record a few variant song forms which I have clearly
traced to the Hermit Warbler: _Zeegle, zeegle, zeegle, zeet_, fuzzy and
low like that of _D. nigrescens_—this was heard at Tacoma and is
recognized by C. W. Bowles as being the type form of southern Oregon
songs; _dzee dzeé, tzibid-zeedzeé, dzee dzeé_, in a sort of sing-song
rollick: _dzudzudzudzudzeêo zeêo zeet_—first syllables very rapid,
musical; nasal turn to accented notes very like the “ping” note of the
Creeper song, and occupying much the same position save that it is
repeated; _days, days, days, days zeêt_—the first notes lisping, with
slight accelerando, and the nasal ringing quality reserved for the last.


                                No. 79.
                           TOLMIE’S WARBLER.

  A. O. U. No. 680. Oporornis tolmiei (Townsend).

  Synonym.—Macgillivray’s Warbler.

  Description.—_Adult male in spring and summer_: Fore-parts in general,
  including head and neck all around and chest, blackish slate or slate
  gray; extreme forehead and lores jet black; feathers of lower chest
  slate-black narrowly fringed with ashy gray; extreme chin usually
  white; a sharp touch of white on upper eyelid behind and a longer one
  on lower lid; remaining plumage bright greenish yellow to olive-green,
  clearest yellow, canary to olive-yellow, on breast and remaining
  underparts, centrally, and on bend of wing, shading thru yellowish
  olive green on sides to olive-green of upperparts; outer primary edged
  with white on outer web. Bill dusky brown above, paler below; feet and
  legs light brown; iris brown. _Adult male in fall and winter:_:
  Similar but feathers of auriculars and hindneck and sometimes crown
  tipped with dull brown; ashy skirtings of throat and chest more
  extensive, sometimes nearly concealing the black. _Adult female in
  spring_: Like male but slate of hood replaced by dull brownish gray
  (mouse gray) above and by pale brownish gray on chin, throat and
  chest. In _fall_ plumage still more extensively gray below. _Young
  females_ lack the hood altogether being simply olive green on crown,
  yellow on throat, etc. Length about 5.50 (139.7); wing 2.44 (62); tail
  2.16 (55); bill .45 (11.4); tarsus .85 (21.6).

  Recognition Marks.—Warbler size; slaty hood of male distinctive;
  contrast of color between chest and breast usually apparent. A
  frequenter of thickets, with a sharp _tsick_ or _chuck_ note of alarm.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: in thickets in upright crotch of bush from six inches
  to three feet from ground; a bulky affair of coarse dead grass,
  rootlets and trash, lined with fine black rootlets and horse-hair;
  measures, outside, 4½, wide by 2½ deep, inside, 2½, wide by 1¼ deep.
  _Eggs_: 3-5, usually 4, dull white, heavily marked around larger end
  with reddish browns and lavender. Av. size, .70 × .54 (17.8 × 13.7).
  _Season_: first week in June; one brood.

  General Range.—Western United States and British Columbia breeding
  south to Arizona and western Texas; east during migrations to western
  Nebraska, etc.; south in winter to Cape St. Lucas and over whole of
  Mexico and Central America to Colombia (Bogota).

  Range in Washington.—Summer resident in dense thickets thruout the
  State from sea level to about 2,000 feet elevation.

  Authorities.—_Sylvia tolmiei_ Townsend, Narrative, April 1839, 343
  (Columbia River). C&S. L¹. Rh. D¹. Sr. Ra. D². Ss². Kk. J. B. E.

  Specimens.—U. of W. P. Prov. B. E.

We shall have to import the word “chaparral” if we are to characterize
with any brevity the sort of cover this Warbler loves. A great confusion
of willow, alder, dogwood, syringa, ocean-spray, and huckleberry is his
delight. It matters not whether it be a hillside in King County, a
lonesome spring draw in the hills of Klickitat, or the borders of a
swamp in Okanogan, if only there be cover and plenty of it. No more
persistent skulker haunts the shrubbery than this wary, suspicious,
active, and very competent Wood Warbler. Yet even he, when he thinks no
one is looking, emerges from his shrubbery depths, selects a topmost
twig and breaks out in song,—a song which is neither diffident nor
uncertain. _Sheep sheep sheep shear shear sheep_, he announces in a
brisk, business-like tone, totally devoid of musical quality. And when
you have heard him once, or, say, a hundred times, you have learned all
that may be known of the Tolmie Warbler—out of cover. Those who know the
Dickcissel of the middle West will at once be struck with the close
similarity of its song, altho it must be admitted that the Warbler’s is
lighter in quality and less wooden. Practically, the only variety is in
the number of syllables and in the number and distribution of the r’s;
thus, _Sheep, sheep, shear, shear, sheep; Sheep, sheep, shear, shear,
sheep, sheep_; and, a shade more emphatic, _Jick, jick, jick, jick,
shear, sheep_.

For all we see so little of the Tolmie Warbler, the converse is by no
means true. That is to say, the bird does see a great deal of us if we
frequent the thickets. Whenever there is anything doing in his vicinity,
the Warbler promptly and silently threads the intervening mazes, takes
observations of the disturber from every angle, and retires with, at
most, a disapproving _chuck_. In the fall of the year discipline is
somewhat relaxed, and a little judicious screeping in the shrubbery will
call up platoons of these inquisitive Warblers.

Owing partly to the caution of the sitting female, and more to the
density of its cover, the nest of the Tolmie Warbler is not often found.
When approached the bird glides away silently from her nest, and begins
feeding ostentatiously in the neighboring bushes. This of itself is
enough to arouse suspicion in an instructed mind, for the exhibition is
plainly gratuitous. But the brush keeps the secret well, or, if it is
forced, we find a bulky, loose-built affair of coarse dead grasses and
rootlets, lined with black rootlets or horse-hair, and placed either in
an upright fork of a bush, or built around the ascending stems of rank
herbage at a few inches or at most two or three feet from the ground.
Eggs, usually four in number, are deposited about the first week in
June, and Tolmie babies swarm in July and August, quite beyond the
expectation of our oölogical fore season.

A word of explanation regarding the change of name from Macgillivray to
Tolmie is in order. Townsend discovered the bird and really published it
first, saying,[28] “I dedicate the species to my friend, W. T. Tolmie,
Esq. of Fort Vancouver.” Audubon, being entrusted with Townsend’s
specimens, but disregarding the owner’s prior rights, published the bird
independently, and tardily, as it happened, as _Sylvia macgillivrayi_,
by which specific name it was long known to ornithologists. Macgillivray
was a Scotch naturalist who never saw America, but Tolmie was at that
time a surgeon and later a factor of “the Honorable the Hudson Bay
Company,” and he clearly deserves remembrance at our hands for the
friendly hospitality and coöperation which he invariably extended to men
of science.

                    [Illustration: TOLMIE WARBLERS.]


                                No. 80.
                        GRINNELL’S WATER-THRUSH.

  A. O. U. No. 675 a. Seiurus noveboracensis notabilis Ridgw.

  Description.—_Adults_: Above sooty olive-brown, singularly uniform;
  below white or tinged with pale yellow, everywhere (save on abdomen,
  centrally, under tail-coverts and extreme chin) streaked with sooty
  olive, the streaks small and wedge-shaped on throat, increasing in
  size posteriorly on breast, sides and flanks (where nearly confluent
  on buffy ground); a superciliary stripe continuous to nostril pale
  buffy; a crescent-shaped mark of same shade on lower eyelid; cheeks
  and auricular region finely streaked with pale buffy and color of
  back. Bill dark brown above, lighter below; feet pale; iris brown.
  _Young birds_ are finely barred with buffy above and have two buffy
  wing-bars; underparts heavily and indistinctly streaked with dusky on
  pale yellow ground. Length 6.00 (152) or over; wing 3.00 (76); tail
  2.10 (53.3); bill .53 (13.5); tarsus .85 (21.7).

  Recognition Marks.—Warbler size; plain brown above; white (or pale
  yellow) heavily streaked with dusky below; a prominent buffy stripe
  over eye.

  Nesting.—Does not breed in Washington. _Nest_: on the ground or in
  roots of upturned tree; of moss and leaves, lined with fine rootlets
  and tendrils. _Eggs_: 4 or 5, white or creamy white, speckled, spotted
  or wreathed with reddish browns. Av. size, .80 × .60 (20.3 × 15.2).
  _Season_: May 20-June 10; one brood.

  General Range.—Western North America; breeding from Minnesota, western
  Nebraska and the northern Rocky Mountains north to Alaska and Siberia
  (East Cape); southward during migrations over Western States and
  Mississippi Valley, less commonly thru Atlantic coast States, to West
  Indies, Mexico, Central America and Colombia.

  Range in Washington.—Conjectural—should be not uncommon migrant.

  Authority.—_S. noveboracensis_, Baird, Review Am. Birds, 1865, 215
  (“Camp Moogie, Washington”).

  Specimens.—P (Alaskan). Prov.

While we have only one record, and that an old one, there is every
reason to suppose that this species traverses our borders annually,
since it breeds in the middle mountain districts of British Columbia
(Rhoads), is abundant in Alaska (Nelson), and migrates southward thru
the western United States (Ridgway). The Water-thrush should be looked
for in May along the shaded banks of streams, but may possibly be found
along more open margins, consorting with Pipits, with which it shares a
restless habit of jetting, or curtseying, whimsically.


                                No. 81.
                         WESTERN YELLOW-THROAT.

  A. O. U. No. 681 a. Geothlypis trichas occidentalis Brewster.

  Description.—_Adult male in spring and summer_: Above grayish
  olive-green, brighter (less gray) on upper tail-coverts and tail,
  inclining to brownish on crown and hindneck; an obliquely descending
  facial mask of black involving forehead, lores, space about eyes,
  cheeks and (more narrowly) sides of neck; along the posterior margin
  of this mask a narrow sharply contrasting area of clear ash or white;
  chin, throat and breast rich yellow (inclining to gamboge); sides of
  breast and sides heavily shaded with olive-gray and breast more or
  less washed with same; lower breast and below between yellow and
  palest olive-gray; under tail-coverts and bend of wing clear yellow.
  _Adult male in autumn_: Occiput more decidedly brown; upperparts
  clearer olive-green. _Young male in first autumn_: Mask of adult
  merely indicated by black underlying sooty-brown on sides of head;
  coloration of underparts duller. _Adult female in spring_: Like adult
  male but without black mask and ashy edging; crown and sides of head
  olive gray; forehead tinged with brown; region above and about eye
  notably paler; coloration of underparts duller and paler, sometimes
  clearly yellow on under tail-coverts alone. _Young female in first
  autumn_: Similar to adult but underparts still duller and dingier,
  breast and sides heavily washed with brownish olive. Length of adult
  about 5.00 (127); wing 2.26 (57.5); tail 2.19 (55.8); bill .44 (11.3);
  tarsus .83 (21).

  Recognition Marks.—Warbler size; black mask and white fillet of male
  distinctive. The female is a much more difficult bird to
  recognize—perhaps best known by peculiar sordid olive-brownish-yellow
  shade of underparts. The pale orbital area also assists, but one must
  live with these birds to know them infallibly.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: of coarse grasses lined with fine grass and
  horse-hair; placed 1-2 feet high in tussock of grass or rank herbage,
  usually near water; outside 4½ wide by 3½ deep, inside 2¼ by 1½.
  _Eggs_: 4 or 5, dotted and spotted or, rarely, streaked with blackish
  and lavender. Av. Size, .70 × .56 (17.8 × 14.2). _Season_: May 20-June
  10; one brood.

  General Range.—Western United States and British Columbia, except
  Pacific coast district, east to western portions of the Great Plains;
  breeding southward into Mexico and northern Lower California; in
  winter south to Cape St. Lucas and western Mexico.

  Range in Washington.—Summer resident east of the Cascade Mountains;
  found chiefly in rye-grass districts and in vicinity of water.

  Migrations.—_Spring_: Ahtanum (Yakima Co.) March 29, 1900.

  Authorities.—Dawson, Auk, XIV. April, 1897, 179. D². Ss¹. Ss². J.

  Specimens.—U. of W. P. Prov.

Coarse grass, stunted bushes, water, and sunshine seem to be the chief
requirements of this very individual bird. To obtain the first-named,
especially if represented by his favorite rye-grass, he will forsake
water within reasonable limits; but his preference is for a grassy swamp
clotted with bushes, and he does not overlook any considerable area of
cat-tails and tulés. Yellow-throat is a restless, active little body,
and he is among the first to come forward when you enter the swamp. His
method is hide-and-seek and the game would all be his, if he did not
reveal his presence from time to time by a harsh accusing note, a sort
of Polish, consonantal explosion, _wzschthub_,—a sound not unlike that
made by a guitar string when struck above the stop. If you attempt to
follow the bird, the game ends in disappointment. But if the observer
pauses, curiosity gets the better of the bird, and he is soon seen
peering out from a neighboring bush, roguery only half hidden by his
highwayman’s mask.

The female, having no mask, keeps to the background, but she is not less
interested than her mate in the progress of events. When the scout
returns to report, there is often a curious outbreak of discussion, in
which the husband, as like as not, finds it necessary to defend his
opinion with a perfect torrent of _wzschthubs_.

  [Illustration: _Taken in Douglas County._    _Photo by the Authors._
                    A WESTERN YELLOW-THROAT’S NEST.
  NEST CONTAINS TWO EGGS OF THE YELLOW-THROAT AND TWO OF THE COWBIRD.]

Yellow-throat’s song is one of the few explicit things in the swamp.
Mounting a weed-stalk, he rubs out, _Witchity, witchity, witchity_, or
“_I beseech you, I beseech you, I beseech_.” Rhythm is the chief
characteristic of this song, and altho a given bird appears to be
confined to a single type, the variety of “feet” offered by a swamp is
most entertaining. _Reésiwitte, reésiwitte, rit’_, was the cadence of a
Douglas County bird; while _chitooreet’, chitooreet’, chitooreet’, chu_,
heard at Chelan, reminded me of the Kentucky Warbler (_Oporornis
formosa_). The bird has also an ecstacy song, “a confused stuttering
jumble of notes” poured out in hot haste in mid-air.

Like an echo from “the different world” came the song of a bird at Brook
Lake. We had just been listening to the unwonted notes of a Desert
Sparrow (_Amphispiza bilineata deserticola_) some hundreds of miles out
of its usual range, and were not unprepared for shocks, when _Hoo hee,
chink i woo chu tip_ fell upon the ear. What! a Slate-colored Sparrow
here in the sage brush! Or is it, maybe, a Vesper, grown precise? Again
and again came the measured accents, clear, strong, and sweet. Not till
I had seen the mandibles of a Western Yellow-throat, and that
repeatedly, moving in perfect rhythm to the music, could I believe so
small a bird the author of this song. For fifteen minutes the Warbler
brought forth this alien strain, _Hee-o chiti wo, chu tip_ or _Hee oo
chitiwew chu tipew_ without once lapsing into ordinary dialect. Wherever
did he get it?

My nests have nearly all been found in June and, I guess, they may have
contained second sets, for the bird sometimes reaches Yakima County as
early as March 29th. One was sunk in a tussock of grass within eight
inches of the swamp water, and I nearly stepped on the female before she
flew. Another was lashed at a height of two feet to a group of rank
weeds, some forty feet removed from a lazy brook. A third, shown in the
illustration, we found while dragging over a dense patch of rye-grass,
some three hundred yards from water. The nest was composed entirely of
the flattened and macerated leaves of old rye-grass gleaned from the
ground, with a scanty lining of horse-hair. It was simply set, or
wedged, in between the stiff, upgrowing stalks of grass at the height of
a foot, and was not attached in any manner to its supports. The male
bird, strange to say, was covering the eggs, of which two belonged to
that contemptible shirk, the Cowbird.


                                No. 82.
                       THE PACIFIC YELLOW-THROAT.

  A. O. U. No. 681 c. Geothlypis trichas arizela Oberholser.

  Synonym.—Puget Sound Yellow-throat.

  Description.—_Adults_: Very similar to _G. t. occidentalis_ and with
  corresponding changes but throat, etc., rich lemon yellow (inclining
  to greenish, whereas _occidentalis_ inclines to orange); more yellow
  in grayish olive green of upperparts; ashy border of mask said to
  average more narrow (very doubtful). Alleged differences in
  measurements are inconsequential.

  Recognition Marks.—As in preceding.

  Nesting.—Much as in preceding form but birds more nearly confined to
  vicinity of water. _Eggs_: 4. Av. size, .76 × .53 (19.3 × 13.5).
  _Season_: first week in May, first week in June; two broods.

  General Range.—“Pacific coast district, from British Columbia
  southward; breeding southward to Los Angeles County, California, and
  eastward to Fort Klamath, Oregon; during migration to Cape St. Lucas”
  (Ridgw.).

  Range in Washington.—Summer resident in fresh and salt water marshes
  west of the Cascades.

  Migrations.—_Spring_: Tacoma, April 12, 1905, April 6, 1906.

  Authorities.—? Audubon, Orn. Biog. V. 1839, 463, part (Columbia
  River). _Geothlypis trichas_, Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R. Surv. IX, 1858,
  241, part. (T). C&S. L². Ra. B. E.

  Specimens. Prov. B. E.

In our younger days some of us were taught to be seen and not heard.
Among the Yellow-throats the children are taught the opposite. A bird
that can call “Witch-et-y! Witch-et-y! Witch-et-y!” in a dozen different
places thru the swale and in the meantime can keep out of sight while
you are looking for him, is a well brought-up Yellow-throat. We were
taught to tell the truth, but deceit is drilled into the Yellow-throat
children from the time they leave the egg. A human mother insists upon
your looking at her children, but at the approach of a visitor the
Yellow-throat mother sneaks off the nest and away thru the bushes for
the sole purpose of persuading you the home is in the reeds on the other
side of the creek. This may be wrong according to our teaching, but it
is perfectly right according to the Yellow-throat’s code of morals.

If you want to see Yellow-throat, you must go down along the swale or
visit some damp thicket or swamp. He likes the rushes and the reeds
where the Red-winged Blackbird and the Tule Wren live. I once found a
Red-wing’s nest and a Yellow-throat’s home within a few feet of each
other. If you want to see this ground warbler, go to his haunt. He will
see you first but lie down quietly among the bushes. He will likely get
curious and hop up out of the reeds. You may get just one good look
before he darts away into the bushes again.

The male Yellow-throat always wears plain marks of recognition on his
face. He has a black mask extending across his forehead and back on the
sides of his head. The female goes without a mask and is clothed in
subdued tints of yellow and brown.

When the Yellow-throat seeks a home, he finds a thick tussock of grass
and hides his nest well in the middle. It is my experience that when you
want to find his home, it is better not to look for it. If you keep on
tramping thru the swamps and swales, some day you will stumble on one
when you least expect it. Once I hunted for several days about a swampy
place where I heard the Yellow-throats singing. Not a sign of a nest did
I find. Whenever I appeared the birds were on hand as if very anxious to
aid me in finding their home. After tiring me with their deceit, they
sneaked away fifty yards to the nest. A little later in the season I
happened to see the father carrying worms and discovered the young
Yellow-throats just about to leave home.
                                                      William L. Finley.

 [Illustration: _Taken in Oregon._    _Photo by H. T. Bohlman and W. L.
                                Finley._
                       AN ENTHUSIASTIC RECEPTION.
               MALE PACIFIC YELLOW-THROAT FEEDING YOUNG.]


                                No. 83.
                             WESTERN CHAT.

  A. O. U. No. 683 a. Icteria virens longicauda (Lawrence).

  Synonym.—Long-tailed Chat.

  Description.—_Adult male_: Above grayish olive-green; fuscous on
  exposed inner webs of wings and tail; a prominent line above lores and
  eye, a short malar stripe, and eye-ring, white; enclosed space black
  on lores, less pure behind; throat, breast, lining of wings, and upper
  sides rich gamboge yellow; lower belly and crissum abruptly white;
  sides washed with brownish; bill black; feet plumbeous. _Adult
  female_: Very similar; bill lighter; lores and cheek-patch dusky
  rather than black; black appreciably lighter. _Young_: Dull olive
  above; head markings of adult faintly indicated; below grayish white,
  darker on breast, buffier behind. Length 6.75-7.50 (171.5-190.5); wing
  3.07 (78); tail 3.01-3.39 (76.5-86); bill .57 (14.5); tarsus 1.04
  (26.5).

  Recognition Marks.—Strictly “Sparrow” size, but because of bright
  color having nearer the size value of Chewink;—the largest of the
  Warblers. Bright yellow breast with contrasting white below, with
  size, distinctive.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: a bulky and often careless structure, 7 inches wide
  and 4 inches deep outside, 3 inches wide and 1½ deep inside; of coarse
  grasses and weed-stems, lined with finer grasses or rootlets, placed
  in upright fork of bush or small tree in thicket. _Eggs_: 4, white,
  somewhat glossed and marked irregularly with spots and dots of
  lavender and rufous, most heavily, or not, about larger end. Av. size,
  .89 × .68 (22.6 × 17.3). _Season_: first week in June; one brood.

  General Range.—Western United States from near eastern border of Great
  Plains west to the Pacific Coast, breeding north into south-central
  British Columbia southward to valley of Mexico; in migration south in
  winter to Mexico

  Range in Washington.—Summer resident in thickets about springs and
  streams of eastern Washington; does not deeply invade mountains; rare
  or casual west of Cascades (Tacoma, June 4, 1905, by J. H. Bowles;
  Sumas, B. C., May 26, 1897, by Allan Brooks).

  Migrations.—_Spring_: May 18, 1900 (Yakima county).

  Authorities.—_? Icteria viridis_ (Bonap.), Townsend, Journ. Ac. Nat.
  Sci., Phila., VII., 1839, 153 (N. W. United States) _Auct._ Cooper and
  Suckley, Rep. Pac. R. R. Surv. p. 288 (“Towns. and Nuttall. Seen at
  Walla-Walla, Washington Territory”). Dawson, Auk, XIV., 1897, p. 179.
  (T). D¹. D². Ss¹. Ss². B.

  Specimens.—(U. of W.) P¹. Prov. B.

Structurally allied to the Wood Warblers, the Chat has yet such a
temperamental affinity with the Catbird, that it is difficult, for me,
at least, to dissociate the two birds in thought. Both love the
thickets; both excel in song; both plague their neighbors by mimicry;
and both alike are dearly provoking bundles of contradictions. The Chat
is, perhaps, the greater buffoon, as he is certainly the more handsomely
dressed of the two. Beyond this we must consider him on his own merits.

Ten to one you know him, if at all, only as a voice, a tricksy
bushwhacker of song, an elusive mystery of the thicket; or you have
unconsciously ascribed his productions to half a dozen mythical birds at
once. But look more closely. It is well worth the quest to be able to
resolve this genius of roguery. Be assured he knows you well enough by
sight, for he does not poke and pry and spy for nothing, in the
intervals of song. He has still the proverbial curiosity of woman. Seat
yourself in the thicket, and when you hear the mellow, saucy _Kook_,
with its whistled vowel, bounded by consonants barely thought of,
imitate it. You will have the bird up in arms at once. _Kwook_, returns
the bird, starting toward you. Repeat it, and you have won. The bird
scents a rival and he will leave no stem unclasped but he finds him. As
the bird alternately squints and stares from the brush, note the rich
warbler olive of his upperparts, the gorgeous yellow of the throat and
breast, the white brow-stripe and the malar dash, offset by black and
darker olive. It is a warbler in color-pattern, a Yellow-throat done
larger, but waggish, furtive, impudent, and resourceful beyond any other
of his kind.

The full song of the Chat is usually delivered from some elevation, a
solitary tree rearing itself above dense cover. The music almost defies
analysis, for it is full of surprises, vocal somersaults, and whimsy
turns. Its cadence is ragtime, and its richest phrases are punctuated by
flippant jests and droll parentheses. Even in the tree-top the singer
clings closely to the protecting greenery, whence he pitches headlong
into the thicket at the slightest intimation of approach.

The love song of the Chat, the so-called “dropping song,” is one of the
choicest of avian comedies, for it is acted as well as sung. The
performer flings himself into mid-air, flutters upward for an instant
with head upraised and legs abjectly dangling, then slowly sinks on
hovering wing, with tail swinging up and down like a mad pump-handle.
Punch, as Cupid, smitten with the mortal sickness. And all this while
the zany pours out a flood of tumultuous and heart-rending song. He
manages to recover as he nears the brush, and his fiancée evidently
approves of this sort of buffoonery.

The Chat is a skilled mimic. I have traced the notes of such diverse
species as Bullock Oriole, Slender-billed Nuthatch, and Magpie to his
door. Once, down on the Rio Grande, we rapped on a vine-covered
cottonwood stump to dislodge a Flicker that had been shrieking _Klyak_
at us for some minutes past, and we flushed a snickering Chat.

The Western Chat, like the eastern bird, has small taste for
architecture. A careless mass of dead leaves and coarse grasses is
assembled in a bush at a height of three or four feet, and a lining of
finer grasses, when present at all, is so distinct as to permit of
removal without injury to the bulk of the structure. From three to five
eggs are laid and so jealously guarded that the birds are said to
destroy the eggs once visited by man. So cautious are the Chats that
even after the young have hatched out, they take care not to be seen in
the vicinity of their nest, but a low, anxious _chuck_ sometimes escapes
from the harassed mother in a neighboring thicket.

Chats will follow suitable cover into most desolate places. On the other
hand they do not discriminate against civilization _per se_, and the
Chats of Cannon Hill, in Spokane, are as grateful to the good sense of
its citizens as are the Catbirds and two score other resident species of
songsters. They are, however, birds of the sunshine belt, and West-side
records are very few.


                                No. 84.
                          PILEOLATED WARBLER.

  A. O. U. No. 685 a. Wilsonia pusilla pileolata (Pallas).

  Description.—_Adult male_: Above bright olive green; forehead, sides
  of head, and underparts bright greenish yellow, tinged on sides with
  olive-green; crown, or “cap,” lustrous black; wings and tail fuscous
  and olive-edged without peculiar marks; bill dark above, light below;
  feet light brown. _Adult female_: Similar, but the black cap wanting,
  or, if present, less distinct. _Immature_: Like female without cap.
  Length about 4.75; wing 2.20 (56); tail 1.97 (50); bill .38 (8.5);
  tarsus .75 (18.8).

  Recognition Marks.—Least,—pygmy size; black cap of male distinctive;
  recognizable in any plumage by small size and greenish yellow
  coloration. Brighter than _W. pusilla_; not so bright as _W. p.
  chryseola_.

  Nesting.—As next.

  General Range.—Western North America, breeding thruout the Rocky
  Mountain district, north to Alaska, west to Cascade Range in Oregon
  and Washington and to Vancouver Island; during migrations over the
  entire western United States, and east irregularly to the Mississippi;
  south in winter over Mexico and Central America.

  Range in Washington.—Not common resident and abundant migrant on
  East-side; migrant only west of Cascades.

  Migrations.—_Spring_: May 1-15.

  Authorities.—Dawson, Auk XIV., 1897, 180. (T). (C&S). D¹. Kb. D². J.
  E.

  Specimens.—B. BN. E. P.

The pervading yellowness of this little bush-ranger will hardly serve to
distinguish it from the equally common Lutescent Warbler, unless you are
able to catch sight of its tiny silken crown-patch of black, the “little
cap” which gives the bird its Latin-sounding name. With _chryseola_ it
is the smallest of our warblers, and it is one of the commonest, during
migrations, on the East-side. The thickets have taken on full leaf
before the bird arrives from the South, along about the 10th of May, and
the northward march is often prolonged till the first of June. So expert
is the little Black-cap at threading briary tangles, that a meeting here
depends upon the bird’s caprice rather than the astuteness of the
observer. Willow trees are favorite stations during the spring movement,
and these because of their scantier foliage afford the best
opportunities for study.

My impression is that the Pileolated Warbler must breed sparingly in
eastern Washington. There is, however, only one summer record to
substantiate this belief,—a bird seen in the valley of the Stehekin,
June 22nd, 1906. The only song I have heard differed from the abruptly
terminated crescendo of _W. p. chryseola_, being rather a well modulated
swell, _chip chip! chip!! chip!!! chip!!! chip!! chip! chip_.

                     [Illustration: GOLDEN WARBLER
                           MALE, ⅘ LIFE SIZE
              From a Water-color Painting by Allan Brooks]


                                No. 85.
                            GOLDEN WARBLER.

  A. O. U. No. 685 b. Wilsonia pusilla chryseola Ridgw.

  Synonym.—Golden Pileolated Warbler (properly so-called, but the bird,
  because of its local abundance deserves the shorter name. Moreover,
  altho “golden” is the commonest color among the Warblers, the name has
  not been pre-empted).

  Description.—“Similar to _W. p. pileolata_, but slightly smaller and
  much more brightly colored; olive-green of upperparts much more
  yellowish, almost olive-yellow in extreme examples; yellow of forehead
  and superciliary region (especially the former) inclining more or less
  to orange; yellow of underparts purer, more intense” (Ridgway). Length
  of adult males (skins) 4.35 (110); wing 2.18 (55.4); tail 1.93 (49.1);
  bill .33 (8.3); tarsus .72 (18.2).

  Recognition Marks.—As in preceding; brighter.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: a shapely and thick-walled mass of dead leaves,
  grasses and vegetable fibers, lined with coiled grasses or hair, on
  the ground or concealed at moderate heights in weeds, bushes,
  evergreen saplings, etc. _Eggs_: 3-5, white or creamy white, speckled
  and spotted with reddish brown markings, well distributed or gathered
  about larger end. Av. size .59 × .48 (15 × 12.2). _Season_: May 15-30;
  one brood.

  General Range.—Pacific Coast district from southern California to
  southern British Columbia.

  Range in Washington.—Summer resident in western Washington; common in
  well-watered forests at lower levels and in thickets from sea-level to
  higher mountain valleys.

  Migrations.—_Spring_: Arrives Puget Sound April 25-May 5. _Fall_:
  Blaine, Sept. 15.

  Authorities.—_Myiodioctes pusillus_ Bonap., Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R.
  Surv. IX. pt. II., 1858, p. 294 (part). C&S. L¹. Ra. B. E.

  Specimens.—U. of W. E.

This dainty little Warbler is one of the most characteristic and well
distributed birds of western Washington. Its summer range embraces all
shady and moist woods having varied undergrowth; and it is at home alike
on the sides of the western Cascades, in the swampy bottoms tributary to
Puget Sound, or under the dense spruce forests of the Pacific slope. It
is certainly one of the most abundant birds in the last-named section,
and its golden flittings not only dominate the fern levels but extend
upward into the mossy arms of the evergreens. A brilliant dress does not
appear to endanger the life of this little despot, for he is quite too
insignificant for notice among the Knights of Claw and Jaw, and so he
flashes in and out, scolds, sings, and meditates, by turns, without
molestation. Nor is there any lack of interest in the life of this
golden midget. Have you never wished that you were tiny—oh, _teeny_—with
beady black eyes, that you might explore the mysteries of a moss forest?
that elderberries might look to you like great blue pippins? and madrone
berries like luscious fiery pumpkins? that you might pluck a thousand
sapid meats at first hand where now you know only a few “staples,”
disguised by the meretricious arts of cookery? That you might—Ah, here I
have you!—that you might pantingly pursue a golden maiden down dim
forest aisles, over plunging billows of spiræa blossoms, past corridors
of giant sword-fern, into—Oh, where is that maddening creature! She’s
given me the slip again! Never mind; I’ll pause and sing:
_oooooééééééééooooo_.

Truth to tell, the song just recorded is one of the rarest, a perfectly
modulated swell of sharp staccato notes of little resonance but greater
power and intensity. The ordinary song is a series of monosyllables
uttered with increasing emphasis, _chip chip_ CHIP CHIP _CHIP CHIP_. The
singer is very much in earnest, and compels attention in spite of his
utter lack of musical ability. Late in August, the 26th it was, I
provoked a Black-cap at Blaine by screeping, until he sang merely to
relieve his feelings, _chip_ CHIP _CHIP_ CHIP _chip chip chip_, the
precise type of the Pileolated Warbler, _W. p. pileolata_ proper. The
only other variant in my collection is _tsew tsew tsew tsee tsee tsee,
whhhackity_,—the last note, somewhat whimsically represented here, being
an intense guttural trill very difficult to characterize.

Messrs. Rathbun and Renick, of Seattle, have made a special study of the
nesting habits of this dainty wood nymph, and they report a marked
partiality in its nesting for the vicinity of woodland paths, log-roads,
and the smaller openings in the logged-off sections. The favorite host
is a cedar sapling, a mere baby tree with stem only half an inch or so
in diameter. Of nine nests examined only one, in a bracken, was more
than two feet above the ground, and none were less than ten inches. The
nest is quite a bulky affair, yet compact centrally, composed externally
of copious dried leaves and twigs; internally of fine grasses and
interwoven rootlets. The birds quit the nest unobserved and the finding
of one of their domiciles is a matter of hard work.


                                No. 86.
                           AMERICAN REDSTART.

  A. O. U. No. 687. Setophaga ruticilla (Linn.).

  Description.—_Adult male_: Head and neck all around and breast shining
  black; remaining upperparts dull black with glossy patches, changing
  to brownish black or fuscous on wings; a large salmon-colored patch at
  base of secondaries; a smaller, nearly concealed patch of same color
  at base of primaries; the outer web of the outer primary salmon nearly
  thruout its length; the tail feathers, except the two middle pairs,
  salmon-colored on both webs for the basal two-thirds; two large
  patches of reddish salmon on the sides of the breast; the lining of
  the wings and the sides extensively tinged with the same color,
  occasionally a few touches across the chest below the black; lower
  breast, belly, and crissum, white; bill black; feet dark brown; black
  in variable amounts on sides of breast between the orange red spots;
  lower tail-coverts sometimes broadly tipped with blackish. _Adult
  female_: Above, brownish ash with an ochraceous or olive tinge on
  back; salmon parts of male replaced by yellow (Naples yellow), and the
  reddish salmon of sides by chrome yellow; remaining underparts dull
  whitish, sometimes buffy across chest. _Immature male_: Similar to
  adult female, but duller the first year; the second year mottled with
  black; does not attain full plumage until third season. Length
  5.00-5.75 (127-146.1); av. of five males: wing 2.59 (65.8); tail 2.17
  (55.1); bill .36 (9.1); tarsus .70 (18).

  Recognition Marks.—Medium Warbler size; black with salmon-red and
  salmon patches of male; similar pattern and duller colors of female
  and young; tail usually half open and prominently displayed, whether
  in sport or in ordinary flight.

  Nesting.—_Nest_, in the fork of a sapling from five to fifteen feet
  up, of hemp and other vegetable fibers, fine bark, and grasses, lined
  with fine grasses, plant-down and horse-hair. _Eggs_, 4 or 5,
  greenish, bluish, or grayish-white, dotted and spotted, chiefly about
  larger end, with cinnamon-rufous or olive-brown. Av. size .68 × .51
  (17.3 × 13). _Season_: June; one brood.

  General Range.—Temperate North America in general, regularly north to
  Nova Scotia, the Mackenzie River (Fort Simpson), etc., west to
  southern Alaska, British Columbia, eastern Washington, Utah, etc.,
  casual in eastern Oregon, northern California, and in the southeastern
  states; breeding from the middle portion of the United States
  northward; south in winter thruout West Indies, Mexico and Central
  America to northern South America.

  Range in Washington.—Rare but regular summer resident in northern
  portion of State east of Cascades (Methow Valley, Grand Coulee, etc.),
  casual(?) in the Blue Mountains.

  Authorities.—[J. K. Lord in “Nat. in Vancouver Id. and B. C.”, 1866,
  p. 162 (Colville Valley).] Brewer, Bull. Nutt. Orn. Club. V., 1880, 50
  (Ft. Walla Walla). D¹. Ss¹. J.

  Specimens.—C. P¹.

The “start” of Redstart is from the old Anglo-Saxon _steort_, a tail;
hence, Redstart means Redtail; but the name would hardly have been
applied to the American bird had it not been for a chance resemblance
which it bears to the structurally different Redstart of Europe,
_Ruticilla phoenicurus_. In our bird the red of the tail is not so
noticeable as is the tail itself, which is handled very much as a
coquette handles a fan, being opened or shut, or shaken haughtily, to
express the owner’s varied emotions.

The Redstart is the presiding genius of woodland and grove. He is a bit
of a tyrant among the birds, and among his own kind is exceedingly
sensitive upon the subject of metes and bounds. As for the insect world
he rules it with a rod of iron. See him as he moves about thru a file of
slender poplars. He flits restlessly from branch to branch, now peering
up at the under surface of a leaf, now darting into the air to secure a
heedless midge, and closing upon it with an emphatic snap, now spreading
the tail in pardonable vanity or from sheer exuberance of spirits; but
ever and anon pausing just long enough to squeeze out a half-scolding
song. The paler-colored female, contrary to the usual wont, is not less
active nor less noticeable than the male, except as she is restrained
for a season by the duties of incubation. She is even believed to sing a
little on her own account, not because her mate does not sing enough for
two, but because she—well, for the same reason that a woman
whistles,—and good luck to her!

During the mating season great rivalries spring up, and males will chase
each other about in most bewildering mazes, like a pair of great
fire-flies, and with no better weapons—fighting fire with fire. When the
nesting site is chosen the male is very jealous of intruders, and
bustles up in a threatening fashion, which quite overawes most birds of
guileless intent.

Redstart’s song is sometimes little better than an emphatescent squeak.
At other times his emotion fades after the utterance of two or three
notes, and the last one dies out. A more pretentious effort is
represented by Mr. Chapman as “_Ching, ching, chee; ser-wee swee,
swee-e-e-e_.” Many variations from these types may be noted, and I once
mistook the attempt of a colorless young stripling of one summer for
that of a Pileolated Warbler.

Our Redstart shares with the Yellow Warbler alone the distinction of
representing among us _in ipsa specie_ the Warbler hosts of the East.
Even so, our scanty summer population of Redstarts, confined as it is to
the northeastern counties, appears to represent an overflow of the
eastern hordes, or, perhaps, the van of occupation, rather than
regularly established citizens. I have seen them as far south as Brook
Lake, and as far west as Stehekin only; but Mr. Allan Brooks records a
specimen from Chilliwhack, in western British Columbia.



                          _Alaudidæ_—The Larks


                                No. 87.
                          ALASKA HORNED LARK.

  A. O. U. No. 474 a. Otocoris alpestris arcticola Oberholser.

  Synonyms.—Arctic Horned Lark. Pallid Horned Lark. Winter Lark.

  [_Description of type form, Otocoris alpestris._—_Adult male in
  breeding plumage_: A narrow patch across fore-crown with ends curving
  laterally backward and produced into a feather-tuft or “horn,” black;
  a broad bar from nostril to eye thence curving downward and expanding
  to involve hinder portion of cheeks and auriculars anteriorly, black;
  a crescentic patch across upper chest black; forehead and
  superciliaries pale yellow (primrose yellow) paling posteriorly;
  auriculars yellow continuous with and deepening into straw yellow of
  chin, throat and malar region; remaining underparts white, the sides
  and flanks dull vinaceous streaked with dusky; upperparts in general
  warm grayish brown, the middle of crown, occiput, nape, lesser
  wing-coverts and upper tail-coverts vinaceous-cinnamon; back,
  scapulars and rump grayish brown, each feather edged with paler and
  having dusky center; wings hair-brown with paler edgings, the
  outermost primary edged with white; tail chiefly black, the middle
  pair of feathers dusky, edged with whitish, the two lateral pairs
  edged with white. Bill black lightening below (basally); legs and feet
  black; iris dark brown. _Adult female in summer_: Like male but duller
  and paler, the black areas reduced in extent and obscured by brownish
  or buffy tips; yellow of superciliary stripe, etc., duller and paler;
  upperparts more noticeably streaked and with less of vinaceous tint on
  hind neck and upper tail-coverts. _Both sexes in fall and winter_ are
  somewhat more heavily and more uniformly colored save on black areas
  which are overcast by buffy or brownish tips; also forebreast dusky or
  obscurely spotted. _Young birds_ are heavily speckled above with
  yellowish white on brownish and dusky ground. Length of adult male:
  7.00-7.50 (177-190); wing 4.37 (111); tail 2.83 (72); bill .48 (12.2);
  tarsus .94 (24). Adult female: 6.75-7.25 (171-184); wing 4.09 (104);
  tail 2.48 (63); bill .43 (11.1); tarsus .91 (23.2).]

  Description.—_Adults_: Similar to _O. alpestris_ but upperparts paler
  and grayer, less warmed by vinaceous; no yellow (or merest tinge on
  head and throat)—white instead; size about the same.

  Recognition Marks.—Sparrow size; black crescent on upper chest; black
  cheek and crown patches; feather-tufts or “horns” directed backward.
  To be distinguished from _O. a. merrilli_ and _O. a. strigata_ by
  larger size and absence of yellow.

  Nesting.—Not certainly known to breed in Washington but possibly does
  so above timber-line. _Nest_: a cup-shaped depression in the surface
  of the ground, plentifully lined with fine grasses, moss, grouse
  feathers, etc. _Eggs_: 3 or 4, greenish- or grayish-white, profusely
  and minutely dotted with olive-buff, greenish-brown and lavender. Av.
  size .95 × .66 (27 × 16.7).

  General Range.—“Breeding in Alaska (except Pacific coast district) and
  valley of the Upper Yukon River, Northwest Territory; migrating
  southward to Oregon, Utah, Montana, etc.” (Ridgway).

  Range in Washington.—Common winter resident and migrant east of the
  Cascades. Birds breeding on the higher mountains are doubtfully
  referable to this form.

  Authorities.—_O. a. leucolæma_ (Coues), Dawson, Auk, XIV. 1897, 176.
  D². J.

  Specimens.—Prov.

The Horned Lark bears the reputation of being the most plastic of
American species—the Song Sparrow (_Melospiza melodia_) being a close
second in this respect. A monograph by Mr. H. C. Oberholser[29]
enumerates twenty-three forms, of which seventeen are described as North
American, and four Mexican, beside one from Colombia (_O. a. peregrina_)
and another (_O. a. flava_) from Eurasia. Of this number the majority
occur west of the Mississippi River, where climatic conditions are more
sharply differentiated, and where, especially in the Southwest, the
situation allows of that permanent residence which is conducive to the
development of subspecific forms.

The situation in Washington appears to be somewhat as follows: _O. a.
strigata_, strongly marked, but showing relationship to _merrilli_, and
likeness to _insularis_, of the Santa Barbara Islands, summers in
western Washington in open prairies, and at low altitudes only. In
winter it retires southward, or straggles irregularly eastward[30]. _O.
a. merrilli_ is related to strigata on the one hand, and to _leucolæma_
(the Desert Horned Lark) on the other, but it curiously reproduces the
appearance of _praticola_ (being indistinguishable in certain plumages);
and also bears close resemblance to _giraudi_, a non-migrant form of the
Gulf shore of Texas. It summers thruout eastern Washington, and even
(doubtfully) occupies the western coast of British Columbia. An isolated
colony occurring on Mount Baker, above timber-line, is referred by
Oberholser to this form, but I should prefer to call it an intergrade
with _arcticola_. In winter _merrilli_ retires completely from its
Washington range, and its place is taken by _arcticola_, sweeping down
from the highlands of British Columbia and Alaska in considerable
numbers.

It is not at all difficult for one who is accustomed to the appearance
of _merrilli_ to recognize these newcomers when they appear, late in
October, for they are decidedly larger, more lightly colored, and show
no slightest trace of yellow. They are much given to wandering about in
straggling flocks, and the mild cries which they scatter freely have a
subdued and plaintive tone, borrowed, no doubt, from the chastened
character of the season. A sitting flock will sometimes allow a very
close approach, but when they do so they “freeze,” so perfectly that the
eye can scarcely find them. The only thing to do under such
circumstances is to freeze also, until the birds begin to limber up and
steal cautiously away, taking advantage, for concealment, of every tuft
of grass or depression of the ground, and giving occasional admonitory
_yips_ to their fellows.


                                No. 88.
                         COLUMBIAN HORNED LARK.

  A. O. U. No. 474 i. Otocoris alpestris merrilli Dwight.

  Synonyms.—Dusky Horned Lark. Merril’s Horned Lark.

  Description.—Similar to _O. a. strigata_ but somewhat larger and
  decidedly grayer above, streaks narrower and dusky rather than black;
  underparts not suffused with yellowish and yellow of head, especially
  superciliary, not so strong as in _O. a. strigata_. Length (skins)
  6.25 (159); wing 4.05 (103); tail 2.32 (59); bill .43 (11); tarsus .85
  (21.6).

  Recognition Marks.—As in preceding; smaller, darker and more yellow
  than _O. a. arcticola_; larger, grayer and less yellow than _O. a.
  strigata_.

  Nesting.—_Nest_ and _eggs_ as in preceding. Av. size of eggs .93 × .61
  (23.6 × 15.5). _Season_: April-July; two or three broods.

  General Range.—Breeding in northwestern interior district of the
  United States from northwestern Nevada and northeastern California
  north thru Oregon and Washington well up into British Columbia, east
  to Idaho; south in winter (at least) to central California.

  Range in Washington.—Common summer resident and migrant east of the
  Cascades. Breeding birds of the high Cascades may possibly be of this
  form.

  Authorities.—_Eremophila alpestris_, Brewster, B. N. O. C. VII. Oct.
  1892, p. 227. D¹. Sr. D². Ss¹. Ss². J. E.

  Specimens.—P¹. Prov. E(?).

A modest bird is the Columbian Horned Lark, for his home is on the
ground, and he hugs its tiny shelters when disturbed, as tho quite
assured that its brownness matches the tint of his back. If attentively
pursued, he patters away half trustfully, or if he takes to wing, he
does so with a deprecating cry of apology, as if the fault were his
instead of yours. If his business keeps him in the same field, he will
reappear presently, picking from the ground with affected nonchalance at
a rod’s remove, or else pausing to face you frankly with those
interesting feather-tufts of inquiry, supported by black moustachios and
jetty gorget on a ground of palest primrose.

The unseeing class the Horned Larks among “brown birds” and miss the
vaulting spirit beneath the modest mien. Yet our gentle Lark is of noble
blood and ancient lineage. The Skylark, of peerless fame, is his own
cousin; and, while he cannot hope to vie with the foreign bird in song,
the same poet soul is in him. Whether in the pasture, upon the hillside,
or in the desert, the coming of spring proclaims him laureate; and the
chief vocal interest of nesting-time centers in the song-flight of the
male Horned Lark.

The song itself is, perhaps, nothing remarkable, a little ditty or
succession of sprightly syllables which have no considerable resonance
or modulation, altho they quite defy vocalization; yet such are the
circumstances attending its delivery that it is set down by everyone as
“pleasing,” while for the initiated it possesses a charm which is quite
unique. _Twidge-widge, widgity, widgy-widge_, conveys no idea of the
tone-quality, indeed, but may serve to indicate the proportion and tempo
of the common song; while _Twidge, widgity, eelooy, eelooy, idgity,
eelooy, eew_, may serve the same purpose for the rare ecstasy song. The
bird sometimes sings from a fence post, a sage bush, or even from a
hummock on the ground, but usually the impulse of song takes him up into
the free air. Here at almost any hour of the day he may be seen poising
at various heights, like a miniature hawk, and sending down tender words
of greeting and cheer to the little wife who broods below.

                [Illustration: COLUMBIAN HORNED LARKS.]

It is, however, at the sacred hour of sunset that the soul of the
heavenly singer takes wing for its ethereal abode. The sun is just
sinking; the faithful spouse has settled herself to her gentle task for
the night; and the bird-man has lain down in the shadow of the fence to
gaze at the sky. The bird gives himself to the buoyant influences of the
trembling air and mounts aloft by easy gradations. As he rises he swings
round in a wide, loose circle, singing softly the while. At the end of
every little height he pauses and hovers and sends down the full voiced
song. Up and up he goes, the song becoming tenderer, sweeter, more
refined and subtly suggestive of all a bird may seek in the lofty blue.
As he fades from the unaided sight I train my glasses on him and still
witness the heavenward spirals. I lower the glasses. Ah! I have lost him
now! Still there float down to us, the enraptured wife and me, those
most ethereal strains, sublimated past all taint of earth, beatific,
elysian. Ah! surely, we have lost him! He has gone to join the angels.
“Chirriquita, on the nest, we have lost him.” “Never fear,” she answers;
“Hark!” Stronger grows the dainty music once again. Stronger! Stronger!
Dropping out of the boundless darkening blue, still by easy flights, a
song for every step of Jacob’s ladder, our messenger is coming down. But
the ladder does not rest on earth. When about two hundred feet high the
singer suddenly folds his wings and drops like a plummet to the ground.
Within the last dozen feet he checks himself and lights gracefully near
his nest. The bird-man steals softly away to dream of love and God, and
to waken on the morrow of earth, refreshed.

The Columbian Horned Lark enjoys a wide distribution thruout eastern
Washington during the nesting season, the only requirement of the bird
being open country. The convenience of water is no object, and the bird
favors the undifferentiated wastes of sage, rather than the cultivated
fields. Elevated situations are especially attractive, and thousands of
these Horned Larks nest along barren, wind-swept ridges and on the
smaller mountains where no other species can be found.


                                No. 89.
                          PACIFIC HORNED LARK.

  A. O. U. No. 474 g. Otocoris alpestris strigata Henshaw.

  Synonym.—Streaked Horned Lark.

  Description.—Similar to _O. alpestris_ but darker and much smaller,
  above streaked broadly with black and tinged with buffy; nape, rump
  and bend of wing more rufescent; underparts usually more or less
  suffused with yellowish. Adult female more strongly and handsomely
  marked than that of any other form. Length of adult male (skins) 5.98
  (52); wing 3.85 (98); tail 2.59 (65.8); bill .44 (11.3); tarsus .82
  (20.8).

  Recognition Marks.—As in preceding; smaller, darker and more yellow
  than other local forms.

  Nesting.—_Nest_ and _eggs_ as in preceding. _Season_: second week in
  May, second week in June; two broods.

  General Range.—Breeding in Pacific Coast district of Oregon,
  Washington and British Columbia; “migrating to eastern Oregon and
  Washington, and northern California (Red Bluff; San Francisco)”
  (Ridgway).

  Range in Washington.—Found breeding only on prairies west of Cascades,
  therefore chiefly confined to Pierce, Thurston and Chehalis Counties;
  said to winter on East-side.

  Migrations.—_Spring_: last week in February; Tacoma, February 25,
  1905, February 10, 1908.

  Authorities.—_Eremophila cornuta_ Boie, Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R. Surv.,
  IX. 1858, 404, 405. (T). C&S. L¹. Ra. B.

  Specimens.—(U. of W.) Prov. B.

The prairies of Pierce, Thurston, and Chehalis Counties, so often
referred to in these pages, are of comparatively recent formation—mere
gravel beds leveled off by the action of a retreating sea—and so thoroly
washed thru portions of their area as to be capable of supporting little
else than a carpet of moss. The wanton recklessness of the Pacific
Horned Larks, which inhabit these open stretches, is really but one
degree removed from the modesty of their more fortunate kinfolk across
the Cascades. It is modesty without opportunity; and that easily becomes
shamelessness. For here the ground is of an uncompromising green, and
the “cover,” afforded by slight depressions in the moss, is usually
unworthy of the name.

The perfection of green barrenness was attained in the golf-links of
South Tacoma, before they were surrendered to the demands of the growing
city. Yet this was the very place where the Horned Larks appeared to the
best advantage. Returning, as they did, about the 25th of February, in
good seasons, they disported themselves like mad Pixies for a month or
so, engaging in amorous pursuit and frequent song-flight; until in some
way, late in April, domestic order began to emerge from the chaos of
rival claims, and little homes dotted the prairie, where belted squires
and red-jacketed ladies pursued the twinkling gutta-percha. The conflict
of interests, avian and human, was sometimes disastrous to the birds.
Mr. Bowles records three instances in which Larks were killed by flying
golf balls; and another gentleman, himself a devotee of the game, tells
me he once saw a bird struck dead in mid-air.

By the spring of 1906 matters had gone from bad to worse. The golf-links
became a sort of common, despairingly resorted to by a few enthusiasts
and a motley laity. The northwest portion of the section was staked out
into lots, and the whole area was criss-crossed by roads and paths,
whereby workmen, school-boys and delivery wagons hastened to and fro.
Then it became the special pasture of a band of fifty cows, the lean
kine of Pharaoh’s dream multiplied by seven; and to the terrors of two
hundred heedless hoofs was later added a flock of sheep, being fattened
for sacrifice at a neighboring slaughter-house. This common was also a
favorite romping ground for children, while dogs simply went crazy upon
it. I saw one rabid beast in a delirium of unfettered bliss do off about
six miles in twice as many minutes, with a Horned Lark, flying low, as
the invariable object of his chase. When to such conditions as these was
added the scantiness of cover, one marveled indeed that the daffy Horned
Lark still persisted upon his ancient heritage.

[Illustration: _Taken at South Tacoma._    _Photo by Dawson and Bowles._
                      THE NEST ON THE GOLF LINKS.]

Yet on the 11th of April (the earliest record by far), in the barest of
it, we marked a deep rounded cavity which Mr. Bowles declared belonged
to the Streaked Horned Lark. Returning on the 27th, we found that the
hole in the ground had become a bump instead. The bird, grown callous
amid the impending evils, or else frankly intending to warn off
trespassers, had filled the cavity full to overflowing, and had erected
upon its site a monumental pile visible at a hundred yards. So zealous
had the bird’s efforts been that the crest of the nest stuck up two and
a half inches above the close-cropped landscape, and the bottom of the
nest was above the ground. This creation was quite ten inches across,
while it included upon its skirts bits of sod, cow-chips and pebbles,—a
motley array, possibly designed to distract attention from the
dun-colored eggs which the nest contained. The most lavish display of
this sort of brumagem marked a runway of approach, offset by a
corresponding depression upon the other side. The nest was composed
chiefly of dried grasses and weed-stalks with soft dead leaves, and was
lined, not very carefully, with grass, dried leaves, and a single white
chicken-feather.[31]

Once the attention of the oölogist was directed to this structure, it
rose from the plain like a pyramid of Cheops before his strained
anxieties. It was torture to have to leave it for half an hour. How
could that school-boy pass at twenty yards and not see it! Then, when I
returned to reconnoiter, the dear cattle were just being turned loose
for the morning, and they, forsooth, must straggle past it. At the end
of another hour, unable longer to endure the suspense, I returned to
perform the last offices. The band of sheep was out then, and they were
drifting so perilously close, that I ran the last hundred yards to head
them off, and none too soon. Yet that precious monument of simplicity
held three eggs, unharmed until the advent of the man, who wrought the
ruin surely, in the name of—Science(?). Consistency, thou art a jewel
found in no egg-collector’s cabinet!

    [Illustration: _Taken near Tacoma._    _Photo by J. H. Bowles._
                 NEST AND EGGS OF PACIFIC HORNED LARK.]

The nest of the Pacific Horned Lark is not often concealed, but usually
it does not more than fill the hollow of some cavity, natural or
artificial,—a wheel-rut, a footprint of horse or cow, a cavity left by
an upturned stone, or, as in one instance, the bottom of an unused
golf-hole. The only attempt at concealment noted was where the nest had
been placed under the fold of a large strip of tar paper, most of which
had become tightly plastered to the ground.

In spite of the comparatively mild weather prevailing in April, eggs are
not often laid before the second week in May, and a second set is
deposited about the second week in June. The number of eggs in a set
varies from two to four, three being most commonly found. In color the
ground is grayish white, while dots of greenish gray or reddish gray are
now gathered in a heavy wreath about the larger end, and now regularly
distributed over the entire surface—sometimes so heavily as to obscure
the ground. The eggs are often very perceptibly glossed and there is
frequently a haunting greenish or yellowish tinge which diffuses itself
over the whole—an atmosphere, as the artist would say. Variation in size
runs from ovate to elongate oval, and measurements range from .93 × .60
to .81 × .58.

Horned Larks owe their preservation chiefly to the wariness of the
female, for she flushes at long distances. Either she will slip off
quietly and sneak at thirty yards, or else flush straight at a hundred.
When the nest is discovered she is quite as likely to ignore the
intruder, and seldom ventures near enough to betray ownership. On the
other hand, given patience and a pair of strong binoculars, “tracking”
is not a difficult accomplishment.



                 _Motacillidæ_—The Wagtails and Pipits


                                No. 90.
                            AMERICAN PIPIT.

  A. O. U. No. 697. Anthus rubescens (Tunstall).

  Synonyms.—American Titlark. Brown Lark. Louisiana Pipit.

  Description.—_Adult in spring_: Above soft and dark grayish brown with
  an olive shade; feathers of crown and back with darker centers; wings
  and tail dusky with paler edging, the pale tips of coverts forming two
  indistinct bars; outer pair of tail-feathers extensively white; next
  pair white-tipped; superciliary line, eye-ring and underparts light
  grayish brown or buffy, the latter streaked with dusky except on
  middle of throat and lower belly,—heavily on sides of throat and
  across breast, narrowly on lower breast and sides. _Winter plumage_:
  Above, browner; below, duller buffy; more broadly streaked on breast.
  Length 6.00-7.00 (152.4-177.8); wing 3.37 (85.6); tail 2.53 (64.3);
  bill .46 (11.7); tarsus .90 (22.9).

  Recognition Marks.—Sparrow size; brown above; buffy or brownish with
  dusky spots below; best known by _tlip-yip_ notes repeated when rising
  from ground or flying overhead.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: at high altitudes, a thick-walled structure of
  grasses and moss set into deep excavation in sloping hillside or in
  cranny of cliff. _Eggs_: 4-6, usually 5, so heavily speckled and
  spotted with reddish or dark brown as almost entirely to obscure the
  whitish ground color. Often, except upon close examination, the effect
  is of a uniform chocolate-colored egg. Av. size .77 × .57 (19.6 ×
  14.5). _Season_: June 15-July 25; one brood.

  General Range.—North America at large, breeding in the higher parts of
  the Rocky and Cascade Mountains and in sub-Arctic regions; wintering
  in the Gulf States, Mexico, and Central America. Accidental in Europe.

  Range in Washington.—Abundant during migrations; common summer
  resident in Cascade Mountains above timber-line; winters sparingly
  west of mountains.

  Migrations.—Nomadic; retires from mountains early in September; moves
  southward across State Oct. 15-Dec. 15; northward April 1-May 15.

  Authorities.—? Townsend, Journ. Ac. Nat. Sci., Phila., VIII., 1839,
  154 (Columbia River). _Anthus ludovicianus_, Licht. Baird, Rep. Pac.
  R. R. Surv. IX. pt. II., 1858, p. 233. T. C&S. L¹. Rh. D¹. Sr. Ra. D².
  J. B. E.

  Specimens.—U. of W. P¹. Prov. B. E.

The American Pipit does not sustain the habitual dignity of the boreal
breed. He is no clown, indeed, like our Chat, nor does he quite belong
to the awkward squad with young Blackbirds; a trim form and a natty suit
often save him from well merited derision, but all close observers will
agree that there is a screw loose in his make-up somewhere. The whole
Pipit race seems to be struggling under a strange inhibitory spell, cast
upon some ancestor, perhaps, by one knows not what art of nodding
heather bells or potency of subtly distilled Arctic moonshine. As the
flock comes straggling down from the northland they utter unceasing
_yips_ of mild astonishment and self-reproach at their apparent
inability to decide what to do next. Their indecision is especially
exasperating as one rides along a trail which is closely flanked by a
primitive rail fence, as I have often done in Okanogan County. One
starts up ahead of you and thinks he will settle on the top rail and
watch you go by. As his feet near the rail he decides he won’t, after
all, but that he will go a few feet farther before alighting. If he
actually does alight he instantly tumbles off with a startled _yip_, as
tho the rail were hot and he had burnt his toes. Then he tries a post
with no better success, until you get disgusted with such silly
vacillation and inane yipping, and clap spurs to your horse, resolved to
escape the annoyance of having to follow such dubious fortunes.

In social flight the Pipits straggle out far apart, so as to allow
plenty of room for their chronic St. Vitus’s dance to jerk them hither
or thither or up or down, without clashing with their fellows. Only a
small percentage of those which annually traverse the State fly low
enough to be readily seen; but when they do they are jolting along over
the landscape and complaining at every other step. The note is best
rendered _tlip-yip_, less accurately _pip-it_ (whence of course the
name); and a shower of these petulant sounds comes spattering down out
of the sky when the birds themselves are nearly or quite invisible.

The fall migrations of this species appear to have a compound character.
Birds which make their appearance early in September are likely to
quarter themselves in a given locality for several weeks at a time, tho
whether these represent the first refugees from the high North, or mark
the practical retreat of our own mountaineers, we cannot tell. Late
comers pass thru more rapidly, and the main host clears by late October,
but stragglers may be found in any open lowland situation until late
November. They are especially partial to prairies, close-cropped
pastures, the gravelly shores and bars of rivers, lakes and ponds, and
the shingle of sea-beaches. At Semiahmoo the great ricks of
barnacle-covered piles, which are annually corded on shore at the close
of the fishing season, are regarded in the light of a Pipit hotel. The
birds not only shelter among the timbers, but, after the fashion of
Sandpipers, glean busily from their surfaces where the marine creatures,
thru exposure to the air, are dying a fragrant death.

The return movement of spring sets in early, and the main flight is more
direct. But here there is suspicion of desultory wintering on the one
hand (I have a record of forty birds seen on the Nisqually Flats, Feb.
10, 1906; and Fannin says they sometimes winter on Vancouver Island) and
there is always a small percentage of loiterers who linger into May.
Spring flocks may be looked for in freshly-plowed fields, where they
feed attentively, often in absolute silence, moving about with
“graceful, gliding walk, tilting the body and wagging the tail at each
step, much in the manner of a _Seiurus_.”

Pipits are boreal breeders; but inasmuch as our own superb Alps claim
kinship with the Arctic, there is no more favorable spot to study the
nesting of the Pipits than upon the Cascades of northern Washington. At
home the Pipit is a very different creature from the straggler of the
long trail. On his native heather, surrounded by dwarfed fir trees,
melting snow-fields, and splendid vistas of peak and cloud, he knows
exactly what he wants and is quite capable of flying in a straight line.

  [Illustration: _Taken in Skagit County._    _Photo by W. L. Dawson._
                         OUR LADY OF THE SNOWS.
              A CHARACTERISTIC SUMMER HAUNT OF THE PIPIT.]

All is bustle and stir along Ptarmigan Ridge,—the transverse rock-rib of
Cascade Pass which divides the waters of Stehekin, Chelan, and the
Columbia from those of the Cascade, Skagit, and Puget Sound. The season
is late, June 23, 1906, and the snows have only just released the ridge
at 6000 feet elevation. Slate-colored Sparrows are carolling tenderly
from the thickets of stunted fir. Sierra Hermit Thrushes, those
minstrels of heaven, flit elusively from clump to clump or pause to
rehearse from their depths some spiritual strain. Leucostictes look in
upon the scene in passing, but they hasten at a prudent thought to their
loftier ramparts. The real busybodies of the place are the Pipits.
Females, lisping suspiciously, hurry to and fro, discussing locations,
matching straws, playfully rebuking over-bold swains, and hastily
gulping insects on the side. The male birds hover about their mates
solicitously—never helping, of course—or else sing lustily from
prominent knolls and rocks.

The Pipit song in many of its phases is strikingly like that of the Rock
Wren (_Salpinctes obsoletus_). It has the same vivacity and ringing
quality, tho perhaps less power, and the similarity extends to the very
phrasing. An alarm note runs _pichoo pichoo pichoo_, given six or seven
times, rapidly and emphatically; while another, _wee iich, wee iich, wee
iich_, is rendered, unless my eyes deceive me, with the same springing
motion which characterizes the Wren. An ecstacy song of courting time
(heard on Mount Rainier) runs _twiss twiss twiss twiss_ (_ad lib._),
uttered as rapidly as the syllables may be said. It is delivered as the
bird describes great slow circles in mid-air; and when the singer is
exhausted by his efforts, he falls like a spent rocket to the ground.

For all this activity, however, the nests are hard to find. Finally, as
we keep ascending the ridge, bare save for occasional patches of snow in
the hollows, Jack spies an old nest, last year’s of course, in the
recess of a soil tussock, completely overarched by earth. The secret is
out, and we can search with more intelligence now. Soon I flush a female
at her task of incubation. She has been digging out a pocket, or cave,
in a moist bank which the snow had set free not above three days before.
The earth removed from the interior is piled up for the lower rim, or
wall, and a few rootlets, doubtless those secured in the process of
excavation, have been culled out and laid horizontally along the edge of
the dirt. The hole is about as large as my double fists, and the nest,
when completed, evidently cannot be injured by falling snow.

In July of the following year, work was carried on in the Upper
Horseshoe Basin, a few miles further north. The song period was
evidently past, but a nest of five eggs slightly incubated, was taken
from a heather slope on the 20th of the month. The sitting bird flushed
from under the beating stick, but only after I had passed.

On the 17th, a venturesome climb over the rock-wall which fronts the
glacier of the Upper Basin, had yielded only a last year’s Leucosticte’s
nest. As I was nearly down the cliff and breathing easier, a Pipit flew
unannounced from a spur of the cliff upon which I was standing to the
one beyond. Evidently she had heard the call of her mate, for the
instant she lighted upon the cliff he was near her. But budge not a foot
would he; whether he was suspicious or only exacting, one could not
quite tell. At any rate he kept giving vent to a ringing metallic note
of apprehension. The female coaxed with fluttering wings, and moved
slowly forward as she did so, finally securing the worm from her
reluctant lord, when—whisk! she was back again and out of sight around
the cliff on which I stood. I hastened forward to the furthest
outstanding point which gave a partial view of the wall’s face. No bird
was in sight. Then I tossed pebbles against the cliff-side, and from
beneath the second summons fluttered the frightened Pipit. Five
beautiful eggs, of a warm weathered oak, rather than “mahogany” shade,
lay in a niche of rock. A tussock of grass clung just below, and a dwarf
shrub afforded a touch of drapery above; while from the outstretched
hand a flint-flake might have fallen clean of the wall to the ice, a
hundred feet below. The male bird continued his outcries from the
distant cliff, but the female at no time reappeared.

With the advance of summer, the Pipits lead their broods about the
disrobed peaks, even to the very summits, as do the noble Leucostictes.
Knowing this, we may readily excuse any little eccentricities which
appear in our friends during the duller seasons. The Pipit has redeemed
himself.



                         _Turdidæ_—The Thrushes


                                No. 91.
                         TOWNSEND’S SOLITAIRE.

  A. O. U. No. 754. Myadestes townsendi (Aud.).

  Synonyms.—Townsend’s Flycatching Thrush. Townsend’s Thrush. Townsend’s
  Flycatcher.

  Description.—_Adults_: General color smoky gray, lighter below,
  bleaching on throat, lower belly and under tail-coverts; a prominent
  white orbital ring; wings and tail dusky; wing quills crossed by
  extensive tawny area originating at base of innermost secondary and
  passing obliquely backward—this appears in the closed wing as a spot
  at the base of the exposed primaries but does not reach nearer the
  edge of the wing than the fifth or sixth primary; another obscure
  tawny or whitish patch formed by subterminal edging on outer webs of
  seventh and eighth (sometimes ninth) primaries; greater coverts and
  tertials tipped with white of varying prominence; a blotch of white on
  each side of tail involving distal third of half of outermost rectrix,
  tip of second and sometimes tip of third. Bill and feet black; irides
  brown. _Young_ birds are heavily spotted with buff above and below
  (showing thereby Turdine affinities),—above, each feather has a single
  large spot (rhomboidal in some, heart-shaped in others) of buff,
  centrally, and is edged with blackish, thus producing a scaled
  appearance; below, the ground color is a pale buff or buffy gray with
  blackish edgings to feathers. Length about 8.00 (203.2); wing 4.60
  (117); tail 4.05 (103); bill .49 (12.4); tarsus .79 (20).

  Recognition Marks.—Chewink size; brownish gray coloration with spots
  of white (or pale tawny) on tail and wings. No black, as compared with
  a Shrike.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: in hollow under bank, cranny or rock wall or in
  upturned roots of tree, of sticks, coarse weeds and trash, lined with
  rootlets. _Eggs_: 4, grayish white spotted with pale brown, chiefly
  about larger end. Av. size, .96 × .70 (24.4 × 17.8). _Season_: May or
  June; one brood.

  General Range.—Western North America, breeding chiefly in mountainous
  districts, from northwestern Mexico to Alaska and Yukon Territory,
  wintering irregularly from British Columbia (Sumas) southward,
  straggling into Mississippi Valley during migrations.

  Range in Washington.—Not uncommon spring and fall migrant thruout the
  State, summer resident in the mountains to the limit of trees and
  elsewhere irregularly to sea level; partially resident in winter west
  of the Cascade Mountains.

  Authorities.—? Ptiliogonys townsendi, Townsend, Narrative, 1839, p.
  338. Myiadestes townsendii Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R. Surv. IX. 1858, 321.
  T. C&S. D¹. Ra. J. B. E.

  Specimens.—U. of W. P¹. Prov. B. BN. E.

“Of this singular bird I know nothing but that it was shot by my friend,
Captain W. Brotchie, of the Honorable Hudson’s Bay Company, in a pine
forest near Fort George, (Astoria). It was the only specimen seen.” In
these words J. K. Townsend, the pioneer ornithologist of the Pacific
Northwest, records[32] the taking of the first example of this species
known to science.

The bird thus presented as a conjectural native of Washington, has long
been a puzzle to naturalists. It has been called Flycatcher, Thrush, and
a combination of the two; but the name Solitaire seems to express both
our noncommittal attitude toward the subject, and the demure
independence with which the bird itself proceeds to mind its own
affairs. Barring the matter of structure, which the scientists have now
pretty well thrashed out, the bird is everything by turns. He is
Flycatcher in that he delights to sit quietly on exposed limbs and watch
for passing insects. These he meets in mid-air and bags with an emphatic
snap of the mandibles. He is a Shrike in appearance and manner, when he
takes up a station on a fence-post and studies the ground intently. When
its prey is sighted at distances varying from ten to thirty feet, it
dives directly to the spot, lights, snatches, and swallows, in an
instant; or, if the catch is unmanageable, it returns to its post to
thrash and kill and swallow at leisure. During this pouncing foray, the
display of white in the Solitaire’s tail reminds one of the Lark
Sparrow. Like the silly Cedar-bird, the Solitaire gorges itself on fruit
and berries in season. Like a Thrush, when the mood is on, the Solitaire
skulks in the thickets or woodsy depths, and flies at the suggestion of
approach. Upon alighting it stands quietly, in expectation that the eye
of the beholder will thus lose sight of its ghostly tints among the
interlacing shadows.

And so one might go on comparing indefinitely, but the bird is entitled
to shine in its own light. The Solitaire is _sui generis_—no doubt of
that. As soon as we establish for it a certain line of conduct, the bird
does something else. We banish it to the mountains for the nesting
season—a pair nests in a railroad cut near Renton, altitude 200 feet. We
describe to our friends the beauty of its song—they go to its
sanctuaries and the bird is silent. A bird of such dainty mould should
winter in the South. It does,—at times. It also winters at Sumas on our
northern border. This poet of the solitudes, he should avoid the haunts
of men. He does, usually. But another time he may be seen hopping from
bush to log in a suburban swamp, or moping under the edge of a new
sidewalk. Indeed, I once saw a Solitaire flutter up from under a
passenger coach, as it lay in station. He had happened to spy some bread
crumbs and there was nothing to hinder save the conductor’s brisk “all
aboard.” Surely such a bundle of contradictions you never did see—and
all belied by an expression of lamb-like artlessness and _dolce far
niente_, which would do credit to a rag-doll.

                 [Illustration: TOWNSEND’S SOLITAIRE.]

All observers testify to the vocal powers of the Solitaire, and some are
most extravagant in the bird’s praises. My own notes are very meager. A
song heard on Church Mountain, in Whatcom County, May 12, 1905, is
characterized as “a dulcet strain of varied notes. It reminds one
strongly of the Sage Thrasher, but it is somewhat less impetuous.” In
view of this meagerness, I venture to quote at length two older
accounts, now hidden away in volumes not easily accessible. Dr. J. S.
Newberry first encountered the Solitaire in the cañon of the Mptolyas
River, at the base of Mount Jefferson (Or.), and declared its song to be
full, rich, and melodious, like that of a _Mimus_[33] “We followed down
the river in the bottom of the cañon; all day the gorge was filled with
a chorus of sweet sounds from hundreds and thousands of these birds,
which from their monotonous color, and their habit of sitting on the
branch of a tree projecting into the void above the stream, or hanging
from some beetling crag, and flying out in narrow circles after insects
precisely in the manner of the Flycatchers I was disposed to associate
with them.

“Two days afterward in the cañon of Psuc-see-que Creek, of which the
terraced banks were sparsely set with low trees of the western cedar
(_J. occidentalis_), I found these birds numerous. * * * With the first
dawn of day they began their songs, and at sunrise the valley was
perfectly vocal with their notes. Never, anywhere, have I heard a more
delightful chorus of bird music. Their song is not greatly varied, but
all the notes are particularly clear and sweet, and the strain of pure
gushing melody is as spontaneous and inspiring as that of the Song
Sparrow. At this time, September 30, these birds were feeding on the
berries of the cedar; they were very shy, and could only be obtained by
lying concealed in the vicinity of the trees which they frequented.”

Mr. T. M. Trippe, speaking for the Clear Creek Cañon in Colorado,
says[34]: “In summer and fall its voice is rarely heard; but as winter
comes on, and the woods are well-nigh deserted by all save a few Titmice
and Nuthatches, it begins to utter occasionally a single bell-like note
that can be heard at a great distance. The bird is now very shy; and the
author of the clear, loud call, that I heard nearly every morning from
the valley of Clear Creek, was long a mystery to me. Toward the middle
and latter part of winter, as the snow begins to fall, the Flycatching
Thrush delights to sing, choosing for its rostrum a pine tree in some
elevated position, high up above the valleys; and not all the fields and
groves, and hills and valleys of the Eastern States, can boast a more
exquisite song; a song in which the notes of the Purple Finch, the Wood
Thrush, and the Winter Wren are blended into a silvery cascade of
melody, that ripples and dances down the mountain sides as clear and
sparkling as the mountain brook, filling the woods and valleys with
ringing music. At first it sings only on bright clear mornings; but once
fairly in the mood, it sings at all hours and during the most inclement
weather. Often while travelling over the narrow, winding mountain roads,
toward the close of winter, I have been overtaken and half-blinded by
sudden, furious storms of wind and snow, and compelled to seek the
nearest tree or projecting rock for shelter. In such situations I have
frequently listened to the song of this bird, and forgot the cold and
wet in its enjoyment. Toward spring, as soon as the other birds begin to
sing, it becomes silent as tho disdainful of joining the common chorus,
and commences building its nest in May, earlier than almost any other
bird. During this season it deserts the valleys, and confines itself to
partially wooded hill-tops.”


                                No. 92.
                             WILLOW THRUSH.

  A. O. U. No. 556 a. Hylocichla fuscescens salicicola Ridgway.

  Synonym.—Western Wilson Thrush.

  Description.—_Adult_: Above, dull tawny-brown, uniform; wing-quills
  shading to brownish fuscous on inner webs; below white, the throat,
  except in the upper middle, and the breast, tinged with cream-buff,
  and spotted narrowly and sparingly with wedge-shaped marks of the
  color of the back; sides and flanks more or less tinged with brownish
  gray; sides of head buffy-tinged, with mixed brown, save on whitish
  lores; bill dark above, light below; feet light brown. Adult male,
  length 7.25-7.75 (184.2-196.9); wing 3.93 (100); tail 2.95 (75); bill
  .55 (14); tarsus 1.18 (30).

  Recognition Marks.—Sparrow to Chewink size; dull cinnamon brown above;
  breast buffy, _lightly_ spotted.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: of leaves, bark-strips, weed-stems and trash, lined
  with rootlets; placed at height of two or three feet in thickets or,
  rarely, on ground. _Eggs_: 3-5, plain greenish blue, not unlike those
  of the Robin. Av. size, .90 × .65 (22.8 × 16.5). _Season_: first or
  second week in June; one brood.

  General Range.—Western interior districts of United States and Canada;
  breeding from North Dakota and Manitoba west to interior of British
  Columbia and southward to Nevada, Utah and Colorado; southward during
  migrations thru Arizona, etc., to Brazil, also thru the Mississippi
  Valley and, casually, eastward.

  Range in Washington.—Summer resident in the hilly districts of
  northwestern Washington,—Blue Mountains(?).

  Authorities.—Howe, Auk, XVII. Jan. 1900, p. 19 (Spokane). T(?). J.

  Specimens.—Prov.

The Willow Thrush shares with its even more retiring cousin, the
Olive-back, the forests of the northwestern portion of the State. Here
it may be found in the seclusion of spring draws and alder bottoms, or
in the miscellaneous cover which lines the banks of the larger streams.
It is confined almost entirely to the vicinity of water, and spends much
of its time on the damp ground poking among the fallen leaves and
searching the nooks and corners of tree-roots. Since the bird is but a
flitting shade, one cannot easily determine its color-pattern, and must
learn rather the range and quality of its notes. The bird _is_, rather
than _has_, a voice, an elusive voice, a weird and wonderful voice. And
only after one has heard the song, with its reverberant, sweet thunder,
and its exquisitely diminishing cadences, as it wells up at eventide
from some low thicket, may one be said to know the Willow Thrush.

For the most part the bird betrays interest in your movements by a
subdued _yewi_, a note of complaint and admonition, variously likened to
a grunt, a bleat, or a nasal interjection. Not infrequently this becomes
a clearly whistled _wheé-ew_; and this, in turn, is varied and
strengthened to _ve-er-u_, or _Veery_, whence the common name of the
typical form, _H. fuscescens_, in the East. The song proper consists of
six or seven of these _ve-er-ys_, rolled out with a rich and inimitable
brogue. The notes vibrate and resound, and fill the air so full of music
that one is led to suspect the multiple character of each. The bird is
really striking chords, and the sounding strings still vibrate when the
next is struck. There is, moreover, in the whole performance, a musical
crescendo coupled with a successive lowering of pitch, which is fairly
ravishing in its impression of mystery and power.

   [Illustration: _Taken near Spokane._    _Photo by F. S. Merrill._
                  NEST AND EGGS OF THE WILLOW THRUSH.]

The distribution of this species is as yet imperfectly made out. Having
made its acquaintance at Spokane and along the valley of the Pend
d’Oreille, we were able to recognize it later at Chelan and Stehekin,
the latter unquestionably the westernmost record of its occurrence in
the United States. Whether it may also extend further south along the
east front of the Cascades, remains to be seen.

A nest before me was taken by Mr. Fred S. Merrill, in Spokane. It was
placed in the crotch of an alder at a height of two feet, and contained,
on the ninth day of June, four slightly incubated eggs. The nest is a
rather loosely constructed affair of bark-strips, dead leaves, coarse
grasses, shavings, leaf-stems, etc., and has a careless lining of
dessicated leaves and broken grasses. The matrix of mud, or leaf-mold,
which gives strength and consistency to the nests of certain other
thrushes, is conspicuously lacking in this one. The brooding hollow is
only three inches from brim to brim, by one and three-quarters in depth.
The eggs are in every way miniature Robins’, being without spots, and
representing only three-fifths or two-thirds the bulk of those of the
larger bird.


                                No. 93.
                         RUSSET-BACKED THRUSH.

  A. O. U. No. 758. Hylocichla ustulata (Nutt.).

  Synonym.—“Wood Thrush” (name properly restricted to _H. mustelina_ of
  the East).

  Description.—_Adults_: Above olive-brown, substantially uniform; a
  conspicuous orbital ring of pale buff; sides of head buffy mingled or
  streaked with olive-brown; chin, throat and chest buff (or lightening
  to buffy white toward chin); sides of throat and entire chest with
  triangular marks of deep olive-brown, smaller and narrower on throat,
  larger and broader (sector-shaped) posteriorly; breast, especially on
  sides, transversely spotted with light brown; sides and flanks heavily
  marked with brownish; remaining underparts white. Bill blackish,
  paling basally on mandible; feet and legs brown; iris brown. _Winter_
  specimens are brighter, more deeply tinged with buff before and with
  under tail-coverts buffy. _Young birds_ are more or less marked and
  streaked with buffy and tawny above and the markings of underparts are
  mostly transverse. Length 6.50-7.50 (165.1-190.5); wing 3.83 (97);
  tail 2.87 (73); bill .54 (13.7); tarsus 1.10 (28).

  Recognition Marks.—Sparrow size; uniform olive-brown above; heavy
  spotting and buffy wash on chest; sides of head and eye-ring buffy;
  brown above as compared with _H. u. swainsonii_.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: of bark-strips, moss and grasses, with a heavy inner
  mat or mould of dead leaves, lined with rootlets and fine grasses;
  placed usually at moderate heights in bushes or saplings of thickets,
  sometimes 30-60 feet high in trees. _Eggs_: 3-5, usually 4, greenish
  blue or dull grayish blue dotted and spotted, rather sparingly, with
  various shades of brown. Av. size, .93 × .67 (23.6 × 17). _Season_:
  June, July; one or two broods.

  General Range.—Pacific coast district from southern California to
  Alaska (Juneau), breeding thruout its range; south in winter thru
  Mexico to Central and northern South America.

  Range in Washington.—Common summer resident and migrant west of the
  Cascade Mountains; probably overflows thru mountain passes to at least
  the eastern slopes of the Cascades.

  Authorities.—_Turdus ustulatus_ Nuttall, Man. Orn. U. S. and Canada,
  Land Birds, ed. 2, 1840, pp. VI. 830 (Columbia River). C&S. L¹. Rh.
  D¹. Kb. Ra. D². Ss². Kk. B. E.

  Specimens.—U. of W. P¹(?). Prov. B. BN. E.

Artists of the later schools agree that shadows are not often black, as
they have been conventionally represented for centuries. Their deepest
color note is always that of the ground, or screen, which bears them.
The Thrush, therefore, is the truest embodiment of woodland shade, for
the shifting russets of its upperparts melt and blend with the tints of
fallen leaves, dun roots, and the shadows of tree-boles cast on the
brown ashes of fallen comrades. Not content, either, with such
protective guarantee, this gentle spirit clings to cover, and reveals
itself only as a flitting shade and a haunting voice. Now and then a
brown gleam does cross some open space in the forest, but the action is
hasty and the necessity much regretted.

                 [Illustration: RUSSET-BACKED THRUSH.]

The Russet-backed Thrush is not much given to song, altho on occasion
the woodside may ring with the simple melody of its _wee loo weelo
weeloeee_[35]. Other notes are more notable and characteristic; and by
these one may trace the bird’s every movement without recourse to sight.
_Quit_, or _hwit_, is a soft whistled note of inquiry and greeting, by
which the birds keep in constant touch with each other, and which they
are nowise disinclined to use in conversations with strangers.
_Hwootaylyochtyl_ is the name which the Quillayute lad gives the bird,
the first syllable being whistled rather than spoken, in imitation of
the bird’s note. At the friendly call the Thrush comes sidling over
toward you thru the brush, until you feel that you could put your hand
on it if you would; but the bird remains invisible, and says, _quit,
quit_, with some asperity, if you disregard the _convenances_.

A longer call-note, of sharper quality, _queee_, may be as readily
imitated, altho its meaning in the bush is uncertain. The bird has also
a spoken note, a sort of happy purring, which I call the _coordaddy_
cry. In this the _daddy_ notes are given in from one to six syllables,
and are spoken “trippingly on the tongue.”

Recalling again the _queee_ note, we are surprised to find that it is
the commonest sound heard during migrations. At midnight when a solemn
hush is over all besides, this weird note comes down from the sky at any
height, from every angle, a greeting _en passant_ from the voyageurs,
the tenderest, the most pathetic, the most mysterious voice of Nature.
There are a dozen variations of pitch and tone, _quééé, quee, kooo_,
etc., but the theme is one, and the quality is that of the Russet-backed
Thrush. Now it is incredible that any one species should so abound to
the exclusion of all others, or that one alone should speak, while
others flit by silently. Moreover, the intermittent utterance of a
single bird proclaims the rate at which that bird is moving, and oftener
argues for the passing of the smaller species, Warblers and the like.
Repeated observation would make it appear certain that this _quee_ note
is the common possession of many, perhaps of all species of migrant song
birds, a sort of Esperanto for “Ho, Comrade!” by which the flying
legions of the night are bound together in a great fellowship.

Much of the apparent difference in the call-notes of these night-birds
is explained when we remember that they are reaching us from different
angles. Thus, the _quee_ of a rapidly approaching bird is raised sharply
and shortened, _quĕĕ_; while the same voice, in passing, falls to a
ghostly _kwoo_, at least a musical third below. It is, perhaps, needless
to add that practiced lips may join this mystic chorus and hold
delightful converse with these brothers of the air—may, indeed, provoke
them to trebled utterance in passing.

But only the Russet-backed Thrush may repeat this cabalistic note, by
day. He is the bugler in that greatest of all armies and he must needs
keep in practice while on furlough.

Russet-backs are tardy migrants, seldom arriving before the first week
in May; and they are off again for the Southland by the first week in
September. Two instances are on record, however, of the bird’s wintering
hereabouts. On the 7th of March, 1891, several birds were “engaged in
conversation” by the writer near Tacoma; and on the 22nd of January,
1907, two birds were encountered on the University grounds in Seattle.
In the latter instance the birds would not disclose themselves, altho
they passed half way around me in the thicket, uttering their
characteristic and unmistakable notes.

In home building this Thrush makes no effort at nest concealment,
trusting rather to the seclusion of its haunts. The materials which
enter into the construction of the nest are themselves in a measure
protective, especially in those numerous instances in which the exterior
is composed entirely of green moss. At other times, twigs, bark-strips,
and grasses are used; but the two things which give character to the
nest of this Thrush are the mud-cup, or matrix, of mud and leaf-mold,
and the lining of dried leaf-skeletons. I have surprised a mother Russet
at her task of cup-moulding, and verily her bib was as dirty as that of
any child making mud pies. For altho the beak serves for hod and trowel,
the finishing touches, the actual moulding, must be accomplished by
pressure of the bird’s breast.

  [Illustration: _Taken in Oregon._    _Photo by Bohlman and Finley._
                     MOTHER RUSSET AND HER BROOD.]

During a season’s nesting at Glacier, in the Mount Baker district, Mr.
D. E. Brown located about a hundred sets of the Russet-backed Thrush,
taking no account of nests in other stages of occupation. In distance
from the ground, nests varied from six inches to forty feet, altho a
four or five foot elevation was about the average. Nests were found in
thickets, where they were supported by the interlacing of branches, or
else saddled upon the inclined stems of vine maples, or in fir trees. In
the last-named places, nests might be set against the trunk on a
horizontal limb, but were more often at some distance from it. The birds
were very sensitive about molestation before eggs were laid, and would
desert a nest in process of construction on the merest suspicion that a
stranger had looked into it. After deposition, however, the mother
Thrush was found to be very devoted to her charges, and great confidence
was often engendered by carefully considered advances.

At Glacier, nest-building averaged to commence about the 25th of May,
and the first eggs were found on the 1st of June. The last set was found
July 15th. All nests examined in the earlier part of the season
contained four eggs; those found later, presumably second efforts, never
had more than three.

As a curious example of the use of the imagination on the part of early
writers, take this from our venerated Cooper[36]: “The eggs, unlike
those of most thrushes, are white, spotted thickly with brown, and four
or five in number.” The brown spotting is all right and an unpigmented
shell is not an impossibility, but deviations from the characteristic
greenish blue of the ground-color have not since been reported.


                                No. 94.
                          OLIVE-BACKED THRUSH.

  A. O. U. No. 758 a. Hylocichla ustulata swainsonii (Cab.).

  Synonyms.—Swainson’s Thrush. Eastern Olive-back. Alma’s Thrush (_H. u.
  almæ_ Oberh., disallowed by A. O. U. Com.).

  Description.—_Adults_: Similar to _H. ustulata_ but grayer and more
  olivaceous; “color of upperparts varying from olive to grayish hair
  brown in summer, from deep olive to slightly brownish olive in
  winter”; ground color of underparts lighter buffy (yellowish buff or
  creamy buff); sides and flanks grayish—instead of brownish-olive. Size
  of last.

  Recognition Marks.—As in preceding; grayer above, lighter buffy below.

  Nesting.—_Nest_ and _Eggs_ indistinguishable from those of typical
  form, _H. ustulata_.

  General Range.—North America in general except Pacific coast district
  south of Cross Sound and Lynn Canal; breeding from the mountainous
  districts of the United States (especially northerly) north to limit
  of trees; south in winter thruout Mexico and Central America to Peru,
  Bolivia, etc.

  Range in Washington.—Imperfectly made out as regards that of _H.
  ustulata_. Found breeding in the valley of the Stehekin hence
  presumably summer resident in timbered districts of eastern
  Washington.

  Authorities.—Bowles and Dawson, Auk, Vol. XXV. Oct. 1908, p. 483.

  Specimens.—Prov. B.

The more open woods and more abundant suns of eastern Washington effect
that reduction of color in the “burnt” Thrush, which henceforth
characterizes the species clear thru to the Atlantic. It would be idle
to trace in detail all accompanying changes of manner and habit, but we
can hardly fail to note the improved quality of the Olive-back’s song.
This is most nearly comparable to that of the Willow Thrush and has
something of the same rolling vibrant quality. It is, however, less
prolonged and less vehement. It may or may not retain the liquid l’s,
but it discards outright the rich r’s, which the Veery rolls under his
tongue like sweet morsels; and the pitch of the whole rises slightly,
perhaps a musical third, as the volume of sound diminishes toward the
end: _We-e-o, we-e-o, we-o we-o weee_. A song heard some years ago at
the head of Lake Chelan, _weeloo weeloo weelooee looee_, seemed to have
all the music of perfected _swainsonii_ in it, yet it was not till the
season of 1908 that Mr. Bowles established the fact of the Olive-back’s
presence and the Russet-back’s absence from the Stehekin Valley. On the
other hand, Ridgway finds that both forms sometimes occur together, even
during the breeding season; so we are not yet prepared to make
generalizations as to the relative distribution of these birds in
Washington.


                                No. 95.
                         ALASKA HERMIT THRUSH.

  A. O. U. No. 759. Hylocichla guttata (Pallas).

  Synonym.—Kadiak Dwarf Thrush (Ridgw.).

  Description.—_Adult_: Upperparts plain grayish brown (hair brown to
  near broccoli brown) changing on rumps to dull cinnamon-brown of upper
  tail-coverts and tail; a prominent whitish orbital ring; sides of head
  mingled grayish brown and dull whitish; underparts dull white, clear
  only on belly,—throat and breast tinged with pale creamy buff; sides
  and flanks washed with pale grayish brown; throat in confluent chain
  on side and lower throat, chest and upper breast—spotted with dusky or
  sooty, the spots narrow and wedge-shaped on lower throat, broadening
  and deepening on chest, fading and becoming rounded on breast. Bill
  drab brown paling on mandible basally; feet and legs brown; iris dark
  brown. _Winter_ specimens are brighter and more strongly colored
  thruout. _Young birds_ are streaked with buffy above and the spotting
  of underparts inclines to bars on breast and sides. Length 6.30-7.40
  (160-188); wing 3.46 (88); tail 2.52 (64); bill .50 (12.7); tarsus
  1.14 (29).

  Recognition Marks.—Sparrow size; cinnamon of tail (and upper-coverts)
  contrasting more or less with duller brown of remaining upperparts.

  Nesting.—Does not breed in Washington. _Nest_ and _Eggs_ as in _H. g.
  sequoiensis_.

  General Range.—Coast district of Alaska breeding northward and
  westward from Cross Sound; southward in winter as far as Texas and
  western Mexico, migrating chiefly coastwise.

  Range in Washington.—Spring and fall migrant west of the Cascades.

  Migrations.—_Spring_: Tacoma, April 15, 1905 (J. H. Bowles). _Fall_:
  Seattle Sept. 21, 1907 (Jennie V. Getty).

  Authorities.—Bowles and Dawson, Auk, XXV. Oct. 1908, p. 483.

  Specimens.—P(Alaskan). Prov. B.

About all we can certify to, so far, is that there are two varieties of
the Hermit Thrush which may be seen on Puget Sound during the
migrations: a lighter and grayer form, presumably from northwestern
Alaska; and a darker, more warmly-tinted bird, _H. g. nana_, which may
or may not summer to some extent in western Washington. Specimens so far
encountered in eastern Washington are probably _H. g. sequoiensis_, en
route to or from their breeding haunts in the high Cascades; while if
any are ever captured in the mountains of Stevens County, they will
probably prove to be of the _H. g. auduboni_ type, which prevails in the
eastern portion of British Columbia.


                                No. 96.
                         SIERRA HERMIT THRUSH.

  A. O. U. No. 759 part. Hylocichla guttata sequoiensis (Belding).

  Synonyms.—Western Hermit Thrush. Cascade Hermit Thrush. Mountain
  Hermit.

  Description.—Similar in coloration to _H. guttata_ but larger, paler
  and grayer. Adult male: wing 3.65 (92.8); tail 2.83 (71.8); bill .53
  (13.5); tarsus 1.12 (28.4).

  Recognition Marks.—As in _H. guttata_.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: of bark-strips, grasses, leaves and moss, lined with
  fine rootlets, placed on ground in thickets or at moderate heights in
  fir trees. _Eggs_: 3 or 4, greenish blue unmarked—not certainly
  distinguishable from those of the Willow Thrush. Av. size, .85 × .65
  (21.6 × 16.5). _Season_: June, July; one brood.

  General Range.—Mountains of the Cascade-Sierra system and from Mt.
  Whitney north thru central British Columbia, etc., to the Yukon River;
  south in winter to Lower California, Sonora, etc.

  Range in Washington.—Common summer resident in the Cascade
  Mountains—further distinction undetermined.

  Authorities.—Dawson, Auk, Vol. XXV. Oct. 1908, p. 483.

  Specimens.—D.

                 [Illustration: SIERRA HERMIT THRUSH.]

When asked to name the best songster of Washington, I answer,
unhesitatingly, the Hermit Thrush. It is not that the bird chooses for
his home the icy slopes and stunted forests of the high Cascades, tho
that were evidence enough of a poetic nature. It is not for any marked
vivacity, or personal charm of the singer, that we praise his song; the
bird is gentle, shy, and unassuming, and it is only rarely that one may
even see him. It is not that he excels in technique such conscious
artists as the Catbird, the Thrasher, and the Mockingbird; the mere
comparison is odious. The song of the Hermit Thrush is a thing apart. It
is sacred music, not secular. Having nothing of the dash and abandon of
Wren or Ouzel, least of all the sportive mockery of the Long-tailed
Chat, it is the pure offering of a shriven soul, holding acceptable
converse with high heaven. No voice of solemn-pealing organ or cathedral
choir at vespers ever hymns the parting day more fittingly than this
appointed chorister of the eternal hills. Mounted on the chancel of some
low-crowned fir tree, the bird looks calmly at the setting sun, and
slowly phrases his worship in such dulcet tones, exalted, pure, serene,
as must haunt the corridors of memory forever after.

 [Illustration: _Taken in Rainier National Park._    _From a Photograph
                   Copyright, 1908, by W. L. Dawson._
            FOOT OF NISQUALLY GLACIER FROM GOVERNMENT ROAD.
          A CHARACTERISTIC HAUNT OF THE SIERRA HERMIT THRUSH.]

You do not have to approve of the Hermit Thrush,—nor of Browning, nor of
Shelley, nor of Keats. The writer once lost a subscription to “The Birds
of Washington, Patrons’ Edition, De Luxe, Limited to One Hundred Copies”
and all that, you know, because he ventured to defend Browning. “No; I
do not want your bird-book.” Quite right, Madame, it would have been a
waste of money—for you. But I have heard the Hermit Thrush.

  “Ah, did you once see Shelley, plain,
    And did he stop and speak to you,
  And did you speak to him again?
    How strange it seems, and new!

  “But you were living before that,
    And also you are living after;
  And the memory I started at—
    My starting moves your laughter!

  “I crossed a moor with a name of its own,
    And a certain use in the world, no doubt,
  Yet a hand’s breadth of it shines alone
    ’Mid the blank miles around about:

  “For there I picked up on the heather,
    And there I put inside my breast,
  A moulted feather, an eagle feather!
    Well, I forget the rest.”


                                No. 97.
                          DWARF HERMIT THRUSH.

  A. O. U. No. 759 c. Hylocichla guttata nana (Aud.).

  Synonyms.—Pacific Hermit Thrush. Sitkan Dwarf Thrush (Ridgway).

  Description.—“Similar to _H. g. guttata_ but coloration darker and
  browner, the color of back, etc., more sepia brown, upper tail-coverts
  more russet, tail more chestnut, and spots on chest larger and darker”
  (Ridgway). Adult male: wing 3.42 (86.8); tail 2.58 (65.5); bill .48
  (12.2); tarsus 1.13 (28.8).

  Recognition Marks.—As in _H. guttata_.

  Nesting.—As in _H. g. sequoiensis_.

  General Range.—Pacific coast district, breeding from western Oregon
  (presumably) north to Cross Sound, Alaska; south in winter to
  Southwestern States.

  Range in Washington.—Probably common but little known, during
  migrations. Presumably resident in summer west of the Cascades.

  Authorities.—? _Turdus nanus_ Audubon, Orn. Biog. V. 1839, 201
  (Columbia R.) ?Townsend, Journ. Ac. Nat. Sci. Phila. VIII. 1839, 153
  (Col. R.) Belding, L. B. P. D. 1890, p. 254 (Walla Walla, J. W.
  Williams, 1885).

  Specimens.—U. of W. Prov. E.

As one passes thru the woods in middle April while the vine maples are
still leafless, and the forest floor is not yet fully recovered from the
brownness of the rainy season, a moving shape, a little browner still,
but scarcely outlined in the uncertain light, starts up from the ground
with a low _chuck_, and pauses for a moment on a mossy log. Before you
have made out definite characters, the bird flits to a branch a little
higher up and more removed, to stand motionless for a minute or so, or
else to chuckle softly with each twinkle of the ready wings. By
following quietly one may put the bird to a dozen short flights without
once driving it out of range; and in so doing he may learn that the tail
is abruptly rufous in contrast with the olive-brown of the back, and
that the breast is more boldly and distinctly spotted than is the case
with the Russet-backed Thrush.

This bird will not tarry with us, unless it may choose to haunt the
solitudes of the Olympics. In the vicinity of Sitka, however, Mr. J.
Grinnell reports the species as “very common everywhere, especially on
the small wooded ‘islands.’”[37]

When disturbed in its nesting haunts the Hermit Thrush has a nasal
scolding cry, not unlike that of the Oregon Towhee. This note lacks the
emphasis of Towhee’s, tho its dual character is still apparent—_Murrry_
or _Murre_. But one forgets all trivial things as he listens to the
angelic requiem of the Hermit at eventide. Not Orpheus in all his glory
could match that,—for he was a pagan.


                                No. 98.
                            AMERICAN ROBIN.

  A. O. U. No. 761. Planesticus migratorius (Linn.).

  Synonym.—Eastern Robin.

  Description.—_Adult male_: Head black, interrupted by white of chin
  and white with black stripes of throat; eyelids and a supraloral spot
  white; tail blackish with white terminal spots on inner webs of outer
  pair of rectrices; wings dusky except on external edges; remaining
  upperparts grayish slate; below,—breast, sides, upper belly and lining
  of wings cinnamon-rufous; lower belly and crissum white, touched
  irregularly with slate; bill yellow with blackish tip; feet blackish
  with yellowish soles. _Adult female_: Similar to male, but duller;
  black of head veiled by brownish. _Adults in winter_: Upperparts
  tinged with brown, the rufous feathers, especially on belly, with
  white skirtings. _Immature_: Similar to adult, but head about the
  color of back; rufous of underparts paler or more ochraceous. _Very
  young birds_ are black spotted, above and below. Length about 10.00
  (254); wing 5.08 (129); tail 3.75 (95.3); bill .78 (19.8).

  Recognition Marks.—“Robin” size; cinnamon-rufous breast; the “corners”
  of the tail conspicuously white-tipped, as distinguished from _P. m.
  propinquus_.

  Nesting.—Does not breed in Washington. _Nest_ and _eggs_ as in next
  (sub) species, save that eggs 4 or 5, sometimes 6.

  General Range.—Eastern and northern North America westward nearly to
  the Rocky Mountains and northwestward to valley of Kowak River in
  Alaska; breeds from the southern Alleghenies, Pennsylvania, Ohio,
  Iowa, etc., northward; winters in Gulf States; south irregularly
  across the Western States during migration.

  Range in Washington.—An early spring (and late fall?) migrant, both
  sides of the Cascades. Winters sparingly on Puget Sound.

  Authorities.—_Turdus migratorius_ Brewster, B. N. O. C. VII., Oct.
  1882, p. 227. B. E.

  Specimens.—B. E.

A small proportion, not over one per cent, of the Robins which annually
cross our borders have enough white in the “corners” of their tails to
proclaim them true “Americans.” The difference is striking and
unmistakable, and we feel sure that we have here, not a chance
variation, but an alien element, a slender stream of migration diverted
from the accustomed channels of typical _P. migratorius_, and straggling
down, or up, on the wrong side of the Rockies. When it is remembered
that the American Robin winters in Florida and the Gulf States, and that
its spring migrations take it as far west as the Kowak River, in Alaska,
that is, due northwest from Atlanta, it is less surprising that the
birds should occasionally bear west northwest instead, and so make
Washington en route. It is almost certain that this is the case, for the
wintering birds west of the Rockies and in Mexico are invariably of the
western type, _propinquus_.


                                No. 99.
                             WESTERN ROBIN.

  A. O. U. No. 761a. Planesticus migratorius propinquus (Ridgw.).

  Description.—Similar to _P. migratorius_, but white on inner webs of
  outer rectrices much reduced or wanting; gray of upperparts paler and
  more olivaceous, more sharply contrasting with black of head;
  cinnamon-rufous of underparts averaging paler; wing, tail, and tarsus
  slightly longer. Length of males about 10.25 (260.3); wing 5.52 (140);
  tail 4.13 (105); bill .80 (20.3); tarsus 1.34 (34.1). Females slightly
  smaller.

  Recognition Marks.—“Robin” size; cinnamon-rufous below—everyone knows
  the Robin—without white on “corners” of tail as distinguished from
  preceding.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: a thick-walled but shapely bowl of mud (rarely felted
  vegetable fibers instead) set about with twigs, leaves, string and
  trash, and lined with fine grass-stems; placed anywhere in trees or
  variously, but usually at moderate heights. _Eggs_: 3 or 4, rarely 5;
  greenish blue, unmarked. Av. size 1.15 × .79 (29.2 × 20.1). _Season_:
  April 15-July 10; two broods.

  General Range.—Western North America from the Rocky Mountains to the
  Pacific, north to limit of trees in coast forest district in Alaska;
  south thru highlands of Mexico and occasionally Guatemala; breeding
  nearly thruout its range.

  Range in Washington.—Common summer resident and migrant thruout the
  State, more common in settled portions; rare in mountains save in
  vicinity of settlements; irregularly resident in winter, sometimes
  abundantly on Puget Sound.

  Migrations.—_Spring_: West-side, last week in February; East-side,
  first or second week in March. _Fall_: October.

  Authorities.—[Lewis and  Clark, Hist. Ex. 1814 Ed. Biddle: Coues, Vol.
  II. p. 185.] _Turdus (planesticus)  migratorius_, Linn., Baird, Rep.
  Pac. R. R. Surv. IX. pt. II. 1858, p. 219. (T.)  C&S. L¹. Rh. D¹. Sr.
  Kb. Ra. D². Ss¹. Ss². Kk. J. B. E.

  Specimens.—U. of W. P¹. Prov. BN. B. E.

There are, it may be, a thousand fruits, sweet, acid or spicy, which
delight the palate of man, yet if we were forced to choose among them,
not many of us would fail to reserve the apple. In like manner, we could
perhaps least afford to spare our tried and trusted, old, familiar
friend, the Robin. He is a staple.

Everybody knows Robin. He is part and parcel of springtime, chief
herald, chief poet, and lord high reveller of that joyful season. It is
a merry day when the first flock of Robins turns itself loose on the
home landscape. There is great bustle and stir of activity. Some scurry
about to note the changes wrought by winter, some wrestle with the early
and unsophisticated worm, while others voice their gladness from the
fence-post, the gable, the tree-top, anywhere. Everywhere are heard
interjections of delight, squeechings and pipings of ardent souls, and
no end of congratulations over the home-coming.

     [Illustration: _Taken in Oregon._    _Photo by W. L. Finley._
                           BACK FROM MARKET.]

Robin has cast in his lot with ours, for better or for worse. Our lawns
are his lawns, our shade-trees were set on purpose to hold his homely
mud-cup, and he has undertaken with hearty good will the musical
instruction of our children. He serves without pay—Oh, a cherry now and
then, but what of that? The fruit-grower never had a more useful hired
man; and it is written: “Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out
the corn.” I wonder if we realize how much of life’s good cheer and fond
enspiriting we owe to this familiar bird.

Near the close of a burning day in the desert, we drew near to a little
ranch where a bravery of green, supported by a windmill and a tiny
trickle of water, defied the engulfing waste of sand and sage. It seemed
to me that I had never seen anything more pathetic than the stubborn
faith of the man who had dreamed of rearing a home amidst such
desolation. How could a man be happy here? and how dare he bring a wife
and tender children to share such a forlorn hope? Why, the wilderness
around had raised nothing but sage-brush and jack-rabbits for countless
millenniums; but here in this tiny oasis were locust trees and poplars.
And here, as the sun sank low in the West, a Robin burst into song. The
nearest human neighbor was miles away, and the nearest timber further.
Yet here was this home-loving Robin, this reincarnation of childhood’s
friend, pouring out in the familiar cadence of old his thanksgiving for
shelter and food, his praise for joy of life and gladness to the
Almighty, who is Father of all. And then I understood.

      [Illustration: _Taken in Seattle._    _Photo by the Author._
                      SUNSET AT THE ROBIN ROOST.]

The Robin’s song in its common form is too well known to require
particular description, and too truly music to lend itself well to
syllabic imitation. It is a common thing, indeed, like the upturned mold
and the air which fans it, but out of these come the varied greens which
beautify the world; the homely piping of the Robin has given birth to
many a heaven-directed aspiration, and purged many a soul of guilty
intent. Robin conceives many passages which are too high for him, and
these he hums inaudibly, or follows in silent thought, like a tenor with
a cold. When the theme reaches his compass again, he resumes, not where
he left off but at the end of the unheard passage. It must be confessed,
however reluctantly, that the song of the Western Robin is a little more
subdued in character than that of the Eastern. The bird is a little less
devoted to his art, and the total volume of sound yielded by any one
chorus has never equalled, in my experience, that of a similar effort in
the East.

When the Robin is much given to half-whispered notes and strains
unusually tender, one may suspect the near presence of his fiancée. If
you are willing to waive the proprieties for a few moments you will hear
low murmurs of affection and soft blandishments, which it would tax the
art of a Crockett to reproduce. And again, nothing can exceed the
sadness of a Robin’s lament over a lost mate. All the virtues of the
deceased are set forth in a coronach of surpassing woe, and the widower
declares himself forever comfortless. It is not well, of course, to
inquire too particularly as to the duration of this bereaved state—we
are all human.

In spite of his fondness for human society, there are two periods of
retirement in Robin’s year. The first occurs in March and early April,
and may be denominated the season of courtship. After the first ardent
greeting of the home folks, Robins gather in loose companies and keep to
the seclusion of the woods, following the sun from east to south and
west, ransacking the roots of trees and the edges of standing water for
food, and, above all, sketching in the matrimonial plans of the season.
When Robins have become common about the streets and yards of village
and town, partners have usually been selected, but there still remain
for many of the cocks hard-contested battles before peaceful possession
is assured. These are not sham fights either; a Robin will fight a hated
rival, beak and claw, till he is either thoroly winded or killed
outright.

In late July and August Robins again forsake their familiar haunts, and
spend the moulting season in the woods, moving about like ghosts in
great straggling, silent companies. When the moult is completed, as
autumn advances, they return in merry bevies to claim their share of the
ripening fruits—no longer begrudged now, for they prefer such harmless
viands as mountain-ash berries, and the insipid clusters of the madrone
tree.

Robins occasionally winter on the east side of the mountains; and they
are hard put to it unless they find a sufficient supply of ungathered
fruit, preferably apples, left out to freeze or rot as the season
dictates. West of the mountains they winter irregularly but quite
extensively. There is nothing in the climate to forbid their staying all
the time but I am inclined to think that their abundance in winter
depends upon the berry crop, and especially that of the Madrona
(_Arbutus menziesii_). The fall of 1907 was notable in this regard. The
trees were in splendid bearing, and a certain patch on the bluff south
of Fauntleroy Park was a gorgeous blaze of red, to which Robins resorted
in hundreds.

Under such circumstances the birds establish winter roosts in convenient
thickets, and repair to them at nightfall in great numbers. One such
roost has been maintained on the outskirts of Seattle, just east of
Ravenna Park, and in the winter of 1907-08 I estimated its population at
some four thousand. The winter, it will be remembered, was a mild one,
and every one in Seattle remarked the abundance of Robins.

In nesting, the Robin displays little caution, its homely mud-walled cup
not being withdrawn from most familiar observation. Indeed, as in the
case of the accompanying illustration, the bird appears rather to court
notoriety. The major crotches of orchard or shade trees are not shunned.
From five to fifteen feet is the usual elevation, but nests are
sometimes found at fifty feet; and again, tho rarely, on the ground.
Window sills and beams of porches, barns, and outbuildings are favorite
places, and, in default of these, brush-piles or log-heaps will do.

  [Illustration: _Taken in Michigan._    _From a Photograph Copyright,
                      1908, by L. G. Linkletter._
                           THE ROBIN’S NEST.]

The mud used in construction is, of course, carried in the beak. Arrived
at the nest with a beakful of mud, the mother bird drops her load, or
plasters it loosely on the inside of the cup. Then she hops into the
nest, settles as low as possible, and begins to kick or trample
vigorously with her feet. From time to time she tests the smoothness or
roundness of the job by settling to it with her breast, but the shaping
is altogether accomplished by the peculiar tedder action of her feet.

On the other hand, one Robin’s nest which I found in the open sage had
no mud in its construction and was altogether composed of felted
vegetable materials. Another freak nest, in Spokane, showed a hatchet
handle firmly imbedded in its foundation and projecting from it a
distance of six inches. The presence of the handle was not adventitious,
for the nest was saddled on a pine branch, but it is difficult to
conceive how the birds could have placed it in position at a height of
fifteen feet.

Three eggs is the rule for the Western Robin; four is not unusual; but
five is rare, and I have never seen six. In this respect, therefore, the
Western Robin falls a little behind her eastern cousin.

                     [Illustration: A ROBIN BABY.]

Young Robins are darling creatures; that is conceded by everyone,—even
by the cat. And hungry! Oh, so hungry! It is estimated that if the
appetite of a man were proportioned to that of a young Robin, he would
consume daily the equivalent of a sausage four inches in diameter and
twelve feet long!

In spite of the law-makers, who knew exactly what they were doing in
declaring the Robin worthy of protection, thousands of these birds are
annually slaughtered by unthinking people because of a rumored fondness
for cherries and other small fruits. And yet we are assured by competent
authorities that cultivated fruit forms only four per cent of the
Robin’s food thruout the year, while injurious insects constitute more
than one-third. Robins in the cherry trees _are_ provoking, especially
when they bring the whole family and camp out; but there is one way to
limit their depredations without destroying these most distinguished
helpers; plant a row of mulberry trees, preferably the Russian Mulberry,
along the orchard fence, and the birds will seek no further. I have seen
a mulberry tree swarming with Robins, while neighboring fruit trees were
almost untouched. The plan is simple, humane, and efficacious.


                                No. 100.
                             VARIED THRUSH.

  A. O. U. No. 763. Ixoreus nævius (Gmelin).

  Synonyms.—Mountain Robin. Winter Robin. Oregon Robin. Columbian Robin.
  Varied Robin. Painted Robin.

  Description.—_Adult male_: Above dark slate-color (plumbeous slate to
  blackish slate), sometimes, especially in winter, tinged with
  olivaceous; wings dusky edged more or less with slaty, the
  flight-feathers varied by ochraceous-buff, the middle and greater
  coverts tipped broadly with tawny or ochraceous forming two
  conspicuous bars; tail blackish, the outermost or several lateral
  rectrices tipped with white on inner web; a conspicuous lateral
  head-stripe originating above eye and passing backward to nape
  ochraceous or ochraceous-buff; area on side of head, including lores,
  suborbital space and auriculars, black or slaty-black connected
  narrowly on side of neck with a conspicuous pectoral collar of the
  same shade; chin, throat and remaining underparts tawny (or
  ochraceous-tawny to ochraceous-buff), paling on sides and flanks where
  feathers broadly margined with slaty-gray, changing to white on
  abdomen; under tail-coverts mingled white, slaty and ochraceous;
  axillars and under wing-coverts white basally broadly tipped with
  slaty-gray and under surface of flight-feathers crossed basally by
  band of white or buffish. Bill brownish black paling basally on
  mandible; feet and legs ochre-brown; irides brown. _Adult female_:
  Similar to adult male but paler and duller; upperparts olive-slaty to
  olive brownish; tawny of underparts much paler and pectoral collar
  narrower, of the shade of back or a little darker; more extensively
  white on abdomen; _Young birds_: Like adult female but more yellowish
  ochraceous below; pectoral band indistinct composed of ochraceous
  feathers having darker edges; other feathers of throat and breast more
  or less tipped with olive dusky. Length of adult 9.50-10.00 (241-254);
  wing 4.92 (125); tail 3.43 (87); bill .83 (21); tarsus .87 (22).

  Recognition Marks.—Robin size; blackish collar distinctive; wings
  conspicuously varied by tawny markings; head pattern
  distinctive—otherwise very Robin-like in bearing and deportment.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: of sticks, twigs, grasses and rotten wood smothered
  in moss, a bulky, handsome structure placed in saplings or trees at
  moderate heights without attempt at concealment. _Eggs_: usually 3,
  rarely 4, greenish blue sparingly speckled or spotted, rarely blotched
  with dark brown. Av. size 1.12 × .80 (28.4 × 20.3). _Season_: April
  20-May 10, June 10-July 1; two broods.

  General Range.—Mountains and forests of western North America,
  breeding from northern California (Humboldt County) to northern
  Alaska, wintering from Kadiak Island to southern California and
  straggling irregularly eastward during migrations.

  Range in Washington.—Resident in coniferous forests thruout the State
  from sea-level to limit of trees; retires to valleys and lowlands in
  winter; less common east of the main divides (Cascade).

  Authorities.—[Lewis and Clark, Hist. Ex. (1814), Ed. Biddle; Coues,
  Vol. II., p. 184]. _Turdus nævius_, Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R. Surv. IX.,
  1858, pp. 211 (“Simiahmoo, W. T.”), 220. T. C&S. L¹. D¹. Kb. Ra. Kk.
  J. B. E.

  Specimens.—U. of W. P¹. Prov. B. E.

No; it does not always rain in western Washington. So far is this from
being the case, that we will match our Februaries against all comers,
and especially invite the attention of “native sons” of California. Our
summers, too, are just a little dry latterly, and we begin to wonder
with a vague uneasiness whether we are to be condemned to mediocrity
after all. This paves the way for a declaration that the true
web-footer, nevertheless, loves the rain, and will exchange a garish sky
for a gentle drizzle any day in the year. The Varied Thrush is a true
Web-footer. He loves rain as a fish loves water. It is his native
element and vital air. He endures dry weather, indeed, as all of us
should, with calm stoicism. _Lehrne zu leiden ohne zu klagen_, as poor
Emperor Frederick II, the beloved “_Unser Fritz_,” used to say. But the
Varied Thrush is not the poet of sunshine. Dust motes have no charm for
his eyes, and he will not misuse his vocal powers in praise of the
crackling leaf. Ergo, he sits silent in the thickets while avian
poet-asters shrill the notes of common day. But let the sun once veil
his splendors, let the clouds shed their gentle tears of self-pity, let
the benison of the rain-drops filter thru the forest, and let the
leafage begin to utter that myriad soft sigh which is dearer than
silence, and our poet Thrush wakes up. He mounts the chancel of some fir
tree and utters at intervals a single long-drawn note of brooding
melancholy and exalted beauty,—a voice stranger than the sound of any
instrument, a waif echo stranding on the shores of time.

 [Illustration: _Taken in Rainier National Park._    _From a Photograph
                   Copyright, 1908, by W. L. Dawson._
                        A MORNING IN PARADISE.]

There is no sound of the western woods more subtle, more mysterious,
more thrilling withal, than this passion song of the Varied Thrush.
Somber depths, dripping foliage, and the distant gurgling of dark brown
waters are its fitting accompaniments; but it serves somehow to call up
before the mind’s eye the unscaled heights and the untried deeps of
experience. It is suggestive, elusive, and whimsically baffling. Never
colorless, it is also never personal, and its weird extra-mundane
quality reminds one of antique china reds, or recalls the subdued
luridness of certain ancient frescoes. Moreover, this bird can fling his
voice at you as well from the tree-top as from the ground, now right,
now left, the while he sits motionless upon a branch not fifteen feet
above you.

Fantastic and varied as is this single note which is the Thrush’s song,
it may be fairly reproduced by a high-pitched whistle combined with a
vocal undertone. At least, this imitation satisfies the bird, and it is
possible to engage one after another of them in a sort of vocal contest
in which curiosity and jealousy play unquestioned parts. Sometimes the
Thrush’s note is quite out of reach, but as often it descends to low
pitches, while now and then it is flatted and the resonance crowded out
of it, with an indescribable effect upon the listener, somewhere between
admiration and disgust. At other times a trill is introduced, which can
be taken care of by a trained palate, in addition to the vocal sound and
the whistle.

  [Illustration: _Taken in Rainier National Park._    _Photo by W. L.
                                Dawson._
                         “GIVEN TALL TIMBER.”]

In a unique degree the Varied Thrushes are found thruout the forest
depths. Given tall timber and plenty of it, the precise altitude or
location are matters of no consequence. The prettiest compliment that
Nature can pay to the genuine wildness of Ravenna Park, in Seattle, or
Defiance Park, in Tacoma, is the continued presence of the Varied Thrush
in nesting time. Run a survey line across any timbered valley of western
Washington, or up any timbered slope of the Cascades or Olympics, and
the bird most certainly encountered, without reference to local
topography or presumed preference, will be the Varied Thrush. The bird
may likewise be found among the larches and cedars of the Calispell
Range.

The Varied Thrush is known by a variety of names, none more persistent
or fitting than Winter Robin. It is a Robin in size, prevailing color,
and general make-up; and it appears in the lowlands in large numbers
only in the winter time, when the deep snows have driven it out of the
hills. The Thrush is much more shy than the Robin, and altho it moves
about in straggling companies, and does not shun city parks, it keeps
more to cover. It also feeds largely upon the ground, and when startled
by a passer-by it flutters up sharply into the trees with a wing-sound
whose quality may soon be recognized as distinctive. At such times the
bird makes off thru the branches with a low chuck, or _tsook_, or else
tries the air by low notes which are like the song, only very much more
subdued. This is manifestly an attempt to keep in touch with companions,
while at the same time attracting as little hostile attention as
possible. This note is, therefore, barely audible, and has very little
musical quality, _aarue_, or _üür_.

The nesting of the Varied Thrush was most fully brought to light by Mr.
D. E. Brown, at Glacier, in the season of 1905. Like some tireless
retriever, this ardent naturalist quartered the mazes of the dense
spruce forest which covers the floor of the North Fork of the Nooksack,
and in a range of some fifteen miles up and down that stream succeeded
in locating forty-five nests of this, till then, little-understood
species. Of these, twenty-five contained full sets of eggs, while the
remainder fell before such accidents as desertion, robbing by Jays,
Owls, etc. The first set taken was on May 5th, and the eggs were
slightly incubated. The last, with fresh eggs, was taken June
19th,—probably the second nesting of some bird robbed earlier in the
season. Among the nests examined, three contained sets of four each, and
the remainder three. Of the entire number, all were placed in evergreen
trees, save two. Of these last, one was set in the splinters in the
broken top of a willow, about fifteen feet up; and the other was placed
in an upright crotch of an elderberry bush at four feet from the ground.

    [Illustration: _Taken near Mt. Baker._    _Photo by the Author._
        “THE VARIED THRUSH BUILDS WELL UP IN A SMALL FIR TREE.”]

Here are the woods that abound in moss-bunches,—great balls of thrifty
green which grow, without apparent excuse, alike from the flimsiest and
from the most substantial supports. It is in view of the abundance of
these, that the Varied Thrush builds as it does, right out in the open
of the underwood, near the top, or at least well up, in a small fir
tree. The searcher has only the advantage of knowing that in order to
secure adequate support the bird must build close up to the stem of the
tree. The only exception to this rule is when branches intersect, and so
offer additional strength. Owing to the fact that the large timber
affords considerable protection to the younger growth below, and because
of the superior construction of the nests, they prove very durable. Old
nests are common; and groups of half a dozen in the space of a single
acre are evidently the consecutive product of a single pair of birds.

There is a notable division of territory among these Thrushes. As a
rule, they maintain a distance of half a mile or so from any other
nesting pair. In two instances, however, Mr. Brown found nests within
three hundred yards of neighbors.

When one approaches the center of a reserve, the brooding female slips
quietly from the nest and joins her mate in denouncing the intruder. The
birds flit restlessly from branch to branch, or from log to log,
uttering repeatedly a stern _tsook_, which is almost their sole
recourse. If the nest is discovered and examined, the birds will
disappear silently; and the chances are that they will never again be
seen in that locality.

      [Illustration: _Taken at Glacier._    _Photo by the Author._
                    NEST AND EGGS OF VARIED THRUSH.]

A nest found on May 10th, with two eggs, was revisited on the 12th. It
was saddled at a point ten feet out on a leaning hemlock, which jutted
from the river bank over the roaring Nooksack. The prominence of the
situation, in this instance, proved the owner’s undoing. An Owl had
evidently snatched her up on the previous night, the first of her
maternal duty; for the nest and the neighboring foliage were strewn with
feathers. Yet so subtly had the marauder executed his first coup that
not an egg was broken. The eggs were three in number, subovate, of a
slightly greenish blue, beautifully and heavily spotted—one might almost
say blotched—with rufous, the handsomest, Mr. Brown says, ever seen.

A more typical nest, freshly examined, is placed at a height of six feet
in the top of a tiny fir sapling, which required the support of a chance
armful of leaning vine-maple poles. The nest proper is an immense
affair, eight and a half inches deep and twelve inches by eight in
diameter outside, and two and a half in depth and four in width inside.
It would weigh about three pounds, and is, therefore, quite compact,
altho the moss, which is the largest element in its composition, holds a
large quantity of moisture. Twigs from six inches to a foot in length
enter into the exterior construction, and these are themselves
moss-bearing. Stripping off the outer moss-coat, one comes to the matrix
or crucible-shaped vessel of rotten wood, an inch or more in thickness
thruout, and sodden with moisture. Within this receptacle, in turn,
appears another cup with walls three-quarters of an inch in thickness,
and composed solely of dried grasses and moss, neatly woven and turned.
The innermost lining comprises the same materials, not very carefully
smoothed, but amazingly dry, considering the character of their
surroundings. The brim of the nest is strengthened by bark-strips, the
inner fiber of cedar bark being exclusively employed for this purpose;
while the finishing coat consists of moss, compacted and flawless. There
are, in fact, few nests to compare with that of the Varied Thrush in
strength, elaborateness, and elegance.


                                No. 101.
                           WESTERN BLUEBIRD.

  A. O. U. No. 767. Sialia mexicana occidentalis (Towns.).

  Synonyms.—California Bluebird. Mexican Bluebird. Townsend’s Bluebird.

  Description.—_Adult male_: Head and neck all around and upperparts
  rich smalt blue, brighter on hindneck, rump and wings, paler on sides
  of neck and on throat; the shafts of wing-quills and tail-feathers and
  the exposed tips of the former black; more or less chestnut on
  scapulars usually irregularly continuous across back; sides of breast
  and sides, continuous across breast, chestnut; belly, flanks, crissum
  and under tail-coverts dull grayish blue (campanula blue to pearl
  blue). Bill black; feet blackish; iris dark brown. _In winter_ touches
  of chestnut appear on crown, hindneck and sides of head and neck, and
  the blue of throat is slightly veiled by grayish brown skirting.
  _Adult female_: Somewhat like male but everywhere paler and duller;
  blue of upperparts clear only on rump, tail, lesser and middle
  wing-coverts and outer edges of primaries, there lighter than in male
  (campanula blue to flax-flower blue); first primary and outermost
  rectrices edged with white; chestnut of scapulars obsolete, merged
  with dingy mottled bluish or brownish-gray of remaining upperparts;
  exposed tips of remiges dusky; outer web of first primary whitish;
  blue of underparts replaced by sordid bluish gray, and chestnut of
  subdued tone (pale cinnamon-rufous) veiled by grayish-brown tips of
  feathers. _Young birds_ somewhat resemble the adult female but the
  blue is restricted to flight-feathers and rectrices, that of the male
  being brighter and bluer, that of the female duller and greener. In
  both sexes the back and scapular areas are brownish heavily and
  sharply streaked with white and the breast (jugulum, sides of breast,
  and sides) is dark sepia brown so heavily streaked with white as to
  appear “skeletonized.”  Length of adults 6.50-7.00 (165-177.8); wing
  4.13 (105); tail 2.80 (71); bill .49 (12.5); tarsus .85 (21.5).

  Recognition Marks.—Sparrow size; rich blue and chestnut coloring of
  male; darker blue coloration of wings in female distinctive as
  compared with that of _S. currucoides_.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: in cavities, natural or artificial, old woodpecker
  holes, hollow trees, stumps, posts, bird-boxes, etc., lined with
  grasses and, occasionally, string, feathers and the like. _Eggs_: 4-6,
  uniform pale blue. Av. size, .82 × .62 (20.8 × 15.7). _Season_:
  May-July; two broods.

  General Range.—Pacific coast district from Los Angeles County,
  California, to British Columbia, extending irregularly eastward in
  Oregon, Washington and British Columbia, and to Idaho and western
  Montana; south irregularly in winter as far as San Pedro Martir
  Mountains, L. C.

  Range in Washington.—Summer resident, of general distribution west of
  the Cascades, rare and local distribution (chiefly in heavily timbered
  sections) east of the mountains; casually resident in winter.

  Migrations.—_Spring_: c. March 1; East-side: Chelan, March 9, 1896;
  Conconnully, March 15, 1896; West-side: Seattle, March 6, 1889; March
  5, 1891; Tacoma, Feb. 25, 1905. _Fall_: October.

  Authorities.—_Sialia occidentalis_, Townsend, Journ. Ac. Nat. Sci.
  Phila. Vol. VII. pt. II. 1837, 188. C&S. L¹.  Rh. D¹. Kb. Ra. D². Kk.
  J. B. E.

  Specimens.—U. of W. Prov. B. BN.

_Miu-Miu-Miu_—mute you are, or next thing to it, you naughty little
beauties! Why don’t you sing, as do your cousins across the Rockies? You
bring spring with you, but you do not come shifting your “light load of
song from post to post along the cheerless fence.” Is your beauty, then,
so burdensome that you find it task enough to shift that?

Alack-a-day! our Bluebird does not sing! You see, he comes from Mexican
stock, _Sialia mexicana_, and since we will not let him talk Spanish, or
Aztecan, or Zampeyan, he flits about silent in seven languages.
Er—but—what’s this? Can we be mistaken? Here is what Dr. J. K.
Townsend[38] says of the Western Bluebird: “Common on the Columbia River
in the spring. It arrives from the south early in April, and about the
first week in May commences building. * * * A flock of eight or ten of
these birds visited the British fort on the Columbia, on a fine day in
the winter of 1835. They confined themselves chiefly to the fences,
occasionally flying to the ground and scratching among the snow for
minute insects, the fragments of which were found in the stomachs of
several which I killed. After procuring an insect the male usually
returned to the fence again, and warbled for a minute most delightfully.
This note altho somewhat like that of our common _Wilsonii_ [i. e., _S.
sialis_], is still so different as to be easily recognized. It is
equally sweet and clear but of so little compass (at this season) as to
be heard only a short distance. In the spring it is louder, but it is at
all times much less strong than that of the common species.”

Dr. Brewer, condensing Nuttall, says[39]: “He [Nuttall] speaks of its
habits as exactly similar to those of the common Bluebird. The male is
equally tuneful thruout the breeding-season, and his song is also very
similar. Like the common species he is very devoted to his mate,
alternately feeding and caressing her and entertaining her with his
song. This is a little more _varied, tender, and sweet_ [editor’s
italics] than that of the Eastern species, and differs in its
expressions.”

Our own Dr. Cooper testifies:[40] “It also differs [i. e. from _S.
sialis_] in its song, which is not so loud as sweet, and is curiously
performed to sound as if two birds were singing at once and in different
keys.” Here the tradition begins to waver. More recent writers say: “The
song of the Western Bluebird is not full but is, like his manners,
gentle and sweet” (Lord); and, “It has the soft warble of its kind”
(Mrs. Bailey). But again Dr. Brewer writes:[41] “In regard to their song
Mr. Ridgway states that he did not hear even during the pairing season,
any note approaching in sweetness, or indeed similar to, the joyous
spring warble which justly renders our Eastern Bluebird (_S. sialis_) so
universal a favorite.” The doctors disagree. Some one has been dreaming!

All I can say is, that in an experience of some sixteen seasons in
Washington, I have never heard the Bluebird sing, or utter any note more
pretentious than the plaintive _miu_ already referred to. It has beside,
however, a note of protest, which sounds remotely like the _kek_ of a
distrustful Guinea fowl; and it indulges certain very unmusical
chittering and clucking notes when endeavoring to attract the attention
of its young.

No; the Western Bluebird is no musician, but he _is_ a beauty; and he
does have the same gentle courtesy of bearing which has endeared the
Bluebird wherever he is known. It is impossible to treat of Bluebirds’
domestic life without recourse to humanizing terms. Bluebird is a
gentleman, chivalrous and brave, as he is tender and loving. Mrs.
Bluebird is a lady, gentle, confiding, and most appreciative. And as for
the little Bluebirdses they are as well behaved a lot of children as
ever crowned an earthly affection.

  [Illustration: _Taken in Oregon._    _Photo by Finley and Bohlman._
                       WESTERN BLUEBIRD AT NEST.]

Both parents are unsparing in their devotion to the rising generation,
and so thoroly is this unselfish spirit reflected in the conduct of the
children that it is the subject of frequent remark. Mr. Finley tells[42]
of an instance in which a first brood, just out of pinafores, turned to
and helped their parents provide food for another batch of babies, and
this not once, nor twice, nor casually, but regularly, until the second
brood were well matured. Instinct! Instinct! say you? But, wherefor? Is
it not rather a foregleam of ethical life, an outcropping of that
altruistic tendency which hints a deeper kinship with the birds than we
have yet confessed?

And real gallantry between the sexes may not be less ethical. On a day
in Ohio, I located a Bluebird’s nest in the knot-hole of an apple tree,
and planted the camera in a commanding and somewhat threatening
position. The cavity held callow young, but after the parents had
visited their charges once and were somewhat relieved in anxiety, I saw
a very pretty passage which took place between them. In a neighboring
apple tree the male secured an elegant fat grub and was most devoutly
thrashing it, when the female appeared upon the scene. With a coaxing
twitter she approached her mate; but he backed off, as much as to say,
“Wait, wait, dear, he isn’t dead yet!” But she was hungry and pressed
her suit, until he in good-natured impatience flitted across to another
limb. Here he whacked the worm vigorously, striking him first against
one side of the limb and then against the other by a swinging motion of
the head. The female followed her lord and cooed: “Oh, I know that will
taste good. Um! I hav’n’t tasted one of those white grubs for a week. So
good of you, dearest! Really, don’t you think he is done now?” The
valiant husband gave the luckless grub just one more whack; and then,
with every appearance of satisfaction, he hopped over toward his better
half and placed the morsel in her waiting beak, while she received the
favor with quivering wings and a soft flood of tender thanks. Altogether
I think I never saw a prettier exhibition of conjugal affection,
gallantry, and genuine altruism than the sight afforded. It was not only
like the behavior of humans; it was like the best in human life, a
pattern rather than a copy, an inspiration to nobility and gentleness of
the very highest type.

    [Illustration: _Taken in Spokane._    _Photo by F. S. Merrill._
                           LITTLE BOY BLUE.]

Bluebirds have a decided preference for human society, or at least are
very quick to appreciate the hospitality of proffered bird-boxes. Being
chiefly insectivorous, their presence is a benediction to any
neighborhood, and is an especial advantage in the orchard. A friend of
mine in the East, who owns two young orchards and a small vineyard,
maintains upon his premises upwards of fifty Bluebird boxes, each
composed of a section of a hollow limb closed with a board at top and
bottom, and provided with a neat augur-hole in the side. The boxes are
made fast to the apple-trees or lodged at considerable intervals along
the intersecting fences. The experimenter finds that more than half of
the boxes are occupied each season, and he counts the birds of
inestimable value in helping to save the grapes and apples from the
ravages of worms.

In providing for Bluebird’s comfort, care must be taken to expel cats
from the premises; or at least to place the box in an inaccessible
position. English Sparrows, also, must be shot at sight, for the
Bluebird, however valorous, is no match for a mob. Tree Swallows or
Violet-greens may covet the nesting-box—your affections are sure to be
divided when these last appear upon the scene—but the Bluebirds can take
care of themselves here. For the rest, do not make the box too nice; and
above all, do not make it of new lumber. Nesting birds do not care to be
the observed of all observers, and the more natural their surroundings,
the more at ease your tenants will be. An occasional inspection will not
be resented, if the Bluebirds know their landlord well. There may be
some untoward condition to correct,—an overcrowded nestling, or the
like. At the end of the season the box should be emptied, cleaned, and
if possible sterilized.

Two broods are raised in a season, and the species appears to be on the
increase in the more thickly settled portion of the State.
_Occidentalis_ avoids the dry sections, and is nowhere common on the
east side of the mountains, save during migrations. It is, however,
regularly found on the timbered slopes of the Cascades, the Kalispell
Range, and the Blue Mountains, where its range inosculates with that of
the Mountain Bluebird. There is reason to suppose that its range will
extend with the increase of irrigated territory. West of the mountains,
per contra, the Bluebird affects the more open country, and especially
that which has been prepared by fire and the double-bitted axe.


                                No. 102.
                           MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD.

  A. O. U. No. 768. Sialia currucoides (Bechstein).

  Synonym.—Arctic Bluebird.

  Description.—_Adult male in summer_: Above rich cerulean blue, palest
  (turquoise blue) on forehead, brightest on upper tail-coverts, darkest
  (sevres blue) on lesser wing-coverts; below pale blue (deepest
  turquoise) on chest, shading on sides of head and neck to color of
  back, paling on lower belly, crissum and under tail-coverts to
  whitish; exposed tips of flight feathers dusky. Bill and feet black;
  iris dark brown. _Adult male in winter_: Blue somewhat duller and
  feathers skirted more or less with brownish above and below, notably
  on hind-neck, upper back, breast and sides. _Adult female_: Like male
  but paler blue, clear on rump, tail and wings only, elsewhere quenched
  in gray; pileum, hindneck, back and scapulars mouse-gray tinged with
  greenish-blue; outer edge of first primary and outer web of outermost
  rectrix, basally, white; a whitish orbital ring; underparts tinged
  with pale brownish gray fading to white posteriorly. _Young birds_
  somewhat resemble the adult female but are even duller; the blue of
  rump and upper tail-coverts is replaced by ashy gray; the back is
  streaked with white; the throat and jugulum are pale gray indistinctly
  streaked with whitish; chest, sides and flanks broadly streaked with
  drab, each feather having a white center. Length 7.00 (177.8) or over;
  wing 4.60 (117); tail 2.83 (72); bill .53 (13.4); tarsus .89 (22.6).

  Recognition Marks.—Sparrow size; azure blue coloration of male and
  bluish-gray and azure of female unmistakable.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: much as in preceding species. _Eggs_: usually 5,
  uniform pale blue sometimes very light bluish white, rarely pure
  white. Av. size, .80 × .60 (20.3 × 15.2). _Season_: May, June; two
  broods.

  General Range.—Mountain districts of western North America north to
  the Mackenzie and Yukon Territory, breeding eastward to the Black
  Hills and western Texas, westward to the Cascade-Sierras, southward to
  the higher ranges of Arizona, New Mexico and Chihuahua, in winter
  irregularly eastward upon the Great plains and southward to southern
  California, Lower California, etc.

  Range in Washington.—Summer resident in the Cascade Mountains chiefly
  on the eastern slopes (but west to Mt. Rainier); common during
  migrations and irregularly resident in summer upon lower levels east
  of the Cascades (Wallula, May 15, 1907, breeding).

  Migrations.—_Spring_: Chelan, Feb. 24, 1896; Conconnully, March 15,
  1896; Ahtanum, March 13, 1900.

  Authorities.—_Sialia arctica_ Brewster, B. N. O. C. VII. Oct. 1882, p.
  227. T. L¹. D¹. D². Ss¹. J.

  Specimens.—P¹. Prov. C.

A bit of heaven’s blue incarnate! We shall not stop to chide this
exquisite creature that he does not sing. Why should he? It is enough to
inspire song.

  The sky has not fallen this beautiful morn,
  But here is its messenger come to adorn
  For a moment our wayside, and bring to our sight
  In symbol of azure, a vision of right.

  So hopeful, confiding, thou brave mountaineer,
  Thou bringest to April a mighty good cheer.
  Chill winter is vanquished, his rigors forgot,
  The Lord is on earth,—what else, matters not.

The Mountain Bluebird is of regular occurrence but of very irregular
distribution in eastern Washington, and is scarcely known west of the
Cascades. John Fannin found it in British Columbia “west occasionally,
to Chilliwack, and other points on the lower Fraser; also Vancouver
Island,” but we have only two records of its occurrence on the Pacific
slope in Washington[43]. The bird ranges up to the highest peaks of the
central divide, but it is not at all common in the mountains. It seems
to prefer more open situations and, so far from being exclusively boreal
in its tastes, has been found nesting at as low an altitude as Wallula,
on the banks of the Columbia River.

At Chelan in a typical season (1896) the migrations opened with the
appearance, on the 24th day of February, of seven males of most perfect
beauty. They deployed upon the townsite in search of insects, and
uttered plaintive notes of Sialian quality, varied by dainty,
thrush-like _tsooks_ of alarm when too closely pressed. They did not at
any time attempt song, and the entire song tradition, including the
“delightful warble” of Townsend, appears to be quite without foundation,
as in the case of _S. m. occidentalis_. On the 15th of March a flock of
fifty Bluebirds, all males, were sighted flying in close order over the
mountain-side, a vision of loveliness which was enhanced by the presence
of a dozen or more Westerns. Several flocks were observed at this season
in which the two species mingled freely. On the 27th of the same month
the last great wave of migration was noted, and some two hundred birds,
all “Arctics” now, and at least a third of them females, quartered
themselves upon us for a day,—with what delighted appreciation upon our
part may best be imagined. The males are practically _all_ azure; but
the females have a much more modest garb of reddish gray, or
stone-olive, which flashes into blue on wings and tail, only as the bird
flits from post to post.

In nesting, Mountain Bluebirds sometimes display the same confidence
shown by the darker species; and their adoption into urban, or at least
village life, would seem to be only a matter of time. They are a gentle
breed, and it is an honor of which we may well strive to prove worthy,
to be chosen as hosts by these distinguished gentlefolk.

“Gentle,” as applied to Bluebirds, has always the older sense of
noble,—noble because brave. My attention was first called to a nest in
the timbered foothills of Yakima County, because its valiant owner
furiously beset a Flicker of twice his size, a clumsy villain who had
lighted by mistake on the Bluebird’s nesting stub. The gallant defender
did not use these tactics on the bird-man, but his accents were sternly
accusing as the man proceeded to investigate a clean-cut hole eight feet
up in a pine stub four feet thru. Five dainty eggs of the palest
possible blue rested at the bottom of the cavity on a soft cushion of
fine grasses.

This must have been a typical structure, but near Chelan I found the
birds nesting at the end of a tunnel driven into a perpendicular bank
much frequented by Bank Swallows. The original miner might have been a
Swallow, but the Bluebirds had certainly enlarged the hole and rounded
it. There were no available trees for a mile or so around, but—well,
really now, it did give one a turn to see this bit of heaven quench
itself in the ground—for love’s sake.



     _Sylviidæ_—The Old World Warblers, Kinglets, and Gnatcatchers


                                No. 103.
                    WESTERN GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET.

  A. O. U. No. 748. Regulus satrapa olivaceus Baird.

  Description.—_Adult male_; Crown-patch (partially concealed) bright
  orange or flame-color (cadmium orange); a border of plain yellow
  feathers overlying the orange on the sides; these in turn bordered by
  black in front and on sides; extreme forehead white, connecting with
  white superciliary stripe; a dark line thru eye; above bright
  olive-green, becoming olive-gray on nape and side of head and neck;
  wing-quills and tail-feathers much edged with light greenish yellow,
  the former in such fashion as to throw into relief a dusky spot on
  middle of secondaries; greater coverts tipped with whitish; underparts
  sordid white, sometimes dusky-washed, or touched on sides with
  olivaceous. _Adult female_: Similar, but with crown-patch plain yellow
  instead of orange. _Immature_: Without crown-patch or bordering black,
  gradually acquiring these thru gradation of color. Length about 4.00
  (101.6); wing 2.16 (55); tail 1.57 (40); bill .29 (7.5); tarsus .67
  (17).

  Recognition Marks.—Pygmy size; orange, or yellow, and black of crown
  distinctive.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: lashed to and largely concealed by drooping twigs on
  under side of fir bough near tip, an exquisite ball of mosses,
  lichens, liverwort, fine grasses, etc.; bound together with cobwebs
  and lined with the softest materials, vegetable-down, cow-hair, and
  feathers, 3½-7 inches in diameter, and placed from five feet _up_.
  _Eggs_: 7-9, rarely 10 (one of 11 on record), sometimes in _two
  layers_, dull white, cream white, or sordid cream-color, finely
  sprinkled or not with pale wood-brown or dull rufous, and sometimes,
  obscurely, with lavender. Av. size, .54 × .40 (13.7 × 10.2). _Season_:
  April 1-July 1; two broods.

  General Range.—Western North America from Rocky Mountains to the
  Pacific Coast, southward in winter over highlands of Mexico to
  elevated districts of Guatemala; breeding from Colorado (near
  timber-line), eastern Oregon (mountains near Fort Klamath), Sierra
  Nevada (south to Mount Whitney), Mount Shasta, etc., northward to
  Kenai Peninsula and Kadiak Island, Alaska.

  Range in Washington.—Common resident in coniferous timber (except
  pine) thruout the State, sea-level to limit of trees, less common east
  of Cascades, where numbers greatly augmented during migrations.

  Authorities.—_? Townsend_, Journ. Ac. Nat. Sci. Phila. VIII. 1839, 154
  (Columbia River). _Regulus satrapa_, Licht. Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R.
  Surv. IX. pt. II. 1858, p. 228 (part). (T.) C&S. L. Rh. D¹. Kb. Ra.
  D². Kk. B. E.

  Specimens.—U. of W. P. Prov. B. E.

“Good things come done up in small packages,” my college chum used to
say (speaking, of course, of _la femme petite_), and that was before he
knew the Golden-crowned Kinglet. Indeed, it is surprising how few people
do know this amiable little monarch; and yet, I suppose, he is by all
odds the most abundant bird in Washington. To one who seeks the honor of
his acquaintance, he proves a most delightful friend; but he has his
little modesties and reserves, becoming to a potentate, so that a
thousand of him would never be “common,” nor pall upon the senses.

Kinglets go in troupes, family parties, which keep a little to
themselves ordinarily; altho Chickadees and Nuthatches, or even Creepers
and Wrens, are welcome messmates, in the friendly winter time. Evergreen
trees, exclusively, are frequented, except during migrations upon the
East-side where the favorite cover is lacking, and the real abundance of
the birds at all seasons is coextensive with that of the Douglas Spruce
(_Pseudotsuga douglasi_). With tireless energy they search both bark and
branches for insects’ eggs and larvæ scarce visible to the human eye.
They peer about incessantly, bending and darting and twisting and
squirming, now hanging head downward, if need be, now fluttering
prettily against the under side of the branch above; but always on the
go, until frequently one despairs of catching fair sight of the crown
for the necessary fraction of a second. Of course it’s a Golden-crown;
but, then, we want to see it.

 [Illustration: _Taken in Rainier National Park._    _From a Photograph
                   Copyright, 1908, by W. L. Dawson._
                             THE UNVEILING.
                   A FAVORITE HAUNT OF THE KINGLET.]

And all the time Cutikins is carrying on an amiable conversation with
his neighbor, interrupted and fragmentary, to be sure, but he has all
day to it—_tss, tss-tsip-chip, tseek_. If you draw too near, _tsip_ can
be made to express vigorous disapproval.

Concerning the “song” one is a little puzzled how to report. One hears,
no doubt, many little snatches and phrases which have in them something
of the quality of the better known carol of the Ruby-crown, but they
lack distinctness and completion. Moreover, they are never given
earnestly, even in the height of the mating season, but, as it were,
reminiscently, mere by-products of a contented mood. It may seem a
little fanciful, but I am half tempted to believe that the Gold-crests
are losing the ancient art of minstrelsy. The lines have fallen unto
them in such pleasant places; food and shelter are no problems, and
there is nothing of that shock and hazard of life which reacts most
certainly upon the passion of song. And then it is _her_ fault, anyway.
Phyllis would rather whisper sweet nothings in the mossy bower than be
serenaded, never so ably. Oh, perilous house of content!

It remained for Mr. Bowles, after years of untiring effort, to discover
the first nest of this western variety. And then it came by way of
revelation—a fir branch caught against the evening sky and scrutinized
mechanically afforded grounds for suspicion in a certain thickening of
the twigs under the midrib. Investigation revealed a ball of moss
matched to a nicety of green with the surrounding foliage, and made fast
by dainty lashings to the enveloping twigs; and, better yet, a basketful
of eggs.

These birds probably nest at any height in the heaviest fir timber; but,
because they are relatively so infinitesimal, it is idle to look for the
nests except at the lower levels, and in places where the forest area
has been reduced to groves and thickets. The boundaries of the prairie
country about Centralia and northward afford the best opportunity for
nesting, for here the Douglas Spruces attain a height of only a hundred
feet or such a matter, and occur in loose open groves which invite
inspection. Here, too, the Kinglets may be noted as they flit across
from tree to tree, and their movements traced.

The kinglet and queenlet are a devoted pair in nesting time. Whether
gathering materials for the nest or hunting for food after the babies
are hatched, they work in company as much as possible. They are
discovered, it may be a hundred yards from the home tree, gleaning
assiduously. After a time one of the birds by a muffled squeak announces
a beakful, and suggests a return; the other acquiesces and they set off
homeward, the male usually in the lead. It looks as tho tracing would be
an easy matter, but the birds stop circumspectly at every tree clump en
route, and they are all too easily lost to sight long before the home
tree is reached.

Nests may be found at any height from the level of the eyes to fifty
feet (higher, no doubt, if one’s eye-sight avails) but always on the
under side of a fir limb, and usually where the foliage is naturally
dense. The nest ball is a wonderfully compacted affair of moss, both
green and gray, interspersed with liverworts, dried grasses, soft weed
fibers, and cow-hair. The deep depression of the nest cup scarcely mars
the sphericity of the whole, for the edges are brought well in; so much
so, in fact, that a containing branch overloaded with foliage upon one
side, once tipped half way over without spilling the eggs. The deep
cavity is heavily lined with cow-hair and abundant feathers of grouse or
domestic fowl. These feathers are placed with their soft ends
protruding, and they curl over the entrance in such fashion as almost or
quite to conceal the eggs. One would like to particularize at great
length, for no fervors of description can overstate the beauties of this
Kinglet palace.

  [Illustration: _Taken near Tacoma._    _Photo by Bowles and Dawson._
         NEST OF WESTERN GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET IN FIR BRANCH.
 THIS IS THE MOST THAT MAY BE SEEN OF NEST OR CONTENTS FROM ANY ANGLE.]

Eggs vary in number from five to nine, seven and eight being the rule. I
once took a nest with eleven—one too many at the least, for it had to
rest on top of the others. They are not much larger than Hummingbirds’
and are quite as fragile. Mr. Bowles consumed twenty minutes in removing
the contents of the big nest to the collecting box _without a break_.
The eggs vary in color from pure white to sordid white and dusky brown.
In the last two cases the tint may be due to a profusion of fine brown
dots, or to advancement in incubation, the shell being so thin that the
progressive stages of the chick’s development are dimly shadowed thru
it.

The female Kinglet is a close sitter and will not often leave the nest
until the containing branch is sharply tapped. Then, invariably, she
drops down a couple of feet and flits sharply sidewise, with manifest
intent to deceive the laggard eye. Yet almost immediately she is minded
to return, and will do so if there is no further demonstration of
hostilities. Re-covering the eggs is not always an easy matter, for the
well is deep and the mouth narrow. One dame lighted on the brim of her
nest and bowed and scraped and stamped, precisely as a carefully
disciplined husband will when he brings muddy boots to the kitchen door.
The operation was evidently quite unconnected with hesitation in view of
my presence, but in some way was preparatory to her sinking carefully
into the feather-lined pit before her. When she first covered the eggs,
also, there was a great fuss made in settling, as tho to free her
feathers from the engaging edges of the nest. When the bird is well down
upon her eggs there is nothing visible but the top of her head and the
tip of her tail.

The male bird, meanwhile, is not indifferent. First he bustles up onto
the nesting branch and flashes his fiery crest in plain token of anger,
but later he is content to squeak disapproval from a position more
removed.

While the mother bird is sitting, the male tends her faithfully, but he
spends his spare moments, according to Mr. Bowles, in constructing “cock
nests,” or decoys, in the neighboring trees. These seem to serve no
purpose beyond that of a nervous relief to the impatient father, and are
seldom as carefully constructed as the veritable domus.

     [Illustration: _Taken near Tacoma._    _Photo by the Authors._
                           NID-NID-NODDING.]

When the young of the first brood are hatched and ready to fly, the
chief care of them falls to the father, while the female prepares for a
second nesting. As to the further domestic relations one cannot speak
with certainty, but it would seem at least possible that fall bird
troops consist of the combined families of Mr. and Mrs. Quiverful.

As to the time of home-making, the Ringlets are not very particular. Nor
is it necessary that they should be. It is always spring here after the
first of February. Besides that, a fir tree is both forest and
store-house at any season. In the vicinity of Tacoma, the usual nesting
time is the last week in April for the first set, and the second week in
June for the second. The earliest record is April 9th, that of a nest
containing half-grown young. The first egg of this set must, therefore,
have been deposited about March 15th.

So far as we can make out, this bird is strictly resident in western
Washington, but it is much less common on the east side of the Cascades,
and is there largely migratory. Not only does the species retire in
winter from the mountains to the lower foot-hills, but considerable
numbers pass over the State to and from British Columbia. At such times
they appear wherever timber or watered shrubbery is to be found. With
manners so engaging and lives so sheltered, to say nothing of families
so blessed in the yearly increase, is it any wonder that the gentle
tribe of _Regulus_ prevails thruout the giant forests of this western
slope, and spills over in blessing wherever trees abound?


                                No. 104.
                         RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET.

  A. O. U. No. 749. Regulus calendula (Linn.).

  Description.—_Adult male_: Above olive-green, duller anteriorly,
  brightening to greenish yellow on edgings of quills and tail-feathers;
  a partly concealed crest of scarlet (flame-scarlet to
  scarlet-vermilion); two narrow, whitish wing-bars formed by tips of
  middle and greater coverts; some whitish edging on tertials; a dusky
  interval separating greenish yellow edges on outer webs of
  secondaries; a whitish eye-ring and whitish skirtings around base of
  bill; under parts soiled white, heavily tinged with buffy and
  olivaceous buff. _Adult female and immature_: Similar but without
  crown-patch. Length 4.00-4.50 (101.6-114.3); wing 2.33 (59.2); tail
  1.72 (43.7); bill from nostril .25 (6.4).

  Recognition Marks.—Pygmy size; scarlet crest distinctive. Note
  wing-bars and whitish eye-ring of female and young. Lighter than _R.
  c. grinnelli._

  Nesting.—_Nest_: a ball of moss, lichens, etc., bound together with
  cobwebs, and lashed to drooping twigs beneath branch of conifer, lined
  with vegetable-down, catkins, hair, and feathers, and placed at
  moderate heights. _Eggs_: 5-9, dull white, or pale buffy, faintly or
  sharply but sparingly speckled with reddish brown, chiefly about
  larger end. Av. size, .55 × .43 (14 × 10.9). _Season_: June; one
  brood(?).

  General Range.—North America at large in wooded districts, north to
  limit of trees, west to northwestern Alaska (Kowak River), breeding
  chiefly north of the United States, and irregularly in the higher
  ranges of the West.

  Range in Washington.—Common spring and fall migrant; summer resident
  in northeastern portion of State only(?).

  Migrations.—_Spring_: April, May. _Fall_: October.

  Authorities.—Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R. Surv. IX. pt. II. 1858, p. 227.
  (T.) C&S. L¹. Rh.(?) D¹. Sr. Ra. D². Kk. J. E.

  Specimens.—U. of W. P¹. Prov. B. BN. E.

  “Where’s your kingdom, little king?
  Where’s the land you call your own?
  Where’s your palace and your throne?
  Fluttering lightly on the wing
  Thru the blossom world of May
  Whither lies your royal way?
  Where’s the realm that owns your sway,
              Little King?”

Dr. Henry Van Dyke is the questioner, and the little bird has a ready
answer for him. Being an Easterner, it is “Labrador” in May, and

  “Where the cypress’ vivid green
  And the dark magnolia’s sheen
  Weave a shelter round my home”

in October. But under the incitement of the poet’s playful banter, the
Kinglet enlarges his claim:

  “Never king by right divine
  Ruled a richer realm than mine!
  What are lands and golden crowns,
  Armies, fortresses and towns,
  Jewels, scepters, robes and rings,
  What are these to song and wings?
  Everywhere that I can fly
  There I own the earth and sky:
  Everywhere that I can sing
  There I’m happy as a king.”

And surely there is no one who can meet this dainty monarch in one of
his happy moods without paying instant homage. His _imperium_ is that of
the spirit, and those who boast a soul above the clod must swear fealty
to this most delicate expression of the creative Infinite, this thought
of God made luminous and vocal, and own him king by right divine.

It seems only yesterday I saw him, Easter Day in old Ohio. The
significant dawn was struggling with great masses of heaped-up
clouds,—the incredulities and fears of the world’s night; but now and
again the invincible sun found some tiny rift and poured a flood of
tender gold upon a favored spot where stood some solitary tree or
expectant sylvan company. Along the river bank all was still. There were
no signs of spring, save for the modest springing violet and the pious
buckeye, shaking its late-prisoned fronds to the morning air, and
tardily setting in order its manifold array of Easter candles. The oak
trees were gray and hushed, and the swamp elms held their peace until
the fortunes of the morning should be decided. Suddenly from down the
river path there came a tiny burst of angel music, the peerless song of
the Ruby-crown. Pure, ethereal, without hint of earthly dross or
sadness, came those limpid welling notes, the sweetest and the gladdest
ever sung—at least by those who have not suffered. It was not indeed the
greeting of the earth to the risen Lord, but rather the annunciation of
the glorious fact by heaven’s own appointed herald.

The Ruby-crowned Kinglet has something of the nervousness and vivacity
of the typical wren. It moves restlessly from twig to twig, flirting its
wings with a motion too quick for the eyes to follow, and frequently
uttering a titter of alarm, _chit-tit_ or _chit-it-it_. During
migrations the birds swarm thru the tree-tops like Warblers, but are
often found singly or in small companies in thickets or open clusters of
saplings. In such situations they exhibit more or less curiosity, and if
one keeps reasonably still he is almost sure to be inspected from a
distance not exceeding four or five feet. It is here too that the males
are found singing in spring. The bird often begins _sotto voce_ with two
or three high squeaks as tho trying to get the pitch down to the range
of mortal ears before he gives his full voice. The core of the song is
something like _tew, tew, tew, tew, titooreet′, titooreet′_, the last
phrases being given with a rising inflection, and with an accent of
ravishing sweetness. The tones are so pure that they may readily be
whistled by the human listener, and a musical contest provoked in which
one is glad to come out second best.

Having heard only the preparatory spring song for years, it was a matter
of considerable rejoicing to come upon the birds at home in Stevens
County. They were especially common in the neighborhood of Newport, and
they sang incessantly, and loudly from the depths of the giant larches,
which abound there. It appears that the full-fledged breeding song is
quite different from the delicate migratory carol. The preliminary notes
are of much the same quality, but instead of accenting the final
syllable of the _titooreet_ phrase, and repeating this, the phrase is
given only once, with a sort of tittering, tremolo effect, and the
emphasis is thrown upon a series of strong, sharp terminal notes, four
or five in number, and of a uniform character—the whole somewhat as
follows: _tew tew tew tew titteretteretter reet, cheep′ cheep′ cheep′
cheep′_. These emphatic notes are also rendered in a detached form at
occasional intervals, usually after the entire song has been rehearsed;
and they are so loud at all times as to be heard at a distance of half a
mile. One individual began his song with an elaborate preliminary run of
high-pitched, whining notes of a fineness almost beyond human
cognizance; then effected a descent by a _kititew_ note to the tew tew
tew series. In his case, also, the emphatic closing notes had a
distinctly double character, as _cheépy, cheépy, cheépy_.

We ransacked the Newport woods day after day with feverish eagerness,
allured and goaded by the music, but filled also with that strange fire
of oölogical madness which will lead its possessor to bridge chasms,
dangle over precipices, brave the billows of the sea, battle with eagles
on the heights, or crawl on hands and knees all over a forty-acre field.
The quest was well-nigh hopeless, for the woods were dense and the
tamaracks were heavily draped in brown moss, “Spanish beards,” with a
thousand possibilities of hidden nests to a single tree. June the First
was to be the last day of our stay, and it opened up with a dense fog
emanating from the Pend d’Oreille River hard-by. Nevertheless, six
o’clock found us ogling thru the mists on the crest of a wooded hill. A
Ruby-crown was humming fragmentary snatches of song, and I put the
glasses on him. I was watching the flitting sprite with languid interest
when Jack exclaimed petulantly, “Now, why won’t that bird visit his
nest?” “He did,” I replied, lowering the binoculars. The bird in
flitting about had paused but an instant near the end of a small fir
branch about thirty-five feet up in a sixty-foot tree, springing from
the hillside below. There was nothing in the movement nor in the length
of time spent to excite suspicion, but it had served to reveal thru the
glasses a thickening of the drooping foliage, clearly noticeable as it
lay outlined against the fog.

We returned at ten o’clock and the first strokes of the hand-ax, as the
lowermost spike bit into the live wood, sent the female flying from the
nest into a neighboring tree. As the ascent was made spike by spike, she
uttered a rapid complaint, composed of notes similar to the prefatory
notes of the male’s song; but during my entire stay aloft she did not
venture back into the nesting tree, nor did the male once put in an
appearance. The nest was only five and a half feet out from the tree
trunk, and the containing branch an inch in thickness at the base.
Hence, it was not a difficult, albeit an anxious, task to support the
limb midway with one hand and to sever it with a pocket-knife held in
the other, then to haul it in slowly.

The nest was composed largely of the drooping brown moss, so common in
this region as to be almost a necessity, yet contrasting strongly with
the clean bright green of the young fir tree. But, even so, it was so
thoroly concealed by the draping foliage that its presence would have
escaped notice from any attainable standpoint, save for the mere
density,—a shade thicker than elsewhere. At first sight one is tempted
to call it a moss-ball, but close examination shows it to be rather an
assemblage of all sorts of soft substances, vegetable downs, cottons
from the pussy willows and cottonwood trees, weathered aments, hair,
fine grass (in abundance), with occasional strange inclusions, such as
spider-egg cases, dried flower-stalks, and the like. The lining is
exclusively of feathers, those from the breast of the Robin being most
in evidence. A few of these curled up from under the neatly turned brim,
so as to partly conceal the contents; but only a little effort was
required to obtain a perfect view of the eggs from above.

 [Illustration: _Taken near Newport._    _Photo by Dawson and Bowles._
                           RUBY’S BASKETFUL.]

I counted the glowing pile, slowly, calmly, as a miser counts his gold
when the bolts are shot—twice to make sure—one, two, three, * * *
_nine_, the last one being thrown in on top of the heap for good
measure.

The eggs were marvelously fresh, insomuch that in blowing them Mr.
Bowles coaxed seven of the nine yolks out unbroken thru the mere
needle-holes in the shell which he counts a sufficient exit. In color
they were pure white, flushed with the peculiar ruddy of fresh eggs
having semi-transparent shells, with a pale broad band of brownish dust
about the larger ends (the smaller one in one case).

When I had descended,—singing and whistling right merrily snatches of
songs once popular, “Sweet Marie,” and the like, for my spirits were
uncommon high,—the mother-bird returned to the nesting tree and haunted
the site of the ruined home persistently. First she peered down from the
branch above; then she dropped down to the branch below, and craned her
head, sorely perplexed. She lighted upon the white stump of the severed
limb and examined it confusedly, then she fluttered in midair precisely
where the nest ought to have been, and dropped to the limb below again
in despair. This mystified quest she repeated over and over again until
it wrung the hearts of the beholders. Well, well; we are inconsistent
creatures, we humans. And somehow the comfortable philosophy of the
bird-nester fails at these critical points.


                                No. 105.
                            SITKAN KINGLET.

  A. O. U. No. 749 a. Regulus calendula grinnelli Palmer.

  Synonyms.—Alaskan Kinglet. Sitka Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Grinnell’s
  Kinglet.

  Description.—Like preceding but of much darker coloration,—a
  “saturated” form; also wing somewhat shorter, bill larger, etc. Av.
  measurements of male[44]: wing 2.23 (56.6); tail 1.69 (42.9); bill .34
  (8.7); tarsus .72 (18.1).

  Recognition Marks.—Of strikingly darker coloration than _R.
  calendula_—supposed to be the exclusive form in winter.

  Nesting.—As preceding. Does not breed in Washington.

  General Range.—Pacific Coast district breeding from British Columbia
  to head of Lynn Canal and Yakutat Bay, Alaska; south in winter (at
  least) to middle California.

  Range in Washington.—Early spring and late fall migrant, common winter
  resident on Puget Sound.

  Authorities.—_? Regulus calendula_, Licht. _Cooper and Suckley_, Rep.
  Pac. R. R. Surv. XII. pt. II. 1860, p. 174 (Winter resident on Puget
  Sound). Bowles, Auk, Vol. XXIII. Apr. 1906, p. 148.

  Specimens.—B. E. P(A).

So far as our somewhat scanty observation goes, this would appear to be
the prevailing form in the earlier spring migrations, and the only one
found in winter upon Puget Sound. Thus, while the lighter-colored birds,
which summer in our mountains and in British Columbia, are enjoying
sunshine in Mexico, this Alaskan coast dweller is re-dyeing his plumage
under the dull skies of the Pacific watershed.

The Sitkan Kinglet is not abundant in winter, altho it enjoys a general
distribution. It does not associate in flocks of its own kind to any
large extent, but oftener two or three individuals join themselves to
winter bird troops consisting of Chickadees, Seattle Wrens, Western
Golden-crowned Kinglets, Puget Sound Bush-Tits, etc. At such times it is
noticeable that they keep largely to the lower levels, for they hunt and
titter among the spiræa thickets, salal bushes, logs and evergreen
saplings, while their cousins only occasionally venture within five or
ten feet of the ground, and range from there to the tops of the tallest
firs.

The notes, too, of the Sitkan Kinglet are low-pitched and explosive, as
compared with the fairy sibilations of the Golden-crowns. The
neighborhood of “Seattle” Wrens and Western Winter Wrens will serve also
to throw a certain wren-like quality of the Alaskan’s note into fine
relief.



                          _Paridæ_—The Titmice


                                No. 106.
                               CHICKADEE.

  A. O. U. No. 735. Penthestes atricapillus (Linn.).

  Synonyms.—Black-capped Chickadee. Black-capped Titmouse.

  Description.—_Adult_: Top of head and nape shining black; throat dead
  black with whitish skirting posteriorly; a white band on side of head
  and neck, increasing in width behind; back and scapulars gray with an
  olivaceous cast and more or less admixture of buffy at the edges and
  as skirting; wings and tail dusky, more or less edged, especially on
  greater coverts and tertials, with ashy or whitish; breast and belly
  white; sides, flanks and crissum washed with buffy or light rusty
  (nearly whitish in summer); bill and feet dark. Rather variable in
  size; one adult specimen measures: wing 2.27 (57.7); tail 2.10 (53.3);
  bill .34 (8.6). Another: wing 2.70 (68.6); tail 2.57 (65.3) bill .38
  (9.7). Length, 4.75-5.75 (120.6-146.1); average of eight specimens of
  medium size: wing 2.60 (66); tail 2.44 (62); bill .36 (9.1).

  Recognition Marks.—Warbler size; of lighter coloration but not
  certainly distinguishable afield from _P. a. occidentalis_ (q. v.).

  Nesting.—_Nest_: a heavy mat of moss, grasses, and plant-down, lined
  with rabbits’ fur, wool, hair, or feathers, in made hole or natural
  cavity of stump or tree, usually not over ten feet from the ground,
  and near water. _Eggs_: 5-8, white, marked sparingly with reddish
  brown, in small spots, tending to gather about larger end. Av. size,
  .58 × .47 (14.7 × 11.9). _Season_: April 15-May 15; one brood.

  General Range.—Eastern North America north of the Potomac and Ohio
  Valleys. “A separate ‘colony’ inhabits the area between the Rocky
  Mountains and the Cascade Range, in eastern Washington (Walla Walla,
  Ellensburg, etc.), western Idaho (Lemi, Fort Sherman, etc.), and
  central British Columbia (Sicamores [Sicamoos], Clinton, Ashcroft,
  etc.).[45]”—Ridgway.

  Range in Washington.—As above.

  Authorities.—_P. a. occidentalis_ Brewster, B. N. O. C. VII. 1882, 228
  (Walla Walla). J. If this colony proves to be completely isolated, as
  claimed, the bird should, perhaps, be separately named, and I would
  suggest _Penthestes atricapillus_ fortuitus.

  Specimens.—B. P¹.

The Chickadees of eastern Washington, east of the Cascade foothills,
along with those of northeastern Oregon, western Idaho, and southwestern
British Columbia, are notably larger and brighter than _P. a.
occidentalis_. In these and other regards they exactly reproduce the
characters of _P. atricapillus_, which is a bird of the eastern United
States, and from which they are widely separated by _P. a.
septentrionalis_. Now Chickadees are resident wherever found. The most
severe winters do not suffice to drive them south, and they are
subjected to such uniform conditions as tend to insure stability of
type, once adjustment to local environment is accomplished. We have
here, therefore, either an example of a colony widely separated from the
parent stock, and remaining inflexible under alien conditions, or else
an indistinguishable reduplication of another form not closely related
in time thru the interaction of similar conditions. If the latter
supposition be the true one, and it probably is, we have in this bird a
theoretical sub-species, but one which we cannot describe or distinguish
in other than geographical terms.

The case is somewhat similar with our Nighthawks (_C. virginianus
subsp._) and Sparrow Hawks (_Falco sparverius subsp._), but the problem
in these instances is further complicated by the opportunities of
migration.


                                No. 107.
                           OREGON CHICKADEE.

  A. O. U. No. 735b. Penthestes atricapillus occidentalis (Baird).

  Synonym.—Western Black-capped Chickadee.

  Description.—_Adults_: Similar to _P. atricapillus_ but smaller and
  coloration much darker; whitish edging on wings and tail much reduced
  in area; “back varying from deep mouse-gray or very slight buffy
  slate-gray in spring and summer to deep hair-brown or light olive in
  fall and winter plumage”; sides and flanks pale buffy in spring,
  strong brownish buff or pale wood-brown in fall plumage. Length
  4.50-5.25 (114.3-133.3); wing 2.44 (62); tail 2.20 (56); bill .37
  (9.5); tarsus .66 (16.8).

  Recognition Marks.—Warbler size; no white stripe over eye as
  distinguished from _P. gambeli_; back gray as distinguished from _P.
  rufescens_.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: as in _P. atricapillus_, usually placed low in stump
  of deciduous tree. _Eggs_: as in foregoing. _Season_: April 15-May 15;
  one brood.

  General Range.—Pacific Coast district from northern California to
  British Columbia (Port Moody).

  Range in Washington.—Resident west of Cascades; characteristic of wet
  lowlands and borders of streams; intergrades with _typicus_ on east
  slopes of Cascade Range.

  Authorities.—_Parus occidentalis_ Baird, Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R. Surv.
  IX. pt. II. 1858, p. 391. (T.) C&S. Rh. D¹. Kb. Ra. D². ? Ss¹. ? Ss².
  Kk. B. E.

  Specimens.—U. of W. P¹. Prov. B. E.

Chickadees abound in Washington; and, because for the life of you you
cannot surely tell whose notes you hear, there is a perennial necessity
for levelling the glasses to make sure which is passing, Oregon or the
Chestnut-backed. There are differences—Oh, bless you, yes—but then you
always want to make certain, if only to pat yourself on the back and
say, when you happen to have guessed correctly, “There, I knew it was an
Oregon; I can always tell by its squeak.”

Chickadees are friendly little folk (and this remark applies,
irrespective of species), so that wherever they go, except in the busy
nesting season, they form the nucleus of a merry band, Western
Golden-crowned Kinglets, Sitkan Kinglets, Creepers, Juncoes, Towhees
maybe, and a Seattle Wren or two to guard the terrestrial passage, and
to furnish sport for the federated fairies. The Chickadees are
undisputed leaders, tho their name be legion. While they remain aloft we
may mistake their dainty squeakings and minikin ways for those of
Kinglets, but if we can only determine what direction the flock is
pursuing, we may count on the vanguard’s being composed of these
sprightly, saucy little Black-caps.

Chickadee refuses to look down for long upon the world; or, indeed, to
look at any one thing from any one direction for more than two
consecutive twelfths of a second. “Any old side up without care,” is the
label he bears; and so with anything he meets, be it a pine-cone, an
alder catkin, or a bug-bearing branchlet, topside, bottomside, inside,
outside, all is right side to the nimble Chickadee. Faith! their little
brains must have special guy-ropes and stays, else they would have been
spilled long ago, the way their owners frisk about. Blind-man’s buff,
hide-and-seek, and tag are merry games enough when played out on one
plane, but when staged in three dimensions, with a labyrinth of
interlacing branches for hazard, only the blithe bird whose praises we
sing could possibly master their intricacies.

      [Illustration: _Taken near Tacoma_    _Photo by the Author._
                   NEST AND EGGS OF OREGON CHICKADEE.
       THE FRONT WALL OF THE CONTAINING STUMP HAS BEEN REMOVED.]

But Chickadee is as confiding and as confidence-inviting as he is
capable. It is precisely because you babble all your secrets to him at
the first breath that the whole wood-side comes to him for news. With
the fatuity of utter trust he will interrogate the fiercest-looking
stranger; and the sound of the “_sweetee_” call is the signal for all
birds to be alert. At the repetition of it the leaves begin to rustle,
the moss to sigh, and the log-heaps to give up their hidden store of
sleepy Wrens, bashful Sparrows, and frowning Towhees. Juncoes simper and
Kinglets squeak over the strange discovery; the Steller Jay takes notice
and sidles over to spy upon the performance; while the distant-faring
Crow swerves from his course and bends an inquiring eye toward the
mystery. _Dee-dee-dee_ says the Black-cap. A hundred beady eyes are bent
upon you, trying to resolve your domino of corduroy or khaki. _Caw_ says
the Crow in comprehension, and you know that the game is up,—up for all
but the Chickadee. He will stay and talk with you as long as you may
endure to pucker your lips to his fairy lispings.

It is no exaggeration to say that the “_Swee-tee_” note of the
Chickadee, passably imitated, is the quickest summons in the bird-world.
It is the open sesame to all woodland secrets. One drawback, however,
attends its use: you cannot compass it when the air is chilly and the
lips thick. Now, the eastern bird, (_P. atricapillus_) has a clear,
high-pitched call-note, _Swee-tee_, or _Swee-tee tee_ [Illustration:
music] or [Illustration: music] which must be taken as the type of this
genus and the calls of the western bird are best understood by reference
to this norm. In the song of _occidentalis_ the first note of the type,
“high C,” is oftenest repeated three or four times, and has a double
character impossible to represent on paper; while the whole ends, or
not, with the lower note of _atricapillus_. These notes may be called
the _deo deo deo day_ series. In rare instances they become a ravishing
trill on high C, beyond imitation or analysis.

     [Illustration: _Taken in Oregon._    _Photo by W. L. Finley._
                          LADEN WITH DAINTIES.
                      OREGON CHICKADEE NEAR NEST.]

For the rest, Chickadee’s notes divide themselves into squeaks, vocal
notes, and whistles. Of the squeaks one is a very high-pitched, whining
note, which closely resembles the keep-in-touch, or flocking, cry of the
Western Golden-crowned Kinglet. The Chickadees employ this when in
company with Kinglets, or while ranging thru the tree-tops when no other
sound is audible in the woods. Then there is a regular squeaking trill
which is oftenest preliminary to the familiar _dee dee dee dee dee_
(spoken) notes, but which sometimes appears alone, as by suspension or
change of intent.

Of the whistled series the commonest are, first, a clearly rendered
_kuswee_, not unlike the “Sweetee” theme, but of lower pitch and more
trivial character; and, second the _deo deo deo day_ series, already
recorded. There is a striking resemblance between the whistled and the
spoken series. The _day day_ words correspond to the _deo deo_ whistles,
altho they are oftenest preceded by a fairy sneeze, which we have
conventionalized in “Chick”; and there is a spoken, or rather lisped,
_kuswee_, which is very charming and delicate. A spoken trill occurs
infrequently, and offers its analogy to both whistle and squeak.

These may seem like fine-spun distinctions. They are offered only to be
forgotten; but the enjoyment of the next Chickadee troop you encounter
will be enhanced by an effort to realize the striking variety of the
notes heard.

Contrary to the wont of most hole-nesting birds, the Chickadee believes
in warm blankets. Into the chosen cavity, whether natural or artificial,
the birds lug immense quantities of moss, wool, hair, or rabbits’ fur,
until the place is half filled; and the sitting bird, during the chilly
days of late April and early May, is snug and warm.

  [Illustration: _Taken in Oregon._    _Photo by Bohlman and Finley._
                              A TIGHT FIT.
              YOUNG OREGON CHICKADEE EMERGING FROM NEST.]

Ordinarily, a hole is dug by the birds in a rotten stub at a height of
two or three feet. The near presence of water is a prime requisite, and
a low swampy woods is the favorite location. Sometimes a deserted nest
of a Gairdner Woodpecker may be used; but, on the other hand,
excavations may be made in green wood at no little cost of exertion on
the part of the midgets. Several nests I have seen in willow and poplar
trees, and at a height of fifteen or twenty feet.

Young Chickadees are such cunning little creatures that the temptation
to fondle them is sometimes irresistible. The parents may have very
decided views as to the propriety of such action, or they may regard you
as some benevolent giant whose ways are above suspicion. Not
infrequently, if the young are kindly treated, the parent bird will
venture upon the hand or shoulder to pursue its necessary offices.


                                No. 108.
                          MOUNTAIN CHICKADEE.

  A. O. U. No. 738. Penthestes gambeli (Ridgway).

  Description.—_Adults in spring and summer_: Somewhat as in _P.
  atricapillus_, head and throat similar but black interrupted by strong
  white superciliary stripe nearly or quite meeting fellow on forehead;
  upperparts plain deep ashy gray, or mouse-gray; wings and tail deeper
  gray with some pale grayish edging; sides of head and neck white;
  underparts (except throat) dull white more or less washed on sides,
  flanks, and under tail-coverts with gray. _Adults in fall and winter_:
  Upperparts washed with buffy; brownish on sides; some white edging on
  forehead and superciliary stripe broader. _Young_ birds are duller as
  to black of head and neck, and have a less distinct superciliary.
  Length about 5.00 (127); wing 2.75 (70); tail 2.35 (60); bill .40
  (10.2); tarsus .70 (18).

  Recognition Marks.—Warbler size; much like Oregon Chickadee, but white
  superciliary distinctive; range higher (on the average) than other
  species.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: quite as in _atricapillus_ and similarly situated.
  _Eggs_: 5-8, _pure white_, or only faintly marked with reddish brown.
  Av. size, .60 × .45 (15.2 × 11.4). _Season_: May; one brood.

  General Range.—Mountains of western United States from the Rockies to
  the Pacific Coast; north to British Columbia (chiefly east of the
  Cascades); south to northern Lower California.

  Range in Washington.—Resident in the mountains and timbered foothills,
  chiefly east of the (Cascade) divide; casual at Seattle.

  Authorities.—[“Mountain Chickadee” Johnson, Rep. Gov. W. T. 1884
  (885), p. 22.] [_Parus montanus_, Gambel, Cooper and Suckley, Rep.
  Pac. R. R. Surv. XII. 1860, p. 194. “Fort Dalles” (Baird, “Fort
  Dalles, Oregon”). Not a valid Washington record.] _Parus gambeli_
  Lawrence, Auk, Vol. IX. Jan. 1892, p. 47. C&S. L¹. D¹. D². J.

  Specimens.—U. of W. Prov. C.

It is either accident or the methodical habit of scrutinizing every
passing bird which first reveals to you the Mountain Chickadee. He is
quite similar in general appearance and conduct to the foregoing
species, altho the white superciliary line does confer a little air of
distinction when you look closely. His notes, so far as observed, are
not different; and he exhibits the cheerful confiding nature which makes
the name of Chickadee beloved.

_Gambeli_ is a bird of the foothills as well as of the mountains, and is
confined almost exclusively to the East-side. I have not seen it on
Puget Sound; but a dead bird was once brought by one of the school
children to Miss A. L. Pollock, of Seattle.

Both of the nests which have come under my observation have been placed
in decayed stumps not above three feet from the ground. One, in a wild
cherry stub in northern Okanogan County, contained fresh eggs on the
18th day of May. Their color had been pure white, but they were much
soiled thru contact with the miscellaneous stuff which made up the
lining of the cavity: moss, cow-hair, rabbits’ wool, wild ducks’ down,
hawks’ casts, etc. The birds were not especially solicitous, altho once
the female flew almost in my face as I was preparing the eggs for the
cabinet. And then she sat quietly for several minutes on a twig not
above a foot from my eyes.

On Senator Turner’s grounds in Spokane—by permission—we came upon a
nestful of well-grown young, on the 5th of June, 1906. The nest was two
feet up in a stump, concealed by a clump of second-growth maples,
picturesquely nestled at the base of a volcanic knob. Upon first
discovery the parent birds both appeared with bills full of larvæ, and
scolded daintily. Finally, after several feints, one entered the nesting
hole and fed, with our eyes not two feet removed. Photography was
impossible because of the subdued light, but it was an unfailing source
of interest to see the busy parents hurrying to and fro and bringing
incredible quantities of provisions in the shape of moths’ eggs,
spiders, wood-boring grubs, and winged creatures of a hundred sorts.
Evidently the gardener knew what he was about in sheltering these unpaid
assistants. Why, when it comes to horticulture, three pairs of
Chickadees are equal to one Scotchman any day.

The young were fully fledged, and the irrepressible of the flock (there
is always an irrepressible) spent a good deal of time at the entrance
shifting upon his toes, and wishing he dared venture out. The old birds
fed incessantly, usually alighting upon the bark at one side of the hole
and debating for a moment before plunging into the wooden cavern, whence
issued a chorus of childish entreaties.

The next morning our Chickadees had all flown, and upon breaking into
the abandoned home we found a nest chamber some six inches in diameter,
with its original warm lining mingled with fallen punk and trodden into
an indistinguishable mass by the restless feet of the chick Chickadees.
A special feature of the interior construction was a knot, which had
persisted as a hard core when the surrounding punk had been removed.
This had evidently been no end of amusement to the young birds and of
service to the parents as well, for its surface was polished by the
friction of many Penthestine toes.


                                No. 109.
                       CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEE.

  A. O. U. No. 741. Penthestes rufescens Towns.

  Description.—_Adults_: Crown and nape dull sepia brown becoming sooty
  toward lateral border—black before and behind eye, separated from
  sooty black throat patch by large white area broadening posteriorly on
  sides of neck; back, scapulars, rump, and sides of body rich chestnut;
  lesser wing-coverts grayish brown; upper tail-coverts hair-brown or
  more or less tinged with chestnut; wings and tail deeper grayish brown
  edged with paler gray; remaining underparts (centrally) white; under
  tail-coverts washed with brownish; bill black; feet brownish dusky;
  iris brown. The brown of crown and hind-neck deepens in winter.
  _Young_ birds are duller in coloration, especially as to the chestnut
  of back and sides. Length about 4.75 (120.6); wing 2.35 (60); tail
  1.90 (48.3); bill .37 (9.5); tarsus .65 (16.5).

  Recognition Marks.—Pygmy size; chestnut of _back_ and sides
  distinctive—otherwise not easily distinguished in the tree-tops from
  _P. a. occidentalis_. Frequents thicker timber and, usually, drier
  situations.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: in hole of dead stub, usually some natural cavity
  enlarged and customarily at moderate heights, 10-20 feet, a couch of
  fine bark-shreds, green moss, etc., heavily felted with squirrel-,
  rabbit-, or cow-hair, and other soft substances. _Eggs_: 7-9, pure
  white as to ground and sparingly sprinkled with reddish brown dots,
  chiefly about larger end. Av. size, .61 × .47 (15.5 × 11.9). _Season_:
  April 25-June 15 (according to altitude); one brood.

  General Range.—Pacific Coast district, from northern California to
  Alaska (Prince William Sound and head of Lynn Canal), east to Montana.

  Range in Washington.—Resident; abundant and thoroly distributed thru
  forests of Olympic Peninsula and Puget Sound region, decreasing in
  numbers from Cascade divide eastward (in heavier coniferous timber
  only). (We have no records of its occurrence east of Stehekin.)

  Authorities.—_Parus rufescens_ Townsend, Journ. Ac. Nat. Sci. Phila.
  VII. 1837, 190. T. C&S. L¹. Rh. Kb. Ra. B. E.

  Specimens.—U. of W. P. Prov. B. E.

What busy little midgets these are as they go trooping thru the
tree-tops intent on plunder! And what a merry war they wage on beetle
and nit as they scrutinize every crevice of bark and bract! The bird
eats insects at all times of year, but his staple diet is formed by the
eggs and larvæ of insects. These are found tucked away in woody
crannies, or else grouped on the under surface of smaller limbs and
persistent leaves, as of oak or madrone.

On this account the Chickadee must frequently hang head downward; and
this he does very gracefully, using his tail to balance with, much as a
boy uses his legs in hanging from a “turning pole,” swinging to and fro
as tho he thoroly enjoyed it.

If possible, the Chestnut-backed Chickadee is a little more delicately
moulded and more fay-like in demeanor than its gray-backed cousin, the
Oregon Chickadee. Unlike the latter, it is found commonly in the densest
fir woods. It is found, also, in the oak groves of the prairie country;
and, in general, it may be said to prefer dry situations. No hard and
fast lines can be drawn, however, in the distribution of the two
species. In many sections they mingle freely, and are equally abundant.
In others, either may be quite unaccountably absent.

As nearly as we have made out to date, the commoner notes of the
Chestnut-backed Chickadee closely simulate those of the Oregon. The
_sweetee_ call is either indistinguishable or a mere shade smaller. The
sneezing note becomes more distinct as _kechézawick_; and “_Chickadee_”
becomes _kissadee_, the latter given so caressingly that you want to
pinch the little darling. The Chestnut-backed Chickadee has a really
truly song, but it is anything rather than musical. When the emotion of
April is no longer controllable, the minikin swain mounts a fir limb and
raps out a series of notes as monotonous as those of a Chipping Sparrow.
The trial is shorter and the movements less rapid, so that the half
dozen notes of a uniform character have more individual distinctness
than, say, in the case of the Sparrow: _Chick chick chick chick chick
chick_. Another performer may give each note a double character so that
the whole may sound like the snipping of a barber’s shears: _Chulip
chulip chulip chulip chulip_.

Mr. Bowles finds that in beginning a nesting cavity this bird almost
always avails itself of some natural advantage, as a place from which a
bit of wood has been torn away, or a hole made by a grub of one of the
larger Cerambycid beetles. On this account the bird enjoys a wider range
of choice in nesting sites than _atricapillus_. Fir or oak stubs are
oftenest chosen, and moderate heights are the rule; but I have seen
birds go in and out of a nesting hole at an elevation of eighty feet.

Every furred creature of the woods may be asked to contribute to the
furnishing of Chickadee’s home. Upon a mattress of fur and hair the bird
lays from seven to nine eggs, white as to ground color, and sparingly
dotted with pale rufous. Chickadees are close sitters and must sometimes
be taken from the eggs. They have, moreover, a unique method of defense,
for when an eye appears at the entrance, the bird bristles up and hisses
in a very snake-like fashion. This is too much for the nerves of a
Chipmunk, and we guess that the single brood of a Chickadee is not often
disturbed.

               [Illustration: CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEE.]


                                No. 110.
                               BUSH-TIT.

  A. O. U. No. 743. Psaltriparus minimus (Towns.).

  Synonyms.—Least Bush-tit. Puget Sound Bush-tit. Pacific Bush-Tit.

  Description.—_Adults_: Crown and hindneck warm brown abruptly
  contrasting with dull leaden or mouse gray hue of remaining
  upperparts; wings and tail slaty edged with pale gray; sides of head
  like crown but duller and paler; underparts sordid brownish white
  deepening into dull drab on sides and flanks. Length about 4.00 (101);
  wing 1.87 (47.5); tail 2.05 (52); bill .26 (6.9); tarsus .62 (15.8).

  Recognition Marks.—Pygmy size; leaden coloration with brownish cap
  unmistakable.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: a pendulous pouch from six inches to a foot in length
  and three or four inches in diameter, with small entrance hole in side
  near top; an exquisite fabrication of mosses, plant-down and other
  soft vegetable substances bound together by cobwebs and ornamented
  externally with lichens, etc., lined with plant-down and feathers;
  placed at moderate heights in bushes, rarely from ten to twenty feet
  up in fir trees. _Eggs_: 5-8, usually 7, dull white frequently
  discoloring to pale drab during incubation. Av. size .55 × .40 (13.9 ×
  10.2). _Season_: April-July; two or more broods.

  General Range.—Pacific Coast district from Lower California to the
  Fraser River.

  Range in Washington.—Resident west of the Cascades at lower levels,
  rare northerly—perhaps nearly confined to the Puget Sound basin.

  Authorities.—_Parus minimus_, Townsend, Journ. Ac. Nat. Sci. Phila.,
  VII. 1837, 190 (Columbia River). C&S. Ra. Kk. B. E.

  Specimens.—U. of W. Prov. B.

It is an age of specialists. The man who could do anything—after a
fashion—has given place to the man who can do one thing well. And in
this we have but followed Nature’s example. The birds are specialists.
The Loon is a diver; the Cormorant a fisher; the Petrel a mariner, and
so on until we come to Swallows, who are either masons or mining
engineers; and to Catbird and Thrush, who are trained musicians.

The Bush-Tits belong to the builders’ caste. They are specialists in
domestic architecture. The little birds not only enjoy their task; they
have nest-building on the brain. A beautiful home is more than meat to
them. For its successful rearing they are ready to forswear the delights
of foreign travel, and to its embellishment they devote every surplus
energy, even after the children have come.

   [Illustration: _Taken in Tacoma._    _Photo by Dawson and Bowles._
                     NEST OF THE BUSH-TIT IN SITU.]

If there were time it would be interesting to trace the genesis of this
architectural passion. Suffice it to say that the Bush-Tit comes of a
race of builders. They call him Tit, a name shared in common with all
the Chickadees; and Chickadee he is in structure and behavior, in his
absolute indifference to position or balance, in his daintiness and
sprightliness. Now Chickadees, altho they have lost the art of building,
are specialists in nest-lining. (A nest lined with rabbit-fur means as
much to a Chickadee as does a seal-skin jacket to you, my lady!) Hence
the Chickadee strain is not lost upon our subject. The Tit, further,
shows his affinity with the Kinglets in a habit of restlessly flirting
the wings; and the Kinglets, as we know, are master builders. But it is
to the Wrens that the Bush-Tit owes most of all, and especially to the
Tulé Wren, for he has taken the general conception of a completely
enclosed nest and worked it out more daintily. This, by the way, is no
fanciful comparison, for there is a strong strain of Wren blood in
Bush-Tit’s veins.

Nest-building begins on Puget Sound about the middle of March, at a time
when the shrubbery is only beginning to leaf. Early nests, like the one
in our illustration, may be perfectly exposed. Indeed, the birds appear
to be at no pains to effect concealment, but trust to the general
protection afforded by the presence of other such masses, the withered
panicles of “ocean spray” or spiræa, drooping mosses, and collections of
unfallen leaves, in the draperies of the underforest. The pendant pouch
is composed chiefly of moss made fast by vegetable fibres and cob-webs,
and snugly felted with vegetable downs. The lining is composed sometimes
exclusively of white felt, but oftener of plant-down mingled with wool,
fur, or feathers.

Egg-laying may begin as soon as the nest is decently framed, or again,
it may be deferred for a week or ten days after the structure is
practically complete. But, however that may be, the birds never rest
from their labors. A Bush-Tit’s nest is like the Jamestown Fair, never
finished. The nest must be ornamented with lichens, petals, spider-egg
cases, bits of tissue paper,—in short, whatever takes the fancy of the
birds in the course of their restless forays. The interior furnishings,
likewise, must be continually augmented. If the bottom of the nest was
only an inch thick at the outset, it is built up from within until it
attains a thickness of two or three inches. Even tho the eggs be near to
hatching, the thrifty housewife, as she returns from an airing, must
needs lug in a beakful of feathers, which it would have been a shame to
waste, you know. Besides this, the male bird has two or three shanties
under construction in the neighborhood, upon which he can profitably put
in those tedious hours between three a. m. and sunset.

  [Illustration: _Taken in Oregon._    _Photo by Bohlman and Finley._
                               BUSH-TIT.]

The mother Tit lays six or eight pearly white eggs, and these the
Steller Jay counts quite the daintiest item on his bill of fare. Hence,
of all the Bush-Tits’ nests one sees in a season, fully half have been
slit open and robbed by the blue-coated thug. One such tragedy, with its
human interest, is reported for us by Miss Adelaide L. Pollock, the
well-known bird-lover of Seattle, as follows:

“We found the long purse-shaped nest swinging from the lower branches of
a giant red fir July 8th, and every day thereafter for two weeks some
member of our class in ornithology visited the castle in the air. It was
woven with a silken foundation gleaned in the cobwebs of the forest,
lined with the pappus of the willow and the thistle, and chinked with
moss, lichen, and faded hazel blossoms. With an eye to man-fashion, the
architects had papered the home, but only in spots on the outside. What
a delight it was to watch the parent birds light on the doorstep with a
worm and plunge inside. By the wriggling and swaying of the nest we knew
there was something doing there, but we had to guess at the gaping
mouths. July 17th was a dreadful day for the nestlings. We heard the
pitiful notes of birds in distress as we approached and found the nest
was gone. Searching the ground it appeared with a great gaping hole in
one side, which told of the work of jay, crow, or chipmunk. On
investigation a tiny dead bunch of feathers was drawn out; and then
something moved. The nest was tied to a hazel branch and quick as a
thought the parents went in at the front and out at the new back door.
Gaining courage they tried again, this time with food, and within the
hour had apparently forgotten their tragedy and settled down with the
one wee chick. While the parents were foraging we opened the slit and
the way that baby bird turned tail-up and buried its head in the lining
of the nest reminded us of the ostrich.

“July 20th we saw the youngster scramble up the sides of his home to the
doorway, where he perched blinking his round brown eyes at us. He seemed
to enjoy having his throat and back scratched and did not resent our
presence, but his parents did, for the nest was deserted at sundown of
July 22d after a long visit from the class in the afternoon. Yet the
tiny fledgling could scarcely leap from twig to twig of the tangled
undergrowth into which he disappeared. Two days later we fancied we
recognized the same family by a peculiar white iris of one parent bird,
as they flitted from branch to branch of an alder forty feet above the
ground.”



                        _Sittidæ_—The Nuthatches


                                No. 111.
                        SLENDER-BILLED NUTHATCH.

  A. O. U. No. 727 a. Sitta carolinensis aculeata (Cassin).

  Description.—_Adult male_: Top of head, nape and upper boundary of
  back shining black, with a slight greenish reflection; remaining
  upperparts ashy blue; outer wing-quills fuscous, the second and three
  or four succeeding primaries narrowly touched with white on outer web
  in retreating order; inner quills and coverts with much black
  centering; tail feathers, except upper pair, black, the outer pairs
  squarely blotched with white in subterminal to terminal order; sides
  of head, and neck well up, and underparts white with a faint bluish
  tinge; distinctly marked, or washed more or less, on flanks and
  crissum with rusty brown; bill stout, subulate, the under mandible
  slightly recurved,—blackish plumbeous above, lighter at base of lower
  mandible; feet dark brown; iris brown. _Adult female_: similar to
  male, but black of head and back more or less veiled by color of back.
  Length 5.50-6.10 (139.7-154.9); wing 3.43 (87); tail 1.81 (46); bill
  .77 (19.5); tarsus .72 (18.2).

  Recognition Marks.—Warbler to Sparrow size; tree-creeping habits;
  black and ashy blue above; white below.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: a deserted Woodpecker hole, or newly-made cavity in
  stump or tree, usually at a considerable distance from the ground, and
  lined with leaves, feathers, or hair. _Eggs_: 5-8, sometimes 9 or even
  10, white, thickly speckled and spotted with reddish brown and
  lavender. Av. size, .76 × .56 (19.3 × 14.2). _Season_: April, May; one
  brood.

  General Range.—Pacific Coast states and British Columbia (to
  Ashcroft), in the northern portion of its range east of the Cascades.
  Non-migratory.

  Range in Washington.—Resident, of regular occurrence in pine timber
  east of Cascades; rare and local in Puget Sound region.

  Authorities.—? Townsend, Journ. Ac. Nat. Sci. Phila. VIII. 1839, 155
  (Columbia River). _Sitta aculeata_, Cassin, Cooper and Suckley, Rep.
  Pac. R. R. Surv. XII. pt. II. 1860, p. 193. (T.) C&S. Rh. D¹. Ra. J.
  B.

  Specimens.—(U. of W.) Prov. C.

_Who-ew’ o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o_ goes the Macfarlane Screech Owl in broad
daylight. There is an instant hush on the pine-clad hillside—a hush
followed by an excited murmur of inquiry among the scattered members of
a winter bird-troop. If _you_ happen to be the Screech Owl, seated
motionless at the base of some large tree and half obscured in its
shadows, perhaps the first intimation you will have that the search
party is on your trail will be the click, click, click, of tiny claws on
the tree-bole above your head, followed by a quank of interrogation,
almost comical for its mixture of baffled anxiety and dawning suspicion
of the truth. He is an inquisitive fellow, this Nuthatch, for, you see,
prying is his business; but he is brave as well. The chances are that he
will venture down within a foot or two of your face before he flutters
off with a loud outcry of alarm. When excited, as when regarding a
suspicious object, he has an odd fashion of rapidly right-and-left
facing on a horizontal bough, as tho to try both eyes on you and lose no
time between.

Nuthatch is the acknowledged acrobat of the woods—not that he acts for
display; it is all business with him. A tree is a complete gymnasium in
itself, and the bird is master of it all. In all positions, any side up,
this bird is there, fearless, confident; in fact, he rather prefers
traveling head downward, especially on the main trunk route. He pries
under bark-scales and lichens, peers into crevices and explores cavities
in his search for tiny insects, larvæ, and insects’ eggs, especially the
latter. The value of the service which this bird and his associates
perform for the horticulturist is simply incalculable. There should be
as heavy a penalty imposed upon one who wantonly kills a Nuthatch or a
Chickadee, as upon one who enters an enclosure and cuts down an orchard
or a shade tree.

The Nuthatch has a variety of notes, all distinguished by a peculiar
nasal quality. When hunting with the troop he gives an occasional softly
resonant _tut_ or _tut-tut_, as if to remind his fellows that all’s
well. The halloo note is more decided, _tin_, pronounced _à la
francaise_. By means of this note and by using it in combination, they
seem to be able to carry on quite an animated conversation, calling
across from tree to tree. During the mating season, and often at other
times, they have an even more decided and distinctive note, _quonk,
quonk, quonk_, or _ho-onk, ho-onk_, in moderate pitch, and with
deliberation. They have also a sort of trumpeting song, but this is
rarely heard in Washington; and, indeed, all the notes of the
Slender-billed Nuthatch have a softened and subdued character as
compared with those of the eastern bird, typical _S. carolinensis_.

The nest of this Nuthatch is placed in a cavity carefully chiselled out,
usually at a considerable height, in a pine stub, dead fir, or
cottonwood. Both sexes share the labor of excavation, and when the
cavity is somewhat deepened one bird removes the chips while the other
delves. Like all the hole-nesting species of this family, but unlike the
Woodpeckers, the Nuthatches provide for their home an abundant lining of
moss, fur, feathers, and the like. This precaution is justified from the
fact that they are early nesters—complete sets of eggs being found no
later than the second week in April.

The male is a devoted husband and father, feeding the female incessantly
during incubation, and sharing with her in the care of the large family
long after many birds have forgotten their young. The young birds early
learn to creep up to the mouth of the nesting hole to receive food when
their turn comes; and they are said to crawl about the parental tree for
some days before they attempt flight.

The Slender-billed Nuthatch is of rare occurrence west of the Cascades,
being chiefly confined to the wooded edges of the prairies. In the
eastern half of the State it may be rare locally but increases in
abundance in the northeastern section. Wherever found, this bird
associates freely with the related species and is especially fond of the
society of the Pygmies. A winter bird troop encountered near Spokane
included, beside a half dozen Slender-bills, as many Red-breasted
Nuthatches, a score of Pygmies, a dozen Mountain Chickadees, four or
five Batchelder Woodpeckers, a few Clark Nutcrackers, and twenty
Red-shafted Flickers.

Being non-migratory (with the irregular exception of S. canadensis)
Nuthatches are called upon to endure the rigors of a northern climate
with its occasional drop to thirty below; but this does not give them or
their fellows great concern, because of the unfailing character of their
food supply. Beside that, please remember that feathers and fat afford
the warmest protection known.


                                No. 112.
                         RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH.

  A. O. U. No. 728. Sitta canadensis Linn.

  Synonyms.—Red-Bellied Nuthatch. Canadian Nuthatch.

  Description.—_Adult male_: Crown and nape shining black; white
  superciliary lines meeting on extreme forehead; a black band thru eye;
  remaining upperparts grayish blue; wings fuscous, unmarked; tail
  feathers, except upper pair, black; the outer pairs subterminally
  blotched with white in retreating order; chin, and sides of head, and
  neck below the black, pure white; remaining underparts rusty or
  ochraceous brown; bill short, subulate, plumbeous-black; feet dark
  brown. _Adult female_: Similar, but crown like the back, with only
  traces of black beneath; lateral head-stripe blackish; usually paler
  rusty below. _Immature_: Like adult female. Length, 4.25-4.75
  (108-120.6); average of seven specimens: wings 2.61 (66.3); tail 1.43
  (36.3); bill .50 (12.7).

  Recognition Marks.—Pygmy size; black and grayish blue above; rusty
  below; tree-creeping habits.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: of grasses, feathers, etc., in a hole of tree or
  stub, excavated by the bird, usually at lower levels. _Eggs_: 4-6,
  white or creamy white, speckled with reddish brown and lavender.
  Average size, .63 × .48 (16 × 12.2). _Season_: first week in May; one
  brood.

  General Range.—North America at large, breeding from northern New
  England, northern New York, and northern Michigan northward, and
  southward in the Alleghanies, Rocky Mountains, and Sierra Nevada; in
  winter south to about the southern border of the United States.

  Range in Washington.—Common resident and migrant in timbered sections
  thruout the State, more numerous in the mountains; winter residents
  are, possibly, Alaskan birds.

  Authorities.—? Ornithological Committee, Journ. Ac. Nat. Sci. Phila.
  VII. 1837, 193 (Columbia River). Cooper and Suckley, Rep. Pac. R. R.
  Surv. XII. pt. II. 1860, 192. T. C&S. Rh. D¹. Sr. Ra. D². Kk. J. B. E.

  Specimens.—U. of W. P¹. Prov. B.

                 [Illustration: RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH.]

There is nothing big about the Red-breasted Nuthatch save his voice. If
undisturbed, birdikins pursues the even tenor of his ways, like any
other winged bug-hunter; but once provoke his curiosity or arouse
suspicion, and he publishes forthwith a broadside of sensational
editorial matter which no thoughtful reader of the woods can overlook.
The full war-dance song of the Red-breasted Nuthatch, executed, for
instance, when he hears the false notes of the Screech Owl, is something
like this: _Nyăă - - - - - - - nyăă - - - - - - nyăă - - - - - nyăă - -
- - nyăă - - - nyăă - - nyă - nyă - nyă nyă nyă nyă nyă nyă nyă nyă nyă_
and so on, in an incoherent strain of wild excitement, until he runs
clean out of breath and quits, exhausted. The early notes of this orgic
rhapsody are interrogative and penetrating; the succeeding notes are a
sort of trumpeting challenge for the intruder to show himself; failing
which, the irate Creeper drops into a lower, non-resonant series, of
doubtful meaning and more doubtful morals. But the bird is not always
angry, and the nasal call sounding on migration has a friendly quality
about it which brings one hastening out-of-doors to greet the traveler
again. Contrary to an early report, the Red-breast is quite at home in
our deeper forests. Indeed, his is one of the most characteristic voices
of the solemn fir woods. He still claims an interest, however, in
deciduous timber, in bottom lands, and in the oak trees which border the
prairies. In western Washington, it is quite impossible to trace or to
estimate the bird’s migrations, since it is present everywhere at all
seasons; but it is probably much less abundant with us in winter. In
eastern Washington, it is confined for the most part to the region of
pine timber in summer, and altho it also winters here irregularly, the
numbers in this part of the State are largely augmented by migrants
during May and September.

Thru the intermittent quanking of a pair of these birds, my attention
was directed to a couple of tall dead fir trees near the center of a
woods, then known as the Puget Mill strip, but now as Moore’s University
Park Addition to Seattle. A little lazy scrutiny descried the birds,
mere twinkling bits of blue-gray, about one hundred and twenty-five feet
up; and two or three mysterious disappearances established a suspicion
that they were interested in a certain section of one of the trees. The
suspicion received strong confirmation when, after a longer
disappearance than usual on the part of the Red-breasts, a Harris
Woodpecker alighted further up in the same stub. The Nuthatches
immediately swarmed out and set upon the Harris with vigor and language.
The Woodpecker was disposed to stand his ground, whereat the Nuthatches
became highly enraged and charged upon the intruder so vigorously that
the poor fellow was obliged to dodge about his chosen limb in lively
fashion. The Hatches cried _nyă nyă nyă_ as fast as they could get
breath, and flirted their wings between whiles to vent their outraged
feelings. Harris naturally decided before long that the game wasn’t
worth the bother.

   [Illustration: _Taken in Pierce County._    _Photo by the Author._
          A TYPICAL NESTING SITE OF THE RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH.
     AN OAK TREE (QUERCUS GARRYANA) AT THE BORDER OF THE PRAIRIE.]

Time and again the little fellows flew across to a live fir tree, but
only to come back as often to the same fascinating belt. Finally, from a
new vantage point I made out the hole, a very fresh one in an open
stretch of bark about one hundred and twenty feet up. As I looked, one
bird entered the excavation and remained, while the other mounted guard
at the entrance. After about five minutes of this the tiny miner emerged
and the other, the male, I think, took her place. His duty appeared to
be to remove the chips, for he stuck his head out at the entrance
momentarily, and one imagined, rather than saw at that height, the tiny
flashes of falling white. All very romantic, but not a good “risk” from
the insurance man’s standpoint.

These Nuthatches must delight in work. They will spend a week in
laborious excavation, and then abandon the claim for no apparent reason.
Perhaps it is an outcropping of that same instinct of restlessness which
makes Wrens build “decoy” nests. One such finished nest we found to be
shaped not unlike a nursing bottle, a bottle with a bent neck. The
entrance was one and three-eighths inches across, the cavity three
inches wide, one and a half deep, and eight long (keeping in mind the
analogy of the bottle resting on its flat side).

The birds do not always nest at ungetatable heights. A nest taken near
Tacoma on the 8th of June, 1906, was found at a height of only seven
feet in a small fir stump. The wood was very rotten, and the eggs rested
only four inches below the entrance. The nest-lining in this instance
was a heavy mat an inch in thickness, and was composed of vegetable
matter—wood fiber, soft grasses, etc.—without hair of any sort, as would
surely have been the case with that of a Chestnut-backed Chickadee, for
which it was at first taken.

The Nuthatches appear to leave their eggs during the warmer hours of the
day, and one must await the return of the truant owners if he would be
sure of identification. One mark, but not infallible, is the presence of
pitch, smeared all around and especially below the nesting hole. The use
of this is not quite certain, but Mr. Bowles’s hazard is a good one;
viz., that it serves to ward off the ants, which are often a pest to
hole-nesting birds. These ants not only annoy the sitting bird, who is
presumably able to defend herself, but they sometimes destroy unguarded
eggs, or young birds.


                                No. 113.
                            PYGMY NUTHATCH.

  A. O. U. No. 730. Sitta pygmæa Vigors.

  Synonym.—California Nuthatch (early name).

  Description.—_Adults_: Crown, nape, and sides of head to below eye
  grayish olive or olive-brown, a buffy white spot on hind-neck (nearly
  concealed in fresh plumage); lores and region behind eye (bounding the
  olive) blackish; remaining upperparts plumbeous, browning (brownish
  slate) on flight feathers, etc., becoming black on rectrices (except
  central pair); longer primaries usually with some edging of white;
  central pair of tail-feathers with elongated white spot; two outer
  pairs crossed obliquely with white, and the three outer tipped with
  slate; underparts sordid white, smoky brown, or even ferruginous,
  clearest (nearly white) on chin and cheeks; sides, flanks, and crissum
  washed with color of back; bill plumbeous, lightening below; feet
  plumbeous; iris black. _Young:_ Like adults but crown and hind-neck
  nearly color of back; sides and flanks washed with brownish. Length
  4.00 (101.6) or less; wing 2.56 (65); tail 1.34 (34); bill .56 (14.2);
  tarsus .59 (15).

  Recognition Marks.—Pygmy size; top of head olive brown contrasting
  with plumbeous of back; gregarious habits.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: a hole in dead top of pine tree, excavated by birds,
  smeared about entrance with pitch, and lined with soft substances,
  grass, hair, and feathers. _Eggs_: 5-8, pure white, flecked more or
  less heavily with reddish brown. Av. size, .61 × .54 (15.5 × 13.7).
  _Season_: May 1-20; one brood.

  General Range.—Western United States from New Mexico, Colorado, and
  Montana to southern California, Washington, and eastern British
  Columbia; southward in Mexico to Mount Orizaba.

  Range in Washington.—Resident in northern and eastern portions of the
  State east of the Cascade Mountains. Nearly confined to pine timber.

  Authorities.—Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R. Surv. IX. pt. II. 1858, p. 378.
  C&S. D¹. J.

  Specimens.—Prov. C.

As for the Pygmy, the pine tree is his home. It is not quite proper,
however, to speak of this Nuthatch in the singular. Lilliputians must
hunt in troops and make up in numbers what they lack in strength. Pygmy
Nuthatches are not merely sociable; they are almost gregarious. Where a
company of Kinglets would be content to straggle thru a dozen trees, a
pack of Pygmies prefers to assemble in one. Yet there is no flock
impulse here, as with Siskins. Each little elf is his own master, and a
company of them is more like a crowd of merry schoolboys than anything
else. It’s “come on fellers,” when one of the boys tires of a given
tree, and sets out for another. The rest follow at leisure but are soon
reassembled, and there is much jolly chatter with some good-natured
scuffling, as the confederated mischiefs swarm over the new field of
opportunity.

Nuthatches are not methodical, like Creepers, in their search for
insects,—they are haphazard and happy. The branches are more attractive
to them than the tree bole, and the dead top of the tree is most
alluring of all. The Pygmies are never too busy to talk. The more they
find the more excited their chatter grows, pretty lispings and chirpings
quite too dainty for our dull ears. It makes us sigh to watch their
happiness, and we go off muttering, “We, too, were young.”

Again, it shocks us when we find these youngsters in knickerbockers and
braids paired off for nesting time. Tut, tut! children, so eager to
taste life’s heavier joys? A nest is chiselled out with infinite labor
on the part of these tiny beaks, in the dead portion of some pine tree.
The cavity is from four to twelve inches in depth, with an entrance a
trifle over an inch in diameter. The owners share the taste of the
Chickadees, and prepare an elaborate layette of soft vegetable fibers,
fur, hair, and feathers, in which the eggs are sometimes quite
smothered.

The parents are as proud as peacocks, and well they may be, of their six
or eight oval treasures, crystal white, with rufous frecklings, lavish
or scant. When the babies are hatched, the mother goes in and out
fearlessly under your very nose; and you feel such an interest in the
little family that you pluck instinctively—but alas! with what
futility—at the fastenings of your purse.



                        _Certhiidæ_—The Creepers


                                No. 114.
                            SIERRA CREEPER.

  A. O. U. No. 726 d. Certhia familiaris zelotes Osgood.

  Synonym.—California Creeper (Ridgway).

  Description.—_Adults_: Above rusty brown, broadly and loosely streaked
  with ashy white; more finely and narrowly streaked on crown; rump
  bright russet; wing-quills crossed by two whitish bars, one on both
  webs near base, the other on outer webs alone; greater coverts,
  secondaries and tertials tipped with whitish or grayish buff; a narrow
  superciliary stripe dull whitish or brownish gray; underparts sordid
  white or pale buffy, tinged on sides and flanks with stronger buffy.
  Bill slender, decurved, brownish black above paler below; feet and
  legs brown; iris dark brown. Length of adult male about 5.50 (139.7);
  wing 2.50 (63.5); tail 2.39 (60.8); bill .63 (16); tarsus .59 (15).
  Female a little smaller.

  Recognition Marks.—Warbler size; singularly variegated in modest
  colors above; the only _brown_ creeper in its range. Lighter colored
  than the next.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: of twigs, bark-strips, moss, plant-down, etc.,
  crowded behind a warping scale of bark whether of cedar, pine or fir.
  _Eggs_: usually 5 or 6, sometimes 7 or 8, white or creamy white
  speckled and spotted with cinnamon brown or hazel, chiefly in wreath
  about larger end. Av. Size .61 × .47 (15.5 × 11.9).

  General Range.—The Cascade-Sierra mountain system from Mt. Whitney
  north to central British Columbia, east to Idaho; displaced by
  succeeding form on Pacific Coast slope save from Marin County,
  California, southward.

  Range in Washington.—Resident in the Cascade Mountains, east in
  coniferous timber to Idaho where intergrading with _C. f. montana_.

  Authorities.—? _Certhia familiaris montana_ Johnson (Roswell H.),
  Condor, Vol. VIII., Jan. 1906, p. 27.

  Specimens.—U. of W. B.

People are always remonstrating with the bird-man for the assertion that
birds are to be found everywhere if you but know them. Especially do
they talk of the great silent forests on the western slopes of the
Cascade Mountains, where they have traveled for forty miles at a stretch
without seeing or hearing a living thing. Well; you cannot show me a
square mile of woodland in all that area where at least the following
species of birds may not be found: Western Winter Wren, Western
Golden-crowned Kinglet, Western Flycatcher, Varied Thrush and California
Creeper[46]; and these, except the Flycatcher, at any season of the
year. Silent birds they are for the most part, but each gives vent to a
characteristic cry by which it may be known.

The Creeper is, par excellence, the bird of the forest. To him alone the
very bigness of the trees is of the greatest service; for his specialty
is bark, and the more bark there is the harder is this little atom to
distinguish. Not only does he inhabit the deeper forests of the Cascade
ranges and foothills, but his domain stretches eastward across the
northern tier of pine-clad counties, and he is common among the
tamaracks on the banks of the Pend d’Oreille.

In June, in the Stehekin Valley of Chelan County, we found these
Creepers leading about troops of fully grown young. A recently occupied
nest was disclosed to us by a few twigs sticking out from behind a
curled-up bark scale of a fire-killed tree, near the Cascade trail. The
twigs proved to be eighteen inches below the top of the nest proper,
which was thus about twelve feet from the ground. The intervening space
was filled in loosely with twigs, bark-strips, moss, cotton, and every
other sort of woodsy loot. The mass was topped by a crescent-shaped
cushion over an inch in thickness, deeply hollowed in the center, six
inches from horn to horn, and four and a half from bole to bark; and
this cushion was composed entirely of soft inner bark-strips and a
vegetable fiber resembling flax in quality—altogether a splendid
creation.


                                No. 115.
                             TAWNY CREEPER.

  A. O. U. No. 726 c. Certhia familiaris occidentalis Ridgway.

  Synonym.—Californian Creeper (A. O. U.).

  Description.—“Similar to _C. f. zelotes_ but browner and more suffused
  with buffy above; wing markings more pronouncedly buff; underparts
  more buffy” (Ridgway). Length of male: wing 2.44 (61.9); tail 2.41
  (61.2); bill .60 (15.2); tarsus .61 (15.5).

  Recognition Marks.—As in preceding; darker.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: as in preceding; placed behind sprung bark scale
  usually at moderate heights, 3-20 feet up (one record of 60). Inner
  diameter of one nest 1¾ inches, depth 2½. _Eggs_: 5 or 6, as in _C. f.
  zelotes_. Av. size .58 × .47 (14.7 × 11.9). Season: May, June; two
  broods.

  General Range.—Pacific Coast district from Northern California to
  Sitka.

  Range in Washington.—Resident thruout the West-side from tidewater up.

  Authorities.—? _Certhia familiaris_ Orn. Com. Journ. Ac. Nat. Sci.
  Phila., VII. 1837, 193 (Columbia River). _Certhia americana_ Baird,
  Rep. Pac. R. R. Surv., IX. 1858, p. 372, part. (T). C&S. L¹. Rh. Ra.
  B. E.

  Specimens.—U. of W. Prov. BN.

To one who loves birds with an all inclusive passion—such as the
undecided bachelor is wont to confess for the fair sex—the temptation to
use superlatives upon each successive species as it is brought under
review is very strong. But here perhaps we may be pardoned for relaxing
our attention, or, it may be, for being caught in the act of stifling a
little yawn. Certhia is a prosy drab, and all the beauty she possesses
is in the eyes of her little hubby—dear, devoted creature.

This clerkling (hubby, of course, I mean) was brought into the world
behind a bit of bark. His first steps, or creeps, were taken along the
bark of the home tree. When the little wings got stronger and when the
little claws had carried him up to the top of tree number One, he
fluttered and spilled thru the air until he pulled up somehow, with
heart beating fiercely, at the base and _on the bark_ of tree number
Two. Since then he has climbed an almost infinity of trees (but I dare
say he has kept count). Summers and winters have gone over his head, but
never a waking hour in which he has not climbed and tumbled in this
worse than Sysiphæan task of gleaning nits and eggs and grubs from the
never-ending bark. Why, it gets upon the nerves! I pray you think, has
not this animate brown spot traveled more relative miles of ridgy brown
bark in his wee lifetime than ever mariner on billowy sea! Work, work,
work! With the industry of an Oriental he seeks to shame the rollicking
caprice of Chickadee, and to be a “living example” to such spendthrifts
as Goldikins, the Kinglet.

But wait! I am not sure. _Could_ anyone live in these majestic forests,
could anyone breathe this incense of perpetual balsam, could anyone
mount triumphantly these aspiring tree-boles, way, way up into the blue,
without growing the soul of a poet? Hark! “_Tew, tewy, tewy, Piñg,
tewy_,”—an angel ditty lisped in the tree-tops where the tender green
fir fronds melt into the sky—some Warbler, I guess; the Hermit, perhaps,
rounding out his unsaid devotions. And again, “_^kee ^kus ^wit ^it ^tee
^swee_” like a garland of song caught up at either end and made fast to
the ether. No! Would you believe it! It is our prosy clerkling! He has
turned fay, and goes carolling about his task as blithely as a
bejewelled _artiste_ with nothing to do. Love? Yes; love of the woods,
for it is the middle of September.

  [Illustration: _Taken near Tacoma._    _Photo by Bowles and Dawson._
                    TAWNY CREEPER APPROACHING NEST.
             THE MOTHER’S BEAK IS LADEN WITH GOOD THINGS.]

All of which leads me to apologize for the rude epithets previously
used; for one who can sing belongs to the immortals; and never again
will we judge a brother harshly, for who knows the vaulting heart of the
seeming plodder!

The ordinary, working note of the Tawny Creeper is a faint _tsip_, and
this is varied from time to time by a longer double note, _tsue tsee_
(of a resonant quality which cannot be made to appear in the
transcript). This latter it is which one can never quite certainly
distinguish from that of the Western Golden-crowned Kinglet. The full
song is, indeed, very sweet and dainty, with a bit of a plaintive
quality, which serves to distinguish it from the utterances of the Wood
Warblers, once you are accustomed.

A knowledge of the Creeper’s nesting habits would be quite unattainable
were the bird to choose the tree-tops; but with characteristic humility
it seeks the lower levels at the nesting season, so that one need not
look much above his head in searching for its nest.

The first one found was at the edge of the forest overlooking a woodland
road near Tacoma. We came upon a pair of the birds gleaning from the
neighboring trees and calling encouragement to each other as they
proceeded. We were not long in divining their local attachments; and
finally, after several feints, the mother bird flew to an isolated tree
at the very edge of the woods, where investigation disclosed a piece of
bark warped and sprung by fire, behind which six callow babies rested on
a soft cushion of moss, hair and bark-fiber, supported by twigs
criss-crossed and interwoven, to take up all available space below.

   [Illustration: _Taken near Tacoma._    _Photo by W. Leon Dawson._
                  NESTING SITE OF THE TAWNY CREEPER.]

This looked easy; but the most diligent search the following season
served only to discover the records of past years and hopeful prospects.
Bark scales of just the right dimensions do not abound, and those which
do look good prove to be either too infirm or else to have received the
scant compliment of a few criss-crossed sticks which mean, “We would
have built here, if we had not liked some other place better.”

Not until May 5th, 1907, did Mr. Bowles discover the first eggs, five
speckled beauties.

   [Illustration: _Taken near Tacoma._    _Photo by W. Leon Dawson._
                NEST OF TAWNY CREEPER IN DEAD OAK TREE.
DETAIL OF PRECEDING ILLUSTRATION. THE NEST APPEARS UNDER THE BARK SCALE
    ON THE RIGHT, AND THE WONDER IS HOW IT MAINTAINS ITS POSITION.]



                        _Troglodytidæ_—The Wrens


                                No. 116.
                          WESTERN MARSH WREN.

  A. O. U. No. 725 c. Telmatodytes palustris plesius (Oberholser).

  Synonym.—Interior Marsh Wren.

  Description.—_Adult_: Crown blackish; forehead light brown
  centrally,—color sometimes spreading superficially over entire crown;
  hind neck and scapulars light brown (raw umber, nearly); rump warm
  russet; a triangular patch on back blackish, with prominent white
  stripes and some admixture of russet; wings and tail fuscous or
  blackish on inner webs, brown with black bars on exposed surfaces;
  upper and under tail-coverts usually and more or less distinctly
  barred with dusky; sides of head whitish before, plain brown or
  punctate behind; a white superciliary line; underparts white, tinged
  with ochraceous buff across breast, and with pale brown or isabella
  color on sides, flanks, and crissum; bill and feet as usual. Length
  4.50-5.75 (114.3-146); av. of ten males: wing 2.12 (54); tail 1.82
  (46.4); bill .56 (14.2); tarsus .79 (20.1).

  Recognition Marks.—Warbler size; brown and black pattern of back with
  white stripes distinctive; white superciliary stripe and long bill
  distinctive in haunts. Strictly confined to bulrushes and long grass
  of marshes. Lighter and larger than _T. p. paludicola_.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: a ball of reeds and grasses, chinked and lined with
  cat-tail down, with entrance in side, and suspended in growing
  cat-tails, bulrushes or bushes. _Eggs_: 5-7, so heavily speckled with
  olive brown or sepia as to appear almost uniform brown. Av. size, .65
  × .52 (16.5 × 13.2). _Season_: May, July; two broods.

  General Range.—Western United States and southern British Columbia
  between the Rocky Mountains and the Cascade-Sierra Range, breeding
  from New Mexico northward; south during migrations to Cape district of
  Lower California and Western Mexico.

  Range in Washington.—Summer resident in all suitable localities east
  of the Cascades.

  Authorities.—_Telmatodytes palustris paludicola_ Brewster, B. N. O. C.
  VII 1882, 227 (Ft. Walla Walla). D². Ss¹. J.

  Specimens.—C. P.

“To the Coots and Rails belong the ooze-infesting morsels of the swamp,
but all the little crawling things which venture into the upper story of
the waving cat-tail forest, belong to the Long-billed Marsh Wren.
Somewhat less cautious than the waterfowl, he is the presiding genius of
flowing acres, which often have no other interest for the ornithologist.
There are only two occasions when the Marsh Wren voluntarily leaves the
shelter of the cat-tails or of the closely related marshables. One of
these is when he is driven South by the migrating instinct. Then he may
be seen skulking about the borders of the streams, sheltering in the
weeds or clambering about the drift. The other time is in the spring,
when the male shoots up into the air a few feet above the reeds, like a
ball from a Roman candle, and sputters all the way, only to drop back,
extinguished, into the reeds again. This is a part of the tactics of his
courting season, when, if ever, a body may be allowed a little liberty.
For the rest, he clings sidewise to the cat-tail stems or sprawls in
midair, reaching, rather than flying from one stem to another. His tail
is cocked up and his head thrown back, so that, on those few occasions
when he is seen, he does not get credit for being as large as he really
is” (The Birds of Ohio).

Since his sphere of activity is so limited, we may proceed at once to
the main interest, that of nest-building. And this is precisely as the
Marsh Wren would have it, else why does he spend the livelong day making
extra nests, which are of no possible use to anyone, save as examples of
Telmatodytine architecture? It is possible that the female is
coquettish, and requires these many mansions as evidence that the ardent
swain will be able to support her becomingly after marriage. Or, it may
be, that the suitor delights to afford his lady love a wide range of
choice in the matter of homes, and seeks thus to drive her to the
inevitable conclusion that there is only one home-maker for her. However
this may be, it is certain that one sometimes finds a considerable group
of nest-balls, each of apparent suitability, before any are occupied.

   [Illustration: _Taken near Spokane._    _Photo by F. S. Merrill._
                 NEST OF WESTERN MARSH WREN, IN SITU.]

On the other hand, the male continues his harmless activities long after
his mate has selected one of his early efforts and deposited her eggs;
so that the oölogist may have to sample a dozen “cock’s nests,” or
decoys, before the right one is found. Some empty nests may be perfectly
finished, but others are apt to lack the soft lining; while still
others, not having received the close-pressed interstitial filling, will
be sodden from the last rains.

The Marsh Wren’s nest is a compact ball of vegetable materials, lashed
midway of cat-tails or bulrushes, living or dead, and having a neat
entrance hole in one side. A considerable variety of materials is used
in construction, but in any given nest only one textile substance will
preponderate. Dead cat-tail leaves may be employed, in which case the
numerous loopholes will be filled with matted down from the same plant.
Fine dry grasses may be utilized, and these so closely woven as
practically to exclude the rain. On Moses Lake, where rankly growing
bulrushes predominate in the nesting areas, spirogyra is the material
most largely used. This, the familiar, scum-like plant which masses
under water in quiet places, is plucked out by the venturesome birds in
great wet hanks and plastered about the nest until the required
thickness is attained. While wet, the substance matches its surroundings
admirably, but as it dries out it shrinks considerably and fades to a
sickly light green, or greenish gray, which advertises itself among the
obstinately green bulrushes. Where this fashion prevails, one finds it
possible to pick out immediately the oldest member of the group, and it
is more than likely to prove the occupied nest.

The nest-linings are of the softest cat-tail down, feathers of wild
fowl, or dried spirogyra teased to a point of enduring fluffiness. It
appears, also, that the Wrens often cover their eggs upon leaving the
nest. Thus, in one we found on the 17th of May, which contained seven
eggs, the eggs were completely buried under a loose blanket of soft
vegetable fibers. The nest was by no means deserted, for the eggs were
warm and the mother bird very solicitous, insomuch that she repeatedly
ventured within a foot of my hand while I was engaged with the nest.

The Marsh Wrens regard themselves as the rightful owners of the reedy
fastnesses which they occupy, and are evidently jealous of avian, as
well as human, intruders. In one instance a Wren had constructed a sham
nest hard against a completed structure of the Yellow-headed Blackbird,
and to the evident retirement of its owner. Another had built squarely
on top of a handsome Blackbird nest of the current season’s
construction, and with a spiteful purpose all too evident.


                                No. 117.
                               TULE WREN.

  A. O. U. No. 725 a. Telmatodytes palustris paludicola (Baird).

  Synonyms.—Marsh Wren (locally). Western Marsh Wren (now restricted to
  _T. p. plesius_). California Marsh Wren (inappropriate). Pacific Marsh
  Wren.

  Description.—_Adult_: Similar to _T. p. plesius_, but smaller and with
  coloration decidedly darker. Length about 4.75 (120.6); wing 1.97
  (50); tail 1.73 (44); bill .52 (13.2); tarsus .78 (20).

  Recognition Marks.—Pygmy size; brownish coloration; reed-haunting
  habits and sputtering notes distinctive.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: shaped like a cocoanut, of reeds and grasses, lined
  with plant-down, and with entrance in side; placed two or three feet
  high in reeds, rarely, high in bushes of swamp. _Eggs_: 5 or 6,
  ground-color grayish brown but so heavily dotted and clouded with
  varying shades of chocolate and mahogany as to be frequently obscured.
  Av. size .67 × .52 (17 × 13.2). _Season_: _last week in March_ to
  July; two broods.

  General Range.—Pacific Coast district from British Columbia south
  during migration to mouth of Colorado River and extremity of Lower
  California.

  Range in Washington.—Resident in suitable localities west of Cascades.

  Authorities.—_Cistothorus (Telmatodytes) palustris_ Cab. Baird, Rep.
  Pac. R. R. Surv. XII. pt. II., 1858, p. 364, part. C&S. L². Ra. Kk. B.
  E.

  Specimens.—U. of W. E. Prov.

When the February sun waves his golden baton over the marshes of western
Washington, they yield up a chorus of wren song which is exceeded only
by that of the frogs. The frogs, to be sure, have the advantage, in that
their choral offering has greater carrying power; but the Wrens at close
quarters leave you in no doubt that the palm belongs to them. One
hesitates to call the medley of clicking, buzzing, and sputtering, which
welters in the reeds, music; but if one succeeds in catching sight of a
Tulé Wren, holding on for dear life to a cat-tail stem, and vibrating
like a drill-chuck with the effort of his impassioned utterance, he
feels sure that music is at least intended.

Wrens are ever busy bodies, and if they could not sing or chatter, or at
least scold, they surely would explode. It is a marvel, too, that they
find so much to interest them in mere reeds, now green, now brown, set
above a foot or so of stagnant water. But, bless you! Do not waste your
sympathies upon them. They have neighbors,—Red-wings, Yellow-throats,
and the like—and is it not the gossips of the little village who are
most exercised over their neighbors’ affairs?

It seems probable that our Tulé Wrens are largely resident. Certainly
they are abundant in the more sheltered marshes in winter; and, since
the species does not extend very far northward, it is possibly not too
much to assume that our birds live and die in a single swamp. They are,
as a consequence, very much mixed up on their seasons, and I have heard
a swamp in full song in November.

Nesting in the South Tacoma swamp, where several scores at least may be
found, begins the last week in March, and full sets of eggs may
certainly be found by the first week in April. But “decoys” are, of
course, the rule. In a day Mr. Bowles found fifty-three nests, only
three of which held eggs or young. At least two broods are raised in a
season.

The eggs, usually five or six in number, are so overlaid with tiny dots
as to appear of an almost uniform hair brown in color, very dark, except
occasionally in the case of the last laid egg. The sitting bird must
subject her eggs to frequent turning in the nest, for they become highly
polished during incubation.


                                No. 118.
                             SEATTLE WREN.

  A. O. U. No. 719 e. Thryomanes bewickii calophonus Oberholser.

  Description.—_Adults_: Above, dark olive-brown, or warm sepia brown
  with an olive tinge; the rump with downy, concealed, white spots;
  wings showing at least traces of dusky barring,—sometimes complete on
  tertials; tail blackish on concealed portions, distinctly and finely
  barred with black on exposed portions; the outer pairs of feathers
  white-tipped and showing white barring, incipient or complete on
  terminal third; a narrow white superciliary stripe, and an indistinct
  dark stripe thru eye; underparts grayish white, tinged on sides and
  flanks with brown; under tail-coverts heavily barred with blackish;
  bill dark brown above, lighter below; culmen slightly decurved.
  Length: 5.00-5.50 (127-139.7); wing 2.08 (52.8); tail 2.01 (52.3);
  bill .59 (15); tarsus .79 (20).

  Recognition Marks.—Warbler size; known from Western House Wren by
  superciliary stripe and whiter underparts, mostly unbarred; a little
  larger and more deliberate in movements.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: in holes or crannies about stumps, upturned roots,
  brush-heaps, etc., or in buildings; a rather slight affair of dried
  grasses, skeleton leaves, mosses, and waste, rarely twigs, lined with
  wool, hair, or feathers. _Eggs_: 4-6, usually 5, white, speckled or
  spotted, rather sparingly, with reddish brown or purplish, uniformly
  or chiefly in wreath about larger end. Av. size, .68 × .54 (17.3 ×
  13.7). _Season_: April 15-June 15; two broods.

  General Range.—Pacific Coast district from Oregon to southern British
  Columbia and Vancouver Island; resident.

  Range in Washington.—Resident west of the Cascades, chiefly at lower
  levels and in valleys.

  Authorities.—? Townsend, Journ. Ac. Nat. Sci. Phila. VII. 1837, 154
  (Columbia River). _Thriothorus bewickii_ Baird, Pac. Rep. R. R. Surv.
  IX. 1858, p. 363 part. (T). (C&S). L². Rh. Kb. Ra. Kk. B. E.

  Specimens.—U. of W. P. Prov. B. BN. E.

To those who are acquainted only with the typical Bewick Wren of the
East, the added vocal accomplishments of our western representative come
in the nature of a surprise. For to the characteristic ditty of
_bewickii_ proper, _calophonus_ has introduced so many trills and
flourishes that the original motif is almost lost to sight. _Calophonus_
means having a beautiful voice, or sweetly sounding, and right well does
the bird deserve the name, in a region which is all too conspicuous for
its lack of notable songsters.

Nor was it at all amiss for Professor Ridgway, the eminent ornithologist
of Washington, D. C., to name this bird in honor of the Queen City, for
it is in the immediate environs of the city, as well as in the untidy
wastes of half-conquered nature, that the local Bewick Wren finds a
congenial home. Logged-off tracts, slashings and burned-over areas are,
however, its especial delight, and if the bird-man catches sight of one
that has been making the rounds of all the fire-blackened stumps in the
neighborhood, he is ready to declare a new sub-species on the strength
of the bird’s soiled garments. No junk dealer knows the alleys of the
metropolis better than this crafty bird knows the byways of his
log-heaps and the intricate mazes of fire-weed and fern. If there is any
unusual appearance or noise which gives promise of mischief afoot, the
Seattle Wren is the first to respond. Flitting, gliding, tittering, the
bird comes up and moves about the center of commotion, taking
observations from all possible angles and making a running commentary
thereon. His attitude is alert and his movements vivacious, but the
chief interest attaches to the bird’s mobile tail. With this expressive
member the bird is able to converse in a vigorous sign language. It is
cocked up in impudence, wagged in defiance, set aslant in coquetry, or
depressed in whimsical token of humility. Indeed, it is hardly too much
to say that the bird makes faces with its tail.

While spying along the lower levels the Wren giggles and chuckles and
titters, or else gives vent to a grating cry, _moozeerp_, which sets the
woods on edge. But in song the bird oftenest chooses an elevated
station, an alder sapling or the top of a stump. Here, at short
intervals and in most energetic fashion, he delivers extended phrases of
varied notes, now clear and sparkling, now slurred or pedalled. Above
all, he is master of a set of smart trills. One of them, after three
preliminary notes, runs _tsu′ tsu′ tsu′ tsu′ tsu′ tsu′_, like an
exaggerated and beautified song of the Towhee. Another song, which from
its rollicking character deserves to be called a drinking song,
terminates with a brilliant trill in descending scale, _rallentando et
diminuendo_, as tho the little minstrel were actually draining a beaker
of dew.

The Seattle Wren is altogether a hilarious personage; and in a country
where most song birds are overawed by the solemnity of the forest, it is
well enough to have one cheery wight to set all canons at defiance. Even
the gray-bearded old fir-stubs must laugh at a time over some of the
sallies of this restless little zany. The Wren does not indulge in
conscious mimicry, but since his art is self-taught, he is occasionally
indebted to the companions of the woods for a theme. The Towhee motif is
not uncommon in his songs, and the supposed notes of a Willow Goldfinch,
a little off color, were traced to his door, at Blaine.

Of the nesting Mr. Bowles says: “The building sites chosen by this wren
for its nests are so variable that hardly anything can be considered
typical. It may be in the wildest swampy wood far removed from
civilization, but it is quite as likely to be found in a house in the
heart of a city. A few of the nesting sites I have recorded are in
upturned roots of fallen trees, deserted woodpecker holes, in bird boxes
in the city, in a fishing creel hanging on a porch, under a slab of bark
that has scaled away a few inches from the body of a tree, or an open
nest built on a beam under a bridge.

“A very complete study of this wren has convinced me that it never
builds any nests except those used in raising the young. In other words,
it is the only wren in the Northwest that is positively guiltless of
using ‘decoys’.

“In constructing the nest these birds do not often take over ten days,
in which proceeding the female does all the work. One pair, however,
that I visited occasionally, were over a month in completing a small
nest in the natural cavity of a stump. No explanation of this seems
possible, except that the female was not ready to lay her eggs any
sooner.

“The nest is a rather slight affair, as a rule, the average nest
containing much less material than that of any other wren that I have
seen. It is composed of fine dried grass, skeleton leaves, green moss,
wool, and very rarely has a basis of twigs, with a lining of hair, the
cast skins of snakes, and many feathers.

“A set contains from four to six eggs, most commonly five. These are
pure white in ground color, marked with fine dots of reddish brown. The
markings are variable in distribution, some specimens being marked very
sparingly over all, while in others the markings are largely
concentrated around the larger end in the form of a more or less
confluent ring. The eggs are rather short ovate oval in shape, and
average in measurements .68 × .54 inches.

“Two broods are reared in a season; or perhaps it would be more correct
to say that fresh eggs may be found at any time between the middle of
April and the middle of June.

“Altho rather timid in the vicinity of her nest, the female generally
remains on her eggs until disturbed by a jar or some loud noise. She
then disappears and neither bird appears nor makes any complaint in
objection to the intruder.”


                                No. 119.
                          WESTERN HOUSE WREN.

  A. O. U. No. 721 a. Troglodytes aedon parkmanii (Aud.).

  Synonyms.—Parkman’s Wren. Pacific House Wren.

  Description.—_Adult_: Above, grayish rufous-brown, duller and lighter
  on foreparts; brighter and more rufous on rump, which has concealed
  downy white spots; back and scapulars barred (rarely indistinctly)
  with dusky; wings on exposed webs and tail all over distinctly and
  finely dusky-barred; sides of head speckled grayish brown, without
  definite pattern; below, light grayish brown, indistinctly speckled or
  banded with darker brownish on fore-parts; heavily speckled and banded
  with dusky and whitish on flanks and crissum; bill black above,
  lighter below; culmen slightly curved; feet brownish. Length 4.50-5.25
  (114.3-133.3); wing 2.08 (52.8); tail 1.75 (44.6); bill .51 (13);
  tarsus .68 (17.2).

  Recognition Marks.—Warbler size; brown above, lighter below;
  everywhere more or less speckled and banded with dusky, brownish, or
  white. Larger and with longer tail than Western Winter Wren.

   [Illustration: _Taken in Oregon._    _Photo by Finley and Bohlman._
                        HOW’S THE WEATHER OUTSIDE?
             WESTERN HOUSE WREN AT ENTRANCE OF NESTING HOLE.]

  Nesting.—_Nest_: of sticks and trash, lined with fine grasses or
  chicken-feathers, placed in bird-boxes, holes in orchard trees,
  crannies of out-buildings, etc. _Eggs_: 4-8, white, heavily speckled,
  and usually more or less tinged with pinkish brown or vinaceous, with
  a wreath of a heavier shade about the larger end. Average size, .64 ×
  .51 (16.3 × 13). _Season_: About May 15; one brood.

  General Range.—Western United States and Canada, north to British
  Columbia, Alberta and Manitoba, east to Illinois, south to Mexico.

  Range in Washington.—Not common summer resident, confined to lower
  altitudes and, usually, vicinity of settlements.

  Migrations.—_Spring_: Tacoma, April 25, 1906, April 28, 1907.

  Authorities.—_? Troglodites fulvus_ Ornithological Committee, Journ.
  Ac. Nat. Sci. Phila. VII. 1837, p. 193 (Columbia River). _?
  Troglodytes parkmanii_ Audubon, Orn. Biog. V. 1839, 310 (Columbia
  River). _Troglodytes parkmanni_, Aud., Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R. Surv.
  XII. pt. II. 1858, p. 368. (T.) C&S. D¹. Ra. D². Ss². Kk. J. B. E.

  Specimens.—U. of W. Prov. P. B.

Since our country is pretty well supplied with Wrens, and those too
which are content with our climate the year around, this bustling
down-Easter, arriving at what he considers the proper season, does not
figure so largely in local bird society as across the Rockies. Altho
originally described by Audubon from material secured by Townsend, at
Vancouver, in the Thirties, _parkmanii_ gives evidence of being a
newcomer, comparatively speaking. In the first place, the late arrival,
April 25th at Puget Sound points, marks the species in which the
tradition of a hard climate is still strong. And, in the second place,
the slightly paler plumage acquired while crossing the desert has not
yet been lost, altho it is very certain that it could not long withstand
consecutive centuries of residence in our humid climate. It is not
surprising, therefore, that the House Wren is not abundant nor well
distributed in western Washington. On the East-side it is neither common
nor rare, being found about long-established ranches and wherever the
presence of a little timber affords the variety of cover which is
essential to its happiness.

     [Illustration: _Taken in Oregon._    _Photo by W. L. Finley._
                           A VERY BUSY WREN.
 NOT QUITE SO BUSY AS APPEARS, HOWEVER. THE PICTURE IS A COMPOSITE AND
                     PRESENTS THE SAME BIRD TWICE.]

Once upon the scene, however, a little House Wren goes a great ways. He
is bursting with energy, and music escapes from his busy mandibles like
steam from a safety valve. The first task is to renovate last year’s
quarters, but there is always time on the side to explore a new
brush-heap, to scold a cat, or to indulge innumerable song-bursts. In
singing his joyous trill the bird reminds one of a piece of fireworks
called a “cascade,” for he fills the air with a brilliant bouquet of
music, and is himself, one would think, nearly consumed by the violence
of the effort. But the next moment the singer is carrying out last
year’s feather bed by great beakfuls, or lugging into some cranny sticks
ridiculously large for him.

During the nesting season both birds are perfect little spitfires,
assaulting mischievous prowlers with a fearlessness which knows no
caution, and scolding in a voice which expresses the deepest scorn. The
rasping note produced on such an occasion reminds one of the energetic
use of a nutmeg grater by a determined housewife.

In nesting, the Wrens make free of the haunts of men, but are in nowise
dependent on them. Old cabins afford convenient crannies, forgotten
augur-holes, tin cans, bird boxes, a sleeve or pocket in an old coat
hanging in the woodshed,—anything with a cavity will do; but, by the
same token, an unused Woodpecker’s hole, or a knot-hole in a stump miles
from the haunts of men will do as well. In any case the cavity, be it
big or little, must first be filled up with sticks, with just room at
the top for entrance. Into this mass a deep hollow is sunk, and this is
heavily lined with horse-hair, wool, feathers, bits of snake-skin,
anything soft and “comfy”.

Since the Western House Wren makes a brief season with us, it appears to
raise but one brood annually.


                                No. 120.
                          WESTERN WINTER WREN.

  A. O. U. No. 722 a. Nannus hiemalis pacificus (Baird).

  Description.—_Adult_: Above warm dark brown, duller before, brighter
  on rump, sometimes obscurely waved or barred with dusky on back,
  wings, and tail; barring more distinct on edges of four or five outer
  primaries, where alternating with buffy; concealed white spots on rump
  scarce, or almost wanting; a pale brownish superciliary line; sides of
  head speckled brownish and buffy; underparts everywhere finely
  mottled, speckled or barred,—on the throat and breast mingled brownish
  (Isabella-color) and buffy, below dusky and tawny, dusky predominating
  over brown on flanks and crissum; bill comparatively short, straight,
  blackish above, lighter below; feet light brown. Length about 4.00
  (101.6); wing 1.81 (46); tail 1.18 (30); bill .46 (11.6); tarsus .71
  (18).

  Recognition Marks.—Pygmy size; dark brown above, lighter below; more
  or less speckled and barred all over; tail shorter than in preceding
  species.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: of moss and a few small twigs, lined heavily with
  wool, rabbits’ fur, hair and feathers, placed among roots of upturned
  tree, or in crannies of decayed stumps, brush-heaps, etc. _Eggs_: 4-7,
  usually 5, white or creamy-white, dotted finely but sparingly with
  reddish brown; occasionally blotched with the same; sometimes almost
  unmarked. Av. size .69 × .50 (17.5 × 12.7). _Season_: first week in
  April to first week in July according to altitude: two broods.

  General Range.—Western North America, breeding from southern
  California to southern Alaska, east to western Montana. Chiefly
  resident, but south irregularly in Great Basin States and California
  in winter.

  Range in Washington.—Resident in coniferous timber from sea level to
  limit of trees; less common east of the Cascade Mountains; of
  irregular occurrence in open country during migrations.

  Authorities.—[Lewis and Clark, Hist. (1814) Ed. Biddle: Coues. Vol.
  II, p. 186.] ? Orn. Com. Journ. Ac. Nat. Sci. Phila. VII. 1837, 193
  (Columbia River). _Troglodytes (Anorthura) hyemalis_ Baird, Rep. Pac.
  R. R. Surv. IX. 1858, p. 369. (T). C&S. L¹. Rh. D¹. Kb. Ra. Kk. J. B.
  E.

  Specimens.—U. of W. P. Prov. B. BN. E.

_Chick—chick chick—chick chick_; it is the Winter Wren’s way of saying
How-do-you-do? when you invade his domain in the damp forest. The voice
is a size too large for such a mite of a bird, and one does not
understand its circumflexed quality until he sees its possessor making
an emphatic curtsey with each uttereance. It is not every day that the
recluse beholds a man, and it may be that he has stolen a march under
cover of the ferns and salal brush before touching off his little mine
of interrogatives at your knees. If so, his brusque little being is
softened by a friendly twinkle, as he notes your surprise and then darts
back chuckling to the cover of a fallen log.

Again, if your entrance into the woods has been unnoticed, so that the
little huntsman comes upon you in the regular way of business, it is
amusing to watch with what ruses of circumvention he seeks to inspect
you. Now he appears above a root on your right gawking on tiptoe; then
drops at a flash behind its shelter to reprove himself in upbraiding
_chick chick_’s for his rashness. Then, after a minute of apprehensive
silence on your part, a chuckle at your other elbow announces that the
inspection is satisfactorily completed on that side. The Lilliputian has
you at his mercy, Mr. Gulliver.

Dr. Cooper, writing fifty years ago, considered this the commonest
species in the forests of “the Territory.” With the possible exception
of the Golden-crowned Kinglet, this is probably still true, since it is
found not merely along streams and in romantic dells, but thruout the
somber depths of the fir and spruce forests from sea level to the limit
of trees. It is fond of the wilderness and has as yet learned no
necessity of dependence upon man, but it by no means shuns the edges of
town, if only sufficient density of cover be provided. Because of the
more open character of pine timber, the Winter Wren is less common and
is altogether local in its distribution east of the mountains, being
confined for the most part to those forest areas which boast an infusion
of fir and tamarack.

In winter, because of heavy snows, the birds appear to retire to a large
extent upon the valleys and lowlands, nor do they appear to reoccupy the
mountain forests until they have reared a first brood upon the lower
levels. Just how familiar a species this bird is at sea-level does not
appear to be generally realized. In the spring of 1905 I estimated that
forty pairs were nesting in Ravenna Park alone. Nor do they by any means
desert the lowlands in toto in summer, for they are seen regularly at
that season thruout Puget Sound, upon the islands of Washington Sound,
and upon the West Coast.

      [Illustration: _Taken in Seattle._    _Photo by the Author._
  A THICKET IN RAVENNA PARK, WHICH ONLY THE WINTER WREN WILL EXPLORE.]

It is the Winter Wren, chiefly, which gladdens the depths of the ancient
forest with music. Partly because of its unique isolation, but more
because of the joyous abandon of the little singer, the song of the
Winter Wren strikes the bird-lover as being one of the most refreshing
in the Northwest. It consists of a rapid series of gurgling notes and
wanton trills, not very loud nor of great variety, but having all the
spontaneity of bubbling water, a tiny cascade of song in a waste of
silence. The song comes always as an outburst, as tho some mechanical
obstruction had given way before the pent-up music. Indeed, one bird I
heard at Moclips preceded his song with a series of tittering notes,
which struck me absurdly as being the clicking of the ratchet in a
music-box being wound up for action.

Heard at close quarters the bird will occasionally employ a
ventriloquial trick, dropping suddenly to _sotto voce_, so that the song
appears to come from a distance. Again, it will move crescendo and
diminuendo, as tho the supply pipe of this musical cascade were
submitted to varying pressure at the fountain head.

A singing bird is the best evidence available of the proximity of the
nest. Usually the male bird posts himself near the sitting female and
publishes his domestic happiness in musical numbers. But again, he may
only be pausing to congratulate himself upon the successful completion
of another decoy, and the case is hopeless for the nonce.

      [Illustration: _Taken in Seattle._    _Photo by the Author._
             NEST OF WESTERN WINTER WREN IN CHARRED STUMP.
NOTE THAT A SPIDER WEB ABOVE CLOSELY SIMULATES THE NEST ENTRANCE, WHICH
                        IS REALLY ABOUT MIDWAY.]

For nesting sites the Wrens avail themselves of cubby-holes and crannies
in upturned roots or fallen logs, and fire-holes in half-burned stumps.
A favorite situation is one of the crevices which occur in a large fir
tree when it falls and splits open. Or the nest is sometimes found under
the bark of a decaying log, or in a crevice of earth in an unused
mine-shaft. If the site selected has a wide entrance, this is walled up
by the nesting material and only a smooth round aperture an inch and a
quarter in diameter is left to admit to the nest proper. In default of
any such shelter, birds have been known to construct their nests at the
center of some baby fir, or in the drooping branches of a fir tree at a
height of a foot or more from the ground. In such case, the nest is
finished to the shape of a cocoanut, with an entrance hole in the side a
little above the center.

In all cases the materials used are substantially the same, chiefly
green moss, with an abundance of fir or cedar twigs shot thru its walls
and foundations. This shell is heavily lined with very fine mosses,
intermingled with deer hair or other soft substances; while the inner
lining is of feathers, which the Sooty and the Ruffed Grouse have
largely contributed to the upholstered luxury of this model home.

  [Illustration: _Taken near Tacoma._    _Photo by Dawson and Bowles._
             NEST AND EGGS OF WESTERN WINTER WREN IN STUMP.
  TOP OF STUMP REMOVED. AN UNUSUAL NESTING-SITE WHERE ONE WOULD SOONER
                HAVE EXPECTED TO FIND OREGON CHICKADEE.]

“Cocks’ nests,” or decoys, are the favorite diversion of this
indefatigable bird, so that, as with the restless activities of
four-year-old children, one sighs to think of the prodigious waste of
energies entailed. The aboriginal cause of this quaint instinct, so
prevalent among the Wrens, would seem to be the desire to deceive and
discourage enemies, but in the case of the Winter Wren one is led to
suspect that the hard-working husband is trying to meet a perpetual
challenge to occupy all available sites—a miser hoarding opportunities.
A troop of young Wrens just out of the nest is a cunning sight. The
anxious parents counsel flight and the more circumspect of the brood
obey, but now and then one less sophisticated allows a little pleasant
talk, “blarney,” to quiet his beating heart. Then a little titillation
of the crown feathers will quite win him over, so that he will accept a
gently insistent finger in place of the twig which has been his support.
The unfaltering trust of childhood has subdued many a savage heart, but
when it is exemplified in a baby Wren one feels the ultimate appeal to
tenderness.

Mr. Brown, of Glacier, coming upon an old Russet-backed Thrush nest at
dusk, thrust an exploratory finger over its brim. Judge of his surprise
when out swarmed seven young Winter Wrens. Mr. Brown feels reasonably
sure, however, that the birds were hatched elsewhere, and that they were
only roosting temporarily in the larger nest, in view of its ampler
accommodations.


                                No. 121.
                               ROCK WREN.

  A. O. U. No. 715. Salpinctes obsoletus (Say).

  Description.—_Adults_: Above brownish gray changing on rump to
  cinnamon-brown, most of the surface speckled by arrow-shaped marks
  containing, or contiguous to, rounded spots of whitish; wing-quills
  color of back, barred with dusky on outer webs; middle pair of
  tail-feathers color of back barred with dusky; remaining rectrices
  barred with dusky on outer webs only, each with broad subterminal bar
  of blackish and tipped broadly with cinnamon-buff area varied by dusky
  marbling; outermost pair broadly blackish- and cinnamon-barred on both
  webs; a superciliary stripe of whitish; a broad post-ocular stripe of
  grayish brown; sides of head and underparts dull white shading into
  pale cinnamon or vinaceous buff on flanks and under tail-coverts;
  sides of head, throat and upper breast spotted, mottled or streaked
  obscurely with grayish brown or dusky; under tail-coverts barred or
  transversely spotted with dusky. Bill dark horn-color above, paling
  below; feet and legs brownish dusky; iris brown. _Young birds_ are
  more or less barred or vermiculated above, without white speckling,
  and are unmarked below. Length: 5.50-6.00 (139.7-152.4); wing 2.76
  (70); tail 2.09 (53); bill .70 (17.7); tarsus .83 (21).

  Recognition Marks.—Warbler size; variegated tail with broad buffy tips
  distinctive; rock-haunting habits.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: in crannies of cliffs, of twigs, grasses, wool, hair
  and other soft substances, approached by runway of rock-chips or
  pebbles. _Eggs_: 5-7, white or pinkish white, sprinkled somewhat
  sparingly with pale cinnamon, chiefly about larger end. Av. size .73 ×
  .56 (18.5 × 14.2). _Season_: May 1st to June 20th; two broods.

  General Range.—Western United States, northern and central Mexico, and
  southern British Columbia, chiefly in hilly districts; eastward across
  Great Plains to Kansas, Nebraska, etc.; retires from northern portion
  of range in winter.

  Range in Washington.—Summer resident and migrant in open country east
  of the Cascades, chiefly confined to cliffs of Columbian lava; casual
  west of the Cascades.

  Authorities.—[“Rock wren,” Johnson, Rep. Gov. W. T. 1884 (1885), p.
  22.] Lawrence, Auk, IX. 1892, 47, 357. T. L¹. D¹. D². Ss¹. Ss². Kk.

  Specimens.—P. C.

  “But Barrenness, Loneliness, such-like things,
    That gall and grate on the White Man’s nerves,
  Was the rangers that camped by the bitter springs
    And guarded the lines of God’s reserves.
  So the folks all shy from the desert land,
  ’Cept mebbe a few that kin understand.”—_Clark._

A discerning soul is _Salpinctes_. He loves beyond all else the uplifted
ramparts of basalt, the bare lean battlements of the wilderness. They
are the walls of a sanctuary, where he is both verger and choir master,
while upon the scarred altars which they shelter, his faithful spouse
has a place “where she may lay her young.”

The Rock Wren is nestled among the most impressive surroundings, but
there is nothing subdued or melancholy about his bearing. Indeed, he has
taken a commission to wake the old hills and to keep the shades of eld
from brooding too heavily upon them. His song is, therefore, one of the
sprightliest, most musical, and resonant to be heard in the entire West.
The rock-wall makes an admirable sounding-board, and the bird stops
midway of whatever task to sing a hymn of wildest exultation. _Whittier,
whittier, whittier_, is one of his finest strains; while _ka-whee,
ka-whee, ka-whee_ is a sort of challenge which the bird renders in
various tempo, and punctuates with nervous bobs to enforce attention.
For the rest his notes are too varied, spontaneous, and untrammeled to
admit of precise description.

Save in the vicinity of his nest, the Rock Wren is rather an elusive
sprite. If you clamber to his haunts he will remove, as matter of
course, a hundred yards along the cliff; or he will flit across the
couleé with a nonchalance which discourages further effort. Left to
himself, however, he may whimsically return—near enough perhaps for you
to catch the click, click of his tiny claws as he goes over the lava
blocks, poking into crevices after spiders here, nibbling larvæ in vapor
holes there, or scaling sheer heights yonder, without a thought of
vertigo.

At nesting time the cliffs present a thousand chinks and hidey-holes,
any one of which would do to put a nest in. The collector is likely to
be dismayed at the wealth of possibilities before him, and the birds
themselves appear to regret that they must make choice of a single
cranny, for they “fix up” half a dozen of the likeliest. And when it
comes to lining the approaches of the chosen cavity, what do you suppose
they use? Why, rocks, of course; not large ones this time, but flakes
and pebbles of basalt, which rattle pleasantly every time the bird goes
in and out. These rock chips are sometimes an inch or more in diameter,
and it is difficult to conceive how a bird with such a delicate beak can
compass their removal. Here they are, however, to the quantity of half a
pint or more, and they are just as much a necessity to every
well-regulated Salpinctean household, as marble steps are to
Philadelphians.

  [Illustration: _Taken in Douglas County._    _Photo by the Author._
               NESTING-SITE OF ROCK WREN IN BASALT CLIFF.
  THE NEST OCCUPIES THE UPPER CRANNY BUT THE “FRONT WALK” IS COMPLETED
                                BELOW.]

The nest itself is rather a bulky affair, composed of weed-stalks, dried
grasses, and fine rootlets, with a scanty lining of hair or wool (all
East-side birds are enthusiastic advocates of sheep-raising). “Two
broods are raised in a season, the first set of eggs appearing early in
May, the second about the middle of June. It is possible that even a
third set may sometimes be laid still later in the season, but these
late sets are more apt to be due to the breaking up of the first or
second. The eggs vary from five to seven, and are pure white in color,
sprinkled rather sparingly over the surface with dots of a faint
brownish red, most heavily about the larger end” (Bowles).

Failing a suitable cliff-house—not all walls are built to Wrens’
orders—the birds resort to a rock-slide and the possibilities here are
infinite. After I had seen a devoted pair disappear behind a certain
small rock no less than a dozen times, and had heard responsive notes in
different keys, a chittering which reminded one of baby Katydids, I
thought I had a cinch on the nest. The crevices of the rocks here and
there were crammed with dried grass and stuff which might fairly be
considered superfluous nesting material, and the young birds were too
young to have traveled far; but as for the actual cradle I could not
find it, and I cannot certify that the wrenlets were hatched within
seven rods. The little fellows were as shy as conies, but their parents,
curiously enough, took my researches good naturedly. One of them came
within two feet of my face and peered intently at me as I sat
motionless; and even after some square yards of the rock slide had been
violently disarranged, they did not hesitate to visit their clamoring
brood as tho nothing had happened. Did they trust the man or the rocks
rather?


                                No. 122.
                              CANYON WREN.

  A. O. U. No. 717 a. Catherpes mexicanus conspersus Ridgw.

  Synonyms.—Canon Wren. Speckled Canon Wren.

  Description.—_Adult_: “Upperparts brown, paler and grayer anteriorly,
  behind shading insensibly into rich rufous, everywhere dotted with
  small dusky and whitish spots. Tail clear cinnamon-brown, crossed with
  numerous very narrow and mostly zigzag black bars. Wing-quills dark
  brown, outer webs of primaries and both webs of inner secondaries
  barred with color of back. Chin, throat, and fore breast, with lower
  half of side of head and neck, pure white, shading behind through
  ochraceous-brown into rich deep ferruginous, and posteriorly
  obsoletely waved with dusky and whitish. Bill slate-colored, paler and
  more livid below; feet black; iris brown” (Coues). Length about 5.50
  (139.7); wing 2.35 (59.7); tail 2.06 (52.4); bill .81 (20.5); tarsus
  .71 (18.1). Female a little smaller.

  Recognition Marks.—Warbler size, rock-haunting habits; rich rusty red
  of hinder underparts; tail finely barred with black, its feathers
  without buffy tips as distinguished from _Salpinctes obsoletus_.

  Nesting.—Not known to nest in Washington but probably does so. _Nest_
  and _eggs_ indistinguishable from those of the Rock Wren.

  General Range.—Central arid districts of the western United States and
  southern British Columbia from Wyoming and Colorado west to
  northeastern California and south to Arizona.

  Range in Washington.—Reported from Palouse country only,—is probably
  extending range into Upper Sonoran and Arid Transition zones of
  eastern Washington.

  Authorities.—_C. mexicanus punctulatus_, Snodgrass, Auk. Vol. XXI.
  Apr. 1904, p. 232. J.

  Specimens.—P.

To Mr. Robert E. Snodgrass belongs the honor of first reporting this
species as a bird of Washington. He encountered it in the Snake River
Cañon at Almota in the summer of 1903, and mentions that it occurred
also at Wawawai Ferry, a few miles up the river. Roswell H. Johnson also
refers to it casually in the preface to his list of the birds of
Cheney[47] as occurring “where conditions were favorable to the south
and east.”

It has long been supposed that the Cañon Wrens were confined to a much
more southern range. Ridgway[48] assigns the northern limits of this
species to Wyoming and Nevada. Its appearance in Washington, therefore,
is matter of congratulation and may, perhaps, be taken as an instance of
that _northward trend of species_ which undoubtedly affects many of the
Passerine forms, and none more notably than the Wrens.

The Cañon Wren frequents much the same situations as the Rock Wren and
has the same sprightly ways. In the southern part of its range it is
said to be a familiar resident of towns, and nests as frequently in
crannies and bird-boxes as does our House Wren (_Troglodytes aedon
parkmanii_). Its alarm note is a “peculiarly ringing _dink_,” and its
song is said to excel, if possible, that of the House Wren. “What joyous
notes! * * * His song comes tripping down the scale growing so fast it
seems as if the songster could only stop by giving his odd little
flourish back up the scale again at the end. The ordinary song has seven
descending notes, but often, as if out of pure exuberance of happiness,
the Wren begins with a run of grace notes, ending with the same little
flourish. The rare character of the song is its rhapsody and the rich
vibrant quality which has suggested the name of bugler for him—and a
glorious little bugler he surely is” (Mrs. Bailey).



                       _Mimidæ_—The Mockingbirds


                                No. 123.
                             SAGE THRASHER.

  A. O. U. No. 702. Oroscoptes montanus Townsend.

  Synonyms.—Sage Mocker. Mountain Mocking-bird (early name—inapropos).

  Description.—_Adults_: General plumage ashy brown, lighter below;
  above grayish- or ashy-brown, the feathers, especially on crown,
  streaked mesially with darker brown; wings and tail dark grayish brown
  with paler edgings; middle and greater coverts narrowly tipped with
  whitish, producing two dull bars; outer rectrices broadly tipped with
  white, decreasing in area, till vanishing on central pair; lores
  grayish; a pale superciliary line; cheeks brownish varied by white;
  underparts whitish tinged with buffy brown, most strongly on flanks
  and crissum, everywhere (save, usually, on throat, lower belly, and
  under tail-coverts) streaked with dusky, the streaks tending to
  confluence along side of throat, sharply distinguished and
  wedge-shaped on breast, where also heaviest; bill blackish paling on
  mandible; legs and feet dusky brownish, the latter with yellow soles;
  iris lemon-yellow. _Young_ birds are browner and more decidedly
  streaked above; less distinctly streaked below. Length about 8.00
  (203); wing 3.82 (97); tail 3.54 (90); bill .65 (16.4); tarsus 1.20
  (30.5).

  Recognition Marks.—Chewink size; ashy-brown plumage appearing nearly
  uniform at distance; sage-haunting habits; impetuous song.

  Nesting.—_Nest_, a substantial structure of thorny twigs (_Sarcobatus_
  preferred), usually slightly domed, with a heavy inner cup of fine
  bark (sage) strips, placed without attempt at concealment in sage-bush
  or greasewood. _Eggs_, 4 or 5, rich, dark, bluish green, heavily
  spotted or blotched with rich rufous and “egg-gray”—among the
  handsomest. Av. size, .98 × .71 (24.9 × 18). _Season_: May 1-June 15;
  two (?) broods.

  General Range.—Western United States from western part of the Great
  Plains (western South Dakota, western Nebraska, and eastern Colorado)
  north to Montana, west to the Cascades and Sierra Nevada, south into
  New Mexico, Lower California, and, casually, to Guadalupe Island.

  Range in Washington.—Treeless portions of East-side; summer resident.

  Authorities.—[“Sage Thrasher,” Johnson, Rep. Gov. W. T. 1884 (1885),
  p. 22.] Dawson, Wilson Bulletin, No. 39, June, 1902, p. 67. (T). D².
  Ss¹. Ss².

  Specimens.—U. of W. P. C.

It takes a poet to appreciate the desert. Those people who affect to
despise the sage are the same to whom stones are stones instead of
compacted histories of the world’s youth, and clouds are clouds instead
of legions of angels. It is no mark of genius then to despise common
things. The desert has cradled more of the world’s good men and great
than ever were coddled in king’s palaces. Whistler used to paint
“symphonies in gray” and men held back questioning, “Er—is this art?” A
few, bolder than their fellows, pronounced favorably upon it, and it is
allowable now to admit that Whistler was a great artist—that is, a great
discoverer and revealer of Nature.

Nature has painted upon our eastern hills a symphony in gray greens, a
canvas of artemisia, simple, ample, insistent. And still the people
stand before it hesitating—it is so common—is it considered beautiful,
pray? Well, at least a bird thinks so, a bird whose whole life has been
spent in the sage. Listen! The hour is sunrise. As we face the east,
heavy shadows still huddle about us and blend with the ill-defined
realities. The stretching sage-tops tremble with oblation before the
expectant sun. The pale dews are taking counsel for flight, but the
opalescent haze, pregnant with sunfire, yet tender with cool greens and
subtle azures, hovers over the altar waiting the concomitance of the
morning hymn before ascent. Suddenly, from a distant sage-bush bursts a
geyser of song, a torrent of tuneful waters, gushing, as it would seem,
from the bowels of the wilderness in an ecstacy of greeting and
gratitude and praise. It is from the throat of the Sage Thrasher, poet
of the bitter weed, that the tumult comes. Himself but a gray shadow,
scarce visible in the early light, he pours out his soul and the soul of
the sage in a rhapsody of holy joy. Impetuous, impassioned, compelling,
rises this matchless music of the desert. To the silence of the
gray-green canvas, beautiful but incomplete, has come the throb and
thrill of life,—life brimful, delirious, exultant. The freshness and the
gladness of it touch the soul as with a magic. The heart of the listener
glows, his veins tingle, his face beams. He cannot wait to analyze. He
must dance and shout for joy. The wine of the wilderness is henceforth
in his veins, and drunk with ecstacy he reels across the enchanted scene
forever more.

And all this inspiration the bird draws from common sage and the rising
of the common sun. How does he do it? I do not know. Ask Homer, Milton,
Keats.


                                No. 124.
                                CATBIRD.

  A. O. U. No. 704. Dumetella carolinensis (Linn.).

  Description.—_Adult_: Slate-color, lightening almost imperceptibly
  below; black on top of head and on tail; under tail-coverts chestnut,
  sometimes spotted with slaty; bill and feet black. Length 8.00-9.35
  (203.2-237.5); wing 3.59 (91.2); tail 3.65 (92.7); bill .62 (15.8).

  Recognition Marks.—Chewink size; almost uniform slaty coloration with
  thicket-haunting habits distinctive; lithe and slender as compared
  with Water Ouzel.

  Nesting.—_Nest_, of twigs, weed-stalks, vegetable fibers, and trash,
  carefully lined with fine rootlets, placed at indifferent heights in
  bushes or thickets. _Eggs_, 4-5, deep emerald-green, glossy. Av. size,
  .95 × .69 (24.1 × 17.5). _Season_, first two weeks in June; one brood.

  General Range.—Eastern United States and British Provinces, west
  regularly to and including the Rocky Mountains, irregularly to the
  Pacific Coast from British Columbia to central California. Breeds from
  the Gulf States northward to the Saskatchewan. Winters in the southern
  states, Cuba, and middle America to Panama. Bermuda, resident.
  Accidental in Europe.

  Range in Washington.—Summer resident; not uncommon but locally
  distributed in eastern and especially northeastern Washington;
  penetrates deepest mountain valleys on eastern slope of Cascades, and
  is regularly established in certain West-side valleys connected by low
  passes. Casual at Seattle, and elsewhere at sea-level.

  Authorities.—_Galeoscoptes carolinensis_, Belding, Land Birds of the
  Pacific District (1890), p. 226 (Walla Walla by J. W. Williams, 1885).
  D¹. Ss¹. Ss². J.

  Specimens.—U. of W. Prov. P. C.

Those who hold either a good or a bad opinion of the Catbird are
one-sided in their judgment. Two, and not less than two, opinions are
possible of one and the same bird. He is both imp and angel, a
“feathered Mephistopheles” and “a heavenly singer.” But this is far from
saying that the bird lives a double life in the sense ordinarily
understood, for in the same minute he is grave, gay, pensive and
clownish. Nature made him both a wag and a poet, and it is no wonder if
the roguishness and high philosophy become inextricably entangled. One
moment he steps forth before you as sleek as Beau Brummel, graceful,
polished, equal-eyed; then he cocks his head to one side and squints at
you like a thief; next he hangs his head, droops wings and tail, and
looks like a dog being lectured for killing sheep;—Presto, change! the
bird pulls himself up to an extravagant height and with exaggerated
gruffness, croaks out, “Who are you?” Then without waiting for an answer
to his impudent question, the rascal sneaks off thru the bushes, hugging
every feather close to his body, delivering a running fire of cat-calls,
squawks, and expressions of contempt. There is no accounting for him; he
is an irrepressible—and a genius.

The Catbird is not common in Washington, save in the northeastern
portion of the State, where it is well established. Miss Jennie V. Getty
finds them regularly at North Bend, and there is a Seattle record; so
that there is reason to believe that the Catbird is one of those few
species which are extending their range by encroachment from neighboring
territory. There can be no question that civilization is conducive to
the bird’s welfare, primarily by increasing the quantity of its cover on
the East-side, and, possibly, by reducing it on the West. Catbirds, when
at home, are found in thickets and in loose shrubbery. River-banks are
lined with them, and chaparral-covered hillsides have their share; but
they also display a decided preference for the vicinage of man, and, if
allowed to, will frequent the orchards and the raspberry bushes. They
help themselves pretty freely to the fruit of the latter, but their
services in insect-eating compensate for their keep, a hundred-fold.
Nests are placed almost anywhere at moderate heights, but thickety
places are preferred, and the wild rosebush is acknowledged to be the
ideal spot. The birds exhibit the greatest distress when their nest is
disturbed, and the entire neighborhood is aroused to expressions of
sympathy by their pitiful cries.

My friend, Dr. James Ball Naylor, of Malta, Ohio, tells the following
story in answer to the oft-repeated question, Do animals reason? The
poet’s house nestles against the base of a wooded hill and looks out
upon a spacious well-kept lawn which is studded with elm trees. The
place is famous for birds and the neighborhood is equally famous for
cats. Robins occasionally venture to glean angle worms upon the inviting
expanses of this lawn, but for a bird to attempt to cross it unaided by
wing would be to invite destruction as in the case of a lone soldier
climbing San Juan hill. One day, however, a fledgling Catbird,
overweening and disobedient, we fear, fell from its nest overhead and
sat helpless on the dreaded slopes. The parents were beside themselves
with anxiety. The birdie could not fly and would not flutter to any
purpose. There was no enemy in sight but it was only by the sufferance
of fate, and moments were precious. In the midst of it all the mother
disappeared and returned presently with a fat green worm, which she held
up to baby at a foot’s remove. Baby hopped and floundered forward to the
juicy morsel, but when he had covered the first foot, the dainty was
still six inches away. Mama promised it to him with a flood of
encouragement for every effort, but as often as the infant advanced the
mother retreated, renewing her blandishments. In this way she coaxed her
baby across the lawn and up, twig by twig, to the top of an osage-orange
hedge which bounded it. Here, according to Dr. Naylor, she fed her child
the worm.

Comparing the scolding and call notes of the Catbird with the mewing of
a cat has perhaps been a little overdone, but the likeness is strong
enough to lodge in the mind and to fasten the bird’s “trivial name” upon
it forever. Besides a mellow _phut, phut_ in the bush, the bird has an
aggravating _mee-a-a_, and a petulant call note which is nothing less
than _Ma-a-ry_. Cautious to a degree and timid, the bird is oftener
heard in the depth of the thicket than elsewhere, but he sometimes
mounts the tree-top, and the opening “_Phut, phut, coquillicot_”—as
Neltje Blanchan hears it—is the promise of a treat.

Generalizations are apt to be inadequate when applied to singers of such
brilliant and varied gifts as the Catbird’s. It would be impertinent to
say: _Homo sapiens_ has a cultivated voice and produces music of the
highest order. Some of us do and some of us do not. Similarly some
Catbirds are “self-conscious and affected,” “pause after each phrase to
mark its effect upon the audience,” etc. Some lack originality, feeling,
are incapable of sustained effort, cannot imitate other birds, etc. But
some Catbirds are among the most talented singers known. One such I
remember, which, overcome by the charms of a May day sunset, mounted the
tip of a pasture elm, and poured forth a hymn of praise in which every
voice of woodland and field was laid under contribution. Yet all were
suffused by the singer’s own emotion. Oh, how that voice rang out upon
the still evening air! The bird sang with true feeling, an artist in
every sense, and the delicacy and accuracy of his phrasing must have
silenced a much more captious critic than I. Never at a loss for a note,
never pausing to ask himself what he should sing next, he went steadily
on, now with a phrase from Robin’s song, now with the shrill cry of the
Red-headed Woodpecker, each softened and refined as his own infallible
musical taste dictated; now and again he interspersed these with bits of
his own no less beautiful. The carol of Vireo, the tender ditties of the
Song and Vesper Sparrows, and the more pretentious efforts of Grosbeaks,
had all impressed themselves upon this musician’s ear, and he repeated
them, not slavishly, but with discernment and deep appreciation. As the
sun sank lower in the west I left him there, a dull gray bird, with form
scarcely outlined against the evening sky, but my soul had taken flight
with his—up into that blest abode where all Nature’s voices are blended
into one, and all music is praise.

    [Illustration: _Taken near Stehekin._    _Photo by the Author._
                        A HAUNT OF THE CATBIRD.]



                         _Cinclidæ_—The Dippers


                                No. 125.
                         AMERICAN WATER OUZEL.

  A. O. U. No. 701. Cinclus mexicanus unicolor (Bonap.).

  Synonym.—American Dipper.

  Description.—_Adults in spring and summer_: General plumage slaty gray
  paling below; tinged with brown on head and neck; wings and tail
  darker, blackish slate; eyelids touched with white; bill black; feet
  yellowish. _Adults in fall and winter, and immature_: Feathers of
  underparts margined with whitish and some whitish edging on wings;
  bill lighter, brownish. _Young_ birds are much lighter below; the
  throat is nearly white and the feathers of remaining under plumage are
  broadly tipped with white and have wash of rufous posteriorly—tips of
  wing-feathers and, occasionally, tail-feathers extensively white; bill
  yellow. Length of adult 6.00-7.00 (152-178); wing 3.54 (90); tail 1.97
  (50); bill .68 (17.3); tarsus 1.12 (28.5).

  Recognition Marks.—Sparrow size but _chunky_, giving impression of a
  “better” bird. Slaty coloration and water-haunting habits distinctive.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: a large ball of green moss lined with fine grasses,
  and with entrance on side; lodged among rocks, fallen timber, roots,
  etc., near water. _Eggs_: 4 or 5, pure white. Av. size, 1.02 × .70
  (25.9 × 17.8). _Season_: April-June; one or two broods.

  General Range.—The mountains of western North America from the
  northern boundary of Mexico and northern Lower California to northern
  Alaska. Resident.

  Range in Washington.—Of regular occurrence along all mountain streams.
  Retires to lower levels, even, rarely, to sea-coast in winter.

  Authorities.—_Cinclus mortoni_, Townsend, Narrative, April, 1839, p.
  339. Also _C. townsendi_ “Audubon,” Ibid., p. 340. T. C&S. L¹. Rh. D¹.
  Ra. D². B. E.

  Specimens.—Prov. B. E.

  “Advancing and prancing and glancing and dancing,
  And dashing and flashing and splashing and clashing;
  And so never ending, but always descending,
  Sounds and motions forever and ever are blending,
  All at once and all o’er, with a mighty uproar;
  And this way the Water comes down at Lodore.”

But the scene of aqueous confusion was incomplete unless a leaden shape
emerged from the spray, took station on a jutting rock, and proceeded to
rub out certain gruff notes of greeting, _jigic, jigic, jigic_. These
notes manage somehow to dominate or to pierce the roar of the cataract,
and they symbolize henceforth the turbulence of all the mountain
torrents of the West.

The Water Ouzel bobs most absurdly as he repeats his inquiry after your
health. But you would far rather know of his, for he has just come out
of the icy bath, and as he sidles down the rock, tittering expectantly,
you judge he is contemplating another one. Yes; without more ado the
bird wades into the stream where the current is so swift you are sure it
would sweep a man off his feet. He disappears beneath its surface and
you shudder at the possibilities, but after a half minute of suspense he
bursts out of the seething waters a dozen feet below and flits back to
his rock chuckling cheerily. This time, it may be, he will rest, and you
have opportunity to note the slightly _retroussé_ aspect of the beak in
its attachment to the head. The bird has stopped springing now and
stands as stolid as an Indian, save as ever and again he delivers a slow
wink, upside down, with the white nictitating membrane.

It has been asserted that the Ouzel flies under water, but I think that
this is a mistake, except as it may use its wings to reach the surface
of the water after it has released its hold upon the bottom. The bird
creeps and clings, rather, and is thus able to withstand a strong
current as well as to attain a depth of several feet in quieter waters.

The Water Ouzel feeds largely upon the larvæ of the caddice fly, known
locally as periwinkles. These are found clinging to the under surface of
stones lining the stream, and their discovery requires quite a little
prying and poking on the bird’s part. The Ouzels are also said to be
destructive to fish fry, insomuch that the director of a hatchery in
British Columbia felt impelled to order the destruction of all the
Ouzels, to the number of several hundred, which wintered along a certain
protected stream. This was a very regrettable necessity, if necessity it
was, and one which might easily lead to misunderstanding between
bird-men and fish-men. We are fond of trout ourselves, but we confess to
being a great deal fonder of this adventuresome water-sprite.

The Ouzel is non-migratory, but the summer haunts of the birds in the
mountains are largely closed to them in winter, so that they find it
necessary at that season to retreat to the lower levels. This is done,
as it were, reluctantly, and nothing short of the actual blanketing of
snow or ice will drive them to forsake the higher waters. The bird is
essentially solitary at this season, as in summer, and when it repairs
to a lower station, along late in November, there is no little strife
engendered by the discussion of metes and bounds. In the winter of
1895-6, being stationed at Chelan, I had occasion to note that the same
Ouzels appeared daily along the upper reaches of the Chelan River.
Thinking that such a local attachment might be due to similar occupation
down stream, I set out one afternoon to follow the river down for a mile
or so, and to ascertain, if possible, how many bird-squatters had laid
out claims along its turbulent course. In places where there was an
unusually long succession of rapids, it was not always possible to
decide between the conflicting interests of rival claimants, for they
flitted up and down overlapping by short flights each other’s domains;
but the very fact that these overlappings often occasioned sharp
passages at arms served to confirm the conclusion that the territory had
been divided, and that each bird was expected to dive and bob and gurgle
on his own beat. Thus, twenty-seven birds were found to occupy a stretch
of two miles.

Here in winter quarters, the first courting songs were heard. As early
as Christmas the birds began to tune up, and that quite irrespective of
weather. But their utterances were as rare in time as they are in
quality. In fact, it does not appear to be generally known that the
Water Ouzel is a beautiful singer, and none of those who have been so
fortunate as to hear its song, have heard enough to pass final judgment
on it. We know, at least, that it is clear and strong and vivacious, and
that in its utterance the bird recalls its affinity to both Thrushes and
Thrashers.

  [Illustration: _Taken in California._    _Photo by Frederick Bade._
                           THE LAST STATION.
 IN ANOTHER MOMENT THE OUZEL WILL VISIT HER BROOD UNDER THE WATERFALL.]

The Ouzel places its nest beside some brawling stream, or near or behind
some small cascade. In doing so, the chief solicitude seems to be that
the living mosses, of which the bulky globe is composed, shall be kept
moist by the flying spray, and so retain their greenness. Indeed, one
observer reports that in default of ready-made conveniences, the bird
itself turns sprinkler, not only alighting upon the dome of its house
after returning from a trip, but visiting the water repeatedly for the
sole purpose of shaking its wet plumage over the mossy nest.

Unless we mistake, the bird in the first picture is about to visit a
nest behind the waterfall, and of such a nest Mr. John Keast Lord says:
“I once found the nest of the American Dipper built amongst the roots of
a large cedar-tree that had floated down the stream and got jammed
against the mill-dam of the Hudson Bay Company’s old grist mill, at Fort
Colville, on a tributary to the upper Columbia River. The water rushing
over a jutting ledge of rocks, formed a small cascade, that fell like a
veil of water before the dipper’s nest; and it was curious to see the
birds dash thru the waterfall rather than go in at the sides, and in
that way get behind it. For hours I have sat and watched the busy pair,
passing in and out thru the fall, with as much apparent ease as an
equestrian performer jumps thru a hoop covered with tissue paper. The
nest was ingeniously constructed to prevent the spray from wetting the
interior, the moss being so worked over the entrance as to form an
admirable verandah.”

     [Illustration: _Taken in Oregon._    _Photo by A. W. Anthony._
                         AN UNSHELTERED NEST.]

Of the nest shown in the accompanying illustration, Mr. A. W. Anthony
says that it was completed under unusual difficulties. A party of
surveyors, requiring to bridge a stream in eastern Oregon, first laid a
squared stringer. This an Ouzel promptly seized upon, and in token of
proprietorship began to heap up moss. This arrangement did not comport
with business and the nest foundations were brushed aside on two
successive mornings. A spell of bad weather intervening, the men
returned to their work some days later to find the completed nest, as
shown, completed but still unoccupied. It was necessary to remove this
also, but judge of the feelings of the surveyors when, upon the
following morning, they found a single white egg resting upon the bare
timber!



                       _Hirundinidæ_—The Swallows


                                No. 126.
                             PURPLE MARTIN.

  A. O. U. No. 611. Progne subis (Linn.).

  Description.—_Adult male_: Rich, purplish black, glossy and metallic;
  wings and tail dead black. _Adult female_: Similar to male, but
  blue-black of upperparts restricted and duller; forehead, hind-neck,
  and lower parts sooty gray, paler on belly and crissum. Bill black,
  stout, and broad at the base, decurved near tip; nostrils exposed,
  circular, opening upward; feet moderately stout. _Young males_:
  resemble adult female but are somewhat darker, the steely blue
  appearing at first in patches. Length 7.25-8.50 (184.2-215.9); av. of
  eight specimens: wing 5.75 (146.1); tail 2.72 (69.1): bill, breadth at
  base .73 (18.5); length from nostril .33 (8.4).

  Recognition Marks.—Chewink size; the largest of the Swallows;
  blue-black, or blue-black and sooty-gray coloration.

  Nesting.—_Nest_, of leaves, grass, and trash, in some cavity, usually
  artificial,—bird-boxes, gourds, etc. _Eggs_, 4-5, rarely 6, pure,
  glossy white. Av. size, .98 × .73 (24.9 × 18.5). _Season_, first week
  in June; one brood.

  General Range.—Temperate North America, except southern portion of
  Pacific Coast district, north to Ontario and the Saskatchewan, south
  to the higher parts of Mexico, wintering in South America.

  Range in Washington.—Not common summer resident—nearly confined to
  business sections of the larger cities.

  Migrations.—_Spring_: c. April 15; Tacoma, April 1, 1905. _Fall_: c.
  Sept. 1st.

  Authorities.—Cooper and Suckley, Rep. Pac. R. R. Surv. XII. pt. II.
  1860, p. 136. (T). C&S. [L]. Rh. Ra. Kk. B. E.

  Specimens.—Prov. B. E.

This virtually rare bird appears to be strictly confined during its
summer residence with us to the business districts of our larger
West-side cities. Records are in from Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia,
Bellingham, Vancouver, and Victoria only. Really, if this favoritism
continues, we shall begin to think of imposing a new test for cities of
the first class; viz., Do the Martins nest with you?

Suckley remembers a time when, in the early Fifties, a few Martins were
to be seen about the scrub oaks of the Nisqually Plains, in whose
hollows and recesses they undoubtedly nested; but all Washington birds
have long since adopted the ways of civilization. April 1st is the
earliest return I have noted, and we are not surprised if they fail to
put in an appearance before the 1st of May. Their movements depend
largely upon the weather, and even if they have come back earlier they
are likely to mope indoors when the weather is cold and disagreeable.
The birds feed exclusively upon insects, and are thus quite at the mercy
of a backward spring. Not only flies and nits are consumed, but bees,
wasps, dragon flies, and some of the larger predatory beetles as well.

The birds mate soon after arrival, and for a home they select some
crevice or hidey-hole about a building. A cavity left by a missing brick
is sufficient, or a station on the eave-plate of a warehouse. Old nests
are renovated and new materials are brought in, straw, string, and trash
for the bulk of the nest, and abundant feathers for lining. Sometimes
the birds exhibit whimsical tastes. Mr. S. F. Rathbun of Seattle found a
nest which was composed entirely of wood shavings mixed with string and
fragments of the woven sheath which covers electric light wires.

The nest is not often occupied till June, when the birds may be most
certain of finding food for their offspring; and the rearing of a single
brood is a season’s work. Five eggs are almost invariably the number
laid, and they are of a pure white color, the shell being very little
glossed and of a coarser grain than is the case with eggs of the other
Swallows.

Purple Martins are very sociable birds, and a voluble flow of small talk
is kept up by them during the nesting season. The song, if such it may
be called, is a succession of pleasant warblings and gurglings,
interspersed with harsh rubbing and creaking notes. A particularly
mellow _coo, coo, coo_, recurs from time to time, and any of the notes
seem to require considerable effort on the part of the performer.

It will prove to be a sad day for the Martins when the English Sparrows
take full possession of our cities. The Martins are not deficient in
courage, but they cannot endure the presence of the detested foreigners.
The Sparrows are filthy creatures, and it may be that the burden of the
vermin, which they invariably introduce to their haunts, bears more
heavily upon the skins of our more delicately constituted citizens than
upon their own swinish hides.


                                No. 127.
                             CLIFF SWALLOW.

  A. O. U. No. 612. Petrochelidon lunifrons (Say).

  Synonyms.—Eave Swallow. Republican Swallow.

  Description.—_Adult_: A prominent whitish crescent on forehead; crown,
  back, and an obscure patch on breast steel-blue; throat, sides of
  head, and nape deep chestnut; breast, sides, and a cervical collar
  brown-gray; belly white or whitish; wings and tail blackish; rump pale
  rufous,—the color reaching around on flanks; under tail-coverts dusky.
  _In young birds_ the frontlet is obscure or wanting; the plumage dull
  brown above, and the throat blackish with white specks. Bill and feet
  weak, the former suddenly compressed at tip. Length 5.00-6.00
  (127-152.4); wing 4.35 (110.5); tail 2.00 (50.8); bill from nostril
  .22 (5.6).

  Recognition Marks.—“Warbler size,” but comparison
  inappropriate,—better say “Swallow size”; white forehead and rufous
  rump. Found in colonies.

  Nesting.—_Nest_, an inverted stack-shaped, or declined retort-shaped
  structure of mud, scantily or well lined with grass, and depending
  from the walls of cliffs, sides of barns under the eaves, and the
  like. _Eggs_, 4-5, white, spotted, sometimes scantily, with cinnamon-
  and rufous-brown. Av. size, .82 × .55 (20.8 × 14). _Season_, May
  25-June 25.

  General Range.—North America, north to the limit of trees, breeding
  southward to the Valley of the Potomac and the Ohio, southern Texas,
  southern Arizona, and California; Central and South America in winter.
  Not found in Florida.

  Range in Washington.—Summer resident, abundant but locally distributed
  east of Cascades; much less common in Puget Sound region.

  Migrations.—_Spring_: April 15-30. _Fall_: first week in Sept. Tacoma,
  April 4, 1908.

  Authorities.—_Hirundo lunifrons_, Say, Cooper and Suckley, Rep. Pac.
  R. R. Surv. XII. 1860, 184. T. C&S. D¹. Kb. Ra. D². Ss¹. Ss². J. B. E.

  Specimens.—Prov. P. C.

  [Illustration: _Taken in Douglas County._    _Photo by the Author._
                          THE CLIFF DWELLERS.]

Few birds serve to recall more accurately a picture of sequestered
grandeur and primeval peace than do these amiable tenants of
Washington’s very limited scab lands. It is true that certain Cliff
Swallows, following the example of their weaker eastern brethren, have
taken to nesting under the eaves of churches and barns and outbuildings,
but they are a negligible quantity in comparison with the swarms which
still resort to the ancestral “breaks” of the Columbia gorge and the
weird basaltic coulees of Douglas County.

The particular nesting site may be a matter of a season’s use, populous
this year and abandoned the next; but somewhere along this frowning face
of basaltic columns Swallows were nesting before old Chief Moses and his
copper-colored clans were displaced by the white man. Soon after the
retreating ice laid bare the fluted bastions of the Grand Coulee, I
think, these fly-catching cohorts swept in and established a northern
outpost, an outpost which was not abandoned even in those degenerate
days when deer gave way to cayuses, cayuses to cattle, and cattle to
sheep and fences—fences, mark you, on the Swallow’s domain!

Evidence of this age-long occupation of the lava-cliff is furnished not
only by the muddy cicatrices left by fallen nests, but, wherever the
wall juts out or overhangs, so as to shield a place below from the
action of the elements, by beds of guano and coprolitic stalagmites,
which cling to the uneven surface of the rock. Judged by the same
testimony, certain of the larger blow-holes, or lava-bubbles, must be
used at night as lodging places, at least out of the nesting season.

The well-known bottle- or retort-shaped nests of the Cliff Swallow are
composed of pellets of mud deposited in successive beakfuls by the
industrious birds. It is always interesting to see a twittering company
of these little masons gathering by the water’s edge and moulding their
mortar to the required consistency. Not less interesting is it to watch
them lay the foundations upon some smooth rock facet. Their tiny beaks
must serve for hods and trowels, and because the first course of mud
masonry is the most particular, they alternately cling and flutter, as
with many prods and fairy thumps they force the putty-like material to
lay hold of the indifferent wall.

There is usually much passing to and fro in the case of these
cliff-dwellers, and we can never hope to steal upon them unawares. When
one approaches from below, an alarm is sounded and anxious heads,
wearing a white frown, are first thrust out at the mouths of the
bottles, and then the air becomes filled with flying Swallows, charging
about the head of the intruder in bewildering mazes and raising a babble
of strange frangible cries, as tho a thousand sets of toy dishes were
being broken. If the newcomer appears harmless, the birds return to
their eggs by ones and twos and dozens until most of the company are
disposed again. At such a moment it is great sport to set up a sudden
shout. There is an instant hush, electric, ominous, while every little
Injun of them is making for the door of his wigwam. Then they are
dislodged from the cliff like an avalanche of missiles, a silent,
down-sweeping cloud; but immediately they gain assurance in the open and
bedlam begins all over again.

  [Illustration: _Taken in Douglas County._    _Photo by the Author._
                     A NESTING CLIFF, FROM BELOW.]

The Cliff Swallows are, of course, beyond the reach of all four-footed
enemies, but now and again a June rain-storm comes at the cliff from an
unexpected quarter and plays sad havoc with their frail tenements.
Besides this (in strictest confidence; one dislikes to pass an ill word
of a suffering brother) the nests are likely to be infested with
bed-bugs. Not all, of course, are so afflicted, but in some cases the
scourge becomes so severe that the nest is abandoned outright, and eggs
or young are left to their fate. In spite of this compromising weakness,
the presence of these Swallows confers an incalculable benefit upon the
farmer of eastern Washington, in that they alone are able to cope with a
host of winged insect pests. They race tirelessly to and fro across the
landscape, weaving a magic tapestry of search, until it would seem that
not a cubic inch of atmosphere remains without its invisible thread of
flight.


                                No. 128.
                         ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW.

  A. O. U. No. 617. Stelgidopteryx serripennis (Aud.).

  Description.—_Adult_: Warm brownish gray or snuff-brown, including
  throat and breast; thence passing insensibly below to white of under
  tail-coverts; wings fuscous. _Young birds_ exhibit some rusty edging
  of the feathers above, especially on the wings, and lack the peculiar,
  recurved hooks on the edge of the outer primary. Size a little larger
  than the next. Length 5.00-5.75 (127-146.1); wing 4.30 (109.2); tail
  1.85 (47); bill from nostril .21 (5.3).

  Recognition Marks.—Medium Swallow size; throat not white; warmish
  brown coloration, and brownish suffusion below fading to white on
  belly. It is easy to distinguish between this and the succeeding
  species if a little care is taken to note the general pattern of
  underparts.

  Nesting.—_Nest_, in crevices of cliffs, at end of tunnels in sand
  banks, or in crannies of bridges, etc.; made of leaves, grasses,
  feathers, and the like,—bulky or compact according to situation.
  _Eggs_, 4-8, white. Av. size, .74 × .51 (18.8 × 13). _Season_: May
  20-June 5, June 20-July 10; two broods.

  General Range.—United States at large, north to Connecticut, southern
  Ontario, southern Minnesota, British Columbia, etc., south thru Mexico
  to Costa Rica. Breeds thruout United States range and south in Mexico.

  Range in Washington.—Summer resident, of general distribution, save in
  mountains, thruout the State. More common east of the mountains, where
  it has taken a great fancy to banks of irrigating ditches, especially
  where abrupt.

  Migrations.—_Spring_: First week in April; Tacoma, April 3, 1905,
  April 6, 1906 and 1908. _Fall_: c. Sept. 1.

  Authorities.—_Cotyle serripennis_, Bonap. Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R. Surv.
  IX. pt. II. 1858, 314. C&S. L¹(?). L². Rh. Ra. J. B. E.

  Specimens.—(U. of W.) Prov. P. B. E.

It not infrequently happens that some oversight, or want of
discrimination, on the part of early observers condemns a species to
long obscurity or unending misapprehension. The Bank Swallow was at once
recognized by the pioneer naturalists of America as being identical with
the well-known European bird, but it was not till 1838 that Audubon
distinguished its superficially similar but structurally different
relative, the Rough-wing. The cloak of obscurity still clings to the
latter, altho we begin to suspect that it may from the first have
enjoyed its present wide distribution East as well as West. Hence, in
describing it, we take the more familiar Bank Swallow as a point of
departure, and say that it differs thus and so and so.

In the first place it has those curious little hooklets on the edge of
the wing (especially on the outer edge of the first primary)—nobody
knows what they are for. They surely cannot be of service in enabling
the bird to cling to perpendicular surfaces, for they are bent forward,
and the bird is not known to cling head-downward. It is easy to see how
the bird might brace its wings against the sides of its nesting tunnel
to prevent forcible abduction, but no one knows of a possible enemy
which might be circumvented in this way.

 [Illustration: _Taken in Oregon._    _Photo by H. T. Bohlman and W. L.
                                Finley._
                           BABY ROUGH-WINGS.]

Again, the Rough-winged Swallow has a steadier, rather more labored
flight than that of its foil. Its aerial course is more dignified,
leisurely, less impulsive and erratic. In nesting, altho it may include
the range of the Sand Martin, or even nest side by side with it, it has
a wider latitude for choice and is not hampered by local tradition. If
it burrows in a bank it is quite as likely to dig near the bottom as the
top. Crevices in masonry or stone quarries, crannies and abutments of
bridges or even holes in trees, are utilized. In Lincoln County where
cover is scarce and the food supply attractive, I found them nesting
along irrigating ditches with banks not over two feet high. One
guileless pair I knew excavated a nest in the gravelly bank of an
ungraded lot only three feet above the sidewalk of a prominent street,
Denny Way, in Seattle. These birds were unsuccessful, but another pair,
which enjoyed the protection of some sturdy fir roots below ground,
brought off a brood on Fifty-fifth Street, near my home.

Unlike the Bank Swallows, the Rough-wings do not colonize to any great
extent, but are rather solitary. Favorable conditions may attract
several pairs to a given spot, as a gravel pit, but when together they
are little given to community functions.

These Swallows are pretty evenly distributed thruout the length and
breadth of the State, save that they do not venture into high altitudes.
Since they are so catholic in taste, it would seem that they are
destined to flourish. They are possibly now to be considered, after the
Cliff Swallow, the most numerous species. I found them regularly along
the west Olympic Coast in the summer of 1906; and, with Mr. Edson, of
Bellingham, in June, 1905, found a single pair nesting in characteristic
isolation on Bare Island, off Waldron.

Further than this, the bird under consideration resembles the other bird
quite closely in notes, in habits, and in general appearance, and
requires sharp distinction in accordance with the suggestions given
above under “Recognition Marks.”


                                No. 129.
                             BANK SWALLOW.

  A. O. U. No. 616. Riparia riparia (Linn).

  Synonym.—Sand Martin.

  Description.—_Adult_: Upperparts plain, brownish gray; wings fuscous;
  throat and belly white; a brownish gray band across the breast; a tiny
  tuft of feathers above the hind toe. There is some variation in the
  extent of the pectoral band; it is sometimes produced indistinctly
  backward, and sometimes even interrupted. Length 5.00-5.25
  (127-133.3); wing 3.95 (100.3); tail 1.97 (50); bill from nostril .20
  (5.1).

  Recognition Marks.—Smallest of the Swallows; throat white; brownish
  gray pectoral band on white ground.

  Nesting.—_Nest_, at end of tunnels in banks, two or three feet in; a
  frail mat of straws and grasses and occasionally feathers. Breeds
  usually in colonies. _Eggs_, 4-6, sometimes 7, pure white. Av. size,
  .70 × .49 (17.8 × 12.5). _Season_: June; one brood.

  General Range.—Northern Hemisphere; in America south to West Indies,
  Central America, and northern South America; breeding from the middle
  districts of the United States northward to about the limit of trees.

  Range in Washington.—Summer resident; not common. A few large colonies
  are known east of the Cascades; westerly they are rare or wanting.

  Migrations.—_Spring_: May 11, 1896, Chelan.

  Authorities.—_Clivicola riparia_, Dawson, Auk, Vol. XIV. April, 1897,
  p. 179. T. [L¹.] D¹. Kb. D². Kk. B. E. (H).

  Specimens.—Prov. C.

                     [Illustration: BANK SWALLOW.]

Those who know, conceive a regard for this plain-colored bird which is
quite out of keeping with its humble garb and its confessedly prosy
ways. The fact is, we have no other bird so nearly cosmopolitan, and we
of the West, who are being eternally reminded of our newness, and who
are, indeed, upon the alert for some new shade of color upon the feather
of a bird for each added degree of longitude, take comfort in the fact
that here at least is an unchangeable type, a visible link between
Stumptown-on-Swinomish and Florence on the Arno. Birds of precisely this
feather are summering on the Lena, or else hawking at flies on the sunny
Gaudalquivir, or tunneling the sacred banks of the Jordan; and the
flattery is not lost upon us of such as still prefer the Nespilem and
the Pilchuck.

     [Illustration: _Taken near Chelan._    _Photo by the Author._
                   NESTING SITE OF THE BANK SWALLOW.]

The life of a Swallow is so largely spent a-wing, that our interest in
it centers even more than in the case of other birds upon the time when
it is bound to earth by family ties. We are scarcely conscious of the
presence of the Bank Swallow until one day we see a great company of
them fluttering about a sand-bank which overlooks the river, all busily
engaged in digging the tunnels which are to shelter their young for that
season. These birds are regularly gregarious, and a nesting colony
frequently numbers hundreds.

The birds usually select a spot well up within a foot or two of the top
of a nearly perpendicular bank of soil or sand, and dig a straight,
round tunnel three or four feet long. If, however, the soil contains
stones, a greater length and many turns may be required to reach a safe
spot for the slight enlargement where the nest proper is placed. The
bird appears to loosen the earth with its closed beak, swaying from side
to side the while; and, of course, fallen dirt or sand is carried out in
the mouth. Sometimes the little miner finds a lens-shaped tunnel more
convenient, and I have seen them as much as seven inches in width and
only two in height. While the members of a colony, especially if it be a
small one, usually occupy a straggling, horizontal line of holes, their
burrows are not infrequently to be seen in loose tiers, so that the bank
presents a honey-combed appearance.

Communal life seems a pleasant thing to these Swallows, and there is
usually a considerable stir of activity about the quarters. A good deal
of social twittering also attends the unending gyrations. The wonder is
that the rapidly moving parts of this aerial kaleidoscope never collide,
and that the cases of turning up at the wrong number are either so few
or so amicably adjusted. The nesting season is, however, beset with
dangers. Weasels and their ilk sometimes find entrance to the nesting
burrows, and they are an easy prey to underbred small boys as well. The
undermining of the nesting cliff by the swirling river sometimes
precipitates an entire colony—at least its real and personal property—to
destruction.

A certain populous bank near Chelan faced west, and whenever the west
wind blew, the fine volcanic ash, which composed the cliff, was whirled
into the mouths of the burrows, so rapidly, indeed, that the inmates
required to be frequently at work in order to maintain an exit. A few
dessicated carcasses, which I came across in old, filled-up burrows, I
attributed to misfortune in this regard.

Bank Swallows are the least musical of the Swallow kind,—unless,
perhaps, we except the Rough-winged species, which is naturally
associated in mind with this. They have, nevertheless, a characteristic
twitter, an unmelodious sound like the rubbing together of two pebbles.
An odd effect is produced when the excited birds are describing
remonstrant parabolas at an intruder’s head. The heightened pitch in the
tones of the rapidly approaching bird, followed instantly by the lower
tone of full retreat, is enough to startle a slumbering conscience in
one who meditates mischief on a Swallow’s home.


                                No. 130.
                         AMERICAN BARN SWALLOW.

  A. O. U. No. 613. Hirundo erythrogastra Bodd.

  Synonyms.—American Barn Swallow. Fork-tailed Swallow.

  Description.—_Adult_: Above lustrous steel-blue; in front an imperfect
  collar of the same hue; forehead chestnut; lores black; throat and
  breast rufous; the remaining underparts, including lining of wings,
  more or less tinged with the same, according to age and season; wings
  and tail blackish, with purplish or greenish reflections; tail deeply
  forked, the outer pair of feathers being from one to two inches
  longer, and the rest graduated; white blotches on inner webs (except
  on middle pair) follow the bifurcation. _Immature_: Forehead and
  throat paler; duller or brownish above; lateral tail-feathers not so
  long. Length about 7.00 (177.8); wing 4.75 (120.6); tail 3.00-4.50
  (76.2-114.3); bill from nostril .24 (6.1).

  Recognition Marks.—Aerial habit; rufous of throat and underparts;
  _forked tail_; nest usually _inside_ the barn.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: a neat bracket or half-bowl of mud, luxuriously lined
  with grass and feathers, and cemented to a beam of barn or bridge. In
  Washington still nests occasionally in original haunts, viz., cliffs,
  caves, and crannied sea-walls. _Eggs_: 3-6, of variable shape,—oval or
  elongated; white or pinkish white and spotted with cinnamon or umber.
  Av. size .76 × .55 (19.3 × 14). _Season_: last week in May and first
  week in July; two broods. Stehekin, Aug. 10, 1896, 4 eggs.

  General Range.—North America at large. Perhaps the most widely and
  generally distributed of any American bird. Winters in Central and
  South America.

  Range in Washington.—Summer resident of regular occurrence at lower
  levels thruout the State, less common west of the Cascades, more
  common elsewhere in the older settled valleys.

  Migrations.—_Spring_: c. May 1st; Yakima County, April 27, 1907; May
  3, 1908. _Fall_: c. September 10th; Seattle, September 20, 1907.

  Authorities.—_Hirundo horeorum_ Benton, Cooper and Suckley, Rep. Pac.
  R. R. Surv. XII., pt. II., 1860, p. 184. T. C&S. L. Rh. D¹. Kb. Ra.
  D². Ss¹. Ss². J. B. E.

  Specimens.—Prov. P¹. C. E.

One hardly knows what quality to admire most in this boyhood’s and
life-long friend, the Barn Swallow. All the dear associations of life at
the old farm come thronging up at sight of him. You think of him somehow
as a part of the sacred past; yet here he is today as young and as fresh
as ever, bubbling over with springtime laughter, ready for a frolic over
the bee-haunted meadows, or willing to settle down on the nearest
fence-wire and recount to you with sparkling eyes and eloquent gesture
the adventures of that glorious trip up from Mexico.

Perhaps it is his childlike enthusiasm which stirs us. He has come many
a league this morning, yet he dashes in thru the open doors and shouts
like a boisterous schoolboy, “Here we are, you dear old barn; ar’n’t we
glad to get back again!” Then it’s out to see the horse-pond; and down
the lane where the cattle go, with a dip under the bridge and a few
turns over the orchard—a new purpose, or none, every second—life one
full measure of abounding joy!

Or is it the apotheosis of motion which takes the eye? See them as they
cast a magic spell over the glowing green of the young alfalfa, winding
about in the dizzy patterns of a heavenly ballet, or vaulting at a
thought to snatch an insect from the sky. Back again, in again, out
again, away, anywhere, everywhere, with two-mile a minute speed and
effortless grace.

But it is the sweet confidingness of this dainty Swallow which wins us.
With all the face of Nature before him he yet prefers the vicinage of
men, and comes out of his hilly fastnesses as soon as we provide him
shelter. We all like to be trusted whether we deserve it or not. And if
we don’t deserve it; well, we will, that’s all.

The Barn Swallow is not a common bird with us as it is east of the
Rockies, nor is it evenly distributed thruout our State. Wherever the
country is well settled it is likely, but not certain, to be found;
while for the rest it is confined to such lower altitudes as afford it
suitable shelter caves and nesting cliffs.

At the head of Lake Chelan in 1895 I found such a primitive nesting
haunt. The shores of the lake near its head are very precipitous, since
Castle Mountain rises to a height of over 8,000 feet within a distance
of two miles. Along the shore-line in the side of the cliffs, which
continue several hundred feet below the water, the waves have hollowed
out crannies and caves. In one of these latter, which penetrates the
granite wall to a depth of some twenty feet, I found four or five Barn
Swallows’ nests, some containing young, and two, altho it was so late in
the season (July 9, 1895), containing eggs. Other nests were found in
neighboring crannies outside the cave. A visit paid to this same spot on
August 10th, 1896, discovered one nest still occupied, and this
contained four eggs.

   [Illustration: _Taken near Spokane._    _Photo by F. S. Merrill._
                         NEST OF BARN SWALLOW.]

Mr. F. S. Merrill, of Spokane, reports the Barn Swallow as nesting along
the rocky walls of Hangman’s Creek, in just such situations as Cliff
Swallows would choose; and back in ’89, I found a few associated with
Violet-greens along the Natchez Cliffs, in Yakima County.

A colony of some twenty pairs may be found yearly nesting on Destruction
Island, in the Pacific Ocean. A few of them still occupy wave-worn
crannies in the sand-rock, overlooking the upper reaches of the tide,
but most of the colony have taken refuge under the broad gables of the
keepers’ houses.

   [Illustration: _Taken in Blaine._    _From a Photograph Copyright,
                        1908, by W. L. Dawson._
                              THE NOONING.
                   BARN SWALLOWS ON TELEGRAPH WIRES.]

The nest of the Barn Swallow is quadrispherical, or bracket-shaped, with
an open top; and it usually depends for its position upon the
adhesiveness of the mud used in construction. Dr. Brewer says of them:
“The nests are constructed of distinct layers of mud, from ten to twelve
in number, and each separated by strata of fine dry grasses. These
layers are each made up of small pellets of mud, that have been worked
over by the birds and placed one by one in juxtaposition until each
layer is complete.” The mud walls thus composed are usually an inch in
thickness, and the cavity left is first lined with fine soft grasses,
then provided with abundant feathers, among which the speckled eggs lie
buried and almost invisible.

Bringing off the brood is an event which may well arrest the attention
of the human household. There is much stir of excitement about the barn.
The anxious parents rush to and fro shouting _tisic, tisic_, now in
encouragement, now in caution, while baby number one launches for the
nearest beam. The pace is set, and babies number two to four follow
hotly after, now lighting safely, now landing in the hay-mow, or
compromising on a plow-handle. Upon the last-named the agonized parents
urge another effort, for Tabby may appear at any moment. He tries,
therefore, for old Nellie’s back, to the mild astonishment of that
placid mare, who presently shakes him off. Number five tumbles outright
and requires to be replaced by hand, if you will be so kind. And so the
tragi-comedy wears on, duplicating human years in half as many days,
until at last we see our Swallows among their twittering fellows strung
like notes of music on the far-flung staff of Western Union.

If birds really mean anything more to us than so many Japanese kites
flown without strings, we may surely join with Dr. Brewer in his
whole-souled appreciation of these friendly Swallows: “Innocent and
blameless in their lives, there is no evil blended with the many
benefits they confer on man. They are his ever constant benefactor and
friend, and are never known even indirectly to do an injury. For their
daily food and for that of their offspring, they destroy the insects
that annoy his cattle, injure his fruit trees, sting his fruit, or
molest his person. Social, affectionate and kind in their intercourse
with each other; faithful and devoted in the discharge of their conjugal
and parental duties; exemplary, watchful, and tender alike to their own
family and to all their race; sympathizing and benevolent when their
fellows are in any trouble,—these lovely and beautiful birds are bright
examples to all, in their blameless and useful lives.”


                                No. 131.
                             TREE SWALLOW.

  A. O. U. No. 614. Iridoprocne bicolor (Vieill.).

  Synonym.—White-bellied Swallow.

  Description.—_Adult male_: Above, lustrous steel-blue or steel-green;
  below, pure white; lores black; wings and tail black, showing some
  bluish or greenish luster; tail slightly forked. _Female_: Similar to
  male, but duller. _Immature_: Upper parts mouse-gray instead of
  metallic; below whitish. Length about 6.00 (152.4); wing 4.57; (116.1)
  tail 2.19 (55.6); bill from nostril .25 (6.4).

  Recognition Marks.—Aërial habits; steel-blue or greenish above; pure
  white below; a little larger than the next species.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: in holes in trees or, latterly, in bird houses,
  plentifully lined with soft materials, especially feathers. _Eggs_:
  4-6, pure white,—pinkish white before removal of contents. Av. size
  .75 × .54 (19.1 × 13.7). _Season_: last week in May, first week in
  July; two broods.

  General Range.—North America at large, breeding from the Fur Countries
  south to New Jersey, the Ohio Valley, Kansas, Colorado, California,
  etc.; wintering from South Carolina and the Gulf States southward to
  the West Indies and Guatemala.

  Range in Washington.—Summer resident; abundant on West-side; not
  common east of the Cascade Mountains.

  Migrations.—_Spring_: First week in March or earlier; Seattle, March
  4, 1889; March 7, 1890; Tacoma, March 2, 1907; March 3, 1908;
  Bellingham (Edson), Tacoma (Bowles), Steilacoom (Dawson), February 25,
  1905; Skagit Marshes near Fir (L. R. Reynolds), February 1, 1906;
  Seattle (Dr. Clinton T. Cooke), January 21, 1906.

  Authorities.—_Hirundo bicolor_ Vieillot, Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R. Surv.
  IX., pt. II., 1858, p. 311. T. C&S. Rh. D¹. Kb. Ra. D². J. B. E.

  Specimens.—U. of W. P. Prov. C.

One Swallow does not make a summer, but a little twittering company of
them faring northward makes the heart glad, and fills it with a sense of
exaltation as it responds to the call of these care-free children of the
air. The remark applies to Swallows in general, but particularly to Tree
Swallows, for in their immaculate garb of dark blue and white, they seem
like crystallizations of sky and templed cloud, grown animate with the
all-compelling breath of spring. They have about them the marks of
high-born quality, which we cannot but admire as they spurn with a
wing-stroke the lower strata, and rise to accept we know not what
dainties of the upper air.

      [Illustration: _Taken in Seattle._    _Photo by the Author._
                             TREE SWALLOW.]

While not so hardy as Robin and Bluebird, since it must maintain an
exclusive diet of insects, Tree Swallow is, occasionally, very
venturesome as to the season of its northward flight. Indeed a
succession of mild winters might induce it to become a permanent
resident of the Puget Sound country, and it is not certain that it has
not already done so in some instances. It often reaches Seattle during
the first week in March; while it was simultaneously observed at Tacoma
(Bowles), and Bellingham (Edson) on the 24th day of February, 1905. In
1906 Mr. L. R. Reynolds reported seeing it in numbers on the Skagit
marshes near Fir, on the 1st of February; and Dr. Clinton T. Cooke,
looking from his office window in the Alaska Building, saw a large
specimen, apparently an adult male, soaring about over the Grand Opera
House, in Seattle, on the 21st day of January.

The Tree Swallow is a lover of the water and is seldom to be found at a
great distance from it. It is close to the surface of ponds and lakes
that the earliest insects are to be found in spring, and it is here that
the bird may maintain the spotlessness of its plumage by frequent dips.
Hence a favorite nesting site for these birds is one of the partially
submerged forests which are so characteristic of western Washington
lakes. The birds are not themselves able to make excavations in the
wood, but they have no difficulty in possessing themselves of the
results of other birds’ labors. Old holes will do if not too old, but I
once knew a pair of these Swallows to drive away a pair of Northwest
Flickers from a brand new nesting-hole, on the banks of Lake Union, and
to occupy it themselves.

The nesting cavity is copiously lined with dead grass and feathers; and
sometime during the last week of May from four to six white eggs are
deposited. The female sits very closely and it is sometimes necessary to
remove her by hand in order to examine the nest. Both parents are very
solicitous on such occasions, and should a feather from the nest be
tossed into the air, one of them will at once catch it and fly about
awaiting a chance to replace it. Or if there are other Swallows about,
some neighbor will snatch it first and make off with it to add to her
own collection.

Tree Swallows are slowly availing themselves of artificial nesting
sites. In fact, several species of our birds have become quite
civilized, so that nowadays no carefully constructed and quietly
situated bird-box need be without its spring tenant. A pair once built
their nest in a sort of tower attic, just inside a hole which a Flicker
had pierced in the ceiling of an open belfry of a country church in
Yakima. When in service the mouth of the swinging bell came within two
feet of the brooding bird. One would suppose that the Swallows would
have been crazed with fright to find themselves in the midst of such a
tumult of sound; but their enterprise fared successfully, as I can
testify, for at the proper time I saw the youngsters ranged in a happy,
twittering row along the upper rim of the bell-wheel.


                                No. 132.
                         VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW.

  A. O. U. No. 615. Tachycineta thalassina lepida (Mearns).

  Synonym.—Northern Violet-green Swallow.

  Description.—_Adult male_: Upperparts, including pileum, hind-neck,
  back, upper portion of rump, scapulars, and lesser wing-coverts, rich
  velvety bronze-green, occasionally tinged with purple, crown usually
  more or less contrasting with color of back, greenish-brown rather
  than bronze-green, and more strongly tinged with purple; a narrow
  cervical collar, lower rump, and upper tail-coverts, velvety
  violet-purple; wings (except lesser coverts) and tail blackish glossed
  with violet or purple; lores grayish; underparts, continuous with
  cheeks and area over and behind eye, and with conspicuous flank patch,
  nearly meeting fellow across rump, pure white; under wing-coverts pale
  gray, whitening on edge of wing. Bill black; feet brownish black; iris
  brown. _Adult female_: Like male but usually much duller, bronze-green
  of upperparts reduced to greenish brown, or brown with faint greenish
  reflections. _Young birds_ are plain mouse-gray above and their inner
  secondaries are touched with white. Length 4.50-5.50 (114.3-139.7);
  wing 4.41 (112); tail 1.77 (45); bill .20 (5.2).

  Recognition Marks.—Smaller; green and violet above, white below;
  white-cheeked and white-rumped (apparently) as distinguished from the
  Tree Swallow.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: of dried grasses with or without feathers, placed in
  crevice of cliff or at end of vapor hole in basalt walls; latterly in
  bird boxes and about buildings. _Eggs_: 4-6, pure white. Av. size .72
  × .48 (18.3 × 12.2). _Season_: June.

  General Range.—Western United States, from the eastern base of the
  Rocky Mountains to the Pacific, north to the Yukon Valley, south in
  winter to Costa Rica.

  Range in Washington.—Summer resident, of regular occurrence in
  mountain valleys and among the foothills; rare or local elsewhere;
  becoming common in the larger cities.

  Migrations.—_Spring_: “About the 10th of May” (Suckley)[49]; now at
  least March; Chelan, March 27, 1896; Seattle, March 24, 1906; Tacoma,
  March 16, 1907; March 14, 1908; Olympia, February 27(?), 1897.

  Authorities.—?Ornith. Com. Ac. Nat. Sci. Phila., VII., 1837, 193
  (Columbia River). _Hirundo thalassina_ Swainson, Baird, Rep. Pac. R.
  R. Surv. IX., pt. II., 1858, p. 312. T. C&S. L¹. Rh. D¹. D². Ss¹. Kk.
  J. B. E.

  Specimens.—(U. of W.) Prov. P¹. C. E.

To appear to the best advantage this dainty sky-child should be seen on
a bright day, when the livid green of back and crown may reflect the
glancing rays of the sun with a delicate golden sheen. At such a time,
if one is clambering about the walls of some rugged granite cliff of the
lower Cascades, he feels as if the dwellers of Olympus had come down in
appropriate guise to inquire his business. Not, however, that these
lovely creatures are either meddlesome or shrewish. Even when the nest
is threatened by the strange presence, the birds seem unable to form any
conception of harm, and pursue their way in sunny disregard. Especially
pleasing to the eye is the pure white of the bird’s underparts, rising
high on flanks and cheeks and sharply contrasting with the pattern of
violet and green, in such fashion that, if Nature had invited us to
“remold it nearer to the heart’s desire,” we must have declined the
task.

                  [Illustration: VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW
                        MALE, 8/11 NATURAL SIZE
              From a Water-color Painting by Allan Brooks]

Before the advent of the white man upon Puget Sound, these birds
commonly nested in deserted woodpecker holes and in natural cavities of
trees, while upon the East-side they nested (and still do to a large
extent) upon the granite or lava cliffs. In the last-named situations
they utilize the rocky clefts and inaccessible crannies, and are
especially fond of the smaller vapor holes which characterize the
basaltic formations. Favorable circumstances may attract a considerable
colony, to the number of a hundred pairs or more, but even so it is not
easy to find a getatable nest. If one is able to reach the actual
nesting site, the mouth of the ancient gas-vent which the birds have
chosen for a home may prove too small to admit the hand.

  [Illustration: _Taken in Oregon._    _Photo by Finley and Bohlman._
                      YOUNG VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW.]

Thruout the State, however, and especially upon the West-side, these
exquisite birds are forsaking their ancient haunts and claiming
protection of men. Already they have become common in larger cities,
where they occupy bird-boxes and crannies of buildings. South Tacoma,
being nearest to their old oak nurseries, is quite given over to them,
and it is a pretty sight on a sunny day in April to see them fluttering
about the cottages inspecting knot-holes and recessed gables or, in
default of such conveniences, daintily voicing their disapproval of such
neglect on the part of careless humans.

In these birds and in the Barn Swallows, the well known twittering and
creaking notes of Swallows most nearly approach the dignity of song.
Indeed, Mr. Rathbun contends that the song heard at close quarters is a
really creditable affair, varied, vivacious, and musical.

The Violet-greens are somewhat less hardy or venturesome than the Tree
Swallows, arriving usually during the last week in March. Last year’s
nesting site becomes at once the spring rendezvous, but the duties of
maternity are not seriously undertaken until about the 1st of June. At
the head of Lake Chelan some twenty pairs of these Swallows, having left
the old nesting cliff a mile away, had engaged quarters at Field’s
Hotel, being assigned to the boxed eaves of a second-story piazza in
this pleasant caravanserai; but they had not yet deposited eggs on the
20th of June, 1906.

Altho not formerly so fastidious—I have found cliff nests composed
entirely of dried grass—these birds have become connoisseurs in
upholstery of feathers, and their unglossed white eggs, five or six in
number, are invariably smothered in purloined down, until we begin to
suspect that our fowls rather than our features have favored our
adoption.



                        _Ampelidæ_—The Waxwings


                                No. 133.
                           BOHEMIAN WAXWING.

  A. O. U. No. 618. Bombycilla garrula (Linn.).

  Synonyms.—Northern Waxwing. Greater Waxwing.

  Description.—_Adults_: A conspicuous crest; body plumage soft,
  grayish-brown or fawn-color, shading by insensible degrees between the
  several parts; back darker, passing into bright cinnamon-rufous on
  forehead and crown, and thru dark ash of rump and upper tail-coverts
  into black of tail; tips of tail feathers abruptly yellow (gamboge);
  breast with a vinaceous cast, passing into cinnamon-rufous of cheeks;
  a narrow frontal line passing thru eye, and a short throat-patch
  velvety black; under tail-coverts deep cinnamon; wing blackish-ash,
  the tips of the primary coverts and the tips of the secondaries on
  outer webs white, tips of primaries on outer webs bright yellow,
  whitening outwardly; the shafts of the rectrices produced into
  peculiar flattened red “sealing-wax” tips; bill and feet black. Length
  about 8.00 (203.2); wing 4.61 (117.1); tail 2.56 (65); bill .47
  (11.9).

  Recognition Marks.—Chewink size; grayish-brown coloration. As
  distinguished from the much more common Cedar-bird; belly _not_
  yellow; white wing-bars; under tail-coverts cinnamon.

  Nesting.—Not known to breed in Washington. Like that of next species.
  _Eggs_, larger. Av. size, .98 × .69 (24.9 × 17.5).

  General Range.—Northern portions of northern hemisphere. In North
  America, south in winter irregularly to Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois,
  Kansas, southern Colorado, and northern California. Breeds north of
  United States; also, possibly, in the mountains of the West.

  Range in Washington.—Winter resident, regular and sometimes abundant
  east of the Cascades, especially in the northern tier of counties;
  rare or casual on the West-side.

  Authorities.—_Ampelis garrulus_, Brewster, B. N. O. C. VII. Oct. 1882,
  p. 227. D¹. J. E.

  Specimens.—(U. of W.) Prov. P¹. C.

Nothing can exceed the refined elegance of these “gentlemen in feathers”
who visit us yearly in winter, rarely on Puget Sound, but abundantly in
the northeastern portion of the State. Demure, gentle, courteous to a
fault, and guileless to the danger point, and beyond, these lovely
creatures exceed in beauty, if possible, their more familiar cousin, the
Cedarbird. They move about in flocks, sometimes to the number of
hundreds, and as the rigors of winter come on they search the orchard
and berry-patch for ungarnered fruit, or divide with hungry Robins the
largess of rowan trees. Much time is spent in amiable converse, but it
is not at all fair to call them “chatterers,” or _garrulus_, as tho they
were monkeys. Dignity is of the very essence of their being, and, as
fond as they are of good living, they would starve rather than do
anything rude or unseemly.

An observer in Utah[50] relates how an ill-mannered Robin, jealous of
the good behavior of a company of these visitors, in an apple tree, set
about to abuse them. “He would bluster and scream out his denunciations
till he seemed unable longer to restrain himself, when, to all
appearances, absolutely beside himself with rage because the objects of
his wrath paid no attention to his railings, he did the catapult
act—hurling himself straight at the intruders. Several of the Waxwings,
in order to avoid an actual collision, left the places where they were
feeding, and alighting on twigs near by paused for a moment, as if to
observe the antics of the furious Robin, when they would resume their
feeding. Their indifference to the loud bullying protests of the Robin,
and their persistence in remaining on the premises after he had ordered
them off so exasperated Mr. Redbreast that with screams of defiance he
dashed from group to group without stopping to alight, until, exhausted
quite as much by the heat of anger as by the unusual exertions he was
making, he was glad to drop to a branch and pant for breath”—while the
Waxwings continued to ignore the churl, as gentlemen should.

Concerning the nesting range of this bird there has been much surmise.
For many years the single eggs taken by Kennicott at Fort Yukon on July
4, 1861, remained unique; but latterly we are learning that it also
nests much further south. Mr. Brooks took four sets, one from a Murray
pine and three from Douglas firs, at 158-Mile House, B. C., in June,
1901[51]. Dr. C. S. Moody[52] reports the taking of a set of five eggs
at Sandpoint, Idaho, July 5, 1904. On June 26, 1904, Robert G. Bee, of
Provo City, found a nest near Sunnyside, Utah[53]. With such examples
before us it is practically certain that the species will be found
nesting in this State. Indeed, Mr. F. S. Merrill, of Spokane, believes
that he once found a nest of the Bohemian Waxwing on the headwaters of
the Little Spokane River near Milan. The nest he describes as having
been placed in an alder at a height of eight feet, and it contained four
eggs on the point of hatching. The brooding bird allowed a close
approach while upon the nest, but was not seen again after being once
flushed.


                                No. 134.
                             CEDAR WAXWING.

  A. O. U. No. 619. Bombycilla cedrorum Vieill.

  Synonyms.—Cedar-bird. Cherry-bird. Carolina Waxwing. Lesser Waxwing.

  Description.—_Adults_: A conspicuous crest; extreme forehead, lores,
  and line thru eye velvety-black; chin blackish, fading rapidly into
  the rich grayish-brown of remaining fore-parts and head; a narrow
  whitish line bordering the black on the forehead and the blackish of
  the chin; back darker, shading thru ash of rump to blackish-ash of
  tail; tail-feathers abruptly tipped with gamboge yellow; belly sordid
  yellow; under tail-coverts white; wings slaty-gray, primaries narrowly
  edged with whitish; secondaries and inner quills without white
  markings, but bearing tips of red “sealing-wax”; the tail-feathers are
  occasionally found with the same curious, horny appendages; bill
  black; feet plumbeous. Sexes alike, but considerable individual
  variation in number and size of waxen tips. _Young_, streaked
  everywhere with whitish, and usually without red tips. Length
  6.50-7.50 (165.1-190.5); wing 3.70 (94); tail 2.31 (58.7); bill .40
  (10.2).

  Recognition Marks.—Sparrow size; soft grayish-brown plumage; crest;
  red sealing-wax tips on secondaries; belly yellow; wings without white
  bars or spots, as distinguished from preceding species.

  Nesting.—_Nest_, a bulky affair of leaves, grasses, bark-strips and
  trash, well lined with rootlets and soft materials; placed in crotch
  or horizontally saddled on limb of orchard or evergreen tree. _Eggs_,
  3-6, dull grayish blue or putty-color, marked sparingly with deep-set,
  rounded spots of umber or black. Av. size, .86 × .61 (21.8 × 15.5).
  _Season_: June, July; two broods.

  General Range.—North America at large, from the Fur Countries
  southward. In winter from the northern border of the United States
  south to the West Indies and Costa Rica. Breeds from Virginia, Kansas,
  Oregon, etc., northward.

  Range in Washington.—Of regular occurrence in the State, but irregular
  or variable locally. Resident, but less common in winter.

  Authorities.—_Ampelis cedrorum_ Baird, Cooper and Suckley, Rep. Pac.
  R. R. Surv. XII. pt. II. 1860, p. 187. T. C&S. Rh. D¹. Kb. Ra. D².
  Ss². Kk. B. E.

  Specimens.—(U. of W.) Prov. P. B. E.

One does not care to commit himself in precise language upon the range
of the Cedarbird, or to predict that it will be found at any given spot
in a given season. The fact is, Cedarbirds are gypsies of the feathered
kind. There are always some of them about somewhere, but their comings
and goings are not according to any fixed law. A company of Cedarbirds
may throng the rowan trees in your front yard some bleak day in
December; they may nest in your orchard the following July; and you may
not see them on your premises again for years—unless you keep cherry
trees. It must be confessed (since the shade of the cherry tree is ever
sacred to Truth) that the Cedarbird, or “Cherrybird,” has a single
passion, a consuming desire for cherries. But don’t kill him for that.
You like cherries yourself. All the more reason, then, why you should be
charitable toward a brother’s weakness. Besides, he is so
handsome,—handsomer himself than a luscious cherry even. Feast your eyes
upon him, those marvelous melting browns, those shifting saffrons and
Quaker drabs, those red sealing-wax tips on the wing-quills (he is
canning cherries, you see, and comes provided). Feast your eyes, I say,
and carry the vision to the table with you—and a few less cherries. Or,
if there are not enough for you both, draw a decent breadth of
mosquito-netting over the tree, and absolve your soul of murderous
intent. Remember, too, if you require self-justification, that earlier
in the season he diligently devoured noxious worms and insect pests, so
that he has a clear right to a share in the fruit of his labors.

Cherries are by no means the only kind of fruit eaten by these birds.
Like most orchard-haunting species, they are very fond of mulberries,
while the red berries of the mountain ash are a staple ration in fall
and winter. Truth to tell, these beauties are sad gluttons, and they
will gorge themselves at times till the very effort of swallowing
becomes a delicious pain.

The Cedarbird, being so singularly endowed with the gift of beauty, is
denied the gift of song. He is, in fact, the most nearly voiceless of
any of the American Oscines, his sole note being a high-pitched sibilant
squeak. Indeed, so high-pitched is this extraordinary note that many
people, and they trained bird-men, cannot hear them at all, even when
the Waxwings are squeaking all about them. It is an almost uncanny
spectacle, that of a company of Waxwings sitting aloft in some leafless
tree early in spring, erect, immovable, like soldiers on parade, but
complaining to each other in that faint, penetrating monotone. It is as
tho you had come upon a company of the Immortals, high-removed,
conversing of matters too recondite for human ken, and surveying you the
while with Olympian disdain. You steal away from the foot of the tree
with a chastened sense of having encountered something not quite
understandable.

The dilatory habits of these birds are well shown in their nesting,
which they put off until late June or July, for no apparent reason. In
constructing the nest the birds use anything soft and pliable which
happens to catch the eye. Some specimens are composed entirely of the
green hanging mosses, while others are a complicated mixture of twigs,
leaves, rootlets, fibers, grasses, rags, string, paper, and what not.
The nest may be placed at any moderate height up to fifty feet, and a
great variety of trees are used altho orchard trees are favorites. The
birds are half gregarious, even in the nesting season, so that a small
orchard may contain a dozen nests, while another as good, a little way
removed, has none. In the Nooksack Valley, near Glacier, Mr. Brown
showed me a tiny pasture carved out of the woods, where he had found,
during the previous season, six nests of the Cedarbird, placed at
heights ranging from three to six feet above the ground in small clumps
of vine maple or alder saplings. In Chelan we found them nesting in the
tops of the solitary pine trees which line the stream.

The female sits closely upon her eggs, not infrequently remaining until
forcibly removed. Once off, however, she makes away without complaint,
and pays no further attention to the incident until the intruder has
departed.

Always of a most gentle disposition, when the nesting season arrives,
according to Mr. Bowles, these birds richly deserve the name of Love
Birds. A leaf from his note-book supports the statement: “July 7, 1896.
To-day I watched two Cedarbirds selecting a nesting site, first one
location being tested, then another. Finally they decided upon a
suitable place and commenced picking both dry and green leaves from the
surrounding trees, placing them upon a horizontal limb where two or
three twigs projected. Almost all of these leaves blew off as soon as
placed, greatly to the surprise of the birds, who solemnly watched them
drop to the ground. These fallen leaves were never replaced, fresh ones
being gathered instead, and these were always secured from growing
trees. Then one got a long strip of plant silk and, placing it on the
leaf foundation flew a foot or two away and lit. The other bird promptly
took away the silk and brought it to its mate, who very gently took it
and put it back. This operation was repeated again and again. At times
both held the silk, sitting only an inch or two apart, whereupon the
bird who was the original finder would, _very gently_, pull it from the
bill of its mate and replace it. At the end of fifteen minutes of this
loving passage I was obliged to retire, and I shall never know whether
the plant fiber was successfully placed or merely worn out.”



                         _Laniidæ_—The Shrikes


                                No. 135.
                            NORTHERN SHRIKE.

  A. O. U. No. 621. Lanius borealis Vieill.

  Synonyms.—Great Northern Shrike. Butcher-bird.

  Description.—_Adult_: Upperparts clear, bluish gray, lightest—almost
  white—on upper tail-coverts; extreme forehead whitish; wings and tail
  black, the former with a conspicuous white spot at base of primaries,
  the latter with large, white terminal blotches on outer feathers,
  decreasing in size inwardly; a black band through eye, including
  auriculars; below grayish white, the feathers of the breast and sides
  narrowly tipped with dusky, producing a uniform, fine vermiculation
  which is always present; bill blackish, lightening at base of lower
  mandible; feet black. _Young_ birds are barred or washed with grayish
  brown. The plumage of adult is sometimes overcast above with a faint
  olivaceous tinge. Length 9.25-10.75 (235-273.1); wing 4.50 (114.3);
  tail 4.19 (106.4); bill .72 (18.3); tarsus 1.07 (27.3).

  Recognition Marks.—Robin size; gray and black coloring; sharply hooked
  bill; breast vermiculated with dusky, as distinguished from next
  species.

  Nesting.—Does not breed in Washington. _Nest_: a well constructed bowl
  of sticks, thorn-twigs, grasses, and trash, heavily lined with
  plant-down and feathers; in bushes or low trees. _Eggs_: 3-7, dull
  white or greenish gray, thickly dotted and spotted with olive-green,
  brown, or lavender. Av. size, 1.07 × .78 (27.2 × 19.8).

  General Range.—Northern North America; south in winter to the middle
  and southern portions of the United States. Breeds north of the United
  States except sparingly in northern New England.

  Range in Washington.—Spring and fall migrant and not common winter
  resident thruout the State, chiefly at lower levels.

  Authorities.—? Townsend, Journ. Ac. Nat. Sci. Phila. VIII. 1839, 152
  (Columbia River). Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R. Surv. IX. 1858, 325. C&S. D¹.
  Ra. D². B. E.

  Specimens.—(U. of W.) P¹. Prov. B. E.

Flitting like a gray ghost in the wake of the cheerful hosts of Juncoes
and Redpolls, comes this butcher of the North in search of his
accustomed prey. If it is his first visit south he posts himself upon
the tip of a tree and rasps out an inquiry of the man with the gun.
Those that survive these indiscretions are thereafter faintly descried
in the distance, either in the act of diving from some anxious summit,
or else winging swiftly over the inequalities of the ground.

All times are killing time for this bloodthirsty fellow, and even in
winter he “jerks” the meat not necessary for present consumption—be it
chilly-footed mouse or palpitating Sparrow—upon some convenient thorn or
splinter. In spring the north-bound bird is somewhat more amiable, being
better fed, and he pauses from time to time during the advance to sing a
strange medley, which at a little remove sounds like a big electric
buzz. This is meant for a love song, and is doubtless so accepted by the
proper critics, but its rendition sometimes produces about the same
effect upon a troop of Finches, which a cougar’s serenade does upon a
cowering deer.

Experts try to make out that this creature is beneficial, on the whole,
because of the insects he devours, but I have seen too much good red
blood on this butcher’s beak myself. My gun is loaded!

Suckley writing in the Fifties remarks the scarcity of all Shrikes in
Oregon or Washington “Territories,” and this is fortunately still true,
especially west of the Cascades. The probable explanation is that the
mild climate of the Pacific slope of Alaska retards or prevents the
southward movement of the more hardy species.


                                No. 136.
                          WHITE-RUMPED SHRIKE.

  A. O. U. No. 622 a. Lanius ludovicianus excubitorides (Swains.).

  Description.—_Adult_: Dark bluish gray above, changing abruptly to
  white on upper tail-coverts; scapulars chiefly white; wings black, a
  small white spot at base of primaries; the inner quills narrowly
  tipped with white; tail black, the outer pair of feathers chiefly
  white, and the succeeding broadly tipped with white in descending
  ratio until color disappears in two central pairs; below white
  slightly soiled on breast, but everywhere strongly contrasting with
  upperparts; narrow frontal line including nasal tufts, lores, and
  ear-coverts, black,—continuous, and passing mostly below eye; bill and
  feet black. _Immature_: Colors of adult less strongly contrasted;
  lower parts washed with brownish; loral bar obscure; more or less
  vermiculated with dusky all over (in younger birds), or upon the
  underparts alone; ends of wing-quills, coverts, and tail-feathers
  often with ochraceous or rusty markings. Length of adult male:
  8.50-10.00 (215.9-254); wing 3.96 (100.6); tail 3.9 (99); bill .60
  (15.3); tarsus 1.1 (28).

  Recognition Marks.—Chewink to Robin size; dark gray above; whitish
  below; longitudinal black patch of head; wings black and white; breast
  of adult unmarked, as distinguished from both _L. borealis_ and _L. l.
  gambeli_.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: a bulky but well-built structure of sticks,
  thorn-twigs, sage-bark, dried leaves, etc., heavily lined with wool,
  hair, and feathers; placed at moderate heights in sage-brush or
  sapling. _Eggs_: 5-7, dull grayish or greenish white, thickly speckled
  and spotted with pale olive or reddish brown. Av. size, .97 × .73
  (24.6 × 18.5). _Season_: April, June; two broods.

  General Range.—Western North America from the Great Plains westward,
  except Pacific Coast district and from Manitoba and the plains of
  Saskatchewan south over the tablelands of Mexico; south in winter over
  the whole of Mexico intergrading with _L. l. migrans_ in region of the
  Great Lakes.

  Range in Washington.—Common summer resident east of the Cascades,
  chiefly in sage-brush country.

  Authorities.—Dawson, Auk, XIV. 1897, 179. (T). D¹. D². Ss¹. Ss².

  Specimens.—(U. of W.) P. C.

The brushy draws of the low lava ranges and the open sage stretches of
the East-side constitute the favorite preserve of this lesser bird of
prey. He arrives from the South early in March when his patchy plumage
harmonizes more or less with the snow-checkered landscape, but he is
nowise concerned with problems of protective coloration. Seeking out
some prominent perch, usually at this time of year a dead greasewood or
a fence-post, he divides his time between spying upon the early-creeping
field mouse and entertaining his lady love with outlandish music. Those
who have not heard the White-rumped Shrike _sing_, have missed a treat.
He begins with a series of rasping sounds, which are probably intended
to produce the same receptive condition in his audience which Ole Bull
secured by awkwardly breaking one string after another on his violin,
till only one was left. There, however, the resemblance ceases, for
where the virtuoso could extract a melody of marvelous variety and
sweetness from his single string, the bird produces the sole note of a
struck anvil. This pours forth in successive three-syllabled phrases
like the metallic and reiterative clink of a freely falling hammer. The
chief difference which appears between this love song and the ordinary
call of warning or excitement is that in the latter case the less tender
passions have weighted the clanging anvil with scrap iron and destroyed
its resonance.

  [Illustration: _Taken in Douglas County._    _Photo by the Author._
                        THE SHRIKE’S PRESERVE.]

The Shrike is a bird of prey but he is no restless prowler or hoverer,
wearing out his wings with incessant flight—not he. Choosing rather a
commanding position on a telegraph wire, or exposed bush top, he
searches the ground with his eye until he detects some suspicious
movement of insect, mouse, or bird. Then he dives down amongst the sage,
and if successful returns to his post to devour at leisure. The bird
does not remain long enough at one station to inspire a permanent dread
in the local population of comestibles; but rather moves on from post to
post at short intervals and in methodical fashion. In flight the bird
moves either by successive plunges and noisy reascensions, or else
pitches downward from his perch and wings rapidly over the surface of
the vegetation.

The Sage Shrikes are prolific and attentive breeders. The first brood is
brought off about the 1st of May, but fresh eggs may sometimes be found
as early as the last week in March in the southern part of the State. A
second brood may be expected from June 1st to 15th.

The nest is a bulky but usually well-built affair, placed habitually in
a sage bush, or a greasewood clump, with wild clematis for third choice.
The structure is designed for warmth and comfort, so that, whenever
possible, to the thickened walls of plant fibers, cow-hair, or sheep’s
wool, is added an inner lining of feathers, and these not infrequently
curl over the edge so as completely to conceal the nest contents. One
nest examined in Walla Walla County contained the following materials:
Willow twigs, broom-sage twigs, sage bark, weed stems, dried yarrow
leaves, dried sage leaves, hemp, wool, rabbit fur, horse-hair, cow-hair,
chicken feathers, string, rags, and sand, besides a thick mat of finely
comminuted scales, soft and shiny, the accumulated horny waste from the
growing wing-quills of the crowded young—altogether a sad mess.

  [Illustration: _Taken in Douglas County._    _Photo by the Author._
                 NEST AND EGGS OF WHITE-RUMPED SHRIKE.]

The parent birds are singularly indifferent as a rule to the welfare of
a nest containing eggs alone. The female sits close, but once flushed,
stands clinking in the distance, or else absents herself entirely. When
the young are hatched, however, the old birds are capable of a spirited
and deafening defense.

It is curious that in Washington we have seen no signs of the out-door
larder, consisting of grasshoppers, mice, garter-snakes, etc., impaled
on thorns, which the eastern birds of this species are usually careful
to maintain somewhere in the vicinity of the nest. It may be simply that
the lack of convenient thorns accounts for this absence, or for the
failure of the habit.

Altho this bird belongs to a bad breed, one containing, among others,
the notorious “_Neuntöter_,” or Ninekiller, of northern Europe,
concerning which tradition maintains that it is never satisfied until it
has made a kill of nine birds hand-running, the evidence seems to be
overwhelmingly in its favor. Birds are found to constitute only eight
per cent of this bird’s food thruout the year, while, on account of its
services in ridding the land of undoubted vermin, its presence is to be
considered highly beneficial.


                                No. 137.
                           CALIFORNIA SHRIKE.

  A. O. U. No. 622 b. Lanius ludovicianus gambeli Ridgway.

  Description.—Similar to _L. l. excubitorides_ but decidedly darker,
  duller gray above; underparts more sordid, tinged with brownish or
  with more or less distinct transverse vermiculation of pale brownish
  gray on chest and sides of breast; averaging slightly smaller.

  Recognition Marks.—As in preceding—duller.

  Nesting.—As in _L. l. excubitorides_—has not yet been reported from
  Washington.

  General Range.—Pacific Coast district from southwestern British
  Columbia to northern Lower California; south in winter to Cape St.
  Lucas and western Mexico.

  Range in Washington.—Rare summer resident west of the Cascades.

  Authorities.—? Orn. Com., Journ. Ac. Nat. Sci. Phila. VII. 1837, 193
  (Columbia River). _Lanius ludovicianus excubitorides_ Lawrence, Auk,
  IX. 1892, 46.

Resident Shrikes, presumably referable to this recently elaborated
subspecies, are exceedingly rare in western Washington. Mr. Bowles has
not seen any near Tacoma, and neither Mr. Rathbun nor myself have
encountered them in Seattle. Mr. R. H. Lawrence, however, notes having
seen three “White-rumped Shrikes” on June 10, 1890, in a small clearing
on the Humptulips River[54].

The smaller Shrikes are birds of the open country, and they should be
found in at least Lewis, Thurston, and Pierce Counties.



                         _Vireonidæ_—The Vireos


                                No. 138.
                            RED-EYED VIREO.

  A. O. U. No. 624. Vireosylva olivacea (Linn.).

  Description.—_Adult_: Crown grayish slate, bordered on either side by
  blackish; a white line above the eye, and a dusky line thru the eye;
  remaining upperparts light grayish olive-green; wings and tail dusky
  with narrow olive-green edgings; below dull white, with a slight
  greenish-yellow tinge on lining of wings, sides, flanks, and crissum;
  first and fourth, and second and third primaries about equal, the
  latter pair forming the tip of wing; bill blackish at base above,
  thence dusky or horn-color; pale below; feet leaden blue; iris red.
  Little difference with age, sex, or season, save that young and fall
  birds are brighter colored. Length 5.50-6.50 (139.7-165.1); wing 3.15
  (80); tail 2.10 (53.5); bill .49 (12.5); tarsus .70 (18).

  Recognition Marks.—Warbler size; largest; white superciliary line
  contrasting with blackish and slate of crown; red eye. Note smoother,
  and utterance a little more rapid than in _L. s. cassinii_.

  Nesting.—_Nest_, a semi-pensile basket or pouch, of bark-strips,
  “hemp,” and vegetable fibers, lined with plant-down, and fastened by
  the edges to forking twigs near end of horizontal branch, five to
  twenty feet up. _Eggs_, 3 or 4, white, with black or umber specks and
  spots, few in number, and chiefly near larger end. Av. size, .85 × .56
  (21.6 × 14.2). _Season_: c. June 1; one brood.

  General Range.—Eastern North America, west to Colorado, Utah,
  Washington and British Columbia; north to the Arctic regions; south in
  winter from Florida to the equator. Breeds nearly thruout its North
  American range.

  Range in Washington.—Imperfectly made out. Summer resident on both
  sides of the Cascades. Either increasingly abundant or more observed
  latterly (Brook Lake, Chelan, Stehekin, Seattle, Tacoma, Kirkland
  breeding 1908).

  Migrations.—_Spring_: Seattle, May 3, 1908.

  Authorities.—Belding, Land Birds of the Pacific District, 1890, p.
  199. (Walla Walla by J. W. Williams, 1885). Ss². B.

  Specimens.—C.

We are rubbing our eyes a little bit and wondering whether the Red-eyed
Vireo has really been here all the time, or whether he only slipped in
while we were napping a decade or two since. Certain it is that the
bird’s presence in the Pacific Northwest was unknown to the pioneers,
Townsend, Cooper, Suckley, and the rest; and the first intimation we had
of the occurrence of this Vireo west of the Rockies was Chapman’s
record, published in 1890[55] of specimens taken at Ducks and Ashcroft,
B. C. The year following, viz., August 4, 1891, a singing Red-eye was
recognized by Mr. C. F. Batchelder, of Cambridge, Mass., at the Little
Dalles, in this State[56]. Mr. Lyman Belding, the veteran ornithologist,
of Stockton, Cal., advises me, however, that this Vireo was first seen
by his friend, Dr. J. W. Williams, of Walla Walla, on June 4 and 24,
1885, and that six specimens were taken. Dr. Merrill, writing in
1897[57], records them as abundant summer visitors at Fort Sherman,
Idaho; and Fannin notes their occurrence upon Vancouver Island. Messrs.
C. W. and J. H. Bowles met with this species in the Puyallup Valley on
June 23, 1899, when they saw and heard at least half a dozen. Mr. Bowles
and I were constantly on the lookout for this bird during our East-side
trip in May and June, 1906, but we failed to observe it in either
Spokane or Stevens Counties. We found it first in a wooded spur of the
Grand Coulee on June 13th; then commonly at Chelan, where it nested; and
also at the head of Lake Chelan with Cassin Vireos right alongside. And
now comes the announcement of its breeding at Kirkland where Miss Jennie
V. Getty took two sets in the season of 1908.

The truth is, the Cassin Vireo has so long occupied the center of the
stage here in the Northwest, that we may never know whether his cousin,
Red-eye, stole a march on us from over the Rockies, or was here for a
century grieving at our dullness of perception. In habit the two species
are not unlike, and their ordinary notes do not advertise differences,
even to the mildly observant. Those of the Red-eye are, however, higher
in pitch, less mellow and soft in quality, and are rendered with more
sprightliness of manner. Its soliloquizing notes are often
uttered—always in single phrases of from two to four syllables
each—while the bird is busily hunting, and serve to mark an overflow of
good spirits rather than a studied attempt at song. His best efforts are
given to the entertaining of his gentle spouse when she is brooding upon
the nest. A bird to which I once listened at midday, in Ohio, had chosen
for his station the topmost bare twig of a beech tree a hundred feet
from the ground, and from this elevated position he poured out his soul
at the rate of some fifty phrases per minute, and without intermission
during the half hour he was under observation.

So thoroly possessed does our little hero become with the spirit of
poesy, that when he takes a turn upon the nest he indulges, all
unmindful of the danger, in frequent outbursts of song. Both birds are
closely attached to the home, about which center their fears and their
hopes; and well they may be, for it is a beautiful structure in itself.
The nest is a semipensile cup, bound firmly by its edges to a small fork
near the end of some horizontal branch of tree or bush, and usually at a
height not exceeding five or ten feet. It is composed largely of fibers
from weed-stalks, and fine strips of cedar or clematis bark, which also
forms what little lining there is. A curious characteristic of the
entire Vireo family is the attention paid to the outside instead of the
inside of the nest. The outside is carefully adorned with lichens, old
rags, pieces of wasp nests, or bits of newspaper, with no idea of
furthering concealment, for the result is often very conspicuous. The
walls are not over a third of an inch thick, but are so strong that they
not infrequently weather the storms of three or four seasons.

When we came upon a female sitting contentedly in her nest in the center
of a charming birch tangle in Chelan County, we had as good as
photographed the eggs. We were particularly elated at our good fortune
because the eggs had not yet been taken within the limits of the State.
When we had watched the mild-eyed mother for ten minutes, and had
lessened the distance to five feet, we began to suspect young; but when
she flitted, we found nothing at all. She was only fooling.


                                No. 139.
                        WESTERN WARBLING VIREO.

  A. O. U. No. 627 a. Vireosylva gilva swainsonii (Baird).

  Description.—_Adult_: Above, dull ashy, almost fuscous, tinged with
  olivaceous, same on pileum,—the last-named color brightest on
  interscapulars, rump, and edgings of secondaries and rectrices; wings
  and tail fuscous, the primaries with faint whitish edgings; no
  wing-bars; first primary spurious,—only about a third as long as the
  others; point of wing formed by third, fourth, and fifth primaries;
  second shorter than sixth; below white with slight tinges on
  sides,—buffy on sides of head and neck, olive-fuscous on sides of
  breast, sulphur-yellow on sides of belly and flanks, and sometimes
  vaguely on breast; lores and space about eye whitish, enclosing
  obscure dusky line thru eye; bill dusky above, lighter below; feet
  blackish. Length 5.00-6.00 (127-152.4); wing 2.64 (67); tail 1.94
  (49.3); bill .39 (10); tarsus .69 (17.5).

  Recognition Marks.—Warbler size; general absence of positive
  characteristics,—altogether the plainest-colored bird of the American
  avifauna.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: a pensile pouch of bark-strips, grasses, vegetable
  fibers, and trash, carefully lined with plant-down; hung usually from
  fork of small limb, at any height. _Eggs_: 3 or 4, white, sparingly
  and distinctly dotted or spotted, or, rarely, blotched with black,
  umber, or reddish brown, chiefly at the larger end. Av. size .75 × .55
  (19 × 13.9). _Season_: June 1-20; one brood.

  General Range.—Western United States and Canada (British Columbia,
  Alberta and Athabasca), breeding south to southern border of United
  States and southern extremity of Lower California; south in winter
  thru Mexico to Vera Cruz and Oaxaca.

  Range in Washington.—Summer resident thruout the State in deciduous
  timber, chiefly at lower levels.

  Migrations.—_Spring_: Yakima, May 6, 1900; Seattle, May 5, 1905;
  Yakima, May 4, 1906; Tacoma, May 5, 1907; Seattle, May 3, 1908.

  Authorities.—? _Vireo gilvus_, Townsend, Journ. Ac. Nat. Sci. Phila.,
  VIII. 1839, p. 153 (Columbia River). _Vireo gilvus_ (_swainsonii_
  proposed), Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R. Surv., IX. pt. II. 1858, 336. T.
  C&S. L. Rh. D¹. Ra. D². J. B. E.

  Specimens.—U. of W. Prov. B. BN. E.

The old-fashioned name “Greenlet,” as applied to the Vireos, was a
misnomer, if a description of plumage was intended; but if it was
intended to memorialize the bird’s fondness for greenery, nothing could
have been more apt. The Warbling Vireo’s surroundings must be not only
green, but freshly green, for it frequents only deciduous trees in
groves and riverside copses. It is not an abundant bird, therefore, in
Washington, altho equally distributed, whether in the willows and
birches which gather about some lonesome spring in the bunch-grass
country, or among the crowded alders and maples of the turbid Nooksachk.
Moreover, the bird is not so frequently found about parks and shade
trees as in the East, altho it looks with strong favor upon the advent
of orchards. And the orchardist may welcome him with open arms, for
there is not among all his tenants a more indefatigable gleaner of bugs
and worms.

Because he is clad in Quaker gray there is little need for the Vireo to
show himself as he sings, and he remains for the most part concealed in
the dense foliage, a vocal embodiment of the living green. Unlike the
disconnected fragments which the Red-eye furnishes, the song of this
bird is gushing and continuous, a rapid excursion over pleasant hills
and valleys. Continuous, that is, unless the bright-eyed singer happens
to spy a worm _in medias res_, in which event the song is instantly
suspended, to be resumed a moment later when the wriggling tid-bit has
been dispatched. The notes are flute-like, tender, and melodious,
having, as Chapman says, “a singular alto undertone.” All hours of the
day are recognized as appropriate to melody, and the song period lasts
from the time of the bird’s arrival, early in May, until its departure
in September, with only a brief hiatus in July.

  [Illustration: _Taken in Oregon._    _Photo by Bohlman and Finley._
                    WESTERN WARBLING VIREO AT NEST.]

In sharp contrast with the beautiful canzonettes which the bird showers
down from the tree-tops, come the harsh, wren-like scolding notes, which
it often delivers when searching thru the bushes, and especially if it
comes across a lurking cat.

The Warbling Vireo’s cradle is swung midway from the fork of some nearly
horizontal branch in the depths of a shady tree. In height it may vary
from fifteen to twenty-five feet above the ground; but I once found one
in a peach tree without a shadow of protection, and within reach from
the ground. The structure is a dainty basket of interwoven grasses,
mosses, flower-stems, and the like. It is not, however, so durable as
that of some other Vireos, since much of its thickness is due to an
ornamental thatching of grass, bark-strips, green _usnea_ moss, and
cottonwood down, which dissolves before winter is over. The female is a
close sitter, sticking to her post even tho nearly paralyzed with fear.
The male is usually in close attendance, and knows no way of
discouraging the inquisitive bird-man save by singing with redoubled
energy. He takes his turn at the eggs when his wife needs a bit of an
airing, and even, it is said, carries his song with him to the nest.


                                No. 140.
                            CASSIN’S VIREO.

  A. O. U. No. 629 a. Lanivireo solitarius cassinii (Xantus).

  Synonym.—Western Solitary Vireo.

  Description.—_Adult male_: Crown and sides of head and neck deep
  olive-gray; a supraloral stripe and eye-ring whitish, the latter
  interrupted by dusky of lore; remaining upperparts olive-green
  overcast with gray, clearing, pure olive-green on rump and upper
  tail-coverts; wings and tail blackish with edging of light olive-green
  or yellowish (white on outer web of outer rectrices); tips of middle
  and greater coverts yellowish olive, forming two rather conspicuous
  bars; underparts white tinged with buffy, changing on sides and flanks
  to sulphur yellow or pale olive; under tail-coverts yellowish; bill
  grayish black above, paler below; feet dusky, iris brown. _Adult
  female_: Like male but duller, browner on head and neck, less purely
  white below. _Immature_: Head and neck more nearly like back;
  supraloral streak, orbital ring, and underparts washed with brownish
  buff. Length about 5.50 (139.7); wing 2.84 (72.2); tail 2.05 (52.2);
  bill .39 (10); tarsus .75 (19).

  Recognition Marks.—Warbler size; slaty gray head contrasting with
  olivaceous back; whitish eye-ring distinctive; voice has more of an
  edge than that of _V. olivacea_.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: a semi-pensile basket of woven bark-strips, grasses,
  and vegetable fibers, variously ornamented externally with cherry
  petals, spider cases, bits of paper, etc., lashed to bark of
  horizontal or descending bough of sapling (oak, vine-maple, fir, etc.)
  at a height of from five to thirty feet; bulkier and of looser
  construction than that of other Vireos; measures 2¼ inches across by
  1½ inches deep inside; walls often ¾ of an inch in thickness. _Eggs_:
  3-5, usually 4, white or creamy white, sparingly marked with spots,
  which vary from rich red brown to almost black—but unmarked specimens
  are of record. Av. size .75 × .55 (19 × 13.9). _Season_: May 15-June
  5; one brood.

  General Range.—Pacific Coast district north to British Columbia, east
  to Idaho (Ft. Sherman; Ft. Lapwai), breeding from Los Angeles County,
  California, northward thruout its range; south in winter to western
  Mexico.

  Range in Washington.—Common summer resident on both sides of the
  Cascades, found chiefly in timbered areas.

  Migrations.—_Spring_: Seattle-Tacoma, c. April 15.

  Authorities.—? _Vireo solitarius_, Ornithological Committee, Journ.
  Ac. Nat. Sci. Phila., VII. 1837, 193 (Columbia River). _V. solitarius_
  Vieillot, Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R. Surv., IX. pt. II 1858, p. 340, part.
  (T). C&S. Rh. D¹. Ra. D². Ss². J. B. E.

  Specimens.—(U. of W.) B. Prov. P¹.

Nothing so endears a bird to a human admirer as a frank exhibition of
confidence. Overtures of friendship on the bird’s part may traverse all
rules of caution and previous procedure, but henceforth there is a new
relation established between them, bird and man, and the man, at least,
is bound to live up to it. At the oncoming of a smart shower on Capitol
Hill (before the “For Sale” days) the bird-man put into a fir-covered
nook for shelter, and had not been there two minutes before a pair of
Cassin Vireos entered for the same reason. They were not in the least
disturbed by the man’s presence, but cheerfully accepted him as part of
Things as They Are. Therefore, they proceeded to preen their dampened
feathers at distances of four or five feet, while the bird-man sat with
bated breath and glowing eyes. The birds roamed freely about the nook
and once, I think, _he_ made a grimace behind the bird-man’s back; for
when they came around in front again, I judged she was saying, “Ar’n’t
you the wag!” while he tittered in droll recollection.

  [Illustration: _Taken in Oregon._    _Photo by Finley and Bohlman._
                         CASSIN VIREO AT NEST.]

These Vireos roam the half-open woods at all levels, like happy school
children; and their childish curiosity is as little to be resented. If
one hears a bird singing in the distance, he need only sit down and
wait. Curiosity will get the better of the bird, and under pretense of
chasing bugs it will edge over, singing carelessly now and then, by way
of covering the inquisitive intent. At close range the song is stifled,
and you feel for the ensuing moments as you do when you have overtaken
and passed a bevy of ladies on a lonesome street, _all_ hands and feet
with a most atrocious swagger. Inspection done, the bird suddenly
resumes the discarded melody, and you no longer have to “look pleasant.”

  [Illustration: _Taken near Tacoma._    _Photo by Dawson and Bowles._
                               BRIMFUL.]

Like most Vireos, Cassin sings as he works; and, as he works a good deal
of the time, albeit in leisurely fashion, he sings in tiny phrases,
separated by unembarrassed intervals of silence, a sort of soliloquizing
commentary on life, very pleasant to the ear,—_Weé ee-tsiweéoo-tsoo
psooi-petewer-ptir-sewtrs-piti-wee-sueeé-pisooor_. But our schoolboy
does not fully express himself in music so staid and delicate. He has at
command a rasping, nerve-grating war-cry, possibly intended by Nature as
a defense against cats, but used, as matter of fact, when the bird is in
particularly fine spirits. The note in question may perhaps be fitly
likened to the violent shaking of a pepper-box, a rattling, rubbing,
shaking note, of three or more vibrations, ending in a little vocal
flourish.

These Vireos swing a bulky basket from the lower or middle heights of
oak trees, fir trees, alders, or saplings of various sorts. Usually no
dependence is placed in cover, save that the ornamented nest corresponds
roughly with its general surroundings of leaf, moss and lichen. In
sheltered places, the texture of the nest is so well preserved that it
may require close inspection the second season to distinguish it from a
new nest. One such I examined, green with growing moss, and stark at the
lowermost branch-tip of an unleafed cornel sapling, and I could not have
determined its age save for a tiny weed-shoot germinating from the
bottom of the cup.

  [Illustration: _Taken near Tacoma._    _Photo by Bowles and Dawson._
                           A DECORATED NEST.]

Further Mr. Bowles says of their nesting habits: “Both birds assist in
the duties of incubation, the male singing most assiduously while on the
nest, and usually singing close to his mate while she is sitting. His
turn at sitting seems to come between nine o’clock in the morning and
noon, and the nest is not hard to find if his song can be traced. The
bird student must work quietly, however, as the song at once ceases
should any unusual noise occur. They are most courageous while on the
nest, seldom leaving until removed by hand, when both birds remain
within a few feet of the intruder, scolding vigorously. So much noise do
they make that all the birds in the vicinity are attracted—indeed this
is about the only sure method of ascertaining the presence of some of
our rarer Warblers. On one such occasion a female Cooper Hawk left her
nest, which was seventy-five yards distant, and sat on a branch
overhead, screaming at me.

“They are the quickest as well as the slowest birds in completing their
nests that have come under my notice. One pair built a handsome nest and
laid four eggs in precisely ten days; while another pair were more than
three weeks from the time the nest was started until the eggs were laid.

“They are the only Vireos that I have ever known to nest in communities.
Single pairs are the rule, but I have found as many as six occupied
nests inside of a very small area, the nests being only a few yards
apart.”

  [Illustration: _Taken near Tacoma._    _Photo by Bowles and Dawson._
                          O’ER YOUNG TO FLIT.]


                                No. 141.
                            ANTHONY’S VIREO.

  A. O. U. No. 632 c. Vireo huttoni obscurus Anthony.

  Synonym.—Dusky Vireo.

  Description.—_Adults_: Above dull olive, brightening (more greenish)
  posteriorly; wings and tail dusky, edged chiefly with pale
  olive-green; two prominent wing-bars of pale olive-yellow or whitish,
  formed by tips of middle and greater coverts; tertials broadly edged
  with palest olive on outer, and with whitish on inner webs; outer web
  of outermost rectrix whitish; underparts sordid whitish and more or
  less washed, chiefly on breast and sides, with dingy olive-yellow;
  lores pale; an orbital ring of whitish, or palest olive-yellow,
  interrupted midway of upper lid by spot of dusky; bill horn-color
  above, pale below. Length about 4.75 (120.6); average of three
  specimens in Provincial Museum at Victoria: wing 2.46 (59.9); tail
  2.20 (55.8); bill .35 (8.9); tarsus .75 (19).

  Recognition Marks.—Pygmy to warbler size; dingy coloration; whitish
  wing-bars serve to distinguish bird from _Vireosylva g. swainsonii_,
  but throw it into confusion in summer with the Western Flycatcher
  (_Empidonax difficilis_), which it otherwise closely resembles, and in
  winter with the Sitkan Kinglet (_Regulus c. grinnelli_). From the
  Flycatcher it may be distinguished by its shorter, narrower and yet
  thicker bill, and by its more restrained yellowness; from the Kinglet
  by its greater size and much stouter bill, more prominent wing-bars,
  and rather less prominent eye-ring; and from both by its demure ways.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: a semipensile basket of interwoven mosses lined with
  grasses (nine feet high in fir tree—one example known). _Eggs_:
  2-5(?); .72 × .52 (18 × 12.9). _Season_: June (probably also earlier).

  General Range.—Pacific Coast district from western Oregon to
  southwestern British Columbia at lower levels (not at all confined to
  oak woods as variously reported).

  Range in Washington.—West-side, as above; strictly resident.

  Authorities.—? Townsend, Journ. Ac. Nat. Sci. Phila. VIII. 1839, 153
  (Columbia River). Bowles (C. W. and J. H.), Auk, XV. 1898, 138. Ra. B.
  E.

  Specimens.—U. of W. Prov. B. E.

In approaching the study of Anthony’s Vireo one must forget all he knows
or thinks he knows about Vireos in general. This bird is _sui generis_,
and deviations from all known rules are its delight. It has been, in
fact, until quite recently, a sort of woodland sphinx, an ornithological
mystery, the subject of much inquiry and hazard. Its presence in
Washington was quite overlooked by Cooper and Suckley, and Mr. Rathbun’s
appears to be the record[58] of first occurrence, that of a bird taken
May 14, 1895. I took a specimen on Capitol Hill on the third day of June
of the same year; and since that time appearances have become a matter
of course to the initiated. Samuel N. Rhoads[59], writing in 1893,
considered Anthony’s Vireo a rare visitor to Vancouver Island, where he
secured a specimen in 1892 near Victoria. Fannin[60] records it as “a
summer resident on Vancouver Island.” As matter of fact, the bird is
_resident_ the year round wherever it occurs. I saw it near Victoria
during the coldest weather of 1905-6, and find it regularly at Seattle
and Tacoma during the winter season. J. H. Bowles secured a specimen, a
male in full song, at American Lake on January the 26th, 1907. Moreover,
this bird had a bare belly as tho it might have been assisting with
incubation.

The very fact that these birds winter with us argues that they have been
here for always and always, and the darkening of plumage (as compared
with the type form, _V. huttoni_) testifies further to their long
residence.

Anthony’s Vireo is leisurely, almost sluggish at times, in its
movements. During the winter it mingles freely with the local troops of
Kinglets and Chickadees, and keeps largely to the depths of fir trees.
When moving about silently, it bears a striking resemblance to the
Ruby-crowned Kinglet. It is, of course, slightly larger and much more
deliberate, lacking especially the wing-flirt of the Kaiserkin. The
region about the eye is more broadly whitish, and the wing-bars concede
a difference upon inspection, but the resemblance is so close as
altogether to deceive the unwary.

In spring the bird separates itself from its late companions, and begins
to explore the budding alders and maples. As the season advances the
bird plants itself in some thicket and complains by the hour in strange,
monotonous, unvireonine notes. The songs vary endlessly in different
individuals, but have this in common, that they are a deliberate,
unvarying succession of double notes, usually, but not always, of a
slightly nasal character. _Chu-wêem_ - - - - _chu-wêem_ - - - - - -
_chu-wêem_ - - _ad lib._, is the common type; _Pu-cheéañ_ - - - - -
_pu-cheéañ_ - - - - - - _pucheéañ_, is a French variation; _Poo-eêp^t_ -
- - _poo-eêp^t_ and _jüreê^t - jüreê^t - jüreê^t_ are types lacking the
nasal quality. Only once I heard the notes pronounced quite rapidly,
_pe-eg′, pe-eg′, pe-eg′, pe-eg′ pe-eg′, ad infinitum_, or rather _ad
adventum shotguni_. Occasionally the first syllable is accented; as,
_(pe)cheê-oo or cheê-oo, cheê-oo_.

Before he has found a mate Anthony roams about with some degree of
restlessness, shifting his burden of song from place to place with a
view to effect, and uttering now and then coaxing little requests which
are certainly meant to win the heart of the lady in hiding. This
squeaking note is sometimes raised to the dignity of song, at which
times it is not unlike the whining of a dog, a most extraordinary sound
to come from so tiny a throat. And if one mentions a chirp, or chuck,
like that of a Red-wing Blackbird on a small scale, we have most of the
representative efforts of this eccentric genius.

Only one nest of this subspecies has been reported to date, that
discovered by Mr. C. W. Bowles, on June 21, 1897, near South Tacoma. It
was placed nine feet up in a young fir, where it hung suspended by two
small twigs. Externally it was composed entirely of a long hanging moss,
some variety of _Usnea_, very thickly and closely interwoven, being thus
conspicuously devoid of such exterior decorations as other Vireos
provide. Inside was a carefully prepared bed of fine dry grasses, upon
which lay two eggs half incubated.

“The female bird was on the nest when first seen and, unlike the
majority of our Vireos, flushed the instant the ascent of the tree was
attempted. From the nest she flew about twenty feet into a neighboring
fir, where she looked down upon our operations with apparently no
concern whatever. Beyond rearranging her feathers from time to time,
there was nothing to indicate that she had a nest anywhere in the
vicinity, as she made no sound or complaint of any kind. Neither was
there any of the nervous hopping from twig to twig in the manner by
which so many of the smaller birds as clearly display their anxiety as
they do by their notes of distress.”[61]



                   _Tyrannidæ_—The Tyrant Flycatchers


                                No. 142.
                               KINGBIRD.

  A. O. U. No. 444. Tyrannus tyrannus (Linn.).

  Synonyms.—Eastern Kingbird. Bee Martin. Tyrant Flycatcher.

  Description.—_Adult_: Above ashy black changing to pure black on head,
  and fuscous on wings; crown with a concealed orange-red (cadmium
  orange) patch or “crest,” the orange feathers black-tipped and
  overlying others broadly white at base; wings with whitish and
  brownish ash edgings; tail black, all the feathers broadly
  white-tipped, and the outermost pair often white-edged; below white,
  washed with grayish on breast; bill and feet black. _Immature_ birds
  lack the crown-patch, and are more or less tinged with fulvous or
  buffy on the parts which are light-colored in the adult. Length
  8.00-9.00 (203-228.6); wing 4.60 (116.8); tail 3.31 (84.1); bill from
  nostril .52 (13.2).

  Recognition Marks.—Chewink size; blackish ash above; _white_ below;
  black tail conspicuously tipped with white; noisy and quarrelsome.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: at moderate heights in trees, usually over water, of
  weed-stalks, plant-fibres and trash, with a felted mat of plant-down
  or wool, and an inner lining of fine grasses, feathers, rootlets, etc.
  _Eggs_: 3 or 4, sometimes 5, white or cream-white, distinctly but
  sparingly spotted with dark umber and occasional chestnut. Av. size
  .98 × .73 (24.9 × 18.5). _Season_: first week in June; one brood.

  General Range.—North America from the British Provinces south; in
  winter thru eastern Mexico, Central and South America. Less common
  west of the Rocky Mountains. Not recorded from northern Mexico and
  Arizona.

  Range in Washington.—Not uncommon summer resident on East-side; not
  common, but of regular occurrence in certain localities west of the
  Cascades; nearly confined to vicinity of water in lake or pond.

  Authorities.—_Tyrannus carolinensis_ Baird, Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R.
  Surv., IX. pt. II. 1858, p. 171. T. C&S. D¹. Ra. D². Ss¹. Ss². J. B.
  E.

  Specimens.—(U. of W.) Prov. P¹. C. E.

No one has come forward with a theory to account for the testiness of
this bird’s temper, not for the domineering qualities which distinguish
him above all others; but I hazard that it is because his glowing crown
is partially concealed by bourgeois black. Those whose regal marks are
more patent are wont to receive homage as matter of course, but the
scion of an unacknowledged house, a feathered Don Carlos, must needs
spend a fretful life in defense of his claims. Toward those who knuckle
down tamely the little tyrant is often very gracious, and it may be
conceded that he does perform a real service in holding the common
enemies at bay. Who has not seen him as he quits his perch on some
commanding tree and hurries forward, choking with vengeful utterance, to
meet and chastise some murderous hawk, who before any other foe is
brave? Down comes the avenger! The Hawk shies with a guttural cry of
rage and terror, while a little puff of feathers scatters on the air to
tell of the tyrant’s success. Again and again the quick punishment
falls, until the tiny scourge desists, and returns, shaking with shrill
laughter, to give his mate an account of his adventure.

   [Illustration: _Photo by F. S. Merrill._    _Taken near Spokane._
                        A DEMURE YOUNG TYRANT.]

It is easily possible, however, to exaggerate the pugnacity of the
Kingbird, or to infer from extreme examples that all are quarrelsome. It
is not unusual for Kingbirds to be on the best of terms with their
immediate neighbors, thieves always excepted. I once found in one small
aspen tree at Chelan the nests of three birds each containing eggs,
viz., a Robin, an Oriole, and a Kingbird. The two latter were within
five feet of each other. Dr. Brewer also records an exactly similar
case. Kingbird’s courage, which is unquestionable, is often tempered by
prudence; altho at other times it quite overbalances his better
judgment. The Burrowing Owl will tolerate none of his nonsense, and I
have seen the birds make sad mistakes in molesting these virtuous
mousers. The sight of a Shrike will make a Kingbird shrink into the
smallest possible compass, while Catbirds, too, are said to be, for
valid reasons, quite exempt from molestation.

The food of the Kingbird consists entirely of insects, caught on the
wing for the most part, by sallies from some favorite perch. His
eyesight must be very good, as he not infrequently spies his prey at
distances of from twenty to fifty yards. Honey bees form an occasional
but inconsiderable article of diet. Grasshoppers are not overlooked, and
they sometimes capture, not without a scuffle, those big brown locusts
(_Melanoplus sp._) which make flippant exposure of their persons on a
summer day. Both in the taking of food and in the discharge of police
duties the Kingbird exhibits great strength and swiftness, as well as
grace in flight. Once, when passing in a canoe thru a quiet, weed-bound
channel, I was quite deceived for a time by the sight of distant
white-breasted birds dashing down to take insects near the surface of
the water, and even, occasionally dipping under it. They had all the
ease and grace of Tree Swallows, but proved to be Kingbirds practising
in a new role.

 [Illustration: _Taken in Douglas County._    _Photo by W. L. Dawson._
                           COLD SPRING LAKE.
 THE ORIOLE-KINGBIRD NEST APPEARS NEAR THE TOP OF THE PROJECTING TREE.]

This fondness for water is often exhibited in the birds’ choice of a
nesting site. Where accustomed to civilization, orchard or shade trees
are preferred, but on many occasions nests are found on low-swinging
horizontal branches overhanging the water; and, as often, in tiny willow
clumps or isolated trees entirely surrounded by it. The nest of the
Kingbird sometimes presents that studied disarray which is considered
the height of art. Now and then a nest has such a disheveled appearance
as to quite discourage investigation, unless the owners’ presence
betrays the secret of occupancy. On the shore of Cold Spring Lake, in
Douglas County, we noted a last year’s Bullock Oriole’s nest, which
would not have attracted a second glance, with the newer nest hard by,
had it not been for the constant solicitude of a pair of Kingbirds.
Investigation showed that the ancient pocket had been crammed full of
grass and twigs, and that it contained two fresh eggs of the Flycatcher.
Ordinarily the nest is placed in an upright or horizontal fork of a tree
at a height of from three to forty feet. Twigs, weed-stalks, and trash
of any kind enter into the basal construction. The characteristic
feature of the nest, however, is the mould, or matrix, composed of
vegetable plaster, ground wood, and the like, or else of compacted wool
and cow-hair, which is forced into the interstices of the outer
structure and rounded inside, giving shape to the whole. This cup, in
turn, is lined with fine grasses, cow-hair, or variously. Occasionally,
nests are found composed almost entirely of wool. In others string is
the principal ingredient.

Altho the Kingbird never sings, it has a characteristic and not
unmusical cry, _tizic, tizic_ (spell it _phthisic_, if you favor the old
school) or _tsee tsee tsee tsee_, in numerous combinations of syllables,
which are capable of expressing various degrees of excitement and
emotion.

In eastern Washington this Kingbird is common and well distributed, tho
far less abundant than the larger, grayer “Western.” West of the
Cascades it is rare but regular, being found chiefly along the wooded
margins of lakes.


                                No. 143.
                           WESTERN KINGBIRD.

  A. O. U. No. 447. Tyrannus verticalis Say.

  Synonyms.—Arkansas Kingbird. Arkansas Flycatcher.

  Description.—_Adult Male_: Foreparts, well down on breast, and upper
  back ashy gray, lightening, nearly white, on chin and upper throat,
  darker on lores and behind eye; a partially concealed crown-patch of
  orange-red (Chinese orange); lateral boundaries of this patch
  olivaceous; back, scapulars, and rump ashy glossed with olive-green;
  this color shading to black on upper tail-coverts; wings fuscous; tail
  black, the outer web of outermost rectrix white, or faintly tinged
  with yellow; underparts below breast rich canary yellow, paler on
  wing-linings and lower tail-coverts; bill and feet black; iris brown.
  _Adult Female_: like male but crown-patch usually somewhat restricted,
  and primaries much less attenuated. _Young birds_ are duller and
  browner without crown-patch, and with little or no olivaceous on back;
  the yellow of underparts is paler (sulphury or even whitish), and the
  primaries are scarcely or not at all attenuated. Length of adult males
  about 9.00 (228.6); wing 5.12 (130); tail 3.68 (93.5); bill .73
  (18.7); tarsus .74 (18.8). Females average less.

  Recognition Marks.—Chewink to Robin size; noisy, petulant ways; ashy
  foreparts and yellow belly distinctive.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: of twigs, grasses, string, wool, and other soft
  substances, placed at moderate heights in bushes or trees, or more
  commonly on beams and ledges of barn or outbuildings. _Eggs_: 3-5,
  like those of _T. tyrannus_, but averaging smaller, .93 × .68 (23.6 ×
  17.3). _Season_: first week in June; one brood.

  General Range.—Western United States, north regularly to southern
  British Columbia, occasionally to Alberta, Assiniboia, and Manitoba,
  north to western Minnesota, eastern Nebraska, and western Texas,
  breeding thruout range, and south to Chihuahua, Mexico; south in
  winter thru Mexico to highlands of Guatemala.

  Range in Washington.—Common summer resident east of the Cascades, rare
  or casual on the West-side.

  Migrations.—_Spring_: c. May 1st; Wallula April 26, 1905; Yakima April
  30, 1900; Chelan May 11, 1896.

  Authorities.—Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R. Surv. IX. 1858, p. 174. T. C&S.
  D¹. D². Ss¹. Ss². J. B. E.

  Specimens.—U. of W. P¹. Prov. B. E.

  [Illustration: _Taken in Douglas County._    _Photo by the Author._
                       WESTERN KINGBIRD AT NEST.]

Here is the presiding genius of all properly conducted ranches upon the
sunny side of the Cascade Mountains. Guest he is not, host rather; and
before you have had time to dismount from your panting cayuse this bird
bustles forth from the locust trees and hovers over you with noisy
effusiveness. The boisterous greeting is one-third concern for his
babies in the locust tree hard-by, one-third good fellowship, and the
remainder sheer restlessness. The Western Kingbird is preeminently a
social creature. And by social in this case we mean, of course, inclined
to human society. For, altho the bird may start up with vociferating
cries every time a member of the besieged household sets foot out of
doors, one is reminded by these attentions rather of a frolicsome puppy
than of a zealous guardian of the peace. Those who have been most
honored by their presence year after year claim that the birds become
fond of certain members of the family, and allow a familiarity in nest
inspection which would be shriekingly resented in the case of strangers.

  [Illustration: _Taken in Douglas County._    _Photo by the Author._
                         “BEAUTIES THEY ARE.”]

One can readily guess a utilitarian consideration in favor of ranch
life, viz., the greater variety and abundance of insects afforded. Of
these the Kingbirds enjoy a practical monopoly by reason of their
confidence in man. They are fond of flies, moths, butterflies, crickets,
winged ants, and all that sort of thing. Moreover, they eat bees.
But,—[Hold on, Mr. Rancher! Don’t grab that shot-gun and begin murdering
Kingbirds] _they eat only drones_. A bee-keeper in California was
curious on this point and dissected over a hundred specimens of Western
Kingbirds and Phœbes, using a microscope in the examination of stomach
contents. The birds had been shot about the apiaries, where they had
been seen darting upon and catching bees. Altho many of the birds were
gorged, no working bees were found, only drones. This is an important
distinction to bear in mind, for the reduction of drones is
unqualifiedly beneficial. And when one stops to think of it, it is
absurd to suppose that a bird could swallow bees, stings and all, with
impunity.

But the real secret of Kingbird’s attachment for mankind is not
discovered until we see his nest. It is our _strings_ which have won his
heart. Whatever else the nest may or may not contain, it is sure to have
string,—string in strands, string in coils, string in bunches, hanks,
and tangles, drug store string of a dissipated crimson hue, white string
that came around the sugar, greasy string that you had tied around your
finger to remind you to feed the chickens, string of every length and
size and use and hue.

Those Western Kingbirds which have not yet adopted men manage to subsist
somewhat after the fashion of their eastern cousins, and build a nest of
twigs, grass, weed-stalks, bark strips, and cottonwood down, placing it
against the trunk, or saddling it upon a horizontal fork of willow,
poplar, cottonwood, or pine, usually near water. One we found in Douglas
County built in a small willow which emerged from a shallow lake, a
hundred feet from shore.

But, more commonly, nests are placed about crannies and projections of
farm buildings, fences, unused wagon-ricks, or upon the house itself. If
no such conveniences offer, a shade tree is second choice, and the nest
includes all the soft waste which the farm affords, bits of cloth, wool,
cow-hair, feathers, _and string_.

     [Illustration: _Taken at Stratford._    _Photo by the Author._
                           A DIVIDED HOUSE.]

Eggs to the number of 4 or 5 are deposited from the 1st to the 15th of
June. Beauties they are too, creamy white with bold and handsome spots
of chestnut in two shades, and lilac-gray. Incubation is accomplished in
twelve or thirteen days, and the youngsters fly in a matter of two
weeks.

These Kingbirds are model parents, devoted in brooding and courageous in
defense. Noisy they are to a fault, garrulous in an unnumbered host of
cajolatives and ecstatics, as well as expletives. Unlike the members of
_Tyrannus tyrannus_, they are good neighbors even among their own kind.
At the call of need neighbors rally to the common defense, but this is
usually in villages where demesnes adjoin. On several occasions I have
found other birds nesting peaceably in the same tree with these
Kingbirds; and, as in the case of _T. tyrannus_, Bullock Orioles appear
to be rather particular friends.

The nests shown in the cut on preceding page are the work of one pair of
birds. Embarrassed by a wealth of string and unable to decide which of
two good locations to utilize, the birds built in both; the female laid
eggs in both, three in one and two in the other. Moreover, she sat in
both, day and day about, a bird of a divided mind.


                                No. 144.
                        ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER.

  A. O. U. No. 454. Myiarchus cinerascens (Lawrence).

  Description.—_Adults_: Above dull grayish brown changing to clear
  brown on crown; wings dusky brown, the middle and greater coverts
  tipped broadly, and the secondaries edged with pale buffy brown or
  dull whitish, the primaries edged, except toward tips, with
  cinnamon-rufous; tail darker than back, with paler grayish brown
  edgings, that of outermost rectrix sometimes nearly white; tail
  feathers, except central pair, chiefly cinnamon-rufous on inner webs;
  sides of head and neck gray (slightly tinged with brown) fading into
  much paler gray on chin, throat, and chest, changing to pale yellowish
  on breast and remaining underparts; yellow of underparts strengthening
  posteriorly, and axillars and under wing-coverts clear (primrose)
  yellow. Bill blackish; feet and legs black; iris brown. Length of
  adult male about 8.35 (212); wing 3.94 (100); tail 3.63 (92); bill .75
  (19); tarsus .91 (23).

  Recognition Marks.—Chewink size; brownish gray above; ashy throat
  shading into pale yellow of remaining underparts.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: a natural cavity or deserted Flicker hole, copiously
  lined with wool, hair, or other soft materials. _Eggs_: 3-6, usually
  4, buffy or creamy as to ground, but heavily marked, chiefly in
  curious lengthwise pattern, with streaks of purplish chestnut of
  several degrees of intensity. Av. size, .88 × .65 (22.4 × 16.5).
  _Season_: first week in June; one brood.

  General Range.—Western United States and northern Mexico, north
  irregularly to Washington; south in winter thru Mexico to Guatemala.

  Range in Washington.—Breeding near North Yakima in summer of 1903; one
  other record, Tacoma May 24, 1905.

  Authorities.—Snodgrass (R. E.), Auk. Vol. XXI, Apr. 1904, p. 229. B.

  Specimens.—P. C.

Flycatchers are somewhat given to wandering, or at least exploring, on
their own account, regardless of traditions. A Gray Kingbird (_Tyrannus
dominicensis_), normally confined to the Gulf of Mexico, is of record
for Cape Beale on Vancouver Island; and that dashing gallant, the
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, of Texas, has ventured as far north as Hudson
Bay. The Ash-throated Flycatcher is typically a bird of the
south-western United States; but it is not altogether surprising that it
should have extended its northern range into the Upper Sonoran belt of
eastern Washington, as it did in the season of 1903, when it was
observed at North Yakima by Mr. Bowles, and, independently, by Mr.
Robert E. Snodgrass, the latter collecting for Pullman College. Without
precedent or excuse, however, was the appearance of a handsome pair near
Tacoma, as recorded by Mr. Bowles, on the 24th day of May, 1905.

“The Ash-throated Flycatcher is quite expert upon the wing but never
indulges in protracted flight if it can help it. It seems to be rather
quarrelsome and intolerant in its disposition toward other birds, and
will not allow any to nest in close proximity; in fact, I am inclined to
believe that it not infrequently dispossesses some of the smaller
Woodpeckers of their nesting sites.

“Its food consists mainly of beetles, butterflies, grasshoppers, flies,
moths, and occasionally of berries, especially those of a species of
mistletoe.

“By the beginning of May most of the birds are mated, and nidification
begins shortly afterward. The nests are usually placed in knot-holes of
mesquite, ash, oak, sycamore, juniper, and cottonwood trees, as well as
in cavities of old stumps, in Woodpeckers’ holes, and occasionally
behind loose pieces of bark, in the manner of the Creepers.

“The Ash-throated Flycatcher nests at various heights from the ground,
rarely, however, at greater distances than twenty feet. The nest varies
considerably in bulk according to the size of the cavity used. Where
this is large the bottom is filled up with small weed-stems, rootlets,
grass, and bits of dry cow- or horse-manure, and on this foundation the
nest proper is built. This consists principally of a felted mass of hair
and fur from different animals, and occasionally of exuviæ of snakes and
small lizards; but these materials are not nearly as generally used as
in the nests of our eastern Crested Flycatcher—in fact, it is the
exception and not the rule to find such remains in their nests”
(Bendire).


                                No. 145.
                              SAY’S PEWEE.

  A. O. U. No. 457. Sayornis saya (Bonap.).

  Synonyms.—Say’s Phoebe. Western Phoebe.

  Description.—_Adults_: General color drab (grayish brown to dark
  hair-brown), darker on pileum and auriculars, lighter on throat,
  shading thru upper tail-coverts to black; tail brownish black; wings
  fuscous, the coverts and exposed webs of tertials edged with lighter
  grayish brown; underparts below breast cinnamon-buff; axillars and
  lining of wings light buff or cream-buff. Bill and feet black; iris
  brown. _Young birds_ are more extensively fulvous, and are marked by
  two cinnamomeous bands on wings (formed by tips of middle and greater
  coverts). Length of adult male 7.50 (190.5); wing 4.14 (105); tail
  3.23 (82); bill .62 (15.7); tarsus .79 (20). Female averages smaller.

  Recognition Marks.—Sparrow size; drab coloring; cinnamon-colored
  belly; melancholy notes; frequents barns and outbuildings or cliffs.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: composed of dried grasses, moss, plant-fibers, woolly
  materials of all sorts, and hair; placed on ledges, under eaves of
  outbuildings, under bridges, or on cliffs. _Eggs_: 3-6, usually 5,
  dull white, occasionally sparsely dotted. Av. size, .77 × .59 (19.6 ×
  15). _Season_: April 20-May 10, June 1-15; two broods. Yakima County
  April 24, 1900, 5 young about five days old (eggs fresh about April
  7th).

  General Range.—Western North America north to the Arctic Circle in
  Alaska, Yukon Territory, etc., east to Manitoba, western Wyoming,
  western Kansas, etc., breeding thruout range, south to Arizona and
  northern Lower California; southward in winter over northern and
  central Mexico.

  Range in Washington.—Common summer resident east of the Cascades
  (chiefly in Upper Sonoran and Arid Transition life-zones), rare or
  casual west of the mountains.

  Migrations.—_Spring_: c. March 15; Okanogan County March 17, 1896;
  Ahtanum (Yakima Co.) Feb. 20, 1900.

  Authorities.—Bendire, Life Hist. N. A. Birds, Vol. II. 1895, p. 277.
  (T). D¹. Kb. D². Ss¹. Ss². J. B.

  Specimens.—P¹. Prov. C.

A gentle melancholy possesses the Pewee. The memory of that older Eden
once blotted by the ruthless ice-sheet, still haunts the chambers of the
atavistic soul and she goes mourning all her days. Or she is like a Peri
barred from Paradise, and no proffer of mortal joys can make amends for
the immortal loss ever before her eyes. _Kuteéw, kuteéw!_

In keeping with her ascetic nature the Pewee haunts solitary places,
bleak hillsides swept by March gales, lava cliffs with their solemn,
silent bastions. Or, since misery loves company, she ventures upon some
waterless townsite and voices in unexpectant cadences the universal
yearning for green things and cessation of wind.

A part of the drear impression made by this bird is occasioned by the
time of year when it puts in an appearance, March at the latest, and,
once at least, as early as February 20th (in Yakima County). Flies are
an uncertain crop at this season, and it is doubtless rather from a
desire for shelter than from inclination to society, that the species
has so largely of late years resorted to stables and outbuildings.
Twenty years ago Say’s Pewee was unknown as a tenant of buildings in
Yakima County. Now, there are few well-established farms in that part of
the State which do not boast a pair somewhere about the premises; while
hop-houses are recognized as providing just that degree of isolation
which the bird really prefers.

Say’s Pewee, for all its depressed spirits, is an active bird, and makes
frequent sallies at passing insects. These constitute its exclusive diet
save in early spring when, under the spell of adverse weather, dried
berries are sought. Butterflies and moths are favorite food, but
grasshoppers and beetles are captured as well; and the bird, in common
with certain other flycatchers, has the power of ejecting indigestible
elytra and leg-sheathings in the form of pellets.

                 [Illustration: _Photo by the Author._
                             SAY’S PEWEE.]

The males arrive in spring some days in advance of the females.
Courtship is animated in spite of the melancholy proclivities of the
bird; and the male achieves a sort of song by repeating _ku-tew_’s
rapidly, on fluttering wing. Besides this, in moments of excitement,
both birds cry _Look at ’ere_, with great distinctness.

Eggs are laid by the 10th of April and usually at least two broods are
raised, in this latitude. In the natural state these Pewees nest about
cliffs, at moderate heights, and in shallow caves. In selecting a site,
they show a decided preference for a cliff which enjoys the protection
of nesting Prairie Falcons. A stout bracket of twigs, weed-fibers,
lichens, and other soft substances, is constructed, and a luxurious
lining of wool and hair is supplied; but the whole must be partially
shielded by some projecting tooth or facet of stone, or artificial
construction.

The author in taking his first (and only) set of Say Pewee eggs selected
a nest on the south wall of Brook Lake, reached only by canoe. The floor
of an old Cliff Swallow’s nest, placed in a shady niche at a height of
some twelve feet, formed the support of the Pewee’s accumulations. The
cliff was perfectly straight, but by dint of half an hour’s work piling
lava blocks and securing footholds, with the aid of a double-bladed
paddle he succeeded in reaching the nest. Requiring the use of both
hands in descent, he placed the four fresh eggs in his hat, and the hat
in his teeth, reaching the ground safely and depositing the hat
carefully. Tired out by the exertion he flung himself down upon the
narrow strip of shore and rested. Then noting the rising wind, he sprang
up, seized the coat and hat and—Oh! Did something drop?!! Yes, gentle
reader, the eggs were in it,—but only one was smashed. Only one! As
perfect the arch without its keystone as a “set” of eggs with the guilty
consciousness of one missing!


                                No. 146.
                        OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER.

  A. O. U. No. 459. Nuttallornis borealis (Swains.)

  Description.—_Adult_: Upperparts brownish slate with a just
  perceptible tinge of olivaceous on back; top of head a deeper shade,
  and without olivaceous; wings and tail dusky-blackish, the former with
  some brownish gray edging only on tertials; flank-tufts of fluffy,
  yellowish or white feathers, sometimes spreading across rump and in
  marked contrast to it, but usually concealed by wings; throat, belly
  and crissum, and sometimes middle line of breast, white or yellowish
  white; heavily shaded on sides and sometimes across breast with
  brownish gray or olive-brown,—the feathers with darker shaft-streaks;
  bill black above, pale yellow below; feet black. _Immature_: Similar
  to adult, but coloration a little brighter; wing-coverts fulvous or
  buffy. Length 7.00-8.00 (177.8-203.2); wing 4.16 (105.7); tail 2.64
  (67.1); bill from nostril .53 (13.5); tarsus .59 (15).

  Recognition Marks.—Sparrow to Chewink size; heavy shaded sides; bill
  yellow below; _tew-tew_ note; keeps largely to summits of fir trees.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: a shallow cup of twigs, bark-strips, etc., lined with
  coarse moss and rootlets; saddled upon horizontal limb of coniferous
  trees, often at great heights. _Eggs_: 3 or 4, creamy-white or pale
  buff, spotted distinctly with chestnut and rufous, and obscurely with
  purplish and lavender, chiefly in ring about larger end. Av. size, .85
  × .63 (21.6 × 16). _Season_: June 1-15; one brood.

  General Range.—North America, breeding from the northern and the
  higher mountainous parts of the United States northward to Hudson Bay
  and Alaska. Accidental in Greenland. In winter south to Central
  America, Colombia and northern Peru.

  Range in Washington.—Summer resident in coniferous timber from sea
  level to limit of trees.

  Migrations.—_Spring_: c. May 15.

  Authorities.—_Contopus borealis_, Baird, Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R. Surv.
  IX. 1858, p. 189. Ibid C&S. 169. C&S. D¹. Kb. Ra. B. E.

  Specimens.—U. of W. P¹. Prov. B. E.

Flycatchers belong to the sub-order _Clamatores_, that is to say,
Shouters. Some few of our American Flycatchers lisp and sigh rather than
cry aloud, but of those which shout the Olive-sided Flycatcher is easily
dean. And it is as an elocutionist only that most of us know this bird,
even tho our opportunities may have stretched along for decades. On a
morning in mid May, as surely as the season comes around, one hears a
strong insistent voice shouting, “_See here!_” There is not much to see,
save a dun-colored bird seated at an impossible height on the summit of
a tall fir tree. Its posture is that easy half-slouch which with the
Flycatchers betokens instant readiness for action. While we are ogling,
the bird launches from his post, seizes an insect some thirty feet
distant, and is back again before we have recovered from surprise. “_See
here!_” the bird repeats, but its accent is unchanged and there is
really nothing more to see.

 [Illustration: _Taken in Chelan County._    _Photo by W. Leon Dawson._
              CASCADE PASS AND THE VALLEY OF THE STEHEKIN.
         A CHARACTERISTIC HAUNT OF THE OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER.]

An intimate acquaintance with the Olive-sided Flycatcher is not easily
attained; but its characteristic cry carries to a distance of half a
mile or more, and is, fortunately, quite unforgettable. Both in accent
and energy it seems to set the pace for several of the lesser Tyrants.
Of course, like many another of the voices of Nature, its interpretation
depends a good deal upon the mood of the listener. Heard on a dull day
at sea-level it may sound dismal enough, but heard in the sharp air of
the mountains it becomes an exultant note. There are miners in the heart
of the Cascades who regard the brisk evening greeting of this Flycatcher
as one of the compensations of solitude. “_Three cheers!_” the bird
seems to say to one who returns from the silent bowels of the earth and
grasps again the facts of outer life.

_Borealis_ is a bird of the tree-tops and nearer you cannot come, save
in nesting season, when caution is thrown to the winds and a study in
morbid psychology is all too easy. The birds place a rustic saucer of
interwoven black rootlets and mosses on the upper side of a horizontal
branch, whether of hemlock, fir, or cedar, and, as often as otherwise,
at moderate heights. They are very uneasy at the presence of strangers
and flit about with a restless, tittering, cry, _tew-tew, tew-tew_, or
_tew-tew-tew_, a sound which strangely excites the blood of the
oölogist. Once the nesting tree is made out and the ascent begun, the
birds are beside themselves with rage, and dash at the intruder with
angry cries, which really stimulate endeavor where they are intended to
discourage it.

How fatal is the beauty of an egg-shell! There be those of us who have
drunk so oft of this subtle potion that the hand goes out instinctively
to grasp the proffered cup. Besides, the product of an Olive-side’s
skill is of a very special kind—a rich cream-colored oval, warmed by a
hint of living flesh and splotched with saucy chestnut. It is
irresistible! But, boys, don’t do it! We are old topers ourselves;
public sentiment is against us, and our days are numbered. It is right
that it should be so. Besides that, and speaking in all seriousness now,
while it is desirable and necessary that a few representative
collections of natural history should be built up _for the public use_,
it does not follow that the public good is secured by the accumulation
of endless private hordes of bird’s-eggs—whose logical end, in
ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, is the scrap-heap. You are probably
one of the ninety-nine. Think twice before you start a collection and
then—don’t!


                                No. 147.
                          WESTERN WOOD PEWEE.

  A. O. U. No. 462. Myiochanes richardsonii (Swains.).

  Synonyms.—Short-legged Pewee. Richardson’s Pewee.

  Description.—_Adults_: Above deep grayish brown or grayish
  olive-brown; a lighter shade of same continued around sides and across
  breast, lightening on chin and throat, on remaining underparts
  becoming white or yellowish white; middle and greater coverts tipped
  with grayish; outer webs of tertials edged with grayish white. Bill
  black above, dusky (never light) below. _Young birds_ have the middle
  and greater coverts tipped with buffy (forming two not inconspicuous
  bars), and some buffy edging on rump and upper tail-coverts. This
  species bears a curiously close resemblance to _M. virens_ of the
  East, insomuch that it is not always possible to separate specimens in
  the cabinet; yet the two are perfectly distinct in note and habit and
  are not suspected of intergradation. Length of adult males 6.00-6.50
  (152.4-165.1); wing 3.43 (87); tail 2.60 (66); bill .51 (13); tarsus
  .53 (13.4). Females a little smaller.

  Recognition Marks.—Sparrow size; dark coloration (appearing
  blackish),—but much darker and a little larger than any of the
  _Empidonaces_. _Meezeer_ note of animated melancholy distinctive.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: a shallow cup of compacted moss, grasses, rootlets,
  etc., lined with fine grasses and wool or hair, and decorated
  externally, or not, with lichens; saddled midway or in fork of
  horizontal limb, chiefly at moderate heights. _Eggs_: usually 3,
  sometimes 4, creamy white, marked by largish spots of distinct and
  obscure rufous brown or umber, chiefly in open wreath about larger
  end. Av. size, .71 × .55 (18 × 14). _Season_: June 10-July 10; one
  brood.

  General Range.—Western North America; breeding north to Alaska and
  Northwest Territory, east to Manitoba and western portion of Great
  Plains to Texas, south to northern Mexico; south in winter over Mexico
  and Central America to Equador, Peru, and Bolivia.

  Range in Washington.—Common summer resident and migrant east of the
  Cascades, chiefly in coniferous forests, occasionally in open sage;
  less common west of the mountains.

  Migrations.—_Spring_: c. May 15; Tacoma May 5, 1907; Yakima May 14,
  1895, May 15, 1900; Newport May 20, 1906; Conconnully May 27, 1896.
  _Fall_: c. Sept. 1.

  Authorities.—[“Western Wood Pewee,” Johnson, Rep. Gov. W. T. 1884
  (1885), 22.] ? _Muscicapa richardsonii_, Aud. Orn. Biog. V. 1839, pl.
  434. [_Contopus richardsonii_, Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R. Surv. IX. 1858,
  189, 190. “Columbia River O. T. J. K. Townsend.”] _Contopus
  richardsonii_(_?_) Belding, L. B. P. D. 1890, p. 99 (Walla Walla, Dr.
  J. W. Williams). L¹. Rh. D¹. Kb. Ra. D². J. B. E.

  Specimens.—U. of W. P¹. Prov. B. E.

The prey of gentle melancholy and the heir to gloom is this Pewee of the
West. The day, indeed, is garish. The leaves of the fragrant cottonwoods
glance and shimmer under the ardent sun; while the wavelets of the lake,
tired of their morning romp, are sighing sleepily in the root-laced
chambers of the overhanging shore. The vision of the distant hills is
blurred by heat pulsations; the song of birds has ceased and the very
caddis-flies are taking refuge from the glare. The sun is dominant and
all Nature yields drowsy allegiance to his sway. All but Pewee. He
avoids the sun, indeed, but from a sheltered perch he lifts a voice of
protest, “_Dear Me!_”

It seems uncalled-for. The bird does not appear to be unhappy.
Flycatching is good, and the Pewee cocks his head quite cheerfully as he
returns to his perch after a successful foray. But, true to some hidden
impulse, as you gaze upon him, he swells with approaching effort, his
mandibles part, and he utters that doleful, appointed sound, _dear me_.
His utterance has all the precision and finality of an assigned part in
an orchestra. It is as if we were watching a single player in a symphony
of Nature whose other strains were too subtle for our ears. The player
seems inattentive to the music, he eyes the ceiling languidly, he notes
a flashing diamond in the second box, he picks a flawed string absently,
but at a moment he seizes the bow, gives the cello a vicious double
scrape, _dear me_, and his task is done for that time.

                  [Illustration: WESTERN WOOD PEWEE.]

The Western Wood Pewee is a late migrant, reaching the middle of the
State about the 15th of May, and the northern border from five to ten
days later. It is found wherever there is timber, but is partial to
half-open situations, and is much more in evidence East than West. It is
especially fond of pine groves and rough brushy hillsides near water.
Cannon Hill, in Spokane, is a typical resort and a mere tyro can see
three or four nests there on a June day.

The Pewee takes the public quite into her confidence in nest building.
Not only does she build in the open, without a vestige of leafy cover,
but when she is fully freighted with nesting material, she flies
straight to the nest and proceeds to arrange it with perfect
nonchalance. If a nest with eggs is discovered in the bird’s absence,
she is quite likely to return and settle to her eggs without a troubled
thought.

The nest is a moderately deep, well-made cup of hemp, fine bark-strips,
grasses, and similar soft substances; and it is usually saddled upon a
horizontal limb of pine, larch, maple, alder, oak, aspen, cottonwood,
etc. But, occasionally, the nest is set in an upright crotch of a willow
or some dead sapling. Nests having such support are naturally deeper
than saddled nests, but the characteristic feature of both sorts is the
choice of a site, quite removed from the protection of leaves. The
grayish tone of the bark in the host tree is always accurately matched
in the choice of nesting materials and, if the result can be secured in
no other way, the exterior of the nest is elaborately draped with
cobwebs.

All eggs appear beautiful to the seasoned oölogist, but few surpass in
dainty elegance the three creamy ovals of the Pewee, with their spotting
of quaint old browns and subdued lavenders. They are genuine antiques,
and the connoisseur must pause to enjoy them even tho he honors the
prior rights of Mr. and Mrs. _M. Richardsonii_.


                                No. 148.
                          WESTERN FLYCATCHER.

  A. O. U. No. 464. Empidonax difficilis Baird.

  Synonym.—Western Yellow-bellied Flycatcher.

  Description.—_Adults_: Above and on sides of breast olive or
  olive-green; a lighter shade of same color continued across breast;
  remaining underparts yellow (between sulphur and primrose), sordid on
  throat and sides, clearest on abdomen; bend of wing sulphur-yellow; a
  faint yellowish eye-ring; axillaries and lining of wings paler yellow;
  middle coverts and tips of greater coverts, continuous with edging of
  exposed secondaries, yellowish gray, forming two more or less
  conspicuous wing-bars. Bill brownish black above, yellow below; feet
  and legs brownish dusky; iris brown. _Young birds_ are browner above
  and paler below; wing-bars cinnamon-buffy, (and not certainly
  distinguishable in color from young of _E. traillii_). Length
  5.50-6.00 (139.7-152.4); wing 2.64 (67); tail 2.24 (57); bill .47
  (12); tarsus.67 (17).

  Recognition Marks.—Warbler size; characterized by pervading
  yellowness;—really the easiest, because the most common of this
  difficult group; note a soft _piswit_; a woodland recluse. Adults
  always more yellow than _E. traillii_, from which it is not otherwise
  certainly distinguishable afield (save by note).

  Nesting.—_Nest_: placed anywhere in forest or about shaded cliffs,
  chiefly at lower levels; usually well constructed of soft green moss,
  fine grasses, fir needles and hemp. _Eggs_: 3 or 4, dull creamy white,
  sparingly spotted and dotted or blotched with cinnamon and pinkish
  brown, chiefly about larger end. Av. size .66 × .52 (16.8 × 13.2).
  _Season_: May 1-July 1; one or two broods.

  General Range.—Western North America from the eastern base of the
  Rocky Mountains to the Pacific, breeding north to Sitka and south
  chiefly in the mountains to northern Lower California and northern
  Mexico; south in winter into Mexico.

  Range in Washington.—Common summer resident in timbered sections
  thruout the State.

  Migrations.—_Spring_: Seattle-Tacoma, April 15. _Fall_: c. Sept. 1.

  Authorities.—_Empidonax difficilis_, Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R. Surv. IX.
  1858, p. 193 “Catal. No. 5920.” L. D¹. Ra. Ss¹. Ss². B. E.

  Specimens.—(U. of W.) P. Prov. B. BN. E.

Please observe the scientific name, _difficilis_, that is, difficult.
There is a delicate irony about the use of this term as a distinctive
appellation for _one_ of the “gnat kings,” for, surely, the plural,
_Empidonaces difficiles_, would comprehend them all. There is something,
indeed, to be learned from the notes of these little Flycatchers, and
the first year the author studied them seriously he supposed he had a
sure clew to their specific unraveling. But that was in the freshmen
year of Empidonaxology. In coming up for “final exams.” he confesses to
knowing somewhat less about them.

The bird, also, is well called Western; for however difficult the genus,
we know at least that _difficilis_ (speaking seriously now) is the
commonest species; that it appears under more varied conditions and
enjoys a more general distribution than any other species of Empidonax
in the West. The bird is, also, the first to arrive in the spring,
returning to the latitude of Seattle about the middle of April, or when
the yellow-green racemes of the Large-leafed Maple (_Acer macrophyllum_)
are first shaken out to the breeze. The little fay keeps well up in the
trees, occupying central positions rather than exposed outposts; and so
perfectly do his colors blend in with the tender hues of the new foliage
that we hear him twenty times to once we see him.

The notes are little explosive sibilants fenced in by initial and final
“p” or “t” sounds. If one prints them they are not at all to be
vocalized, but only whispered or hissed, _pssseet, pssseeit, psswit_, or
_piswit_. Other variations are _sé a-wit_, slowly and listlessly;
_cleotip_, briskly; _kushchtlip_, a fairy sneeze in Russian. One becomes
familiar with these tiny cachinations, and announces the Western
Flycatcher unseen with some degree of confidence. But the way is beset
with dangers and surprises. Once, in June, at a point on Lake Chelan,
after an hour’s discriminating study, I shot from practically the same
stand, three birds which said _swit_, _piswit_, and _pisoo_
respectively, and picked up a Wright’s Flycatcher (_E. wrightii_), a
Western Flycatcher (_E. difficilis_) and a Trail Flycatcher (_E.
traillii_). The same woods contained Hammond’s Flycatcher (_E.
hammondi_), while the Western Wood Pewee (_Myiochanes richardsonii_),
which has the same general economy, was abundant also. _Difficilis?
Etiam!_

The Western Flycatcher inhabits the deepest woods and occurs thruout the
State wherever sufficient shade is offered. It is rather partial to
well-watered valleys, and will follow these well up into the mountains,
but does not occur on the mountain-sides proper at any considerable
altitude. Nor does it appear to visit, save during migrations, those
green oases in the dry country which are the delight of _E. traillii_.
It mingles with _traillii_ in summer along the banks of streams and at
the edges of swamps; with _hammondi_ in the more open woods and along
the lower hillsides; with _wrightii_ along the margin of mountain lakes
and streams; but in the forests proper it is easily dominant.

The Western Flycatcher is a catholic nester. It builds almost always a
substantial cup of twigs, grasses, and hemp, lined with grass, hair or
feathers. The outside is usually plentifully bedecked with moss, or else
the whole structure is chiefly composed of this substance—not, however,
unless the color-tone of the immediate surroundings will permit of it.
In position it varies without limit. We find nests sunk like a
Solitaire’s in a mossy bank, or set in a niche of a rocky cliff, on
logs, stumps, or beams, in a clump of ferns, or securely lodged in a fir
tree at a height of forty feet. One I found in a swamp was saddled on
the stem of a slanting vine maple without a vestige of cover other than
that afforded by the general gloom.

    [Illustration: _Taken near Tacoma._    _Photo by J. H. Bowles._
                      NEST OF WESTERN FLYCATCHER.]

Eggs to the number of three or four, rarely five, are deposited late in
May or early in June, and only one brood is raised in a season. The eggs
are of a dull creamy white color, spotted and blotched rather lightly
with cinnamon brown and pinkish buff, easily distinguishable from all
others save those of the Traill Flycatcher.

These Flycatchers in nesting time are very confiding and very devoted
parents. One may sometimes touch the sitting bird, and, when off, she
flutters about very close to the intruder, sneezing violently and
snipping her mandibles like fairy scissors.


                                No. 149.
                          TRAILL’S FLYCATCHER.

  A. O. U. No. 466. Empidonax traillii (Aud.)

  Synonyms.—Little Flycatcher. Little Western Flycatcher.

  Description.—Plumage of upperparts very similar to that of _E.
  difficilis_, but olive inclining to brownish; wing-bars usually paler,
  more whitish; outer web of outer rectrix pale grayish white; sides of
  head and neck decidedly browner; underparts everywhere paler, nearly
  white on throat; breast sordid, scarcely olivaceous; lower abdomen and
  crissum pale primrose yellow; bend of wing yellow flecked with dusky;
  a faint eye-ring pale olive-gray. Bill black above, light brownish
  below (not so light in life as _E. difficilis_). _Young_: much as in
  preceding species, but averaging browner; more yellow below than
  adult. Length 5.50-6.00 (139.7-152.4); wing 2.76 (70); tail 2.25 (57);
  bill .49 (12.5); tarsus .65 (16.5).

  Recognition Marks.—Warbler size; olivaceous coloration; not so yellow
  below as preceding species; brush-haunting habits; note a smart
  _swit’choo_.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: a rather bulky but neatly-turned cup of plant-fibres,
  bark-strips, grass, etc., carefully lined with fine grasses; placed
  three to ten feet up, in crotch of bush or sapling of lowland thicket
  or swamp. _Eggs_: 3 or 4, not certainly distinguishable from those of
  preceding species. Av. size, .70 × .54 (17.8 × 13.7). _Season_: June;
  one brood.

  General Range.—Western North America, breeding north to southern
  Alaska (Dyea), “east, northerly, to western portion of Great Plains,
  much farther southerly, breeding in Iowa(?), Missouri, southern
  Illinois, and probably elsewhere in central Mississippi Valley”; south
  in winter over Mexico to Colombia, etc.

  Range in Washington.—Imperfectly made out—summer resident in thickets
  at lower levels thruout(?) the State.

  Authorities.—_Empidonax pusillus_ Cabanis, Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R.
  Surv. IX. 1858, p. 195. Ibid, C&S. 170. (T). C&S. L¹. D¹. Ra. B. E.

  Specimens.—(U. of W.) Prov. B. E.

Discrimination is the constant effort of those who would study the
Empidonaces, the Little Flycatchers. Comparing colors, Traill’s gives an
impression of brownness, where the Western is yellowish green, Hammond’s
blackish, and Wright’s grayish dusky. These distinctions are not
glaring, but they obtain roughly afield, in a group where every floating
mote of difference is gladly welcomed. The Traill Flycatcher, moreover,
is a lover of the half-open situations, bushy rather than timbered, of
clearings, low thickets, and river banks. Unlike its congeners, it will
follow a stream out upon a desert; and a spring, which gladdens a few
hundred yards of willows and _cratægi_ in some nook of the bunch-grass
hills, is sure to number among its summer boarders at least one pair of
Traill Flycatchers. This partiality for water-courses does not, however,
prevent its frequenting dry hillsides in western Washington and the
borders of mountain meadows in the Cascades.

Traill’s Flycatcher is a tardy migrant, for it arrives not earlier than
the 20th of May, and frequently not before June 1st. In 1899, the bird
did not appear at Ahtanum, in Yakima County, until the 14th of June; and
it became common immediately thereafter. This bird is restless,
energetic, and pugnacious to a fault. It posts on conspicuous places,
the topmost twig of a syringa bush, a willow, or an aspen, making
frequent outcries, if the mood is on, and darting nimbly after passing
insects. During the nesting season it pounces on passing birds of
whatever size and drives them out of bounds. It is not always so hardy
in the presence of man, and if pressed too closely will whisk out of
sight for good and all.

The notes of the Little Flycatcher, as it used to be called, are various
and not always distinctive. Particularly, there is one style which
cannot be distinguished from the commonest note of the Hammond
Flycatcher, _switchoo, sweéchew_, or unblushingly, _sweébew, sweébew,
ssweet_. Other notes, delivered sometimes singly and sometimes in
groups, are _pisoó_; _swit’oo, sweet, swit’oo_; _Swee, kutip, kutip_;
_Hwit_ or _hooit_, softly.

Nesting begins late in June and fresh eggs may be expected about the 4th
of July. Nests are placed characteristically in upright forks of
willows, alder-berry bushes, roses, etc. They are usually compact and
artistic structures of dried grasses, hemp (the inner bark of dead
willows) and plant-down, lined with fine grasses, horse-hair, feathers
and other soft substances. Not infrequently the nests are placed over
water; and low elevations of, say, two or three feet from the ground
appear to prevail westerly. A Yakima County nest, taken July 10th,
containing two eggs, was half saddled upon, half sunk into the twigs of
a horizontal willow branch one and a half feet above running water, and
had to be reached by wading.

Incubation lasts twelve days, and the babies require as much more time
to get a-wing. But by September 1st, tickets are bought, grips are
packed—or, no! think of being able to travel without luggage—goodbyes
are said; and it’s “Heighho! for Mexico!”


                                No. 150.
                         HAMMOND’S FLYCATCHER.

  A. O. U. No. 468. Empidonax hammondi (Xantus).

  Synonym.—Dirty Little Flycatcher.

  Description.—_Adult_: Above olive-gray inclining to ashy on
  foreparts,—color continued on sides, throat and breast well down, only
  slightly paler than back; remaining underparts yellowish in various
  degrees, or sometimes scarcely tinged with yellow[62]; pattern and
  color of wing much as in preceding species; outermost rectrix edged
  with whitish on outer web; bill comparatively small and narrow, black
  above, dusky or blackish below. _Young birds_ present a minimum of
  yellow below and their wing-markings are buffy instead of whitish.
  Length about 5.50 (139.7); wing 2.80 (71); tail 2.29 (58); bill .41
  (10.5); breadth of bill at nostril .19 (4.83); tarsus .63 (16).
  Females average a little smaller.

  Recognition Marks.—Warbler size, the smallest of the four Washington
  _Empidonaces_, and possibly the most difficult (where all are vexing);
  olive-gray of plumage gives impression of blackish at distance; the
  most sordid below of the Protean quartette; nests high in coniferous
  trees; eggs _white_.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: of fir-twigs, grasses and moss, lined with fine
  grasses, vegetable down and hair; placed on horizontal limb of fir
  tree at considerable heights. _Eggs_: 4, pale creamy white, unmarked.
  Av. size, .65 × .51 (16.5 × 12.7). _Season_: June; one brood.

  General Range.—Western North America north to southeastern Alaska, the
  valley of the Upper Yukon and Athabasca, breeding south, chiefly in
  the mountains, to Colorado and California; south in winter thru Mexico
  to the highlands of Guatemala.

  Range in Washington.—Summer resident in coniferous timber on both
  sides of the Cascades, irregularly abundant and local in distribution.

  Authorities.—[“Hammond’s fly-catcher,” Johnson, Rep. Gov. W. T. 1884
  (1885), 22.] Bendire, Life Hist. N. A. Birds, Vol. II. 1895, p. 315ff.
  D¹. Ra. D². B. E(H).

  Specimens.—C.

Hammondi is the western analogue of _minimus_, the well-known Least
Flycatcher of the East. It has not, however, attained any such
distinctness in the public mind, nor is it likely to except in favored
localities. These chosen stations are quite as likely to be in the city
as elsewhere; but no sooner do we begin to arrive at conclusions as to
its habits, notes, etc., than the bird forsakes the region and our work
is all to do over again at some distant time.

In the summer of 1895 I found Hammond Flycatchers fairly abundant on
Capitol Hill (which was then in its pin-feather stage). Twenty or thirty
might have been seen in the course of a morning’s walk in June.
Everywhere were to be heard brisk _Sewick’s_ in the precise fashion of
eastern _minimus_; and at rarer intervals a more intense but still harsh
and unresonant _Sweé-chew_. These observations were confirmed by the
taking of several specimens; but elsewhere and in other seasons I have
found the bird most unaccountably silent, and have been able to add
little to its repertory of speech.

In the summer of 1906 we found these Flycatchers preparing nests on
Cannon Hill in Spokane. In both instances the birds were building out in
the open after the fashion of the Western Wood Pewee (_Myiochanes
richardsonii_); one on the bare limb of a horse-chestnut tree some ten
feet from the ground; the other upon an exposed elbow of a picturesque
horizontal limb of a pine tree at a height of some sixty feet. Near
Newport, in Stevens County, we located a nearly completed nest of this
species on the 20th of May, and returned on the 1st of June to complete
accounts. The nest was placed seven feet from the trunk of a tall fir
tree, and at a height of forty feet. The bird was sitting, and when
frightened dived headlong into the nearest thicket, where she skulked
silently during our entire stay. The nest proved to be a delicate
creation of the finest vegetable materials, weathered leaves, fibers,
grasses, etc., carefully inwrought, and a considerable quantity of the
orange-colored bracts of young fir trees. The lining was of hair, fine
grass, bracts, and a single feather. In position the nest might well
have been that of a Wood Pewee; but, altho it was deeply cupped, it was
much broader, and so relatively flatter. The four fresh eggs which it
contained were of a delicate cream-color, changing to pure white upon
blowing.

The Hammond Flycatcher was also found to be a common breeder in the
valley of the Stehekin, where Mr. Bowles has taken several sets in very
similar situations, viz., upon horizontal branches of fir trees at
considerable heights.


                                No. 151.
                          WRIGHT’S FLYCATCHER.

  A. O. U. No. 469. Empidonax wrightii Baird.

  Synonym.—Little Gray Flycatcher.

  Description.—_Adult_ (_gray phase_): Above dull bluish gray or faintly
  olivaceous on back and sides; throat and breast pale gray to whitish
  with admixture of ill-concealed dusky; remaining parts, posteriorly,
  faintly tinged with pale primrose; a whitish eye-ring; wing-markings,
  of the same pattern as in other species, or more extensive on
  secondaries and outer webs of tertials, definitely white; outer web of
  outermost rectrix pale whitish. _Adult_ (_yellow-bellied phase_): As
  in gray phase, but underparts strongly tinged with yellow and
  upperparts faintly tinged with olive-green; wing-markings less purely
  white. Bill blackish above, more or less pale below and dusky tipped.
  _Young birds_ are whitish below and the wing-bands are buffy as in
  other species. Length about 5.75 (146); wing 2.69 (68); tail 2.40
  (61); bill .47 (12); tarsus .71 (18).

  Recognition Marks.—Warbler size; prevailing gray coloration; whitish
  eye-ring; excessively retiring habits.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: of hemp, bark-strips, etc., softly lined; built in
  upright crotch of bush. _Eggs_: 4 or 5, white, unmarked. Av. size, .68
  × .52 (17.3 × 13.2). _Season_: June; one brood.

  General Range.—Western United States and southern British Columbia,
  breeding in Transition and Canadian life-zones, south to southern
  Arizona and east to Rocky Mountains; south in winter thru southern
  California and Mexico.

  Authorities.—Dawson, Auk, Vol. XIV. Apr. 1897, p. 176.

  Specimens.—Prov. C.

Bird-afraid-of-his-shadow is the name this shy recluse deserves. The few
seen in Washington have always been skulking in the depths of brush
patches, or in clumps of thorn bushes, and they seem to dread nothing so
much as the human eye. For all they keep so close to cover they move
about restlessly and are never still long enough to afford any
satisfaction to the beholder.

The only note I have ever heard it utter (and this repeatedly by
different individuals) was a soft liquid _swit_. But Major Bendire says
of its occurrence at Fort Klamath in Oregon; “I do not consider this
species as noisy as the Little Flycatcher [_E. traillii_] which was
nearly as common, but its notes are very similar; in fact they are not
easily distinguishable, but are given with less vigor than those of the
former, while in its actions it is fully as energetic and sprightly as
any of the species of the genus _Empidonax_.”

Wright’s Flycatcher affects higher altitudes than do the other species
during the nesting season. The nest is placed at heights ranging from
two to twenty feet, and is built in upright forks of bushes, or against
the trunks of small saplings. Willows, alders, aspens, buck-brush, and
service berry are common hosts. Perhaps the only nesting record for
Washington consists of a set of four fresh eggs taken by myself from a
draw on the side of Boulder Mountain overlooking the Stehekin Valley, on
May 30, 1896. The nest had been deserted because of a brush fire which
had swept the draw, but it was uninjured; and the situation, an alder
fork eight feet up, together with the _white_ eggs, made identification
certain.



                     _Trochilidæ_—The Hummingbirds


                                No. 152.
                       BLACK-CHINNED HUMMINGBIRD.

  A. O. U. No. 429. Trochilus alexandri Bourc. & Muls.

  Synonyms.—Alexander Hummingbird. Sponge Hummer.

  Description.—_Adult male_: Upperparts including middle pair of
  tail-feathers shining bronzy green; wing-quills and remaining
  rectrices fuscous with purplish reflections; tail double-rounded, its
  feathers broadly acuminate, and central pair of feathers about .12
  shorter than the third pair, the outermost pair shorter than middle
  pair; the gorget chiefly opaque velvety black, on each side of the
  median line a small irregular patch of metallic orange, or else with
  various jewelled iridescence posteriorly; remaining underparts white,
  heavily tinged with greenish on sides, elsewhere lightly tinged with
  dusky and dull rufous; bill slender, straight. _Adult female_: Similar
  to male in coloration but without gorget, a few dusky specks instead;
  tail different, single-rounded, central feathers like back in
  coloration, and scarcely shorter than succeeding pairs, remaining
  feathers with broad subterminal space of purplish black, and tipped
  with white, lateral feathers scarcely acuminate, the outermost barely
  emarginate on inner web. Length of adult male: about 3.50 (88.9); wing
  1.75 (44.5); tail 1.25 (31.8); bill .75 (19.1). Female, length about
  4.00 (101.6); wing 1.95 (49.5).

  Recognition Marks.—Pygmy size; black gorget of male distinctive;
  female larger than in _Stellula calliope_, with which alone it is
  likely to come into comparison.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: Of plant down secured by cobwebs, saddled upon small
  descending branch at moderate height, or lashed to twigs of small
  fork. _Eggs_: 2 or, rarely, 3, pure white, elliptical oval in shape.
  Av. size, .50 × .33 (12.7 × 8.3). _Season_: May or June according to
  altitude; one brood.

  General Range.—Western United States, except the northern Pacific
  coast district, north in the interior into British Columbia, breeding
  south to northern Lower California and east to the Rocky Mountains;
  south in winter into Mexico.

  Range in Washington.—Not common summer resident east of the Cascades
  only.

  Authorities.—? _Bendire_, Life Hist. N. A. Birds, Vol. II. 1895, p.
  199 (inferential). Dawson, Auk, Vol. XIV. Apr. 1897, p. 175. Sr. Ss².
  J.

  Specimens.—(U. of W.) P¹. C.

Those of us, who as children were taught to call lady-bugs “lady-birds,”
might have been pardoned some uncertainty as to the whereabouts of the
dividing line between insects and birds, especially if, to the vision of
the “Hum-bird’s” wings shimmering by day above the flower bed, was added
the twilight visits of the hawk-moths not a whit smaller. The Hummer is
painted like a butterfly; its flight is direct and buzzing like a bee’s;
it seeks its food at the flower’s brim by poising on rapidly vibrating
wing like the hawk-moth; but there the resemblances cease. For the rest
it is a bird, migrating, mating, and nesting quite like grown folks.

While more than five hundred species of Hummingbirds—and these all
confined to the New World—are known to science, those which have looked
northward at all have shown a decided preference for the Pacific Coast.
Thus, we have four species in Washington, and we send our boldest
member, _Selasphorus rufus_, as far north as the St. Elias range in
Alaska, while our friends east of the Mississippi River know only one
species, the Ruby-throat, _Trochilus colubris_, which is own cousin, and
only own cousin to our _T. alexandri_.

Contrary to the popular belief Hummers do not feed largely upon nectar,
but insert their needle-bills into the depths of flowers mainly for the
purpose of capturing insects. This explains the otherwise puzzling habit
the birds have of revisiting the same flower beds at frequent intervals.
It is not to gather new-flowing sweets, but to see what flies the sweets
themselves have gathered. If a Hummingbird extracted honey to any great
extent—it does some—it would be rifling the bait from its own traps.
Again, the bird is not footless, as some suppose, for it spends a good
deal of time perching on exposed limbs, from which it may dart,
Flycatcher fashion, after passing insects.

Nor is the bird quite songless. At La Claire’s, on the banks of the Pend
d’Oreille River, we once witnessed a very pretty episode in the life of
the Black-chinned Hummer. We were passing beside a brush-and-log fence
in a clearing, when we noticed the rocking song-flight of a male
Black-chin. The bird first towered to a height of forty feet, or such a
matter, with loudly buzzing wing, then descended noisily in a great
loop, passing under a certain projecting branch in the fence, and
emitting along the lower segment of his great semicircle a low, musical,
murmuring sound of considerable beauty. This note, inasmuch as we stood
near one end of the fairy lover’s course, was raised in pitch a musical
third upon each return journey. Back and forth the ardent hero passed,
until he tired at length and darted off to tap a Canada lily for
nourishment, or the pretense of it. Then he perched on a twig at ten
feet and submitted to a most admiring inspection.

The Hummer’s back, well up on the neck, was of a dull green shade, the
wings were dusky, and the head dusky, shading into the deep velvety
brownish black of the throat. There was no lustrous sheen of the gorget
in the dull light, but on each side of the median line of the throat lay
an irregular patch of metallic orange. The underparts were tinged with
dusky and dull rufous; and these modest vestments completed the attire
of a plain-colored but very dainty bird.

Upon the passionate resumption of his courting dance we ordered an
investigation, and succeeded in finding “the woman in the case.” She
rose timidly from the thicket at the very lowest point of the male’s
song circuit, but at sight of us quickly took to the brush again.

The fairy’s nest is commonly saddled to an obliquely descending branch
of willow, alder, cottonwood, or young orchard tree. It is a tiny tuft
of vegetable down, bound together and lashed to its support by a wealth
of spider-webbing. Unlike the nest of _colubris_, the nest of
_alexandri_ is not decorated with lichens; and it not infrequently
resembles some small fine sponge, not only in its yellow-brown tint, but
in the elastic texture of its walls, which regain their shape after
being lightly squeezed. The eggs, two in number (but sometimes three in
this species alone), look like homeopathic pills—so dainty, indeed, that
the owner herself must needs dart off the nest every now and then and
hover at some distance to admire them. The male deserts his mate as soon
as she is well established, and the entire care of the little family
falls upon her shoulders. The young are fed by regurgitation, “a
frightful looking act,” as Bradford Torrey says.


                                No. 153.
                             RUFOUS HUMMER.

  A. O. U. No. 433. Selasphorus rufus (Gmel.).

  Synonyms.—Red-backed Hummingbird. Nootka Hummer.

  Description.—_Adult male_: In general above and below bright rufous or
  cinnamon-red, changing to bronzy green on crown, fading to white on
  belly and on chest, where sharply contrasting with gorget; wing-quills
  purplish-dusky on tips; the central pair of tail-feathers broadened
  and broadly acuminate; the succeeding pair with a deep notch on the
  inner web and a slighter emargination on the outer web; gorget
  somewhat produced laterally, of close-set rounded metallic scales,
  shining coppery-red, fiery red, or (varying with individuals) rich
  ruby-red. Bill slender and straight. _Adult female_: Above rufous
  overlaid with bronzy green, clear rufous on rump and tail-coverts;
  pattern of tail as in male but less decided; central tail-feathers
  green tipped with black; lateral feathers chiefly rufous, changing to
  black subterminally, and tipped with white; underparts whitish, shaded
  with rufous on sides; gorget wanting or represented by a small central
  patch. _Young males_: Like adult female but more extensively rufous
  above and throat flecked with reddish metallic scales. _Young
  females_: Like adult female but rump green and throat flecked with
  greenish scales. Length of adult male about 3.50 (88.9); wing 1.65
  (41.91); tail 1.30 (33); bill .65 (16.5). Female: 3.70 (94); wing 1.75
  (44.5); tail 1.28 (32.5); bill .68 (17.3).

  Recognition Marks.—Pygmy size; abundant rufous of male distinctive;
  female requires careful discrimination from that of _S. alleni_ and
  may be known certainly from it by notching of next central
  tail-feather, and by outer tail-feather more than .10 wide.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: Of plant down and fine mosses bound together with
  cobwebs, and ornamented with lichens, placed on horizontal or
  declining stem of bush or tree. _Eggs_: 2, pure white, elliptical
  oval. Av. size, .50 × .33 (12.7 × 8.3). _Season_: April 15-July 10;
  two broods.

  General Range.—Western North America from the Rocky Mountains to the
  Pacific, breeding south in mountainous regions to Arizona and north to
  Mount St. Elias and southwest Yukon Territory; south in winter over
  the tablelands of Mexico.

  Range in Washington.—Common summer resident on the West-side from
  sea-level to timber-line; less common on the eastern slopes of the
  Cascades; rare in the mountains of eastern Washington.

  Migrations.—_Spring_: March 15-April 15.

  Authorities.—? _Trochilus rufus_, Aud. Orn. Biog. IV. 1838, 555, pl.
  372. _Selasphorus rufus_ Swains, Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R. Surv. IX.
  1858, p. 135. T. C&S. L¹. Rh. D¹. Sr. Kb. Ra. Kk. J. B. E.

  Specimens.—U. of W. P. Prov. B. BN. E.

These gaudily dressed little fellows, seemingly part and parcel of the
sunshine itself, are by no means the delicate creations they appear to
be. West of the Cascades they are, strange to say, among the very first
of the spring arrivals from the South. The vanguard always arrives by
the last week of March, and sometimes as early as the middle of that
month. East of the Cascades they are considerably later, and are not
found in nearly so large numbers. They are seldom to be seen in greatest
abundance, however, much before the middle of April. At this season
certain bushes flower in profusion, and in these flowers the hummers
find unlimited food and drink,—honey, and the innumerable tiny insects
which it attracts.

Wright Park, situated in the center of the city of Tacoma, has been very
extensively planted with the decorative wild currant; and it is here
that hummers may oftenest be seen in great numbers. It is not uncommon
to see them by hundreds in this park, and often as many as twenty
disport themselves in and around a single bush. They are the most
pugnacious little creatures and are continually squabbling, the females
being quite as quarrelsome as the males. Their war song is a penetrating
squeak, or chirrup. The pausing of one of the birds to select some
luscious insect from a cluster of flowers seems to be the signal for an
onset from one or more of its fellows, when all squeak with greatest
animation. One cannot help believing that this is more or less in the
nature of play, for it is joined in by both the males and the females,
and the one attacked never resents it in the least. Usually it describes
a great circle in the air and descends into the center of some other
bush, where it sits watching the others and occasionally preening its
feathers. They are exceedingly tame at this season, and the bird-lover
may seat himself under some flower-laden bush while these most beautiful
little birds hover and perch within three or four feet of him.

What appears to be the only other vocal accomplishment of this hummer is
a somewhat long-drawn, rasping note, very loud and harsh for so small a
bird. This is made by the male, and, curiously enough, it is the love
song uttered while wooing his mate. She perches quietly in the center of
some small tree, apparently quite insensible to his frenzied actions.
These consist in flying up to a very considerable height, and then
dropping in a circular course to within a few feet of where she sits. It
is on the downward course that he makes his declaration of love, and if
it is done to arouse her he ought to be successful. Certainly it is a
sound most startling to a human being, when it explodes unexpectedly
within a few feet of his head.

It is almost unnecessary to say that the nesting habits of these little
birds are of unusual interest. The male is a disgracefully idle fellow,
never doing a stroke of work while the female is building the nest, and
leaving her as soon as the eggs are laid. It seems that at least he
might feed her while she sits so patiently upon her eggs; but no, he
retires to some warm, sunny gulch and spends his time in selfish
enjoyment.

  [Illustration: _Taken in Oregon._    _Photo by Finley and Bohlman._
                        RUFOUS HUMMER AT NEST.]

Strange to say, the first nest-building occurs during the first week in
April, at which season sleet and cold rains are of not infrequent
occurrence. This is long before the majority of the species have arrived
from the South, and it would lead one to think that the first comers are
already paired when they arrive. A nest containing two fresh eggs was
found on the 14th of April, the eggs hatching on the 26th. On this last
date it was raining in torrents with a bitter cold wind, yet the tiny
young did not seem to suffer in the least, altho frequently left for as
long as fifteen or twenty minutes by their mother. Indeed it was a
mystery where she could possibly have found anything to eat. This nest
was saddled upon a twig a few feet above the ground amidst the
sheltering branches of a huge cedar, thus protecting the young from any
direct contact with the rain.

     [Illustration: _Taken near Tacoma._    _Photo by the Authors._
                 NEST OF RUFOUS HUMMER ON FIR BRANCH.]

There is scarcely a conceivable situation, except directly on the
ground, that these birds will not select for a nesting site. Such odd
places have been chosen as a knot in a large rope that hung from the
rafters of a woodshed; and again, amongst the wires of an electric light
globe that was suspended in the front porch of a city residence. It may
be found fifty feet up in some huge fir in the depths of the forest, or
on the stem of some blackberry bush growing in a city lot.

Very often they form colonies during the nesting season, as many as
twenty nests being built in a small area. Some large fir grove is
generally chosen for the colony, but a most interesting one was located
on a tiny island in Puget Sound. This island has had most of its large
timber cut away, and is heavily overgrown with huckleberry, blackberry,
and small alders. In the center is the colony, the nests placed only a
few yards apart on any vine or bush that will serve the purpose.
Huckleberry bushes seem the favorites, but many nests are built in the
alders and on the blackberry vines.

The nesting season is greatly protracted, for fresh eggs may be found
from April till July. This makes it seem probable that each pair raises
at least two broods during the spring and summer. After incubation is
somewhat advanced, the female is most courageous, often permitting
herself to be lifted off the nest before its contents can be examined.
At such times the bird student must be on his guard, as the little
mother will often resent the intrusion, and her attack is always made at
the eyes.

   [Illustration: _Taken near Tacoma._    _Photo by W. Leon Dawson._
                     TREASURE TROVE FOR THE HUMMER.
 COBWEBS ARE LARGELY UTILIZED IN THE BUILDING OF A HUMMINGBIRD’S NEST.]

The eggs, so far as has ever been recorded, are invariably two in
number. They are immaculate milky white in color; and when freshly laid
the yolk makes them look like little pink moonstones, such as one finds
on the beach. In shape they are elliptical, and seem large for so small
a bird, measuring .50 × .33 inches.

The young are fed by regurgitation. For several days after hatching
their bills are little longer than those of any other young bird; but by
the time they leave the nest, their sword-like beaks are nearly as long
as those of their parents.

                                                           J. H. Bowles.


                                No. 154.
                          ALLEN’S HUMMINGBIRD.

  A. O. U. No. 434. Selasphorus alleni Hensh.

  Synonym.—Green-backed Rufous Hummingbird.

  Description.—_Adult male_: Similar to adult male of _S. rufus_, but
  upperparts shining bronzy green (duller on crown); underparts,
  including belly, cinnamon-rufous, changing to white on chest only;
  tail-feathers without notching or emargination, the two outer pairs
  smaller and very narrow, the outermost acicular. _Adult female_: Very
  similar to adult male of _S. rufus_, but with tail as in male _S.
  alleni_. Length of adult male: 3.25 (82.6); wing 1.52 (38.6); tail
  1.17 (29.7); bill .63 (16). Female a little larger.

  Recognition Marks.—Pygmy size; fiery gorget with _green_ back of male
  unmistakable; female indistinguishable out of hand from that of _S.
  rufus_; outermost tail-feathers less than .10 wide.

  Nesting.—As in preceding.

  General Range.—Pacific Coast district north to southwestern British
  Columbia, east, southerly, to Arizona; south in winter to Lower
  California and Sonora.

  Range in Washington.—Imperfectly made out; at least summer resident
  and migrant west of the Cascades; not yet reported from the East-side.

  Authorities.—Lawrence, Auk, Vol. IX. Jan. 1892, p. 44. L. Ra. Kb. B.
  E.

  Specimens.—C. E.

It is the misfortune of certain well-deserving mortals to be known to
fame as the husbands or brothers or cousins of some celebrity. Allen’s
Hummer is the daintier, as he is the rarer, of the summer _Selasphori_
but we know him thus far only as a momentary vision. At each appearance
we pause to assure ourselves that we really did see a Hummer with a
green back _and_ a red gorget, for otherwise, we have been duped again
by one of those tiresome female Rufouses.

Mr. R. H. Lawrence records the Allen Hummer as a summer resident of the
Gray’s Harbor country, and says of it[63]: “Perhaps as common as _T.
rufus_, and frequenting similar places. First noted in 1891 on the East
Humptulips, April 30. I had a good view of one on Quiniault Lake June
13.”

Mr. Chas. A. Allen, of Nicasio, Cal., who discovered this species and in
whose honor it was named, says of these birds[64]: “Their courage is
beyond question; I once saw two of these little warriors start after a
Western Red-tailed Hawk, and they attacked it so vigorously that the
Hawk was glad to get out of their way. But these little scamps were even
then not satisfied, but helped him along after he had decided to go.
Each male seems to claim a particular range which he occupies for
feeding and breeding purposes, and every other bird seen by him
encroaching on his preserve is at once so determinedly set upon and
harassed that he is only too glad to beat a hasty retreat. During their
quarrels these birds keep up an incessant sharp chirping, and a harsh
rasping buzzing with the wings, which sounds very different from the low
soft humming they make with these while feeding. * * * During the mating
and breeding season the male frequently shoots straight up into the air
and nearly out of sight, only to turn suddenly and rush headlong down
until within a few feet of the ground. The wings during the downward
rushes cut the air and cause a sharp, whistling screech, as they descend
with frightful velocity, and should they strike anything in their
downward course, I believe they would be instantly killed.”

                    [Illustration: CALLIOPE HUMMERS
                      MALE AND FEMALE, ⅚ LIFE SIZE
              From a Water-color Painting by Allan Brooks]


                                No. 155.
                         CALLIOPE HUMMINGBIRD.

  A. O. U. No. 436. Stellula calliope Gould.

  Synonyms.—Calliope Hummer. Star Hummer.

  Description.—_Adult male_: Upperparts golden-green; tail chiefly
  dusky, rufous at base, paler on tips, slightly double-rounded, its
  feathers broadening distally and nearly round at tips; sides of throat
  and underparts white, washed with greenish and brownish on sides;
  gorget somewhat produced laterally, of lengthened acuminate feathers
  having white bases, rose-purple, or violet, with lilac reflections.
  Bill straight, black above, yellowish below. _Adult female_:
  Coloration of upperparts, save tail, as in male; central tail-feathers
  green tipped with dusky; remaining rectrices greenish gray mingled
  with rufous basally, crossed with black, and tipped with white. _Young
  birds_ resemble adult female but are heavily washed with rufous below
  and have throat more or less specked with dusky. Length of adult male:
  2.75-3.00 (69.9-76.2); wing 1.55 (39.4); tail 1.00 (25.4); bill .57
  (14.5). Female much larger—up to 3.50 (88.9).

  Recognition Marks.—Pygmy size; the smallest of the northern ranging
  species; gorget of male with _radiating_ feathers of rose-purple hue
  distinctive, but female hard to discriminate afield.

  Nesting.—Much as in other species. Av. size of _Eggs_: .47 × .30 (11.9
  × 7.6). _Season_: June or July according to altitude; one brood.

  General Range.—Breeding in the mountains of the West, north to central
  British Columbia; south in winter to the mountains of Mexico.

  Range in Washington.—Summer resident, chiefly in Transition and
  Canadian zones, east of the Cascades, and in these mountains to the
  limit of trees. Mr. Lawrence’s record remains unique for the
  West-side, but the bird probably breeds in the Olympics also.

  Authorities.—? Lawrence, Auk, Vol. IX. Jan. 1892, p.44. Bendire, Life
  Hist. N. A. Birds, Vol. II. 1895, p.219.  L¹. D². J. B.

  Specimens.—P¹. C.

Ornithologists have been hard put to it to provide names for these most
exquisite of birds, the Hummers. The realms of callilithology,
chromatics, esthetics, astronomy, history, classical mythology, and a
score beside, have been laid under tribute to secure such fanciful and
high-sounding titles as the Fiery Topaz, Ruby-and-Topaz, Allied Emerald,
Red-throated Sapphire, Sparkling-tail, White-booted Racket-tail,
Fork-tailed Rainbow, the Sappho Comet, the Circe, Rivoli and Lucifer
Hummers, the Adorable Coquette, and, last but not least, the truly
Marvelous Hummingbird (_Loddigesia mirabilis_). What wonder, then, that
with so many children to provide for, Gould, the great monographer of
the _Trochilidæ_, should have named this nearly silent but always
beautiful species after the muse of eloquence, Calliope?

While it is true that the species may be found in abundance thruout the
higher Cascades, and especially along their eastern slopes, it is hardly
just to say with Bendire, that “the Calliope Hummingbird is a
mountain-loving species and during the breeding season is rarely met
with below altitudes of 4,000 feet, and much more frequently between
6,500 to 8,000 feet.”[65] We have found it commonly in the northern and
eastern portions of Washington at much lower altitudes, and have taken
its nest in the burning gorge of the Columbia at an altitude of only six
hundred feet. In the mountains the bird knows no restriction of range,
save that it avoids the heavily timbered slopes of the West-side; and it
is at least as common along the divide as is the Rufous Hummer.

    [Illustration: _Taken in Spokane._    _Photo by F. S. Merrill._
                       CALLIOPE HUMMER, FEMALE.]

Without doubt the mind remembers longest those birds which visit the
mountain heather beds, gorgeous with flowers, and varied beyond
description. A bit of heather on Wright’s Peak at an elevation of 8,000
feet, yielded thirty-two species of plants in conspicuous bloom within a
stone’s throw of camp. The Hummers appear to be attracted to the flower
beds by color and position rather than by scent, and as sure as we
neglected to rise with the sun, a troop of puzzled honey-hunters hovered
by turns over our parti-colored blankets. Once a Hummer minutely
inspected a red bandana handkerchief which graced the bird-man’s neck;
and once, I regret to say it, fluttered for some moments before his nose
(sunburned!).

The tower and dive of the Calliope Hummer produces at its climax a
squeak of the tiniest and shrillest quality. It is a sight well worth
seeing when one of these elfin gallants, flashing like a jewel and
bursting with self-consciousness, mounts slowly upward on vibrating
wings to a height of a hundred feet, then darts back with the speed of
lightning to make an affectionate pass at the placid lady on the twig
below. The same tactics are pursued when the cat or a snooping chipmunk
is the object of attention, but the change in temper is unmistakable. I
do not feel sure that the spitfire will strike an enemy, but the sudden
explosions of winged fury hard about the ears are quite sufficient to
put a prowler in a panic.

The secret of nest-finding in the case of Hummingbirds lies in the
tell-tale wing-buzz of the female as she quits her nest. In this way, on
the 17th of June, 1906, we found the first Washington nest of the
Calliope, in the dense greenery of La Chapelle’s Springs, on the
Columbia River, near Chelan Falls. The nest was saddled on a slender
descending branch of a red birch tree, at a point seven feet out from
the trunk and twelve feet from the ground. It was overshadowed by a
little canopy of leaves, and was held in place not only by its lashings
of cobwebs, but by a drooping filament from a loftier branch.

    [Illustration: _Taken in Spokane._    _Photo by F. S. Merrill._
                            A NEARER VIEW.]

In eastern Oregon Bendire found these birds nesting extensively in the
pine trees. The nests were usually settled upon a cluster of pine cones,
and so closely simulated their surroundings that detection would have
been impossible save for the visits of their owners. Ridgway figures[66]
a four-story nest taken at Baird, California, and believed to represent
the occupation of successive seasons.



           _Caprimulgidæ_—The Nighthawks (Goatsuckers, etc.)


                                No. 156.
                               POORWILL.

  A. O. U. No. 418. Phalænoptilus nuttallii (Aud.).

  Description.—_Adult_: A narrow band of pure white across throat; below
  this in abrupt contrast a band of black; under tail-coverts clear
  creamy buff; the three outer pairs of rectrices tipped broadly with
  white or buffy white; remaining plumage an exquisite complex of
  skeletonized black centers of feathers with buffy and intermingled
  dusky marginings, the whole producing a frosted or tarnished silvery
  effect; black most conspicuously outcropping on back and on center of
  crown; buffy “silvering” most complete on sides of crown,
  wing-coverts, and upper surfaces of tail-feathers; black of underparts
  appearing chiefly as bars where also mingled with pale olivaceous;
  flight feathers finely and fully banded, ochraceous and blackish. Bill
  black; feet (drying) dark brown; iris brown. Length: 7.00-8.00
  (177.8-203.2); wing 5.50 (139.7); tail 3.50 (88.9); tarsus .65 (16.5).

  Recognition Marks.—Strictly Chewink size but appearing larger; smaller
  than a Nighthawk, which it superficially resembles in coloration.
  _Poorwill_ cry heard a hundred times to once the bird is seen.

  Nesting.—_Eggs_: 2 laid upon the bare ground, creamy white with a
  faint pinkish tinge, oval to blunt elliptical oval in shape. Av. size,
  .99 × .75 (25.2 × 19). _Season_: c. June 1st; one brood.

  General Range.—Breeds from the western portions of the Great Plains
  west to the Cascade-Sierra Ranges, north into British Columbia,
  Alberta, etc.; south in winter thru Mexico to Guatemala.

  Range in Washington.—Not common summer resident in treeless portions
  of eastern Washington.

  Authorities.—_Antrostomus nuttallii_ Cassin, “Illustrations,” (1856)
  p. 237. C&S. D¹. D². Ss¹. J.

  Specimens.—Prov. C.

The sun has set and the last chore is done, all save carrying in the
brimful pail of milk, which slowly yields tribute of escaping bubbles to
the evening air. Sukey, with a vast sigh of relief, has sunk upon the
ground, where, after summoning a consoling cud, she regards her master
wonderingly. But the farmer boy is loath to quit the scene and to
exchange the witching twilight for the homely glare of the waiting
kerosene; so he lingers on his milk-stool watching the fading light in
the western sky and dreaming, as only a boy can dream, of days which are
yet to be. Every sense is lulled to rest, and the spirit comes forth to
explore the lands beyond the hills, to conquer cities, discover poles,
or scale the heights of heaven, when suddenly out of the stillness comes
the plaintive cry of the Poor-will, _Poor-will - poor-will_. It is not a
disturbing note, but rather the authentic voice of silence, the yearning
of the bordering wilderness made vocal in appeal to the romantic spirit
of youth. _Poor Will! Poor Will!_ you think upon cities, actions,
achievements; think rather upon solitude, upon quietness, upon lonely
devotions. Come, oh, come to the wilderness, to the mystic, silent,
fateful wastes! And ever after, even tho duty call him to the city, to
the stupid, stifling, roaring, (and glorious) city, the voice of the
Poor-will has wrought its work within the heart of the exiled farmer
boy, and he owns a reverence for the silent places, a loyalty of
affection for the wilderness, which not all the forced subservience of
things which creak or blare or shriek may fully efface.

The Poor-will spends the day sleeping on the ground under the shelter of
a sage-bush, or close beside some lichen-covered rock, to which its
intricate pattern of plumage marvelously assimilates. When startled, by
day, the bird flits a few yards over the sage-tops and plumps down at
haphazard. If it chances to settle in the full sunlight, it appears to
be blinded and may allow a close approach; but if in the shade, one is
not likely to surprise it again. Even after nightfall these fairy
moth-catchers are much more terrestrial in their habits than are the
Nighthawks. They alight upon the ground upon the slightest pretext and,
indeed, appear most frequently to attain their object by leaping up at
passing insects. They are more strictly nocturnal in habit, also, than
the Night Jars, and we know of their later movements only thru the
intermittent exercise of song. Heard in some starlit cañon, the passing
of a Poor-will in full cry is an indescribable experience, producing
feelings somewhere between pleasure and fear,—pleasure in the delightful
melancholy of the notes heard in the dim distance, but something akin to
terror at the near approach and thrilling climax of the portentous
sounds.

Taken in the hand, one sees what a quiet, inoffensive fay the Poor-will
is, all feathers and itself a mere featherweight. The silken sheen and
delicate tracery of the frost-work upon the plumage it were hopeless to
describe. It is as tho some fairy snowball had struck the bird full on
the forehead, and from thence gone shivering with ever lessening traces
all over the upperparts. Or, perhaps, to allow another fancy, the dust
of the innumerable moth-millers, with which the bird is always
wrestling, gets powdered over its garments. The large bristles which
line the upper mandible, and which increase the catching capacity of the
extensive gape by half, are seen to be really modified feathers, and not
hairs, as might be supposed, for in younger specimens they are protected
by little horny basal sheaths. With this equipment, and wings, our
melancholy hero easily becomes the envy of mere human entomologists.


                                No. 157.
                           PACIFIC NIGHTHAWK

  A. O. U. No. 420 part. Chordeiles virginianus hesperis J. Grinnell.

  Synonym.—Bull-bat.

  Description.—_Adult male_: Mottled, black, gray and ochraceous, and
  with white in patches; above black predominates, especially on
  forehead and back, mottling falling into indistinct bars on upper
  tail-coverts and tail; anterior edge of wing white; the wing-quills
  dusky; a large, white, transverse patch about midway on the first five
  primaries, save on the outer web of the first; a large V-shaped
  throat-patch white; remaining underparts distinctly and finely barred,
  dusky and whitish with some faint ochraceous,—the latter found
  especially on the parts adjacent to the white throat-patch; the
  crissum sometimes pure white, usually barred, at greater intervals
  than on breast; a white band crossing tail near tip, except on central
  feathers. Bill without evident bristles, the horny part very small,
  but length of gape about an inch. Tarsus very short; the middle claw
  enlarged, and with a curious, horny, comb-like process on the inner
  edge. _Adult female_: Similar, but without white band on tail, and
  with white spots on primaries often much reduced; throat-patch tinged
  with ochraceous, and suffusion of underparts by this color more
  pronounced. _Immature_: More finely and heavily mottled than adults,
  and with upperparts more heavily marked, or even suffused with
  ochraceous-buff. Length 9.00-10.00 (228.6-254); wing 4.85 (123.2);
  tail 4.32 (109.7); bill from nostril .21 (5.3).

  Recognition Marks.—To appearance “Little Hawk” size—really smaller;
  central white spot in long wing distinctive.

  Nesting.—_Eggs_: 2, deposited on the bare ground, often among rocks,
  sometimes upon a flat rock, or on the gravel roof of a tall building;
  grayish white, or dull olive-buff marbled, mottled, or clouded and
  speckled with various shades of olive, and brownish- or purplish-gray.
  Av. size, 1.18 × .86 (30 × 21.8). _Season_: June; one brood.

  General Range.—Pacific coast slope north to British Columbia.

  Range in Washington.—West-side, summer resident in open situations.

  Authorities.—_Chordeiles popetue_, Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R. Surv. IX.
  1858, p. 153. T. C&S. B. E.

  Specimens.—Prov.

The Nighthawk arrives so tardily—never before the middle of May and from
that date to the middle of June—that he reminds us of the naughty child
who has disregarded the parental summons and comes upon the scene sleepy
and cross at 9.30 a. m., when all good little children are at school. We
are sure, too, that it must be something like the necessity of eating
cold victuals that makes the bird grumble _bayard - bayard_ as it flits
about discontentedly on the first morning. Moreover, there is always
something incongruous about the appearance of this prairie species in
the land of tall timber. He is like the man from Kansas. He has a
perfect right here and he is a very good fellow. Oh, to be sure!

The Pacific Nighthawk differs by scarcely assignable characters from the
typical form of the eastern United States, but it is separated from it
in distribution by two bleached phases, _C. v. henryi_ and _C. v.
sennetti_, of the desert and plain respectively; so we feel confident
that it represents a resaturation of the intermediate stock rather than
a division or colony of _C. virginianus_ proper. Bird of the plains tho
it be, it is pushing its way determinedly on the West-side wherever
openings offer, and is as likely to occur upon the San Juan Islands or
in some little clearing of the mountain valleys as upon the ampler
reaches of the Chehalis prairies. Latterly, also, it has accommodated
itself to the life of the city, and from the fearless way in which it
appears over Pacific Avenue in Tacoma, or Second Avenue in Seattle, we
judge that it must be following the well established eastern custom of
laying its eggs on the flat roofs of down-town buildings.


                                No. 158.
                           WESTERN NIGHTHAWK.

  A. O. U. No. 420 a. Chordeiles virginianus henryi (Cass.).

  Description.—Similar to _C. v. hesperis_, but paler thruout; areas of
  black reduced, white patches of throat, wing, and tail averaging
  larger; below more extensively tawny whitish.

  Recognition Marks.—As in preceding.

  Nesting.—_Nest_ and _Eggs_ not distinguishable from those of _C. v.
  hesperis_.

  General Range.—Arid Transition and Canadian life-zones of the Western
  United States from the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains to the
  Cascade-Sierra ranges, north into British Columbia; south in winter to
  northern South America.

  Range in Washington.—Common summer resident in open situations east of
  the Cascade Mountains.

  Migrations.—_Spring_: Moses Lake, May 13, 1906; Chelan, May 29, 1905;
  Oro, May 29, 1896.

  Authorities.—[“Western Nighthawk,” Johnson, Rep. Gov. W. T. 1884
  (1885) 22]; Bendire, Life Hist. N. A. Birds, Vol. II., 1895, p. 168.
  D¹. Sr. Ra. D². Ss¹. Ss². Kk(?). J.

  Specimens.—(U. of W.) P¹. Prov. E.

These Nighthawks are perfectly harmless except to moths, midges, and
their ilk; and their uplifted wings half careened by the evening breeze
furnish one of the most pleasing adornments of lowland meadow or
sage-covered upland. The birds “quarter the air” incessantly in a
bat-like flight of irregular zigzags, often pouting as they go, _bayard
- bayard_. They are not so strictly nocturnal as the Poor-wills, but put
a liberal construction on “twilight,” being careful to avail themselves
of all cloudy days, and, in fact, moving about at will whenever the sun
slants fairly. The middle hours of the day are spent upon the ground,
where their neutral tints serve a protective purpose and are almost
implicitly relied on. During the mating season the males take great
parabolic headers in the air, returning sharply and producing a loud
booming _daw-w_—whether by the rushing of air thru the wings or across
the opened mouth, will, perhaps, never be determined.

   [Illustration: _Taken near Spokane._    _Photo by F. S. Merrill._
                  EGGS OF WESTERN NIGHTHAWK, IN SITU.]

During migrations scores of these birds are sometimes seen moving aloft
in loose array and, customarily at this season, silent. While not at any
time strictly gregarious, favorable conditions are likely to attract
considerable numbers to a given spot. I have seen scores at a time
winging noiselessly to and fro over the tranquil waters of Brook Lake,
and once I saw a company of not less than two hundred executing a grand
march with bewildering evolutions, in a Yakima pasture. The date in the
last-mentioned instance was August 10th, and it is more likely that the
birds had discovered some notable event in the insect world, than that
they themselves were preparing to migrate.

  [Illustration: _Taken near Spokane._    _Telephoto by W. H. Wright._
                     WESTERN NIGHTHAWK AT MIDDAY.]

The eggs of the Nighthawk are heavily mottled with slaty and other
tints, which render them practically invisible to the searching eye,
even tho they rest upon the bare ground or, as oftener, upon an exposed
lava ledge. Except during the very warmest hours (when the sun’s rays
might addle them) and the coolest (when they might become chilled), the
sitting bird is likely to rest beside her eggs instead of on them. The
young birds when hatched place great reliance upon their protective
coloration, and even permit the fondling of the hand rather than confess
the defect of their fancied security. The old bird, meanwhile has
fluttered away over the ground with uncertain wing and drooping tail to
drop at last on the very point of death. Or failing in this ruse, she is
charging about in mid air with plaintive cries. Look upon the babies for
the last time, for they will be spirited away before your return,—borne
off, it is said, between the thighs of the parent bird.



                        _Micropodidæ_—The Swifts


                                No. 159.
                              BLACK SWIFT.

  A. O. U. No. 422. _Cypseloides niger borealis_ (Kennerly).

  Synonyms.—Cloud Swift. Northern Black Cloud Swift.

  Description.—_Adults_: Sooty black; feathers of extreme chin, anterior
  portion of lores, forecrown, lining of wings, abdomen, sides, crissum,
  and under tail-coverts, narrowly skirted with white. Bill, feet, and
  eyes black. Length about 7.00 (177.8); wing 6.50 (165.1); tail 2.09
  (53).

  Recognition Marks.—Sparrow size but appearing larger; long wings and
  rapid flight, cloud-haunting habits with color and size distinctive.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: in crannies of cliffs; reported by Bendire from the
  breaks of the Columbia in Douglas County. _Eggs_: unknown. _Season_:
  presumably June.

  General Range.—Western North America from the Rocky Mountains to the
  Pacific, north thru British Columbia to southwestern Alaska; partially
  nomadic, erratic, and far-ranging; winters south to Central America.

  Range in Washington.—Summer resident in the higher Cascades and
  (presumably) the Olympics; appears sporadically at lower levels,
  chiefly west of the Cascade Mountains.

  Migrations.—_Spring_: Seattle, May 16, 1905. _Fall_: Seattle,
  September 20, 1907; October 7, 1905; Tatoosh Island, June 4, 1907.

  Authorities.—_Cypseloides borealis_, Kennerly, Proc. Ac. Nat. Sci.
  Phila. IX., Nov. 1857, 202; _fide_ Baird, Rep. Pac. R. R. Surv. IX.,
  1858, p. 143. Rh. D¹. Ra. B. E.

  Specimens.—Prov. C. E.

No other bird of equal prominence in the North American ornis has so
successfully eluded the investigation of the curious. Of equal
prominence, I say, for on occasion the birds do exhibit themselves at
close quarters with every appearance of frankness. And it is precisely
because they do occasionally stoop to our level, that we long to follow
them as they sweep the clouds or hasten back at a thought to their
mountain fastnesses.

Cloud Swifts hunt in great straggling companies, and when one of them
has attracted attention by swooping near the ground, and the eyes are
lifted, a dozen others may be noted in the neighborhood, and a hundred
more in the sky, up, up to the limit of vision. Certain atmospheric
conditions, especially a drizzling rain, may impel the whole company to
seek the lower levels, and hundreds may be seen at once hawking over the
townsite, or, better yet, over the surface of a lake, as Whatcom, or
Washington. But on brighter days, and ordinarily, the passing throng
occupies the whole heavens, and a bird seen darting across a distant
cloud may in another instant descend to the tree-tops. Altho not quite
so speedy as the White-throated Swift, there is no bird whose aerial
evolutions convey such a sense of power and unfettered freedom as do
those of this veritable sky-scraper.

                     [Illustration: BLACK SWIFTS.]

The extraordinary volitatorial powers possessed by the Cloud Swifts
permit a breadth of daily range unmatched in the case of any other
species. We suppose that the flocks which appear here and there at
sea-level thruout the summer nest only in the Cascade Mountains; and it
is easy to see that a hundred mile dash before breakfast would hardly
figure in the day’s work. On this account, we may fairly presume that
the Cloud Swifts are really less numerous than might be supposed from
the analogy of other birds. Perhaps half a dozen roving bands would
comprise the entire population of the State. A company nesting on
Glacier Peak might elect to spend one day hawking over Gray’s Harbor,
and the next in the Palouse country. Some such diurnal shifting does
exist, for at Chelan I have seen the Swifts in June passing down the
valley at early morning, and returning in the evening for several
successive days, after which they would absent themselves for a month.
Again, at early morning, we have seen them filing thru Cascade Pass from
west to east, hot-wing, as tho they had business in Idaho.

   [Illustration: _Taken in Chelan County._    _Photo by the Author._
                             CASCADE PASS.
                  WHERE BLACK SWIFTS HAVE BEEN SEEN.]

These Black Swifts nest chiefly in the mountains upon the face of
inaccessible cliffs. This much we know, but the nest and eggs are still
unknown[67]. The closest call which these elusive fowls have had at
nesting time is thus reported by Major Bendire[68]: “The only locality
where I have observed this species was on the upper Columbia River,
opposite Lake Chelan, Washington, in July, 1879. Here quite a colony
nested in a high perpendicular cliff on the south side of and about a
mile back from the river, and numbers of them flew to and from the
valley below, where they were feeding. The day was a cloudy one, and the
slow drizzling rain was falling nearly the entire time I was there; this
caused the birds to fly low and they were easily identified. They
evidently had young, and the twitterings of the latter could readily be
heard as soon as a bird entered one of the numerous crevices in the
cliff above. This was utterly inaccessible, being fully 300 feet high
and almost perpendicular; and without suitable ropes to lower one from
above it was both useless and impracticable to make an attempt to reach
the nests. These were evidently placed well back in the fissures, as
nothing bearing a resemblance to one was visible from either above or
below. In this locality I believe fresh eggs may be looked for about
June 25.”

I had word of the nesting of these birds in the summer of 1906 upon a
majestic rock wall overlooking the Sahale Glacier in the Upper Horseshoe
Basin of Chelan County, but a visit paid to this scene the following
season failed to discover either nests or birds, altho local miners were
ready to confirm the report of their presence the previous season. Dr.
Edward Hasell, of Victoria, informs me that they have nested about a
certain cliff overlooking Cowichan Lake on Vancouver Island. The cliff
referred to is about 1,600 feet high, and access was, therefore, out of
the question. Mr. W. H. Wright, the well-known nature student and guide,
of Spokane, tells me that he once saw these birds nesting among some
cliffs called “The Chimneys,” which are five or six miles distant from
Priest, Idaho. He saw the Swifts carrying twigs to the cliffs, but did
not take further notice of their actions. He visited The Chimneys at the
same time of year on each of two succeeding seasons, but saw nothing of
the Swifts. From these reports, and from the fact that the country
referred to by Bendire has been ransacked in vain, I conclude that the
Black Swifts are continually shifting the scene of their annual
nestings, being, in fact, as erratic in this regard as they are in the
matter of their local appearances at the lower levels.


                                No. 160.
                             VAUX’S SWIFT.

  A. O. U. No. 424. Chætura vauxi (Townsend).

  Description.—_Adults_: Above, sooty brown, lightening, nearly
  hair-brown, on rump and upper tail-coverts; below, light sooty gray,
  lightening, nearly white, on chin and throat; lores velvety black;
  shafts of tail-feathers denuded at tips a third of an inch. Length
  about 4.50 (114.3); wing 4.50 (114.3); tail 1.59 (40).

  Recognition Marks.—Strictly “pygmy size,” but comparison misleading—to
  appearance, swallow size; rapid erratic flight and
  bow-and-arrow-shaped position in flight distinctive. Altho this
  species is only half the size of the preceding, careful discrimination
  is necessary while the birds are a-wing.

  Nesting.—_Nest_: a shallow half-saucer of short twigs, glued together
  with the bird’s saliva and similarly cemented to the wood inside of a
  hollow tree. _Eggs_: 4-6, pure white. Av. size, .77 × .50 (19.6 ×
  12.7). _Season_: June; one brood.

  General Range.—Pacific Coast States and British Columbia, breeding
  thruout its range; south in winter to Central America.

  Range in Washington.—Not common summer resident in timbered sections
  and in mountain valleys; locally distributed.

  Migrations.—_Spring_: Blaine, May 8, 1905. _Fall_: Seattle, September
  20, 1907.

  Authorities.—_Cypselus vauxi_ Townsend, “Narrative,” 1839, 348. T.
  C&S. Rh. D¹. Ra. D². B. E.

  Specimens.—Prov. C. E.

“The way of any bird in the air commands interest, but the way of the
Swift provokes both admiration and astonishment. With volitatorial
powers which are unequaled by any other land bird, this avian missile
goes hurtling across the sky without injury, or else minces along slowly
with pretended difficulty. Now it waddles to and fro in strange zigzags,
picking up a gnat at every angle, and again it “lights out” with sudden
access of energy and alternate wing strokes, intent on hawking in
heaven’s upper story. At favorite seasons the birds cross and recross
each other’s paths in lawless mazes and fill the air with their strident
creakings, while here and there couples and even trios sail about in
great stiff curves with wings held aloft. It is the only opportunity
afforded for personal attentions, and it is probable that the sexes have
no further acquaintance except as they pass and repass in ministering to
the young.

“In nesting the Chimney ’Sweeps’ seek out the smaller chimneys of
dwelling houses, and usually only one pair occupies a single shaft.
Short twigs are seized and snapped off by the bird’s beak in midflight,
and these, after being rolled about in the copious saliva, are made fast
to the bricks, a neat and homogeneous bracket being thus formed. This
will be sufficient to support the half dozen crystal white eggs and the
hissing squabs which follow, unless a premature fire or a long-continued
rain dissolves the glue and tumbles the fabric into the grate.

“Sitting birds, when discovered, oftenest drop below the nest and hide,
clinging easily with the tiny feet supported by the spiny tail. The male
bird seldom pays any attention unless there are young, in which case he
even brushes past the intruder and enters the nest in his eagerness to
share the hour of danger. The young are rather slow in development and
it requires, according to Mr. Otto Widmann, two months to rear a family
of them. Usually only one brood is raised, but a second nesting is
undertaken even as late as August if the first has proven unsuccessful”
(Birds of Ohio).

Save in the matter of nesting, the Vaux Swift does not differ
essentially in habit or appearance from the well-known Chimney Swift,
referred to in the preceding paragraphs. It is, however, very much less
common and is only of local distribution, chiefly in the lower mountain
valleys. Local attachments are doubtless largely determined by the
presence of large cottonwood timber, but the birds descend to the
lowlands, especially after the close of the nesting season, in small
roving parties, somewhat after the fashion of the Cloud Swifts, with
which indeed they frequently associate. They have thus been regularly
reported by West-side observers at Tacoma, Seattle, and Bellingham, and
I have seen them at Blaine, and in the valleys of the Nooksack (at
Glacier), Skagit, Nisqually (in Rainier National Park), and Quillayute
Rivers. The only East-side records appear to be those from the north
fork of the Ahtanum, in Yakima County, and the valley of the Stehekin,
in Chelan County.

Vaux’s Swift with us nests only in the hollow recesses of tall dead
cottonwood trees, where they glue a shallow bracket of broken twigs,
cemented with hardened saliva, to the curving inner wall. In California,
however, they are said to be adopting the ways of civilization, and are
beginning to nest in chimneys, after the fashion of _C. pelagica_.


                                No. 161.
                         WHITE-THROATED SWIFT.

  A. O. U. No. 425. Aeronautes melanoleucus (Baird).

  Synonyms.—Rock Swift. Mountain Swift. Rocky Mountain Swift.
  White-throated Rock Swift.

  Description.—_Adults_: Plumage black (variable, sooty brown to glossy
  black); forehead and line over eye paler; lore velvety black; chin,
  throat, breast, and belly, centrally, white—also outer edge of outer
  primary, tips of secondaries, lateral tail-feathers, and a conspicuous
  patch on flank, sometimes nearly meeting fellow across rump; bill
  black. Length 7.00 (177.8) or under; wing 6.50-7.00 (165.1-177.8);
  tail 2.65 (67.3).

  Recognition Marks.—Sparrow size but larger to appearance; exceedingly
  rapid flight with flashing white underparts and flank patches
  distinctive.

  Nesting.—“The nest is securely placed far in holes or crevices of
  rocks or indurated earths, usually at a great height; it is a
  saucer-like structure, about 5 × 2 inches, with a shallow cavity, made
  of various vegetable materials well glued together with saliva, and
  lined with feathers. Eggs several, in one instance 5, narrowly
  subelliptical, 0.87 × 0.52, white” (Coues). _Season_: May and June.

  General Range.—Western United States from the Rocky Mountains to the
  Pacific, north to Montana, Idaho, and southern British Columbia
  (Okanagan Valley); south in winter to Guatemala.

  Range in Washington.—Known only from the valley of the Columbia near
  Chelan, the Grand Coulee (near Cold Spring Lake), and the Cascade
  Pass.

  Authorities.—Dawson, Auk, XIV., 1897, p. 175.

  Specimens.—C.

  [Illustration: _Photo by the Author._    _Taken in Douglas County._
                           COLD SPRING LAKE.
   WHITE-THROATED SWIFTS NEST ON THE PRECIPITOUS WALLS OF THE BUTTE.]

Swift, swifter, swiftest, will best express the relations of our
Washington _Cypseli_, where the positive degree is represented by the
Vaux Swift, the comparative by the Black Cloud Swift, and the
superlative by the White-throat. No one who is troubled with acrophobia,
the fear of high places, should attempt to spy upon the nesting haunts
of these Swifts from above; for when to the ordinary terrors of a sheer
cliff, say a thousand feet in height, is added the hurtling passage of
resentful Swifts flashing about like hurled scimetars, the situation
will try the strongest nerve. Viewed from below, in the open air, the
evolutions of these birds may be regarded with some degree of
equanimity; but when a Swift dips toward the ground, or measures its
speed across the face of some frowning precipice, one sees what a really
frightful velocity is attained. There is no exact way of measuring this,
but an estimate of five miles per minute would be well within the mark,
and six not unreasonable. The bird, that is, would require only an hour
to flit from Spokane to Aberdeen; or, it might breakfast at Osooyoos on
the Forty-ninth Parallel, lunch in Chihuahua, and dine, a trifle late,
in Panama.

This Rock Swift nests only in crevices and caves of the most
inaccessible cliffs. Most of its hunting, however, is done in the upper
air, where its lighter colors soon render it indistinguishable. It
appears also to be less sociable than the other species upon the hunt,
so that almost the only opportunities for careful study of it are
afforded near the cliffs. Here there is much amorous pursuit, and the
frequent sound of thrilling notes. The characteristic notes constitute a
sort of war-cry, rather than song, and consist of a liquid descending
scale of musical chuckling, or rubbing tones. The noise produced is much
as if two pebbles were being fiercely rubbed together in a
rapidly-filling jar of water.

The birds exhibit a preternatural cunning in the selection of nesting
sites. Not only do they choose sheer walls, but those which, because of
the fissures so afforded, are crumbling and dangerous to a degree. The
butte shown in the illustration consists of a hard lava capping over a
disintegrating bed of tufa, impossible of ascent and impracticable of
descent. Here in some remotest crevice the birds affix a narrow shelf,
of straws, bits of weed-stalks, and miscellaneous trash, agglutinated
with saliva; and in this four or five narrowly elliptical white eggs are
deposited late in June or early in July.

These interesting birds are newcomers within our borders, and their
comings and goings are as yet little known. Bendire in 1895 remarked[69]
their utter absence from Oregon and Washington. In 1896 I saw a single
bird in the gorge of the Columbia near Chelan, and upon revisiting this
scene in May, 1906, found that quite a colony of them were haunting a
granite wall some 800 feet in height. Late in the same season, and in
each succeeding year I have found them in the vicinity of Cold Spring
Butte in Douglas County; and have every reason to suppose that other
such colonies exist in the Grand Couleé. In the summer of 1906 Mr.
Bowles and myself observed them crossing the Cascade Pass in company
with Black Swifts; while still more recently, Mr. Charles De Blois Green
announces[70] that they have extended their range up the valley of the
Okanogan into British Columbia.



                        _Picidæ_—The Woodpeckers


                                No. 162.
                    ROCKY MOUNTAIN HAIRY WOODPECKER.

  A. O. U. No. 393 e. Dryobates villosus monticola Anthony.

  Description.—_Adult male_: Above, in general, black,—glossy, at least
  on crown and cervix, dull on tail, fuscous on wings; a narrow scarlet
  band across the nape; broad whi