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Title: A History of North American Birds - Land Birds - Volume 2
Author: Baird, Spencer Fullerton, Ridgway, Robert, Brewer, Thomas Mayo
Language: English
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  VOL. II.

                (Melanerpes erythrocephalus.)
                 Adult male.]










  [Illustration: sketch of nest with eggs]


  Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1874,
  in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.



  Family FRINGILLIDÆ. The Finches. (_Continued._)      1
    Subfamily SPIZELLINÆ. (_Continued._)               1
    Subfamily PASSERELLINÆ                            48
    Subfamily SPIZINÆ                                 58
  Family ALAUDIDÆ. The Larks                         135
  Family ICTERIDÆ. The Orioles                       147
    Subfamily AGELAINÆ                               148
    Subfamily ICTERINÆ                               179
    Subfamily QUISCALINÆ                             202
  Family STURNIDÆ. The Starlings                     228
  Family CORVIDÆ. The Crows                          231
    Subfamily CORVINÆ                                231
    Subfamily GARRULINÆ                              263
  Family TYRANNIDÆ. The Tyrant Flycatchers           306
  Family ALCEDINIDÆ. The Kingfishers                 391
  Family CAPRIMULGIDÆ. The Goatsuckers               398
    Subfamily CAPRIMULGINÆ                           398
  Family CYPSELIDÆ. The Swifts                       421
    Subfamily CYPSELINÆ                              423
    Subfamily CHÆTURINÆ                              427
  Family TROCHILIDÆ. The Humming-Birds               437
  Family CUCULIDÆ. The Cuckoos                       470
    Subfamily COCCYGINÆ                              470
  Family PICIDÆ. The Woodpeckers                     491
    Subfamily PICINÆ                                 492
  Family PSITTACIDÆ. The Parrots                     585
    Subfamily SITTACINÆ                              585


  PLATES 27-56.




  _Spizella_, BONAP. Geog. and Comp. List, 1838. (Type, _Fringilla
    canadensis_, LATH.)
  _Spinites_, CABANIS, Mus. Hein. 1851, 133. (Type, _Fringilla
    socialis_, WILS.)

  [Line drawing: _Spizella monticola._
                  871 ♂]

GEN. CHAR. Bill conical, the outlines slightly curved; the lower
mandible decidedly larger than the upper; the commissure gently
sinuated; the roof of the mouth not knobbed. Feet slender; tarsus
rather longer than the middle toe; the hinder toe a little longer than
the outer lateral, which slightly exceeds the inner; the outer claw
reaching the base of the middle one, and half as long as its toe.
Claws moderately curved. Tertiaries and secondaries nearly equal; wing
somewhat pointed, reaching not quite to the middle of the tail. First
quill a little shorter than the second and equal to the fifth; third
longest. Tail rather long, moderately forked, and divaricated at the
tip; the feathers rather narrow. Back streaked; rump and beneath
immaculate. Young streaked beneath.

This genus differs from _Zonotrichia_ principally in the smaller size
and longer and forked, instead of rounded tail.

Birds of the year of this genus are very difficult to distinguish,
even by size, except in _monticola_. The more immature birds are also
very closely related. In these the entire absence of streaks on a
plumbeous head point to _atrigularis_; the same character in a reddish
cap, and a reddish upper mandible to _pusilla_; a dusky loral spot
with dark streaks and generally a rufous shade on top of head, to
_socialis_. _S. breweri_, with a streaked head, lacks the dusky lore
and chestnut shade of feathers. _S. pallida_ generally has a median
light stripe in the cap, and a dusky mandibular line.

COMMON CHARACTERS. Interscapular region with black streaks. Rump and
lower parts without streaks (except in young). Wing with two narrow
light bands (indistinct in _atrigularis_).

  A. Crown different from the sides of the head, a plain
  light superciliary stripe. Young with crown and breast

    _a._ Crown rufous and plain in adult; in young, grayish
    and with streaks.

    _I._ _Streak behind eye, and tinge on side of breast,
    rufous. Egg pale blue, or bluish-white, blotched with
    pale brown, or sprinkled with reddish._

       1. S. monticola. Crown bright rufous, undivided
       medially; a dusky spot on lore; wing-bands sharply
       defined, pure white. A black spot on breast; jugulum
       tinged with ashy. Bill black above, yellow below.
       Length, 6.25; wing, 3.00. _Hab._ Whole of North
       America; north of the United States only, in summer.

       2. S. pusilla. Crown dull rufous, indistinctly
       divided medially; lores entirely whitish; wing-bands
       not sharply defined, pale brown. No black spot on
       breast; jugulum tinged with buff. Bill entirely light

         Wing, 2.70; tail, 2.80; bill, from forehead, .37.
         _Hab._ Eastern Province United States        var. _pusilla_.

         “Similar, but colors clearer, and bill more
         robust.” _Hab._ Peten, Guatemala           var. _pinetorum_.[1]

  _II._ _Streak behind the eye blackish. No rufous tinge on
  side of breast. Egg deep blue, with black dots and streaks
  round larger end._

       3. S. socialis. Crown bright rufous, not distinctly
       divided, generally plain. Forehead black, divided
       medially with white. Streak of black on lore and
       behind eye. Rump pure bluish-ash. Bill blackish,
       lower mandible paler.

         Auriculars deep ash, in strong contrast with pure
         white of the superciliary stripe and throat; breast
         without ashy tinge. Dorsal streaks broad. Wing,
         2.80; tail, 2.30. _Hab._ Eastern Province of United
         States                                      var. _socialis_.

         Auriculars lighter ash, less strongly contrasted
         with the white above and below; breast strongly
         tinged with ash. Dorsal streaks narrow. Wing, 3.00;
         tail, 2.90. _Hab._ Western Province of United
         States, and table-lands of Mexico            var. _arizonæ_.

  _b._ Crown light grayish-brown, with distinct black
  streaks; young differing in streaked. Egg deep blue, with
  black streaks and dots (precisely as in _socialis_).

       4. S. pallida.

         Crown divided medially by a distinct pale stripe;
         whitish superciliary stripe, and blackish
         post-ocular streak sharply defined. A dusky
         sub-maxillary streak. Nape ashy in contrast with
         the crown and back. Wing, 2.50; tail, 2.40. _Hab._
         Plains of United States, from the Saskatchewan
         southward                                    var. _pallida_.

         Crown without a distinct median stripe. Markings on
         side of head not sharply defined. No dusky
         sub-maxillary stripe, and nape scarcely different
         from crown and back. Wing, 2.50; tail, 2.60. _Hab._
         Middle and western Provinces                 var. _breweri_.

  B. Crown not different from the sides of head; no light
  superciliary stripe.

       5. S. atrigularis. Head and neck all round, and rump,
       uniform dark ash, gradually fading into white on the
       abdomen; wing-bands indistinct; bill light
       brownish-red. _Ad._ Lores, chin, and upper part of
       throat black. _Juv._ without black about the head.
       (Eggs unknown.) _Hab._ Adjacent portions of Mexico
       and southern Middle Province of United States (Fort
       Whipple, Arizona, COUES; Cape St. Lucas, XANTUS).

     [1] _Spizella pinetorum_, Salvin, Pr. Z. S. 1863, p. 189.
     (“Similis _S. pusillæ_, ex Amer. Sept. et Mexico, sed
     coloribus clarioribus et rostro robustiore differt.”)

Spizella monticola, BAIRD.


  _Fringilla monticola_, GM. Syst. Nat. I, 1788, 912. _Zonotrichia
      monticola_, GRAY, Genera. _Spinites monticolus_, CABANIS, Mus.
      Hein. 1851, 134. _Spizella monticola_, BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858,
      472.—COUES, P. A. N. S. 1861, 224 (Labrador).—COOPER &
      SUCKLEY, 203 (Washington Ter.).—DALL & BANNISTER, Tr. Ch. Ac.
      I, 1869, 285.—COOPER, Orn. Cal. 1, 206.—SAMUELS, 317. _Passer
      canadensis_, BRISSON, Orn. III, 1760, 102. _Fringilla
      canadensis_, LATH. Index, I, 1790, 434.—AUD. Orn. Biog. II,
      1834, 511; V, 504, pl. clxxxviii.—MAX. Cab. Jour. VI, 1858,
      280. _Emberiza canadensis_, SW. F. B. Am. II, 1831, 252.—AUD.
      Syn. 1839.—IB. Birds Am. III, 1841, 83, pl. clxvi. _Spizella
      canadensis_, BON. List, 1838.—IB. Conspectus, 1850, 480.
      _Fringilla arborea_, WILS. Am. Orn. II, 1810, 12, pl. xii, f. 3.
      _Moineau du Canada_, BUFFON, Pl. Enl. 223, f. 2. “_Mountain
      Finch_,” LATH. Syn. II, I, 265.

  [Illustration: _Spizella monticola._]

SP. CHAR. Middle of back with the feathers dark brown centrally, then
rufous, and edged with pale fulvous (sometimes with whitish). Hood and
upper part of nape continuous chestnut; a line of the same from behind
the eye, as well as a short maxillary stripe. Sides of head and neck
ashy. A broad light superciliary band. Beneath whitish, tinged with
fulvous; the throat with ashy; a small circular blotch of brownish in
the middle of the upper part of the breast; the sides chestnut. Edges
of tail-feathers, primary quills, and two bands across the tips of the
secondaries, white. Tertiaries nearly black; edged externally with
rufous, turning to white near the tips. Lower jaw yellow; upper black.
Young bird streaked on throat and breast, as well as on crown. Length,
6.25 inches; wing, 3.00.

HAB. Eastern North America to the Missouri, north to Arctic Ocean;
also on Pole Creek and Little Colorado River, New Mexico; Western

This species varies in the amount of whitish edging to the quills and

HABITS. Essentially a northern bird, the Tree Sparrow breeds in high
Arctic regions, only appearing in winter within the United States. It
is then common as far south as Pennsylvania. A few winter in South

It arrives on the Saskatchewan in the latter part of April, where it
only makes a short halt, proceeding farther north to breed. Bischoff
obtained a specimen at Sitka. Mr. Kennicott found its nest and eggs on
the Yukon, and Mr. Dall obtained it at Nulato, and more sparingly
below that point. Mr. MacFarlane met with it breeding in large numbers
at Fort Anderson. The nests were in various situations, the larger
proportion on the ground, a few in bushes near the ground, and only
one is mentioned as having been several feet above it. One was in the
cleft of a low willow on the edge of a small lake; another, in a bush,
was nearly four feet from the ground; and a third was in a clump of
willows and fourteen inches above the ground. Nearly all the other
nests mentioned were built directly upon the ground.

The nests were constructed of dry bark and grasses, loosely put
together, and very warmly lined with feathers. On the ground they were
usually concealed in a tuft of grass. In all instances the female
alone was found on the nests, the male being very rarely seen in their
vicinity. The usual number of eggs in a nest was four or five,
occasionally six, and even seven.

Dr. Suckley obtained a single specimen at Fort Dalles, and Dr. Cooper
saw a flock in September, 1863, and again in 1864 at the mouth of the
Columbia. Lieutenant Bryan met with them among the Rocky Mountains in
latitude 39°, in August. Mr. Ridgway found them very common during the
winter in the interior.

Dr. Coues found this Sparrow common in all the wooded districts of
Labrador. It was very tame and unsuspicious, showing no fear even when
closely approached. I have never met with any, in summer, in any part
of New Brunswick or Nova Scotia.

This Sparrow is occasionally abundant in Massachusetts early in
October, but rarely appears in full numbers until November. Some
remain in the gardens in and about Boston during the winter, and
during November the marshes of Fresh Pond are filled with them, when
their wailing autumnal chant is in marked contrast with the sweet and
sprightly song with which they enliven the spring, just before they
are about to depart for their summer homes. They remain until the
latter part of April, and Mr. Allen has observed them at Springfield
till about the first of May.

In regard to their song, Mr. William Brewster informs me that they
usually commence singing about the 25th of March. Their song is a
loud, clear, and powerful chant, starting with two high notes, then
falling rapidly, and ending with a low, sweet warble. He has heard a
few singing with their full vigor in November and December, but this
is rare.

Dr. Coues found them not common in South Carolina, but Dr. Kennerly
states that they were quite abundant in December on the Little
Colorado, in New Mexico, feeding on the fruit of the wild grape and
upon seeds.

During the love-season the Tree Sparrow is quite a fine musician, its
song resembling that of the Canary, but finer, sweeter, and not so
loud. In their migrations, Mr. Audubon states, a flock of twenty or
more will perch upon the same tree, and join in a delightful chorus.
Their flight is elevated and graceful, and in waving undulations. On
opening the stomachs of those he shot at the Magdeleine Islands, Mr.
Audubon found them containing minute shell-fish, coleopterous insects,
hard seeds, berries, and grains of sand.

Nests obtained near Fort Anderson confirm the descriptions given by
Mr. Hutchins, as observed in the settlement at Hudson’s Bay. The eggs,
which are much larger than those of the other species of _Spizella_,
measure .85 by .65 of an inch. Their ground-color is a light green,
over which the eggs are very generally freckled with minute markings
of a foxy brown. These markings are distributed with great regularity,
but so sparsely as to leave the ground distinctly visible.

Spizella pusilla, BONAP.


  _Fringilla pusilla_, WILSON, Am. Orn. II, 1810, 121, pl. xvi, f.
      2.—LICHT. Verzeich. Doubl. 1823, No. 252.—AUD. Orn. Biog. II,
      1834, 299, pl. cxxxix. _Spizella pusilla_, BONAP. List,
      1838.—IB. Conspectus, 1850, 480.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858,
      473.—SAMUELS, 319. _Emberiza pusilla_, AUD. Syn. 1839,
      104.—IB. Birds Am. III, 1841, 77, pl. clxiv. _Spinites
      pusillus_, CAB. Mus. Hein. 1851, 133. _Fringilla juncorum_,
      NUTT. Man. I, 1832, 499 (2d ed.,) 1840, 577 (supposed by him to
      be _Motacilla juncorum_, GMELIN, I, 952; _Sylvia juncorum_,
      LATHAM, Ind. II, 511; _Little Brown Sparrow_, CATESBY, Car. I,

SP. CHAR. Bill red. Crown continuous rufous-red, with a faint
indication of an ashy central stripe, and ashy nuchal collar. Back
somewhat similar, with shaft-streaks of blackish. Sides of head and
neck (including a superciliary stripe) ashy. Ear-coverts rufous.
Beneath white, tinged with yellowish anteriorly. Tail-feathers and
quills faintly edged with white. Two whitish bands across the
wing-coverts. Autumnal specimens more rufous. Length about 5.75; wing,

HAB. Eastern North America to the Missouri River; San Antonio, Texas
in winter (DRESSER, Ibis, 1865, 489).

This species is about the size of _S. socialis_, but is more rufous
above; lacks the black forehead and eye stripe; has chestnut ears,
instead of ash; has the bill red, instead of black; lacks the clear
ash of the rump; has a longer tail, etc. It is more like _monticola_,
but is much smaller; lacks the spot on the breast, and the
predominance of white on the wings, etc. The young have the breast and
sides streaked, and the crown slightly so.

HABITS. The common Field Sparrow occupies a well-defined and somewhat
compact area, being resident within the United States, and in its
migrations not removing far from its summer abode. In the summer it
breeds from Virginia to Maine, as far as the central and western
portions. It is not found near Calais, but occurs and breeds near
Norway, Oxford County. In the interior it is found still farther
north, in Canada, Iowa, and Wisconsin, to the Red River settlements,
where it was found breeding by Donald Gunn. At Hamilton, Ontario, Mr.
McIlwraith states it to be a rather rare summer resident. It breeds in
Southern Wisconsin and in Iowa, but is not abundant. It does not
appear to have been found west of the Missouri Valley.

This Sparrow arrives in Massachusetts early in April, and is found
almost exclusively in open pastures, old fields, and in clearings
remote from villages. It is a shy, retiring bird, and seems to avoid
the near presence of man. Wilson states that it has no song, nothing
but a kind of chirruping, not much superior to the chirping of a
cricket. But this is quite a mistake, as it is in reality a very
varied and fine singer. Its notes are not very powerful, and cannot be
heard any distance, but they are very pleasing, although little known
or appreciated. It continues in full song until into July, when the
second brood is about hatching, when its notes relax, but do not cease
until just before its departure in September or early October.

Mr. D. D. Hughes, of Grand Rapids, Mich., in an interesting paper on
the habits of this species, speaks of its beautiful tinkling song as
one of its most marked features. To his ear it resembles the ringing
of a tiny bell more nearly than anything else. In the early morning
and at evening the fields ring with their plaintive and tender peals.
It sings at all hours of the day, during the nesting-season, even in
the noonday heat of summer, when most other birds are silent.

In Virginia these birds may be found throughout the year, though
probably not the same birds in the same localities, some retiring
farther south and others coming to take their places from the north.
In winter they are found, in the greatest abundance in South Carolina
and Georgia, occurring in large loose flocks, found chiefly along the
roadsides and in old fields and pastures in the rural districts.

The Field Sparrow nests both on the ground and in low bushes, or among
tangled clusters of vines. I have found their nests in all these
situations, and have no doubt the nature of the surface may have
something to do with the position. In high dry pastures, in sheltered
situations, I have always found their nests on the ground. In the wet
meadows and fields subject to a rise of water, as about the Potomac,
near Washington, where these birds are very abundant, they almost
invariably nest in bushes at a height of two or three feet.

Mr. Audubon says that during the winter these birds are quite common
throughout Louisiana, and the country about the Mississippi, as far as
Kentucky. They begin to depart from the South early in March, and move
slowly northward as the season advances. He states that they begin to
nest in May, and raise three broods in a season. This is not the case
in New England, where they do not often have more than a single brood.

  [Illustration: PLATE XXVII.
   1.  Spizella socialis. _Ad._, Pa., 10150.
   2.     ”     pusilla. ♀ Pa., 1378.
   3.     ”     pallida. _Ad._
   4.     ”     breweri. _Ad._, Rocky Mts., 2890.
   5.     ”     monticola.
   6.  Melospiza melodia. Pa., 2637.
   7.      ”     samuelis. Cal., 7098.
   8.      ”     insignis. Kodiak, 52477.
   9.      ”     heermanni. ♂ Sierra Nevada, 53529.
  10.      ”     fallax. ♀ Nevada, 53537.
  11.      ”     rufina. Sitka, 46007.
  12.      ”     guttata. Washington Ter.
  13.      ”     lincolni. Pa., 937.]

Their nests are constructed in a manner very similar to those of the
Chipping Sparrow, loosely made of a few stems of vegetables, grasses,
and sedges, and lined with hair or fine rootlets. Those placed on the
ground are larger and more bulky, and those wrought into the twigs of
a bush are made with more care and neatness of interweaving. The eggs
are usually five in number, of an oblong-oval shape. The ground is a
whitish clay-color, marked more or less fully with blotches of a
ferruginous-brown. In some these markings are few, and arranged only
about the larger end. In others they are generally diffused, and
impart a deep ferruginous color to the whole egg, and disguise or
conceal the ground. They vary also in size,—in length from .70 to .63
of an inch, and in breadth from .52 to .50. Their usual size is .70 by

Two nests of this bird taken in Lynn, Mass., by Mr. George O. Welch,
are characteristic of their usual style in architecture. One of these
has a diameter of four and a height of two and a half inches. Its
base, as well as the great mass of its periphery, is made of a very
loose intertwining of minute stems of vegetables and dry grasses. The
ends of these project from the exterior of the nest at the upper rim,
and present a very peculiar appearance, as of an enclosure of
palisades. The interior is lined with horsehair. The other is made of
similar materials, of a less rigid character and closer texture. Its
rim presents the same peculiarities of projecting ends, arranged like
a fence above the nest itself. Its dimensions also are about the same.
It is, however, much more compactly constructed, with thicker walls
and a less open network of dry grasses, and stiff wiry stems of dried
plants intermixed with a few pine leaves. The whole is very carefully
and warmly lined with horsehair and the softer fur of small
quadrupeds. These nests contained, one three, and the other four eggs.

Spizella socialis, BONAP.


  _Fringilla socialis_, WILSON, Am. Orn. II, 1810, 127, pl. xvi, f.
      5.—AUD. Orn. Biog. II, 1834, 21; V, 517, pl. civ. _Spizella
      socialis_, BON. List, 1838.—IB. Conspectus, 1850, 480.—BAIRD,
      Birds N. Am. 1858, 473.—COOPER & SUCKLEY, 203.—SAMUELS, 320.
      _Emberiza socialis_, AUD. Syn. 1839.—IB. Birds Am. III, 1841,
      80, pl. clxv. _Spinites socialis_, CABANIS, Mus. Hein. 1851, 133.

SP. CHAR. Rump, back of neck, and sides of neck and head, ashy.
Interscapular region with black streaks, margined with pale rufous.
Crown continuous and uniform chestnut. Forehead black, separated in
the middle by white. A white streak over the eye to nape, and a black
one from the base of the bill through and behind the eye. Lores dusky.
Under parts unspotted whitish, tinged with ashy on the sides and
across the upper breast. Tail-feathers and primaries edged with paler,
not white. Two narrow white bands across the wing-coverts. Bill black.
Length, 5.75; wing, nearly 3.00; tail, 2.50 (or less).

_Young._ Immature birds and frequently the adult females with the cap
streaked with blackish lines, the chestnut nearly or sometimes quite
wanting. Birds of the year streaked beneath and on rump.

The color of bill varies; sometimes entirely black throughout,
sometimes very light (but never reddish as in _S. pusilla_), with all
intermediate stages. There is usually, however, a dusky tinge in the
upper bill, wanting in _pusilla_, and the lores are almost always more
or less dusky in all stages of plumage.

HAB. Eastern Province of North America; north to Great Slave Lake, and
south to Orizaba, Eastern Mexico, where it is resident. Oaxaca
(perhaps var. _arizonæ_), Jan. (SCL. 858, 304); Xalapa (SCL. 1859,
365); Cordova (SCL. 1856, 305); Cuba (LAWR. 1860, VII., 1269).

HABITS. The common Chipping Sparrow, so familiar to all in the eastern
portion of the United States, is not only one of the most abundant,
but one of the most widely distributed of our North American birds. It
is found from the Atlantic to the Pacific in its two races, and breeds
from Georgia to the Arctic Circle. At different seasons of the year it
is found in all portions of North America to Mexico. Along the
Atlantic coast it nests at least as far north as New Brunswick and
Nova Scotia; in the extreme northern portion of the latter Province I
found it one of the most abundant birds.

The late Mr. Robert Kennicott met with them in considerable numbers at
Fort Resolution, on Great Slave Lake, and there he obtained quite a
number of their nests, all of which were in trees or bushes, from two
to three feet above the ground. These were all met with between the
1st and the 26th of June. Mr. B. R Ross also met with these birds in
considerable numbers at Fort Simpson and at Fort Rae.

On the Pacific coast the Chipping Sparrow is stated by Dr. Cooper to
be quite as abundant in the northern parts of California, and in
Oregon and Washington Territory, as on the Atlantic coast. He found
them wintering in the Colorado Valley in large numbers, but met with
none about San Diego. They spend their summers in the northern part of
California, building their nests, as with us, in the shrubbery of the
gardens, and coming familiarly about the doorsteps to pick up crumbs.
In autumn they collect in large flocks, and frequent the open fields
and pastures. Dr. Cooper found them in flocks on Catalina Island in
June, but could discover no nests. They were all old birds, and the
conclusion was that they had delayed their more northern migrations.

Dr. Suckley found this species extremely abundant in the open
districts on the Columbia River, as well as upon the gravelly prairies
of the Puget Sound district. It is not named as having been met with
by Mr. Dall or any of the Russian Telegraph party in Alaska.

It was found in abundance during the summer by Mr. Ridgway in all the
wooded portions of the country of the Great Basin. He did not meet
with any among the cottonwoods of the river-valleys, its favorite
haunts appearing to be the cedars and the nut-pines of the mountains.
In July and August, in such localities, on the East Humboldt
Mountains, it was not only the most numerous species, but also very
abundant, nesting in the trees. About the middle of August they
congregated in large numbers, preparing for their departure.

At Sacramento it was also very abundant among the groves of small
oaks. He could not observe the slightest difference in habits or notes
between the eastern and the western specimens of this form. He found
them breeding at Salt Lake City, June 19, the nest being in a
scrub-oak, six feet from the ground.

In Arizona, Dr. Coues found the Chippy a very abundant summer
resident, arriving the third week of March and remaining until the
latter part of November. A few may spend the winter there. As
described, it seems more gregarious than it is with us, arriving in
the spring, and remaining for a month or more in large flocks of fifty
or upwards. In New England they always come in pairs, and only
assemble in flocks just on the eve of their departure. Mr. Dresser met
with these Sparrows, and obtained specimens of them, near San Antonio,
on the 10th of April. Dr. Heermann, in his Report upon the birds
observed in Lieutenant Williamson’s route between the 32d and 35th
parallels, speaks of finding this species abundant.

Dr. Gerhardt found this Sparrow not uncommon in the northern portions
of Georgia, where it is resident throughout the year, and where a few
remain in the summer to breed. Dr. Coues also states that a limited
number summer in the vicinity of Columbia, S. C., but that their
number is insignificant compared with those wintering there between
October and April. They collect in large flocks on their arrival, and
remain in companies of hundreds or more.

Mr. Sumichrast states that it is a resident bird in the temperate
region of Vera Cruz, Mexico, where it remains throughout the year, and
breeds as freely and commonly as it does within the United States.

Although found throughout the country in greater or less numbers, they
are noticeably not common in the more recent settlements of the West,
as on the unsettled prairies of Illinois and Iowa. Mr. Allen found
them quite rare in both States, excepting only about the older
settlements. As early as the first week in April, 1868, I noticed
these birds very common and familiar in the streets of St. Louis,
especially so in the business part of that city, along the wharves and
near the grain-stores, seeking their food on the ground with a
confidence and fearlessness quite unusual to it in such situations.

The tameness and sociability of this bird surpass that of any of the
birds I have ever met with in New England, and are only equalled by
similar traits manifested by the Snowbird (_J. hyemalis_) in Pictou.
Those that live about our dwellings in rural situations, and have been
treated kindly, visit our doorsteps, and even enter the houses, with
the greatest familiarity and trust. They will learn to distinguish
their friends, alight at their feet, call for their accustomed food,
and pick it up when thrown to them, without the slightest signs of
fear. One pair which, summer after summer, had built their nest in a
fir-tree near my door, became so accustomed to be fed that they would
clamor for their food if they were any morning forgotten. One of these
birds, the female, from coming down to the ground to be fed with
crumbs, soon learned to take them on the flat branch of the fir near
her nest, and at last to feed from my hand, and afterwards from that
of other members of the family. Her mate, all the while, was
comparatively shy and distrustful, and could not be induced to receive
his food from us or to eat in our presence.

This Sparrow is also quite social, keeping on good terms and
delighting to associate with other species. Since the introduction of
the European House Sparrow into Boston, I have repeatedly noticed it
associating with them in the most friendly relations, feeding with
them, flying up with them when disturbed, and imitating all their

The Chipping Sparrow has very slight claims to be regarded as one of
our song-birds. Its note of complaint or uneasiness is a simple
_chip_, and its song, at its best, is but a monotonous repetition of a
single note, sounding like the rapid striking together of two small
pebbles. In the bright days of June this unpretending ditty is kept up
incessantly, hours at a time, with only rare intermissions.

The nest of this bird is always in trees or bushes. I have in no
instance known of its being built on the ground. Even at the Arctic
regions, where so many of our tree-builders vary from this custom to
nest on the ground, no exceptional cases are reported in regard to it,
all its nests being upon trees or in bushes. These are somewhat rudely
built, often so loosely that they may readily be seen through.
Externally they are made of coarse stems of grasses and vegetable
branches, and lined with the hair of the larger animals.

These birds are devoted parents, and express great solicitude whenever
their nests are approached or meddled with. They feed their young
almost exclusively with the larvæ of insects, especially with young
caterpillars. When in neighborhoods infested with the destructive
canker-worm, they will feed their young with this pest in incredible
numbers, and seek them from a considerable distance. Living in a
district exempt from this scourge, yet but shortly removed from them,
in the summer of 1869, I noticed one of these Sparrows with its mouth
filled with something which inconvenienced it to carry. It alighted on
the gravel walk to adjust its load, and passed on to its nest, leaving
two canker-worms behind it, which, if not thus detected, would have
introduced this nuisance into an orchard that had previously escaped,
showing that though friends to those afflicted they are dangerous to
their neighbors. This Sparrow is also the frequent nurse of the Cow
Blackbird, rearing its young to the destruction of its own, and
tending them with exemplary fidelity.

Their eggs, five in number, are of an oblong-oval shape, and vary
greatly in size. They are of a bluish-green color, and are sparingly
spotted about the larger end with markings of umber, purple, and dark
blackish-brown, intermingled with lighter shadings of faint purple.
The largest specimen I have ever noticed of this egg, found in the
Capitol Grounds, Washington, measures .80 by .58 of an inch; and the
smallest, from Varrell’s Station, Ga., measures .60 by .50. Their
average measurement is about .70 by .54. They are all much pointed at
the smaller end.

Spizella socialis, var. arizonæ, COUES.


  _Spizella socialis_, var. _arizonæ_, COUES, P. A. N. S.
      1866.—COOPER, Orn. Cal. 1, 207.

SP. CHAR. Similar to _socialis_, but tail and wing longer, the bill
narrower, and colors paler and grayer. Rufous of the crown lighter and
less purplish, generally (always in specimens from southern Rocky
Mountains) with fine black streaks on the posterior part. Ash of the
cheeks paler, throwing the white of the superciliary stripe and throat
into less contrast. Black streaks of the back narrower, and without
the rufous along their edges, merely streaking a plain light
brownish-gray ground-color. A strong ashy shade over the breast, not
seen in _socialis_; wing-bands more purely white. Wing, 3.00; tail,
2.80; bill, .36 from forehead, by .18 deep. (40,813 ♂, April 24, Fort
Whipple, Ariz., DR. COUES.)

HAB. Western United States from Rocky Mountains to the Pacific; south
in winter into Middle and Western Mexico.

All the specimens of a large series from Fort Whipple, Arizona, as
well as most others from west of the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific
coast, agree in the characters given above, as distinguished from
eastern specimens of _socialis_. The variations with age and season
are simple parallels of those in _socialis_.

HABITS. The references in the preceding article to the Chipping
Sparrow as occurring in the Middle and Western Provinces of the United
States, are to be understood as applying to the present race.

Spizella pallida, BONAP.


  _Emberiza pallida_, SW. F. Bor.-Am. II, 1831, 251 (not of AUDUBON).
      _Spizella pallida_, BONAP. List, 1838.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am.
      1858, 474. _Spinites pallidus_, CABANIS, Mus. Hein. 1851, 133.
      _Emberiza shattucki_, AUD. Birds Am. VII, 1843, 347, pl.
      ccccxciii. _Spizella shattucki_, BONAP. Conspectus, 1850, 480.

SP. CHAR. Smaller than _S. socialis_. Back and sides of hind neck
ashy. Prevailing color above pale brownish-yellow, with a tinge of
grayish. The feathers of back and crown streaked conspicuously with
blackish. Crown with a median pale ashy and a lateral or superciliary
ashy-white stripe. Beneath whitish, tinged with brown on the breast
and sides, and an indistinct narrow brown streak on the edge of
the chin, cutting off a light stripe above it. Ear-coverts
brownish-yellow, margined above and below by dark brown, making three
dark stripes on the face. Bill reddish, dusky towards tip. Legs
yellow. Length, 4.75; wing, 2.55.

HAB. Upper Missouri River and high central plains to the Saskatchewan
country. Cape St. Lucas, Oaxaca, March (SCL. 1859, 379); Fort Mohave
(COOPER, P. A. N. S. Cal. 1861, 122); San Antonio, Texas, spring
(DRESSER, Ibis, 1865, 489; common).

The ashy collar is quite conspicuous, and streaked above with brown.
The rump is immaculate. The streaks on the feathers of the crown
almost form continuous lines, about six in number. The brown line
above the ear-coverts is a post-ocular one. That on the side of the
chin forms the lower border of a white maxillary stripe which widens
and curves around behind the ear-coverts, fading into the ashy of the
neck. The wing-feathers are all margined with paler, and there is an
indication of two light bands across the ends of the coverts.

The young of this species is thickly streaked beneath over the throat,
breast, and belly, with brown, giving to it an entirely different
appearance from the adult. The streaks in the upper parts, too, are
darker and more conspicuous. The margins of the feathers are rather
more rusty.

This species is readily distinguishable from the other American
_Spizellas_, except _S. breweri_ (which see), in the dark streaks and
median ashy stripe on the crown, the paler tints, the dark line on the
side of the chin, etc.

HABITS. The Clay-colored Bunting was first discovered by Richardson,
and described by Swainson, in the Fauna Bor.-Amer. The only statement
made in regard to it is that it visited the Saskatchewan in
considerable numbers, frequented the farm-yard at Carlton House, and
was in all respects as familiar and confiding as the common House
Sparrow of Europe.

The bird given by Mr. Audubon as the _pallida_ has been made by Mr.
Cassin a different species, _S. breweri_, and the species the former
gives in his seventh volume of the Birds of America as _Emberiza
shattucki_ is really this species. It was found by Mr. Audubon’s party
to the Yellowstone quite abundant throughout the country bordering
upon the Upper Missouri. It seemed to be particularly partial to the
small valleys found, here and there, along the numerous ravines
running from the interior and between the hills. Its usual demeanor is
said to greatly resemble that of the common Chipping Sparrow, and,
like that bird, it has a very monotonous ditty, which it seems to
delight to repeat constantly, while its mate is more usefully employed
in the duties of incubation. When it was approached, it would dive and
conceal itself amid the low bushes around, or would seek one of the
large clusters of wild roses so abundant in that section. The nest of
this species is mentioned as having been usually placed on a small
horizontal branch seven or eight feet from the ground, and
occasionally in the broken and hollow branches of trees. These nests
are also stated to have been formed of slender grasses, but in so
slight a manner as, with their circular lining of horse or cattle
hair, to resemble as much as possible the nest of the common
_socialis_. The eggs were five in number, and are described as being
blue with reddish-brown spots. These birds were also met with at the
Great Slave Lake region by Mr. Kennicott, in the same neighborhood by
B. R. Ross and J. Lockhart, and in the Red River settlements by Mr. C.
A. Hubbard and Mr. Donald Gunn.

Captain Blakiston noted the arrival of this bird at Fort Carlton on
the 21st of May. He speaks of its note as very peculiar, resembling,
though sharper than, the buzzing made by a fly in a paper box, or a
faint imitation of the sound of a watchman’s rattle. This song it
utters perched on some young tree or bush, sometimes only once, at
others three or four times in quick succession.

Their nests appear to have been in all instances placed in trees or in
shrubs, generally in small spruces, two or three feet from the ground.
In one instance it was in a clump of small bushes not more than six
inches from the ground, and only a few rods from the buildings of Fort

Both this species and the _S. breweri_ were found by Lieutenant Couch
at Tamaulipas in March, 1855. It does not appear to have been met with
by any other of the exploring expeditions, but in 1864, for the first
time, as Dr. Heermann states, to his knowledge, these birds were found
quite plentiful near San Antonio, Texas, by Mr. Dresser. This was in
April, in the fields near that town. They were associating with the
_Melospiza lincolni_ and other Sparrows. They remained about San
Antonio until the middle of May, after which none were observed.

The eggs of this species are of a light blue, with a slight tinge of
greenish, and are marked around the larger end with spots and blotches
of a purplish-brown, rather finer, perhaps, than in the egg of _S.
socialis_, though very similar to it. They average .70 of an inch in
length, and vary in breadth from .50 to .52 of an inch.

Spizella pallida, var. breweri, CASSIN.


  _Emberiza pallida_, AUD. Orn. Biog. V, 1839, 66, pl. cccxcviii, f.
      2.—IB. Synopsis, 1839.—IB. Birds Am. III, 1841, 71, pl. clxi
      (not of SWAINSON, 1831). _Spizella breweri_, CASSIN, Pr. A. N.
      Sc. VIII, Feb. 1856, 40.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858,
      475.—COOPER, Orn. Cal. 1, 209.

SP. CHAR. Similar to _S. pallida_; the markings including the nuchal
collar more obsolete; no distinct median and superciliary light
stripes. The crown streaked with black. Some of the feathers on the
sides with brown shafts. Length, 5 inches; wing, 2.50. Young streaked
beneath, as in _pallida_.

HAB. Rocky Mountains of United States to the Pacific coast.

This race is very similar to the _S. pallida_, and requires close and
critical comparison to separate it. The streaks on the back are
narrower, and the central ashy and lateral whitish stripes of the
crown are scarcely, if at all, appreciable. The clear unstreaked ash
of the back of the neck, too, is mostly wanting. The feathers along
the sides of the body, near the tibia, and occasionally elsewhere on
the sides, have brownish shafts, not found in the other. The
differences are perhaps those of race, rather than of species, though
they are very appreciable.

HABITS. This species bears a very close resemblance to the _S.
pallida_ in its external appearance, but there are certain constant
differences which, with the peculiarities of their distinctive
distributions and habits, seem to establish their specific separation.
The present bird is found from the Pacific coast to the Rocky
Mountains, and from the northern portion of California to the Rio
Grande and Mexico. Dr. Kennerly found it in February, 1854, throughout
New Mexico, from the Rio Grande to the Great Colorado, along the
different streams, where it was feeding upon the seeds of several
kinds of weeds.

Dr. Heermann, while accompanying the surveying party of Lieutenant
Williamson, between the 32d and 35th parallels, found these Sparrows
throughout his entire route, both in California and in Texas. On the
passage from the Pimos villages to Tucson he observed large flocks
gleaning their food among the bushes as they were moving southward. In
the Tejon valley, during the fall season, he was constantly meeting
them associated with large flocks of other species of Sparrows,
congregated around the cultivated fields of the Indians, where they
find a bountiful supply of seeds. For this purpose they pass the
greater part of the time upon the ground.

Dr. Woodhouse also met with this Sparrow throughout New Mexico,
wherever food and water were to be found in sufficient quantity to
sustain life.

In Arizona, near Fort Whipple, Dr. Coues states that this bird is a
rare summer resident. He characterizes it as a shy, retiring species,
keeping mostly in thick brush near the ground.

Mr. Ridgway states that he found this interesting little Sparrow,
while abundant in all fertile portions, almost exclusively an
inhabitant of open situations, such as fields or bushy plains, among
the artemesia especially, where it is most numerous. It frequents
alike the valleys and the mountains. At Sacramento it was the most
abundant Sparrow, frequenting the old fields. In this respect it very
much resembles the eastern _Spizella pusilla_, from which, however, it
is in many respects very different.

The song of Brewer’s Sparrow, he adds, for sprightliness and vivacity
is not excelled by any other of the North American Fringillidæ, being
inferior only to that of the _Chondestes grammaca_ in power and
richness, and even excelling it in variety and compass. Its song,
while possessing all the plaintiveness of tone so characteristic of
the eastern Field Sparrow, unites to this quality a vivacity and
variety fully equalling that of the finest Canary. This species is not
resident, but arrives about the 9th of April. He found its nest and
eggs in the Truckee Reservation, early in June. The nests were in
sage-bushes about three feet from the ground.

Dr. Cooper found small flocks of this species at Fort Mohave, after
March 20, frequenting grassy spots among the low bushes, and a month
later they were singing, he adds, much like a Canary, but more
faintly. They are presumed to remain in the valley all summer.

The eggs, four in number, are of a light bluish-green color, oblong in
shape, more rounded at the smaller end than the eggs of the
_socialis_, and the ground is more of a green than in those of _S.
pallida_. They are marked and blotched in scattered markings of a
golden-brown color. These blotches are larger and more conspicuous
than in the eggs of the other species. They measure .70 by .51 of an

Spizella atrigularis, BAIRD.


  _Spinites atrigularis_, CABANIS, Mus. Hein. 1851, 133. _Spizella
      atrigularis_, BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 476, pl. lv, f. 1.—IB.
      Mex. Bound. II, Birds, p. 16, pl. xvii, f. 1.—COOPER, Orn. Cal.
      I, 210. _Struthus atrimentalis_, COUCH, Pr. A. N. Sc. Phil. VII,
      April, 1854, 67.

SP. CHAR. Tail elongated, deeply forked and divaricated. General color
bluish-ash, paler beneath, and turning to white on the middle of the
belly. Interscapular region yellowish-rusty, streaked with black.
Forehead, loral region, and side of head as far as eyes, chin, and
upper part of throat black. Quills and tail-feathers very dark brown,
edged with ashy. Edges of coverts like the back. No white bands on the
wings. Bill red, feet dusky. Immature birds, and perhaps adult female,
without any black on head. Length, 5.50; wing, 2.50; tail, 3.00.

HAB. Mexico, just south of the Rio Grande; Fort Whipple, Ariz.
(COUES); Cape St. Lucas.

This species is about the size of _S. pusilla_ and _S. socialis_,
resembling the former most in its still longer tail. This is more
deeply forked and divaricated, with broader feathers than in either.
The wing is much rounded; the fourth quill longest; the first almost
the shortest of the primaries.

HABITS. This species is a Mexican bird, found only within the limits
of the United States along the borders. But little is known as to its
history. It is supposed to be neither very abundant nor to have an
extended area of distribution. It was met with by Dr. Coues in the
neighborhood of Fort Whipple, Arizona, where it arrives in April and
leaves again in October, collecting, before its departure, in small
flocks. In the spring he states that it has a very sweet and melodious
song, far surpassing in power and melody the notes of any other of
this genus that he has ever heard.

Dr. Coues furnishes me with the following additional information in
regard to this species: “This is not a common bird at Fort Whipple,
and was only observed from April to October. It unquestionably breeds
in that vicinity, as I shot very young birds, in August, wanting the
distinctive head-markings of the adult. A pair noticed in early April
were seemingly about breeding, as the male was in full song, and
showed, on dissection, highly developed sexual organs. The song is
very agreeable, not in the least recalling the monotonous ditty of the
Chip Bird, or the rather weak performances of some other species of
the genus. In the latter part of summer and early autumn the birds
were generally seen in small troops, perhaps families, in weedy
places, associating with the western variety of _Spizella socialis_,
as well as with Goldfinches.”

Lieutenant Couch met with individuals of this species at Agua Nueva,
in Coahuila, Mexico, in May, 1853. They were found in small flocks
among the mountains. Their nest and eggs are unknown.


  _Melospiza_, BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1868, 478. (Type, _Fringilla
    melodia_, WILS.)

  [Line drawing: _Melospiza melodia._
                  2637 ♂]

GEN. CHAR. Body stout. Bill conical, very obsoletely notched, or
smooth; somewhat compressed. Lower mandible not so deep as the upper.
Commissure nearly straight. Gonys a little curved. Feet stout, not
stretching beyond the tail; tarsus a little longer than the middle
toe; outer toe a little longer than the inner; its claw not quite
reaching to the base of the middle one. Hind toe appreciably longer
than the middle one. Wings quite short and rounded, scarcely reaching
beyond the base of the tail; the tertials considerably longer than the
secondaries; the quills considerably graduated; the fourth longest;
the first not longer than the tertials, and almost the shortest of the
primaries. Tail moderately long, rather longer from coccyx than the
wings, and considerably graduated; the feathers oval at the tips, and
not stiffened. Crown and back similar in color, and streaked; beneath
thickly streaked, except in _M. palustris_. Tail immaculate. Usually
nest on ground; nests strongly woven of grasses and fibrous stems;
eggs marked with rusty-brown and purple on a ground of a clay color.

This genus differs from _Zonotrichia_ in the shorter, more graduated
tail, rather longer hind toe, much more rounded wing, which is
shorter; the tertiaries longer; the first quill almost the shortest,
and not longer than the tertials. The under parts are spotted; the
crown streaked, and like the back.

  [Illustration: _Melospiza melodia._]

There are few species of American birds that have caused more
perplexity to the ornithologist than the group of which _Melospiza
melodia_ is the type. Spread over the whole of North America, and
familiar to every one, we find each region to possess a special form
(to which a specific name has been given), and yet these passing into
each other by such insensible gradations as to render it quite
impossible to define them as species. Between _M. melodia_ of the
Atlantic States and _M. insignis_ of Kodiak the difference seems wide;
but the connecting links in the intermediate regions bridge this over
so completely that, with a series of hundreds of specimens before us,
we abandon the attempt at specific separation, and unite into one no
less than eight species previously recognized.

Taking, then, the common Song Sparrow of the Eastern Atlantic States
(_M. melodia_) as the starting-point, and proceeding westward, we find
quite a decided difference (in a variety _fallax_) when we reach the
Middle Province, or that of the Rocky Mountains. The general tints are
paler, grayer, and less rusty; the superciliary stripe anteriorly more
ashy; the bill, and especially the legs, more dusky, the latter not at
all to be called yellow. The bill is perhaps smaller and, though
sometimes equal to the average of eastern specimens, more slender in
proportion. In some specimens (typical _fallax_) the streaks are
uniform rufous without darker centres,—a feature I have not noticed
in eastern _melodia_. Another stage (_heermanni_) is seen when we
reach the Pacific coast of California, in a darker brown color (but
not rufous). Here the bill is rather larger than in var. _fallax_, and
the legs colored more like typical _melodia_. In fact, the bird is
like _melodia_, but darker. The stripes on the back continue well
defined and distinct. _M. samuelis_ (=_gouldi_) may stand as a smaller
race of this variety.

Proceeding northward along the Pacific coast, another form (var.
_guttata_), peculiar to the coast of California, is met with towards
and beyond the mouth of the Columbia (coming into Southern California
in winter). This is darker in color, more rufous; the stripes quite
indistinct above, in fact, more or less obsolete, and none, either
above or below, with darker or blackish centres. The sides, crissum,
and tibia are washed with ochraceous-brown, the latter perhaps
darkest. The bill is proportionally longer and more slender. This race
becomes still darker northward, until at Sitka (var. _rufina_) it
shows no rufous tints, but a dusky olive-brown instead, including the
streaks of the under parts. The markings of the head and back are
appreciable, though not distinct. The size has become considerably
larger than in eastern _melodia_, the average length of wing being
3.00, instead of 2.60.

The last extreme of difference from typical _melodia_ of the east is
seen in the variety _insignis_ from Kodiak. Here the size is very
large: length, 7.00; extent, 10.75; wing, 3.20. The bill is very long
(.73 from forehead), the color still darker brown and more uniform
above; the median light stripe of vertex scarcely appreciable in some
specimens; the superciliary scarcely showing, except as a whitish spot
anteriorly. The bill and feet have become almost black.

The following synopsis may serve as a means by which to distinguish
the several races of this species, as also the two remaining positive
species of the genus:—

Species and Varieties.

  A. Lower parts streaked.

    1. M. melodia. White of the lower parts uninterrupted
    from the chin to the crissum; the streaks of the
    jugulum, etc., broad and cuneate.

       _a._ Streaks, above and below, sharply defined, and
       distinctly black medially (except sometimes in winter

         Ground-color above reddish-gray, the interscapulars
         with the whitish and black streaks about equal, and
         sharply contrasted. Rump with reddish streaks.
         Wing, 2.70; tail, 2.90; bill .36 from nostril, and
         .30 deep. _Hab._ Eastern Province of United States,
         to the Plains on the west, and the Rio Grande on
         the south                                    var. _melodia_.[2]

         Ground-color above ashy-gray, the interscapulars
         with the black streaks much broader than their
         rufous border, and the whitish edges not in strong
         contrast. Rump without streaks. Wing, 2.80; tail,
         3.15; bill, .33 and .22. _Hab._ Middle Province of
         United States                                 var. _fallax_.[3]

         Ground-color above nearly pure gray, the
         interscapulars with the black streaks much broader
         than the rufous, and the edges of the feathers not
         appreciably paler. Rump without streaks. Wing,
         2.80; tail, 2.85; bill, .32 by .27. _Hab._
         California, except along the coast; Sierra Nevada
                                                    var. _heermanni_.[4]

         Ground-color above grayish-olive, the
         interscapulars with the black streaks much broader
         than their rufous border; edges of the feathers
         scarcely appreciably paler. Rump and tail-coverts,
         above and below, with distinct broad streaks of
         black. Wing, 2.40; tail, 2.50; bill, .37 and .24.
         _Hab._ Coast region of California           var. _samuelis_.[5]

         Ground-color above olive-rufous, the edges of the
         interscapulars, alone, ashy; dorsal black streaks
         very broad, without rufous border. Rump streaked
         with black. Wing, 2.60; tail, 2.85; bill, .34 and
         .25. _Hab._ Puebla, Mexico                  var. _mexicana_.[6]

       _b._ Streaks, above and below, not sharply defined,
       and without black medially.

         Above rufescent-olive, the darker shades
         castaneous; streaks beneath castaneous-rufous.
         Wing, 2.60; tail, 2.50; bill, .35 and .23. _Hab._
         Pacific Province from British Columbia, southward
                                                      var. _guttata_.

         Above sepia-plumbeous, the darker shades
         fuliginous-sepia; streaks beneath fuliginous-sepia.
         Wing, 3.00; tail, 3.00; bill, .41 and .25. _Hab._
         Pacific Province from British Columbia northward
                                                       var. _rufina_.

         Above plumbeous, the darker markings dull
         reddish-sepia in winter, clove-brown in summer;
         streaks beneath castaneous-rufous in winter, dull
         sepia in summer. Wing, 3.40; tail, 3.60; bill, .50
         and .30. _Hab._ Pacific coast of Alaska (Kodiak,
         etc.)                                       var. _insignis_.

    2. M. lincolni. White of the lower parts interrupted by
    a broad pectoral band of buff; streaks on the jugulum,
    etc., narrow linear. A vertex and superciliary stripe of
    ashy; a maxillary one of buff. Wing, 2.60; tail, 2.40;
    bill, .30 and .25. _Hab._ Whole of North America; south,
    in winter, to Panama.

  B. Lower parts without streaks (except in young.)

    3. M. palustris. Jugulum and nape tinged with ashy;
    outer surface of wings bright castaneous, in strong
    contrast with the olivaceous of the back; dorsal streaks
    broad, black, without rufous externally; a superciliary
    and maxillary stripe of ashy. ♂. Crown uniform chestnut,
    forehead black. ♀. Crown similar, but divided by an
    indistinct ashy stripe, and more or less streaked with
    black (autumnal or winter ♂ similar). _Juv._ Head, back,
    and jugulum streaked with black on a yellowish-white
    ground; black prevailing on the crown. _Hab._ Eastern
    Province of North America.

     [2] _Winter plumage._ Rusty prevailing above, but hoary
     whitish edges to feathers still in strong contrast; streaks
     beneath with a rufous suffusion externally, but still with
     the black in excess.

     [3] _Winter plumage._ Gray above more olivaceous, the black
     streaks more subdued by a rufous suffusion; streaks beneath
     with the rufous predominating, sometimes without any black.

     [4] _Winter plumage._ Above rusty-olive, with little or no
     ashy, the black streaks broad and distinct. Streaks beneath
     with the black and rusty in about equal amount.

     [5] In summer the streaks beneath are entirely intense
     black; in winter they have a slight rufous external

     [6] _Melospiza melodia_, var. _mexicana_, RIDGWAY. Mexican
     Song Sparrow. _? ? Melospiza pectoralis_, VON MÜLLER.

     SP. CHAR. (Type, 60,046, Puebla, Mexico, A. BOUCARD.)
     Similar to _M. melodia_, but ground-color above olive-brown;
     inner webs of interscapulars pale ashy, but not in strong
     contrast. Crown and wings rusty-brown, the former with broad
     black streaks, and divided by a just appreciable paler line;
     back with broad black streaks without any rufous suffusion.
     Superciliary stripe pure light ash, becoming white anterior
     to the eye; two broad, dark-brown stripes on side of
     head,—one from the eye back along upper edge of auriculars,
     the other back from the rictus, along their lower border.
     Lower parts pure white, the flanks and crissum distinctly
     ochraceous; markings beneath broad and heavy, entirely pure
     deep black; those on the jugulum deltoid, on the sides
     linear. Wing, 2.60; tail, 2.85; bill, .37 and .24; tarsus,
     .85; middle toe without claw, .68. This may possibly be the
     _M. pectoralis_ of von Müller. The description cited above,
     however, does not agree with the specimen under
     consideration. The pectoral spots are expressly stated to be
     brown, not even a black shaft-streak being mentioned,
     whereas the pure black spots of the specimen before us
     render it peculiar in this respect, being, in fact, its
     chief characteristic.

Melospiza melodia, BAIRD.


  _Fringilla melodia_, WILSON, Am. Orn. II, 1810, 125, pl. xvi, f.
      4.—LICHT. Verz. 1823, No. 249.—AUD. Orn. Biog. I, 1832, 126;
      V, 507, pl. 25.—IB. Syn. 1839, 120.—IB. Birds Am. III, 1841,
      147, pl. clxxxix.—MAX. Cab. J. VI, 1858, 275. _Zonotrichia
      melodia_, BON. List, 1838.—IB. Conspectus, 1850, 478. _? ?
      Fringilla fasciata_, GMELIN, Syst. Nat. I, 1788, 922.—NUTTALL,
      Man. I, (2d ed.,) 1840, 562. _? ? Fringilla hyemalis_, GMELIN,
      Syst. Nat. I, 1788, 922. _Melospiza melodia_, BAIRD, Birds N.
      Am. 1858, 477.—SAMUELS, 321.

SP. CHAR. General tint of upper parts rufous and distinctly streaked
with rufous-brown, dark-brown, and ashy-gray. The crown is rufous,
with a superciliary and median stripe of dull gray, the former
lighter; nearly white anteriorly, where it sometimes has a faint shade
of yellow, principally in autumn; each feather of the crown with a
narrow streak of black forming about six narrow lines. Interscapulars
black in the centre, then rufous, then pale grayish on the margin,
these three colors on each feather very sharply contrasted. Rump
grayer than upper tail-coverts, both with obsolete dark streaks. There
is a whitish maxillary stripe, bordered above and below by one of dark
rufous-brown, and with another from behind the eye. The under parts
are white; the jugulum and sides of body streaked with clear
dark-brown, sometimes with a rufous suffusion. On the middle of the
breast these marks are rather aggregated so as to form a spot. No
distinct white on tail or wings. Length of male, 6.50; wing, 2.58;
tail, 3.00. Bill pale brown above; yellowish at base beneath. Legs

HAB. Eastern United States to the high Central Plains.

Specimens vary somewhat in having the streaks across the breast more
or less sparse, the spot more or less distinct. In autumn the colors
are more blended, the light maxillary stripe tinged with yellowish,
the edges of the dusky streaks strongly suffused with brownish-rufous.

The young bird has the upper parts paler, the streaks more distinct;
the lines on the head scarcely appreciable. The under parts are
yellowish; the streaks narrower and more sharply defined dark brown.

As already stated, this species varies more or less from the above
description in different parts of North America, its typical races
having received specific names, which it is necessary to retain for
them as varieties.

HABITS. The common Song Sparrow of eastern North America has an
extended range of distribution, and is resident throughout the year in
a large part of the area in which it breeds. It nests from about South
Carolina north to the British Provinces of Nova Scotia and New
Brunswick at the east, and to a not well-defined limit in British
America. The most northern points to which it has been traced are the
plains of the Saskatchewan and the southern shore of Lake Winnepeg, in
which latter place Mr. Kennicott found it breeding. It is said by Dr.
Coues to breed in South Carolina, and by Mr. Audubon in Louisiana, but
I have never seen any of their eggs from any point south of
Washington. In winter it is found from Massachusetts, where only a few
are observed, to Florida. It is most abundant at this period in North
and South Carolina. It is not mentioned in Dr. Gerhardt’s list as
being found in Northern Georgia at any season of the year. Mr. Ridgway
informs me that it does not breed in Southern Illinois. Its song is
not popularly known there, though he has occasionally heard it just
before these Sparrows were leaving for the north. This species winters
there in company with the _Z. albicollis_ and _Z. leucophrys_,
associating with the former, and inhabiting brush-heaps in the

To Massachusetts, where specimens have been taken in every month of
the year, and where they have been heard to sing in January, they
return in large numbers usually early in March, sometimes even in
February. It is probable that these are but migrants, passing farther
north, and that our summer visitants do not appear among us until the
middle of April, or just as they are about to breed. They reach Maine
from the 15th to the 25th, and breed there the middle of May. In
Massachusetts they do not have eggs until the first week in May,
except in very remarkable seasons, usually not until after the
Bluebird has already hatched out her first brood, and a week later
than the Robin.

The tide of returning emigration begins to set southward early in
October. Collecting in small loose flocks, probably all of each group
members of the same family, they slowly move towards the south. As one
set passes on, another succeeds, until the latter part of November,
when we no longer meet with flocks, but solitary individuals or groups
of two or three. These are usually a larger and stouter race, and
almost suggest a different species. They are often in song even into
December. They apparently do not go far, and are the first to return.
In early March they are in full song, and their notes seem louder,
clearer, and more vibratory than those that come to us and remain to

The Song Sparrow, as its name implies, is one of our most noted and
conspicuous singers. It is at once our earliest and our latest, as
also our most constant musician. Its song is somewhat brief, but is
repeated at short intervals, almost throughout the days of spring and
early summer. It somewhat resembles the opening notes of the Canary,
and though less resonant and powerful, much surpasses them in
sweetness and expression. Plain and homely as this bird is in its
outward garb, its sweet song and its gentle confiding manners render
it a welcome visitor to every garden, and around every rural home
wherein such attractions can be appreciated. Whenever these birds are
kindly treated they readily make friends, and are attracted to our
doorsteps for the welcome crumbs that are thrown to them; and they
will return, year after year, to the same locality, whenever thus

The song of this Sparrow varies in different individuals, and often
changes, in the same bird, in different parts of the year. It is even
stated by an observing naturalist—Mr. Charles S. Paine, of Randolph,
Vt.—that he has known the same bird to sing, in succession, nine
entirely different sets of notes, usually uttering them one after the
other, in the same order. This was noticed not merely once or during
one season, but through three successive summers. The same bird
returned each season to his grounds, and came each time provided with
the same variety of airs.

Mr. Nuttall, who dwells with much force upon the beauty and
earnestness of expression of the song of this species, has also
noticed and remarked upon the power of individuals to vary their song,
from time to time, with very agreeable effect, but no one has recorded
so remarkable an instance as that thus carefully noted by Mr. Paine.

These birds are found in almost any cultivated locality where the
grounds are sufficiently open. They prefer the edges of open fields,
and those of meadows and low grounds, but are rarely found in woods or
in thick bushes, except near their outer edges. They nest naturally on
the ground, and in such situations a large majority build their nests.
These are usually the younger birds. A portion, almost always birds of
several summers, probably taught by sad experiences of the insecurity
of the ground, build in bushes. A pair which had a nest in an
adjoining field had been robbed, by a cat, of their young when just
about to fly. After much lamentation, and an interval of a week, I
found this same pair, which I easily recognized, building their nest
among some vines near my house, some eight feet from the ground. They
had abandoned my neighbor’s grounds and taken refuge close to my
house. This situation they resorted to afterwards for several
successive summers, each season building two nests, never using the
same nest a second time, although each time it was left as clean and
in as good condition as when first made. Indeed, this species is
remarkable for its cleanliness, both in its own person and in its care
of nestlings and nests.

They feed their young chiefly with insects, especially small
caterpillars; the destructive canker-worm is one of their favorite
articles of food, also the larvæ of insects and the smaller moths.
When crumbs of bread are given them, they are eagerly gathered and
taken to their nests.

In the Middle States they are said to have three broods in a season.
This may also be so in New England, but I have never known one pair to
have more than two broods in the same summer, even when both had been
successfully reared. Nests found after July have always been in cases
where some accident had befallen the preceding brood.

The nest of the Song Sparrow, whether built on ground, bush, or tree,
is always well and thoroughly made. Externally and at the base it
consists of stout stems of grasses, fibrous twigs of plants, and small
sticks and rootlets. These are strongly wrought together. Within is
made a neat, well-woven basket of fine long stems of grasses, rarely
anything else. On the ground they are usually concealed beneath a tuft
of grass; sometimes they make a covered passage-way of several inches,
leading to their nest. When built in a tree or shrub, the top is often
sheltered by the branches or by dry leaves, forming a covering to the

The eggs of the Song Sparrow are five in number, and have an average
measurement of .82 by .60 of an inch. They have a ground of a
clay-color or dirty white, and are spotted equally over the entire egg
with blotches of a rusty-brown, intermingled with lighter shades of
purple. In some these markings are so numerous and confluent as to
entirely conceal the ground-color; in others they are irregularly
diffused over different parts, leaving patches unmarked. Occasionally
the eggs are unspotted, and are then not unlike those of _Leucosticte

Melospiza melodia, var. fallax, BAIRD.


  _Zonotrichia fallax_, BAIRD, Pr. A. N. Sc. Ph. VII, June, 1854, 119
      (Pueblo Creek, New Mexico). _? Zonotrichia fasciata_, (GM.)
      GAMBEL, J. A. N. Sc. Ph. 2d Series, I, 1847, 49. _Melospiza
      fallax_, BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 481, pl. xxvii, f.
      2.—KENNERLY, P. R. R. X, _b._ pl. xxvii, f. 2.—COOPER, Orn.
      Cal. I, 215.

SP. CHAR. Similar to var. _melodia_, but with the bill on the whole
rather smaller, more slender, and darker. Legs quite dusky, not
yellow. Entire plumage of a more grayish cast, including the whole
superciliary stripe. The streaks on throat and jugulum in spring are
almost black, as in _melodia_; in autumn more rufous; in all cases
quite as sharply defined as in _melodia_. The bill is nearly black in

HAB. Middle Province of United States, to the Sierra Nevada.

This race, intermediate between _melodia_ and _heermanni_ in habitat,
is, however, hardly so in characters. The bill is more slender than in
either, being much like that of _guttata_, and the tail is longer in
proportion to the wing. In colors it is paler than either, the
ground-cast above being nearly clear grayish: the streaks, both on the
back and jugulum, are more sparse, as well as narrower; very
frequently, in the winter plumage, those beneath lack the central
black, being wholly rufous; such is the case with the type. In summer,
however, they are frequently entirely black, the external rufous
having entirely disappeared. As in _heermanni_, the rump is
immaculate. The young bird differs as does the adult, though the
resemblance to those of _melodia_ and _heermanni_ is more close than
in the adult. The very narrow bill and long tail are the most
characteristic features of form.

HABITS. In habits and song, Dr. Cooper can find no appreciable
differences between this variety and its nearest allies. He states
that its nest, which he found in a willow thicket, was composed of
bark and fine twigs and grass, and lined with hair. Its eggs he
describes as bluish-white, blotched and streaked with reddish-brown,
and as measuring .74 by .55 of an inch.

Dr. Coues found this species a common and permanent resident in
Arizona, and he pronounces its habits, manners, and voice precisely
like those of _M. melodia_. This species, he states, occurs throughout
New Mexico, Arizona, and a part of Southern California, and is
particularly abundant in the valley of the Colorado.

Dr. Kennerly observed this species only along Pueblo Creek, in the
month of January. It did not confine itself to the open valley, but
was often seen among the thick bushes that margined the creek, far up
into the Aztec Mountains, where the snow covered the ground. In its
habits it resembled the _Poospiza belli_, being very restless and
rapid in its motions, accompanying them with a short chirp, feeding
upon the seeds of the weeds that remained uncovered by the snow. Its
flight was also rapid and near the earth. The bird being very shy, Dr.
Kennerly found it difficult to procure many specimens.

According to Mr. Ridgway, the Western Song Sparrow is one of the most
abundant of the resident species inhabiting the fertile portions of
the Great Basin. It principally occupies the willows along the
streams, but is also found in _tulé_ sloughs of the river valleys.
From a long acquaintance with the Western Song Sparrows, Mr. Ridgway
is fully convinced of the propriety of recognizing this as a distinct
variety from the eastern _M. melodia_. In all respects, as to habits,
especially in its familiarity, it replaces at the West the well-known
Song Sparrow of the East. When first heard, the peculiar measure and
delivery of its song at once attracts attention. The precision of
style and method of utterance are quite distinct and constant
peculiarities. The song, though as pleasing, is not so loud as that of
the eastern Song Sparrow, while the measure is very different. He
noted the syllables of its song, and found them quite uniform. He
expresses the song thus: _Cha-cha-cha-cha-cha—wit’—tur’-r-r-r-r-r—tut_.
The first six syllables as to accent are exactly alike, but with a
considerable interval or pause between the first and second notes. The
second to the fifth follow in rapid succession, each being uttered
with deliberation and distinctness. Then comes a pause between the
last “cha” and the “wit,” which is pronounced in a fine metallic tone
with a rising inflection, then another pause, and a liquid trill with
a falling inflection, the whole terminating abruptly with a very
peculiar “tut,” in an entirely different key from the other notes.

The nests and eggs were found in the Wahsatch Mountains, June 23. The
nests were generally among bushes, in willow thickets, along the
streams, about a foot from the ground. One of these nests found in a
clump of willows, about two feet from the ground and near a stream, is
a compact, firmly built nest, in the shape of an inverted dome. It is
two and a half inches in height, and about the same in diameter.
Externally it is composed of a coarse framework of strips of willow
bark firmly bound around. Within is a compactly woven inner nest,
composed of straws, mingled and interwoven with horse-hairs. The
cavity has a depth and diameter of two inches. The eggs, four in
number, measure .85 by .63 of an inch. Their form is a rounded oval,
distinctly pointed at one end. They have a greenish-white ground,
marked and blotched with splashes of purplish and reddish brown.

Melospiza melodia, var. heermanni, BAIRD.


  _Melospiza heermanni_, BAIRD, Birds N. Am., 1858, 478, pl. 70, f.
       1.—COOPER, Orn. Cal. 1, 212.

SP. CHAR. Somewhat like _melodia_, but darker. The streaks on the back
and under parts blacker, broader, more distinct, and scarcely margined
with reddish, except in winter plumage. The median stripe on vertex
indistinct. General shade of coloration olivaceous-gray rather than
rusty. Length, 6.40; wing, 2.56; tail, 3. Bill and legs in size and
color most like _melodia_.

HAB. Southern California; eastern slope of Sierra Nevada (Carson
City), and West Humboldt Mountains, Nev.; RIDGWAY.

Of the various races of _M. melodia_, this one approaches nearest the
typical style of the Atlantic region; agreeing with it in thicker bill
and shorter tail, as compared with the var. _fallax_, which occurs
between them. It differs from the var. _melodia_, however, in a more
grayish cast to the ground-color of the upper plumage, being
olivaceous-gray, rather than reddish; the black dorsal streaks are
very much broader than the rusty ones, instead of about equal to them
in width, and the edges to the interscapular feathers are not
appreciably paler than the prevailing shade, instead of being hoary
whitish, in strong contrast. In spring the “bridle” on the side of the
throat and the spots on the jugulum have the black of their central
portion in excess of their external rufous suffusion; but in autumn
the rusty rather predominates; at this season, too, the rusty tints
above overspread the whole surface, but the black streaks are left
sharply defined. At all seasons, the spots on the jugulum are broader
and rather more numerous than in _melodia_. The young can scarcely be
distinguished from those of _melodia_, but they have the dark streaks
on the crown and upper tail-coverts considerably broader.

HABITS. The California Song Sparrow has been named in honor of the
late Dr. Heermann, who first obtained specimens of this bird in the
Tejon Valley, and mistook them for the _Zonotrichia guttata_ of Gambel
(_M. rufina_), from which they were appreciably different. Whether a
distinct species or only a local race, this bird takes the place and
is the almost precise counterpart, in most essential respects, of the
Song Sparrow of the East. The exact limits of its distribution, both
in the migratory season and in that of reproduction, have hardly yet
been ascertained. It has been found in California as far north as San
Francisco, and to the south and southeast to San Diego and the Mohave

The California Song Sparrow is the characteristic _Melospiza_ in all
that portion of the State south of San Francisco. It is found, Dr.
Cooper states, in every locality where there are thickets of low
bushes and tall weeds, especially in the vicinity of water, and
wherever unmolested it comes about the gardens and houses with all the
familiarity of the common _melodia_. The ground, under the shade of
plants or bushes, is their usual place of resort. There they
diligently search for their food throughout the day, and rarely fly
more than a few yards from the place, and remain about their chosen
locality from one year’s end to another, being everywhere a resident
species. In the spring they are said to perch occasionally on some low
bush or tree, and sing a lively and pleasant melody for an hour at a
time. Each song, Dr. Cooper remarks, is a complete little stanza of a
dozen notes, and is frequently varied or changed entirely for another
of similar style, but quite distinct. Although no two birds of this
species sing just alike, there is never any difficulty in
distinguishing their songs when once heard. There is, he thinks, a
similarity of tone and style in the songs of all the species of true
_Melospiza_, which has led other observers to consider them as of only
one species, when taken in connection with their other similarities in
colors and habits.

Dr. Cooper found a nest, presumed to belong to this bird, at Santa
Cruz, in June. It was built in a dense blackberry-bush, about three
feet from the ground, constructed with a thick periphery and base of
dry grasses and thin strips of bark, and lined with finer grasses. The
eggs were of a smoky white, densely speckled with a dull brown.
Although this bird was abundant around Santa Cruz, he was only able,
after much searching, to find two of their nests. One was in a willow,
close against the tree, and three feet from the ground, containing, on
the 11th of May, four eggs partially hatched. This was built of coarse
dry stems and leaves, lined with finer grasses and horse-hair. It was
five inches in external diameter, and four high. The cavity was two
and a half inches deep and two in diameter. These eggs had a ground of
greenish-white, and were blotched and spotted with a purplish-brown,
chiefly at the larger end. They were .82 by .62 of an inch in
measurement. The ground-color was paler and the spots were darker than
in eggs of _Z. gambeli_, the whole coloring much darker than in those
of _M. fallax_. This nest was apparently an old one used for a second

Another nest found as late as July 10, and doubtless a second brood,
was in a thicket, six feet from the ground, and also contained four
eggs. Dr. Cooper states that he has seen the newly fledged young by
the 7th of May.

Dr. Heermann, in his account of this bird, which he supposed to be the
_guttata_ of Dr. Gambel, states that he found it abundant throughout
the whole country over which he passed, and more especially so in the
bushes bordering the streams, ponds, and marshes. Its notes, sweet,
and few in number, resembled those of the common Song Sparrow. Its
nests, usually built in thick tufts of bushes, were composed
externally of grasses and lined with hair, and contained each four
eggs, with a pale bluish-ash ground, thickly covered with dashes of
burnt umber. Eggs of this species, from near Monterey, collected by
Dr. Canfield, vary in measurement from .85 by .65 of an inch to .88 by
.70,—larger than any eggs of _Melospiza melodia_ that I have seen.
Their ground-color is a light green. The blotches are large, distinct,
and more or less confluent, and of a blended reddish and purplish
brown. They are in some diffused over the entire egg, in others
disposed around the larger end.

Melospiza melodia, var. samuelis, BAIRD.


  _Ammodromus samuelis_, BAIRD, Pr. Boston Soc. N. H. VI, June, 1858,
       381.—IB. Birds N. Am. 1858, 455, pl. lxxi, f. 1.—COOPER, Orn.
       Cal. I, 191. _Melospiza gouldi_, BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 479.

SP. CHAR. Somewhat like _Melospiza melodia_, but considerably smaller
and darker. Bill slender and acute, the depth not more than half the
culmen. Above streaked on the head, back, and rump with dark brown,
the borders of the feathers paler, but without any rufous. Beneath
pure white; the breast, with sides of throat and body, spotted and
streaked with black, apparently farther back than on other species.
Wings above nearly uniform dark brownish-rufous. Under tail-coverts
yellowish-brown, conspicuously blotched with blackish. An ashy
superciliary stripe, becoming nearly white to the bill, and a whitish
maxillary one below which is a broad blackish stripe along the sides
of neck; the crown with faint grayish median line. Length, 5 inches;
wing, 2.20; tail, 2.35. Bill dusky; legs rather pale. Bill, .35 from
nostril by .24 deep; tarsus, .71; middle toe without claw, .58. (5,553
♂, Petaluma, Cal.)

HAB. Coast region of California, near San Francisco.

The above description is of a specimen in worn summer plumage, when
the markings have not the sharp definition seen in the autumnal
plumage. The autumnal plumage is as follows: Ground-color above
grayish-olive, outer surface of wings, with the crown, more rufous;
crown with narrow, and dorsal region with broad, stripes of black, the
latter with scarcely a perceptible rufous suffusion; crown with a
distinct median stripe of ashy. Streaks on jugulum, etc., broader than
in the type, and with a slight rufous suffusion. Wing, 2.20; tail,
2.35; bill from nostril .31, its depth .22; tarsus .74; middle toe
without claw, .60.

The type of _Melospiza gouldi_ resembles the last, and differs only in
having a more distinct rufous suffusion to the black markings; the
measurements are as follows: Wing, 2.20; tail, 2.35; bill, .33 by .23;
tarsus, .73; middle toe without claw, .59.

This is probably a dwarfed race of the common species, the very small
size being its chief distinctive character. The colors are most nearly
like those of _heermanni_, but are considerably darker, caused by an
expansion of the black and contraction of the rufous markings. The
pattern of coloration is precisely the same as in the other races. The
present bird appears to be peculiar to the coast region of California,
the only specimens in the collection being from the neighborhood of
San Francisco.

HABITS. Of the history, distribution, and general habits of this
species, nothing is known. It was found at Petaluma, Cal., by Emanuel
Samuels, and described in the Proceedings of the Boston Society of
Natural History in 1858. The following description of the nest and
eggs of this bird, in the Smithsonian collection, has been kindly
furnished me by Mr. Ridgway.

Nests elaborate and symmetrical, cup-shaped, composed of thin
grass-stems, but externally chiefly of grass-blades and strips of thin
inner bark. Diameter about 3.50 inches; internal diameter 2.00, and
internal depth 1.50; external, 2.00. Egg measures .78 by .62;
regularly ovate in shape; ground-color, greenish-white; this is
thickly sprinkled with purplish and livid ashy-brown, the specks
larger, and somewhat coalescent, around the larger circumference.
(3553, San Francisco, Cal., J. Hepburn.)

Melospiza melodia, var. guttata, BAIRD.


  _Fringilla cinerea_, (GM.) AUD. Orn. Biog. V, 1839, 22, pl.
       cccxc.—IB. Syn. 1839, 119.—IB. Birds Am. III, 1841, 145, pl.
       clxxxvii. _Passerella cinerea_, BP. List, 1839.—IB.
       Conspectus, 1850, 477. _Fringilla (Passerella) guttata_,
       NUTTALL, Man. I, (2d ed.,) 1840, 581. _Zonotrichia guttata_,
       GAMBEL, J. A. N. Sc. I, Dec. 1847, 50. _Melospiza rufina_,
       BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 480.—COOPER & SUCKLEY, 204.—DALL &
       BANNISTER, Tr. Ch. Ac. I, 1859, 285.—COOPER, Orn. Cal. 1, 214.

SP. CHAR. Bill slender. Similar in general appearance to _M. melodia_,
but darker and much more rufous, and without any blackish-brown
streaks, or grayish edges of the feathers; generally the colors more
blended. General appearance above light rufous-brown, the
interscapular region streaked very obsoletely with dark
brownish-rufous, the feathers of the crown similar, with still darker
obsolete central streaks. A superciliary and very indistinct median
crown-stripe ashy. Under parts dull white, the breast and sides of
throat and body broadly streaked with dark brownish-rufous; darker in
the centre. A light maxillary stripe. Sides of the body and anal
region tinged strongly with the colors of the rump. Under coverts
brown. Length, 6.75; wing, 2.70; tail, 3.00. Legs rather darker than
in _melodia_. Bill from nostril, .37; from forehead, .60.

HAB. Pacific coast of the United States to British Columbia.

A young bird from Napa Valley, Cal. (12,912, Colonel A. J. Grayson),
probably referrible to this race, differs from the corresponding stage
of _heermanni_, _fallax_, and _melodia_ in the following respects: the
ground-color above is much darker, being dull dingy-brown, and the
dusky streaks broader; the white beneath has a strong yellowish tinge,
and the pectoral streaks are very broad.

HABITS. Dr. Cooper characterizes this species as the most northern and
mountain-frequenting representative of the Song Sparrows, being a
resident of the higher Sierra Nevada and on the borders of the
evergreen forests towards the Columbia, and thence northward, where it
is the only species of this genus, and where it is common down to the
level of the sea. Specimens have been obtained at Marysville in the
spring, by Mr. Gruber.

Dr. Cooper says that he has also met with this bird, and found it
possessing habits and songs entirely similar to those of the eastern
_M. melodia_, and resembling also those of the more southern _M.
heermanni_. He was never able to meet with one of their nests, as,
like other forest birds, they are more artful in concealing their
treasures than birds that have become accustomed to the society and
protection of man, and who, no longer wild, select gardens as the
safest places in which to build. In the mild winters usual about the
mouth of the Columbia, these birds do not evince any disposition to
emigrate, but come familiarly around the houses for their food, when
the snow has buried their usual supply.

Dr. Suckley remarks that this Finch is quite a common bird in the
vicinity of Puget Sound, and that it is there resident throughout the
year. He has found them in very different situations; some in thickets
at the edges of prairies, others in stranded drift-logs on open salt
marshes, as well as in swamps, and in the dense forests of the
Douglass firs, peculiar to the northwest coast. Its voice, he adds,
is, during the breeding-season, singularly sweet and melodious,
surpassing that of the Meadow Lark in melody and tone, but unequal to
it in force.

This species is stated to be a constant resident in the district
wherein it is found, never ranging far from the thicket which contains
its nest, or the house in the neighborhood of which it finds food and
protection. Almost every winter morning, as well as during the summer,
as Dr. Cooper states, its cheerful song may be heard from the garden
or the fence, as if to repay those whose presence has protected it
from its rapacious enemies. When unmolested, it becomes very familiar,
and the old birds bring their young to the door to feed, as soon as
they can leave their nest. Their song is said to so closely resemble
that of the eastern bird, in melody and variety, that it is impossible
either to tell which is the superior or to point out the differences.
In wild districts it is always to be found near the sides of brooks,
in thickets, from which it jealously drives off other birds, whether
of its own or other species, as if it considered itself the
proprietor. Its nest is built on the ground or in a low bush. Dr.
Cooper has seen newly fledged young as early as May 6, at Olympia,
though the rainy season was then hardly over.

Mr. Nuttall pronounces its song as sweeter and more varied in tone
than that of the Song Sparrow. He heard their cheerful notes
throughout the summer, and every fine day in winter until the month of
November, particularly in the morning, their song was still continued.
Their nests and eggs were not distinguishable from those of _F.
melodia_. The nests were composed of dry grasses, lined with finer
materials of the same, and occasionally with deer’s hair. He states
that they keep much in low ground and alluvial situations, amidst rank
weeds, willows, and brambles, where they are frequently to be seen
hopping about and searching after insects, in the manner of the Swamp
Sparrow, which they so much resemble in their plumage. They are
usually very solicitous for the safety of their young or for their
nests and eggs, keeping up an incessant chirp. They raise several
broods in a season, and are, like the Song Sparrow, also engaged
nearly the whole of the summer in the cares of rearing their young.

Mr. Townsend met with this species through several hundred miles of
the Platte country in great numbers, as well as on the banks of the
Columbia, generally frequenting the low bushes of wormwood
(_Artemisia_). It appeared also to be a very pugnacious species. Two
of the males were often observed fighting in the air, the beaten party
going off crestfallen, and the conqueror repairing to the nearest bush
to celebrate his triumph by his lively and triumphant strains. He
again met with these birds, though not in abundance, in June, 1825, at
the mouth of the Lewis River, on the waters of the Columbia.

This Sparrow was also found very numerous at Sitka, by Mr. Bischoff,
but no mention is made of its habits.

Melospiza melodia, var. rufina, BAIRD.


  _Emberiza rufina_, “BRANDT, Desc. Av. Rossic. 1836, tab. ii, 5
       (Sitka),” BONAPARTE. _Passerella rufina_, BONAP. Consp. 1850,
       477. (This may refer to _Passerella townsendi_, but is more
       probably the present bird.) _Melospiza cinerea_, FINSCH, Abh.
       Nat. III, 1872, 41 (Sitka). (Not _Fringilla c._ GMEL.) _M.
       guttata_, FINSCH, Abh. Nat. III, 1872, 41 (Sitka). (Not
       _Fringilla g._ NUTT.)

SP. CHAR. Resembling _M. guttata_ in the undefined markings, slender
bill, etc., but olivaceous-brownish instead of rufous above, the
darker markings sepia-brown instead of castaneous. The white beneath
much tinged with ashy; jugulum-spots blended, and of a sepia-brown
tint. Wing, 3.00; tail, 3.00; bill .41 from nostril, and .25 deep at

HAB. Northwest coast, from British Columbia northward. (Sitka.)

The above characters are those of a large series of specimens from
Sitka, and a few points along the coast to the southward and
northward, and represent the average features of a race which is
intermediate between _guttata_ and _insignis_, in appearance as well
as in habitat. Tracing this variety toward the Columbia River, it
gradually passes into the former, and northward into the latter.

We have no distinctive information relative to the habits of this race.

Melospiza melodia, var. insignis, BAIRD.


  _? Fringilla cinerea_, GMELIN, I, 1788, 922 (based on Cinereous
       Finch, LATH. II, 274).—PENN. Arc. Zoöl. II, 68 (Unalaschka).
       _Emberiza cinerea_, BONAP. Consp. 1850, 478. _Melospiza
       insignis_, BAIRD, Trans. Chicago Acad. I, ii, 1869, p. 319, pl.
       xxix, fig. 2.—DALL & BANNISTER, do. p. 285.—FINSCH, Abh. Nat.
       III, 1872, 44 (Kodiak).

SP. CHAR. _Summer plumage_ (52,477 ♂, Kodiak, May 24, 1868). Above
brownish-plumbeous, outer surface of wings somewhat more brown, the
greater coverts slightly rufescent. Interscapulars with medial broad
but obsolete streaks of sepia-brown; crown and upper tail-coverts with
more sharply defined and narrower dusky shaft-streaks. Crown without
medial light line. Beneath grayish-white, much obscured by
brownish-plumbeous laterally. A whitish supraloral space, but no
appreciable superciliary stripe; a whitish maxillary stripe; beneath
it an irregular one of dusky sepia; irregular streaks of dark
grizzly-sepia on breast and along sides, blended into a broad crescent
across the jugulum. Wing, 3.30; tail, 3.50; bill, .48 from nostril,
.28 deep at base, and .21 in the middle, the middle of the culmen
being much depressed, its extremity rather abruptly decurved.

_Autumnal plumage_ (60,162, Kodiak, received from Dr. J. F. Brandt).
Differs very remarkably in appearance from the preceding. The pattern
of coloration is everywhere plainly plotted, there being a distinct
vertical and sharply defined superciliary stripe. Ground-color above
ashy, somewhat overlaid by rusty, except on the sides of the neck.
Whole crown, outer surface of wings, and dorsal streaks, rusty rufous;
black streaks on crown and upper tail-coverts obsolete. Beneath pure
white medially, the markings rusty rufous. Wing, 3.30; tail, 3.60;
bill, .47 and .30.

HAB. Kodiak and Unalaschka.

This race represents the extreme extent of variation in the species,
and it would be difficult for a species to proceed farther from the
normal standard; indeed, the present bird is so different even in
form, especially of bill, from _melodia_, that, were it not for the
perfect series connecting them, few naturalists would hesitate to
place them in different genera.

HABITS. No information has so far been published in reference to the
nesting of this Sparrow, or of any peculiar habits.

Melospiza lincolni, BAIRD.


  _Fringilla lincolni_, AUD. Orn. Biog. II, 1834, 539, pl.
       cxciii.—NUTT. Man. I, (2d ed.,) 1840, 569. _Linaria lincolni_,
       RICH. List, 1837. _Passerculus lincolni_, BONAP. List, 1838.
       _Peucæa lincolni_, AUD. Synopsis, 1839, 113.—IB. Birds Am.
       III, 1841, 116, pl. clxxvii.—BONAP. Consp. 1850, 481.—IB.
       Comptes Rendus, XXVII, 1854, 920. _Melospiza lincolni_, BAIRD,
       Birds N. Am. 1858, 482.—DALL & BANNISTER, Tr. Ch. Ac. I, 1869,
       285 (Alaska).—COOPER, Orn. Cal. 1, 216. _Passerculus
       zonarius_, (BP.) SCLATER, Pr. Zoöl. Soc. 1856, 305.

SP. CHAR. General aspect above that of _M. melodia_, but paler and
less reddish. Crown dull chestnut, with a median and lateral or
superciliary ash-colored stripe; each feather above streaked centrally
with black. Back with narrow streaks of black. Beneath white, with a
maxillary stripe curving round behind the ear-coverts; a well-defined
band across the breast, extending down the sides, and the under
tail-coverts, of brownish-yellow. The maxillary stripe margined above
and below with lines of black spots and a dusky line behind eye. The
throat, upper part of breast, and sides of the body, with streaks of
black, smallest in the middle of the former. The pectoral bands are
sometimes paler. Bill above dusky; base of lower jaw and legs
yellowish. Length, 5.60; wing, 2.60.

HAB. United States from Atlantic to Pacific, north to the Yukon River
and the Mackenzie, and south through Mexico to Panama. Oaxaca (SCL.
1858, 303); Xalapa (SCL. 1859, 365); Guatemala (SCL. Ibis, I, 18);
Vera Cruz, winter (SUM. M. B. S. I, 552).

There is little or no difference in specimens of this bird from the
whole of its range, except that one from near Aspinwall is
considerably smaller than usual, the streaks on the back narrower, and
the color above more reddish. A young bird from Fort Simpson, on the
Mackenzie, is much like the adult.

HABITS. Lincoln’s Finch was first met with by Mr. Audubon in Labrador,
and named in honor of one of his companions, Mr. Thomas Lincoln, now
residing at Dennysville, Maine, by whom the first specimen was
procured. His attention was attracted to it by the sweet notes of its
song, which, he states, surpass in vigor those of any of our American
Sparrows with which he was acquainted. He describes this song as a
compound of the notes of a Canary and a Woodlark of Europe. The bird
was unusually wild, and was procured with great difficulty. Other
specimens, afterwards obtained, did not exhibit the same degree of
wildness, and they became more common as the party proceeded farther
north. He did not meet with its nest.

He describes the habits of this species as resembling, in some
respects, those of the Song Sparrow. It mounts, like that bird, on the
topmost twig of some tall shrub to chant for whole hours at a time, or
dives into the thickets and hops from branch to branch until it
reaches the ground in search of those insects or berries on which it
feeds. It moves swiftly away when it discovers an enemy, and, if
forced to take to flight, flies low and rapidly to a considerable
distance, jerking its tail as it proceeds, and throwing itself into
the thickest bush it meets. Mr. Audubon found it mostly near streams,
and always in the small valleys guarded from the prevalent cold winds
of that country.

He also describes this species as eminently petulant and pugnacious.
Two males would often pursue each other until the weaker was forced to
abandon the valley, and seek refuge elsewhere. He seldom saw more than
two or three pairs in a tract of several miles in extent. By the 4th
of July the young had left their nests and were following their
parents. As from that time the old birds ceased to sing, he inferred
that they raised but one brood in a season. Before he left Labrador
these birds had all disappeared.

Although first discovered on the coast of Labrador, subsequent
explorations have shown this bird to be far more common at the West
than it is at the East, where indeed it is exceedingly rare. Not a
specimen, that I am aware of, has ever been found in Maine, although
it probably does occasionally occur there; and only a very few
isolated individuals had been taken in Massachusetts before the spring
of 1872, when they were noticed by Mr. Brewster and Mr. Henshaw in
considerable numbers. These birds, seven or eight in number, were
shot, with two exceptions, in May, between the 14th and the 25th.
Three were taken in Springfield by Mr. Allen, one in Newburyport by
Mr. Hoxie, two in Hudson by Mr. Jillson, and two in Cambridge by Mr.
Brewster. The latter were obtained, one in September and the other in
October. In May, 1872, Mr. Brewster obtained six others. Mr. Allen had
met with this Finch in Wayne County, N. Y., in May, where it was not
uncommon, and in Northern Illinois, where it was quite numerous. A few
have been taken near New York City, and in the neighborhood of
Philadelphia, where they are regarded as very rare. Professor Baird,
however, frequently met with them at Carlisle, Penn.

Farther west, from the Mississippi Valley to the Pacific, they are
much more common. Mr. Ridgway states that they occasionally winter in
Southern Illinois, where they frequent retired thickets near open
fields. They have been found breeding near Racine, Wis., by Dr. Hoy,
and have been met with also in Nebraska in considerable numbers; and,
during the breeding-season, Mr. Audubon met with them on the Upper

From March to May Mr. Dresser found these birds very abundant in the
fields near the San Antonio River, and in some swampy grounds. They
seemed to prefer that sort of locality, and the banks of the river,
keeping among the flags and rushes. Their stomachs were found to
contain small seeds. Mr. Lincecum also met with a few in Washington
County of the same State.

It was not met with in Arizona by Dr. Coues, but Dr. Kennerly found it
in the month of February from the Big Sandy to the Great Colorado
River. It confined itself to the thick bushes along the streams, and
when seen was generally busily hopping from twig to twig in search of
food. When started up, its flight was very rapid and near the earth.

Dr. Heermann obtained this species, not unfrequently, both in Northern
California and in the Tejon Valley. On all occasions he found it in
company with flocks of Sparrows, composed of several species.

Lieutenant Couch took this species at Tamaulipas, Mexico, and at
Brownsville, Southwestern Texas, in March. It has also been seen in
May, at the Forks of the Saskatchewan, by Captain Blakiston.

Lincoln’s Finch was met with by Mr. Ridgway in abundance only during
its spring and fall migrations. Towards the last of April it was quite
common in wet brushy places in the vicinity of Carson City. It was
next observed in October among the willows bordering Deep Creek, in
Northern Utah. In the weedy pastures in Parley’s Park it was a common
species, frequenting the resorts of the _Z. leucophrys_. A nest, with
young, was discovered near the camp. It was embedded in the ground,
beneath a bush. Its song he did not hear, only a single _chuck_,
almost as loud as that of the _Passerella schistacea_.

Dr. Cooper reports this species as near San Diego about March 25.
Large flocks were then passing northward. During the day they kept
among the grass, and were rather shy and silent. They seemed to have a
good deal of the habits of the _Passerculus_, and to differ much in
their gregariousness, their migratory habits, and their general form,
from the other _Melospizæ_. Dr. Cooper did not meet with any of these
birds in the Colorado Valley, nor has he seen or heard of any having
been found in California during the summer. The _M. lincolni_ has been
found breeding up to high Arctic latitudes. It was met with by Mr.
Kennicott at Fort Simpson and at Fort Resolution. At the latter place
its nests were found between the 2d and the 14th of June. They were
also obtained in May, June, and July, at Fort Simpson, by Mr. B. R.
Ross, and at Yukon River, Fort Rae, Nulato, and other localities in
the extreme northern regions, by Messrs. Reid, Lockhart, Clarke,
Kirkby, and Dall. On Mt. Lincoln, Colorado, above eight thousand feet,
Mr. Allen found this Sparrow very numerous.

This Finch was found by Salvin about the reeds on the margin of Lake
Dueñas, Guatemala, in February, but was not common. It is common, in
the winter months, near Oaxaca, Mexico, where it was taken by Mr.

Mr. Kennicott saw its nest June 14. This was on the ground, built in a
bunch of grass in rather an open and dry place, and containing five
eggs. The female permitted him to approach very close to her, until he
finally caught her on the nest with his beating-net. Another nest was
placed in a bunch of grass growing in the water of a small grassy
pond. The nest contained four eggs and one young bird.

The nest and eggs of this species had been previously discovered by
Dr. Hoy, near Racine. This is, I believe, the first instance in which
it was identified by a naturalist, as also the most southern point at
which it has ever been found. These eggs measure .74 by .60 of an
inch. They have a pale greenish-white ground, and are thickly marked
with dots and small blotches of a ferruginous-brown, often so numerous
and confluent as to disguise and partially conceal the ground.

Melospiza palustris, BAIRD.


  _Fringilla palustris_, WILSON, Am. Orn. III, 1811, 49, pl. xxii, f.
       1.—AUD. Orn. Biog. I, 1831, 331; V, 508, pl. lxiv. _Fringilla
       (Spiza) palustris_, BONAP. Obs. Wilson, 1825, No. 105.
       _Passerculus palustris_, BONAP. List, 1838.—IB. Conspectus,
       1850, 481. _Ammodromus palustris_, AUD. Syn. 1839.—IB. Birds
       Am. III, 1841, 110, pl. clxxv. _Melospiza palustris_, BAIRD,
       Birds N. Am. 1858, 483.—SAMUELS, 323. _? Fringilla georgiana_,
       LATH. Index Orn. I, 1790, 460 (perhaps _Peucæa
       æstivalis_).—LICHT. Verz. 1823, No. 251. _Fringilla
       (Ammodromus) georgiana_, NUTT. Man. I, (2d ed.,) 1840, 588.

SP. CHAR. Middle of the crown uniform chestnut; forehead black;
superciliary streak, sides of head and back, and sides of neck, ash. A
brown stripe behind the eye. Back with broad streaks of black, which
are edged with rusty yellow. Beneath whitish, tinged with ashy
anteriorly, especially across the breast, and washed with
yellowish-brown on the sides. A few obsolete streaks across the
breast, which become distinct on its sides. Wings and tail strongly
tinged with rufous; the tertials black, the rufous edgings changing
abruptly to white towards the end. Length, 5.75; wing, 2.40.

_Female_ with the crown scarcely reddish streaked with black, and
divided by a light line. Young conspicuously streaked beneath the
head, above nearly uniform blackish.

HAB. Eastern North America from the Atlantic to the Missouri; north to
Fort Simpson.

In autumn the male of this species has the feathers of the crown each
with a black streak; and the centre of the crown with an indistinct
light stripe, materially changing its appearance.

The forehead is usually more or less streaked with black.

In the uncertainty whether the _Fringilla georgiana_ of Latham be not
rather the _Peucæa æstivalis_ than the Swamp Sparrow, I think it best
to retain Wilson’s name. It certainly applies as well to the latter,
which has the black sub-maxillary streak, and the chin and throat more
mouse-colored than in _palustris_.

HABITS. Owing to the residence of this species in localities not
favoring frequent visits or careful explorations, and still more to
its shy and retiring habits, our writers have not been generally well
informed as to the history and general manners of this peculiar and
interesting Sparrow. Its irregular distribution, its abundance only in
certain and unusually restricted localities, its entire absence from
all the surrounding neighborhood, and its secretiveness wherever
found, have all combined to throw doubt and obscurity over its
movements. Unless purposely looked for and perseveringly hunted up,
the Swamp Sparrow might exist in large numbers in one’s immediate
neighborhood and yet entirely escape notice. Even now its whole story
is but imperfectly known, and more careful investigation into its
distribution and general habits will doubtless clear up several
obscure points in regard to its movements.

  [Illustration: PLATE XXVIII.
   1. Melospiza palustris. ♂ D. C., 38746.
   2.     ”        ”       ♀ Pa.
   3. Embernagra rufivirgata. Orizaba, 29229.
   4. Peucæa æstivalis. Ga., 10245.
   5.     ”    cassini. Texas, 6329.
   6.     ”    ruficeps. Cal., 6241.
   7. Passerella iliaca. _Ad._, Pa., 846.
   8.     ”      townsendi. ♀ Columbia R., 2874.
   9.     ”      schistacea. Utah, 11234.
   10.    ”          ”       var. megarhyncha. ♂ Utah.
   11. Euspiza americana. ♂ Pa., 1459.
   12.    ”        ”      ♀ D. C., 10133.
   13.    ”    townsendi. Pa., 10282. (Type.)]

From what is now known, we gather that it occurs throughout the
eastern portions of North America, from the Southern States, in which
it passes the wintry months, to high northern latitudes, where some
find their way in the breeding-season, extending as far to the west at
least as the Missouri River region.

Three specimens were obtained at Fort Simpson, by Mr. Kennicott, in
September, which indicates their probable summer presence in latitude
55°, and their near approach to the Pacific coast at the extreme
northwestern portion of their distribution. Audubon also met with them
in Newfoundland and in Labrador. They are known to breed as far to the
south as Pennsylvania. They have been taken in the eastern portion of
Nebraska, and breed in considerable numbers in Southern Wisconsin.
Further investigations in regard to its distribution will probably
show it to be a much more widely distributed as well as a more
abundant bird than has been generally supposed.

Mr. Ridgway writes me that this bird winters in Southern Illinois, and
remains there very late in the spring, but he thinks that none remain
to breed.

Wilson states that it arrives in Pennsylvania early in April, where it
frequents low grounds and river-courses, rears two and sometimes three
broods in a season, and returns to the South as the cold weather
commences. During the winter, he met with them in large numbers in the
immense cypress swamps and extensive grassy flats of the Southern
States, along the numerous rivers and rice plantations. These places
abounded with their favorite seeds and other means of sustenance, and
appeared to be their general places of resort at this season. From the
river Trent, in North Carolina, to the Savannah River, and even
farther south, Wilson found this species very numerous. They were not
found in flocks, but skulked among the reeds and grass, were shy and
timorous, and seemed more attached to the water than any others of
this family. In April large numbers pass through Pennsylvania
northward. Only a few remain behind, and these frequent the swamps and
the reedy borders of creeks and rivers. He found their nests built in
the ground, in tussocks of rank grass, surrounded by water, with four
eggs of a dirty-white ground, spotted with rufous. He has found them
feeding their young as late as the 15th of August. Their food seemed
to be principally grass-seeds, wild oats, and insects. He supposed
them to have no song, and that their only note was a single _cheep_
uttered in a somewhat hoarse tone. They flirt their tails as they fly,
seldom or never take to trees, but run and skulk from one low bush to

Except in regard to their song, Wilson’s account of their habits, so
far as it goes, is quite accurate, although this bird really does have
quite a respectable song, and one that improves as the season
advances. At first it is only a succession or repetition of a few
monotonous trilling notes, which might easily be mistaken for the song
of the Field Sparrow, or even confounded with the feebler chant of the
_socialis_, although not so varied as the former, and is much more
sprightly and pleasing than the other. Still later its music improves,
and more effort is made. Like the Song Sparrow, it mounts some low
twig, expands its tail-feathers, and gives forth a very sprightly
trill that echoes through the swampy thicket with an effect which,
once noticed and identified with the performer, is not likely to be
ever mistaken. Nuttall calls this song loud, sweet, and plaintive. It
is to my ear more sprightly than pathetic, and has a peculiarly
ventriloquistic effect, as if the performer were at a much greater
distance than he really is.

Their food, when they first arrive, and that which they feed to
their young, consists very largely of insects, principally
coleopterous ones, with such few seeds as they can glean. After the
breeding-season, when their young can take care of themselves, they
eat almost exclusively the ripened seeds of the coarse water grasses
and sedges. They are very devoted to their young, and often display
great solicitude for their safety, even when able to take care of
themselves, and often expose themselves to dangers they carefully
avoid at other times, and are thus more easily procured. At all other
times they are difficult to shoot, running, as they do, through the
grass and tangled thickets, and rarely rising on the wing. They dive
from thicket to thicket with great rapidity, and even when wounded
have a wonderful power of running and hiding themselves.

Mr. Audubon met with them, during autumn and winter, among the flat
sand-bars of the Mississippi, which are overgrown with rank grasses.
Though not in flocks, their numbers were immense. They fed on
grass-seeds and insects, often wading for the latter in shallow water
in the manner of the _Tringidæ_, and when wounded and forced into the
water swimming off to the nearest shelter. He also met with these
birds abundantly dispersed in the swamps of Cuyaga Lake, as well as
among those along the Illinois River in the summer, and in the winter
up the Arkansas River.

Mr. Townsend observed these birds on the head-waters of the Upper
Missouri, but did not meet with them beyond.

In Maine, Mr. Boardman gives it as a regular summer visitant at
Calais, arriving there as early as March, becoming common in May, and
breeding in that locality. Professor Verrill found it in Western
Maine, a summer visitant and breeding, but did not regard it as
common. From my own experience, in the neighborhood of Boston, I
should have said the same as to its infrequency in Eastern
Massachusetts, yet in certain localities it is a very abundant summer
resident. Mr. William Brewster has found it breeding in large numbers
in the marshes of Fresh Pond, where it arrives sometimes as early as
the latter part of March, and where it remains until November. In the
western part of the State it is more common as a migratory bird, and
has not been found, in any numbers, stopping to breed. Mr. Allen never
met with any later than May 25. They were observed to be in company
with the Water Thrush, and to be in every way as aquatic in their
habits. In the autumn he again met with it from the last of September
through October, always in bushy marshes or wet places. Mr. McIlwraith
states that in the vicinity of Hamilton, Ontario, it is a common
summer resident, breeding there in marshy situations. At Lake
Koskonong, in Wisconsin, Mr. Kumlien has also met with these birds
abundantly in suitable localities, and found their nests and eggs
quite plentiful.

Mr. Ridgway has recently found this Sparrow to be a very abundant
winter resident in Southern Illinois, where it inhabits swampy
thickets, and where it remains until May, but is not known to breed

They always nest on the ground, usually in a depression sheltered by a
tuft of grass. The nest is woven of fine grass-stems, but is smaller
than the nest of _M. melodia_.

The eggs of this species, usually five in number, have an average
measurement of .78 by .60 of an inch. Their ground-color is usually a
light green, occasionally of a light clay, marked and blotched with
reddish and purplish brown spots, varying in size and number,
occasionally forming a confluent ring around the larger end.


  _Peucæa_, AUD. Synopsis, 1839. (Type, _Fringilla æstivalis_.)
  SCLATER & SALVIN, 1868, 322 (Synopsis.)

  [Line drawing: _Peucæa æstivalis_.
                  10245 ♂]

GEN. CHAR. Bill moderate. Upper outline and commissure decidedly
curved. Legs and feet with the claws small; the tarsus about equal to
the middle toe; the lateral toes equal, their claws falling
considerably short of the middle one; the hind toe reaching about to
the middle of the latter. The outstretched feet reach rather beyond
the middle of the tail. The wing is very short, reaching only to the
base of the tail; the longest tertials do not exceed the secondaries,
while both are not much short of the primaries; the outer three or
four quills are graduated. The tail is considerably longer than the
wings; it is much graduated laterally; the feathers, though long, are
peculiarly narrow, linear, and elliptically rounded at the ends.

Color beneath plain whitish or brownish, with a more or less distinct
dusky line each side of the chin. Above with broad obsolete brown
streaks or blotches. Crown uniform, or the feathers edged with lighter.

Species and Varieties.

COMMON CHARACTERS. A light superciliary stripe, with a
brownish one below it from the eye along upper edge of
ear-coverts (not one along lower edge of ear-coverts, as
in _Melospiza_). A narrow blackish “bridle” along side of
throat (sometimes indistinct). Crown without a distinct
median stripe, and lower parts without markings.
Ground-color above ashy, sometimes of a brownish cast;
dorsal region and nape with brown blotches, with or without
dark centres. Crown blackish-brown streaked with ashy or
plain rufous. Beneath plain brownish-white, lightest on the
abdomen, darker across jugulum and along sides.

  A. Crown plain rufous; interscapulars without distinct
  black centres, and tertials without whitish border.
  Blackish “bridle” conspicuous. Bend of wing edged with

    1. P. ruficeps.

      Above olivaceous-ash, interscapulars with broad
      streaks of dull rufous, the shafts scarcely blackish.
      Crown bright rufous. Wing, 2.40; tail, 2.70; bill, .29
      from forehead, .20 deep; tarsus, .70; middle toe
      without claw, .55. _Hab._ California (and Mexico in
      winter?)                                       var. _ruficeps_.

      Darker, above brownish-plumbeous, dorsal streaks
      scarcely rufous, and with distinctly black
      shaft-streaks; crown darker rufous. Wing, 2.40; tail,
      2.60; bill, .34 and .25; tarsus, .77; middle toe, .57.
      _Hab._ Mexico (Orizaba; Oaxaca), in summer     var. _boucardi_.[7]

  B. Crown streaked; interscapulars with distinct black
  centres; tertials sharply bordered terminally with paler.
  “Bridle” obsolete; bend of wing edged with yellowish.

    2. P. æstivalis. Above uniformly marked with broad
    streaks or longitudinal blotches of deep rufous; black
    streaks confined to interscapulars and crown.
    Tail-feathers without darker shaft-stripe, and without
    indications of darker bars; the outer feathers without
    distinct white. Black marks on upper tail-coverts
    inconspicuous, longitudinal.

      The bluish-ash, and chestnut-rufous streaks above
      sharply contrasted; black dorsal streaks broad. Wing,
      2.45; tail, 2.65; bill, .30 and .30; tarsus, .73;
      middle toe, .60. _Hab._ Southern States from Florida
      and Georgia to Southern Illinois              var. _æstivalis_.

      The dull ash and light rufous streaks above not
      sharply defined; black dorsal streaks narrow. Wing,
      2.65; tail, 3.00; bill, .32 and .25; tarsus, .80;
      middle toe, .63. _Hab._ Southern border of the Arizona
      region of Middle Province of United States      var. _arizonæ_.

      Markings badly defined as in the last, but the rufous
      streaks darker (in summer plumage almost entirely
      black), with more black on the crown. Wing, 2.55;
      tail, 2.65; bill, .32 and .25; tarsus, .80; middle
      toe, .60. _Hab._ Mexico (Orizaba; Mirador, Colima)
                                                     var. _botterii_.[8]

    3. P. cassini. Above marked everywhere with broad short
    streaks of pale (not reddish) brown streaks, all black
    medially. Tail-feathers with distinct blackish
    shaft-stripe, throwing off narrow, obsolete bars toward
    the edge of the feathers. Outer tail-feathers distinctly
    tipped (broadly) and edged with dull white. Black marks
    on upper tail-coverts very large, transverse. Beneath
    nearly uniform dull white, scarcely darker along sides
    and across breast; flanks with broad streaks of
    blackish-brown. Wing, 2.55; tail, 2.80; bill, .28 and
    .23; tarsus, .68; middle toe, .55. _Hab._ Rio Grande,
    region (San Antonio and Laredo), north to Kansas (ALLEN).

     [7] _Zonotrichia boucardi_, SCLATER, P. Z. S. 1867, 1, pl.
     i, La Puebla, Mex. (scarcely definable as distinct from

     [8] _Peucæa botterii_, SCLATER, Cat. Am. B. 1862, 116
     (_Zonotrichia b._ P. Z. S. 1857, 214), Orizaba.
     _Coturniculus mexicana_, LAWR. Ann. N. Y. Lyc. VIII, 1867,
     474 (Colima).

     This form can scarcely be defined separately from
     _æstivalis_. The type of _C. mexicanus_, LAWR., is
     undistinguishable from Orizaba specimens. A specimen in the
     worn summer plumage (44,752♀, Mirador, July) differs in
     having the streaks above almost wholly black, with scarcely
     any rufous edge; the crown is almost uniformly blackish. The
     feathers are very much worn, however, and the specimen is
     without doubt referrible to _botteri_.

     The _Peucæa notosticta_ of SCLATER (P. Z. S. 1868, 322) we
     have not seen; it appears to differ in some important
     respects from the forms diagnosed above, and may, possibly,
     be a good species. Its place in our system appears to be
     with section “A,” but it differs from _ruficeps_ and
     _boucardi_ in the median stripe on the crown, and the black
     streaks in the rufous of the lateral portion, the blacker
     streaks of the dorsal region, and some other less important
     points of coloration. The size appears to be larger than in
     any of the forms given in our synopsis (wing, 2.70; tail,
     3.00). _Hab._ States of Puebla and Mexico, Mex.

Peucæa æstivalis, CABANIS.


  _Fringilla æstivalis_, LICHT. Verz. Doubl. 1823, 25, No.
       254.—BONAP. Conspectus, 1850, 481. _Peucæa æstivalis_,
       CABANIS, Mus. Hein. 1850, 132.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 484.
       _Fringilla bachmani_, AUD. Orn. Biog. II, 1834, 366, pl. clxv.
       _Ammodromus bachmani_, BON. List, 1838. _Peucæa bachmani_, AUD.
       Syn. 1839.—IB. Birds Am. III, 1841, 113, pl. clxxvi.—BON.
       Consp. 1850, 481 (type). _Fringilla æstiva_, NUTT. I, (2d ed.,)
       1840, 568. “_Summer finch_, LATHAM, Synopsis, (2d ed.,) VI,
       136.” NUTTALL.

  [Illustration: _Peucæa æstivalis._]

SP. CHAR. All the feathers of the upper parts rather dark brownish-red
or chestnut, margined with bluish-ash, which almost forms a median
stripe on the crown. Interscapular region and upper tail-coverts with
the feathers becoming black in the centre. An indistinct ashy
superciliary stripe. Under parts pale yellow-brownish, tinged with
ashy on the sides, and with darker brownish across the upper part of
the breast. A faint maxillary dusky line. Indistinct streaks of
chestnut along the sides. Edge of wing yellow; lesser coverts tinged
with greenish. Innermost secondaries abruptly margined with narrow
whitish. Legs yellow. Bill above dusky, yellowish beneath. Outer
tail-feathers obsoletely marked with a long blotch of paler at end.
Female considerably smaller. Young with rounded dusky specks on the
jugulum, which is more ochraceous. Length, 6.25; wing, 2.30; tail,

HAB. Georgia; Florida; South Illinois, breeding (RIDGWAY). (Perhaps
whole of Southern States from Florida to South Illinois.)

Specimens from Southern Illinois (Wabash Co., July, 1871; coll. of R.
Ridgway) are similar to Florida examples.

HABITS. Bachman’s Finch has only been known, until very recently, as a
species of a very restricted range, and confined within the limits of
the States of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. Our principal, and
for some time our only, knowledge of its habits was derived from the
account furnished by Rev. Dr. Bachman to Mr. Audubon. That observing
naturalist first met with it in the month of April, 1832, near
Parker’s Ferry, on the Edisto River, in South Carolina. Dr. Henry
Bryant afterwards met with this species at Indian River, in Florida,
where he obtained specimens of its nests and eggs. Dr. Alexander
Gerhardt also found these Sparrows common at Varnell’s Station, in the
northern part of Georgia. Professor Joseph Leconte has taken it near
Savannah, and Mr. W. L. Jones has also obtained several specimens in
Liberty County, in the same State.

After meeting with this species on the Edisto, Dr. Bachman
ascertained, upon searching for them in the vicinity of Charlestown,
that they breed in small numbers on the pine barrens, about six miles
north of that city. He was of the opinion that it is by no means so
rare in that State as has been supposed, but that it is more often
heard than seen. When he first heard it, the notes so closely
resembled those of the Towhee Bunting that for a while he mistook them
for those of that bird. Their greater softness and some slight
variations at last induced him to suspect that the bird was something
different, and led him to go in pursuit. After that it was quite a
common thing for him to hear as many as five or six in the course of a
morning’s ride, but he found it almost impossible to get even a sight
of the bird. This is owing, not so much to its being so wild, as to
the habit it has of darting from the tall pine-trees, on which it
usually sits to warble out its melodious notes, and concealing itself
in the tall broom-grass that is almost invariably found in the places
it frequents. As soon as it alights it runs off, in the manner of a
mouse, and hides itself in the grass, and it is extremely difficult to
get a sight of it afterwards.

It was supposed by Dr. Bachman—correctly, as it has been
ascertained—to breed on the ground, where it is always to be found
when it is not singing. He never met with its nest. In June, 1853, he
observed two pairs of these birds, each having four young. They were
pretty well fledged, and were following their parents along the low
scrub-oaks of the pine lands.

Dr. Bachman regarded this bird as decidedly the finest songster of the
Sparrow family with which he was acquainted. Its notes are described
as very loud for the size of the bird, and capable of being heard at a
considerable distance in the pine woods where it occurs, and where at
that season it is the only singer.

He also states that, by the middle of November, they have all
disappeared, probably migrating farther south. It is quite probable
that they do not go beyond the limits of the United States, and that
some remain in South Carolina during the whole of winter, as on the
6th of February, the coldest part of the year, Dr. Bachman found one
of them in the long grass near Charleston.

Mr. Audubon says that on his return from Florida, in June, 1832,
travelling through both the Carolinas, he observed many of these
Finches on the sides of the roads cut through the pine woods of South
Carolina. They filled the air with their melodies. He traced them as
far as the boundary line of North Carolina, but saw none within the
limits of that State. They were particularly abundant about the Great
Santee River.

This Finch, hitherto assumed to be an exclusively southeastern
species, has recently been detected by Mr. Ridgway in Southern
Illinois, where it is a summer resident, and where it breeds, but is
not abundant. It inhabits old fields, where, perched upon a
fence-stake or an old dead tree, it is described as chanting a very
delightful song. It was first taken on the 12th of July, 1871, on the
road about half-way between Mount Carmel and Olney. The bird was then
seen on a fence, and its unfamiliar appearance and fine song at once
attracted his notice as he was riding by. As several were heard
singing in the same neighborhood, it seemed common in that locality,
and as a young bird was taken in its first plumage there is no doubt
that it is a regular summer visitant of Southern Illinois, and breeds
there. Mr. Ridgway speaks of its song as one of the finest he has ever
heard, most resembling the sweet chant of the Field Sparrow, but is
stronger, and varied by a clear, high, and very musical strain. He
describes its song as resembling the syllables _thééééééé-til-lūt_,
_lūt-lūt_, the first being a very fine trill pitched in a very high
musical key, the last syllable abrupt and metallic in tone.

The food of this species, Dr. Bachman states, consists of the seeds of
grasses, and also of coleopterous insects, as well as of a variety of
the small berries so abundant in that part of the country. He speaks
of its flight as swift, direct, and somewhat protracted, and adds that
it is often out of sight before it alights.

Dr. Coues did not meet with this Sparrow in South Carolina, but he was
informed by Professor Leconte that it occurs about Columbia and
elsewhere in the State, frequenting open pine woods and old dry

Dr. Bryant met with its nest in Florida, April 20. It was similar, in
construction, to that of the Savannah Sparrow, and contained five
eggs. It was the only Sparrow found by him in the pine barrens near
Enterprise, and was only seen occasionally, when it was a very
difficult bird to shoot, as it runs round in the grass more like a
mouse than a bird, and will not fly until almost trodden on, then
moving only a few feet at a time.

The nests of this bird, found by Dr. Bryant in Florida and by Dr.
Gerhardt in Northern Georgia, were all placed upon the ground and
concealed in tufts of thick grass, and constructed entirely of coarse
wiry grasses, with no other lining than this material. The eggs, four
in number, are of a pure, almost brilliant white, of a rounded oval
shape, and measure .74 by .60 of an inch.

Peucæa æstivalis var. arizonæ, RIDGWAY.


  _Peucæa cassini_, BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 486. (Los Nogales specimen.)

SP. CHAR. (6,327 ♂, Los Nogales, Northern Sonora, June, C. B.
Kennerly.) Similar to _P. æstivalis_, but paler; wings and tail
longer. Above light chestnut, all the feathers margined and tipped
with bluish-gray, but the reddish prevailing. Interscapular and crown
feathers with a narrow streak of black, those on crown indistinct.
Beneath dull white, tinged with ashy-ochraceous across the breast and
along the sides; crissum pale ochraceous. An obsolete light
superciliary, and narrow dusky maxillary stripe. Bend of wing yellow;
lesser coverts tinged with greenish-yellow. Length, 6 inches; wing,
2.65; tail, 3.00; bill, .32 from nostril, .25 deep at base; tarsus,
.80; middle toe, .63.

HAB. Los Nogales, Sonora, and Southern Arizona.

This race has a considerable resemblance to _P. æstivalis_, but
differs in some appreciable points. The brown of the upper parts is
paler, and the ashy edging to the feathers appears rather less
extensive. The dark brown blotches on the back are of greater extent,
the black streaks on the back confined to a mere streak along the
shaft. There is less of an olive tinge across the breast.

The proportions of the present race differ more from those of
_æstivalis_ than do the colors, the bill being more slender, and the
wings and tail considerably longer.

The resemblance to _P. botterii_ (= _æstivalis_, var. _botterii_) of
Sclater, from Middle Mexico (Orizaba, Colima, etc.), is very close;
the difference being greater in the proportions than in the colors,
the latter having a shorter wing and tail, with thicker bill, as in
var. _æstivalis_. In _botterii_ there is rather a predominance of the
black over the rufous in the streaks above.

HABITS. This, in its general habits, nesting, eggs, etc., probably
resembles the variety _æstivalis_.

Peucæa cassini, BAIRD.


  _Zonotrichia cassini_, WOODHOUSE, Pr. A. N. Sc. Ph. VI, April, 1852,
       60 (San Antonio). _Passerculus cassini_, WOODHOUSE,
       Sitgreaves’s Rep. Zuñi and Colorado, 1853, 85; Birds, pl. iv.
       _Peucæa cassini_, BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 485, pl. iv, f.
       2.—HEERMANN, X, c, p. 12, pl. iv, f. 2.—COOPER, Orn. Cal. 1,
       219 (not from Cal.).

SP. CHAR. (6,329 ♂, Texas; compared with type of species.)
Ground-color of upper parts grayish-ash; the middle portion of each
feather dull brown, in the form of a blotch, and with a black
shaft-streak, the latter becoming modified on scapulars, rump, and
upper tail-coverts, into transverse spots, those on the upper
tail-coverts being large and conspicuous, and in the form of
crescentic spots, the terminal margin of the feathers being lighter
ashy in sharp contrast. Middle tail-feathers clear ashy, with a
sharply defined shaft-streak of blackish, throwing off obsolete,
narrow, transverse bars toward the edge; rest of tail clear
dusky-brown, the lateral feather with whole outer web, and margin of
the inner, dull white, all, except the intermediate, with a large,
abruptly defined, terminal space of dilute brown (decreasing in size
from the outer), the margin whitish. Upper secondaries broadly and
sharply margined along both edges with dull ashy-white, the enclosed
portion being clear dusky brown, intensified where adjoining the
whitish. A very obsolete superciliary stripe of ashy, becoming whitish
over the lore; auriculars more dingy, but without distinct stripe
along upper edge. An uninterrupted but indistinct “bridle” along sides
of throat. Lower parts dull white, without any ochraceous, but with a
very faint ashy tinge ever the jugulum; flanks with broad, somewhat
blended streaks of mixed brownish and dusky. Bend of wing edged with
light yellow. Wing, 2.55; tail, 2.80; bill, .28 from nostril and .23
deep; tarsus, .68; middle toe, .55.

_Young._ (45,277, Laredo, Texas, June 28.) Very similar, but with a
few drop-shaped streaks of dark brown on the jugulum and along sides.
The feathers above have a more appreciable terminal border of buff.

HAB. Rio Grande region of Southern Middle Province; Kansas, breeding
(ALLEN). San Antonio, Texas, summer (DRESSER, Ibis, 1865, 489; eggs);
? Orizaba, temp. reg. (SUM. M. B. S. I, 551).

In the Birds of North America, the specimen characterized on p. 637 of
the present work as _æstivalis_, var. _arizonæ_, was referred to _P.
cassini_, those specimens which are here retained as such being
considered as in quite immature plumage. A more recent examination of
additional material, however, has compelled us to change our view. In
consequence of the similarity of the specimen in question to
_æstivalis_, as noted in the article referred to above, the general
acceptation of the name _cassini_ has been that of a term designating
a variety of the common species; but we have as the result of the
investigation in question found it necessary to retain under the head
of “_cassini_” only the typical specimens from the Rio Grande region,
and refer the supposed aberrant specimen to _æstivalis_. In this Los
Nogales specimen we find existing such differences in proportions and
colors as are sufficient to warrant our bestowing upon it a new name,
and establishing it as the Middle Province race of _æstivalis_, in
this way connecting the South Atlantic and Mexican races (var.
_æstivalis_ and var. _botterii_) by a more similar form than the _P.
cassini_, which must be set apart as an independent form,—in all
probability a good species. Several facts are favorable to this view.
First, we have of the _P. cassini_ specimens which are beyond question
in perfect adult plumage, and others which are undoubtedly immature;
they differ from each other only in such respects as would be
expected, and agree substantially in other characters, by which they
are distinguished from the different styles of _æstivalis_. Secondly,
the region to be filled by a peculiar race of _æstivalis_ is
represented by the var. _arizonæ_, which is undoubtedly referable to
that species; thus we have in one province these two different forms,
which therefore are probably distinct.

The present bird is hardly less distinct from the races of _æstivalis_
than is _ruficeps_; and we would be as willing to consider all the
definable forms presented in the synopsis as varieties of a single
species, as to refer the present bird to _æstivalis_.

HABITS. This Finch, in its general appearance, as well as in respect
to habits, nesting, and eggs, is quite similar to Bachman’s Finch. It
was first met with by Dr. Woodhouse, in the expedition to the Zuñi
River, when he found it in Western Texas. He shot it on the prairies
near San Antonio, on the 25th of April, 1851, mistaking it for
_Passerculus savanna_, which, in its habits, it seemed to him very
much to resemble, but upon examination it was found to be totally

Dr. Heermann afterwards, being at Comanche Springs in Texas, had his
attention attracted by the new note of a bird unfamiliar to him. It
was found, after some observation, to proceed from this species. He
describes it as rising with a tremulous motion of its wings some
twenty feet or more, and then descending again, in the same manner, to
within a few yards of the spot whence it started, and as accompanying
its entire flight with a lengthened and pleasing song. The country in
that neighborhood is very barren, covered with low stunted bushes, in
which the bird takes refuge on being alarmed, gliding rapidly through
the grass and shrubbery, and very adroitly and effectually evading its
pursuer. He observed them during four or five days of the journey of
his party, and after that saw no more of them. They seemed, at the
time, to be migrating, though their continued and oft-repeated song
also showed that they were not far from readiness for the duties of

The _Peucæa cassini_ is said, by Mr. Sumichrast, to be a resident
species in the valley of Orizaba, in the State of Vera Cruz, Mexico,
and to be generally distributed throughout the temperate region of
that district. It is very probable, however, that he has in view the
Mexican race of _P. æstivalis_ (var. _botterii_), and not the present

Mr. J. A. Allen, who considers this bird only a western form of _P.
æstivalis_, mentions (Am. Naturalist, May, 1872) finding it quite
frequently near the streams in Western Kansas, where its sweetly
modulated song greets the ear with the first break of dawn, and is
again heard at night till the last trace of twilight has disappeared.
Mr. Allen also states, in a letter, that this bird was “tolerably
common along the streams near Fort Hays, but very retiring, singing
mostly after nightfall and before sunrise, during the morning
twilight. When singing, it had the habit of rising into the air. I
shot three one morning thus singing, when it was so dark I could not
find the birds. The one I obtained does not differ appreciably from
specimens from Mr. Cassin’s collection, labelled by him _Peucæa
cassini_, collected in Texas.”

Mr. Ridgway regards this record of the manners of this bird, while
singing, as indicating a specific difference from _P. æstivalis_. The
latter, in Southern Illinois, has never been heard by him to sing at
night, or in the morning, nor even on the wing; but in broad midday,
in the hottest days of June, July, and August, he often heard them
singing vigorously and sweetly, as they perched upon a fence or a dead
tree in a field, exactly after the manner of our common _Spizella

Among Dr. Heermann’s notes, quoted by Mr. Dresser, is one containing
the statement that he found this species not rare on the prairies near
the Medina River, in Texas, where it breeds. Mr. Dresser also states
that when at Howard’s Ranche, early in May, he found this bird by no
means uncommon. He confirms Dr. Heermann’s account, that it is easily
distinguished as it rises in the air, from a bush, with a peculiar
fluttering motion of the wings, at the same time singing, and then
suddenly dropping into the bushes again. He adds that, in his absence,
Dr. Heermann procured the eggs of this species on the Medina, and
while he was himself travelling in July towards Loredo, he found a
nest which he was fully confident belonged to this bird. It was placed
in a low bush not above a foot from the ground, and in its
construction resembled that of the _Poospiza bilineata_. The eggs were
three in number, pure white, closely agreeing with those taken by Dr.
Heermann, and larger and more elongated than those of the _bilineata_.

An egg of this species, taken in Texas by Dr. H. R. Storer, the
identification of which, however, was incomplete, is more oblong than
the eggs of _P. æstivalis_, and smaller, measuring .72 by .58 of an
inch. It is pure white also.

Peucæa ruficeps, BAIRD.


  _Ammodromus ruficeps_, CASSIN, Pr. A. N. Sc. VI, Oct. 1852, 184
       (California).—IB. Illust. I, v, 1854, 135, pl. xx. _Peucæa
       ruficeps_, BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 486.—COOPER, Orn. Cal. 1,
       1870, 218.

SP. CHAR. Above brownish-ashy. The crown and nape uniform
brownish-chestnut, the interscapular region and neck with the feathers
of this color, except around the margins. A superciliary ashy stripe,
whiter at the base of the bill. Beneath pale yellowish-brown, or
brownish-yellow, darker and more ashy across the breast and on the
sides of body; middle of belly and chin lighter; the latter with a
well-marked line of black on each side. Edge of wing white. Under
tail-coverts more rufous. Legs yellow. Length, 5.50; wing, 2.35; tail,

HAB. Coast of California, to Mexico; ? Oaxaca, March (SCL. 1859, 380);
? Vera Cruz, temperate region; resident (SUM. M. B. S. I, 552).

This plainly colored species has the bill rather slender; tail rather
long, and considerably rounded; the outer feathers .40 of an inch
shorter than the middle; the feathers soft, and rounded at the tip.
The wing is short; the primaries not much longer than the tertials;
the second, third, fourth, and fifth nearly equal; the first scarcely
longer than the secondaries.

There is a blackish tinge on the forehead, separated by a short
central line of white, as in _Spizella socialis_. The eyelids are
whitish, and there is a short black line immediately over the upper
lid. There is a faint chestnut streak back of the eye. The chestnut of
the nape is somewhat interrupted by pale edgings. The blotches on the
back melt almost insensibly into the colors of the margins of the
feathers. The outer edges of the secondaries and tertials, and the
outer surface of the tail, are yellowish-rusty.

This bird is similar in general appearance to the _P. æstivalis_, but
has the head above more continuous chestnut; the black cheek-stripe
more distinct, and the edge of wing whitish, not yellow, the bill more
slender. A Mexican specimen has a stouter bill.

The _P. boucardi_ of Sclater (= _ruficeps_, var. _boucardi_; see
table, p. 634), from Mexico, is exceedingly similar, it being very
difficult to present the differences in a diagnosis. This trouble is
partly the result of the insufficient series at our command, for there
are such different combinations of colors, according to the season,
that it is almost impossible to select the average characters of two
definable forms.

HABITS. This species was first described, in 1852, by Mr. Cassin, from
a specimen obtained in California by Dr. Heermann. Very little is
known as to its history, and it appears to have been generally
overlooked by naturalists who have studied the ornithology of that
State. The extent of its distribution or of its numbers remains
unknown,—a circumstance due undoubtedly to the nature of the country
which it frequents.

Dr. Heermann states that in the fall of 1851 he shot on the Cosumnes
River a single specimen of this bird from among a large flock of
Sparrows of various kinds. In the spring of the following year, among
the mountains, near the Calaveras River, he found it quite abundant.
It was then flying in pairs, engaged in picking grass-seed from the
ground, and when started it never extended its flight beyond a few
yards. Its notes, in their character, reminded him of the ditty of our
common little Chipping Sparrow (_Spizella socialis_). He obtained
several specimens. Its flight seemed feeble, and when raised from the
ground, from which it would not start until almost trodden on, it
would fly but a short distance, and almost immediately drop again into
the grass.

Dr. Cooper has only met with this species on Catalina Island, in June,
where a few kept about the low bushes, feeding on the ground. They
were very difficult even to get a sight of. He heard them sing a few
musical notes, that reminded him of those of the _Cyanospizæ_. They
flew only a short distance, and in their habits reminded him of the
_Melospizæ_. Their favorite places of resort he supposes to be pine
woods, as in the eastern species.

The fact that this species has been found by Mr. Sumichrast to be a
permanent resident throughout all the temperate regions of Vera Cruz
is a very interesting one, and is suggestive of different manners and
habits from those supposed to belong to it as a bird allied with the
_Ammodrami_. They are abundant, and breed there, as in the United
States, but nothing is given throwing any positive light upon their
general habits.


  _Embernagra_, LESSON, Traité d’Ornith., 1831 (AGASSIZ). (Type,
    _Saltator viridis_, VIEILLOT.)

GEN. CHAR. Bill conical, elongated, compressed; the upper outline
considerably curved, the lower straight; the commissure slightly
concave, and faintly notched at the end. Tarsi lengthened;
considerably longer than the middle toe. Outer toe a little longer
than the inner, not reaching quite to the base of the middle claw.
Hind toe about as long as the middle without its claw. Wings very
short, and much rounded; the tertials nearly equal to the primaries;
the secondaries a little shorter; the outer four primaries much
graduated, even the second shorter than any other quill. The tail is
moderate, about as long as the wings, much graduated; the feathers
rather narrow, linear, and elliptically rounded at the end; the outer
webs more than usually broad in proportion to the inner, being more
than one third as wide. The upper parts are olive-green, the under

The position of this genus is a matter of considerable uncertainty. On
some accounts it would be better placed among the _Spizinæ_.

There are numerous tropical species of this genus; none of them are
nearly allied, however, to the single North American species.

Embernagra rufivirgata, LAWRENCE.


  _Embernagra rufivirgata_, LAWRENCE, Ann. N. Y. Lyc. V, May, 1851,
       112, pl. v, f. 2 (Texas).—SCLATER, Pr. Zoöl. Soc. 1856,
       306.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 487, pl. lv. f. 2.—IB. Mex.
       Bound. II, Birds, 16, pl. xvii, f. 2. _Zonotrichia plebeja_,
       LICHT. BON. Comptes Rend. 43, 1856, 413.

  [Line drawing: _Embernagra rufivirgata_, Lawr.
                  29229 ♀]

SP. CHAR. Above uniform olivaceous-green. A stripe on each side of the
head, and one behind the eye, dull brownish-rufous, an ashy
superciliary stripe whiter anteriorly. Under parts brownish-white,
tinged with yellowish posteriorly, and with olivaceous on the sides;
white in the middle of the belly. Edge of wing, under coverts, and
axillaries bright yellow. Young with the head-stripes obsolete.
Length, 5.50; wing, 2.60; tail, 2.70.

HAB. Valley of the Rio Grande, and probably of Gila, southward;
Mazatlan, Mexico. Oaxaca, April (SCL. 1859, 380); Cordova; Vera Cruz,
temperate and hot regions, breeding (SUM. M. B. S. I, 551); Yucatan
(LAWR. IX, 201).

In this species the bill is rather long; the wings are very short, and
much rounded; the tertials equal to the primaries; the secondaries
rather shorter; the first quill is .65 of an inch shorter than the
seventh, which is longest. The tail is short; the lateral feathers
much graduated; the outer half an inch shorter than the middle.

All the Mexican specimens before us have the bill stouter than those
from the Rio Grande of Texas, the stripes on the head apparently
better defined. The back is darker olive; the flanks brighter
olive-green, not olive-gray, the wings are apparently shorter. The
series is not sufficiently perfect to show other differences, if any

  [Illustration: _Embernagra rufivirgata._]

HABITS. In regard to the habits and distribution of this species we
are entirely without any information, other than that it has been met
with in the valley of the Rio Grande, and at various places in Mexico.
Specimens were obtained at New Leon, Mexico, by Lieutenant Couch, and
at Ringgold Barracks, in Texas, by Mr. J. H. Clark. The season when
these birds were met with is not indicated by him.

It is stated by Mr. Sumichrast that this species is found throughout
both the temperate and the hot districts of the State of Vera Cruz,
Mexico. He also mentions that he has found this bird in localities
quite remote from each other, and belonging both to the hot and to the
temperate regions. In the latter it is found to the height of at least
four thousand feet.

This species was met with by Mr. Boucard, during the winter months, at
Plaza Vicente, in the hot lowlands of the State of Oaxaca, Mexico.


CHAR. Toes and claws very stout; the lateral claws reaching beyond the
middle of the middle one; all very slightly curved.

  [Line drawing: _Passerella iliaca_.

Bill conical, the outlines straight; both mandibles equal; wings long,
longer than the even tail or slightly rounded, reaching nearly to the
middle of its exposed portion. Hind claw longer than its digit; the
toe nearly as long as the middle toe; tarsus longer than the middle
toe. Brown above, either uniformly so or faintly streaked; triangular
spots below.

This section embraces a single North American genus, chiefly
characterized by the remarkable elongation of the lateral claws, as
well as by the peculiar shape and large size of all the claws; the
lateral, especially, are so much lengthened as to extend nearly as far
as the middle. The only approach to this, as far as I recollect, among
United States _Conirostres_, is in _Pipilo megalonyx_, and
_Xanthocephalus icterocephalus_.


  _Passerella_, SWAINSON, Class. Birds, II, 1837, 288. (Type,
    _Fringilla iliaca_, MERREM.)

GEN. CHAR. Body stout. Bill conical, not notched, the outlines
straight; the two jaws of equal depth; roof of upper mandible deeply
excavated, and vaulted; not knobbed. Tarsus scarcely longer than the
middle toe; outer toe little longer than the inner, its claw reaching
to the middle of the central one. Hind toe about equal to the inner
lateral; the claws all long, and moderately curved only; the posterior
rather longer than the middle, and equal to its toe. Wings long,
pointed, reaching to the middle of the tail; the tertials scarcely
longer than secondaries; second and third quills longest; first equal
to the fifth. Tail very nearly even, scarcely longer than the wing.
Inner claw contained scarcely one and a half times in its toe proper.

_Color._ Rufous or slaty; obsoletely streaked or uniform above;
thickly spotted with triangular blotches beneath.

Species and Varieties.

COMMON CHARACTERS. Ground-color above, slaty-ash, or sepia; wings,
upper tail-coverts, and tail more rufescent. Beneath, pure white, with
numerous triangular spots over breast and throat, streaks along sides,
and a triangular blotch on side of throat, of the same color as the
wings. The pectoral spots aggregated on the middle of the breast.

  A. Hind claw not longer than its digit. Back with broad
  streaks of dark rufous.

    1. P. iliaca. Ground-color above ash (more or less
    overlaid in winter with a rufous wash); wings, dorsal
    spots, upper tail-coverts, tail, auriculars, and
    markings of lower parts, bright reddish-rufous. Wing,
    3.50; tail, 2.90; tarsus, .87; middle toe, without claw,
    .67; hind claw, .35. _Hab._ Eastern Province of North

  B. Hind claw much longer than its digit. Back without

    2. P. townsendi.

      Head and neck above with back, scapulars, and rump,
      rich sepia-brown, almost uniform with wings and tail.
      Belly thickly spotted; tibiæ deep brown; supraloral
      space not whitish. Wing, 3.05; tail, 2.85; tarsus,
      .80; middle toe, .62; hind claw, .43. _Hab._ Pacific
      Province of North America, from Kodiak south to Fort
      Tejon, Cal. (in winter)                       var. _townsendi_.

      Head and neck above, with back, scapulars, and rump,
      slaty-ash, in strong contrast with the rufescent-brown
      of wings and tail. Belly with only minute specks, or
      immaculate; tibiæ grayish; supraloral space distinctly
      white. Spots beneath clove-brown.

        Bill, .34 from nostril, by .25 deep at base; wing,
        3.30; tail, 3.50; tarsus, .85; middle toe, .60; hind
        claw, .45. _Hab._ Middle Province of United States
                                                   var. _schistacea_.

        Bill, .35 from nostril and .47 deep; wing, 3.30;
        tail, 3.50; tarsus, .83; middle toe, .63; hind claw,
        .50. _Hab._ Sierra Nevada, from Fort Tejon, north to
        Carson City, Nev.                        var. _megarhynchus_.

No great violence would be done by considering all the above forms as
races of one species, the characters separating _iliaca_ from the rest
being of no great importance. However, in the large series examined,
there is no specimen of _iliaca_ at all aberrant, and none approach in
the slightest degree to any of the other forms. There can be no doubt
whatever of the specific identity of the three forms presented under
section “B,” as is plainly shown by specimens of intermediate
characters. These western forms are parallels of the western race of
_Melospiza_; _schistacea_ representing _M. fallax_, _megarhynchus_ the
_M. heermanni_, and _townsendi_ the _M. guttata_ or _rufina_.

Passerella iliaca, SWAINSON.


  _Fringilla iliaca_, MERREM. “Beitr. zur besond. Gesch. der Vögel,
       II, 1786-87, 40, pl. x.”—GM. Syst. Nat. I, 1788, 923.—AUD.
       Orn. Biog. II, 1834, 58; V, 512, pl. cviii.—IB. Syn.
       1839.—IB. Birds Am. III, 1841, 139, pl. clxxxvi. _Passerella
       iliaca_, SW. Birds, II, 1837, 288.—BON. List, 1838.—IB.
       Conspectus, 1850, 477.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 488.—DALL &
       BANNISTER, Tr. Ch. Ac. I, 1869, 285.—SAMUELS, 325. _Fringilla
       rufa_, WILSON, Am. Orn. III, 1811, 53, pl. xxiv, f. 4.—LICHT.
       Verz. 1823, No. 248. _Fringilla ferruginea_, WILSON, Catalogue,
       VI, 1812.—Hall’s ed. WILSON, II, 255. “_Emberiza pratensis_,
       VIEILL.,” GRAY.

  [Illustration: _Passerella townsendi._]

SP. CHAR. General aspect of upper parts foxy-red, the ground-color and
the sides of neck being ashy; the interscapular feathers each with a
large blotch of fox-red; this color glossing the top of head and nape;
sometimes faintly, sometimes more distinctly; the rump unmarked; the
upper coverts and surface of the tail continuous fox-red. Two narrow
white bands on the wing. Beneath, with under tail-coverts and
axillars, clear white, the sides of head and of throat, the jugulum,
breast, and sides of body, conspicuously and sharply blotched with
fox-red; more triangular across breast, more linear and darker on
sides. Sometimes the entire head above is continuously reddish. First
quill rather less than fifth. Hind toe about equal to its claw.
Length, 7.50; wing, 3.50; tail, 2.90; tarsus, .87; middle toe, without
claw, .67; hind claw, .35.

HAB. Eastern North America to the Mississippi, to the north along
valley of the Mackenzie, almost or quite to the Arctic coast, and down
the valley of the Yukon to the Pacific. Breeds throughout the interior
of British America.

In summer, the ash is more predominant above; in winter, it is
overlaid more or less by a wash of rufous, as described above.

The young plumage we have not seen. The _P. obscura_, Verrill,[9] may
be referrible to it.

HABITS. The Fox-colored Sparrow, in its seasons of migrations, is a
very common bird throughout the United States east of the Mississippi
River. It has not been ascertained to breed in any part of the United
States, though it may do so in Northeastern Maine. Mr. Boardman has
not met with it near Calais, nor did I see nor could I hear of it in
any part of Nova Scotia or New Brunswick that I visited. In passing
north, these birds begin their northern movements in the middle of
March, and from that time to the last of April they are gradually
approaching their summer quarters. Their first appearance near Boston
is about the 15th of March, and they linger in that vicinity, or
successive parties appear, until about the 20th of April. The last
comers are usually in song. On their return, the middle or last of
October, they pass rapidly, and usually make no stay. In Southwestern
Texas these birds were not observed by Mr. Dresser, nor in Arizona by
Dr. Coues, but in the Indian Territory Dr. Woodhouse found them very
abundant on the approach of winter. Dr. Coues speaks of them as common
in South Carolina from November to April, but less numerous than most
of the Sparrows.

In the vicinity of Washington this bird is found from October to
April. I have met with small groups of them through all the winter
months among the fallen leaves in retired corners of the Capitol
grounds, where they were busily engaged, in the manner of a _Pipilo_,
in scratching in the earth for their food. At those periods when the
ground was open, their habits were eminently similar to those of the
gallinaceous birds. In March and April they were in company with the
White-throated Sparrows, but passed north at least a month earlier.

During their stay in the United States these birds keep in small
distinctive flocks, never mingling, though often in the same places,
with other species. They are found in the edges of thickets and in
moist woods. They are usually silent, and only occasionally utter a
call-note, low and soft. In the spring the male becomes quite musical,
and is one of our sweetest and most remarkable singers. His voice is
loud, clear, and melodious; his notes full, rich, and varied; and his
song is unequalled by any of this family that I have ever heard. They
soon become reconciled to confinement and quite tame, and sing a good
part of the year if care is taken in regard to their food. If allowed
to eat to excess, they become very fat and heavy, and lose their song.

Dr. Coues did not meet with these birds in Labrador, but Mr. Audubon
found them there and in Newfoundland in large numbers; and, according
to the observations of Sir John Richardson, they breed in the wooded
districts of the fur countries, up to the 68th parallel of latitude.

These birds were also found abundantly at Fort Simpson and Great Slave
Lake by Mr. Robert Kennicott and Mr. B. R. Ross; at Fort Anderson,
Anderson River, Swan River, and in various journeys, by Mr. R.
MacFarlane; at Fort Resolution, Fort Good Hope, La Pierre House, and
Fort Yukon, by Mr. Lockhart; at Peel’s River, by Mr. J. Flett; at St.
Michael’s, by Mr. H. M. Bannister; and at Nulato, by Mr. W. H. Dall.
They were observed at Fort Simpson as early as May 17, and by Mr.
Kennicott as late as September 17. Mr. Dall states that at Nulato he
found this Sparrow in abundance. It arrived there from the 10th to the
15th of May. It breeds there, and its eggs were obtained on the Yukon
River. In the month of August in 1867 and of July in 1868 it was
abundant at the mouth of the Yukon and at St. Michael’s. One was also
shot at Unalaklik. The birds seemed to prefer thickets to the more
open country. Mr. Bannister did not find it abundant. He shot only one
specimen during the season, in an alder thicket near the fort; and Mr.
Pease, who was familiar with the species, only saw a single

According to the reports of both Mr. MacFarlane and Mr. Kennicott, the
nest of this species was found both on the ground and in trees. In one
instance it was in a tree about eight feet from the ground, and in its
structure was said to be similar to the nests of _Turdus aliciæ_. They
were nearly all found after the middle of June, a few as early as the
7th. One was found on the ground at the foot of a tuft of dwarf
willows, which helped to conceal it from view. This was composed of
coarse hay, lined with some of a finer quality, a few deer-hairs, and
a small quantity of fresh and growing moss, intermingled together. In
speaking of this nest Mr. MacFarlane states that all the nests of this
Sparrow he had previously met with had been built in the midst of
branches of pine or spruce trees, and had been similar to those of the
_T. aliciæ_, which, in this instance, it did not resemble. He adds
that this species, though not numerous, extended quite to the borders
of the wooded country, to the north and northwest of Fort Anderson.
Afterwards he observed several other nests on the ground, all of which
were similar to the last, and it is by no means impossible that in
certain instances these birds may have occupied old nests of the _T.
aliciæ_, and used them for purposes of incubation. Richardson states
that its nests are constructed in a low bush, and are made of dry
grass, hair, and feathers. He states that the eggs are five in number,
of a pale mountain-green tint, and marbled with irregular spots of

Mr. Audubon, who found several of the nests of this bird in Labrador,
near the coast, describes them as large for the size of the bird, and
as usually placed on the ground among moss or tall grass near the stem
of a creeping fir, the branches of which usually conceal it from view.
Its exterior is loosely formed of dry grasses and moss, with a
carefully disposed inner layer of fine grasses, circularly arranged.
The lining consists of very delicate fibrous roots, with feathers of
different kinds of water-fowl. In one instance he noted the down of
the eider-duck. He found their eggs from the middle of June to the 5th
of July. When their nest was approached, the female affected lameness,
and employed all the usual arts to decoy the intruder away. They
raised but one brood in a season, and about the first of September
left Labrador for the south in small flocks, made up of members of one

Their eggs measure from .92 to an inch in length, and .70 in breadth.
They are oblong in shape. Their ground-color is a light bluish-white,
thickly spotted with a rusty-brown, often so fully as to conceal the

     [9] _Passerella obscura_, VERRILL, Pr. Bost. N. H. Soc. IX,
     Dec. 1862, 143 (Anticosti). (Type in Museum Comp. Zoöl.,

     “Size somewhat smaller than that of _P. iliaca_. Legs and
     wings a little shorter in proportion. Claws less elongated.
     Bill somewhat shorter, thicker, and less acute. Color above
     rufous-brown, becoming bright rufous on the rump and exposed
     portion of the tail, but a shade darker than in _P. iliaca_;
     head uniform brown, with a slight tinge of ash; feathers of
     the back centred with a streak of darker brown. Wings nearly
     the same color as the back, with no white bands; outer webs
     of the quills rufous, inner webs dark brown; secondary
     coverts rufous, with dark brown centres; primary coverts
     uniform brown. Beneath dull white, with the throat and
     breast thickly covered with elongated triangular spots and
     streaks of dark reddish-brown; sides streaked with
     rufous-brown; middle of abdomen with a few small triangular
     spots of dark brown; under tail-coverts brownish-white, with
     a few small spots of bright rufous; tibiæ dark brown. The
     auriculars are tinged with reddish-brown. Bristles at the
     base of the bill are numerous, extending over the nostrils.
     Tail rather long, broad, and nearly even. Third quill
     longest; second and fourth equal, and but slightly shorter;
     first intermediate between the fifth and sixth, and one
     fourth of an inch shorter than the third.

     “Length, 6.75; extent of wings, 10.75; wing, 3.35; tarsus, 1

     “This species differs greatly in color from _P. iliaca_. It
     is darker in all parts; the feathers of the back are
     rufous-brown, centred with darker, instead of ash centred
     with brownish-red; the two white bands on the wing are
     wanting; the breast and throat are thickly streaked with
     elongated spots of dark reddish-brown, while in _P. iliaca_
     the spots are less numerous, shorter and broader, and bright
     rufous, and the central part of the throat is nearly free
     from spots; the under tail-coverts are brownish-white, with
     rufous spots, instead of nearly pure white.”

     There are some features in this bird, as described by Mr.
     Verrill, which seem to characterize it as different from _P.
     iliaca_, although it is barely possible that it is this bird
     in immature dress. The streaked back at once separates it
     from all our species excepting _iliaca_. Nothing is said of
     its habits. One specimen was killed in Anticosti, July 1;
     the other, August 8. The true _iliaca_ was found on the
     island, which fact renders it still more probable that this
     is its young.

Passerella townsendi, NUTTALL.


  _? Emberiza unalaschkensis_, GMEL. II, 1788, 875 (based on
       _Aonalaschka Bunting_, LATH. II, 202, 48; _Unalaschka B._,
       PENNANT, 52). _Passerella u._ FINSCH, Abh. Nat. III, 1872, 53
       (Alaska). _Fringilla townsendi_, AUD. Orn. Biog. V, 1839, 236,
       pl. ccccxxiv, f. 7.—IB. Syn. 1839.—IB. Birds Am. III, 1841,
       43, pl. clxxxvii. _Fringilla (Passerella) townsendi_, NUTT.
       Man. I, (2d ed.,) 1840, 533. _Passerella townsendi_, BON.
       Conspectus, 1850, 477.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 489.—COOPER
       & SUCKLEY, 204.—DALL & BANNISTER, Tr. Ch. Ac. I, 1869, 285.
       _Fringilla meruloides_, VIG. Zoöl. Blossom (Monterey, Cal.),
       1839, 19. _? Emberiza (Zonotrichia) rufina_, KITTLITZ, Denkw.
       1858, 200. (He compares it with _P. iliaca_, but says it is
       darker. Sitka.)

SP. CHAR. Above very dark olive-brown, with a tinge of rufous, the
color continuous and uniform throughout, without any trace of blotches
or spots; the upper tail-coverts and outer edges of the wing and tail
feathers rather lighter and brighter. The under parts white, but
thickly covered with approximating triangular blotches colored like
the back, sparsest on the middle of the body and on the throat; the
spots on the belly smaller. Side almost continuously like the back;
tibiæ and under tail-coverts similar, the latter edged with paler.
Axillars brown; paler on edges. Claws all very large and long; the
hinder claw longer than its toe. First and sixth quills about equal.
Length, about 7 inches; wing, about 3.00.

HAB. Pacific coast of United States, as far south as Sacramento, and
Fort Tejon? north to Kodiak (and Unalaschka?).

  [Line drawing: _Passerella townsendi._
                  2874 ♀]

This species differs a good deal in form from _P. iliaca_. The claws
are much larger and stouter, the wing a good deal shorter and more
rounded. The differences in color are very appreciable, the tints
being dark sepia-brown instead of red, and perfectly uniform above,
not spotted; the under parts much more thickly spotted.

Specimens from Alaska show a tendency to longer and perhaps more
slender bills. Some are rather more rufous-brown than the type; others
have a faint tinge of ashy anteriorly, although scarcely appreciable.
This is especially noticeable in some skins from Fort Tejon, they
being almost exactly intermediate between _townsendi_ and
_schistacea_, or _megarhynchus_.

Young birds are not materially different from the adult, except in
having the white of under parts replaced by pale rusty; the back is
rather duller in color, but without spots or stripes of any kind.

No. 46,620 from British Columbia has the bill much stouter than in the

It is by no means certain, however probable, that this bird is the _E.
unalaschkensis_ of Gmelin, an important objection being its absence so
far in collections received by the Smithsonian Institution from that
island. We therefore leave the question open for the present.

HABITS. The history of this western analogue of the Fox-colored
Sparrow is still quite imperfectly known. It was first obtained in
Oregon by Mr. Townsend, on the 15th of February. He describes it as a
very active and a very shy bird, keeping constantly among the low
bushes of wormwood, and on the ground in their vicinity. It was
partially gregarious, six or eight being usually seen together. Its
call-note was a short, sharp, quick chirp, and it also had
occasionally a low weak warble.

Dr. Gambel, referring probably to its occurrence in winter in
California, speaks of this bird as an abundant resident in that State,
which is not correct, it being only a winter visitant, and not
abundant south of San Francisco. He describes its habits as very
different from those of any other Sparrow, and more like those of a
Thrush. It is said to keep in retired bushy places, or in underwood,
and was scarcely ever seen except on the ground, and then would
scarcely ever be discovered but for the noise it made in scratching
among the leaves. It was silent and unsuspicious, and he rarely heard
it utter even its occasional chirp.

Dr. Cooper states that he found this Sparrow only a winter resident in
Washington Territory, where, in company with other Sparrows, it kept
constantly on the ground, frequenting the thickets and scratching
among the fallen leaves for its food. It was most common in the
interior, but in very cold weather sought the coast, in company with
the Snowbird and other species. He observed a few lingering about the
Straits of Fuca until April. After that he saw no more of them until
their return southward in October. During their winter residence Dr.
Cooper never heard them sing. Dr. Suckley found them rather abundant
near Fort Steilacoom, though not so common as the _Melospiza rufina_,
which they greatly resembled in habits and in general appearance.

Dr. Heermann describes them as abundant and migratory in California,
visiting that State only in winter. He speaks of them as of a solitary
and quiet nature, resorting to the thickets and underwood for its
food, turning over the leaves and scratching up the ground in the
manner of the Brown Thrush, occasionally hopping backwards as if to
ascertain the results of its labors.

Dr. Cooper, in his Report on the Birds of California, reaffirms that
this bird is only a winter visitant to the lower country near the
Columbia, but also conjectures that it spends the summer in the
Cascade Mountains, between April and October. Specimens have been
obtained near San Francisco in winter. It seemed to him to be both a
shy and a silent bird, frequenting only woods or thick bushes, and
while there constantly scratching among the fallen leaves, and feeding
both on seeds and insects. He has seen either this bird or the _P.
megarhynchus_ as far south as San Diego in winter. He has also noticed
its arrival near San Francisco as early as October 20.

On the Spokan Plains, in British Columbia, Mr. J. K. Lord first met
with this species. They were there not uncommon in dark swampy places
east of the Cascades. These birds he found remarkable for their
singular habit of scratching dead leaves or decayed material of any
sort with their feet, exactly as do barn-door fowls,—sending the dirt
right, left, and behind. It picks up seeds, insects, larvæ, or
anything eatable that it thus digs out, and then proceeds to scratch
for more. The long and unusually strong claws with which this bird is
provided seem particularly well adapted for these habits, so unusual
in a Sparrow. At almost any time, by waiting a few moments, one may be
pretty sure to hear the scratching of several of these birds from
under the tangle of fallen timber.

Several specimens were obtained in Sitka by Bischoff and others, but
without any record of their habits.

Passerella townsendi, var. schistacea, BAIRD.

  _Passerella schistacea_, BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 490, pl. lxix, f. 3.

  [Line drawing: 11234 ♂]

SP. CHAR. Bill slender, the length being .34 from nostril, the depth
.25; the upper mandible much swollen at the base; the under yellow.
Above and on the sides uniform slate-gray; the upper surface of wings,
tail-feathers, and upper coverts dark brownish-rufous; ear-coverts
streaked with white. Beneath pure white, with broad triangular
arrow-shaped and well-defined spots of slate-gray like the back
everywhere, except along the middle of the belly; not numerous on the
throat. A hoary spot at the base of the bill above the loral region;
axillars nearly white. Length, 6.80; wing, 3.30; tail, 3.50.

HAB. Head-waters of Platte and middle region of United States to Fort
Tejon and to Fort Crook, California.

This species is readily distinguished from _P. iliaca_ by the slaty
back and spots on the breast, the absence of streaks above, and the
longer claws. From _townsendi_ it differs in having the head, back,
sides, and spots beneath slate-colored, instead of dark reddish-brown.
The spotting beneath is much more sparse, the spots smaller, more
triangular, and confined to the terminal portion of the feathers,
instead of frequently involving the entire outer edge. The axillars
are paler. The wings and tail are the same in both species.

The young bird is quite similar; but the spots beneath are badly
defined, more numerous, and longitudinal rather than triangular.

There can be little doubt, however, that this bird is a geographical
race of _P. townsendi_.

HABITS. For all that we know in regard to the habits and general
distribution of this species, we are indebted to the observations of
Mr. Ridgway, who met with it while accompanying Mr. Clarence King’s
geological survey. It was first obtained in July, 1856, by Lieutenant
F. T. Bryan, on the Platte River, and others were afterwards collected
at Fort Tejon by Mr. Xantus.

Mr. Ridgway found the Slate-colored Sparrow at Carson City, during its
spring migrations northward, in the early part of March. At this time
it was seen only among the willows along the Carson River, and was by
no means common. It had the habit of scratching among the dead leaves,
on the ground in the thickets, precisely after the manner of the
eastern _P. iliaca_. In the following September he again found it
among the thickets in the Upper Humboldt Valley. In Parley’s Park,
among the Wahsatch Mountains, he found it a very plentiful species in
June, nesting among the willows and other shrubbery along the streams.
There it was always found in company with the _M. fallax_, which in
song it greatly resembles, though its other notes are quite distinct,
the ordinary one being a sharp _chuck_. The nest of the two species,
he adds, were also so much alike in manner of construction and
situation, and the eggs so similar, that it required a careful
observation to identify a nest when one was found.

The eggs from one nest of the _Passerella schistacea_ measure .90 by
.70 of an inch, have a ground of a light mountain-green, and are
profusely spotted with blotches of a rufous-brown, generally diffused
over the entire egg.

Another nest of this species, obtained in Parley’s Park, in the
Wahsatch Mountains, by Mr. Ridgway, June 23, 1869, was built in a
clump of willows, about two feet from the ground. The nest is two
inches in height, two and a half in diameter, cavity one and a half
deep, with a diameter of two. It is composed externally of coarse
decayed water-grass, is lined with fine hair and finer material like
the outside. The eggs, four in number, are .80 by .67 of an inch, of a
very rounded oval shape, the ground-color of a pale green, blotched
and marked chiefly at the larger end with brown spots of a
wine-colored hue.

Passerella townsendi, var. megarhynchus, BAIRD.


  _Passerella schistacea_, BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, p. 490 (in part;
       Ft. Tejon specimens). _Passerella megarhynchus_, BAIRD, Birds
       N. Am. 1858, p. 925 (Appendix).—COOPER, Orn. Cal. 1, 222.
       _Passerella schistacea_, var. _megarhynchus_, RIDGWAY, Rept.
       Geol. Expl. 40th Par.

  [Line drawing: 13757 ♂]

SP. CHAR. Similar to var. _schistacea_ in colors, size, and general
proportions; but bill enormously thick, its depth being very much
greater than the distance from nostril to tip, instead of much less;
color of lower mandible rosy milk-white, instead of maize-yellow.
Bill, .35 from nostril, .47 deep; wing, 3.30; tail, 3.50; tarsus, .83;
middle toe without claw, .63; hind claw, .50.

HAB. Sierra Nevada, from Fort Tejon north to 40° latitude (Carson
City, Nevada, breeding, RIDGWAY).

This very remarkable variety of _P. townsendi_ is quite local in its
distribution, having been observed only in the Sierra Nevada region,
as above indicated. The first specimens were brought from Fort Tejon
by Mr. J. Xantus, but at what season they were found there is not
indicated on the labels. Recently, specimens were procured by Mr.
Ridgway at Carson City, Nev., in April, they having arrived there
about the 20th of April, frequenting the ravines of the Sierra near
the snow. At the same place the var. _schistacea_ was found earlier in
the spring, but among the willows along the streams in the valleys,
and not met with in the mountains; and all the individuals had passed
northward before those of _megarhynchus_ arrived.

In this restricted distribution the present bird is a companion of the
_Melospiza melodia_, var. _heermanni_, and the characteristics of form
are the same in both as compared with their Middle Province and
Northern representatives; while they both differ from the latter
(_townsendi_ of _Passerella_, and _rufina_ of _Melospiza_) in purer,
lighter, and less brown colors.

HABITS. Dr. Cooper met with several individuals of this bird towards
the summits of the Sierra Nevada, in September, 1863, but was unable
to preserve any of them. So far as he was able to observe them, they
had no song, and their habits were generally similar to those of the
_P. townsendi_.

The Thick-billed Sparrow was found by Mr. Ridgway as a very common
bird among the alder swamps in the ravines of the eastern slope of the
Sierra Nevada during the summer. Near Carson City, April 25, in a
swampy thicket near the streams in the level slopes, he heard, for the
first time, its beautiful song, and killed a specimen in the midst of
its utterance of what, he adds, was one of the most exquisitely rich
utterances he ever heard. This song, he states, resembles, in richness
and volume, that of the Louisiana Water Thrush (_Seiurus
ludovicianus_), qualities in which that bird is hardly equalled by any
other North American bird. They were singing in all parts of that
swampy thicket, and up the ravines as far as the snow. From the nature
of the place and the character of their song, they were at first
supposed to be the Water Thrush, until specimens of these exquisite
songsters were secured. He regards this bird as second to none of our
singers belonging to this family and though in variety, sprightliness,
and continuity, and also in passionate emotional character, its song
is not equal to that of the _Chondestes grammaca_, yet it is far
superior in power and richness of tone. Mr. Ridgway regards this bird
as easily distinguishable from the _P. schistacea_, of which, however,
it is only a variety. There is a total discrepancy in its notes, and
while neither species is resident in the latitude of Carson City,
through which both kinds pass in their migrations, the _P. schistacea_
lingers in the spring only a short time, soon passing to the
northward, while the _P. megarhynchus_ arrives later and remains
through the summer. The former makes its temporary abode among the
willows along the river, while the latter breeds in the shrubbery of
the mountain ravines.


CHAR. Bill variable, always large, much arched, and with the culmen
considerably curved; sometimes of enormous size, and with a greater
development backward of the lower jaw, which is always appreciably,
sometimes considerably, broader behind than the upper jaw at its base;
nostrils exposed. Tail rather variable. Bill generally black, light
blue, or red. Wings shorter than in the first group. Gape almost
always much more strongly bristled. Few of the species sparrow-like or
plain in their appearance; usually blue, red, or black and white;
except in one or two instances the sexes very different in color.

The preceding diagnosis is intended to embrace the brightly colored
passerine birds of North America, different in general appearance from
the common Sparrows. It is difficult to draw the line with perfect
strictness, so as to separate the species from those of the preceding
group, but the bill is always more curved, as well as larger, and the
colors are brighter. They resemble quite closely, at a superficial
glance, the _Coccothraustinæ_, but may be readily distinguished by
absence of the projecting tufts surrounding the base of the upper
mandible, shorter, more rounded wings, and longer tarsi.

The genera may be most conveniently arranged as follows:—

  A. Wings decidedly longer than the tail. Eggs plain blue
  or white, unspotted.

    _a._ Feet very stout, reaching nearly to the end of the
    tail. Species terrestrial.

      Calamospiza. Bill moderate, the commissure with a deep
      angle posteriorly and prominent lobe behind it;
      anteriorly nearly straight; commissure of lower
      mandible with a prominent angle. Outer toe longer than
      the inner, both nearly as long as the posterior. Outer
      four primaries about equal, and abruptly longer than
      the rest. Tertials nearly equal to primaries.
      Tail-feathers broad at tips. Color: black with white
      spot on wing in ♂, brownish streaks in ♀. Nest on or
      near ground; eggs plain pale blue.

      Euspiza. Bill weaker, the commissure with a more
      shallow angle, and much less prominent sinuation
      behind it; anteriorly distinctly sinuated. Outer toe
      shorter than inner, both much shorter than the
      posterior one. First primary longest, the rest
      successively shorter. Tertials but little longer than
      secondaries. Tail-feathers attenuated at tips. Color:
      back brown streaked with black; throat white; jugulum
      yellow or ashy; with or without black spot on fore
      neck. A yellow or white superciliary stripe. Nest on
      or near ground; eggs plain pale blue.

    _b._ Feet weaker, scarcely reaching beyond lower
    tail-coverts; species arboreal.

        _a. Size large (wing more than 3.50 inches)._

      Hedymeles. Upper mandible much swollen laterally.
      Colors: no blue; upper parts conspicuously different
      from the lower. Wings and tail with white patches;
      axillars and lining of wing yellow or red. Female
      streaked. Nest in a tree or bush; eggs greenish,
      thickly spotted.

      Guiraca. Upper mandible flat laterally. Colors: ♂ deep
      blue, with two rufous bands on wings; no white patches
      on wings or tail; axillars and lining of wing blue; ♀
      olive-brown without streaks. Nest in a bush; eggs
      plain bluish-white.

        _b. Size very small (wing less than 3.00 inches)._

      Cyanospiza. Similar in form to _Guiraca_, but culmen
      more curved, mandible more shallow, the angle and
      sinuations of the commissure less conspicuous. Color:
      ♂ more or less blue, without any bands on wing (except
      in _C. amæna_ in which they are white); ♀ olive-brown.
      Nest in a bush; eggs plain bluish-white (except in _C.
      ciris_, in which they have reddish spots).

  B. Wing and tail about equal. The smallest of American
  _Conirostres_. Nest in bushes. Eggs white, spotted.

      Spermophila. Bill very short and broad, scarcely
      longer than high, not compressed; culmen greatly
      curved. Color: chiefly black and white, or brown and

      Phonipara. Bill more triangular, decidedly longer than
      deep, much compressed; culmen only slightly curved, or
      perfectly straight. Colors: dull olive-green and
      blackish, with or without yellow about the head.

  C. Wing much shorter than the tail.

    _a._ Head crested. Prevailing color red. Bill red or

      Pyrrhuloxia. Bill pyrrhuline, very short, and with the
      culmen greatly convex; shorter than high. Hind claw
      less than its digit; not much larger than the middle
      anterior one. Tarsus equal to the middle toe. Nest in
      bush or low tree; eggs white, spotted with lilac and

      Cardinalis. Bill coccothraustine, very large; culmen
      very slightly convex. Wings more rounded. Feet as in
      the last, except that the tarsus is longer than the
      middle toe. Nest in bush or low tree; eggs white,
      spotted with lilac and olive.

    _b._ Head not crested. Colors black, brown, or olive,
    without red. Bill dusky, or bluish.

      Pipilo. Bill moderate; culmen and commissure curved.
      Hind claw very large and strong; longer than its
      digit. Tarsus less than the middle toe. Nest on ground
      or in low bush; eggs white sprinkled with red, or pale
      blue with black dots and lines round larger end.


  _Calamospiza_, BONAP. List, 1838. (Type, _Fringilla bicolor_,
  _Corydalina_, AUDUBON, Synopsis, 1839. (Same type.)

  [Line drawing: _Calamospiza bicolor._
                  5720 ♂]

GEN. CHAR. Bill rather large, much swollen at the base; the culmen
broad, gently but decidedly curved; the gonys nearly straight; the
commissure much angulated near the base, then slightly sinuated; lower
mandible nearly as deep as the upper, the margins much inflected, and
shutting under the upper mandible. Nostrils small, strictly basal.
Rictus quite stiffly bristly. Legs large and stout. Tarsi a little
longer than the middle toe; outer toe rather longer than the inner,
and reaching to the concealed base of the middle claw; hind toe
reaching to the base of the middle claw; hind claw about as long as
its toe. Claws all strong, compressed, and considerably curved. Wings
long and pointed; the first four nearly equal, and abruptly longest;
the tertials much elongated, as long as the primaries. Tail a little
shorter than the wings, slightly graduated; the feathers rather narrow
and obliquely oval, rounded at the end.

_Color._ _Male_, black, with white on the wings. _Female_, brown
above, beneath white, with streaks.

  [Illustration: PLATE XXIX.
   1. Poocætes gramineus. D. C., 10147.
   2. Calamospiza bicolor. ♂ Neb., 5720.
   3.     ”          ”     ♀ N. Mex., 6306.
   4. Guiraca cærulea. ♂ Philada., 6480.
   5.     ”      ”     ♀ Cal.
   6. Cyanospiza parellina. ♂ N. Leon, Mex., 4074.
   7.     ”     ciris. ♂ Texas, 6271.
   8.     ”     ciris. ♀.
   9.     ”     versicolor. ♂ N. Leon, Mex., 4075.
  10.     ”          ”      ♀ C. St. Lucas, 12984.
  11.     ”     amœna. ♂ Ft. Union, Dak., 1898.
  12.     ”       ”    ♀ Nevada, 53551.
  13.     ”     cyanea. ♂ Pa., 2645.
  14.     ”        ”    ♀ Ga., 32426.
  15. Phonipara zena. ♂ Bahamas.
  16.     ”       ”   ♀    ”
  17. Spermophila moreleti. ♂ Costa Rica, 30524.]

  [Illustration: _Calamospiza bicolor._]

This genus is well characterized by the large swollen bill, with its
curved culmen; the large strong feet and claws; the long wings, a
little longer than the tail, and with the tertials as long as the
primaries; the first four quills about equal, and abruptly longest;
the tail short and graduated.

The only group of North American _Spizellinæ_, with the tertials equal
to the primaries in the closed wing, is _Passerculus_. This, however,
has a differently formed bill, weaker feet, the inner primaries longer
and more regularly graduated, the tail-feathers more acute and
shorter, and the plumage streaked brownish and white instead of black.

Calamospiza bicolor, BONAP.


  _Fringilla bicolor_, TOWNSEND, J. A. N. Sc. Ph. VII, 1837, 189.—IB.
       Narrative, 1839, 346.—AUD. Orn. Biog. V, 1839, 19, pl. cccxc.
       _Calamospiza bicolor_, BONAP. List, 1838.—IB. Conspectus,
       1850, 475.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 492.—HEERM. X, c, 15.
       _Corydalina bicolor_, AUD. Synopsis, 1839, 130.—IB. Birds Am.
       III, 1841, 195, pl. cci.—MAX. Cab. J. VI, 1858, 347.—COOPER,
       Orn. Cal. 1, 225. _Dolichonyx bicolor_, NUTTALL, Manual, I, (2d
       ed.,) 1840, 203.

SP. CHAR. _Male_ entirely black; a broad band on the wing (covering
the whole of the greater coverts), with the outer edges of the quills
and tail-feathers, white. Length, about 6.50; wing, 3.50; tail, 3.20;
tarsus, 1.00; bill above, .60.

_Female_ pale brown, streaked with darker above; beneath white,
spotted and streaked rather sparsely with black on the breast and
sides. Throat nearly immaculate. A maxillary stripe of black, bordered
above by white. Region around the eye, a faint stripe above it, and an
obscure crescent back of the ear-coverts, whitish. A broad fulvous
white band across the ends of the greater wing-coverts; edge of wing
white. Tail-feathers with a white spot at the end of the inner web.

_Young._ Similar to the female; a faint buff tinge prevalent beneath,
where the streaks are narrower; dark streaks above broader, the
feathers bordered with buffy-white.

HAB. High Central Plains to the Rocky Mountains; southwesterly to
Valley of Mimbres and Sonora; San Antonio, Texas, winter (DRESSER,
Ibis, 1865, 490). Fort Whipple, Arizona (COUES, P. A. N. S. 1866, 84).
Parley’s Park, Utah (RIDGWAY).

HABITS. This peculiar species, known by some writers as the Lark
Bunting, and by others as the White-winged Blackbird, was first
described by Townsend in 1837. He met with it when, in company with
Mr. Nuttall, he made his western tour across the continent, on the
24th of May, soon after crossing the north branch of the Platte River.
The latter writer regarded it as closely allied to the Bobolink, and
described it as a _Dolichonyx_. He describes the birds as gregarious,
consorting with the Cowbirds, and, at the time he met with them,
uttering most delightful songs. Towards evening they sometimes saw
these birds in all directions around them, on the hilly grounds,
rising at intervals to some height, hovering and flapping their wings,
and, at the same time, giving forth a song which Mr. Nuttall describes
as being something like _weet-weet-wt-wt-wt_, notes that were between
the hurried warble of the Bobolink and the melody of a Skylark. It is,
he says, one of the sweetest songsters of the prairies, is tame and
unsuspicious, and the whole employment of the little band seemed to be
an ardent emulation of song.

It feeds on the ground, and, as stated by Mr. Townsend, may be seen in
flocks of from sixty to a hundred together. It was, so far as their
observations went, found inhabiting exclusively the wide grassy plains
of the Platte. They did not see it to the west of the Black Hills, or
the first range of the Rocky Mountains.

To Mr. Nuttall’s account Mr. Townsend adds that this bird is strictly
gregarious, that it feeds on the ground, around which it runs in the
manner of the Grass Finch, to which, in its habits, it seems to be
somewhat allied. Mr. Townsend adds that, as their caravan moved along,
large flocks of these birds, sometimes to the number of sixty or a
hundred individuals, were started from the ground, and the piebald
appearance of the males and females promiscuously intermingled
presented a very striking and by no means unpleasing effect. While the
flock was engaged in feeding, some of the males were observed to rise
suddenly to considerable height in the air, and, poising themselves
over their companions with their wings in constant and rapid motion,
continued nearly stationary. In this situation they poured forth a
number of very lively and sweetly modulated notes, and, at the
expiration of about a minute, descended to the ground and moved about
as before. Mr. Townsend also states that he met with none of these
birds west of the Black Hills.

Mr. Ridgway also mentions that though he found these birds very
abundant on the plains east of the Black Hills, he met with only a
single specimen to the westward of that range. This was at Parley’s
Park, among the Wahsatch Mountains.

Dr. Gambel, in his paper on the Birds of California, states that he
met with small flocks of this handsome species in the bushy plains,
and along the margins of streams, during the winter months. And Dr.
Heermann states that he also found this species numerous in
California, New Mexico, and Texas. Arriving in the last-named State in
May, he found this species there already mated, and about to commence
the duties of incubation.

Mr. Dresser found these birds common near San Antonio during the
winter. In December he noticed several flocks near Eagle Pass. They
frequented the roads, seeking the horse-dung. They were quite shy, and
when disturbed the whole flock would go off together, uttering a low
and melodious whistle. In May and June several were still about near
Howard’s Rancho, and on his return from Houston, in June, he succeeded
in shooting one in its full summer plumage, when its specific name is
peculiarly appropriate. He does not, however, think that, as a general
thing, any of them remain about San Antonio to breed.

They breed in great numbers on the plains of Wyoming Territory, and
probably also in Colorado, Montana, and Dakota. The Smithsonian
collection embraces specimens obtained in July from the Yellowstone,
from Platte River, Pole Creek, the Black Hills, and Bridger’s Pass,
indicating that they breed in these localities; also specimens from
Texas, New Mexico, Sonora, and Espia, in Mexico, but none from

Dr. Kennerly, who met with these birds both in Sonora and at Espia, on
the Mexican Boundary Survey, states that he observed them in the
valley of the river early in the morning, in very large flocks. During
the greater part of the day they feed on the hills among the bushes.
When on the wing they keep very close together, so that a single
discharge of shot would sometimes bring down twenty or thirty. Mr. J.
H. Clark, on the same survey, also states that he sometimes found them
occurring in flocks of hundreds. The greatest numbers were seen near
Presidio del Norte. Great varieties of plumage were observed in the
same flock. The food seemed to be seeds almost exclusively. They were
very simultaneous in all their movements. Stragglers were never
observed remaining behind after the flock had started. They are, he
states, the most absolutely gregarious birds he has ever met with.

Dr. Coues, who regarded this bird as one highly characteristic of the
prairie fauna, writes me that he met with it in great numbers in
Kansas, soon after leaving Fort Riley, and saw it every day until he
reached the Raton Mountains in New Mexico. “For two or three days, in
fact, from Fort Larned to the mountains,” he writes, “I scarcely saw
anything else. This was the first week in June, and most of the birds
seemed to be paired and nesting, though occasionally a dozen or more
were seen together, flocking like the Blackbirds that they strongly
recall. They were in full song, and proved delightful vocalists.
Sometimes they warble from some spray or low bush offering a stand a
little above the level flower-beds of the prairie, but oftener they
mount straight up, hovering high in the air on tremulous wings,
pouring forth their melodious strains until, seemingly exhausted, they
sink back to the ground. At such times it is interesting to watch two
rival males, each straining every nerve to mount higher than the
other, and sing more acceptably to its mate hidden in the verdure
below. This habit of rising on the wing to sing, so famed in the case
of the Skylark, seems not confined to particular species, but to be a
forced practice of a number of different birds residing in open level
regions, that do not afford the elevated perches usually chosen by
woodland songsters for their performances. The ordinary flight of this
species is altogether of a different character, being a low gliding
motion, overtopping the weeds and bushes. That the birds were nesting
at this time is rendered still more probable by the fact that the
males noticed as we passed along were out of all proportion, in
numbers, to the females seen. They were very heedless of approach, and
any number could have been readily destroyed. I never saw any at Fort
Whipple, or elsewhere in Arizona, though Dr. Heermann says that they
are abundant in the southern portions of the Territory, and specimens
are recorded from Lower California.”

Mr. Allen found the Lark Bunting one of the few birds that seemed
strictly confined to the arid plains near Fort Hays, in Kansas. He met
with it in great abundance, but only on the high ridges and dry
plateaus, where they seemed to live in colonies. He describes them as
very wary, and very tenacious of life, often flying long distances,
even after having been mortally wounded. They seemed to delight to fly
in strong winds, when most other birds kept in shelter. They sing
while on the wing, hovering in the wind and shaking the tail and legs
after the well-known manner of the Yellow-breasted Chat. Its song
seemed to him to strongly resemble that of the Chat, with which, at
such times, its whole demeanor strikingly accorded.

Dr. Heermann, in his Report on the birds collected in the survey on
the 32d parallel, states that he first observed these birds on
approaching the Pimos villages. They were associated with large flocks
of Sparrows, gleaning grain and grass-seed upon the ground. When
started up they flew but a short distance before they resumed their
occupation. After crossing the San Pedro he again found them in large
flocks. At Fort Fillmore, in Mesilla Valley, it was also quite common
and associated with the Cowbird and Blackbird, searching for grain
among the stable offals. He again met with them in Texas, in the month
of April, most of them still retaining their winter coat. He describes
the tremulous fluttering motion of the wings with which the male
accompanies its song while on the wing as very much after the manner
of the Bobolink, and he speaks of their song as a disconnected but not
an unmusical chant. He found their nests on the ground, made of fine
grasses, lined with hair, and in one instance he found the eggs
spotted with faint red dashes.

At Gilmer, in Wyoming Territory, their nests were found by Mr. Durkee
built on the ground, and composed of dry grasses very loosely
arranged. The eggs, four or five in number, are of a uniform and
beautiful light shade of blue, similar to those of the _Euspiza
americana_. They measure .90 by .70 of an inch, are of a rounded-oval
shape, and, so far as I have observed, are entirely unspotted,
although eggs with a few reddish blotches are said to have been met


  _Euspiza_, BONAP. List, 1838. (Type, _Emberiza americana_, GMELIN.)
  _Euspina_, CABANIS, Mus. Hein. 1851, 133. (Same type.)

  [Line drawing: _Euspiza americana_, Bonap.
                  1459 ♂]

GEN. CHAR. Bill large and strong, swollen, and without any ridges; the
lower mandible nearly as high as the upper; as broad at the base as
the length of the gonys, and considerably broader than the upper
mandible; the edges much inflexed, and shutting much within the upper
mandible; the commissure considerably angulated at the base, then
decidedly sinuated. The tarsus barely equal to the middle toe; the
lateral toes nearly equal, not reaching to the base of the middle
claw; the hind toe about equal to the middle one without its claw. The
wings long and acute, reaching nearly to the middle of the tail; the
tertials decidedly longer than the secondaries, but much shorter than
the primaries; first quill longest, the others regularly graduated.
Tail considerably shorter than the wings, though moderately long;
nearly even, although slightly emarginate; the outer feathers scarcely
shorter. Middle of back only striped; beneath without streaks.

This genus comes nearer to _Calamospiza_, but has shorter tertials,
more slender bill, weaker and more curved claws, etc.


E. americana. Top and sides of head light slate; forehead tinged with
greenish-yellow. A superciliary stripe, a maxillary spot, sides of
breast, and middle line of breast and belly, yellow. Chin white,
throat black, shoulders chestnut. Female with the black of the throat
replaced by a crescent of spots. _Hab._ Eastern Province of United
States; south to New Grenada.

E. townsendi. Body throughout (including the jugulum), dark ash,
tinged with brownish on the back and wings. Superciliary and maxillary
stripe, chin, throat, and middle of belly, white. A maxillary line and
a pectoral crescent of black spots. No chestnut shoulders. _Hab._
Chester Co., Pennsylvania.

Euspiza americana, BONAP.


  _Emberiza americana_, GMELIN, Syst. Nat. I, 1788, 872.—WILSON, Am.
       Orn. III, 1811, 86, pl. iii, f. 2.—AUD. Orn. Biog. IV, 1838,
       579, pl. ccclxxxiv.—IB. Syn. 1839, 101.—IB. Birds Am. III,
       1841, 58, pl. clvi.—MAX. Cab. J. VI, 1858, 341. _Fringilla
       (Spiza) americana_, BONAP. Obs. Wils. 1825, No. 85. _Euspiza
       americana_, BONAP. List, 1838 (type).—IB. Conspectus, 1850,
       469.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 494.—SAMUELS, 327. _Euspina
       americana_, CABANIS, Mus. Hein. 1851, 133 (type). _Fringilla
       flavicollis_, GMELIN, Syst. Nat. I, 926. “_Emberiza mexicana_,
       LATHAM,” Syn. I, 1790, 412 (Gray). _Passerina nigricollis_,
       VIEILLOT. _Yellow-throated Finch_, PENNANT, Arc. Zoöl. II, 374.

SP. CHAR. _Male._ Sides of the head and sides and back of the neck
ash; crown tinged with yellowish-green and faintly streaked with
dusky. A superciliary and short maxillary line, middle of the breast,
axillaries, and edge of the wing yellow. Chin, loral region, patch on
side of throat, belly, and under tail-coverts white. A black patch on
the throat diminishing to the breast, and ending in a spot on the
upper part of the belly. Wing-coverts chestnut. Interscapular region
streaked with black; rest of back immaculate. Length, about 6.70;
wing, 3.50.

_Female_ with the markings less distinctly indicated; the black of the
breast replaced by a black maxillary line and a streaked collar in the
yellow of the upper part of the breast.

HAB. United States from the Atlantic to the border of the high Central
Plains, south to Panama and New Granada. Xalapa (SCL. 1857, 205);
Guatemala (SCL. Ibis, I, 18); Turbo, N. G. (CASSIN, P. A. N. S. 1860,
140); Panama (LAWR. VII, 1861, 298); Nicaragua, Graytown (LAWR. VIII,
181); Veragua (SALV. 1867, 142); Costa Rica (LAWR. IX, 103); Vera
Cruz, winter (SUM. M. B. S. I, 552).

Among adult males, scarcely two individuals exactly alike can be
found. In some the black of the throat is continued in blotches down
the middle of the breast, while in others it is restricted to a spot
immediately under the head. These variations are not at all dependent
upon any difference of habitat, for specimens from remote regions from
each other may be found as nearly alike as any from the same locality.
Some specimens from Central America are more deeply colored than North
American ones, owing, no doubt, to the freshness of the plumage.

  [Illustration: _Euspiza americana._]

HABITS. The history of the Black-throated Bunting has, until very
recently, been much obscured by incorrect observations and wrong
descriptions. Evidently this bird has been more or less confounded
with one or two other species entirely different from it. Thus Wilson,
Audubon, and Nuttall, in speaking of its nest and eggs, give
descriptions applicable to _Coturniculus passerinus_ or to _C.
henslowi_, but which are wholly wrong as applied to those of this
bird. Nuttall, whose observations of North American birds were largely
made in Massachusetts, speaks of this bird being quite common in that
State, where it is certainly very rare, and describes, as its song,
notes that have no resemblance to those of this Bunting, but which are
a very exact description of the musical performances of the
Yellow-winged Sparrow.

It is found in the eastern portion of North America, from the base of
the Black Hills to the Atlantic States, and from Massachusetts to
South Carolina. I am not aware that on the Atlantic it has ever been
traced farther south than that State, but farther west it is found as
far at least as Southwestern Texas. During winter it is found in
Central America, and in Colombia, South America.

In Massachusetts it is extremely rare. Mr. Hopkins found it breeding
in Williamstown, and sent me its eggs. I have also met with its nest
and eggs, in a low meadow near the sea, in Hingham. In both of these
instances the nest was on the ground. A specimen was shot in Newton by
Mr. John Thaxter, June 26, 1857, that had all the appearance of being
then in the process of incubation. Throughout Pennsylvania, and in the
vicinity of Washington, these birds are quite common.

Wilson states that they are very common in the vicinity of
Philadelphia, where they make their appearance in the middle of May,
and where they seem to prefer level fields covered with rye-grass,
clover, or timothy. They are described as more conspicuous for the
quantity than for the quality of their song. This consists of three
notes, sounding like _chip-chip-chē-chē-chē_. Of this unmusical ditty
they are by no means parsimonious, and for nearly three months after
their first arrival, every level field of grain or grass resounds with
their quaint serenade. In their shape and manners, Wilson states, they
bear a close resemblance to the _Emberiza citrinella_ of Europe. They
become silent by September, and in the course of that month depart for
the southwest. It is a rare bird in South Carolina, but is very
abundant in Texas, where it is also resident, and undoubtedly breeds.
Audubon states that he was surprised to see how numerous they were in
every open piece of ground throughout that State, especially those
covered with tufts of grass. They are, he states, not so common in
Ohio, and quite rare in Kentucky. They are especially abundant in the
open lands of Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas,
and Nebraska; and they have been found breeding as far to the west as
Wyoming Territory, near to the base of the eastern range of the Rocky
Mountains. Mr. Allen found this species one of the most abundant birds
of Western Iowa, characterizing it as eminently a prairie species, and
one of the few inhabitants of the wide open stretches.

Mr. Dresser found, early in May, numbers of these birds in the
mesquite thickets near the San Antonio and Medina Rivers, and, as he
found them equally numerous there in July, he naturally infers that
they breed in that neighborhood. Dr. Heermann obtained some eggs which
he had no doubt belonged to this species, though he was unable to
secure the parent.

It has also been found in Western Texas and in the Indian Territory by
Mr. J. H. Clark, in Texas by Dr. Lincecum, at the Kiowa agency by Dr.
Palmer, and on the Yellowstone by Dr. Hayden.

This bird is not gregarious, always moving in pairs, and although, as
they are preparing for their migrations, they congregate in particular
localities, they always keep somewhat apart in family groups, and do
not mingle promiscuously as do many others of this family. They are,
at all times, unsuspicious and easily approached, and when fired at
will often return to the same field from which they were startled.
They are very partial to certain localities, and are rarely to be met
with in sandy regions.

Mr. Audubon states that the notes of this species very closely
resemble those of the _Emberiza miliaria_ of Europe. Its unmusical
notes are almost continuously repeated from sunrise to sunset. When
the female is startled from her nest she creeps quietly away through
the grass, and then hides herself, making no complaint, and not
showing herself even if her treasures are taken from her. Their nests
are constructed of coarse grasses and stems, lined with finer and
similar materials. They are, in certain localities, placed on the
ground, but more frequently, in many parts of the country, they are
built in positions above the ground. This is almost invariably the
case where they nest among the tall coarse grasses of the prairies. My
attention was first called to this peculiarity by Dr. J. W. Velie,
then of Rock Island, Ill. He informed me that in no instance had he
found the nest of this species on the ground, but always raised a few
inches above it. It was usually constructed of the tops of the red-top
grasses, worked in among a bunch of thick grass, so as to make the
nest quite firm. The meadows in which Dr. Velie found these nests were
quite dry, so that there was no necessity for their thus building
clear from the ground in order to escape being wet. I was afterwards
informed by the late Mr. Robert Kennicott that his experience in
regard to the nests of these birds had been invariably the same. Dr.
P. R. Hoy, of Racine, is confident that these birds in Wisconsin never
nest on the ground, or else very rarely, as he has never noticed their
doing so. He writes that during one season he visited and made notes
of nineteen different nests. Ten of these were built in
gooseberry-bushes, four on thorn-bushes, three among
blackberry-brambles, one on a raspberry-bush, and one on a wild rose.
None were within a foot of the ground, and some were six feet from it.
They have two broods in a season.

On the other hand, Mr. Ridgway informs me that in Southern Illinois
the nest of this species is always placed on the ground, usually in a
meadow, and that he has never found its nest placed anywhere else than
on the ground, in a tuft of grass or clover. Professor Baird has had a
similar experience in Pennsylvania. Mr. B. F. Goss found them nesting
both in bushes and on the ground at Neosho Falls, Kansas.

The eggs of this species are of a uniform light blue color, similar in
shade to the eggs of the common Bluebird, as also to those of the
_Calamospiza bicolor_. They vary considerably in size, the smallest
measuring .80 of an inch in length by .60 in breadth, while the larger
and more common size is .90 by .70 of an inch.

Euspiza townsendi, BONAP.


  _Emberiza townsendi_, AUD. Orn. Biog. II, 1834, 183; V, 90, pl.
       cccc.—IB. Syn. 1839.—IB. Birds Am. III, 1841, 62, pl.
       clvii.—NUTTALL, Man. I, (2d ed.,) 1840, 528. _Euspiza
       townsendi_, BON. List, 1838.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 495.

SP. CHAR. _Male._ Upper parts, head and neck all round, sides of body
and forepart of breast, slate-blue; the back and upper surface of
wings tinged with yellowish-brown; the interscapular region streaked
with black. A superciliary and maxillary line, chin and throat, and
central line of under parts from the breast to crissum, white; the
edge of the wing, and a gloss on the breast and middle of belly,
yellow. A black spotted line from the lower corner of the lower
mandible down the side of the throat, connecting with a crescent of
streaks in the upper edge of the slate portion of the breast. Length,
5.75; wing, 2.86; tail, 2.56.

HAB. Chester County, Penn. But one specimen known (in the Mus.

It is still a question whether this is a distinct species, or only a
variety of _E. americana_. There is, however, little ground for the
last supposition, although its rarity is a mystery.

The original type specimen of this species, collected by Dr. J. K.
Townsend, still continues to be the only one known, and has been
presented by its owner, Dr. E. Michener, to the Smithsonian

HABITS. Only a single specimen of this apparently well-marked species
has been observed, and nothing is known as to its history. The bird
was shot by Mr. J. K. Townsend, in an old field grown up with
cedar-bushes, near New Garden, Chester Co., Penn., May 11, 1833.


  _? Goniaphea_, BOWD. “Excurs. in Madeira, 1825,” Agassiz. (Type,
    _Loxia ludoviciana_, according to Gray.)
  _Habia_, REICHENB. Av. Syst. Nat. 1850, pl. xxviii. (Type, _L.
    ludoviciana_; not _Habia_ of LESSON, 1831).
  _Hedymeles_, CABANIS, Mus. Hein. 1851, 153. (Same type.)

  [Line drawing: _Hedymeles melanocephalus._
                  1496 ♂]

GEN. CHAR. Bill very large, much swollen; lower mandible scarcely
deeper than the upper; feet almost coccothraustine, tarsi and toes
very short, the claws strong and much curved, though blunt. First four
primaries longest, and nearly equal, abruptly longer than the fifth.
Tail broad, perfectly square. _Colors_: Black, white, and red, or
black, cinnamon, yellow, and white, on the male; the females brownish,
streaked, with the axillars and lining of the wing yellow.

There seems to be abundant reason for separating this genus from
_Guiraca_; the latter is, in reality, much more nearly related to
_Cyanospiza_, it being impossible to define the dividing line between

Species and Varieties.

COMMON CHARACTERS. ♂. Head and upper parts (except rump)
deep black. Two broad bands across coverts, a large patch
on base of primaries, and terminal half of inner webs of
tail-feathers, pure white. Breast carmine or cinnamon;
axillars and lining of wing carmine or gamboge. ♀. Black
replaced by ochraceous-brown; other parts more streaked.

  H. ludovicianus. Rump and lower parts white; lining of
  wing, and patch on breast, rosy carmine. No nuchal collar.
  _Female._ Lining of wing saffron-yellow; breast with
  numerous streaks. _Hab._ Eastern Province of North
  America, south, in winter, to Ecuador.

  H. melanocephalus. Rump and lower parts cinnamon-rufous;
  lining of wing and middle of abdomen gamboge-yellow. A
  nuchal collar of rufous. _Female._ Lining of wing
  lemon-yellow; breast without streaks; abdomen tinged with

    Crown continuous black. No post-ocular rufous stripe.
    _Hab._ Mountains of Mexico, and Central Rocky Mountains
    of United States                           var. _melanocephalus_.

    Crown divided by a longitudinal rufous stripe; a
    distinct post-ocular stripe of the same. _Hab._ Western
    Province of United States, south, in winter, to Colima
                                                    var. _capitalis_.

Hedymeles ludovicianus, SWAINSON.


  _Loxia ludoviciana_, LINN. Syst. Nat. I, 1766, 306.—WILSON, Am.
       Orn. II, 1810, 135, pl. xvii, f. 2. _Guiraca ludoviciana_,
       SWAINSON, Phil. Mag. I, 1827, 438.—BONAP. List, 1838.—IB.
       Consp. 1850, 501.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 497.—SAMUELS,
       328. _Fringilla ludoviciana_, AUD. Orn. Biog. II, 1834, 166; V,
       513, pl. cxxvii. _Pyrrhula ludoviciana_, SAB. Zoöl. App.
       Franklin’s Narr. _Coccothraustes ludoviciana_, RICH. List, Pr.
       Br. Ass. 1837. _Coccoborus ludovicianus_, AUD. Syn. 1839,
       133.—IB. Birds Am. III, 1841, 209, pl. 205.—MAX. Cab. J. VI,
       1858, 267. “_Goniaphea ludoviciana_, BOWDICH.” _Hedymeles
       ludoviciana_, CABANIS, Mus. Hein. 1851, 153. _Fringilla
       punicea_, GMELIN, Syst. Nat. I, 1788, 921 (male). _Loxia
       obscura_, GMELIN, I, 1788, 862. _Loxia rosea_, WILSON, Am. Orn.
       pl. xvii, f. 2. _Coccothraustes rubricollis_, VIEILLOT, Galerie
       des Ois. I, 1824, 67, pl. lviii.

SP. CHAR. Upper parts generally, with head and neck all round, glossy
black. A broad crescent across the upper part of the breast, extending
narrowly down to the belly, axillaries, and under wing-coverts,
carmine. Rest of under parts, rump and upper tail-coverts, middle
wing-coverts, spots on the tertiaries and inner great wing-coverts,
basal half of primaries and secondaries, and a large patch on the ends
of the inner webs of the outer three tail-feathers, pure white.
Length, 8.50 inches; wing, 4.15.

_Female_ without the white of quills, tail, and rump, and without any
black or red. Above yellowish-brown streaked with darker; head with a
central stripe above, and a superciliary on each side, white. Beneath
dirty white, streaked with brown on the breast and sides. Under
wing-coverts and axillars saffron-yellow.

In the male the black feathers of the back and sides of the neck have
a subterminal white bar. There are a few black spots on the sides of
the breast just below the red.

The young male of the year is like the female, except in having the
axillaries, under wing-coverts, and a trace of a patch on the breast,
light rose-red.

The depth of the carmine tint on the under parts varies a good deal in
different specimens, but it is always of the same rosy hue.

HAB. Eastern United States to the Missouri plains; south to Ecuador.
Honduras (MOORE, P. Z. S. 1859, 58); Xalapa (SCL. 1859, 365); Bogota
(SCL. 1855, 154); Cordova (SCL. 1856, 301); Guatemala (SCL. Ibis, I,
17); Cuba (CAB. J. VI, 9); Ecuador (SCL. 1860, 298); Costa Rica (CAB.
J. 61, 71); (LAWR. IX, 102); Panama (LAWR. VII, 1861, 297); Vera Cruz,
winter (SUM. M. B. S. I, 552); Yucatan (LAWR. Ann. IX, 210).

  [Illustration: _Hedymeles melanocephalus._]

HABITS. The Rose-breasted Grosbeak, during the summer months, appears
to have a widely extended area of distribution, though nowhere a very
abundant species, and one of somewhat irregular occurrence. It is
found as far to the east as Nova Scotia, to the north as Selkirk
Settlement and the valley of the Saskatchewan, and to the west as
Nebraska. It winters in great numbers in Guatemala. In the last-named
country, while abundant in the Vera Paz, it was not found at Dueñas,
but was a common cage-bird in the city of Guatemala. It was also found
common at Herradura, in Colombia, South America, by Mr. C. W. Wyatt.

This bird was noticed on a single occasion near San Antonio by Mr.
Dresser, but was not observed by Dr. Woodhouse in Texas, or in the
Indian Territory. Sumichrast did not meet with it in Vera Cruz. At St.
Stephens, N. B., Mr. Boardman found this species a regular summer
visitant, but rare, nor did Mr. Verrill find it common in the western
part of Maine. In Massachusetts this bird becomes more common, but is
nowhere very abundant. It has been met with in various places in the
eastern part of the State, but rarely, and only in restricted
localities. In the western part of the State it is more numerous, as
well as throughout the whole of the Connecticut Valley. At
Springfield, Mr. Allen notes it as a summer visitant, breeding in the
open woods, but not abundant. He is of the opinion that during the
past twenty-five years this bird has increased in numbers in all parts
of the State. Mr. Allen found this bird quite common in Southern
Indiana, in Northern Illinois, and in Western Iowa, where he found it
frequent in the groves along the streams. Dr. Coues mentions it as
rare and only migratory in South Carolina. Mr. McIlwraith gives it as
a summer resident in the vicinity of Hamilton, Canada, where it is
very generally distributed throughout the open woods, arriving there
the second week in May. It is also found throughout Vermont, in
favorable situations in open woods, on the borders of streams. It is
not uncommon in the vicinity of Randolph, where it regularly breeds.

Wilson, who enjoyed but few opportunities of studying the habits of
this species, states that it eagerly feeds on the ripe fruit of the
sour gum-tree. He was also aware of its fine song, its value as a
caged bird, and that it frequently sings during the night.

Sir John Richardson met with a single specimen of this bird near the
Saskatchewan during his first expedition with Sir John Franklin, but
did not afterwards meet with it. He states that it frequents the deep
recesses of the forests, and there sings a clear, mellow, and
harmonious song.

Nuttall appears to have seen little or nothing of this bird, except in
confinement. He describes it as thriving very well in a cage, and as a
melodious and indefatigable warbler, frequently passing the greater
part of the night in singing, with great variety of tones. It is said,
while thus earnestly engaged, to mount on tiptoe, as if seemingly in
an ecstasy of enthusiasm and delight at the unrivalled harmony of its
own voice. These notes, he adds, are wholly warbled, now loud and
clear, now with a querulous and now with a sprightly air, and finally
lower and more pathetic. In Mr. Nuttall’s opinion it has no superior
in song, except the Mocking-Bird.

Mr. Say met with these birds in the spring, on the banks of the
Missouri, and afterwards, on the 5th of August, at Pembina in the 49th
degree of latitude.

This bird arrives in Eastern Massachusetts about the 15th of May, and
leaves in September. It nests during the first week in June.

Mr. Audubon states that he has frequently observed this species, early
in the month of March, in the lower parts of Louisiana, making its way
eastward, and has noticed the same circumstance both at Henderson,
Ky., and at Cincinnati, O. At this period it passes at a considerable
height in the air. He never saw it in the maritime parts of Georgia or
Carolina, but they have been procured in the mountainous parts of
those States. On the banks of the Schuylkill, early in May, he has
observed this bird feeding on the tender buds of the trees. When in
Texas, in 1837, Mr. Audubon also found it very abundant in April.

Dr. Bachman, quoted by Audubon, states that, having slightly wounded a
beautiful male of this species, he kept it three years in confinement.
It very soon became quite tame, fed, in an open room, on moistened
bread. It was at once reconciled to live in a cage, and fed readily on
various kinds of food, but preferred Indian meal and hemp-seed. It was
also very fond of insects, and ate grasshoppers and crickets with
peculiar relish. It watched the flies with great apparent interest,
and often snatched at and secured the wasps that ventured within its
cage. During bright moonshiny nights it sang sweetly, but not loudly,
remaining in the same position on its perch. When it sang in the
daytime it was in the habit of vibrating its wings, in the manner of
the Mocking-Bird. It was a lively and a gentle companion for three
years, but suffered from cold in severe wintry weather, and finally
died from this cause. It would frequently escape from its cage, and
never exhibited the least desire to leave him, but always returned to
the house at night. It sang about eight weeks, and the rest of the
year had only a faint _chuck_.

  [Illustration: PLATE XXX.
   1. Hedymeles melanocephalus. ♂ Ft. Bridger, 11241.
   2.      ”           ”        ♀ Dakota, 1868.
   3. Pyrrhuloxia sinuata. ♂ Texas, 3670.
   4. Hedymeles ludovicianus. ♂ Iowa, 34206.
   5.      ”           ”      ♀ Pa., 2425.
   6. Cardinalis virginianus. ♀ Texas, 4022.
   7.      ”     virginianus. ♂ S. Ill., 58586.
   8.      ”     coccineus. ♂ 29702.
   9.      ”     phœniceus.
  10.      ”     igneus. ♂ Cape St. Lucas, 49757.]

This Grosbeak builds in low trees on the edge of woods, frequently in
small groves on the banks of streams. Their nests are coarsely built,
with a base composed of waste stubble, fragments of leaves, and stems
of plants. These are intermingled with and strengthened by twigs and
coarser stems. They have a diameter of eight inches, and a height of
three and a half. The upper portion of the nest is usually composed of
dry _usnea_ mosses, mingled with a few twigs, and lined with finer
twigs. Its cavity is three inches in diameter and one in depth, being
quite shallow for so large a nest.

The eggs bear some resemblance to those of the _Pyrangæ_, but are
usually much larger, though they vary greatly in size. Their
ground-color is usually a light but well-marked shade of
verdigris-green, varying occasionally to a greenish-white, and are
marked, more or less, over their entire surface, with blotches of
reddish-brown. They vary in length from 1.05 to .90 of an inch, and
from .78 to .60.

During incubation, and in the presence of its mate, this Grosbeak is a
persistent and enthusiastic singer, and, at times, carries his love of
song so far as to betray his nest. This is more especially so when he
relieves his mate, takes her place on the nest, and then, apparently
oblivious of the danger of lifting up his voice in song when upon so
responsible a duty, attracts, by his melody, the oölogist to his

Dr. Hoy, of Racine, supplies some interesting information in regard to
the habits and nesting of this species. On the 15th of June, within
six miles of that city, he found seven nests, all within a space of
not over five acres, and he was assured that each year they resort to
the same locality and nest thus socially. Six of these nests were in
thorn-trees, all were within six to ten feet from the ground, and all
were in the central portion of the top. Three of the four parent birds
sitting on the nests were males, and this he was told was usually the
case. When a nest was disturbed, all the neighboring Grosbeaks
gathered around and appeared equally interested. Both nest and eggs so
closely resemble those of the Tanagers that it is difficult to
distinguish them. Their position is, however, usually different, the
Grosbeaks generally nesting in the central portion of a small tree,
the Tanagers’ being placed on a horizontal limb.

Hedymeles melanocephalus, SWAINSON.


  _Guiraca melanocephala_, SW. Syn. Mex. Birds Philos. Mag. I, 1827,
       438.—BON. List, 1838.—IB. Consp. 1850, 502.—BAIRD, Birds N.
       Am. 1858, 498.—COOPER & SUCKLEY, 206. _Coccothraustes
       melanocephala_, RICH. List, Pr. Brit. Ass. for 1836, 1837.
       _Fringilla melanocephala_, AUD. Orn. Biog. IV, 1838, 519, pl.
       ccclxxiii. _Coccoborus melanocephalus_, AUD. Synopsis, 1839,
       133.—IB. Birds Am. III, 1841, 214, pl. 206.—HEERM. X, S, 51
       (nest).—COOPER, Orn. Cal. 1, 228. _Goniaphea melanocephala_,
       SCLATER? _Hedymeles melanocephala_, CABANIS, Mus. Hein. 1851,
       153. _Fringilla xanthomaschalis_, WAGLER, Isis, 1831, 525.
       _Pitylus guttatus_, LESSON, Rev. Zoöl. II, 1839, 102.
       _? Guiraca tricolor_, LESSON, Rev. Zoöl. II, 1839, 102.

SP. CHAR. _Male._ Head above and on the sides, with chin, back, wings,
and tail, black. A well-marked collar on the hind neck all round (and
in var. _capitalis_ a more or less distinct median stripe on crown,
and one behind the eye), edges of interscapular feathers, rump, and
under parts generally pale brownish-orange, almost light cinnamon.
Middle of belly, axillaries, and under wing-coverts, yellow. Belly
just anterior to the anus, under tail-coverts, a large blotch at the
end of the inner webs of first and second tail-feathers, a band across
the middle and greater wing-coverts, some spots on the ends of the
tertiaries, the basal portions of all the quills, and the outer three
primaries near the tips, white. Length nearly 8 inches; wing, 4.25;
tail, 3.50.

_Female_ has the chin, sides of throat, and superciliary stripe white;
the black markings replaced by olivaceous-brown; the cinnamon markings
paler, and almost white; the white of wings more restricted; that of
tail wanting. Usually there are few or no streaks beneath as in
_ludovicianus_ (faint ones on flanks); in young males, however, they
are more appreciable. The lemon or gamboge yellow axillars and under
coverts in all ages and stages separate this species from _H.
ludovicianus_, the female and young of which have those regions of a
saffron or fulvous yellow.

HAB. High Central Plains from Yellowstone to the Pacific. Table-lands
of Mexico. Xalapa (SCL. 1859, 365); Orizaba (SCL. 1857, 213); Vera
Cruz, Alpine and plateau, breeding (SUM. M. B. S. I, 551).

This bird, in its range of habitat, appears to be represented by two
varieties, which, however, run into each other, so that it is often
difficult to determine to which variety specimens from intermediate
regions should be referred.

Taking the series from Eastern Mexico (Orizaba and Mirador) and
northward along the Rocky Mountains of the United States, we find the
black of the head continuous, sharply defined by a gently curved
outline behind, and without a trace of either the vertex or
post-ocular stripes. This is the true _melanocephalus_, as restricted,
and may be regarded as the Rocky Mountain form. The most western
specimen is 11,241, from Fort Bridger; the most northern (19,355),
from Stinking River, Northern Wyoming. All specimens from the Pacific
coast eastward to the western base of the Rocky Mountains, including
Cape St. Lucas and Western Mexico south to Colima, differ from the
Rocky Mountain series in having the posterior outline of the black
hood ragged, and irregularly indented by the rufous of the nape, which
always extends in a quite broad stripe toward the eye, along the side
of the occiput, and quite frequently forms a conspicuous median vertex
stripe, though the latter feature is sometimes not distinct. These
differences are observable only in the males, and, although apparently
slight, are yet sufficiently constant to justify distinguishing them
as races. The Rocky Mountain form being the true _melanocephalus_, the
name _capitalis_ is proposed for the western one.

HABITS. This bird occurs from the high Central Plains to the Pacific,
and from the northern portions of Washington Territory to the
table-lands of Mexico. Mr. Ridgway found this species abundant, during
the summer months, in all the fertile wooded districts along the
entire route of the survey. At Sacramento it was common in the willow
copses, and was observed in the greatest numbers, in May, in the rich
valley of the Truckee, in company with Bullock’s Oriole, the Louisiana
Tanager, and other species, feeding upon the buds of the
“grease-wood.” It principally inhabits the willows along the rivers,
and the shrubbery skirting the streams of the mountain cañons. In its
manners and notes Mr. Ridgway regards this bird as an exact
counterpart of the eastern species, the _Hedymeles ludovicianus_, its
song being by no means superior. The peculiar and very odd _click_ of
the _ludovicianus_ is said to be equally characteristic of this bird.
Mr. Ridgway met with its nests in willows, about ten feet from the
ground. He had evidence that the male bird assists the female in the
duties of incubation.

This bird, though a common summer resident in the Great Salt Lake
Valley, had all migrated, according to Mr. Allen, by the 1st of
September. It is well known there as the Peabird, from its fondness
for green peas, of which it is very destructive.

According to Dr. Cooper, this Grosbeak arrives in California, near San
Diego, about April 12. It is numerous during the summer throughout the
mountains both of the coast and of the Sierra Nevada, and extends its
migrations at least as far as Puget Sound. It is often kept in
confinement on account of its loud, sweet song. In the Coast
Mountains, in May, its music is said to be delightful, the males vying
with each other from the tops of the trees, and making the hills
fairly ring with their melody.

Dr. Cooper found a nest of this bird, May 12, at the eastern base of
the Coast Range. It was built in a low horizontal branch of an alder,
and consisted of a few sticks and weeds, very loosely put together,
with a lining of grass and roots. The eggs, three in number, he
describes as of a pale bluish-white ground, thickly spotted with
brown, more densely near the larger end. Their size he gives as .95 by
.70 of an inch.

Dr. Cooper also states that they frequent the ground in search of
food, but also live much on trees, feeding on their buds. They are not
gregarious, assembling only in family groups in the fall. They do not
fly high, nor do they make any noise in flying.

He has observed these birds at Santa Cruz April 12, or as early as he
saw them at San Diego, three hundred and fifty miles farther south,
and has found a young bird fledged as early as May 23.

Dr. Coues speaks of this bird as an abundant summer resident of
Arizona, where it arrives by the first of May, and remains until the
latter part of September. He speaks of it as frequenting the thick
brush of the ravines and the cottonwood and willow copses of the
river-bottoms. Its call-note resembles that of _Lophortyx gambeli_.
Its song, he says, is superb,—a powerful, but melodious succession of
clear, rich, rolling notes, reminding one somewhat of the _Icterus

Dr. Suckley speaks of this bird being sparingly found in the vicinity
of Fort Steilacoom, Puget Sound, where he obtained two specimens.

Dr. Heermann speaks of the song of this bird as clear and musical, and
as very closely resembling that of our _Turdus migratorius_. He
describes its nests as formed with very little care, of twigs loosely
thrown together, and lined with roots, placed in the branches of
bushes. The eggs, four in number, he describes as of a greenish-blue
ground, marked with irregular spots of umber-brown, varying in
intensity of shade.

The song of the western species is described by Mr. Nuttall as fully
equal, if not superior, to that of the Rose-breasted. He met with it
on the central table-lands of the Rocky Mountains, along the upper
branches of the Colorado River, where he found it frequenting the
thick groves of the streams, and where, throughout its dense forests,
the powerful song and the inimitable voice of this “most delightful
Finch” cheered that naturalist amidst the wildest desolation of that
“forest primeval,” where this superb vocalist made the woods echo and
re-echo to its untiring song. These notes, greatly resembling those of
its eastern relative, may be heard from early dawn almost even to the
close of the following night. These are described as loud, varied,
high-toned, and melodious, rising and falling with the sweetest
cadence, fascinating the listener most powerfully with sensations of a
pleasing sadness, its closing note seeming like a shrill cry of
appealing distress, and then sinking faintly on the ear. It is
described as very shy and retiring in its habits, and can be but very
rarely observed closely while thus engaged in song. On these occasions
the bird is said to sit up conspicuously on a lofty bough, near the
summit of the tree, his throat swelling with the excitement, and
seeming to take a great delight in the sound of his own music.

Mr. Sumichrast found this bird on the Plateau of Mexico, and also in
the alpine regions of Vera Cruz. It was found to the height of 8,300
feet, and never lower than 4,000.

The eggs of this species are of an oblong-oval shape, one end but
slightly more rounded than the other, and measure 1.10 of an inch in
length by .65 in breadth. They have a bluish-green ground, blotched
and splashed with markings of a rusty-brown, for the most part more
numerous about the larger end.


  _Guiraca_, SWAINSON, Zoöl. Jour. III, Nov. 1827, 350. (Type, _Loxia
    cærulea_, L.)
  _Coccoborus_, SWAINSON, Class. Birds, II, 1837, 277. (Same type.)

  [Illustration: _Guiraca cærulea._]

GEN. CHAR. Bill very large, nearly as high as long; the culmen
slightly curved, with a rather sharp ridge; the commissure
conspicuously angulated just below the nostril, the posterior leg of
the angle nearly as long as the anterior, both nearly straight. Lower
jaw deeper than the upper, and extending much behind the forehead; the
width greater than the length of the gonys, considerably wider than
the upper jaw. A prominent knob in the roof of the mouth. Tarsi
shorter than the middle toe; the outer toe a little longer, reaching
not quite to the base of the middle claw; hind toe rather longer than
to this base. Wings long, reaching the middle of the tail; the
secondaries and tertials nearly equal; the second quill longest; the
first less than the fourth. Tail very nearly even, shorter than the

The single North American species of this genus has no near relative
in tropical America; indeed, no other species at present known can be
said to be strictly congeneric.

In all essential details of external structure, and in every respect
as to habits and nidification, the type of the genus (_G. cærulea_) is
much more like the species of _Cyanospiza_ than those of _Hedymeles_,
with which latter it has usually been included.

Guiraca cærulea, SWAINSON.


  _Loxia cærulea_, LINN. Syst. Nat. I, 1766, 306.—WILSON, Am. Orn.
       III, 1811, 78, pl. xxiv, f. 6.—? WAGLER, Isis, 1831, 525.
       _Guiraca cærulea_, SWAINSON, Birds Mex. in Phil. Mag. I, 1827,
       438.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 499.—COOPER, Orn. Cal. 1, 230.
       _Fringilla cærulea_, AUD. Orn. Biog. II, 1834, 140; V, 508, pl.
       cxxii. _Coccoborus cæruleus_, SW. Birds II, 1837, 277.—AUD.
       Syn. 1839.—IB. Birds Am. III, 1841, 204, pl. cciv.—CABANIS,
       Mus. Hein. 1851, 152.—FINSCH, Abh. Nat. Brem. 1870, 339
       (Mazatlan). _Cyanoloxia cærulea_, BP. Conspectus, 1850, 502.
       _Goniaphæa cærulea_, BP. _Blue Grosbeak_, PENNANT, Arc. Zoöl.
       II, 1785, 351.

  [Illustration: _Guiraca cærulea._]

SP. CHAR. Brilliant blue; darker across the middle of the back. Space
around base of the bill and lores, with tail-feathers, black. Two
bands on the wing across the tips of the middle and secondary coverts,
with outer edges of tertiaries, reddish-brown, or perhaps chestnut.
Feathers on the posterior portion of the under surface tipped narrowly
with grayish-white. Length, 7.25; wing, 3.50; tail, 2.80.

_Female_ yellowish-brown above, brownish-yellow beneath; darkest
across the breast. Wing-coverts and tertials broadly edged with
brownish-yellow. Sometimes a faint trace of blue on the tail. The
young resembles the female.

HAB. More southern United States from Atlantic to Pacific, south to
Costa Rica. Xalapa (SCL. 1859, 365); Oaxaca (SCL. 1859, 378); Cordova
(SCL. 1856, 301); Cuba (CAB. J. IV, 9); Vera Paz (SALVIN, Ibis, III,
352); Costa Rica (LAWR. IX, 102); Vera Cruz, winter (SUM. M. B. S. I,
552); Yucatan (LAWR. IX, 200).

The species described as _Cyanospiza parellina_ in the Birds of North
America, but which so far has not been actually detected north of
Mexico, is a miniature _Guiraca_, more related, however, to the _G.
concreta_ than to _cærulea_. It is easily distinguished from the
latter by more lobed bill, darker back and under parts, absence of
rufous wing-bands, and inferior size. Length, 5 inches; wing, 2.50.

Males from the Pacific coast region (California, Colima, etc.) have
tails considerably longer than eastern specimens, while those from
California are of a much lighter and less purplish blue, the
difference being much the same as between _Sialia sialis_ and _S.

Autumnal and winter males have the feathers generally, especially on
the back and breast, tipped with light brown, obscuring somewhat the
blue, though producing a beautiful appearance.

HABITS. The Blue Grosbeak, though more a bird of the Southern States,
is also one both of an extended and of an irregular distribution. It
was even met with one year in the vicinity of Calais, Me., although
none have been known to occur in any part of the country between that
point and New York City. It is found from the Atlantic to the Pacific

The extent to which it is distributed throughout California is
inferred, rather than known. Dr. Cooper noticed one at Fort Mohave,
May 6, and afterwards saw many more frequenting the trees and bushes
along the river, and singing a lively song, which he compares with
that of the _Carpodacus frontalis_. He also saw them at Los Angeles
and at Santa Barbara, and states that they were found at Pit River, in
the extreme northeastern part of the State, by Dr. Newberry. They were
observed to frequent the banks of streams crossing the great interior
plains and deserts, where there was little vegetation except a few

The Blue Grosbeak was only met with by Mr. Ridgway and his party at
Sacramento. It does not occur—or, if so, it was not seen—in the
interior so far to the north as the route of Mr. King’s survey. At
Sacramento it was found frequenting the same localities as the
_Cyanospiza amæna_, and appeared to be characteristic of the
cottonwood copses. Their nests were found between the 18th and the
29th of June, and were all in similar situations. These were built in
small cottonwood-trees, on the edge of the copse, and were all about
six feet from the ground.

Mr. John Burroughs, in one of his charming popular essays[10] on the
general habits of our birds, refers to their occasional preference, in
sites for their nests, of the borders of frequented roadsides, and
mentions finding a nest of the Blue Grosbeak among the trees that line
one of the main streets and fashionable drives leading out of
Washington City, less than half a mile from the boundary. There, he
states, this bird, which, according to Audubon’s observations, is shy
and recluse, affecting remote marshes and the borders of large ponds
of stagnant water, had placed its nest in the lowest twig of the
lowest branch of a large sycamore immediately over a great
thoroughfare, and so near the ground that a person standing in a cart
or sitting on a horse could have reached it with his hand. The nest
was composed mainly of fragments of newspaper and stalks of grass, and
though so low, was remarkably well concealed by one of the peculiar
clusters of twigs and leaves which characterize this tree. The nest
contained young when he discovered it, and though the parent birds
were much annoyed by his loitering about beneath the tree, they paid
but little attention to the stream of vehicles that was constantly
passing. It was a source of wonder to him when the birds could have
built it, as they are so much shyer when building than at other times.
They must have worked mostly in the early morning, when they could
have the place all to themselves. The same observer also noticed
another pair of Blue Grosbeaks that had built their nest in a
graveyard within the city limits. This was placed in a low bush, and
the male continued to sing at intervals till the young were ready to
fly. The song of this bird he describes as a rapid, intricate warble,
like that of the Indigo Bird, though stronger and louder. Indeed,
these two birds so much resemble each other in color, form, voice,
manner, and general habits, that, were it not for the difference in
size,—the Grosbeak being nearly as large again as the Indigo
Bird,—he thinks it would be a hard matter to tell them apart. The
females of both birds are clad in the same reddish-brown suits, as are
also the young during the first season.

The nest of this species has also been found built in a tree within
the grounds of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington.

The only time I ever met with this species was at Carlisle, Penn., in
June, 1843. The previous month Professor Baird had found its nest in a
low tree, in open ground, and we found these birds still frequenting
the same grounds, where we found another nest containing three eggs.
It was in a low thorn-tree on the edge of a wood, but standing out in
open ground. The nest was about five feet from the ground.

The Smithsonian specimens are from Carlisle, Penn., obtained in April,
May, and August; from Georgia, Texas, New Mexico, Nebraska, Mexico,
etc. Mr. Lawrence enumerates this among the birds found near New York
City. Mr. Dresser found it common near Matamoras in July and August.
It was breeding there, though, owing to the lateness of the season, he
was unable to procure any of its eggs. Dr. Coues speaks of it as
generally distributed in Arizona, but nowhere very common. A single
specimen was taken near Fort Whipple, August 10. Turnbull regarded it
as a rare straggler to the southern counties of Pennsylvania and New
Jersey, arriving there in the middle of May. Dr. Woodhouse found it
common in the Indian Territory and Texas. Lieutenant Couch mentions
seeing this bird first near Monterey, the male always preceding the
female. He speaks of them as exceedingly tame. Mr. J. H. Clark states
that this bird was not often seen, and, when observed, was generally
solitary, preferring the dark ravines and the cañons on the
mountain-sides. It is not mentioned by Sumichrast as a bird of Vera
Cruz, but was found during the winter months at Oaxaca, Mexico, by Mr.

Mr. O. Salvin states (Ibis, III, p. 352) that he found this species,
though not of very common occurrence, pretty generally distributed, in
winter, throughout Vera Paz. He met with it on the Plains of Salamà,
and all the collections from the warmer districts to the northward of
Coban contained specimens. It was found by Mr. George H. White near

Wilson speaks of this bird as retired and solitary, and also as a
scarce species, and as having but few notes, its most common one being
a loud _chuck_. He was, however, aware that at times they have a few
low sweet-toned notes. He mentions their being kept in Charleston in
cages, but as seldom singing in confinement. He fed a caged bird of
this species on Indian corn, which it easily broke with its powerful
bill; also on hemp-seed, millet, and berries. He speaks of them as
timid, watchful, silent, and active.

Mr. Audubon was, apparently, somewhat at fault in regard to the
peculiarities of this species. His accounts of the eggs of the
_Pyranga æstiva_ are entirely inapplicable to that species, and, so
far as I know, apply to no other bird than the Blue Grosbeak, to which
they exactly correspond. He makes no mention and gives no description
of the eggs of the latter. His statements as to the nest appear to be

Dr. Bachman kept several of these birds in an aviary; two of these
mated, took possession of the nest of a Cardinal Grosbeak, which they
drove off, and laid two eggs that were unfortunately destroyed. In the
aviary these birds were silent. Mr. Audubon kept one, in confinement,
with him in Edinburgh. It had been raised from the nest. This bird
frequently sang in the night, and before dawn. It was extremely tame,
coming out or going into its cage at pleasure, perching on the
head-dress of Mrs. Audubon, or on the heads of other members of the
family, alighting on the table and feeding on almost anything given to
it. If a gold or silver coin was thrown upon the table he would go to
it, take it up in his bill, and apparently toss it about with
pleasure. After bathing he would go to the fire and perch on the
fender to dry himself. He would attack other birds, if put into the
cage with him. In feeding he sometimes held his food in his claws like
a Hawk.

The eggs of this bird are of a uniform light-blue color, and most
resemble those of the _Sialia arctica_, but are larger and of a
lighter color. Their color is quite fugitive, and readily fades into a
dull white upon even a slight exposure to light. They are of an oval
shape, equally rounded at either end, and measure .98 of an inch in
length by .65 in breadth.

     [10] Atlantic Monthly, XXIII, p. 707.


  _Passerina_, VIEILLOT, Analyse, 1816. Not of LINNÆUS, used in Botany.
  _Spiza_, BONAPARTE, Synopsis, 1828. Not of 1825.
  _Cyanospiza_, BAIRD. (Type, _Tanagra cyanea_, L.)

  [Line drawing: _Cyanospiza amœna._
                  2645 ♂]

GEN. CHAR. Bill deep at the base, compressed; the upper outline
considerably curved; the commissure rather concave, with an obtuse,
shallow lobe in the middle. Gonys slightly curved. Feet moderate;
tarsus about equal to middle toe; the outer lateral toe barely longer
than the inner, its claw falling short of the base of the middle; hind
toe about equal to the middle without claw. Claws all much curved,
acute. Wings long and pointed, reaching nearly to the middle of the
tail; the second and third quills longest. Tail appreciably shorter
than the wings; rather narrow, very nearly even.

The species of this genus are all of very small size and of showy
plumage, usually blue, red, or green, in well-defined areas. The
females plain olivaceous or brownish; paler beneath.


  A. Head all round uniform blue; eyelids not different,
  commissure distinctly sinuated.

    _a._ Lower parts blue; no white bands on wing.

      1. C. cyanea. Entirely deep ultramarine-blue, more
      purplish on the head, somewhat greenish posteriorly.
      _Female_ dull umber above, grayish-white beneath, the
      breast with obsolete darker streaks. _Hab._ Eastern
      Province of United States, south, in winter, to

    _b._ Lower parts white, the breast rufous. One broad and
    distinct, and a narrower, more obsolete white band on
    the wing.

      2. C. amœna. Head and neck, all round, and rump,
      bright greenish-blue; back, wings, and tail more
      dusky; a narrow white collar between rufous of the
      breast and blue of the throat. _Female_ grayish-brown
      above, the rump tinged with blue. Beneath dull
      whitish, the breast and jugulum more buffy. _Hab._
      Western Province of United States.

  B. Head party-colored; eyelids different from adjoining
  portions. Commissure hardly appreciably sinuated, or even

    _a._ Back and breast similar in color. Upper mandible
    much less deep than lower, the commissure concave.

      3. C. versicolor. Back and breast dark wine-purple,
      occiput and throat claret-red, forehead and rump
      purplish-blue. Eyelids purplish-red. _Female_
      fulvous-gray above, uniform pale fulvous below. _Hab._
      Northern Mexico, and adjacent borders of United
      States; Cape St. Lucas.

    _b._ Back and breast very different in color. Upper
    mandible scarcely less deep than the lower, the
    commissure straight, or slightly sinuated.

      4. C. ciris. Lower parts vermilion-red. Back green,
      crown blue; rump dull red; eyelids red. _Female_ dull
      green above, light olivaceous-yellow below. _Hab._
      Gulf States of United States, and whole of Middle

      5. C. leclancheri.[11] Lower parts gamboge-yellow.
      Back blue, crown green, rump blue; eyelids yellow.
      _Female_ not seen. _Hab._ Southern Mexico.

     [11] _Cyanospiza leclancheri. Spiza leclancheri_, LAFR. Mag.
     Zoöl. 1841, pl. xxii.—LESS. R. Z. 1842, 74.

Cyanospiza cyanea, BAIRD.


  _Tanagra cyanea_, LINN. Syst. Nat. I, 1766, 315. _Emberiza cyanea_,
       GM. Syst. Nat. I, 1788, 876. _Fringilla cyanea_, WILSON, I,
       1810, 100, pl. vi, f. 5.—AUD. Orn. Biog. I, 1832, 377; V, 503,
       pl. lxxiv. _Passerina cyanea_, VIEILL. Dict. _Spiza cyanea_,
       BON. List, 1838.—IB. Consp. 1850, 474.—AUD. Syn. 1839,
       109.—IB. Birds Am. III, 1841, 96, pl. clxx. _Cyanospiza
       cyanea_, BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 505.—SAMUELS, 330. _?
       Emberiza cyanella_, GM. I, 1788, 887. _? Emberiza cærulea_, GM.
       Syst. Nat. I, 1788, 876. _Indigo Bunting_, and _Blue Bunting_,
       PENNANT and LATHAM.

SP. CHAR. _Male._ Blue, tinged with ultramarine on the head, throat,
and middle of breast; elsewhere with verdigris-green. Lores and
anterior angle of chin velvet-black. Wing-feathers brown, edged
externally with dull bluish-brown. _Female._ Brown above; whitish,
obscurely streaked or blotched with brownish-yellow, beneath; tinged
with blue on shoulders, edges of larger feathers, and on rump.
Immature males similar, variously blotched with blue. Very young birds
streaked beneath. Length, about 5.75 inches; wing, nearly 3.00.

HAB. Eastern United States to the Missouri; south to Guatemala. Oaxaca
(SCL. 1859, 379); Cordova (SCL. 1856, 304); Guatemala (SCL. Ibis, I.
17); Cuba (CAB. J. IV, 8); Costa Rica (CAB. JOUR. 1861, 4; LAWR. IX,
103); Vera Cruz, winter (SUM. M. B. S. I, 552).

In this species, which may be considered the type of the genus, the
tail is slightly emarginate; the second quill is longest, the first
shorter than the fourth.

HABITS. The common Indigo Bird of the Eastern States is found in
nearly uniform and tolerable abundance in various parts of the United
States, from the valley of the Missouri to the Atlantic, and from
Florida to New Brunswick. It is a summer visitant, but rare, in
Eastern Maine, but is common in the western part of the State, where
it arrives early in May, and where it breeds. Mr. Allen speaks of it
as not very common in the vicinity of Springfield, Mass., arriving
there about the middle of May, and breeding in gardens, orchards, and
the edges of woods, and making its nests in bushes. It leaves there
about the middle of September.

In the eastern part of the State it is very unequally distributed. In
certain localities it has not been met with, but in other favorite
places it seems to be quite common, and to be on the increase. In the
gardens of Brookline and Roxbury they are comparatively quite
abundant. Mr. Maynard gives May 10 as the earliest date of their
coming. He also states that in the autumn they are found in flocks,
and frequent roadsides, high sandy fields, and rocky pastures, which I
have never noticed. According to Dr. Coues, it is common and breeds as
far south as Columbia, S. C., and, according to Mr. McIlwraith, it is
a common summer resident in the neighborhood of Hamilton, Canada West.
Specimens have been procured as far west as Fort Riley in Kansas. It
passes the winter in Guatemala, where it is quite abundant, though a
very large proportion of specimens received from there, in
collections, are immature birds. It was not found in Vera Cruz by Mr.
Sumichrast, nor is it given by Mr. Allen as found by him in Western
Iowa, while it was common both in Northern Illinois and in Indiana. It
was, however, found by Mr. Allen, in Kansas, in considerable numbers,
near Leavenworth, in the spring of 1871. It was not met with by Mr.
Dresser in Southwestern Texas, though Dr. Woodhouse found it quite
common in the prairies of that State, where its pleasant song was
heard in the timber on their edges, or in the thickets on the borders
of the streams in the Indian Territory, where it was quite abundant.
It was not observed on the Mexican Boundary Survey.

These birds were found, by Mr. Boucard, abundant throughout the State
of Oaxaca, Mexico, having been taken both among the mountains near
Totontepec, and among the hot lowlands near Plaza Vicente.

According to Wilson, this bird is not noticed in Pennsylvania much, if
any, earlier than its first appearance in New England, and it leaves
at about the same time. He observed it in great abundance both in
South Carolina and Georgia.

In manners it is active and sprightly, and its song is vigorous and
pleasant. It is considered a better singer than either the _ciris_ or
the _amœna_. It usually stations itself, in singing, on some high
position, the top of a tree or of a chimney, where it chants its
peculiar and charming song for quite a space of time. Its song
consists of a repetition of short notes, at first loud and rapid, but
gradually less frequent, and becoming less and less distinct. It sings
with equal animation both in May and July, and its song may be
occasionally heard even into August, and not less during the noonday
heat of summer than in the cool of the morning. Nuttall describes its
animated song as a lively strain, composed of a repetition of short
notes. The most common of its vocal expressions sounds like
_tshe-tshe-tshe_, repeated several times. While the female is engaged
in the cares of incubation, or just as the brood has appeared, the
song of the male is said to be much shortened. In the village of
Cambridge, Nuttall observed one of this species regularly chanting its
song from the point of a forked lightning-rod, on a very tall house.

The Indigo Bird usually builds its nest in the centre of a low thick
bush. The first nest I ever met with was built in a thick sumach that
had grown up at the bottom of a deep excavation, some fifteen feet
below the surface, and but two feet above the base of the shrub. This
same nest was occupied five successive summers. It was almost wholly
built of matting that the birds had evidently taken from the ties of
our grapevines. Each year the nest was repaired with the same
material. Once only they had two broods in one season. The second
brood was not hatched out until September, and the family was not
ready to migrate until after nearly all its kindred had assembled and
gone. This nest, though principally made of bare matting, was very
neatly and thoroughly lined with hair. Other nests are made of coarse
grasses and sedges, and all are usually lined in a similar manner.

Audubon and Wilson describe the eggs of this bird as blue, with
purplish spots at the larger end. All that I have ever seen are white,
with a slight tinge of greenish or blue, and unspotted. I have never
been able to meet with a spotted egg of this bird, the identification
of which was beyond suspicion. They are of a rounded-oval shape, one
side is only a little more pointed than the other. They measure .75 of
an inch in length by .58 in breadth. They resemble the eggs of _C.
amœna_, but are smaller, and are not so deeply tinged with blue.

Cyanospiza amœna, BAIRD.


  _Emberiza amœna_, SAY, Long’s Exped. II, 1823, 47. _Fringilla
       (Spiza) amœna_, BONAP. Am. Orn. I, 1825, 61, pl. vi, f. 5.
       _Fringilla amœna_, AUD. Orn. Biog. V, 1839, 64, 230, pls.
       cccxcviii and ccccxxiv. _Spiza amœna_, BONAP. List, 1838.—AUD.
       Syn. 1839, 109.—IB. Birds Am. III, 1841, 100, pl. clxxi.—MAX.
       Cab. Jour. VI, 1858, 283.—HEERM. X, s, 46. _Cyanospiza amœna_,
       BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 504.—COOPER & SUCKLEY, 205.—COOPER,
       Orn. Cal. 1, 233.

  [Illustration: _Cyanospiza amœna._]

SP. CHAR. _Male._ Upper parts generally, with the head and neck all
round, greenish-blue; the interscapular region darker. Upper part of
breast pale brownish-chestnut extending along the sides and separated
from the blue of the throat by a faint white crescent; rest of under
parts and axillars white. A white patch on the middle wing-coverts,
and an obscurely indicated white band across the ends of the greater
coverts. Loral region black. Length, about 5.50; wing, 3.90; tail,

_Female._ Brown above, tinged with blue on rump and tail; whitish
beneath, tinged with buff on the breast and throat; faint white bands
on wings.

HAB. High Central Plains to the Pacific.

This species is about the size of _C. cyanea_; the bill exactly
similar. The females of the two species are scarcely distinguishable,
except by the faint traces of one or two white bands on the wings in
_amœna_. Sometimes both the throat and the upper part of the breast
are tinged with pale brownish-buff.

HABITS. The Lazuli Finch was first obtained by Mr. Say, who met with
it in Long’s expedition. It was observed, though rarely, along the
banks of the Arkansas River during the summer months, as far as the
base of the Rocky Mountains. It was said to frequent the bushy
valleys, keeping much in the grass, after its food, and seldom
alighting on either trees or shrubs.

Townsend, who found this rather a common bird on the Columbia,
regarded it as shy and retiring in its habits, the female being very
rarely seen. It possesses lively and pleasing powers of song, which it
pours forth from the upper branches of low trees. Its nests were
usually found placed in willows along the margins of streams, and were
composed of small sticks, fine grasses, and buffalo-hair.

Mr. Nuttall found the nest of this bird fastened between the stem and
two branches of a large fern. It was funnel-shaped, being six inches
in height and three in breadth.

This bird possibly occurs quite rarely, as far east as the
Mississippi, as I have what is said to be its egg taken from a nest
near St. Louis. It only becomes abundant on the plains. Mr. Ridgway
found it very generally distributed throughout his route, inhabiting
all the bushy localities in the fertile districts. He regarded it as,
in nearly every respect, the exact counterpart of the eastern _C.
cyanea_. The notes of the two birds are so exactly the same that their
song would be undistinguishable but for the fact that in the _amœna_
it is appreciably weaker. He found their nests usually in the low
limbs of trees, near their extremity, and only a few feet from the
ground. Mr. J. A. Allen found this species common in Colorado, more so
among the foot-hills than on the plains, but does not appear to have
met with it in Kansas.

This species, Mr. Lord states, visits Vancouver Island and British
Columbia early in the summer, arriving at the island in May, and
rather later east of the Cascades. The song of the male is said to be
feeble, and only now and then indulged in, as if to cheer his more
sombre partner during incubation. The nest, he adds, is round and open
at the top, composed of various materials worked together, lined with
hair, and placed in a low bush, usually by the side of a stream.

The Lazuli Finch was met with in large numbers, and many of their
nests procured, by Mr. Xantus, in the neighborhood of Ft. Tejon,
California. Indeed, it is a very abundant species generally on the
Pacific coast, and is found at least as far north as Puget Sound,
during the summer. It arrives at San Diego, according to Dr. Cooper,
about April 22, and remains there until October. A male bird, kept in
a cage over winter, was found to retain its blue plumage. It is a
favorite cage-bird in California, where it is absurdly known as the
Indigo Bird. During the summer months, according to Dr. Cooper, there
is hardly a grove in the more open portions of the State uninhabited
by one or more pairs of this beautiful species. Although the female is
very shy and difficult to obtain, except on the nest, the male is not
timid, and frequently sings his lively notes from the top of some bush
or tree, continuing musical in all weathers and throughout the summer.
He describes its song as unvaried, as rather monotonous, and closely
resembling that of _C. cyanea_.

Their nest, he adds, is usually built in a bush, not more than three
or four feet from the ground, formed of fibrous roots, strips of bark,
and grass, with a lining of vegetable down or hair, and securely bound
to the surrounding branches. The eggs, five in number, he describes as
white, faintly tinged with blue. At Santa Barbara he found them
freshly laid May 6.

These birds are never gregarious, though the males come in
considerable flocks in the spring, several days before the females.
They travel at night, arriving at Santa Cruz about April 12. A nest
found by Dr. Cooper, May 7, in a low bush close to a public road, was
about three feet from the ground. It was very strongly built,
supported by a triple fork of the branch, and was composed of blades
of grass firmly interwoven, and lined with horsehair and cobwebs. It
measured three inches in height and three and three fourths in width.
The cavity was two inches deep and one and three fourths wide.

In Arizona Dr. Coues found this bird a summer resident, but not

At Puget Sound this bird arrives about May 15. Dr. Suckley states that
in Oregon it was observed returning from the south, in large flocks,
in one instance of several hundred individuals.

The eggs of the Lazuli, when fresh, are of a light blue, which on the
least exposure soon fades into a bluish-white. They are almost exactly
oval in shape, and measure .75 by .60 of an inch. One end is somewhat
more rounded, but the difference is slight.

Cyanospiza versicolor, BAIRD.


  _Spiza versicolor_, BON. Pr. Zoöl. Soc. 1837, 120.—IB. Conspectus
       Av. 1850, 475.—CAB. Mus. Hein. 1851, 148. _Carduelis
       luxuosus_, LESSON, Rev. Zoöl. 1839, 41. _Cyanospiza
       versicolor_, BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 503, pl. lvi, f.
       2.—COOPER, Orn. Cal. 1, 234.

SP. CHAR. Posterior half of hood, with throat, dark brownish-red;
interscapular region similar, but darker. Forepart of hood, lesser
wing-coverts, back of the neck, and rump, purplish-blue; the latter
purest blue; the belly reddish-purple, in places tinged with blue,
more obscure posteriorly. Feathers of wing and tail dark-brown, edged
with dull bluish. Loral region and narrow frontal band black. Feathers
on side of rump white at base. Length, 5.50; wing, 2.75; tail, 2.38.

_Female._ Yellowish-brown; paler beneath, and lightest behind. No
white on wing. Tail with a bluish gloss.

HAB. Northern Mexico, and Cape St. Lucas. Xalapa (SCL. 1859, 365);
Oaxaca (SCL. 1859, 379); Orizaba (SCL. 1857, 214); (SUM. M. B. S. I,
551; breeding); Guatemala (SCL. Ibis, I, 17).

The bill is stouter and more swollen to the end, and the mandible is
much more curved than that of _C. cyanea_; and its perfectly concave
commissure, without any shallow lobe in the middle, and the much more
arched ridge, would almost separate the two generically. The wing is
shorter and more rounded, the fourth quill longest, then the third,
second, and fifth. The first is only a little longer than the seventh.
The tail is decidedly rounded; rather more so than in _C. cyanea_.

The female is very similar to those of _C. amœna_ and _cyanea_. The
former has whitish bands on the wing; the latter differs in shape of
bill, and has the first quill but little less than the second, or
longest; not shorter than the sixth. In 34,033 ♂, Cape St. Lucas (June
26), the colors are much brighter than in any other of the collection.
The whole occiput is bright scarlet, and the forehead nearly pure
light blue, neither having scarcely a tinge of purple.

Autumnal and winter males have the bright tints very slightly obscured
by grayish-brown tips to the feathers, especially on the back. The
female in autumn is much more brown above and more rusty beneath than
in spring.

HABITS. This beautiful species has only doubtful claims to a place in
our fauna. It is a Mexican species, and may occasionally cross into
our territory. It was met with at Boquillo, in the Mexican State of
New Leon, by Lieutenant Couch. It was procured in Guatemala by Dr. Van
Patten and by Salvin, and is given by Bonaparte as from Peru. It is
also found at Cape St. Lucas, where it is not rare, and where it

This bird is also found at Orizaba, according to Sumichrast, but is
quite rare in the State of Vera Cruz. Its common name is _Prusiano_.
Its geographical distribution he was not able satisfactorily to

Among the memoranda of Mr. Xantus made at Cape St. Lucas, we find the
following in connection with this species: 517, nest and three eggs of
_Cyanospiza versicolor_; obtained May 5 on a myrtle hanging down from
very high perpendicular bluffs, off the Trajoles, at Cape St. Lucas.
1535, nest and eggs of the same found on a vine ten feet high.

Specimens of this species were taken by Mr. Boucard at Oaxaca, Mexico,
during the winter months.

Cyanospiza ciris, BAIRD.


  _Emberiza ciris_, LINN. Kong. Sv. Vet. Akad. Hand. 1750, 278; tab.
       vii, f. 1.—IB. Syst. Nat. I, 1766, 313.—WILSON, Am. Orn. III,
       1811, 68, pl. xxiv, f. 1, 2. _Passerina ciris_, VIEILLOT, Gal.
       Ois. I, 1824, 81, pl. lxvi. _Fringilla ciris_, AUD. Orn. Biog.
       I, 1832, 279; V, 517, pl. liii. _Spiza ciris_, BON. List,
       1838.—IB. Conspectus, 1850, 476.—AUD. Syn. 1839, 108.—IB.
       Birds Am. III, 1841, 93, pl. clxix. _Cyanospiza ciris_, BAIRD,
       Birds N. Am. 1858, 503.—IB. Mex. Bound. II, Birds, 17, pl.
       xviii, f. 2.—HEERM. X, c, p. 14. _? Fringilla mariposa_,
       SCOPOLI, Annals Hist. Nat. I, 1769, 151. _Painted Finch_,

SP. CHAR. _Male._ Head and neck all round ultramarine-blue, excepting
a narrow stripe from the chin to the breast, which, with the under
parts generally, the eyelids, and the rump (which is tinged with
purplish), are vermilion-red. Edges of chin, loral region, greater
wing-coverts, inner tertiary, and interscapular region, green; the
middle of the latter glossed with yellow. Tail-feathers, lesser
wing-coverts, and outer webs of quills, purplish-blue. Length, about
5.50 inches; wing, 2.70.

_Female._ Clear dark green above; yellowish beneath. _Young_, like

HAB. South Atlantic and Gulf States to the Pecos River, Texas; south
into Middle America to Panama; S. Illinois (RIDGWAY); Honduras (SCL.
1858, 358); Oaxaca (SCL. 1859, 379); Cordova (SCL. 1856, 304);
Guatemala (SCL. Ibis, I, 17); Honduras (SCL. II, 10); Cuba (CAB. J.
IV, 8); Veragua (SALV. 1867, 142); Costa Rica (LAWR. IX, 102); Vera
Cruz, winter (SUM. M. B. S. I, 552); Yucatan (LAWR. IX, 200).

Tail very slightly emarginated and rounded; second, third, and fourth
quills equal; first rather shorter than the fifth.

The female is readily distinguishable from that of _C. cyanea_ by the
green instead of dull brown of the back, and the yellow of the under

Specimens of this species from all parts of its range appear to be
quite identical.

HABITS. The Nonpareil or Painted Bunting of the Southern and
Southeastern States has a somewhat restricted distribution, not being
found any farther to the north on the Atlantic Coast than South
Carolina and Georgia, and probably only in the more southern portions
of those States. It has been traced as far to the west as Texas. It
was also met with at Monterey, Mexico, by Lieutenant Couch, and in
winter by Mr. Boucard, at Plaza Vicente, Oaxaca.

Mr. Dresser found it very common both at Matamoras and at San Antonio,
breeding in both places. Dr. Coues did not meet with it in Columbia,
S. C., and considers it as confined to the low country, and as rare
even there. It breeds about the city of Charleston, S. C., from which
neighborhood I have received its eggs in considerable numbers, from
Dr. Bachman. It is also found in the lower counties of Georgia, and
breeds in the vicinity of Savannah. It was not met with by Dr.
Gerhardt in the northern portion of that State. Dr. Woodhouse found it
quite abundant in all parts of Texas, where he tells us the sweet
warblings of this beautiful and active little Finch added much to the
pleasures of his trip across the prairies. Its favorite places of
resort appeared to be small thickets, and when singing it selected the
highest branches of a bush.

In the Report on the birds of the Mexican Boundary Survey, Lieutenant
Couch met with this species among the low hedges in the suburbs of
Pesqueria Grande. Mr. J. H. Clark observed that the individuals of
this species diminished as they proceeded westward. The male was
almost always seen alone, flying a long distance for so small a bird.
Their nests, he adds, were built of very fine grass, in low bushes,
and resting in the crotch of the twigs. Males were never seen about
the nest, but the females were so gentle as to allow themselves to be
taken off the nest, which was deliberately done on more than one

Dr. Kennerly reports having often listened to the melodious warblings
of this beautiful Finch in the vicinity of San Antonio, Texas, where
he found it very abundant among the thick mesquite-bushes, in the
month of July. It was deservedly a great favorite there, both on
account of the beauty of its plumage and its notes.

Wilson found this bird one of the most numerous summer birds of Lower
Louisiana, where it was universally known among the French inhabitants
as _Le Pape_. Its gay dress and its docility of manners procured it
many admirers. Wilson also states that he met with these birds in the
low countries of all the Southern States, in the vicinity of the sea
and along the borders of the large rivers, particularly among the rice
plantations. He states that a few were seen near the coast in North
Carolina, but they were more numerous in South Carolina, and still
more so in Georgia, especially the lower parts. At Natchez, on the
Mississippi, they were comparatively scarce, but below Baton Rouge, on
the levee, they appeared in great numbers. Around New Orleans they
were warbling from almost every fence. Their notes very much resemble
those of the Indigo Bird, but lack their energy, and are more feeble
and concise.

Wilson met with these birds very generally in the houses of the French
inhabitants of New Orleans. In the aviary of a wealthy French planter
near Bayou Fourche, he found two pairs of these birds so far
reconciled to their confinement as to have nests and hatch out their
eggs. Wilson was of the opinion that with the pains given to the
Canary these birds would breed with equal facility. Six of them,
caught only a few days before his departure, were taken with him by
sea. They soon became reconciled to their cage, and sang with great
sprightliness. They were very fond of flies, and watched with great
eagerness as the passengers caught them for their benefit, assembling
in the front of the cage and stretching their heads through the wires
to receive them.

These birds, he states, arrive in Louisiana from the South about the
middle of April, and build early in May. They reach Savannah about the
20th of April. Their nests are usually fixed in orange hedges or in
the lower branches of the trees. He often found them in common bramble
and blackberry bushes. They are formed exteriorly of dry grass
intermingled with the silk of caterpillars, with hair and fine
rootlets. Some nests had eggs as late as the 25th of June, which were
probably a second brood. The food of this bird consists of rice,
insects, and various kinds of seeds. They also feed on the seeds of
ripe figs.

A single specimen of this species was detected by Mr. Ridgway in
Southern Illinois between Olney and Mount Carmel, on the 10th of June.
It is therefore presumed to be a rare summer resident in that

The Nonpareil is possessed of a very pugnacious disposition, and,
according to Mr. Audubon, the bird-dealers of New Orleans take
advantage of this peculiarity in a very ingenious manner to trap them.
A male bird is stuffed and set up in an attitude of defence on the
platform of a trap-cage. The first male bird of this species that
notices it is sure to make an attack upon it, and is at once trapped.
So pertinacious are they that even when thus imprisoned the captive
repeats its attack upon its supposed rival. They feed almost
immediately upon being caught, and usually thrive in confinement,
Audubon mentioning one that had been caged for ten years.

This bird is very easily made to breed in confinement. Dr. Bachman has
had a single pair thus raise three broods in a season.

The eggs of this species measure .80 by .65 of an inch, and do not at
all resemble the eggs of the _cyanea_ or _amœna_. They have a dull or
pearly-white ground, and are very characteristically marked with
blotches and dots of purplish and reddish brown.


  _Spermophila_, SWAINSON, Zoöl. Jour. III, Nov. 1827, 348. (Type,
    _Pyrrhula falcirostris_, TEMM. Sufficiently distinct from
    _Spermophilus_, F. CUV. 1822.)
  _Sporophila_, CABANIS, Mus. Hein. 1851, 148. (Type, _Fringilla
    hypoleuca_, LICHT.)

  [Line drawing: _Spermophila moreleti._
                  30524 ♂]

GEN. CHAR. Bill very short and very much curved, as in _Pyrrhula_,
almost as deep as long; the commissure concave, abruptly bent towards
the end. Tarsus about equal to middle toe; inner toe rather the longer
(?), reaching about to the base of the middle one; hind toe to the
middle of this claw. Wings short, reaching over the posterior third of
the exposed part of the tail; the tertiaries gradually longer than the
secondaries, neither much shorter than the primaries, which are
graduated, and but little different in length, the first shorter than
the sixth, the second and fourth equal. The tail is about as long as
the wings, rounded, all the feathers slightly graduated, rather
sharply acuminate and decidedly mucronate. Smallest of American
passerine birds.

The essential characters of this genus are the small, very convex
bill, as high as long; the short broad wings, with the quills
differing little in length, the outer ones graduated; the tail as long
as the wings, widened towards the end, and slightly graduated, with
the acuminate and mucronate tip to the feathers.

Many species of the genus occur in Middle and South America, although
none not readily distinguishable from the single North American one.

Spermophila moreleti, PUCHERAN.


  _Spermophila moreleti_, (PUCHERAN,) BONAP. Conspectus, 1850,
       497.—SCLATER, Pr. Zoöl. Soc. 1856, 302.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am.
       1858, 506, pl. liv, f. 2, 3.—IB. Mex. Bound. II, Birds, 17,
       pl. xvi, f. 2, 3. _Sporophila moreleti_, CAB. Mus. Hein. 1851,
       150.—IB. Journ. für. Orn. IX, 1861, 4 (with synonomy).
       _Spermophila albigularis_, (SPIX,) LAWRENCE, Ann. N. Y. Lyceum,
       V, Sept. 1851, 124 (Texas. Not of SPIX).

SP. CHAR. The top and sides of the head, back of the neck, a broad
band across the upper part of the breast extending all round, the
middle of the back, the wings and tail, with the posterior upper
coverts, black. The chin, upper throat and neck all round, but
interrupted behind, the rump, with the remaining under and lateral
portions of the body, white; the latter tinged with brownish-yellow.
Two bands on the wing, across the greater and middle coverts, with the
concealed bases of all the quills, also white. Length, about 4 inches;
wing, 2.05; tail, 1.90.

_Female._ Dull yellow; olivaceous above, brownish-yellow beneath.
Wings and tail somewhat as in the male.

HAB. Rio Grande of Texas; south to Costa Rica. Xalapa (SCL. 1859,
365); Oaxaca (SCL. 1859, 378); Cordova (SCL. 1856, 302); Guatemala
(SCL. Ibis, I, 17; SALV. Ibis, I, 468; nest); Costa Rica (CAB. J.
1861, 4); Vera Cruz, winter, alpine region, breeding (SUM. M. B. S. I,

  [Illustration: _Spermophila moreleti._]

The specimen upon which the preceding description of the male has been
based is the only one in full plumage we have seen, and was kindly
lent by Mr. P. L. Sclater. It was collected in Honduras. Some of the
feathers of the back have grayish tips. The specimen described by Mr.
Lawrence as _S. albigularis_, though male, is, in most respects, like
the female, except that the wings and tail are darker, the color of
the upper part grayer, and the interscapular feathers blotched with
black. The black of the head is strongly indicated, the feathers,
however, all with gray margins. In this and another, a little further
advanced, from San Diego, Mexico, (4096,) there is a very faint
indication of the black pectoral band, and there is no trace of the
whitish of the rump.

HABITS. This pretty little tropical form of Sparrow can only rest a
claim to be included in our fauna by its occasional presence on the
Rio Grande in Texas. It is found throughout Mexico and Central

Mr. Sumichrast found it throughout the State of Vera Cruz, except only
in the elevated or alpine regions. Its common name was _Frailecito_.
It was abundant throughout the hot and the temperate regions as well
as the plateau.

This species was first met with near the Lake of Peten, in Guatemala,
by M. Morelet, and was described from his specimens in the Paris
Museum by Prince Bonaparte. Mr. Salvin found it a not uncommon species
about Dueñas, where it is generally to be found amongst the tall weeds
on the edge of the lake. It was also found at Belize. From a letter of
Mr. Salvin, published in the Ibis of 1859 (p. 468), we quote the
following in reference to the nest of this species, which is all the
information we have in relation to this diminutive Sparrow: “A day or
two ago I found two nests of _Spermophila moreleti_, and took one
rotten dried-up egg from one with a young one in it. Nothing could be
more different than this nest and that of _S. bicolor_, so well
described by Mr. Newton. That of _S. moreleti_, instead of the loose
domed structure of _S. bicolor_, with a large side-entrance, composed
entirely of one material, is one of the neatest nests you ever saw,—a
beautiful, open, transparent nest, composed of fine roots and fibres,
and lined with horsehair. It is not placed resting on a branch, but is
suspended like a Reed Warbler’s (_Salicaria arundinacea_), by several
small twigs. The eggs, too, differ materially.” Mr. Salvin gives no
description of these eggs.

This bird was found a resident during the winter months, and in May
also, at Plaza Vicente, in the State of Oaxaca, Mexico. This is in the
low or hot lands of that region.


  _Phonipara_, BONAPARTE, 1850. (Type, _Loxia canora_, GM.)

  [Illustration: _Phonipara zena._]

GEN. CHAR. Size very small. Wing considerably longer than the tail,
but much rounded; third or fourth quill longest; first about equal to
seventh. Tail very slightly rounded, the feathers broad. Bill very
short and deep, but the depth through the base less than the culmen;
culmen but slightly, or not appreciably, curved; bill much compressed.
Feet stout; tarsi longer than the middle toe; outer toe longer than
the inner, its claw just reaching the base of the middle claw; hind
toe with the claw very large, and strongly curved. Among the least of
American _Fringillidæ_.

The introduction of this genus into the North American fauna is the
result of Mr. Maynard’s indefatigable labors in the exploration of
Florida. The species are principally West Indian, a single race alone
belonging to the continental portion of Middle America.

Species and Varieties.

COMMON CHARACTERS. Sexes very different. Above olive-green,
beneath blackish or whitish. ♂. Head and breast black, the
former with or without yellow patches. ♀ with the yellow and
black indicated only, or wanting. Length, about 4.00.

  A. Head without any yellow.

    1. P. zena. Culmen decidedly curved. Above dull grayish
    olive-green. ♂. Head and lower parts, especially
    anteriorly, dull black, mixed with whitish posteriorly.
    ♀. Head and beneath ashy. Wing, about 2.00; tail, 1.75.
    _Hab._ West Indies (Cuba, Hayti, Porto Rico, St.
    Bartholomew, Jamaica, etc.); also Key West, Florida

  B. Head with yellow patches.

    2. P. pusilla. Culmen perfectly straight. Above rather
    bright olive-green. ♂, a supraloral stripe, a patch on
    chin, and upper part of throat, with edge of wing,
    bright yellow; forehead, lores, and jugulum black. ♀
    with the black and yellow only indicated, or wanting.

      Whole crown, cheeks, breast, and upper part of abdomen
      black. _Hab._ Middle America, from Mirador to Panama,
      and southward                                   var. _pusilla_.[12]

      Only isolated spots, covering forehead, lore, and base
      of lower jaw, and patch on jugulum, black. _Hab._ West
      Indies. (Porto Rico, Hayti, Jamaica, Cuba, etc.)
                                                      var. _olivacea_.[13]

    3. P. canora.[14] Culmen decidedly curved. Above bright
    olive-green; beneath pale ashy, whitish on anal region.
    A bright yellow broad crescent across the lower part of
    the throat, curving upward and forward, behind and over
    the auriculars, to above the eye. ♂. Lores, auriculars,
    and chin, and a band across the jugulum, black. ♀. Chin,
    etc., chestnut-brown; no black on jugulum. _Hab._ Cuba.

     [12] _Tiaris pusilla_, SWAINSON, Phil. Mag. I, 1827, 438.
     _Phonipara pusilla_, SCLATER, P. Z. S. 1855, 159.

     [13] _Emberiza olivacea_, GMELIN, Syst. Nat. I, 309.
     _Phonipara olivacea_, SCLATER, P. Z. S. 1855, 159.

     [14] _Loxia canora_, GMELIN, Syst. Nat. I, 858. _Phonipara
     canora_, BONAP.

Phonipara zena, BRYANT.


  _Fringilla zena_, LINN. Syst. Nat. I, (ed. 10,) 1758, 183 (based on
       _Passer bicolor bahamensis_, CATESBY, Carol. I, tab. 37,
       Bahamas).—BRYANT, Pr. Bost. Soc. N. H. X, 1865, 254.
       _Fringilla bicolor_, LINN. Syst. Nat. I, (ed. 12,) 1766, 324
       (same original as _zena_). _Spermophila bicolor_, GOSSE
       (Jamaica). _Phonipara bicolor_, NEWTON (St. Croix). _? Tiaris
       omissa_, JARDINE, Ann. Nat. Hist. 1847, 332 (Tobago).
       _Phonipara omissa_, SCLATER. _Phonipara marchi_, BAIRD, Pr. A.
       N. Sc. Phila. Nov. 1863, 297 (Jamaica). _Fringilla zena_, var.
       _marchi_, BRYANT, Pr. Bost. Soc. 1867, 43. _Fringilla
       (Phonipara) zena_, var. _portoricensis_, BRYANT, Pr. Bost. Soc.
       X, 1865, 254 (Porto Rico).

SP. CHAR. _Male adult_ (627, Bryant coll.; Inagua). Above dull
olive-green, the head and lower parts black, the two colors blending
insensibly into each other; feathers of the middle of the abdomen and
crissum edged with whitish. Wing, 2.10; tail, 1.80, culmen, .35;
tarsus, .63; middle toe, .50.

_Female adult_ (983, Bryant coll.; Inagua). Above dull olive-green,
beneath ashy, whitish on the abdomen and crissum; no black. Wing,

_Male juv._ (981, Bryant coll.; Inagua). Like the adult female, but
the head anteriorly, the chin, throat, and jugulum medially, black.
Wing, 2.05.

HAB. West Indies (Bahamas; Jamaica, Porto Rico; St. Croix, Tobago?).

Quite a large series of this species from the various West Indian
Islands show a considerable variation in the amount of black in male
birds; nothing characteristic of the different islands, however, for,
in specimens from each, individuals are to be found agreeing in every
respect with the stages described above.

HABITS. The Black-faced Finch of Jamaica and other West India Islands
claims a place in the fauna of the United States as an occasional
visitant of Florida; of how common occurrence on that peninsula we
cannot determine. It was taken there in the spring of 1871 by Mr.
Maynard, and is possibly an accidental rather than a regular visitant.
It is found in many of the West India Islands, though being resident
in their several places of abode, they naturally exhibit certain
characteristics as of distinct races. The eggs of the St. Croix bird
differ considerably from those of the Jamaica one.

The Messrs. Newton, in their account of the birds of St. Croix,
mention this bird as having a Bunting-like song, heard always very
early in the morning. It is said to frequent the curing-houses,
hopping on the uncovered sugar-hogsheads, and making a plentiful meal
therefrom. It is very sociable, and feeds in small flocks, mostly on
the ground among the guinea-grass. The crops of those dissected were
usually found to contain small seeds. They build domed nests in low
bushes, thickets of bamboo, or among creepers against the side of a
house, seldom more than four feet from the ground, composed entirely
of dry grass, the interior being lined with finer materials of the
same. The opening is on one side, and is large for the size of the
nest. They breed from the middle of May to the end of July. The eggs
are white, spotted with red, especially at the larger end. The usual
number of eggs is three, very rarely four. Their measurement is .65 by
.50 of an inch.

In Jamaica Mr. March speaks of it as the most common of the Grass
Finches, of which there are three other species, and as nesting at all
seasons of the year in low trees and bushes. Near homesteads, in
building their domed nests, they make use of shreds, scraps of cloth,
bits of cotton, and other trash. Their eggs, he says, are three and
sometimes even six in number; and he mentions their varying both as to
dimensions and coloring, which may explain the difference between the
eggs from St. Croix and Jamaica. Those from the latter place measure
.72 by .50 of an inch, and the markings are more of a brown than a red

Mr. Hill adds that the Grass Finch very frequently selects a shrub on
which the wasps have built, fixing the entrance close to their cells.

Mr. Gosse states that the only note of this species is a single harsh
guttural squeak, difficult either to imitate or to describe.


  _Pyrrhuloxia_, BONAPARTE, Conspectus, 1850, 500. (Type, _Cardinalis
    sinuatus_, BON.)

GEN. CHAR. The bill is very short and much curved, the culmen forming
an arc of a circle of 60 degrees or more, and ending at a right angle
with the straight gonys; the commissure abruptly much angulated
anterior to the nostrils in its middle point; the lower jaw very much
wider than the upper, and wider than the gonys is long; anterior
portion of commissure straight. Tarsus longer than middle toe; outer
lateral toes longer, not reaching the base of the middle; wing
considerably rounded, first quill longer than secondaries. Tail much
longer than the wing, graduated; the feathers broad, truncate. Head

  [Line drawing: _Pyrrhuloxia sinuata._

_Color._ Gray, with red feathers and patches.

The essential character of this genus lies in the greatly curved, very
short, and broad bill, something like that of _Pyrrhula_. In other
respects like _Cardinalis_, but with less graduated wing, and longer
and broader tail.

Pyrrhuloxia sinuata, BONAP.


  _Cardinalis sinuatus_, BP. Pr. Zoöl. Soc. Lond. V, 1837, 111
       (Mexico).—LAWRENCE, Ann. N. Y. Lyc. V, 1851, 116.—CASSIN,
       Illust. I, VII, 1854, 204, pl. xxxiii. _Pyrrhuloxia sinuata_,
       BON. Consp. 1850, 500.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 508.—HEERM.
       X, c. 16.—COOPER, Orn. Cal. 1, 236.

SP. CHAR. Head with an elongated, pointed crest, springing from the
crown. Upper parts generally pale ashy-brown; hood, sides of neck, and
under parts of body, rather paler. Long crest-feathers, bill all round
including lores and encircling the eye, wing and tail, dark crimson.
Chin and upper part of throat, breast, and median line of the belly,
under tail-coverts, tibia, edge and inner coverts of the wings, bright
carmine-red. Bill yellowish. Length, about 8.50; wing, 3.75; tail,

_Female_ similar, with the under part brownish-yellow; middle of belly
and throat only tinged with red.

HAB. Valley of the Rio Grande of Texas and westward; Cape St. Lucas;
Mazatlan, Mexico.

  [Illustration: _Pyrrhuloxia sinuata._]

The wing is considerably rounded, the fourth and fifth quills longest;
the first as long as the secondaries, the second longer than the
seventh. The tail is long, graduated on the sides, the outer about
half an inch shorter than the middle. The feathers are very broad to
the end and obliquely truncate. They are rather broader than in
_Cardinalis virginianus_. The crest is narrower and longer, and
confined to the middle of the crown; it extends back about 1.80 inches
from the base of the bill.

The carmine of the breast is somewhat hidden by grayish tips to the
feathers; that of the throat is streaked a little with darker. The
exposed surfaces of the wing-coverts and of secondaries and tertials
are like the back. The tail-feathers are tipped with brownish.

Specimens from Cape St. Lucas are very much smaller than any others,
measuring only, wing, 3.30; tail, 3.80. The crest is dull carmine,
instead of dark wine-purple; the red tinge on wing and tail much
fainter, and the sides, as well as the gray tints everywhere, more
brownish; there is none of that dark burnt-carmine tint to the red of
lores and cheeks observable in all the Texas specimens. No. 49,758,
Camp Grant, Arizona, is like the Cape St. Lucas birds in colors,
except that the crest is dusky, but the proportions are those of the
Rio Grande series.

HABITS. The Texan Cardinal was originally described as a bird of
Mexico by Prince Charles Lucien Bonaparte in the Proceedings of the
Zoölogical Society of London. It has since been ascertained to inhabit
the southern central portions of our country, its range of extension
northerly bringing it within the limits of the United States. In
Texas, on the Rio Grande, it is resident throughout the year, or of
but limited migration in the coldest weather. It was not observed by
Dr. Coues in Arizona, but is said to occur in the southern portion of
that Territory. It was found breeding at Cape St. Lucas by Mr. Xantus.
It is not named by Sumichrast among the birds of Vera Cruz.

Its habits are said to be of the same general character with those of
our common Cardinal.

The specimens from which this bird was first described were procured
in the vicinity of the city of Mexico. The first obtained within the
limits of the United States were observed by Captain McCown of the U.
S. Army, at Ringgold Barracks, in Texas. Since then it has been
procured by several of the naturalists accompanying the government
expeditions. It was obtained in New Leon, Mexico, by Lieutenant Couch;
in Texas, by Major Emory; in Texas and at El Paso, by Lieutenant

When first seen, in March, in the State of Tamaulipas, by Lieutenant
Couch, it was in flocks, very shy and difficult of approach. It did
not occur much in open fields, but seemed to prefer the vicinity of
fences and bushes. It was often seen in company with the common

Dr. Kennerly found this bird quite abundant in the vicinity of El
Paso, but did not observe it elsewhere. It kept generally in flocks of
from three to six, frequenting the hedges and fruit-trees in the
vicinity of houses. It became very restless when approached, flying
from branch to branch and from tree to tree, uttering its peculiar
note with great vehemence.

Dr. Heermann met with the first specimen of this bird in a dry cañon,
a little to the east of the crossing of San Pedro River. It was
perched on a bush, seemed wearied and lost, and was probably a
wanderer. No more were seen until he reached El Paso. There he found
it everywhere among the hedges and trees, and continued to meet with
it occasionally on his road, until his party left civilization behind.
It erects its crest as it moves actively about in search of food, and
utters at intervals a clear, plaintive whistle, varied by a few
detached notes.

Mr. Dresser considers this species rather a straggler from Mexico than
as a Texan bird. Near Eagle Pass and Piedras Negras he found it
abundant, but it became scarce as soon as he travelled a few miles
into Texas. He saw none north or east of the Leona. He was told that
quantities breed near Eagle Pass, and he saw not a few in cages that
had been reared from the nest. He found it a shy bird, and difficult
to shoot. When followed, it flies about uneasily, perching on the top
of some high bush, and erecting its long crest, uttering a clear,
plaintive whistle. Sometimes it would take to the thick brushwood and
creep through the bushes so that it was impossible to get a shot at
it. On the Lower Rio Grande it was of uncommon occurrence. He noticed
a single pair near Matamoras in August, 1864.

Captain McCown, in his account of this species, published by Cassin,
writes that, so far as seen on the Rio Grande, this handsome species
appeared to have a strong partiality for damp and bushy woods. So far
as he observed, it never ventured far from the river. He was under the
impression that this bird remains in Texas all the year, having met
with it so late in the fall and again so early in the spring, that, if
not constantly resident, its migrations must be very limited. He
describes it as a gay, sprightly bird, generally seen in company with
others of the same species, frequently erecting its crest and calling
to its mate or comrades. It is rather shy, and not easily approached.
In its voice and general habits it appeared to him very similar to the
common species.

The eggs of this species are of an oval shape, one end being only a
little less rounded than the other. Their average measurement is one
inch in length by .80 in breadth. Their ground-color is a dull
chalky-white, over which are distributed well-defined blotches of a
light umber-brown, and also a number of indistinct markings of purple.
The spots are pretty uniform in these colors, but vary greatly in size
and distribution. In some eggs they largely consist of fine dots, in
others they are in bold blotches. In some the brown is more confluent
and the effect that of a deeper shade.


  _Cardinalis_, BONAPARTE, Saggio di una distribuzione metod. dei
    Animagli Vertebrati, 1831 (Agassiz). (Type, _Loxia cardinalis_,

  [Line drawing: _Cardinalis virginianus._

GEN. CHAR. Bill enormously large; culmen very slightly curved,
commissure sinuated; lower jaw broader than the length of the gonys,
considerably wider than the upper jaw, about as deep as the latter.
Tarsi longer than middle toe; outer toe rather the longer, reaching a
little beyond the base of the middle one; hind toe not so long. Wings
moderate, reaching over the basal third of the exposed part of the
tail. Four outer quills graduated; the first equal to the secondaries.
Tail long, decidedly longer than the wings, considerably graduated;
feathers broad, truncated a little obliquely at the end, the corners
rounded. Colors red. Head crested.

The essential characters of this genus are the crested head; very
large and thick bill extending far back on the forehead, and only
moderately curved above; tarsus longer than middle toe; much graduated
wings, the first primary equal to the secondary quills; the long tail
exceeding the wings, broad and much graduated at the end.

Of this genus, only two species are known, one of them being
exclusively South American, the other belonging to North America, but
in different regions modified into representative races. They may be
defined as follows.

Species and Varieties.

COMMON CHARACTERS. _Male._ Bright vermilion-red, more dusky
purplish on upper surface; feathers adjoining base of
bill black for greater or less extent. _Female._ Above
olivaceous, the wings, tail, and crest reddish; beneath
olivaceous-whitish, slightly tinged on jugulum with red.

  C. virginianus. Culmen nearly straight; commissure with a
  slight lobe; upper mandible as deep as the lower,
  perfectly smooth. Bill red. Black patch covering whole
  throat, its posterior outline convex. _Female._ Lining of
  wing deep vermilion. Olivaceous-gray above, the wings
  and tail strongly tinged with red; crest only dull red,
  without darker shaft-streaks. Beneath wholly light
  ochraceous. No black around bill.

  A. Crest-feathers soft, blended. Rump not lighter red than

    _a._ Black of the lores passing broadly across forehead.
    Crest brownish-red. Bill moderate.

      Culmen, .75; gonys, .41; depth of bill, .54. Feathers
      of dorsal region broadly margined with grayish. Wing,
      4.05; tail, 4.50; crest, 1.80. _Hab._ Eastern Province
      of United States, south of 40°. Bermudas
                                                  var. _virginianus_.

    _b._ Black of the lores not meeting across forehead;
    crest pure vermilion. Bill robust.

      Culmen, .84; gonys, .47; depth of bill, .70. Feathers
      of dorsal region without grayish borders; red beneath
      more intense; wing, 3.60; tail, 4.20; crest, 2.00.
      _Hab._ Eastern Mexico (Mirador; Yucatan; “Honduras”)
                                                    var. _coccineus_.[15]

      Culmen, .82; gonys, .47; depth of bill, .65. Feathers
      of dorsal region with distinct gray borders; red
      beneath lighter. Wing, 4.00; tail, 5.00; crest, 2.00.
      _Hab._ Cape St. Lucas, and Arizona; Tres Marias
      Islands. (Perhaps all of Western Mexico, north of the
      Rio Grande de Santiago.)                         var. _igneus_.

  B. Crest-feathers stiff, compact. Rump decidedly lighter
  red than the back.

      Culmen, .75; gonys, .41; depth of bill, .57. Dorsal
      feathers without grayish margins; red as in the last.
      Wing, 3.40; tail, 3.80; crest, 2.00. _Hab._ Western
      Mexico; Colima. “Acapulco et Realejo.”          var. _carneus_.[16]

  C. phœniceus.[17] Culmen much arched; commissure arched;
  upper mandible not as deep as lower, and with grooves
  forward from the nostril, parallel with the curve of the
  culmen. Bill whitish-brown. Black patch restricted to the
  chin, its posterior outline deeply concave.

  Crest-feathers stiff and compact. No black above, or on
  lores; crest pure vermilion; rump light vermilion, much
  lighter than the back, which is without gray edges to
  feathers. Culmen, .75; gonys, .39; height of bill, .67;
  wing, 3.50; tail, 3.90; crest, 2.20. _Female._ Lining of
  wing buff; above ashy-olivaceous, becoming pure ash on
  head and neck, except their under side. Crest-feathers
  vermilion with black shafts; no red tinge on wings, and
  only a slight tinge of it on tail. Forepart of cheeks and
  middle of throat white; rest of lower part deep
  ochraceous. Black around bill as in the male. _Hab._
  Northern South America; Venezuela; New Granada.

     [15] _Cardinalis virginianus_, var. _coccineus_, RIDGWAY.

     [16] _Cardinalis virginianus_, var. _carneus_. _? Cardinalis
     carneus_, LESS. R. Z. 1842, 209.—BONAP. Consp. I, 501.

     According to the locality quoted (“Acapulco et Realejo”)
     this name is the one to be applied to the variety diagnosed
     in the synopsis; it is difficult, however, to make anything
     out of the description, as it is evidently taken from a
     female or immature bird. If the locality quoted be correct,
     this form ranges along the Pacific Coast, probably from
     latitude 20° south, as far at least as Nicaragua. North of
     20°, and on the Tres Marias Islands, it is replaced by var.
     _igneus_, and on the Atlantic coast, from Tampico south to
     Honduras, is represented by the var. _coccineus_.

     In the very long, stiff crest-feathers, and light red rump,
     this variety of _C. virginianus_ closely approximates to _C.
     phœniceus_, but in other respects is very distinct.

     [17] _Cardinalis phœniceus_, (GOULD,) BONAP. P. Z. S. 1837,
     p. 111; Consp. I, 501.—SCLATER & SALVIN, Ex. Orn. Pt. VIII,
     1868, pl. lxiii.

Cardinalis virginianus, BONAP.


  _Coccothraustes virginiana_, BRISSON, Orn. III, 1760, 253. _Loxia
       cardinalis_, LINN. Syst. I, 1766, 300.—WILSON, Am. Orn. II,
       1810, 38, pl. vi, f. 1, 2. _Coccothraustes cardinalis_, VIEILL.
       Dict. _Fringilla (Coccothraustes) cardinalis_, BON. Obs. Wils.
       1825, No. 79. _Fringilla cardinalis_, NUTT. Man. I, 1832,
       519.—AUD. Orn. Biog. II, 1834, 336; V, 514, pl. clix. _Pitylus
       cardinalis_, AUD. Syn. 1839, 131.—IB. Birds Am. III, 1841,
       198, pl. cciii. _Cardinalis virginianus_, BON. List, 1838.—IB.
       Consp. 1850, 501.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 509.—MAX. Cab. J.
       VI, 1858, 268. _Grosbec de Virginie_, BUFF. Pl. enl. 37.

  [Illustration: _Cardinalis virginianus._]

SP. CHAR. A flattened crest of feathers on the crown. Bill red. Body
generally bright vermilion-red, darker on the back, rump, and tail.
The feathers of the back and rump bordered with brownish-gray. Narrow
band around the base of the bill, extending to eyes, with chin and
upper part of the throat black.

_Female_ of a duller red, and this only on the wings, tail, and
elongated feathers of the crown. Above light olive; tinged with
yellowish on the head; beneath brownish-yellow, darkest on the sides
and across the breast. Black about the head only faintly indicated.
Length, 8.50; wing, 4.00; tail, 4.50; culmen, .75; depth of bill, .58;
breadth of upper mandible, .35. (28,286 ♂, Mount Carmel, Southern

HAB. More southern portions of United States to the Missouri. Probably
along valley of Rio Grande to Rocky Mountains.

The bill of this species is very large, and shaped much as in
_Hedymeles ludovicianus_. The central feathers of the crest of the
crown are longer than the lateral; they spring from about the middle
of the crown, and extend back about an inch and a half from the base
of the bill. The wings are much rounded, the fourth longest, the
second equal to the seventh, the first as long as the secondaries. The
tail is long, truncate at the end, but graduated on the sides; the
feathers are broad to the end, truncated obliquely at the end.

Most North American specimens we have seen have the feathers of the
back edged with ashy; the more northern the less brightly colored, and
larger. Mexican skins (var._coccineus_) are deeper colored and without
the olivaceous. In all specimens from eastern North America the
frontal black is very distinct.

Specimens from the Eastern Province of United States, including
Florida and the Bermudas, are all alike in possessing those features
distinguishing the restricted var. _virginianus_ from the races of
Mexico, namely, the wide black frontal band, and distinct gray edges
to dorsal feathers, with small bill. Specimens from Florida are
scarcely smaller, and are not more deeply colored than some examples
from Southern Illinois. Rio Grande skins, however, are slightly less
in size, though identical in other respects.

HABITS. The Cardinal Grosbeak, the Redbird of the Southern States, is
one of our few birds that present the double attraction of a brilliant
and showy plumage with more than usual powers of song. In New England
and the more northern States it is chiefly known by its reputation as
a cage-bird, both its bright plumage and its sweet song giving it a
high value. It is a very rare and only an accidental visitor of
Massachusetts, though a pair was once known to spend the summer and to
rear its brood in the Botanical Gardens of Harvard College in
Cambridge. It is by no means a common bird even in Pennsylvania. In
all the Southern States, from Virginia to Mexico, it is a well-known
favorite, frequenting gardens and plantations, and even breeding
within the limits of the larger towns and cities. A single specimen of
this bird was obtained near Dueñas, Guatemala, by Mr. Salvin.

The song of this Grosbeak is diversified, pleasant, and mellow,
delivered with energy and ease, and renewed incessantly until its
frequent repetitions somewhat diminish its charms. Its peculiar
whistle is not only loud and clear, resembling the finest notes of the
flageolet, but is so sweet and so varied that by some writers it has
been considered equal even to the notes of the far-famed Nightingale
of Europe. It is, however, very far from being among our best singers;
yet, as it is known to remain in full song more than two thirds of the
year, and while thus musical to be constant and liberal in the
utterance of its sweet notes, it is entitled to a conspicuous place
among our singing birds.

In its cage life the Cardinal soon becomes contented and tame, and
will live many years in confinement. Wilson mentions one instance in
which a Redbird was kept twenty-one years. They sing nearly throughout
the year, or from January to October. In the extreme Southern States
they are more or less resident, and some may be found all the year
round. There is another remarkable peculiarity in this species, and
one very rarely to be met with among birds, which is that the female
Cardinal Grosbeak is an excellent singer, and her notes are very
nearly as sweet and as good as those of her mate.

This species has been traced as far to the west in its distribution as
the base of the Rocky Mountains, and into Mexico at the southwest. In
Mexico it is also replaced by a very closely allied variety, and at
Cape St. Lucas by still another. It is given by Mr. Lawrence among the
birds occurring near New York City. He has occasionally met with it in
New Jersey and at Staten Island, and, in one instance, on New York
Island, when his attention was attracted to it by the loudness of its

It is given by Mr. Dresser as common throughout the whole of Texas
during the summer, and almost throughout the year, excepting only
where the _P. sinuata_ is found. At Matamoras it was very common, and
may be seen caged in almost every Mexican hut. He found it breeding in
great abundance about San Antonio in April and May.

Mr. Cassin states that the Cardinal Bird is also known by the name of
Virginia Nightingale. He adds that it inhabits, for the greater part,
low and damp woods in which there is a profuse undergrowth of bushes,
and is particularly partial to the vicinity of watercourses. The male
bird is rather shy and careful of exposing himself.

Wilson mentions that in the lower parts of the Southern States, in the
neighborhood of settlements, he found them more numerous than
elsewhere. Their clear and lively notes, even in the months of January
and February, were, at that season, almost the only music. Along the
roadsides and fences he found them hovering in small groups,
associated with Snowbirds and various kinds of Sparrows. Even in
Pennsylvania they frequent the borders of creeks and rivulets during
the whole year, in sheltered hollows, covered with holly, laurel, and
other evergreens. They are very fond of Indian corn, a grain that is
their favorite food. They are also said to feed on various kinds of

The males of this species, during the breeding season, are described
as very pugnacious, and when confined together in the same cage they
fight violently. The male bird has even been known to destroy its
mate. In Florida Mr. Audubon found these birds mated by the 8th of
February. The nest is built in bushes, among briers, or in low trees,
and in various situations, the middle of a field, near a fence, or in
the interior of a thicket, and usually not far from running water. It
has even been placed in the garden close to the planter’s house. It is
loosely built of dry leaves and twigs, with a large proportion of dry
grasses and strips of the bark of grapevines. Within, it is finished
and lined with finer stems of grasses wrought into a circular form.
There are usually two, and in the more Southern States three, broods
in a season.

Mr. Audubon adds that they are easily raised from the nest, and have
been known to breed in confinement.

The eggs of this species are of an oblong-oval shape, with but little
difference at either end. Their ground-color appears to be white, but
is generally so thickly marked with spots of ashy-brown and faint
lavender tints as to permit but little of its ground to be seen. The
eggs vary greatly in size, ranging from 1.10 inches to .98 of an inch
in length, and from .80 to .78 in breadth.

Cardinalis virginianus, var. igneus, BAIRD.


  _Cardinalis igneus_, BAIRD, Pr. Ac. Sc. Phila. 1859, 305 (Cape St.
       Lucas).—ELLIOT, Illust. N. Am. Birds, I, xvi.—COOPER, Orn.
       Cal. I, 238. _Cardinalis virginianus_, FINSCH, Abh. Nat. Brem.
       1870, 339.

SP. CHAR. Resembling _virginianus_, having, like it, the distinct
grayish edges to feathers of the dorsal region. Red lighter, however,
and the top of head, including crest, nearly pure vermilion, instead
of brownish-red. Black of the lores not passing across the forehead,
reaching only to the nostril. Wing, 4.00; tail, 5.00; culmen, .83;
depth of bill, .66; breadth of upper mandible, .38. (No. 49,757 ♂,
Camp Grant, 60 miles east of Tucson, Arizona).

_Female_ distinguishable from that of _virginianus_ only by more
swollen bill, and more restricted dusky around base of bill. _Young_:
bill deep black.

HAB. Cape St. Lucas; Camp Grant, Arizona; Tres Marias Islands (off
coast of Mexico, latitude between 21° and 22° north). Probably Western
Mexico, from Sonora south to latitude of about 20°.

In the features pointed out above, all specimens from Arizona and Tres
Marias, and of an exceedingly large series collected at Cape St.
Lucas, differ from those of other regions.

No specimens are in the collection from Western Mexico as far south as
Colima, but birds from this region will, without doubt, be found
referrible to the present race.

HABITS. There appears to be nothing in the habits of this form of
Cardinal, as far as known, to distinguish it from the Virginia bird;
the nest and eggs, too, being almost identical. The latter average
about one inch in length, and .80 in breadth. Their ground-color is
white, with a bluish tint. Their markings are larger, and more of a
rusty than an ashy brown, and the purple spots are fewer and less
marked than in _C. virginianus_.

The memoranda of Mr. John Xantus show that in one instance a nest of
this bird, containing two eggs, was found in a mimosa bush four feet
from the ground; another nest, with one egg, in a like situation; a
third, containing three eggs, was about three feet from the ground; a
fourth, with two eggs, was also found in a mimosa, but only a few
inches above the ground.


  _Pipilo_, VIEILLOT, Analyse, 1816 (AGASSIZ). (Type, _Fringilla
    erythrophthalma_, LINN.)

  [Line drawing: _Pipilo fuscus._
                  5559 ♂]

GEN. CHAR. Bill rather stout; the culmen gently curved, the gonys
nearly straight; the commissure gently concave, with a decided notch
near the end; the lower jaw not so deep as the upper; not as wide as
the gonys is long, but wider than the base of the upper mandible. Feet
large, the tarsus as long as or a little longer than the middle toe;
the outer lateral toe a little the longer, and reaching a little
beyond the base of the middle claw. The hind claw about equal to its
toe; the two together about equal to the outer toe. Claws all stout,
compressed, and moderately curved; in some western specimens the claws
much larger. Wings reaching about to the end of the upper
tail-coverts; short and rounded, though the primaries are considerably
longer than the nearly equal secondaries and tertials; the outer four
quills are graduated, the first considerably shorter than the second,
and about as long as the secondaries. Tail considerably longer than
the wings, moderately graduated externally; the feathers rather broad,
most rounded off on the inner webs at the end.

  [Illustration: _Pipilo erythrophthalmus._]

The colors vary; the upper parts are generally uniform black or brown,
sometimes olive; the under white or brown; no central streaks on the
feathers. The hood sometimes differently colored.

In the large number of species or races included in this genus by
authors, there are certain differences of form, such as varying
graduation of tail, length of claw, etc., but scarcely sufficient to
warrant its further subdivision. In coloration, however, we find
several different styles, which furnish a convenient method of
arrangement into groups.

Few genera in birds exhibit such constancy in trifling variations of
form and color, and as these are closely connected with geographical
distribution, it seems reasonable to reduce many of the so-called
species to a lower rank. In the following synopsis, we arrange the
whole of North American and Mexican Pipilos into four sections, with
their more positive species, and in the subsequent discussion of the
sections separately we shall give what appear to be the varieties.


  A. Sides and lower tail-coverts rufous, in sharp contrast
  with the clear white of the abdomen. Tail-feathers with
  whitish patch on end of inner webs.

    _a._ Head and neck black, sharply defined against the
    white of breast. Rump olive or blackish.

        _Black or dusky olive above._

      1. P. maculatus. White spots on tips of both rows of
      wing-coverts, and on scapulars. No white patch on base
      of primaries. _Hab._ Mexico, and United States west of
      the Missouri. (Five races.)

      2. P. erythrophthalmus. No white spots on
      wing-coverts, nor on scapulars. A white patch on base
      of primaries. _Hab._ Eastern Province of United
      States. (Two races.)

        _Bright olive-green above._

      3. P. macronyx.[18] Scapulars and wing-coverts (both
      rows) with distinct greenish-white spots on tips of
      outer webs.

      4. P. chlorosoma.[19] Scapulars and wing-coverts
      without trace of white spots. _Hab._ Table-lands of
      Mexico. (Perhaps these are two races of one species,

    _b._ Head and neck ashy, paler on jugulum, where the
    color fades gradually into the white of breast. Rump and
    upper tail-coverts bright rufous.

      5. P. superciliosa.[20] An obsolete whitish
      superciliary stripe. Greater wing-coverts obsoletely
      whitish at tips; no other white markings on upper
      parts, and the tail-patches indistinct. _Hab._ Brazil.
      (Perhaps not genuine _Pipilo_.)

  B. Sides ashy or tinged with ochraceous; lower
  tail-coverts ochraceous, not sharply contrasted with white
  on the abdomen, or else the abdomen concolor with the
  side. Head never black, and upper parts without light
  markings (except the wing in _fuscus_ var. _albicollis_).

    _a._ Wings and tail olive-green.

      6. P. chlorurus. Whole pileum (except in young) deep
      rufous, sharply defined. Whole throat pure white,
      immaculate, and sharply defined against the
      surrounding deep ash; a maxillary and a short
      supraloral stripe of white. Anterior parts of body
      streaked in young. _Hab._ Western Province of United

    _b._ Wings and tail grayish-brown.

      7. P. fuscus. A whitish or ochraceous patch covering
      the throat contrasting with the adjacent portions, and
      bounded by dusky specks. Lores and chin like the
      throat. _Hab._ Mexico, and United States west of Rocky
      Mountains. (Five races.)

      8. P. aberti. Throat concolor with the adjacent
      portions, and without distinct spots. Lores and chin
      blackish. _Hab._ Colorado region of Middle Province,
      United States. (Only one form known.)

     [18] _Pipilo macronyx_, SWAINSON, Phil. Mag. I, 1827, 434.
     Real del Monte, Mex.—IB. Anim. in Men. 1838, 347.—BP.
     Consp. 487.—SCLATER & SALVIN, 1869, 361. _Pipilo
     virescens_, HARTLAUB, Cab. Jour. 1863, 228, Mex.

     SP. CHAR. Prevailing color above olive-green; the head and
     neck all round black, abruptly contrasted below with the
     white under parts; above passing insensibly into the green
     of the back; feathers of interscapular region obscurely
     dusky medially; sides and crissum rufous. Scapulars and
     greater and middle coverts with outer webs pale
     greenish-yellow at ends; these blotches faintly margined
     externally with olive-green. Edge of wing yellow; outer
     primary edged with whitish, edges of other primaries and of
     secondaries uniform olive-green. Fifth quill longest, fourth
     and sixth scarcely shorter; first shorter than ninth. Legs
     stout, claws much curved. Tail wanting in the single
     specimen before us (a male from the city of Mexico,
     belonging to Mr. G. N. Lawrence).

     _Dimensions_ (prepared specimen): Wing, 3.70. Exposed
     portion of first primary, 2.30; of second, 2.73; of longest
     (measured from exposed base of first primary), 2.85. Bill:
     Length from forehead, .75; from nostril, .45. Legs: Tarsus,
     1.14; middle claw, .38; hind toe and claw, .85; claw alone,

     In describing this species, Swainson mentions an
     accompanying specimen as similar, but without any white
     spots on wings, suggesting that it may be the female. A
     specimen in the plumage from Oaxaca is characterized as

     [19] _Pipilo chlorosoma_, BAIRD. 50,225 ♂, Oaxaca. Similar
     to _P. macronyx_ in color, but without any trace of white
     markings on the wings. Outer tail-feathers with an obscurely
     defined greenish-white patch about an inch long, at the end
     of inner web; similar, but successively smaller patches on
     the second and third feathers, all whiter on upper than
     lower surface. Fifth quill longest; first shorter than

     _Dimensions_ (prepared specimen): Total length, 8.20; wing,
     3.75; tail, 4.80. Bill: Length from forehead, .73; from
     nostril, .43. Legs: Tarsus, 1.24; middle toe and claw, 1.10;
     claw alone, .36; hind toe and claw, .85; claw alone, .50.
     No. 60,050, Mexico, is similar, in all essential respects.

     From the analogies of the black Pipilos, it is reasonable to
     consider these two birds as distinct species, or at least
     varieties, especially as the specimen before us of that with
     unspotted wings is marked male. The general appearance is
     otherwise much the same, the unspotted bird rather smaller,
     and without the dusky interscapular markings described in
     _macronyx_. Should No. 50,225 represent a distinct species,
     it may be called _P. chlorosoma_, and distinguished as
     above. (60,050, Mexico, BOUCARD.)

     [20] _Pipilo lateralis_ (NATT.). _Emberiza lateralis_, NATT.
     Mus. Vind. MSS. _Poospiza lat._ BURM. Th. Bras. III, Av. 2,
     p. 215. _Pipilo superciliosa_, SWAINS. An. Menag. 311, 95,
     fig. 59.


_Head black._

  Pipilo erythrophthalmus.

After a careful study of the very large collection of Black-headed
Pipilos (leaving for the present the consideration of those with
olive-green bodies) in the Smithsonian Museum, we have come finally to
the conclusion that all the species described as having the scapulars
and wing-coverts spotted with white—as _arcticus_, _oregonus_, and
_megalonyx_, and even including the differently colored _P. maculatus_
of Mexico—are probably only geographical races of one species,
representing in the trans-Missouri region the _P. erythrophthalmus_ of
the eastern division of the continent. It is true that specimens may
be selected of the four races capable of accurate definition, but the
transition from one to the other is so gradual that a considerable
percentage of the collection can scarcely be assigned satisfactorily;
and even if this were possible, the differences after all are only
such as are caused by a slight change in the proportion of black, and
the varying development of feet and wings.

Taking _maculatus_ as it occurs in the central portion of its wide
field of distribution, with wing-spots of average size, we find these
spots slightly bordered, or at least often, with black, and the
primaries edged externally with white only towards the end. The
exterior web of lateral tail-feather is edged mostly with white; the
terminal white patches of outer feather about an inch long; that of
inner web usually separated from the outer by a black shaft-streak. In
more northern specimens the legs are more dusky than usual. The tail
is variable, but longer generally than in the other races. The claws
are enormously large in many, but not in all specimens, varying
considerably; and the fourth primary is usually longest, the first
equal to or shorter than the secondaries. This is the race described
as _P. megalonyx_, and characterizes the Middle Province, between the
Sierra Nevada of California and the eastern Rocky Mountains, or the
great interior basin of the continent; it occurs also near the head of
the Rio Grande.

On the Pacific slope of California, as we proceed westward, we find a
change in the species, the divergence increasing still more as we
proceed northward, until in Oregon and Washington the extreme of range
and alteration is seen in _P. oregonus_. Here the claws are much
smaller, the white markings restricted in extent so as to form quite
small spots bordered externally by black; the spots on the inner webs
of tail much smaller, and even bordered along the shaft with black,
and the outer web of the lateral entirely black, or with only a faint
white edging. The concealed white of the head and neck has disappeared

Proceeding eastward, on the other hand, from our starting-point, we
find another race, in _P. arcticus_, occupying the western slope of
the Missouri Valley and the basin of the Saskatchewan, in which, on
the contrary, the white increases in quantity, and more and more to
its eastern limit. The black borders of the wing-patches disappear,
leaving them white externally; and decided white edgings are seen for
the first time at the bases of primaries, as well as near their ends,
the two sometimes confluent. The terminal tail-patches are larger, the
outer web of the exterior feather is entirely white except toward the
very base, and we thus have the opposite extreme to _P. oregonus_. The
wings are longer; the third primary longest; the first usually longer
than the secondaries or the ninth quill.

Finally, proceeding southward along the table-lands of Mexico, and
especially on their western slope, we find _P. maculatus_ (the first
described of all) colored much like the females of the more northern
races, except that the head and neck are black, in decided contrast to
the more olivaceous back. The wing formula and pattern of markings are
much like _megalonyx_, the claws more like _arcticus_. Even in
specimens of _megalonyx_, from the southern portion of its area of
distribution, we find a tendency to an ashy or brownish tinge on the
rump, extending more or less along the back; few, if any indeed, being
uniformly black.

As, however, a general expression can be given to the variations
referred to, and as they have an important geographical relationship,
besides a general diagnosis, we give their characters and distribution
in detail.

The general impression we derive from a study of the series is that
the amount of white on the wing and elsewhere decreases from the
Missouri River to the Pacific, exhibiting its minimum in Oregon and
Washington, precisely as in the small black Woodpeckers; that in the
Great Basin the size of the claws and the length of tail increases
considerably; that the northern forms are entirely black, and the more
southern brown or olivaceous, except on the head.

The following synopsis will be found to express the principal
characteristics of the species and their varieties, premising that _P.
arcticus_ is more distinctly definable than any of the others. We add
the character of the green-bodied Mexican species to complete the

  Synopsis of Varieties.

I. _P. erythrophthalmus._

      1. Wing, 3.65; tail, 4.20. Outer tail-feather with
      terminal half of inner web white. Iris bright red,
      sometimes paler. _Hab._ Eastern Province United
      States. (Florida in winter.)           var. _erythrophthalmus_.

      2. Wing, 2.90; tail, 3.75. Outer tail-feather with
      only terminal fourth of inner web white. Iris white.
      _Hab._ Florida (resident)                        var. _alleni_.

II. _P. maculatus._

  A. Interscapulars with white streaks.

    _a._ Outer webs of primaries not edged with white at the

      1. Above olive-brown, the head and neck, only,
      continuous black; back streaked with black. White
      spots on wing-coverts not bordered externally with
      black. Wing, 3.25; tail, 4.00; hind claw, .44. _Hab._
      Table-lands of Mexico                         var. _maculatus_.[21]

      2. Above black, tinged with olive on rump, and
      sometimes on the nape. White spots as in last. Inner
      web of lateral tail-feathers with terminal white spot
      more than one inch long; outer web broadly edged with
      white. Wing, 3.45; tail, 4.10; hind claw, .55.
      _Female_ less deep black than male, with a general
      slaty-olive cast. _Hab._ Middle Province of United
      States, from Fort Tejon, California, to Upper Rio
      Grande, and from Fort Crook to Fort Bridger   var. _megalonyx_.

      3. Above almost wholly black, with scarcely any olive
      tinge, and this only on rump. White spots restricted,
      and with a distinct black external border. White
      terminal spot on inner web of lateral tail-feather
      less than one inch long; outer web almost wholly
      black. Wing, 3.40; tail, 3.90; hind claw, .39.
      _Female_ deep umber-brown, instead of black. _Hab._
      Pacific Province of United States, south to San
      Francisco; West Humboldt Mountains             var. _oregonus_.

  _b._ Outer webs of primaries distinctly edged with white
  at base.

      4. Above black, except on rump, which is tinged with
      olivaceous. White spots very large, without black
      border. Inner web of lateral tail-feather with
      terminal half white, the outer web almost wholly
      white. Wing, 3.50; tail, 3.90; hind claw, .39.
      _Female_ umber-brown, replacing black. _Hab._ Plains
      between Rocky Mountains and the Missouri; Saskatchewan
      Basin                                          var. _arcticus_.

  B. Interscapulars without white streaks.

      5. Above dusky olive; white spots on scapulars and
      wing-coverts small, and without black edge.
      Tail-patches very restricted (outer only .40 long). No
      white on primaries. Wing, 2.85; tail, 3.10. _Female_
      scarcely different. _Hab._ Socorro Island, off west
      coast of Mexico                                 var. _carmani_.[22]

     [21] _Pipilo maculatus_, SWAINSON, Philos. Mag., 1827.

     [22] _Pipilo carmani_, BAIRD, MSS.; LAWRENCE, Ann. N. Y.
     Lyc. X, 7. (Specimens in collection made by Colonel A. J.

  [Illustration: PLATE XXXI.
   1. Chondestes grammaca. ♂ Cal., 6300.
   2. Pipilo erythrophthalmus. ♂ Pa., 2135.
   3.   ”            ”         ♀ Kansas, 8194.
   4.   ”    chlorura.  ♂ Rocky Mts., 2644.
   5.   ”    arcticus. ♂ Dakota, 1944.
   6.   ”       ”      ♀.
   7.   ”    aberti. ♂ Ariz., 6748.
   8.   ”    crissalis. ♂ Cal., 5559.
   9.   ”    megalonyx. ♀.
  10.   ”    mesoleucus. ♂ Ariz., 6829.
  11.   ”    albigula. ♂ Cape St. Lucas, 12993.
  12.   ”    oregonus. ♀.]

Pipilo erythrophthalmus, VIEILLOT.


  _Fringilla erythrophthalma_, LINN. Syst. Nat. I, 1766, 318.—AUD.
       Orn. Biog. I, 1832, 151; V, 511, pl. xxix. _Emberiza
       erythrophthalma_, GM. Syst. Nat. I, 1788, 874.—WILSON, Am.
       Orn. VI, 1812, 90, pl. liii. _Pipilo erythrophthalmus_, VIEILL.
       Gal. Ois. I, 1824, 109, pl. lxxx.—BON. List, 1838.—IB.
       Conspectus, 1850, 487.—AUD. Syn. 1839, 124.—IB. Birds Am.
       III, 1841, 167, pl. cxcv.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858,
       512.—SAMUELS, 333. _Pipilo ater_, VIEILL. Nouv. Dict. XXXIV,
       1819, 292. _Towhee Bird_, CATESBY, Car. I, 34. _Towhee
       Bunting_, LATHAM, Syn. II, I, 1783, 199.—PENNANT, II, 1785,

  [Line drawing: 2135 ♂]

SP. CHAR. Upper parts generally, head and neck all round, and upper
part of the breast, glossy black, abruptly defined against the pure
white which extends to the anus, but is bounded on the sides and under
the wings by light chestnut, which is sometimes streaked externally
with black. Feathers of throat white in the middle. Under coverts
similar to sides, but paler. Edges of outer six primaries with white
at the base and on the middle of the outer web; inner two tertiaries
also edged externally with white. Tail-feathers black; outer web of
the first, with the ends of the first to the third, white, decreasing
from the exterior one. Outermost quill usually shorter than ninth, or
even than secondaries; fourth quill longest, fifth scarcely shorter.
Iris red; said to be sometimes paler, or even white, in winter.
Length, 8.75; wing, 3.75; tail, 4.10. Bill black, legs flesh-color.
_Female_ with the black replaced by a rather rufous brown.

HAB. Eastern United States to the Missouri River; Florida (in winter).

The tail-feathers are only moderately graduated on the sides; the
outer about .40 of an inch shorter than the middle. The outer
tail-feather has the terminal half white, the outline transverse; the
white of the second is about half as long as that of the first; of the
third half that of the second. The chestnut of the sides reaches
forward to the black of the neck, and is visible when the wings are

A young bird has the prevailing color reddish-olive above, spotted
with lighter; beneath brownish-white, streaked thickly with brown.

The description above given may be taken as representing the average
of the species in the Northern and Middle States. Most specimens from
the Mississippi Valley differ in having the two white patches on the
primaries confluent; but this feature is not sufficiently constant to
make it worthy of more than passing notice, for occasionally western
specimens have the white spaces separated, as in the majority of
eastern examples, while among the latter there may, now and then, be
found individuals scarcely distinguishable from the average of western

  [Line drawing: _Pipilo erythrophthalmus._
                  2135 ♂]

In Florida, however, there is a local, resident race, quite different
from these two northern styles, which are themselves not enough unlike
to be considered separately. This Florida race differs in much smaller
size, very restricted white on both wing and tail, and in having a
yellowish-white instead of blood-red iris. Further remarks on this
Florida race will be found under its proper heading (p. 708), as _P.
erythrophthalmus_, var. _alleni_.

Specimens of _erythrophthalmus_, as restricted, from Louisiana, as is
the case with most birds from the Lower Mississippi region, exhibit
very intense colors compared with those from more northern portions,
or even Atlantic coast specimens from the same latitude.

HABITS. The Ground Robin, Towhee, Chewink, Charee, or Joreet, as it is
variously called, has an extended distribution throughout the eastern
United States, from Florida and Georgia on the southeast to the
Selkirk Settlements on the northwest, and as far to the west as the
edge of the Great Plains, where it is replaced by other closely allied
races. It breeds almost wherever found, certainly in Georgia, and, I
have no doubt, sparingly in Florida.

This bird was not observed in Texas by Mr. Dresser. It has been found
in Western Maine, where it is given by Mr. Verrill as a summer
visitant, and where it breeds, but is not common. It arrives there the
first of May. It is not given by Mr. Boardman as occurring in Eastern
Maine. In Massachusetts it is a very abundant summer visitant,
arriving about the last of April, and leaving about the middle of
October. It nests there the last of May, and begins to sit upon the
eggs about the first of June. It is slightly gregarious just as it is
preparing to leave, but at all other times is to be met with only in
solitary pairs.

The Ground Robin is in many respects one of the most strongly
characterized of our North American birds, exhibiting peculiarities in
which all the members of this genus share to a very large degree. They
frequent close and sheltered thickets, where they spend a large
proportion of their time on the ground among the fallen leaves,
scratching and searching for worms, larvæ, and insects. Though
generally resident in retired localities, it is far from being a shy
or timid bird. I have known it to show itself in a front yard,
immediately under the windows of a dwelling and near the main street
of the village, where for hours I witnessed its diligent labors in
search of food. The spot was very shady, and unfrequented during the
greater part of the day. It was not disturbed when the members of the
family passed in or out.

The call-note of this bird is very peculiar, and is variously
interpreted in different localities. It has always appeared to me that
the Georgian _jo-rēēt_ was at least as near to its real notes as
_tow-hēē_. Its song consists of a few simple notes, which very few
realize are those of this bird. In singing, the male is usually to be
seen on the top of some low tree. These notes are uttered in a loud
voice, and are not unmusical. Wilson says its song resembles that of
the Yellow-Hammer of Europe, but is more varied and mellow. Nuttall
speaks of its notes as simple, guttural, and monotonous, and of its
voice as clear and sonorous. The song, which he speaks of as
quaint and somewhat pensive, he describes as sounding like

Wilson says this bird is known in Pennsylvania as the “Swamp Robin.”
If so, this is a misnomer. In New England it has no predilection for
low or moist ground; and I have never found it in such situations. Its
favorite haunts are dry uplands, near the edges of woods, or high
tracts covered with a low brushwood, selecting for nesting-places the
outer skirts of a wood, especially one of a southern aspect. The nest
is sunk in a depression in the ground, the upper edges being usually
just level with the ground. It is largely composed of dry leaves and
coarse stems as a base, within which is built a firmer nest of dry
bents well arranged, usually with no other lining. It is generally
partially concealed by leaves or a tuft of grass, and is not easily
discovered unless the female is seen about it.

Dr. Coues says these Buntings are chiefly spring and autumnal
visitants near Washington, only a few breeding. They are very abundant
from April 25 to May 10, and from the first to the third week of
October, and are partially gregarious. Their migrations are made by
day, and are usually in small companies in the fall, but singly in the
spring. Wilson found them in the middle districts of Virginia, and
from thence south to Florida, during the months of January, February,
and March. Their usual food is obtained among the dry leaves, though
they also feed on hard seeds and gravel. They are not known to commit
any depredations upon harvests. They may be easily accustomed to
confinement, and in a few days will become quite tame. When slightly
wounded and captured, they at first make a sturdy resistance, and bite
quite severely. They are much attached to their young, and when
approached evince great anxiety, the female thrusting herself forward
to divert attention by her outcries and her simulated lameness.

The eggs of this species are of a rounded-oval shape, and have a
dull-white ground, spotted with dots and blotches of a wine-colored
brown. These usually are larger than in the other species, and are
mostly congregated about the larger end, and measure .98 of an inch in
length by .80 in breadth.

Pipilo erythrophthalmus, var. alleni, COUES.


  _Pipilo alleni_, COUES, American Naturalist, V, Aug. 1871, 366.

SP. CHAR. Similar to _erythrophthalmus_, but differing in the
following respects: White spaces on wings and tail much restricted,
those on inner webs of lateral tail-feathers only .50 to .75 long.
Size very much smaller, except the bill, which is absolutely larger.
Iris white.

♂. (55,267, Dummits’s Grove, Florida, March, 1869.) Length, 7.75;
wing, 3.00; tail, 3.75; bill from nostril, .38; tarsus, .97.

♀. (55,271, same locality and date.) Wing, 3.00; tail, 3.50; bill from
nostril, .37; tarsus, .91. White on primaries almost absent.

  [Line drawing: _Pipilo erythrophthalmus_. var. _alleni_.
                  2135, 247,]

This interesting variety of _Pipilo erythrophthalmus_ was found in
Florida, in the spring of 1869, by Mr. C. J. Maynard, and probably
represents the species as resident in that State. It is considerably
smaller than the average (length, 7.75; extent, 10.00; wing, 3.00;
tarsus, .95), and has very appreciably less white on the tail. The
outer web of outer feather is only narrowly edged with white, instead
of being entirely so to the shaft (except in one specimen), and the
terminal white tip, confined to the inner web, is only from .50 to .75
of an inch long, instead of 1.25 to 1.75, or about the amount on the
second feather of northern specimens, as shown in the accompanying
figures. There is apparently a greater tendency to dusky streaks and
specks in the rufous of the side of the breast or in the adjacent
white. Resident specimens from Georgia are intermediate in size and
color between the northern and Florida races.

The bill of Mr. Maynard’s specimen is about the size of that of more
northern ones; the iris is described by him as pale yellowish-white,
much lighter than usual.

Pipilo maculatus,[23] var. megalonyx, BAIRD.


  _Pipilo megalonyx_, BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 515, pl.
       lxxiii.—HEERM. X, _S_, 51 (nest).—COOPER, Orn. Cal. 1, 242.

  [Line drawing: 10284 ♂]

SP. CHAR. Similar to _P. arcticus_ in amount of white on the wings and
scapulars, though this frequently edged with black, but without basal
white on outer web of primaries. Outer edge of outer web of external
tail-feather white, sometimes confluent with that at tip of tail.
Concealed white spots on feathers of side of neck. Claws enormously
large, the hinder longer than its digit; the hind toe and claw
reaching to the middle of the middle claw, which, with its toe, is as
long as or longer than the tarsus. Inner lateral claw reaching nearly
to the middle of middle claw. Length, 7.60; wing, 3.25; hind toe and
claw, .90. _Female_ with the deep black replaced by dusky slaty-olive.

HAB. Southern coast of California and across through valleys of Gila
and Rio Grande; north through the Great Basin across from Fort Crook,
California, to Fort Bridger, Wyoming.

This form constitutes so strongly marked a variety as to be worthy of
particular description. The general appearance is that of _P.
arcticus_, which it resembles in the amount of white spotting on the
wings. This, however, does not usually involve the whole outer web at
the end, but, as in _oregonus_, has a narrow border of black continued
around the white terminally and sometimes externally. There is not
quite so much of a terminal white blotch on the outer tail-feather,
this being but little over an inch in length, and the outer web of the
same feather is never entirely white, though always with an external
white border, which sometimes is confluent with the terminal spot, but
usually leaves a brown streak near the end never seen in _arcticus_,
which also has the whole outer web white except at the base. From
_oregonus_ the species differs in the much greater amount of white on
the wings and the less rounded character of the spots. _Oregonus_,
too, has the whole outer web of external tail-feather black, and the
terminal white spot of the inner web less than an inch in length. We
have never seen in _oregonus_ any concealed white spotting on the
sides of the head.

The greatest difference between this race and the two others lies in
the stout tarsi and enormously large claws, as described, both the
lateral extending greatly beyond the base of the middle one, the
hinder toe and claw nearly as long as the tarsus. The only North
American passerine birds having any approach to this length of claw
are those of the genus _Passerella_.

This great development of the claws is especially apparent in
specimens from the Southern Sierra Nevada, the maximum being attained
in the Fort Tejon examples; those from as far north as Carson City,
Nev., however, are scarcely smaller. In most Rocky Mountain Pipilos,
the claws are but little longer than in _arcticus_.

In this race the female is not noticeably different from the male,
being of a merely less intense black,—not brown,—and conspicuously
different as in _arcticus_ and _oregonus_; there is, however, some
variation among individuals in this respect, but none are ever so
light as the average in the other races.

The young bird is dusky-brown above, with a slight rusty tinge, and
obsolete streaks of blackish. White markings as in adult, but tinged
with rusty. Throat and breast rusty-white, broadly streaked with
dusky; sides only tinged with rufous.

HABITS. According to Mr. Ridgway’s observations, the _P. megalonyx_
replaces in the Rocky Mountain region and in the greater portion of
the Great Basin the _P. arcticus_ of the Plains, from their eastern
slope eastward to the Missouri River, and the _P. oregonus_ of the
Northern Sierra Nevada and Pacific coast. It is most nearly related to
the latter. He became familiar with the habits of this species near
Salt Lake City, having already made like observations of the
_oregonus_ at Carson. A short acquaintance with the former, after a
long familiarity with the latter, enabled him to note a decided
difference in the notes of the two birds, yet in their external
appearance they were hardly distinguishable, and he was at first
surprised to find the same bird apparently uttering entirely different
notes, the call-note of _P. megalonyx_ being very similar to that of
the common Catbird. The song of this species, he adds, has
considerable resemblance in style to that of the eastern _P.
erythrophthalmus_, and though lacking its musical character, is yet
far superior to that of _P. oregonus_. This bird is also much less shy
than the western one, and is, in fact, quite as unsuspicious as the
eastern bird.

Nests, with eggs, were found on the ground, among the scrub-oaks of
the hillsides, from about the 20th of May until the middle of June.

This species has been obtained on the southern coast of California,
and through to the valleys of the Gila and the Rio Grande. In
California it was obtained near San Francisco by Mr. Cutts and Mr.
Hepburn; at Santa Clara by Dr. Cooper; at Monterey by Dr. Canfield; in
the Sacramento Valley by Dr. Heermann; at San Diego by Dr. Hammond; at
Fort Tejon by Mr. Xantus; at Saltillo, Mexico, by Lieutenant Couch; in
New Mexico by Captain Pope; and at Fort Thorn by Dr. Henry.

Lieutenant Couch describes it as a shy, quiet bird, and as found in
woody places.

Dr. Kennerly met with this bird at Pueblo Creek, New Mexico, January
22, 1854. It first attracted his attention early in the month of
January, in the Aztec Mountains, along Pueblo Creek. There it was
often met with, but generally singly. It inhabited the thickest
bushes, and its motions were so constant and rapid, as it hopped from
twig to twig, that they found it difficult to procure specimens. Its
flight was rapid, and near the ground.

Dr. Cooper speaks of this species as a common and resident bird in all
the lower districts of California, and to quite a considerable
distance among the mountains. It was also found on the islands of
Catalina and San Clemente, distant sixteen miles from the mainland.
Though found in New Mexico, Dr. Cooper has met with none in the barren
districts between the Coast Range and the Colorado, nor in the valley
of the latter.

Their favorite residence is said to be in thickets and in oak groves,
where they live mostly on the ground, scratching among the dead leaves
in the concealment of the underbrush, and very rarely venturing far
from such shelter. They never fly more than a few yards at a time, and
only a few feet above the ground. In villages, where they are not
molested, they soon become more familiar, take up their abodes in
gardens, and build their nests in the vicinity of houses.

Dr. Cooper gives them credit for little musical power. Their song is
said to be only a feeble monotonous trill, from the top of some low
bush. When alarmed, they have a note something like the mew of a cat.
On this account they are popularly known as Catbirds. He adds that the
nest is made on the ground, under a thicket, and that it is
constructed of dry leaves, stalks, and grass, mingled with fine roots.
The eggs, four or five in number, are greenish-white, minutely
speckled with reddish-brown, and measure one inch by .70.

Dr. Coues found this species a very abundant and resident species in
Arizona. It was rather more numerous in the spring and in the fall
than at other times. He found it shy and retiring, and inhabiting the
thickest brush. Its call-note is said to be almost exactly like that
of our eastern Catbird. He describes its song as a rather harsh and
monotonous repetition of four or six syllables, something like that of
the _Euspiza americana_. He found females with mature eggs in their
ovaries as early as May 5.

A nest of this species, collected by Mr. Ridgway near Salt Lake City,
May 26, was built on the ground, among scrub-oak brush. It is a very
slight structure, composed almost entirely of coarse dry stems of
grass, with a few bits of coarse inner bark, and with a base made up
wholly with the latter material, and having a diameter of about four

The eggs of this nest, four in number, have an average measurement of
.95 of an inch in length by .73 in breadth. Their ground-color is
crystalline-white, covered very generally with spots and small
blotches of purplish and wine-colored brown, somewhat aggregated at
the larger end.

     [23] _Pipilo maculatus_, SWAINSON. SP. CHAR. _Male._ Similar
     to the female of _Pipilo arcticus_, but rather more
     olivaceous; only the head and neck all round black; shading
     above insensibly into the back. The white markings mostly
     edged narrowly externally with black, and clouded with
     rusty; the nape-feathers faintly, the interscapular broadly,
     streaked centrally with blackish; lower back and rump, with
     outer edges of quill and tail feathers, olivaceous-brown. A
     narrow shaft-streak in white at end of tail. Fourth quill
     longest; fifth scarcely shorter; first about equal to
     secondaries. Claws moderate; perhaps larger than in
     _erythrophthalmus_. Length of skin, 7.80; wing, 3.15; tail,
     4.20; tarsus, 1.10; middle toe and claw, .96; claw alone,
     .34; hind toe and claw, .81; claw alone, .45. _Hab._ Mexico
     (Oaxaca; Real del Monte, Philos. Mag., 1827).

     It is a serious question whether this comparatively little
     known Mexican species of _Pipilo_ is not to be considered as
     identical with some or all of the species of the United
     States, with spotted wing-coverts, notwithstanding the
     difference in the color of the body. It appears, however, to
     be constant in the olivaceous character of the back,—no
     reference being made to Mexican specimens entirely black
     above,—and as such it may be considered a permanent
     geographical race.

Pipilo maculatus, var. oregonus, BELL.


  _Pipilo oregonus_, BELL, Ann. N. Y. Lyc. V, 1852, 6
       (Oregon).—BONAP. Comptes Rendus, XXXVII, Dec. 1853, 922.—IB.
       Notes Orn. Delattre, 1854, 22 (same as prec.).—BAIRD, Birds N.
       Am. 1858, 513.—LORD, Pr. R. A. Inst. IV, 64, 120 (British
       Col.).—COOPER & SUCKLEY, 200.—COOPER, Orn. Cal. 1, 241.
       _Fringilla arctica_, AUD. Orn. Biog. V, 1839, 49, pl. cccxciv.
       (not of SWAINSON). _Pipilo arctica_, AUD. Syn. 1839, 123.—IB.
       Birds Am. III, 1841, 164, pl. cxciv.

  [Line drawing: 2867 ♂]

SP. CHAR. Upper surface generally, with the head and neck all round to
the upper part of the breast, deep black; the rest of lower parts pure
white, except the sides of the body and under tail-coverts, which are
light chestnut-brown; the latter rather paler. The outer webs of
scapulars (usually edged narrowly with black) and of the
superincumbent feathers of the back, with a rounded white spot at the
end of the outer webs of the greater and middle coverts; the outer
edges of the innermost tertials white; no white at the base of the
primaries. Outer web of the first tail-feather black, occasionally
white on the extreme edge; the outer three with a white tip to the
inner web. Outer quill shorter than ninth, or scarcely equalling the
secondaries; fourth quill longest; fifth scarcely shorter. Length,
8.25; wing, 4.40; tail, 4.00. _Female_ with the black replaced by a
more brownish tinge. Claws much as in _erythrophthalmus_.

HAB. Coasts of Oregon and Washington Territories, south to San
Francisco, California. Melting eastward and south into _megalonyx_.
West Humboldt Mountains and Northern Sierra Nevada.

  [Line drawing: 2867]

Comparing this race with _arcticus_, we do not find much difference in
the white of the scapular region, except that the white marks here, as
elsewhere on the wing, are rounded, the extreme end of the outer web
of the feather being black instead of running out acutely white to the
very tip of the outer webs of the feathers. This gives rather less
extension to the white. In fact, most of the white marks are edged
externally with black, converting them into spots. There is no white
whatever at the exposed base of the outer web of the second to fifth
primaries, and there is only a trace of white near the end, instead of
having a conspicuous white edging from base to near the tip.

The outer web of the outer tail-feather, instead of being entirely
white for the exposed portion, is only very slightly edged with white;
usually entirely black. The white at the end of the feathers is much
more restricted, and extends only over the three outer feathers;
usually not reaching to the shaft. The relations to var. _megalonyx_
have been given under the latter head.

HABITS. The Oregon Ground Robin, so far as known, has a restricted
residence, the western portion of Oregon and Washington Territory
during the summer, and in the more northern portions of California.
Its occurrence in the latter State seems to have escaped the notice of
Dr. Cooper, though he gives it conjecturally, having seen birds which
he supposed to be of this species in the higher Sierra Nevada. In its
habits and notes Dr. Cooper could observe no difference between this
species and _P. megalonyx_, both having the complaining _mew_, from
which they have obtained the name of Catbird on that coast.

Mr. J. K. Lord found a nest containing six eggs, which he supposed to
belong to a bird of this species, at Fort Colville. It was built on
the top of a stump, round which young shoots had grown like a fringe,
completely hiding it from the sharpest eye. Mr. Hepburn met with it at

Dr. Cooper, in his Report on the Birds of Washington Territory, states
that the song of this species in spring, as it sits on a low bush
enjoying the sunshine, is like the final trill of the Redwing, or the
lisping faint notes of the Cowbird. It is a constant resident of the
Territory, but only frequents the edge of the coast in winter. He also
mentions finding it about thirty miles south of San Francisco in
autumn. Dr. Suckley met with it west of the Cascade Mountains.

In very many respects, in the opinion of Mr. Ridgway, the Oregon
Ground Robin very closely resembles the common and familiar eastern
“Chewink.” There is noticeable in this western representative a
peculiar manner of flight, and a predilection for bushy places,
closely corresponding with those of the eastern bird. It differs, in
the most marked manner, however, in its extreme shyness, and in the
total absence of the agreeable and striking notes of the Towhee. The
notes of this bird are, he states, of the rudest description, and
instead of being familiar and unsuspicious, it is one of the shyest
and most difficult to approach of any of the western birds.

He found it quite plentiful about Sacramento, where it inhabits the
thickets in company with the western Chat. After crossing the Sierra
Nevada it was found more abundant still in the chaparrals of the
sheltered ravines on the eastern base of those mountains, as well as
in the shrubbery of the river valleys. During the winter it forsakes
the former for the latter localities. Eastward this species was found
as far as the West Humboldt Mountains, where typical examples were

At Carson City, early in March, his attention was attracted by the
peculiar notes of this _Pipilo_; the bird was sitting on a high rock
above the thick chaparral of the hillside, and sharply defined against
the sky. It was readily distinguishable by the black of its head and
breast, in sharp contrast with the pure white of its lower parts.
Every few moments it would raise its head to utter, in a short trill,
its rude song. When approached, it would jerk its expanded
white-tipped tail, and disappear among the bushes. It was abundant in
the chaparrals, on the hillsides, and among the thickets and
buffalo-berry bushes along the rivers. The males were in full song,
perching, as they sang, on a prominent rock or bush.

Mr. Nuttall met with a nest of this species on the 14th of June. It
was built in the shelter of a low undershrub, in a depression
scratched out for its reception. It was made of a rather copious
lining of clean wiry grass, with some dead leaves beneath, as a
foundation. The eggs were four, nearly hatched, very closely
resembling those of the Towhee, thickly spotted over, but more so at
the larger end, with very small round and very numerous
reddish-chocolate spots. The pair showed great solicitude about their
nest, the male, in particular, approaching boldly to scold and lament
at the dangerous intrusion.

The Oregon Ground Robin Mr. Lord considered a quaint and restless
bird. He found it very abundant from the coast to the summit of the
Rocky Mountains, and also very common on Vancouver Island. It arrives
the last of April and first of May, and frequents dark woods and thick
tangled underbrush. He describes it as stealthy and shy, with a habit
of hiding, but its cry usually betrays its place of concealment. This
cry he states to be like the squall of the Catbird.

Mr. Townsend found it abundant on the Columbia, where, as he observed,
it lived mostly on the ground, or on bushes near the ground, rarely
ascending trees. Mr. Audubon gives the measurement of its egg as 1.12
inches in length and .87 in breadth.

The egg of this species is more rounded than are those of this genus
generally, and there is but little difference between the two ends.
The ground-color is white, with a greenish tinge, and is very
generally and profusely spotted with fine markings of reddish and
purplish-brown. They measure .95 by .80 of an inch.

Pipilo maculatus, var. arcticus, SWAINSON.


  _Pyrgita_ (_Pipilo_) _arctica_, SW. F. Bor.-Am. II, 1831, 260.
        _Pipilo arcticus_, NUTTALL, Man. I, 1832, 589.—IB., (2d ed.,)
        1840, 610.—BELL, Ann. N. Y. Lyc. V, 1852, 7.—BAIRD, Birds N.
        Am. 1858, 514.

SP. CHAR. Upper parts generally, with head and neck all round to the
upper part of the breast, black; the rump usually tinged with ashy.
Middle of breast and of belly white; sides chestnut; under
tail-coverts similar, but paler. Entire outer webs of scapulars and of
dorsal feathers immediately above them, and of ends of primary and
secondary coverts, to the shaft, with edges of outer webs of three
innermost tertials, and of the second to the fifth primaries,
conspicuously white. Whole outer web of the first and ends of the
first to the fourth tail-feathers, white, the amount diminishing not
very rapidly. Outermost quill longer than ninth, sometimes than
eighth, nearly always exceeding the secondaries; third quill longest;
fourth scarcely shorter. Length about 8 inches; wing, 4.40; tail,
4.10; hind toe and claw, .74. _Female_ paler brown instead of black;
the rufous, seen in _P. erythrophthalmus_, tinged with ashy.

HAB. High central plains of Upper Missouri, Yellowstone, and Platte;
basin of Missouri River, especially west, including eastern slope of
Rocky Mountains; San Antonio, Texas (DRESSER, Ibis, 1865, 492).

_P. arcticus_ is similar in form to _P. erythrophthalmus_, which,
however, is readily distinguished by the entire absence of white on
the scapulars and wing-coverts. The amount of white on the tail
decreases much less rapidly. The differences between it and _P.
oregonus_ will be found detailed under the head of the latter species.

One specimen (8,193) from Fort Leavenworth, with a few white spots
only on the scapulars, may perhaps be considered a hybrid between
_arcticus_ and _erythrophthalmus_.

In some specimens the interscapulars are edged externally with white.
The feathers of throat and sides of head show occasional concealed
spots of white about the middle. As in _erythrophthalmus_, the bases
of the primaries are white along the outer edge, showing under the
primary coverts, sometimes, but perhaps not generally, confluent with
the white towards the end of the same web.

The female is of a dull ashy-brown, difficult to describe, but with
only a slight tinge of the rufous seen in _P. erythrophthalmus_, which
is most distinct on top of head and back. There is an almost
inappreciable ashy superciliary stripe.

The young bird resembles in general appearance that of _megalonyx_,
but is lighter colored, and with the dusky streaks on the jugulum much
narrower. The brown above is as light as in _erythrophthalmus_, but
without the reddish cast seen in the latter, and not blackish, as in

HABITS. The Saskatchewan or Arctic Ground Finch was first met with by
Sir John Richardson. It was observed by him only on the plains of the
Saskatchewan, where he had no doubt of its breeding, as one specimen
was killed late in July. It was said to arrive in that region in the
end of May, and to frequent shady and moist clumps of wood. It was
generally seen on the ground. Its habits, so far as they were
observed, correspond with those of the Towhee Bunting, which it
closely resembles in external appearance. It feeds on grubs, and is a
solitary and retired, but not a distrustful bird.

Besides its occurrence in the Valley of the Saskatchewan, these birds
have often been found on the high central plains of the Upper
Missouri, on the Yellowstone and Platte Rivers. Audubon met with it at
Fort Union. Dr. Hayden obtained it on the Yellowstone, in August; at
Fort Lookout, June 22; at Bijou Hills, from May 1 to the 15th; at Bon
Homme Island, May 9. Dr. Cooper obtained it at Fort Laramie in
September. Mr. Allen found it in Colorado, where it was more abundant
on the foothills than on the plains. He also found this species an
abundant inhabitant of the thickets in the valley of the Great Salt
Lake, in its habits strongly resembling the common birds of the
Eastern States. Though its song is also somewhat similar, its
call-note, he adds, is totally different, very nearly resembling that
of the Catbird.

Dr. Woodhouse met with but few of these birds either in the Indian
Territory or in New Mexico. Mr. Dresser, in November, 1863, when
hunting in the Bandera Hills, noticed several of these birds near the
camp, and obtained several near San Antonio during the winter. None of
these birds appear to have been observed in the Arctic regions beyond
the Saskatchewan Plains.

Mr. Nuttall met with this species on the western slopes of the Rocky
Mountains, but as he apparently did not appreciate the difference
between this form and the _oregonus_, we cannot determine with
certainty to which his descriptions apply in all cases. He found it,
in manners and habits, the counterpart of our common eastern species,
frequenting forests and scratching among the dead leaves among bushes
and thickets. He describes it as more shy than the common species. If
the nest be invaded, the male shows more boldness, and reiterates his
complaints until the cause of his alarm is removed. He speaks of its
warble as quaint and monotonous, and very similar to the notes of the
Towhee,—but the note of our bird, _towhee_, is never heard west of
the mountains. In its stead this bird is said to have a note like the
mew of a cat.

The egg of the _arcticus_ is oval in shape, and measures one inch in
length by .70 in breadth. It has a white ground, but is so generally
and so thickly covered with fine dots of umber-brown, intermingled
with paler markings of lavender and neutral tints, that the ground can
hardly be distinguished.


_Head and body above brown; throat with a light patch._

  Pipilo fuscus, SWAINSON.

  Synopsis of the Varieties.

COMMON CHARACTERS. Grayish-brown above, with a more or less
appreciable rufous tinge on the crown. A patch covering the
throat, ochraceous or white, contrasting with the surrounding
portions, and encircled more or less completely, especially
posteriorly, by dusky spots; lores like the chin. Crissum
deep ochraceous, the lower part of abdomen tinged more or
less with the same.

  A. No trace of white tips to middle wing-coverts. Throat

    _a._ Crown only faintly tinged with rufous.

      1. Abdomen pale grayish-brown; throat and lores deep
      reddish-ochraceous; the deep ochraceous confined
      posteriorly to lower tail-coverts. Wing, 3.90; tail,
      5.00. _Hab._ California                       var. _crissalis_.

      2. Abdomen distinctly white centrally, but surrounded
      by grayish laterally and anteriorly; throat and lores
      pale ochraceous; deep ochraceous of crissum extending
      forward over lower part of abdomen. Wing, 3.80; tail,
      4.00. _Hab._ Mexico                              var. _fuscus_.[24]

    _b._ Crown very distinctly rufous.

      3. The ochraceous of posterior under parts spreading
      over whole lower part of abdomen and flanks.
      Ochraceous of the throat palest anteriorly, the chin
      and lores being almost white; it spreads over the
      jugulum also, outside the series of rather scattered
      dusky spots. Whole breast white. Wing, 3.80; tail,
      4.30. _Hab._ Southern Middle Province of United States
                                                    ar. _mesoleucus_.

      4. The ochraceous of under parts confined to crissum
      and anal region; ochraceous of the throat palest
      posteriorly, where it is nearly white, and confined
      within the encircling series of rather coalesced dusky
      spots. Abdomen, only, white. Wing, 3.80; tail, 4.20.
      _Hab._ Cape St. Lucas                           ar. _albigula_.

  B. Middle coverts distinctly, and greater obsoletely,
  tipped with white. Throat white crossed by an ochraceous

      5. Crown without a trace of rufous. Dusky spots
      surrounding the white gular patch, coalesced
      posteriorly into a narrow crescent. Whole breast and
      abdomen white, somewhat broken anteriorly. Flanks and
      lower tail-coverts ochraceous. Wing, 3.30; tail, 3.70.
      _Hab._ Mexico.                           (var. ?) _albicollis_.[25]

     [24] _Pipilo fuscus_, SW. Phil. Mag. I, 1827, 434
     (Temiscaltepec).—IB. Anim. in Menag. 1838, 347.—BP. Consp.
     1851, 487.—SCLATER, P. Z. S. 1856, 304 (Cordova). _?
     Kieneria fusca_, BP. C. R. XL, 1855, 356.

     SP. CHAR. Above dull olive-brown; the top of head having the
     central portion of feathers tinged (inconspicuously and
     obscurely) with rufous. Chin and throat pale rufous,
     bordered by dusky streaks; a single dusky spot in lower part
     of jugulum. Belly and flanks behind, anal region and
     crissum, rather darker rufous. Sides grayish-olive, lighter
     than the back, tingeing the breast, and leaving only a small
     patch in the centre of under parts white, shading into the
     surrounding ashy-brown. Fourth and fifth quills longest;
     first shorter than ninth, or than secondaries.

     _Dimensions_ (prepared specimen): Total length, 7.75; wing,
     3.80; tail, 4.20; exposed portion of first primary, 2.30; of
     longest (measured from exposed base of first primary), 3.03.
     Bill: Length from forehead, .65; from nostril, .40. Legs:
     Tarsus, .95; middle toe and claw, 1.00; hind toe and claw,
     .68; claw alone, .36. _Hab._ Highlands of Mexico.

     The specimen described is from the city of Mexico, and
     belongs to Mr. G. N. Lawrence; others before us are from
     Temiscaltepec (the original locality of Swainson’s type),
     Guadalaxara, and Tepic.

     While admitting the strong probability that the different
     brown _Pipilos_ with rufous throat bordered by black spots,
     _P. fuscus_, _crissalis_, _mesoleucus_, _albigula_, and
     probably even _albicollis_, are geographical modifications
     of the same original type, the large collection before us
     vindicates the action of those who have referred the
     California species to that described by Swainson as
     _fuscus_, and who have distinguished the _P. mesoleucus_
     from both. The original description of _fuscus_ agrees
     almost exactly with _crissalis_, both actually scarcely
     separable; while the _mesoleucus_, intermediate in
     geographical position, is decidedly different from either.
     The relationships of these different forms will be found
     expressed in the general diagnosis already given.

     Two descriptions given by Swainson, copied below, of the _P.
     fuscus_, differ somewhat from each other, and may not have
     been taken from the same specimen. The identification of
     either with _P. mesoleucus_ would be a difficult matter;
     while the first one expresses the peculiar characters of
     _crissalis_ more nearly than any other. The statement of
     “white beneath,” without any qualification, applies better
     to _mesoleucus_ than to others, but the “pale rufous tinge”
     observable in _crissalis_ and _fuscus_ is very different
     from the abruptly defined chestnut cap of _mesoleucus_.

     _Pipilo fuscus_, SWAINSON, Phil. Mag. I, 1827, 434. “Gray,
     beneath paler; throat obscure fulvous, with brown spots;
     vent ferruginous. Length, 8.00; bill, .70; wings, 3.50;
     tail, 4.00; tarsi, .90; hind toe and claw, .70.” _Hab._
     Table land; Temiscaltepec.

     _Pipilo fuscus_, SWAINSON, Anim. in Men. 1838, 347.
     “Grayish-brown above; beneath white; chin and throat
     fulvous, with dusky spots; under tail-coverts fulvous; tail
     blackish-brown, unspotted. Bill and legs pale, the latter
     smaller, and the claws more curved than in any other known
     species; crown with a pale rufous tinge. Length, 7.50;
     wings, 3.50; tail, 4.00; tarsus, .90; middle toe and claw
     the same; hinder toe, .65. Rather smaller than _maculata_.”

     [25] _Pipilo albicollis_, SCLATER. Above uniform
     olivaceous-brown; the cap not differently colored. Lores,
     chin, and throat white, the two last bordered and defined by
     dusky spots; jugulum and breast white, the former clouded
     with olivaceous, and with a dusky blotch in middle; middle
     of throat crossed by an olivaceous band which curves round
     on each side under the ear-coverts; sides grayish. Flanks
     behind, anal region, and crissum, rufous. Middle
     wing-coverts with a whitish bar across their tips. Fourth
     and fifth quills longest; first shorter than ninth and
     secondaries. Length, 7.00; wing, 3.30; tail, 3.70. Bill and
     legs light. _Hab._ Central Mexico.

     This “species” may fairly be considered as one extreme of
     the series of which _P. crissalis_ is the other; and differs
     from the rest merely in a greater amount of white, and the
     absence of rufous tinge on top of head. The fulvous of
     throat is concentrated in a band across its middle portion,
     leaving chin and lower throat white; this, however, is
     foreshadowed in the paler chin of _mesoleucus_, and the
     whitish lower throat of _albigula_. The uniformity of
     coloring above is nearly equalled by that of _P. crissalis_.
     The whitish band across the middle wing-coverts is the most
     positive character.

Pipilo fuscus, var. crissalis, VIGORS.


  _Pipilo fusca_, CASSIN, Illust. I, IV, 1853, 124, pl. xvii (the
       figure seems to be of the California species, the description
       more like _mesoleucus_).—NEWBERRY, Zoöl. Cal. & Or. Route,
       Rep. P. R. R. VI, IV, 1857, 89. _Kieneria fusca_, BONAP.
       Comptes Rendus, XL, 1855, 356. _Fringilla crissalis_, VIGORS,
       Zoöl. Blossom, 1839, 19. _Oriturus wrangeli_, BRANDT, Bonap.
       Comp. Rend. 43, 1856, 413. _Pipilo fuscus_, BAIRD, Birds N. Am.
       1858, 517.—HEERM. X, _S_, 51 (nest).—COOPER, Orn. Cal. 1, 245.

  [Illustration: _Pipilo fuscus_, var. _crissalis_.]

SP. CHAR. Above dark olive-brown, the crown with a very slight tinge
of scarcely appreciable dark rufous. Under parts with the color
somewhat similar, but of a lighter shade, and washed with grayish;
middle of the belly only whitish; the under tail-coverts pale rufous,
shading into lighter about the vent and sides of lower belly; chin and
throat well-defined pale rufous, margined all round by brown spots, a
few of them scattered within the margin. Eyelids and sides of head,
anterior to the eye, rufous like the throat. One or two feathers on
the lower part of the breast with a concealed brown blotch. Outer
primary not edged with white. Fifth quill longest; first shorter than
ninth, or even than secondaries. Bill pale brown, darker above; legs
light. Length, 8.50 inches; wing, 4.00; tail, 4.60.

HAB. Coast region of California.

The bill is sinuated, as in _P. aberti_, differing from that of _P.

This race is very similar to the original _P. fuscus_ of Mexico, the
original description of Swainson answering almost exactly. It is,
however, considerably larger; the proportions of wing are similar; and
there is no decided indication of whitish in the middle of the body
beneath, such as is always distinctly appreciable in _fuscus_, and
still more in _mesoleucus_.

A young bird differs but little from the adult except in having
obsolete dusky streaks below; the upper parts are uniform.

HABITS. The Brown, or Cañon Finch of California is found nearly
throughout the State of California. Mr. Xantus obtained it at Fort
Tejon, and Mr. Ridgway observed it among the chaparrals on the
foothills of the western slope of the Sierras.

Dr. Cooper considers the name of Cañon Finch ill applied to this
species, as it is equally plentiful in level districts, wherever trees
and shrubbery exist. He regards it as one of the most abundant and
characteristic birds of California, residing in all the lower country
west of the Sierras, and extending up the slopes of the Coast Range to
the height of three thousand feet. They are said to have habits very
similar to those of all the other species, living much upon the
ground, and seeking their food among the dead leaves, which they
greatly resemble in color. This resemblance Dr. Cooper regards as a
great protection to them from Hawks; their hues also correspond with
those of the earth and the dusky foliage during most of the year. They
are thus less conspicuous in the light, and they venture more
fearlessly forth and feed in open grounds.

They have but little song, and only utter a few faint chirps and
hurried notes, as they sit perched upon some low bush, in the spring.
At San Diego Dr. Cooper saw the first nest with eggs on April 17, but
some birds had laid much earlier, as he found young hatched by the
20th. He afterwards observed other nests, all of which were built in
bushes, from two to four feet from the ground, and all but one
contained three eggs; the other had four. He has found them built in
low trees, and one in a vine growing over the porch of a house. The
nest is formed of coarse twigs, bark, and grass, is thick and large,
and is lined with fine root-fibres and finer grasses. The eggs are
pale blue, spotted with purplish-brown blotches, mostly small and
scattered. He gives the measurement of the eggs as .90 by .65 of an
inch. In the more northern part of the State they are said to lay four
eggs oftener than three. They are supposed by him to have two broods
in a season.

Colonel McCall has no doubt that they are found throughout California,
as he has met with them from the upper waters of the Sacramento to the
mouth of the Gila; the former having its origin in the extreme north,
and the latter touching the extreme southern boundary of the State. It
is most abundant south of Santa Barbara.

Colonel McCall states that its habits and manners differ somewhat from
those of the common Towhee and the Arctic Finches. Its flight is more
even and regular, and is without that violent jerking of the tail from
side to side, which gives such a singular appearance of awkwardness to
the movements of the Towhee. It is less shy and suspicious than the
Arctic. It is also much less decidedly a Ground Finch than either of
the others. Its favorite abode he found to be the vicinity of
watercourses, where it is generally to be seen in pairs, though he
has, at times, surprised eight or ten together under the shade of a
large bush at noon in a summer day, when he has had no difficulty in
procuring three or four specimens before the party dispersed. It is at
all times a familiar bird, boldly coming into the roads to feed, and
permitting a close approach. If compelled to retreat, it darts
suddenly into the thicket, but returns as soon as the cause of alarm
has disappeared. Near Santa Barbara he found thirty or forty of these
birds, in the month of July, dispersed over an old field of some five
acres in extent, contiguous to a sea-beach, through which flowed a
small stream of fresh water. They were feeding on the ground,
sheltered by a rank growth of weeds. When one was flushed it flew into
a neighboring tree instead of seeking shelter again in the weeds. The
young at that time were fully fledged, and scarcely differed in the
color of their plumage from the adults.

Dr. Heermann once met with a nest of this bird built in a grapevine
overhanging the Sacramento River. He describes the eggs of this
species as differing entirely from any of this genus he had ever met
with, and as having so great a resemblance to the eggs of the three
different species of Blackbirds inhabiting California that they were
liable to be confounded with them unless marked when taken from the

Dr. Newberry, who found this bird very common in the Sacramento
Valley, states that when he first met with it, a strange bird to him,
its habit of scratching among the dry leaves under the bushes, as well
as its long tail and jerking flight from one clump of bushes to
another, at once indicated to him its affinities.

Among the memoranda made by Mr. Xantus at Fort Tejon are the following
in reference to this species: “474, nest and two eggs, found May 19 on
a small thorn-bush in a very dark thicket, about six feet from the
ground; 1,675, nest and one egg, on a thick thorny bush, six feet from
the ground; 1,851, nest and two eggs, May 12, on a rose-bush, four
feet from the ground, eggs already incubated.”

The eggs of this species measure one inch by .75, have a light ground
of robin-blue, and are spotted and blotched with varying shades of
dark and light purple. In some the color of the blotches is so deep as
not to be distinguishable from black, except in a strong light. The
lighter shades are a faint lavender.

Pipilo fuscus, var. mesoleucus, BAIRD.


  _Pipilo mesoleucus_, BAIRD, Pr. A. N. Sc. Ph. VII, June, 1854, 119
       (Rocky Mountains).—IB. Birds N. Am. 1858, 518; pl.
       xxix.—KENNERLY, P. R. R. X, b. pl. xxix.—HEERM. X, c.
       p. 15.—COOPER, Orn. Cal. 1, 247. _? Pipilo fusca_, “SWAINS.,”
       SCLATER & SALVIN, P. Z. S. 1869, 361 (city of Mexico).

SP. CHAR. Above very dull olivaceous-brown, with a grayish tinge; hood
dull chestnut, conspicuously different from the back. Sides like the
back, but paler; posteriorly, and about the vent and under
tail-coverts, pale brownish-red. The ashy olive-brown of the sides
scarcely meeting across the breast, the lower portion of which, with
the upper belly, is rather pure white. The loral region, chin, throat,
and upper part of the breast, pale yellowish-rufous, finely spotted on
the sides and more coarsely across the breast with brown; an obscure
spot in the middle of the breast; edge of outer primary white. Bill
pale brown; legs flesh-color; first quill about equal to eighth, third
and fourth longest. Length, 8.50 inches; wing, 3.80; tail, 4.70.

HAB. Valley of Upper Rio Grande and across to the Gila River. East to
Santa Caterina, New Leon.

This race is similar in general appearance to _P. crissalis_, but the
olive-brown and rufous are both of a lighter shade. The crown is of a
decided rufous, conspicuously different from the back, instead of
nearly the same tint. The light reddish under the head is wider
throughout, and extends down to the upper part of the breast, blending
with the colors of the breast and belly, instead of being narrower,
more sharply defined, and restricted to the chin and throat; it is
palest anteriorly, the chin and lore being almost white. The isolated
larger spot on the breast is more conspicuous; the breast and belly
are quite pure white, shaded with obsolete brownish blotches, instead
of being uniform grayish-brown, with only an approach to whitish in
the very middle. The edges of the wing and tail feathers are a good
deal lighter, the outer web of the first primary being sharply edged
with pure white, instead of obscure grayish-brown. The size generally
is rather smaller, the wings more pointed.

Compared with _P. fuscus_, we find the tail decidedly longer; the wing
more pointed; the first quill about equal to the eighth, instead of
shorter than the secondaries. The colors generally are paler; the cap
of head bright distinct rufous in strong contrast with the other
plumage, instead of being only very obscurely tinged with that color.
The white of belly is purer, and extends farther forward, displacing
the ashy tinge almost to the buff of the throat.

If we consider all the brown _Pipilos_ as modifications of one
primitive species, it will be well to consider the Arizonan and New
Mexican bird as the central figure around which the others are
grouped. The common character will then be varied in the California
race, _crissalis_, by the absence of decided rufous on crown, a darker
shade of color, and an extension of the gray of sides over the whole
under parts, almost entirely displacing the white. The wing is more
rounded, and the general dimensions larger southward on the central
plains of Mexico; the general tints are almost precisely as in the
California bird, except that the white of belly is very evident; but
the chestnut cap and extended whiteness of belly, together with the
pointed wing of _mesoleucus_, are wanting. In _P. albigula_ of Cape
St. Lucas we have the general characters of _mesoleucus_, with paler
colors, more restricted spots encircling throat, and a tendency to
white in its lower part. In this it approaches _albicollis_ of
Southwestern Mexico.

HABITS. This little-known form was first obtained by Dr. Kennerly,
naturalist to the Pacific Railroad Expedition on the 35th parallel,
under Lieutenant Whipple. He met with it at Bill Williams Fork, in
Arizona, February 5, 1854. It was described by Professor Baird the
following June. Dr. Kennerly furnished at the time no information in
regard to its habits.

Dr. Heermann, in his Report on the birds observed in Lieutenant
Parke’s expedition, mentions having met with this species in the
vicinity of Tucson. Its habits, so far as he could judge of them from
his opportunities, appeared very similar to those of _Pipilo aberti_.

Lieutenant Couch met with this species at Santa Catalina, Mexico, in
April, 1853, but furnishes no information in reference to its manners.
Mr. J. H. Clark, who obtained a specimen near the Copper Mines of the
Mimbres, states that they were met with in abundance in the deep
valleys or cañons of that region. They were almost always in or about
the thick clumps of bushes, several usually being in company.

Dr. Kennerly, who met with them on a second trip, in June, 1855, near
Los Nogales, in Mexico, speaks of them as not very common in that
region. He found them preferring the dense bushes in the valleys. When
approached, they became very restless, flying from one bush to
another, accompanying their motions with very peculiar notes, which he
does not describe.

Dr. Coues found this species abundantly distributed throughout the
warmer portions of New Mexico and Arizona, from the valley of the Rio
Grande to that of the Colorado. He did not observe any at Fort
Whipple, though they were found breeding some twenty-five miles to the
southward. He found them associating freely with _Pipilo aberti_, and
inhabiting the same regions. The two birds have very similar habits.

Dr. Henry also states that this species is common in New Mexico both
summer and winter, and, so far as he has observed, dwelling almost
entirely among the mountains. It appeared to him very retiring in its
habits, and seemed to prefer the cañons. He has seldom, if ever,
observed it far from shady gorges, where, like its relative of the
Eastern States, the Towhee Bunting, it passes the greater part of its
time on the ground, and is generally accompanied by its congener, the
Arctic Finch. When disturbed, it seeks the thickest cover, though it
is by no means shy or difficult to approach. Its nest is usually
constructed in the branches of a thick cedar or dwarf oak, and he has
never known it to produce more than one brood in a season.

Dr. Cooper states that these birds are very abundant in Southern
Arizona, that their habits closely resemble those of _P. aberti_, and
that their eggs are similar to those of _Pipilo fuscus_.

Pipilo fuscus, var. albigula, BAIRD.


  _Pipilo albigula_, BAIRD, P. A. N. S. Nov. 1859, 305 (Cape St.
       Lucas).—ELLIOT, Illust. Am. Birds, I, pl. xv (“= _P.
       mesoleucus_”).—COOPER, Orn. Cal. 1, 248.

SP. CHAR. Similar to var. _mesoleucus_, having, like it, a distinctly
rufous crown and white abdomen. Differing, however, in the following
respects: The pale ochraceous gular area is more sharply defined, the
buff being confined within the encircling series of dusky spots; the
buff is palest posteriorly, instead of directly the opposite. The
rufous of the crissal region is more restricted, only tingeing the
anal region instead of invading the lower part of the abdomen, the
white beneath also is shifted farther back, covering the abdomen
alone, instead of the breast, the whole jugulum being distinctly ashy,
like the sides. Wing, 3.80; tail, 4.25.

HAB. Cape St. Lucas.

A very large series of specimens from Cape St. Lucas agree in
possession of the characters pointed out above, distinguishing them
from _mesoleucus_, to which race the present one is most nearly

HABITS. The White-throated or Cape Towhee of Cape St. Lucas was first
met with by Mr. Xantus in the southern extremity of the peninsula of
Lower California, and described by Professor Baird in 1859. Its close
resemblance to _P. mesoleucus_ suggests an equal similarity as to its
habits, in regard to which we possess no actual knowledge. Mr. Xantus
has furnished us with no memoranda as to the manners of the bird. We
have only the brief mention among his notes to the effect that No.
4,855 is the nest with four eggs of this _Pipilo_, found in a wild
_Humulus_ thicket; and that No. 5,076 is a nest with eggs of the same,
found in a thicket of wild roses in the garden fence.

Judging from the large number of the nests and eggs of this species
collected by that gentleman at Cape St. Lucas, it would seem to be
very abundant in that locality.

The eggs of this variety measure .95 of an inch in length and .72 in
breadth. They bear a strong resemblance to those of the _P. fuscus_,
but the markings are darker and more distinctly defined, standing out
with a clear and striking effect, in marked contrast with the light
background. The ground-color of the egg is a light tint of robin-blue.
The markings of dots, dashes, and lines are all about the larger end,
and are of a deep dark shade of purplish-brown, so dark as, except in
a strong light, to be undistinguishable from black.


_Brown; throat without light patch._

  Pipilo aberti, BAIRD.


  _Pipilo aberti_, BAIRD, Stansbury’s Rep. Great Salt Lake, Zoölogy,
       June, 1852, 325 (New Mexico).—IB. Birds N. Am. 1858, 516, pl.
       xxx.—KENNERLY, P. R. R. X, b, pl. xxx.—HEERMANN, X, c,
       15.—COOPER, Orn. Cal. 1, 244. _Kieneria aberti_, BONAP.
       Comptes Rendus, XL, 1855, 356.

  [Line drawing: 6748 ♂]

SP. CHAR. General color of upper parts pale brownish yellowish-red;
beneath brighter, and more ochraceous, especially on the under
coverts, palest on the middle of the belly. Sides of head anterior to
eyes, and chin dark brown. Bill and legs yellowish. Length, 9 inches;
wing, 3.70; tail, 4.85.

HAB. Base of Rocky Mountains in New Mexico. Valley of Gila and

This plainly colored bird is perhaps the largest of the North American
Finches, and is without any blotches, spots, or variations of
importance from one color, except on the chin and sides of the head.
The bill is similar to that of _P. erythrophthalmus_, but the cutting
edge is less concave and more sinuated. The tail is more graduated;
the claws thicker and stronger. The wings are short and much rounded;
the first quill shorter than the secondaries; fifth and fourth

It may be easily distinguished from all the varieties of _fuscus_ by
the blackish lores and chin, as well as by the absence of any colored
gular area, there being, instead, a pinkish rufous tinge prevalent
over the whole throat and jugulum. There are no dusky spots across the
throat as in _fuscus_.

HABITS. Dr. Cooper assigns the base of the Rocky Mountains, in New
Mexico, and the valleys of the Gila and Colorado Rivers, as the
habitat of this species. Dr. Coues speaks of it as one of the most
abundant and characteristic birds of those two valleys, and adds that
it ranges northward to within a few miles of Fort Whipple, but is not
found in the adjacent mountains. It was common at Fort Mohave, and
particularly so at Fort Yuma.

Dr. Kennerly met with it at Camp No. 114, New Mexico, February 6, and
again at Bill Williams Fork, February 12. He states that while
travelling down the Big Sandy Creek and Bill Williams Fork, in the
month of February, he found them very abundant. They confined
themselves to the thick bushes near the water. Generally two or three
were seen together. Their motions were very rapid, and their note was
a peculiar, loud, chattering sound, sharp but not disagreeable. After
leaving the Great Colorado he did not see it again.

On the borders of the Gila, east of Fort Yuma, Dr. Heermann found this
bird in great abundance. It kept in the close sheltered thickets,
where, secure from intrusion, it sought among the dead leaves for
various seeds and insects and their larvæ, on which it feeds. In its
habits it very much resembles the _Pipilo fuscus_, or Cañon Finch,
diving into the bushes when alarmed, and repeating, at intervals, a
short chirp. After leaving the Gila River he did not meet with any
more, as he followed no longer the course of any large stream, for the
borders of which these birds seem to have a decided preference.

Dr. Cooper regards this species as the almost exact counterpart of the
_Pipilo fuscus_. The only difference he noticed in habits was in the
character of its loud note of alarm, remarkably similar, however, to
that of two very distinct birds of the same valley, namely, _Centurus
uropygialis_ and _Phainopepla nitens_. Like the Cañon Finch, this
species is said to live almost constantly on the ground, but appears
rather more gregarious, especially in winter.

About the first of April Dr. Cooper met with many of their nests. They
were generally built in thorny shrubs, and were composed of a flooring
of coarse twigs, or of green herbs, and strongly interwoven with
strips of bark, grass, and leaves. One bird had taken advantage of the
recent introduction of horses into the valley to obtain a lining of
horse-hair for its nest. The eggs were in all cases only three,
bluish-white, with brown spots and streaks in a ring near the large
end, quite variable in number, and measuring one inch by .70. One of
the nests was in a low mesquite-tree, another in a dense cluster of
dead twigs hanging from a cottonwood. The time required for hatching
was twelve or thirteen days, and in a fortnight more the young left
the nest. Dr. Cooper found nests with eggs as late as May 25, and had
no doubt that they raise two or more broods in a season. He adds that
the song of the male, throughout April and May, is precisely like that
of _P. fuscus_, and also reminded him of the notes of _P. oregonus_
and of the eastern Black-throated Bunting (_Euspiza americana_).

Dr. Coues has kindly supplied me with the following interesting sketch
of this species, as observed by him in Arizona:—

     “This species appears to have a remarkably restricted
     geographical distribution. I never saw it at Fort Whipple, but on
     the Colorado bottom in the same latitude, and thence along the
     river to Fort Yuma, I found it to be one of the most abundant and
     characteristic birds of all. At the time I observed it, in
     September, it was generally in small flocks, and proved rather
     difficult to capture, partly because the dense underbrush it
     inhabited was almost impenetrable, and partly on account of its
     natural timidity. Everything along the river-bottom is scorched
     with the heat, and the dry dead twigs constantly snap at a touch,
     with such noise that it is almost impossible to force a passage
     through the underbrush without alarming all its inmates. The bird
     occurs everywhere along the river-side, but is particularly
     numerous on the patches of mesquite, and the extensive areas
     grown up to young willows and cottonwoods, and the arrowwood
     (_Tessaria borealis_). Its ordinary cry of alarm, if not its
     call-note, is a loud, clear chirp, very different from the mewing
     sound made under similar circumstances by its congener, the _P.
     megalonyx_. The latter, as is well known, is almost exactly like
     that of a Catbird. I never heard the song of this bird, which
     appears to sing only during the breeding-season, but Dr. Cooper
     says it resembles that of the western Black _Pipilos_, and I can
     indorse his observation, that this is curiously like the
     monotonous notes of the Black-throated Bunting,—_Chip, chip,
     chee-chee-chee_; the first two syllables deliberately pronounced,
     the others more rapidly enunciated, with greater emphasis. The
     associates of this species seem to be few, if indeed they be not
     confined to the _P. mesoleucus_, a very near ally. The moult
     seems to me unusually protracted, as many September specimens
     were still in poor plumage.

     “Excepting my experience with this bird on the Colorado, I only
     met with it on the Hassayampa, a small stream a few miles from
     Fort Whipple, yet in a somewhat different region, across a slight
     mountain-ridge, lower and warmer. Two specimens were secured,
     adult and young, the first week in August.”

Dr. Coues, on his way from Arizona to the Pacific (Ibis, 1866, p.
261), mentions that he was often startled by the loud, clear, sharp
chirp of this bird, which, though fringilline in character, is more
than usually powerful, and is its alarm-note. Everywhere in the
Colorado Valley this was one of the most characteristic birds. Fort
Yuma seemed to be its head-quarters. It is, like all its congeners, a
retiring species, and keeps perseveringly in the almost impenetrable
undergrowth. It is said to be more decidedly gregarious than most of
the genus, often collecting in flocks of a dozen or more, wandering
restlessly, yet in a cautious manner, through the thickets.

A nest with eggs, procured at Fort Mohave by Dr. Cooper, is in the
Smithsonian Collection (No. 7,276). The egg measures .93 by .70 of an
inch, is obovate in shape, being much rounded at the smaller end. Its
ground-color is a dull white, without any perceptible tinge of
blue,—though possibly bluish when fresh,—with heavy dots and
occasional delicate, hair-like, zigzag markings of black. These
markings are wholly confined to the larger end. One of the eggs has
these markings much finer, consisting of minute dots, more dense, and
upon the apex of the larger end. The nest is loosely built and very
bulky. Its external diameter is about six inches, and its depth three.
The cavity is three inches wide and two deep. It is constructed almost
entirely of strips of inner bark, the coarser, ribbon-like pieces
being used on the outer portion, and the finer shreds composing the
lining. Externally are also a few sticks about one quarter of an inch
in diameter.


  _Crown rufous; body above, olive-green._

Pipilo chlorurus, BAIRD.


  _Fringilla chlorura_, (TOWNSEND,) AUD. Orn. Biog. V, 1839, 336
       (Young). _Zonotrichia chlorura_, GAMBEL, J. A. N. Sc. Ph. 2d
       Series, I, 1847, 51. _Embernagra chlorura_, BONAP. Conspectus,
       1850, 483. _Fringilla blandingiana_, GAMBEL, Pr. A. N. Sc. Ph.
       I, April, 1843, 260. _Embernagra blandingiana_, CASSIN, Illus.
       I, III, 1853, 70, pl. xii. _Pipilo rufipileus_, LAFRESNAYE,
       Rev. Zoöl. XI, June, 1848, 176.—BP. Conspectus, 1850, 487.
       _Kieneria rufipileus_, BON. Comptes Rendus, XL, 1855, 356.
       _Pipilo chlorura_, BAIRD, Birds N. Am., 1858, 519.—HEERM. X,
       c, 15.—COOPER, Orn. Cal. 1, 248.

SP. CHAR. Above dull grayish olive-green. Crown uniform chestnut.
Forehead with superciliary stripe, and sides of the head and neck, the
upper part of the breast and sides of the body, bluish-ash. Chin and
upper part of throat abruptly defined white, the former margined by
dusky, above which is a short white maxillary stripe. Under
tail-coverts and sides of body behind brownish-yellow. Tail-feathers
generally, and exterior of wings, bright olive-green, the edge and
under surface of the wings bright greenish-yellow; edge of first
primary white. First quill longer than eighth, fourth longest. Length,
about 7 inches; wing, 3.20; tail, 3.65.

HAB. Whole of the Middle Province, including the Rocky Mountains and
eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada; north to beyond the 40th parallel;
south to Mexico.

In this species the wing is considerably rounded, the tertials
considerably shorter than the primaries, and not exceeding the
secondaries; the fourth quill longest, the first shorter than the
sixth, the second and fifth quills considerably longer than the rest.
The tail is long and considerably graduated, the outer feather half an
inch shortest; the feathers broad and obtusely pointed, the corners

  [Line drawing: _Pipilo chlorurus._

The extent of the chestnut of the crown varies somewhat; more extended
probably in the males. The region on the side of the head, adjoining
the nostrils, is whitish; the small feathers under the eye are spotted
with the same. The posterior outline of the ash of the breast is much
less sharply defined than the anterior.

Specimens vary in the brightness of the olive above, which is never as
pure as that of the wings and tail. The olive of the tail, too, is
darker than that of the wings.

  [Illustration: _Pipilo chlorurus._]

A very young bird (1,896) has the whole under parts dull white,
streaked and spotted on the sides of the throat and on the breast with
dark brown. The crown and back are also thickly spotted. In 5,734 the
ash of the breast has made its appearance; the middle of the belly is
white, spotted; the chin white, encircled by spots. The spots above
are restricted to near the head, and there is a small central patch of
chestnut on the crown.

No. 1,896 is the original “Green-tailed Sparrow” killed July 12, 1834,
by Townsend, and described in an extract of a letter to Mr. Audubon,
published page 336 of Vol. V. of the Ornithological Biography.

HABITS. Dr. Kennerly, who procured a specimen of this bird at San
Elizario, Tex., December 16, states that it was obtained with some
difficulty. For several successive days it was found in the same
place, occupying a small clump of very thick weeds. When aroused,
which was only accomplished with some effort, its flight was short,
rapid, and decidedly irregular. Its motions on the ground were very
awkward. This species was found by Mr. Ridgway very generally
distributed throughout the fertile mountain portions of the interior.
It was not seen by him in California, and was first met with in the
ravines at the base of the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada. On the
high mountain-ranges it was a characteristic and the best-known
singer, as well as one of the most abundant of the _Fringillidæ_,
being found in all bushy places, from the bases to the summits of the
mountains. It is exclusively a summer species, arriving at Carson City
about the middle of April. He describes the usual note of this bird as
very peculiar, and, as nearly as can be described, a sweet laughing
utterance of the syllables _keek-keek´_, a little resembling the
_tweet_ of a Canary, but very musical. This curious note was generally
uttered when anything unusual attracted its attention, such as the
approach of an intruder. Then, with elevated tail and its very
conspicuous red cap raised, it would hop familiarly and unsuspiciously
about. He adds that it is a songster of high merit, in power and
variety ranking very little below the song of the _Chondestes
grammaca_. The song varies in the modulations greatly with the
individual, but the same general style is preserved. At times it
seemed to have a slight resemblance to the song of Bewick’s Wren, and
at others to that of a _Cyanospiza_, and more rarely, to be the
reproduction of a passage from the song of the _Chondestes_.

In the early part of July, near Austin, in the cañons of the
mountains, he found these birds breeding in the greatest abundance,
and later in the same month a few of its nests were found on the East
Humboldt Mountains. All of its nests, with hardly an exception, were
placed from eighteen inches to two feet above the ground, among the
thick bushes of a species of _Symphoricarpus_, or “snow-berry,” which
grows in great abundance upon the sides of the cañons of those
mountains. The maximum number of eggs was four. It was also quite a
common bird in the Wahsatch Mountains, though less abundant than the
_P. megalonyx_.

Mr. Allen found this Finch quite numerous in Colorado Territory, and
speaks of its song as very peculiar and very pleasing. It is said to
resemble in no respect the eastern Towhee Finch, with which it is
classed, but much more closely the group of Sparrows, so familiarly
represented at the east by the White-throated, being like them in
habits, song, and general aspect. It was more common among the
foot-hills than on the plains. In Utah, according to Mr. Allen, this
Finch begins to appear in numbers about September 20, from its
breeding-haunts in the mountains.

Dr. Coues met with this species in Arizona, but only as a spring and
autumn migrant. None remained there in summer to breed, and none were
found there in the winter. In its migrations it passed rapidly by Fort
Whipple, being found there only during the latter part of April and
the beginning of May, and during the month of September. At those
seasons it appeared to him the most silent and retiring of all the
_Pipilos_. He found it very difficult to either observe its habits or
to capture it. It winters sparingly at Fort Mohave.

Specimens of this bird were taken near Lookout Mountain by C. S.
McCarthy, and at Gilmer, in Wyoming Territory, by Mr. Durkee.

Dr. Heermann, in his Report on the birds observed on the 32d parallel,
under Lieutenant Parke, mentions first meeting with this species near
Tucson. They were frequenting, in numbers, the thick undergrowth, and
were seeking seeds and insects on the ground. They seemed inclined to
shun observation, and always kept in the most retired situations. They
were sociable among themselves, going about singly or in pairs,
associated with the _Poospiza bilineata_ and two or three other kinds
of Finch. When started they fly low, diving into the bushes, and soon
disappear from sight. Occasionally, until reaching El Paso, Texas,
birds of this species were met with, mingling with the flocks of
migrating _Fringillidæ_. He there procured a pair apparently just
entering upon incubation.

Instead of being suited by color, like most of the other _Pipilos_, to
inhabit dark thickets and among dry leaves, this species is clad in a
gayer livery, and seems well adapted for concealment in its summer
resorts, and also among the growing vegetation of the lower country
during the rainy season. Dr. Heermann found a few wintering in the
Colorado Valley, and yet more at San Diego, but they left both places
in March. He found them silent and shy, hiding very closely in the
bushes, and feeding altogether on the ground. The only note he heard,
resembled the crowing note of the California Quail.

Among the memoranda of Mr. Xantus, made near Fort Tejon, are the two
following: “4,839, nest and two eggs (of _Pipilo chlorurus_) found in
a dry hedge in Mr. Ritchie’s garden; 5,083, nest and eggs found in a
dark garden-hedge.”

The eggs of the _chlorurus_ are like those of no other _Pipilo_ that I
have met with. They are peculiar in shape, being nearly of an exact
oval, neither end being apparently much more rounded than the other.
Their ground-color is white with a bluish tint, over which is
profusely diffused a cloud of fine dottings of a pinkish-drab. These
markings are occasionally so fine and so thickly distributed as to
give to the egg the appearance of a uniform color, or as an unspotted
pinkish drab-colored egg. Occasionally the dots are deeper and larger,
and more sparsely diffused.

In considering the eggs of the _Pipilos_ in general we find certain
variations which deserve more than a passing notice. Those of
_erythrophthalmus_, _oregonus_, _arcticus_, and _megalonyx_ are all
fringilline in their characters, and have a marked affinity to eggs of
_Melospiza_, _Zonotrichia_, and many other genera of this order. The
eggs of _aberti_, _fuscus_, _mesoleucus_, and _albigula_ are also all
closely alike, and exhibit a very close resemblance to those of the
_Agelaii_, and even of the _Icteri_, while the eggs of _P. chlorurus_,
though of a fringilline character, are unlike either style.


CHAR. First primary very short or wanting. Tarsi scutellate anteriorly
and posteriorly, with the plates nearly of corresponding position and
number. Hind claw very long and nearly straight. Bill short, conical,
frontal feathers extending along side of the bill; the nostrils
concealed by a tuft of bristly feathers directed forward. Tertials
greatly elongate beyond the secondaries.

Subfamilies and Genera.

  Alaudinæ. Bill stout, short, and conical; nasal fossæ
  transverse and completely filled by the thick tuft of
  bristly feathers, and perforated anteriorly by a circular
  nasal opening. (Old and New World.)

    Crown with a depressed soft crest of feathers, of normal
    structure; a spurious primary; tail deeply emarginate    _Alauda_.

    Crown without a crest, but occiput with an erectile tuft
    of narrow elongated feathers on each side. No spurious
    primary; tail square, or slightly rounded            _Eremophila_.

  Calandritinæ. Bill broader, more depressed, and straighter
  at the base; nasal fossæ longitudinal, large, elongated,
  the nasal opening rather linear. (Old World.)

Of the _Alaudidæ_ only the two genera diagnosed above belong to the
American continent; and one of them is properly only a wanderer from
the Old World, while the other is cosmopolitan.

The most characteristic feature of the Larks among other oscine
families is seen in the scutellation of the tarsus. The anterior half
of this is covered by divided scales lapping round on the sides, but
instead of the two plates which go one on each side of the posterior
half and unite ultimately behind as an acute ridge, there is but one
which laps round on the sides, and is divided into scales like the
anterior ones, but alternating with them. The posterior edge of the
tarsus is as obtuse as the anterior, instead of being very acute.
There is a deep separating groove on the inner side of the tarsus; and
there may be really but one plate divided transversely, the edges
meeting at this place.

In the elongated hind claw and lengthened tertials, general style of
coloration, mode of life, and manner of nesting, there is a decided
approximation in the _Alaudidæ_ to the _Anthinæ_, of the family
_Motacillidæ_; but in these the posterior edge of the tarsus is sharp
and undivided transversely, the toes more deeply cleft, the bill more
slender, etc.,—their relations being rather nearer to the
_Sylvicolidæ_ than to the present family.


  _Alauda_, LINN. S. N. 1735.

GEN. CHAR. Bill very small, less than half the length of the head,
conical; nostrils exposed; rictal bristles quite strong; commissure
without notch; tarsus much longer than middle toe; lateral toes equal;
posterior toe about as long as the middle, its claw longer than the
digit, and nearly straight; claws of anterior toe very small. Wing
long, pointed, the third and fourth (apparently second and third)
quills longest, the second and fifth successively, a little shorter;
the first so small as to be almost concealed; tertials much elongated,
reaching about half-way from end of secondaries to tip of primaries;
their ends emarginated; tail rather deeply emarginated, and a little
more than half the length of the wing.


A. arvensis. Above grayish-brown, beneath whitish, with a buffy tinge
across jugulum and along sides; every feather above with a medial
streak of dusky; sides of throat, sides, and across jugulum streaked
with dusky; the outer tail-feathers partly white. Wing, 4.90; tail,
2.80; culmen, .40; tarsus, .80; hind claw, .50. HAB. Europe;
accidental in Greenland and the Bermudas.

Alauda arvensis, LINN.


  _Alauda arvensis_, LINN., Faun. Sue. p. 76. _Alauda vulgaris_,
       LEACH, Syst. Cat. Mamm. and Birds in B. M. p. 21. _Alauda
       cœlipeta_, PALL. Zoögr. I, 524. _Alauda segetum_, BREHM, Vög.
       Deutschl. 318. _Alauda montana_, BREHM, Vög. Deutschl. 319, t.
       20, f. 1. _Alauda agrestis_, BREHM, Vög. Deutschl. 320. _Alauda
       italica_, GMEL. S. N. I, 793.

SP. CHAR. _Adult._ Above grayish umber-brown, beneath white, tinged
across the breast with soft light ochraceous. Every feather above with
a medial dusky streak, the shaft black; wing-feathers and upper
tail-coverts bordered with white. Outer tail-feather mostly white, the
next one edged with the same. A plain, light superciliary stripe;
auriculars nearly uniform light brownish; sides of the throat,
jugulum, and sides with short streaks of dusky brown.

_Male._ Wing, 4.90; tail, 2.80; culmen, .40; tarsus, .80; middle toe,
.55; hind claw, .50.

_Young._ Above more yellowish-fulvous, the feathers with central
spots, instead of medial stripes of dusky, and bordered terminally
with whitish; jugulum washed strongly with ochraceous, and marked with
dusky spots.

HAB. Europe; accidental in Greenland and the Bermudas; Aleutian

HABITS. The famed Skylark of the Old World can rest a twofold claim to
be included in a complete list of North American birds. One of these
is their occasional occurrence in the Bermudas, and in Greenland. The
other is their probably successful introduction near New York.

A few years since an attempt was made to introduce these birds, for
which purpose several individuals were set at liberty on Long Island.
For a short time they did well, and succeeded in raising one or more
broods, but, owing probably to the constant persecution of all small
birds by the foreign population of the neighborhood, the experiment
nearly failed, and none were noticed in that vicinity. Within the last
year or two, however, several pairs of these birds have been observed
in Westchester County, and also on Long Island, by parties competent
to recognize them, and hopes are now entertained that these desirable
birds have obtained a foothold in this country.

According to Messrs. Dresser and Sharpe, the Skylark is found
throughout the polar Arctic regions, from the British Islands eastward
to Siberia and Northern China. A smaller subspecies is met with in
Southeastern Europe, which does not present any character by which it
can be separated from it. In Eastern Europe the Lark has been found as
far north as the Faroe Islands, but has not been observed in Iceland.
It reaches Christiania in March, and leaves in October. It has been
found breeding in Lapland as far north as latitude 65°, and is a
common summer visitant in Finland. Pallas found it abundant throughout
Russia and Siberia, and Steller found it not only in Kamtschatka, but
equally in the Kurile Islands and in those between Asia and America,
so that its occurrence in our Alaskan territories may be regarded as a
not improbable event.

The same writers also state that the Skylark has been twice recorded
as occurring in Greenland and in America; and in another place they
state that “the Skylark occasionally visits Greenland, and has been
met with in the Bermudas.” In the latter place a storm-tried waif was
taken by Mr. J. M. Jones after an easterly gale.

The Lark is a universal favorite in the Old World, and as a vocalist
enjoys a reputation hardly second even to the far-famed Nightingale.
It is an inhabitant of all the countries of Europe, and is said to be
most abundant in the cultivated districts.

We only know of its song from caged specimens and from the testimony
of European writers. Yarrell speaks of its notes as cheerful and
exhilarating, fresh as the season of spring, and the admiration of all
hearers. Its voice is described as powerful to an extraordinary
degree, and its song wild and joyous. They sing while they fly,
rising, with quivering wings almost perpendicularly, until they gain
so great an elevation that they can no longer be distinguished; yet,
while thus no longer visible, their wild music continues to be heard
as that of some unseen spirits of the air. It is said that one
familiar with their song can readily determine, by their notes,
whether the singer is ascending, stationary, or descending.
Occasionally, when at this great elevation, the Lark will close its
wings and drop to the earth with the rapidity of a stone. At times it
will sing while on the ground, but its most lively strains are poured
forth during these flights. And though this bird will sing while in
confinement, and is a favorite cage-bird, yet in singing they are said
to flutter their wings, as if this motion were almost a necessary
accompaniment to their song.

In regard to the song and its peculiarities writers are not quite in
agreement. The general opinion seems to be that, while in the quality
of its tone it is surpassed by the song of the Nightingale, the
Bulfinch, and the Black-cap, it is unequalled in quantity,
sprightliness, variety, and power. The Lark is in song eight months of
the year, and during the summer months it sings from two in the
morning, with very little intermission, until after sunset.

Mr. Macgillivray gives an excellent and graphic description of the
habits of this bird, from which we extract a portion descriptive of
its song. “It has been alleged,” he writes, “that the Lark ascends in
a spiral manner, but my observation does not corroborate the
statement. In rising it often passes directly upward, but with the
body always horizontal, or nearly so, then moves in a curve, and
continues thus alternately, but without a continued spiral motion. At
first, the motion of the wings is uniformly fluttering; but afterwards
it shoots them out two or three times successively at intervals, and
when at its greatest height exhibits this action more remarkably. When
it descends, the song is not intermitted, but is continued until it
approaches the ground, when it usually darts down headlong, and
alights abruptly. Frequently it resumes its song after alighting, and
continues it for a short time, but more commonly it stops when it has
reached the ground. Often a Lark may be seen hovering over a field, in
full song, for a considerable time, at a small height. On the 4th of
May, 1837, I observed a Lark perched on a half-burnt whin branch,
where it remained singing a long time. I have often seen it perch on a
wall, and several times on a hawthorn bush in a hedge; but it never, I
believe, alights on tall trees.

“The song of the Lark is certainly not musical, for its notes are not
finely modulated, nor its tones mellow; but it is cheerful and
cheering in the highest degree, and protracted beyond all comparison.
In a sunny day in April or May, when the grass-fields have begun to
resume their verdure, it is pleasant to listen to the merry songster
that makes the welkin ring with its sprightly notes; in the sultry
month of July, still more pleasant is it to hear its matin hymn while
the dew is yet on the corn; and in winter, should you chance to hear
the well-known voice on high, it reminds you of the bright days that
have gone, and fills you with anticipation of those that are to come.
No doubt much of the pleasure derived from the Lark’s song depends
upon association, but independently of circumstances and associations
the song of the Lark imparts an elasticity to the mind, elevates the
spirits, and suspends for a time the gnawing of corroding care. The
carol of the Lark, like the lively fife, excites pure cheerfulness. In
confinement this bird sings every whit as well as when at large, and
when rapidly perambulating the square bit of faded turf in its cage,
it enacts its part with apparently as much delight as when mounting
toward heaven’s gate.”

This bird succeeds well in cages, and lives to a great age, Yarrell
mentioning one that lived nearly twenty years in confinement. Its
natural food is grain, the seeds of grasses, worms, and various kinds
of insects. They begin to mate in April, and have two broods in a
season. Their nest is always placed on the ground, often sheltered by
a tuft of grass, or some other protection. The nests are woven of
coarse grasses and stems of plants, and are lined with finer materials
of the same. The eggs are five in number, have a grayish-white ground,
occasionally a greenish-white, very generally sprinkled and blotched
with markings of dark-gray and an ashy-brown, so profusely as to
conceal the ground. They are oval in shape, slightly more pointed at
one end, and measure .93 of an inch in length by .70 in breadth.

According to Selby, the young of the first brood are fully fledged by
the end of June, and the second in August. The Lark evinces a very
strong attachment to its young, and many interesting accounts are
given by European writers of its intelligent endeavors to conceal and
to protect its nest,—in one instance constructing an artificial dome
of dry grass, where the natural protection had been cut away by
mowers, and in another attempting to remove the young to a place of
greater safety.

The Lark has, in several instances, been successfully induced to mate
and rear her young in an aviary; and Mr. W. P. Foster, of Hackney, is
quoted by Mr. Yarrell as authority for the statement, that, during the
period of producing the eggs, the female has been heard to sing with a
power and a variety of tone equal to the voice of her mate.

While his mate is sitting on her eggs, the male Lark, apparently timid
at all other times, is remarkably bold, and drives away other birds
that venture too near their nest. He not only watches over her and
seeks to protect her, but assiduously supplies her with food.


  _Eremophila_, BOIE, Isis, 1828, 322. (Type, _Alauda alpestris_.
    Sufficiently distinct from _Eremophilus_, HUMBOLDT, [Fishes,] 1805.)
  _Phileremos_, BREHM, Deutschl. Vögel, 1831.
  _Otocoris_, BONAPARTE, 1839. (Type, _Alauda alpestris_, GRAY.) (We
    are unable to find where the genus is named.)

GEN. CHAR. First primary wanting; bill scarcely higher than broad;
nostrils circular, concealed by a dense tuft of feathers; the nasal
fossæ oblique. A pectoral crescent and cheek-patches of black.

  [Illustration: ♂ _Eremophila alpestris._]

This genus differs from _Melanocorypha_ in having no spurious first
primary, although the other characters are somewhat similar.
_Calandritis_ of Cabanis, with the same lack of first primary, has a
much stouter bill. The spurious primary, more depressed bill, and
differently constituted nostrils and nasal fossæ of _Alauda_ are
readily distinctive.

  [Illustration: _Eremophila alpestris._]

The type of this genus is the _Alauda alpestris_, Linn., a well-known
cosmopolitan species, though the birds of the New World have been
distinguished under distinctive names, as _cornuta_, _chrysolæma_,
_peregrina_, etc. The examination and critical comparison of more than
a hundred specimens from all parts of North America, however, has
convinced us of the identity with _alpestris_ of the several forms
mentioned above, though it may be advisable to retain one or more of
them as geographical races.

Species and Varieties.

  E. alpestris. _Adult._ Above pinkish-gray, varying to
  cinnamon, the pinkish deepest on nape and lesser
  wing-coverts; tail black (except two middle feathers), the
  outer feather edged with white. Beneath white, the sides
  pinkish or grayish. A frontal band and superciliary
  stripe, the middle of auriculars, chin, and throat varying
  from white to deep Naples-yellow; forepart of crown, and
  “ear-tufts,” a patch on lores and cheeks, and a broad
  crescent across the jugulum, deep black; end of auriculars
  ashy. _Female_ and autumnal males, with the pattern less
  sharply defined, and the colors more suffused. _Young._
  Brownish-black above, more or less mixed with clay-color,
  and sprinkled with whitish dots; wing-feathers all
  bordered with whitish. Beneath white. Markings on head and
  jugulum just merely indicated by dusky cloudings.

    Wing (of adult male), 4.20 to 4.60; tail, 2.90 to 3.16;
    culmen, .60 to .65.

    White frontal band, .25 to .30, wide; the black
    prefrontal patch, .26 to .35 wide. The pinkish above of
    an ashy-lilac shade.

      Throat and forehead white, with only a very faint
      tinge of yellow; pinkish tinge above more rufous.
      _Hab._ Interior Northern Plains of the United States
                                                  var. _occidentalis_.

      Throat and forehead pale straw-yellow, or strongly
      tinged with it; pinkish tinge above varying from
      ashy-lilacous to purplish-rufous. _Hab._ Northern
      regions of Old and New Worlds                  var. _alpestris_.

    Wing (adult male), 3.80 to 4.10; tail, 2.75 to 2.90;
    culmen, .53 to .62.

    White frontal band, .13 to .16 wide; the black
    prefrontal patch, .35 to .50 wide. Pinkish above of a
    deep cinnamon shade. _Hab._ Desert plains of South
    Middle Province of United States, and table-lands of
    Mexico, south to Bogota                         var. _chrysolæma_.

  [Illustration: PLATE XXXII.
  1. Eremophila cornuta. ♂ Nev., 53470.
  2.     ”         ”     _Juv._, Wisc., 4330.
  3. Alauda arvensis. Europe.
  4. Dolichonyx oryzivorus. ♂ Pa., 977.
  5.      ”          ”      ♀ Kansas, 13069.
  6. Molothrus pecoris. ♀ Ga., 32446.
  7.      ”        ”    ♀
  8.      ”        ”    _var._ obscurus. ♂ Manzanillo, Mex., 30165.
  9. Xanthocephalus icterocephalus. ♂ Utah, 58624.]

Eremophila alpestris, BOIE.


SP. CHAR. _Adult male_; spring. A frontal crescent, curving backward
in a broad, sharply defined, superciliary stripe to the occiput; chin,
throat and foreneck, and a crescent across middle of ear-coverts,
whitish, either more or less tinged with yellow, or pure white. Lower
parts, except laterally, white. A broad crescentic patch behind the
frontal whitish crescent, running back on each side of the crown and
terminating in an erectile tuft of narrow elongated feathers on each
side of occiput, a patch covering the lores, nasal tufts, passing
beneath the eye, and forming a broad “mustache” on the cheeks, with a
convex outline behind and concave anteriorly, and a broad crescentic
patch across the jugulum, deep black. A crescentic spot of
grayish-drab across the ends of the auriculars. Posterior portion of
the crown enclosed laterally between the “ear-tufts,” occiput, nape,
lateral lower parts, lesser and middle wing-coverts, and upper
tail-coverts, pinkish-brown; the sides and flanks with obsolete dusky
streaks. Back, scapulars, rump, wings, and two middle tail-feathers,
ashy-drab, the feathers darker centrally, forming rather conspicuous
broad streaks on lower part of back; middle and secondary coverts,
secondaries and primaries bordered terminally, quite conspicuously,
with white. Tail (except the _intermediæ_) black; outer web of lateral
feather almost entirely white, that of the next edged with the same.

_Adult female_; spring. Similar, but markings rather less sharply
defined; a tendency to streaking of nape and crown; these streaks
often displacing the continuous black of the anterior portion of
crown. The “ear-tufts” less developed.

_Winter adult._ Similar to the spring dress, but the black areas
obscured, more or less, by whitish borders to the feathers; the
frontal whitish band less sharply defined. Breast with numerous more
or less distinct deltoid specks of plumbeous, and the pinkish of the
sides much tinged with the same. The dusky streaks above are broader
and more conspicuous.

_Young._ First plumage, entirely different from the adult. Above
dusky, variegated with whitish dots, sprinkled over the whole surface;
these specks terminal on each feather, and of a deltoid form, becoming
more transverse and crescentic on the scapulars and rump; each feather
of the wings broadly bordered with pale brownish, approaching white on
the coverts. The blackish areas are but faintly indicated by a dusky
suffusion, generally very indistinct, across the breast, and over the
cheeks; and variegated with badly defined, more dusky spots; lower
parts, including post-ocular stripe, dull white; sides spotted with

The _E. alpestris_, as restricted, is represented in the collection by
three perfect specimens, in the several stages of plumage described;
while there is also a fine specimen from Astrachan, representing a
white-throated race (“var. _bei_” on MS. label) of Central Asia. The
series of American specimens is all that could possibly be desired,
there being numerous examples from nearly the whole northern
continent, from the Arctic regions to as far south as Bogota, and from
coast to coast.

The common Shore Lark of the northern parts of North America appears
to be absolutely identical with the European bird, each of the
specimens of the latter being easily matched from the American series.
It therefore becomes necessary to reduce the name “_cornuta_” to a
synonyme of _alpestris_, the former not affording characters to
distinguish it as even a variety. To _alpestris_ may also be referred
the form known as “_occidentalis_, McCall,” those specimens from the
interior regions which are destitute of any yellow tinge on the
throat. Were this feature a constant one in specimens from the region
which it characterizes, it would be, of course, right to retain the
name in the form of _alpestris_ var. _occidentalis_. As it is,
however, quite a large percentage of the specimens from every locality
where _occidentalis_ is found have more or less yellow throats, but it
is possible that this mixture of the two may be the result of
irregular migrations, those yellow-throated individuals being
stragglers from their breeding habitat,—more to the eastward and
northward. In its white instead of straw-yellow throat, and more
lilaceous than vinaceous upper parts, this form bears a close
resemblance to a race of the deserts of Western (and Central?)
Asia,—the “_bei_”[26]; the latter, however, has these features more
exaggerated than in the one of the central plains of North America.
Breeding throughout the table-lands of Mexico, and in the Western
Province of the United States, north to about the 40th parallel, is a
more strongly marked race, maintaining also more constancy in its
peculiar features; this race is the _E. chrysolæma_, Wagl., of which
name _rufa_, Aud., and _minor_, Giraud, are synonymes. This race,
which we propose to call _E. alpestris_ var. _chrysolæma_, differs
from both the northern styles in smaller size and longer bill, and in
coloration is the opposite extreme from _occidentalis_, having the
vinaceous tints deeper and browner, instead of paler and less brown,
than in _cornuta_ (i. e. typical _alpestris_). The black markings are
also more extended, in proportion to the other colors, reducing the
white on the forehead to a very narrow band, instead of a broad spot
equalling, or exceeding, the black in width. Specimens from
Bogota—about the southern limit of the genus on this continent—are,
perhaps, referrible to _chrysolæma_, or at least not very different
from it, though described by Sclater as distinct, under the name

In fewer words, the variations, with the region, are about as follows.
Starting with North America, north of the United States, we begin with
a style absolutely undistinguishable from that of Europe; this, to
which the name _cornuta_ belongs, visits the Eastern States only in
winter, but breeds over the prairie region of Wisconsin, Illinois, and
westward. West of the Rocky Mountains, especially south of about 40°,
specimens referrible to this style are most numerous in winter, and in
a large series a great percentage of the specimens entirely lack any
yellow on the throat, while the pinkish-brown tints are lighter and
less reddish; this style represents, in these peculiar features, the
“var. _bei_” of Western Asia (Astrachan), and has been distinguished
by the name _occidentalis_, McCall, though it is doubtful whether
McCall’s description is of a specimen of this style or of one of
_chrysolæma_, being taken from a young or immature bird. Breeding
south of about 40°, from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific coast, and
throughout the table-lands of Mexico,—in winter sometimes resident at
the northern limit assigned, and there mixed with northern-bred
individuals,—is a kind which is smaller, and, generally, with a
larger bill; the throat is deeper yellow than in the northern form,
the pinkish tints deepened into cinnamon, and the frontal band
narrower, caused by an encroachment of the black, which, in its
several areas, is extended more in proportion to the other colors.
This is the _E. chrysolæma_ of Wagl., and of which _minor_, Giraud,
and _rufa_, Aud., are synonymes, as already stated.

Along the coast of Oregon and Washington Territory is a very peculiar
race, represented in the collection by several specimens. These differ
essentially in having the dark streaks above very sharply defined,
broad and clear blackish-brown,[28] while the lower parts are strongly
tinged with yellow, even as deeply so as the throat. Additional
specimens from the northwest coast may establish the existence of a
race as distinct as any of those named above.

     [26] The name in manuscript on the label of a specimen in
     the Schlüter collection, from Astrachan.

     [27] _Otocorys peregrina_, SCLATER, P. Z. S. 1855, 110, pl.
     cii. _Eremophila per._ SCL. Cat. Am. Birds, 1862, 127.

     [28] A specimen from Cleveland, Ohio (7,429 ♀, April 1, Dr.
     Kirtland), and one from Washington, D. C. (28,246 ♂, Feb.),
     have nearly as distinct streaks above, but the white of
     lower parts is without any tinge of yellow.

Var. alpestris.

  _Alauda alpestris_, LINN. S. N. I, 289.—FORST. Phil. Trans. LXII,
       1772, 383.—WILSON,—AUD.—JARD.—MAYNARD, B. E. Mass. 1870,
       121. _Otocorys a._ FINSCH, Abh. Nat. 1870, 341 (synonomy and
       remarks). _Alauda cornuta_, WILS. Am. Orn. I, 1808, 85.—RICH.
       F. B. A. II. _Eremophila c._ BOIE, Isis, 1828, 322.—BAIRD,
       Birds N. Am. 1858, 403.—LORD, P. R. A. Inst. IV, 118 (British
       Col.).—COOPER & SUCKLEY, XII, 195.—DALL & BANNISTER, Tr. Ch.
       Ac. I, 1869, 218 (Alaska).—COOPER, Orn. Cal. 1, 1870,
       251.—SAMUELS, 280. _Phileremos c._ BONAP. List, 1838.
       _Otocoris c._ AUCT. _Otocoris occidentalis_, MCCALL, Pr. A. N.
       Sc. V, June, 1851, 218 (Santa Fé).—BAIRD, Stansbury’s Rep.,
       1852, 318.

CHAR. _Adult._ Frontal whitish crescent more than half as broad as the
black patch behind it. Throat and forehead either tinged, more or less
strongly, with yellow, or perfectly white. Pinkish tint above, a soft

_Measurements._ (56,583 ♂, North Europe,) wing, 4.40; tail, 2.90;
culmen, .60; width of white frontal crescent, .25; of black, .30.
(3,780 ♂, Wisconsin,) wing, 4.20; tail, 3.00; culmen, .60; width of
white frontal crescent, .30; of black, .26. (16,768 ♂, Hudson’s Bay
Ter.,) wing, 4.55; tail, 3.10; culmen, .65; width of white frontal
crescent, .35; of black, .36. (8,491 ♂, Fort Massachusetts,) wing,
4.35; tail, 3.15; culmen, .61; width of white frontal crescent, .27;
of black, 27. (The three perfectly identical in colors.)

_Young._ On the upper parts the blackish greatly in excess of the
whitish markings. Spots across jugulum distinct.

HAB. Northern Hemisphere; in North America, breeding in the Arctic
regions and the open plains of the interior regions, from Illinois,
Wisconsin, etc., to the Pacific, north of about 38°.

Var. chrysolæma.

  _Alauda chrysolæma_, WAGL. Isis, 1831, 350.—BONAP. P. Z. S. 1837,
       111. _Otocorys ch._ FINSCH, Abh. Nat. 1870, 341. _Alauda
       minor_, GIRAUD, 16 Sp. Tex. B. 1841. _Alauda rufa_, AUD. Birds
       Am. VII, 1843, 353, pl. ccccxcvii. _Otocoris r._, HEERM. X. s,
       45. _? Otocorys peregrina_, SCL. P. Z. S. 1855, 110, pl. cii.
       _Eremophila p._, SCL. Cat. Am. B. 1860, 127.

CHAR. _Adult._ Frontal crescent less than half as wide as the black.
Throat and forehead deep straw-yellow; pinkish tints above deep

_a._ Specimens from California and Mexico, streaks on back, etc., very
obsolete; darker central stripe to middle tail-feathers scarcely
observable; white beneath.

  (3,507, ♂, Tonila, Mexico,)    wing, 3.80; tail, 2.75; bill, .53—.15—.42.
  (9,115, ♂, Mexico,)              ”   4.10;  ”    2.90;  ”    .63—.13—.50.
  (3,939, ♂, California,)          ”   3.85;  ”    2.75;  ”    .56—.14—.45.
  (58,582, ♂, Gt. Salt Lake City,) ”   4.10;  ”    2.80;  ”    .62—.16—.32.

_b._ Specimens from coast of Oregon and Washington Territory. Streaks
on back, etc., very conspicuous; dark central stripe of tail-feathers
distinct; yellow beneath.

  (8,734 ♂, Fort Steilacoom,)    wing, 3.75; tail, 2.60; bill, .61—.15—.40.

HAB. Middle America, from the desert regions of the southern Middle
Province of North America, south to Bogota.

HABITS. Assuming the Shore Lark of the Labrador coast and the rufous
Lark of the Western prairies to be one and the same species, but
slightly modified by differences of locality, climate, or food, we
have for this species, at all times, a wide range, and, during the
breeding-season, a very unusual peculiarity,—their abundant
distribution through two widely distant and essentially different

During a large portion of the year, or from October to April, these
birds may be found in all parts of the United States. Dr. Woodhouse
found them very common throughout Texas, the Indian Territory, New
Mexico, and California. Mr. Dresser states that he found the western
variety—which he thinks essentially different in several respects
from the eastern—in great numbers, from October to the end of March,
in the prairies around San Antonio. Afterwards, at Galveston, in May
and June, 1864, he noticed and shot several specimens. Although he did
not succeed in finding any nests, he was very sure that they were
breeding there. It is common, during winter, on the Atlantic coast,
from Massachusetts to South Carolina. In Maine it is comparatively
rare. In Arizona, Dr. Coues speaks of the western form as a permanent
resident in all situations adapted to its wants. The same writer, who
also had an opportunity of observing the eastern variety in Labrador,
where he found it very abundant on all the moss-covered islands around
the coast, could notice nothing in their voice, flight, or general
manners, different from their usual habits in their southern
migrations, except that during the breeding-season they do not
associate in flocks.

Richardson states that this Lark arrives in the fur countries in
company with the Lapland Bunting, with which it associates, and, being
a shyer bird, would act as sentinel and give the alarm on the approach
of danger. As Mr. Dall only obtained a single skin on the Yukon, it
probably is not common there. Dr. Suckley states it to be a very
abundant summer resident on the gravelly prairies near Fort
Steilacoom, in Washington Territory. He describes it as a tame,
unsuspicious bird, allowing a man to approach within a few feet of it.
It is essentially a ground bird, rarely alighting on bushes or shrubs.

Dr. Cooper adds to this that the Shore Lark is common in the interior,
but he only noticed one on the coast border. In ordinary seasons they
seem to be permanent residents, and in winter to be both more
gregarious and more common. He met with one as late as July 1, on a
gravelly plain near Olympia, scratching out a hollow for its nest
under a tussock of grass.

Dr. Cooper also found these birds around Fort Mohave in considerable
flocks about the end of February, but all had left the valley by the
end of March. About May 29 he found numbers of them towards the
summits of the Providence range of mountains, west of the valley, and
not far from four thousand feet above it, where they probably had
nests. They were also common in July on the cooler plains towards the
ocean, so that they doubtless breed in many of the southern portions
of California, as well as at Puget Sound and on the Great Plains. Dr.
Cooper states that in May or June the males rise almost
perpendicularly into the air, until almost out of sight, and fly
around in an irregular circle, singing a sweet and varied song for
several minutes, when they descend nearly to the spot from which they
started. Their nests were usually found in a small depression of the
ground, often under a tuft of grass or a bush. Mr. Nuttall started a
Shore Lark from her nest, on the plains, near the banks of the Platte.
It was in a small depression on the ground, and was made of bent
grass, and lined with coarse bison-hair. The eggs were olive-white,
minutely spotted all over with a darker tinge.

According to Audubon, these Larks breed abundantly on the high and
desolate granite tracts that abound along the coast of Labrador. These
rocks are covered with large patches of mosses and lichens. In the
midst of these this bird places her nest, disposed with so much care,
and the moss so much resembling the bird in hue, that the nests are
not readily noticed. When flushed from her nest, she flutters away,
feigning lameness so cunningly as to deceive almost any one not on his
guard. The male at once joins her, and both utter the most soft and
plaintive notes of woe. The nest is embedded in the moss to its edges,
and is composed of fine grasses, circularly disposed and forming a bed
about two inches thick. It is lined with the feathers of the grouse
and of other birds. The eggs, deposited early in July, are four or
five in number, and are described by Mr. Audubon as marked with bluish
as well as brown spots.

About a week before they can fly, the young leave the nest, and follow
their parents over these beds of mosses to be fed. They run nimbly,
and squat closely at the first approach of danger. If observed and
pursued, they open their wings and flutter off with great celerity.

These birds reach Labrador early in June, when the male birds are very
pugnacious, and engage frequently in very singular fights, in which
often several others besides the first parties join, fluttering,
biting, and tumbling over in the manner of the European House Sparrow.
The male is described as singing sweetly while on the wing, but its
song is comparatively short. It will also sing while on the ground,
but less frequently, and with less fulness. Its call-note is quite
mellow, and is at times so altered, in a ventriloquial manner, as to
seem like that of another bird. As soon as the young are hatched their
song ceases. It is said to feed on grass-seeds, the blossoms of small
plants, and insects, often catching the latter on the wing, and
following them to a considerable distance. It also gathers minute
crustaceans on the sea-shore.

Mr. Ridgway found this species abundant over the arid wastes of the
interior, and, in many localities, it was almost the only bird to be
found. In its habits he could observe no differences between this bird
and the _alpestris_. He met with their nests and eggs in the Truckee
Reservation, June 3. The nest was embedded in the hard, grassy ground,
beneath a small scraggy sage-bush, on the _mesa_, between the river
and the mountains.

Mr. J. K. Lord mentions that, having encamped at Cedar Springs on the
Great Plains of the Columbia, where the small stream was the only
water within a long distance, he became interested in watching the
movements of these Larks. As evening approached they came boldly in
among the mules and men, intense thirst overcoming all sense of fear.
He found these handsome little birds very plentiful throughout British
Columbia. They were nesting very early on those sandy plains, even
before the snow had left the ground. He saw young fledglings early in

A single specimen of this species was taken at Godhaab, Greenland, in
October, 1835.

Eggs from Labrador are much larger in size than those from Wisconsin.
Two eggs from the first, one obtained by Mr. Thienemann, the other by
Mr. George Peck, of Burlington, Vt., measure .93 and .94 of an inch in
length by .71 in breadth; while some from the West are only .83 in
length and .63 in breadth, their greatest length being .90, and their
largest breadth .69 of an inch. In their ground-color and markings,
eggs from both localities vary about alike. The ground-color varies
from a purplish-white to a dark gray, while the spots are in some a
brownish-lavender, in others a brown, and, quite frequently, an
olive-brown. In some they are in larger, scattered blotches; while in
others they are in very fine minute dots so thickly and so uniformly
diffused as almost to conceal the ground.


CHAR. Primaries nine. Tarsi scutellate anteriorly; plated behind. Bill
long, generally equal to the head or longer, straight or gently
curved, conical, without any notch, the commissure bending downwards
at an obtuse angle at the base. Gonys generally more than half the
culmen, no bristles about the base of bill. Basal joint of the middle
toe free on the inner side; united half-way on the outer. Tail rather
long, rounded. Legs stout.

This family is strictly confined to the New World, and is closely
related in many of its members to the _Fringillidæ_. Both have the
angulated commissure and the nine primaries; the bill is, however,
usually much longer; the rictus is completely without bristles, and
the tip of the bill without notch.

The affinities of some of the genera are still closer to the family of
_Sturnidæ_ or Starlings, of which the _Sturnus vulgaris_ may be taken
as the type. The latter family, is, however, exclusively Old World,
except for the occurrence of a species in Greenland, and readily
distinguished by the constant presence of a rudimentary outer primary,
making ten in all.

There are three subfamilies of the _Icteridæ_,—the _Agelainæ_, the
_Icterinæ_, and the _Quiscalinæ_,[29] which may be diagnosed as
follows, although it is difficult to define them with precision:—

Agelainæ. Bill shorter than, or about equal to, the head; thick,
conical, both mandibles about equal in depth; the outlines all more or
less straight, the bill not decurved at tip. Tail rather short, nearly
even or slightly rounded. Legs longer than the head, adapted for
walking; claws moderately curved.

Icterinæ. Bill rather slender, about as long as the head; either
straight or decurved. Lower mandible less thick than the upper; the
commissure not sinuated. Tarsi not longer than the head, nor than
middle toe; legs adapted for perching. Claws much curved.

Quiscalinæ. Tail lengthened, considerably or excessively graduated.
Bill as long as, or longer than, the head; the culmen curved towards
the end, the tip bent down, the cutting edges inflexed, the commissure
sinuated. Legs longer than the head, fitted for walking.

     [29] It is an interesting fact in regard to the species of
     _Icteridæ_, that, as a general rule, female birds of West
     Indian representatives of the _Agelainæ_ and _Quiscalinæ_
     are usually, or perhaps universally, uniformly black, where
     the continental are brown, either concolored or streaked. We
     know of no exception to the first part of this statement as
     to _Agelaius_, _Nesopsar_, _Scolecophagus_, and _Quiscalus_.
     The smaller North American species of _Quiscalus_ have the
     females duller, but not otherwise very different from the
     males, except in size. The females of the large _Quiscalus_,
     all continental, are much smaller than the males, and
     totally different. In _Icterus_ all the species in which the
     female is very different in color from the male are Northern
     Mexican or continental North American (_pustulatus_,
     _spurius_, _baltimore_, _bullocki_, _cucullatus_, etc.).
     Most West Indian _Icterus_ also exhibit no difference in the
     sexes, _dominicensis_, _hypomelas_, _xanthomus_, _bonanæ_,
     etc.; in one alone (_leucopteryx_) is the difference
     appreciable. The South American species have the females
     pretty generally similar to the males, but smaller, as is
     the case in the entire family.


CHAR. Bill stout, conical, and acutely pointed, not longer than the
head; the outlines nearly straight, the tip not decurved. Legs adapted
for walking, longer than the head. Claws not much curved. Tail
moderate, shorter than the wings; nearly even.

The _Agelainæ_, through _Molothrus_ and _Dolichonyx_, present a close
relation to the _Fringillidæ_ in the comparative shortness and conical
shape of the bill, and, in fact, it is very difficult to express in
brief words the distinctions which evidently exist. _Dolichonyx_ may
be set aside as readily determinate by the character of the feet and
tail. The peculiar subfamily characteristics of _Molothrus_ will be
found under the generic remarks respecting it.

The following diagnosis will serve to define the genera:—

  A. Bill shorter than the head. Feathers of head and
  nostrils as in B.

    Dolichonyx. Tail-feathers with rigid stiffened acuminate
    points. Middle toe very long, exceeding the head.

    Molothrus. Tail with the feathers simple; middle toe
    shorter than the tarsus or head.

  B. Bill as long as the head. Feathers of crown soft.
  Nostrils covered by a scale which is directed more or less

    Agelaius. First quill shorter than the second and third.
    Outer lateral claws scarcely reaching to the base of
    middle; claws moderate.

    Xanthocephalus. First quill longest. Outer lateral claw
    reaching nearly to the tip of the middle. Toes and claws
    all much elongated.

  C. Bill as long as, or longer than, the head. Feathers of
  crown with the shafts prolonged into stiffened bristles.
  Nostrils covered by a scale which stands out more or less

    Sturnella. Tail-feathers acute. Middle toe equal to the

    Trupialis. Tail-feathers rounded. Middle toe shorter
    than the tarsus.


  _Dolichonyx_, SWAINSON, Zoöl. Journ. III, 1827, 351. (Type,
    _Emberiza oryzivora_, L.)

  [Line drawing: _Dolichonyx oryzivorus._

GEN. CHAR. Bill short, stout, conical, little more than half the head;
the commissure slightly sinuated; the culmen nearly straight. Middle
toe considerably longer than the tarsus (which is about as long as the
head); the inner lateral toe longest, but not reaching the base of the
middle claw. Wings long, first quill longest. Tail-feathers
acuminately pointed at the tip, with the shaft stiffened and rigid, as
in the Woodpeckers.

The peculiar characteristic of this genus is found in the rigid
scansorial tail and the very long middle toe, by means of which it is
enabled to grasp the vertical stems of reeds or other slender plants.
The color of the single species is black, varied with whitish patches
on the upper parts.

Dolichonyx oryzivorus, SWAINSON.


  _Emberiza oryzivora_, LINN. Syst. Nat. I, 1766, 311.—GM. I, 1788,
       850.—WILSON, Am. Orn. II, 1810, 48, pl. xii, f. 1, 2.
       _Passerina oryzivora_, VIEILLOT, Nouv. Dict. XXV, 1817, 3.
       _Dolichonyx oryzivora_, SWAINSON, Zoöl. Jour. III, 1827,
       351.—IB. F. Bor.-Am. II, 1831, 278.—BON. List, 1838.—IB.
       Conspectus, 1850, 437.—AUD. Syn. 1839, 139.—IB. Birds Am. IV,
       1842, 10, pl. ccxi.—GOSSE, Birds Jam. 1847, 229.—BAIRD, Birds
       N. Am. 1858, 522.—MAX. Cab. J. VI, 1858, 266.—COOPER, Orn.
       Cal. I, 1870, 255.—SAMUELS, 335. _Icterus agripennis_, BONAP.
       Obs. Wils. 1824, No. 87. AUD. Orn. Biog. I, 1831, 283; V, 1839,
       486, pl. liv.—NUTT. Man. I, 1832, 185. _Icterus (Emberizoides)
       agripennis_, BON. Syn. 1828, 53. _Dolichonyx agripennis_, RICH.
       List, 1837. _Psarocolius caudacutus_, WAGLER, Syst. Av. 1827,

  [Illustration: _Dolichonyx oryzivorus._]

SP. CHAR. General color of _male_ in spring, black; the nape brownish
cream-color; a patch on the side of the breast, the scapulars, and
rump, white, shading into light ash on the upper tail-coverts and the
back below the interscapular region. The outer primaries sharply
margined with yellowish-white; the tertials less abruptly; the
tail-feathers margined at the tips with pale brownish-ash. In autumn
totally different, resembling the female.

_Female_, yellowish beneath; two stripes on the top of the head, and
the upper parts throughout, except the back of the neck and rump, and
including all the wing-feathers generally, dark brown, all edged with
brownish-yellow, which becomes whiter near the tips of the quills. The
sides sparsely streaked with dark brown, and a similar stripe behind
the eye. There is a superciliary and a median band of yellow on the
head. Length of male, 7.70; wing, 3.83; tail, 3.15.

HAB. Eastern United States to the high Central Plains. North to
Selkirk Settlement, and Ottawa, Canada; and west to Salt Lake Valley,
Utah, and Ruby Valley, Nevada (RIDGWAY); Cuba, winter (CABAN.);
Bahamas (BRYANT); Jamaica (GOSSE, SCL., Oct.; MARCH, Oct., and in
spring); James Island, Galapagos, Oct. (GOULD); Sombrero, W. I.
(LAWRENCE); Brazil (PELZELN); Yucatan.

A female bird from Paraguay (Dec., 1859) is undistinguishable from the
average of northern ones, except by the smaller size. Specimens from
the western plains differ from those taken near the Atlantic Coast in
having the light areas above paler, and less obscured by the grayish
wash so prevalent in the latter; the ochraceous of the nape being very
pale, and at the same time pure.

HABITS. The well-known and familiar Bobolink of North America has, at
different seasons of the year, a remarkably extended distribution. In
its migrations it traverses all of the United States east of the high
central plains to the Atlantic as far to the north as the 54th
parallel, which is believed to be its most northern limit, and which
it reaches in June. In the winter it reaches, in its wandering, the
West Indies, Central America, the northern and even the central
portions of South America. Von Pelzeln obtained Brazilian specimens
from Matogrosso and Rio Madeira in November, and from Marabitanas,
April 4th and 13th. Those procured in April were in their summer or
breeding plumage, suggesting the possibility of their breeding in the
high grounds of South America. Sclater received specimens from Santa
Marta and from Bolivia. Other specimens have been reported as coming
from Rio Negro, Rio Napo, in Brazil, Cuba, Jamaica, Porto Rico,
Paraguay, Buenos Ayres, etc.

In North America it breeds from the 42d to the 54th parallel, and in
some parts of the country it is very abundant at this season. The most
southern breeding locality hitherto recorded is the forks of the
Susquehanna River, along the west branch of which, especially in the
Wyoming Valley, it was formerly very abundant.

Mr. Ridgway also observed this bird in Ruby Valley where, among the
wheat-fields, small companies were occasionally seen in August. He was
informed that, near Salt Lake City, these birds are seen in May, and
again late in the summer, when the grain is ripe.

Of all our unimitative and natural songsters the Bobolink is by far
the most popular and attractive. Always original and peculiarly
natural, its song is exquisitely musical. In the variety of its notes,
in the rapidity with which they are uttered, and in the touching
pathos, beauty, and melody of their tone and expression, its notes are
not equalled by those of any other North American bird. We know of
none, among our native feathered songsters, whose song resembles, or
can be compared with it.

In the earliest approaches of spring, in Louisiana, when small flocks
of male Bobolinks make their first appearance, they are said, by Mr.
Audubon, to sing in concert; and their song thus given is at once
exceedingly novel, interesting, and striking. Uttered with a
volubility that even borders upon the burlesque and the ludicrous, the
whole effect is greatly heightened by the singular and striking manner
in which first one singer and then another, one following the other
until all have joined their voices, take up the note and strike in,
after the leader has set the example and given the signal. In this
manner sometimes a party of thirty or forty Bobolinks will begin, one
after the other, until the whole unite in producing an extraordinary
medley, to which no pen can do justice, but which is described as very
pleasant to listen to. All at once the music ceases with a suddenness
not less striking and extraordinary. These concerts are repeated from
time to time, usually as often as the flock alight. This performance
may also be witnessed early in April, in the vicinity of Washington,
the Smithsonian grounds being a favorite place of resort.

By the time these birds have reached, in their spring migrations, the
40th parallel of latitude, they no longer move in large flocks, but
have begun to separate into small parties, and finally into pairs. In
New England the Bobolink treats us to no such concerts as those
described by Audubon, where many voices join in creating their
peculiar jingling melody. When they first appear, usually after the
middle of May, they are in small parties, composed of either sex,
absorbed in their courtships and overflowing with song. When two or
three male Bobolinks, decked out in their gayest spring apparel, are
paying their attentions to the same drab-colored female, contrasting
so strikingly in her sober brown dress, their performances are quite
entertaining, each male endeavoring to outsing the other. The female
appears coy and retiring, keeping closely to the ground, but always
attended by the several aspirants for her affection. After a contest,
often quite exciting, the rivalries are adjusted, the rejected suitors
are driven off by their more fortunate competitor, and the happy pair
begin to put in order a new home. It is in these love-quarrels that
their song appears to the greatest advantage. They pour out
incessantly their strains of quaint but charming music, now on the
ground, now on the wing, now on the top of a fence, a low bush, or the
swaying stalk of a plant that bends with their weight. The great
length of their song, the immense number of short and variable notes
of which it is composed, the volubility and confused rapidity with
which they are poured forth, the eccentric breaks, in the midst of
which we detect the words “bob-o-link” so distinctly enunciated, unite
to form a general result to which we can find no parallel in any of
the musical performances of our other song-birds. It is at once a
unique and a charming production. Nuttall speaks of their song as
monotonous, which is neither true nor consistent with his own
description of it. To other ears they seem ever wonderfully full of
variety, pathos, and beauty.

When their contests are ended, and the mated pair take possession of
their selected meadow, and prepare to construct their nest and rear
their family, then we may find the male bird hovering in the air over
the spot where his homely partner is brooding over her charge. All
this while he is warbling forth his incessant and happy love-song; or
else he is swinging on some slender stalk or weed that bends under
him, ever overflowing with song and eloquent with melody. As domestic
cares and parental responsibilities increase, his song becomes less
and less frequent. After a while it has degenerated into a few short
notes, and at length ceases altogether. The young in due time assume
the development of mature birds, and all wear the sober plumage of the
mother. And now there also appears a surprising change in the
appearance of our gayly attired musician. His showy plumage of
contrasting white and black, so conspicuous and striking, changes with
almost instant rapidity into brown and drab, until he is no longer
distinguishable, either by plumage or note, from his mate or young.

At the north, where the Bobolinks breed, they are not known to molest
the crops, confining their food almost entirely to insects, or the
seeds of valueless weeds, in the consumption of which they confer
benefit, rather than harm. At the south they are accused of injuring
the young wheat as they pass northward in their spring migrations, and
of plundering the rice plantations on their return. About the middle
of August they appear in almost innumerable flocks among the marshes
of the Delaware River. There they are known as Reedbirds. Two weeks
later they begin to swarm among the rice plantations of South
Carolina. There they take the name of Ricebirds. In October they again
pass on southward, and make another halt among the West India Islands.
There they feed upon the seeds of the Guinea-grass, upon which they
become exceedingly fat. In Jamaica they receive a new appellation, and
are called Butterbirds. They are everywhere sought after by sportsmen,
and are shot in immense numbers for the table of the epicure. More
recently it has been ascertained that these birds feed greedily upon
the larvæ of the destructive cotton-worm, and in so doing render an
immense service to the cultivators of Sea Island cotton.

Dr. Bryant, in his visit to the Bahamas, was eye-witness to the
migrations northward of these birds, as they passed through those
islands. He first noted them on the 6th of May, towards sunset. A
number of flocks—he counted nine—were flying to the westward. On the
following day the country was filled with these birds, and men and
boys turned out in large numbers to shoot them. He examined a quantity
of them, and all were males in full plumage. Numerous flocks continued
to arrive that day and the following, which was Sunday. On Monday,
among those that were shot were many females. On Tuesday but few were
to be seen, and on Wednesday they had entirely disappeared.

Near Washington, Dr. Coues observed the Bobolink to be only a spring
and autumnal visitant, from May 1st to the 15th distributed abundantly
about orchards and meadows, generally in flocks. In autumn they
frequented in immense flocks the tracts of _Zizania aquatica_, along
the Potomac, from August 20 to October.

The Bobolink invariably builds its nest upon the ground, usually in a
meadow, and conceals it so well among the standing grass that it is
very difficult of discovery until the grass is cut. The female is very
wary in leaving or in returning to her nest, always alighting upon the
ground, or rising from it, at a distance from her nest. The male bird,
too, if the nest is approached, seeks to decoy off the intruder by his
anxiety over a spot remote from the object of his solicitude. The nest
is of the simplest description, made usually of a few flexible stems
of grasses carefully interwoven into a shallow and compact nest. The
eggs, five or six in number, have a dull white ground, in some tinged
with a light drab, in others with olive. They are generally spotted
and blotched over the entire egg with a rufous-brown, intermingled
with lavender. They are pointed at one end, and measure .90 by .70 of
an inch. They have but one brood in a season.

In some eggs, especially those found in more northern localities, the
ground-color is drab, with a strong tinge of purple. Over this is
diffused a series of obscure lavender-color, and then overlying these
are larger and bolder blotches of wine-colored brown. In a few eggs
long and irregular lines of dark purple, so deep as to be
undistinguishable from black, are added. These eggs are quite pointed
at one end.


  _Molothrus_, SWAINSON, F. Bor.-Am. II, 1831, 277; supposed by
    Cabanis to be meant for _Molobrus_. (Type, _Fringilla pecoris_,

  [Line drawing: _Molothrus pecoris._

GEN. CHAR. Bill short, stout, about two thirds the length of head; the
commissure straight, culmen and gonys slightly curved, convex, the
former broad, rounded, convex, and running back on the head in a
point. Lateral toes nearly equal, reaching the base of the middle one,
which is shorter than tarsus; claws rather small. Tail nearly even;
wings long, pointed, the first quill longest. As far as known, the
species make no nest, but deposit the eggs in the nests of other,
usually smaller, birds.

The genus _Molothrus_ has the bill intermediate between _Dolichonyx_
and _Agelaius_. It has the culmen unusually broad between the
nostrils, and it extends back some distance into the forehead. The
difference in the structure of the feet from _Dolichonyx_ is very

  [Illustration: _Molothrus pecoris._]

Species of _Molothrus_ resemble some of the _Fringillidæ_ more than
any other of the _Icteridæ_. The bill is, however, more straight, the
tip without notch; the culmen running back farther on the forehead,
the nostrils being situated fully one third or more of the total
length from its posterior extremity. This is seldom the case in the
American families. The entire absence of notch in the bill and of
bristles along the rictus are strong features. The nostrils are
perfectly free from any overhanging feathers or bristles. The pointed
wings, with the first quill longest, or nearly equal to second, and
the tail with its broad rounded feathers, shorter than the wings, are
additional features to be specially noted.

Molothrus pecoris, SWAINSON.


  _Fringilla pecoris_, GMELIN, Syst. Nat. I, 1788, 910
       (female).—LATH. Ind. Orn. I, 1790, 443.—LICHT. Verzeich.
       1823, Nos. 230, 231. _Emberiza pecoris_, WILS. Am. Orn. II,
       1810, 145, pl. xviii, f. 1, 2, 3. _Icterus pecoris_, BONAP.
       Obs. Wilson, 1824, No. 88.—AUD. Orn. Biog. I, 1831, 493; V,
       1839, 233, 490, pls. xcix and ccccxxiv. _Icterus (Emberizoides)
       pecoris_, BON. Syn. 1828, 53.—IB. Specchio comp. No.
       41.—NUTT. Man. I, 1832, 178, (2d ed.,) 190. _Passerina
       pecoris_, VIEILL. Nouv. Dict. XXV, 1819, 22. _Psarocolius
       pecoris_, WAGLER, Syst. Av. 1827, No. 20. _Molothrus pecoris_,
       SWAINSON, F. Bor.-Am. II, 1831, 277.—RICH. List, 1837.—BON.
       List, 1838.—IB. Consp. 1850, 436.—AUD. Syn. 1839, 139.—IB.
       Birds Am. IV, 1842, 16, pl. ccxii.—CABANIS, Mus. Hein. 1851,
       193.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 524.—COOPER, Orn. Cal. 1,
       1870, 257.—SAMUELS, 339.—ALLEN, B. Fla. 284. _? Oriolus
       fuscus_, GMELIN, Syst. Nat. I, 1788, 393. _? Sturnus obscurus_,
       GMELIN, Syst. Nat. I, 1788, 804 (evidently a _Molothrus_, and
       probably, but not certainly, the present species). _Molothrus
       obscurus_, CASSIN, Pr. Ph. Ac. 1866, 18 (Mira Flores, L.
       Cal.).—COOPER, Orn. Cal. 1, 1870, 260. “_Icterus
       emberizoides_, DAUDIN.” _? Sturnus junceti_, LATH. Ind. I,
       1790, 326 (same as _Sturnus obscurus_, GM.). _? Fringilla
       ambigua_, NUTTALL, Man. I, 1832, 484 (young). _Sturnus
       nove-hispaniæ_, BRISS. II, 448.

SP. CHAR. Second quill longest; first scarcely shorter. Tail nearly
even, or very slightly rounded. Male with the head, neck, and anterior
half of the breast light chocolate-brown, rather lighter above; rest
of body lustrous black, with a violet-purple gloss next to the brown,
of steel blue on the back, and of green elsewhere. Female light
olivaceous-brown all over, lighter on the head and beneath. Bill and
feet black. Length, 8 inches; wing, 4.42; tail, 3.40.

HAB. United States from the Atlantic to California; not found
immediately on the coast of the Pacific? Orizaba (SCL. 1857, 213);
Texas (DRESSER, Ibis, 1865, 492); Fort Whipple, Arizona (COUES, P. A.
N. S, 1866, 90); Nevada and Utah (RIDGWAY); Mazatlan, Tehuantepec,
Cape St. Lucas.

The young bird of the year is brown above, brownish-white beneath; the
throat immaculate. A maxillary stripe and obscure streaks thickly
crowded across the whole breast and sides. There is a faint indication
of a paler superciliary stripe. The feathers of the upper parts are
all margined with paler. There are also indications of light bands on
the wings. These markings are all obscure, but perfectly appreciable,
and their existence in adult birds of any species may be considered as
embryonic, and showing an inferiority in degree to the species with
the under parts perfectly plain.

Specimens from the west appear to have a rather longer and narrower
bill than those from the east. Summer birds of Cape St. Lucas and the
Rio Grande are considerably smaller (var. _obscurus_, Cassin). Length
about 6.50; wing, 4.00; tail, 3.00. Some winter skins from the same
region are equal in size to the average.

Birds of this species breeding south of the Rio Grande, as well as
those from Cape St. Lucas, Mazatlan, etc., are very much smaller than
those nesting within the United States; but the transition between the
extremes of size is so gradual that it is almost impossible to strike
an average of characters for two races. The extremes of size in this
species are as follows:—

  _Largest._ (11,271, ♂, Fort Bridger.)
     Wing, 4.60; tail, 3.35; culmen, .72; tarsus, 1.03.
  _Smallest._ (17,297, ♂, Mira Flores, L. C.)
       ”   3.80;   ”   2.65;   ”     .60;   ”      .84.

HABITS. The common Cow Blackbird has a very extended distribution from
the Atlantic to California, and from Texas to Canada, and probably to
regions still farther north. They have not been traced to the Pacific
coast, though abundant on that of the Atlantic. Dr. Cooper thinks that
a few winter in the Colorado Valley, and probably also in the San
Joaquin Valley.

This species is at all times gregarious and polygamous, never mating,
and never exhibiting any signs of either conjugal or parental
affections. Like the Cuckoos of Europe, our Cow Blackbird never
constructs a nest of her own, and never hatches out or attempts to
rear her own offspring, but imposes her eggs upon other birds; and
most of these, either unconscious of the imposition or unable to rid
themselves of the alien, sit upon and hatch the stranger, and in so
doing virtually destroy their own offspring,—for the eggs of the
Cowbird are the first hatched, usually two days before the others. The
nursling is much larger in size, filling up a large portion of the
nest, and is insatiable in its appetite, always clamoring to be fed,
and receiving by far the larger share of the food brought to the nest;
its foster-companions, either starved or stifled, soon die, and their
dead bodies are removed, it is supposed, by their parents. They are
never found near the nest, as they would be if the young Cow Blackbird
expelled them as does the Cuckoo; indeed, Mr. Nuttall has seen parent
birds removing the dead young to a distance from the nest, and there
dropping them.

For the most part the Cowbird deposits her egg in the nest of a bird
much smaller than herself, but this is not always the case. I have
known of their eggs having been found in the nests of _Turdus
mustelinus_ and _T. fuscescens_, _Sturnella magna_ and _S. neglecta_.
In each instance they had been incubated. How the young Cowbird
generally fares when hatched in the nests of birds of equal or larger
size, and the fate of the foster-nurslings, is an interesting subject
for investigation. Mr. J. A. Allen saw, in Western Iowa, a female
_Harporhynchus rufus_ feeding a nearly full grown Cowbird,—a very
interesting fact, and the only evidence we now have that these birds
are reared by birds of superior size.

It lays also in the nests of the common Catbird, but the egg never
remains there long after the owner of the nest becomes aware of the
intrusion. The list of the birds in whose nests the Cow Blackbird
deposits her egg and it is reared is very large. The most common
nurses of these foundlings in New England are _Spizella socialis_,
_Empidonax minimus_, _Geothlypis trichas_, and all our eastern
_Vireos_, namely, _olivaceus_, _solitarius_, _noveboracensis_,
_gilvus_, and _flavifrons_. Besides these, I have found their eggs in
the nests of _Polioptila cærulea_, _Mniotilta varia_, _Helminthophaga
ruficapilla_, _Dendroica virens_, _D. blackburniæ_, _D. pennsylvanica_
and _D. discolor_, _Seiurus aurocapillus_, _Setophaga ruticilla_,
_Cyanospiza cyanea_, _Contopus virens_, etc. I have also known of
their eggs having been found in the nests of _Vireo belli_ and _V.
pusillus_, and _Cyanospiza amœna_. Dr. Cooper has found their egg in
the nest of _Icteria virens_; and Mr. T. H. Jackson of West Chester,
Penn., in those of _Empidonax acadicus_ and _Pyranga rubra_.

Usually not more than a single Cowbird’s egg is found in the same
nest, though it is not uncommon to find two; and in a few instances
three and even four eggs have been met with. In one instance Mr.
Trippe mentions having found in the nest of a Black and White Creeper,
besides three eggs of the owner of the nest, no less than five of the
parasite. Mr. H. S. Rodney reports having found, in Potsdam, N. Y.,
May 15, 1868, a nest of _Zonotrichia leucophrys_ of two stories, in
one of which was buried a Cowbird’s egg, and in the upper there were
two more of the same, with three eggs of the rightful owners. In the
spring of 1869 the same gentleman found a nest of the _Sayornis
fuscus_ with three Cowbird’s eggs and three of her own.

Mr. Vickary, of Lynn, found, in the spring of 1860, the nest of a
_Seiurus aurocapillus_, in which, with only one egg of the rightful
owner, there were no less than four of the Cowbird. All five eggs were
perfectly fresh, and had not been set upon. In the summer of the
preceding year the same gentleman found a nest of the Red-eyed Vireo
containing three eggs of the Vireo and four of the Cow Blackbird.

How the offspring from these eggs may all fare when more than one of
these voracious nurslings are hatched in the same nest, is an
interesting problem, well worthy the attention of some patiently
inquiring naturalist to solve.

The Cow Blackbird appears in New England with a varying degree of
promptness, sometimes as early as the latter part of March, and as
frequently not until the middle of April. Nuttall states that none are
seen in Massachusetts after the middle of June until the following
October, and Allen, that they are there all the summer. My own
observations do not correspond with the statement of either of these
gentlemen. They certainly do become quite rare in the eastern part of
that State after the third week in June, but that all the females are
not gone is proved by the constant finding of freshly laid eggs up to
July 1. I have never been able to find a Cow Blackbird in Eastern
Massachusetts between the first of July and the middle of September.
This I attribute to the absence of sufficient food. In the Cambridge
marshes they remain until all the seeds have been consumed, and only
reappear when the new crop is edible.

This Blackbird is a general feeder, eating insects, apparently in
preference, and wild seed. They derive their name of Cow Blackbird
from their keeping about that animal, and finding, either from her
parasitic insects or her droppings, opportunities for food. They feed
on the ground, and occasionally scratch for insects. At the South, to
a limited extent, they frequent the rice-fields in company with the
Redwinged Blackbird.

Mr. Nuttall states that if a Cow Blackbird’s egg is deposited in a
nest alone it is uniformly forsaken, and he also enumerates the Summer
Yellowbird as one of the nurses of the Cowbird. In both respects I
think he is mistaken. So far from forsaking her nest when one of these
eggs is deposited, the Red-eyed Vireo has been known to commence
incubation without having laid any of her own eggs, and also to
forsake her nest when the intrusive egg has been taken and her own
left. The _D. æstiva_, I think, invariably covers up and destroys the
Cowbird’s eggs when deposited before her own, and even when deposited

The Cow Blackbird has no attractions as a singer, and has nothing that
deserves the name of song. His utterances are harsh and unmelodious.

In September they begin to collect in large flocks, in localities
favorable for their sustenance. The Fresh Pond marshes in Cambridge
were once one of their chosen places of resort, in which they seemed
to collect late in September, as if coming from great distances. There
they remained until late in October, when they passed southward.

Mr. Ridgway only met with this species in two places, the valley of
the Humboldt in September, and in June in the Truckee Valley. Their
eggs were also obtained in the Wahsatch Mountains, deposited in the
nest of _Passerella schistacea_, and in Bear River Valley in the nest
of _Geothlypis trichas_.

Mr. Boardman informs me that the Cow Blackbird is a very rare bird in
the neighborhood of Calais, Me., so much so that he does not see one
of these birds once in five years, even as a bird of passage.

The eggs of this species are of a rounded oval, though some are more
oblong than others, and are nearly equally rounded at either end. They
vary from .85 of an inch to an inch in length, and from .65 to .70 in
breadth. Their ground-color is white. In some it is so thickly covered
with fine dottings of ashy and purplish-brown that the ground is not
distinguishable. In others the egg is blotched with bold dashes of
purple and wine-colored brown.

On the Rio Grande the eggs of the smaller southern race were found in
the nests of _Vireo belli_, and in each of the nests of the _Vireo
pusillus_ found near Camp Grant, Arizona, there was an egg of this
species. At Cape St. Lucas, Mr. Xantus found their eggs in nests of
the _Polioptila melanura_. We have no information in regard to their
habits, and can only infer that they must be substantially the same as
those of the northern birds.

The eggs of the var. _obscurus_ exhibit a very marked variation in
size from those of the var. _pecoris_, and have a different
appearance, though their colors are nearly identical. Their
ground-color is white, and their markings a claret-brown. These
markings are fewer, smaller, and less generally distributed, and the
ground-color is much more apparent. They measure .60 by .55 of an
inch, and their capacity as compared with the eggs of the _pecoris_ is
as 33 to 70,—a variation that is constant, and apparently too large
to be accounted for on climatic differences.


  _Agelaius_, VIEILLOT, “Analyse, 1816.” (Type, _Oriolus phœniceus_, L.)

  [Line drawing: _Agelaius phœniceus._

GEN. CHAR. First quill shorter than second; claws short; the outer
lateral scarcely reaching the base of the middle. Culmen depressed at
base, parting the frontal feathers; length equal to that of the head,
shorter than tarsus. Both mandibles of equal thickness and acute at
tip, the edges much curved, the culmen, gonys, and commissure nearly
straight or slightly sinuated; the length of bill about twice its
height. Tail moderate, rounded, or very slightly graduated. Wings
pointed, reaching to end of lower tail-coverts. Colors black with red
shoulders in North American species. One West Indian with orange-buff.
Females streaked except in two West Indian species.

  [Illustration: _Agelaius phœniceus._]

The nostrils are small, oblong, overhung by a membranous scale. The
bill is higher than broad at the base. There is no division between
the anterior tarsal scutellæ and the single plate on the outside of
the tarsus.

The females of two West Indian species are uniform black. Of these the
male of one, _A. assimilis_ of Cuba, is undistinguishable from that of
_A. phœniceus_; and in fact we may without impropriety consider the
former as a melanite race of the latter, the change appreciable only
in the female. The _A. humeralis_, also of Cuba, is smaller, and
black, with the lesser coverts brownish orange-buff.

Species and Varieties.

COMMON CHARACTERS. _Males_ glossy black without distinct
bluish lustre, lesser wing-coverts bright red. _Females_
without any red, and either wholly black or variegated with
light streaks, most conspicuous below.

  [Illustration: PLATE XXXIII.
  1. Agelaius phœniceus. ♂ Pa., 1386.
  2.     ”         ”     ♀ Pa., 2174.
  3.     ”         ”     ♂ shoulder.
  4.     ”    gubernator. ♂ shoulder.
  5.     ”    tricolor. ♂ shoulder.
  6.     ”    tricolor. ♂ Cal., 2836.
  7.     ”         ”    ♀ Cal., 5532.
  8.     ”    gubernator. ♀ Cal., 5530.
  9. Xanthocephalus icterocephalus. ♀ Kansas, 6557.]

  A. phœniceus. Tail rounded. Red of shoulders a bright
  scarlet tint. Black of plumage without bluish lustre.
  _Females_ with wing-coverts edged with brownish, or
  without any light edgings at all.

    _a._ Female continuous deep black, unvariegated.

        _Middle wing-coverts wholly buff in male._

      Wing, 4.40; tail, 3.80; culmen, .95; tarsus, 1.00.
      _Hab._ Cuba.

    _b._ Females striped beneath                   var. _assimilis_.[30]

      Wing, 4.90; tail, 3.85; culmen, .96; tarsus, 1.10.
      _Female._ White stripes on lower parts exceeding the
      dusky ones in width; a conspicuous lighter
      superciliary stripe, and one strongly indicated on
      middle of the crown. _Hab._ Whole of North America,
      south to Guatemala                            var. _phœniceus_.

        _Middle wing-coverts black, except at base._

      Wing, 5.00; tail, 3.90; culmen, .90; tarsus, 1.10.
      _Female._ White stripes on lower parts narrower than
      dusky ones; the posterior portion beneath being almost
      continuously dusky. No trace of median stripe on
      crown, and the superciliary one indistinct. _Hab._
      Pacific Province of United States, south through
      Western Mexico                               var. _gubernator_.

        _Middle wing-coverts wholly white in male._

  B. tricolor. Tail square. Red of the shoulders a
  brownish-scarlet, or burnt-carmine tint. Black of the
  plumage (both sexes at all ages) with a silky bluish
  lustre. _Female_ with wing-coverts edged with pure white.

      Wing, 4.90; tail, 3.70; culmen, .97; tarsus, 1.13.
      _Female._ Like that of _gubernator_, but with scarcely
      any brownish tinge to the plumage, and the lesser
      wing-coverts sharply bordered with pure white. _Hab._
      California (only ?).

     [30] _Agelaius assimilis_, GUNDL. CABANIS, Journal, IX, 12
     (nest).—IB. Boston Journal, VI, 1853, 316.

Agelaius phœniceus, VIEILLOT.


  _Oriolus phœniceus_, LINN. Syst. Nat. I, 1766, 161.—GMELIN, I,
       1788, 386.—LATH. Ind. Orn. I, 1790, 428. _Agelaius phœniceus_,
       “VIEILLOT, Anal. 1816.”—SWAINSON, F. Bor.-Am. II, 1831,
       280.—BONAP. List, 1838.—IB. Consp. 1850, 430.—AUD. Syn.
       1839, 141.—IB. Birds Am. IV, 1842, 31, pl. ccxvi.—BAIRD,
       Birds N. Am. 1858, 526.—MAX. Cab. J. VI, 1858, 263.—COOPER &
       SUCKLEY, 207.—COOPER, Orn. Cal. 1, 1870, 261.—SAMUELS,
       341.—_Allen_, Birds E. Fla. 284. _Icterus phœniceus_, LICHT.
       Verz. 1823, No. 188.—BON. Obs. Wils. 1824, No. 68.—AUD. Orn.
       Biog. I, 1831, 348; V, 1839, 487, pl. lxvii. _Psarocolius
       phœniceus_, WAGLER, Syst. Nat. 1827, No. 10. _Icterus
       (Xanthornus) phœniceus_, BONAP. Syn. 1828, 52.—NUTTALL, Man.
       I, 1832, 167, (2d ed.,) 179. _Sturnus prædatorius_, WILSON, Am.
       Orn. IV, 1811, 30, pl. xxx. _Redwinged Oriole_, PENNANT, Arctic
       Zoöl. II, 255.

SP. CHAR. Tail much rounded; the lateral feathers about half an inch
shorter. Fourth quill longest; first about as long as the fifth. Bill
large, stout; half as high, or more than half as high, as long.

_Male._ General color uniform lustrous velvet-black, with a greenish
reflection. Shoulders and lesser wing-coverts of a bright crimson or
vermilion-red. Middle coverts brownish-yellow, or buff, and usually
paler towards the tips.

_Female._ Brown above, the feathers edged or streaked with
rufous-brown and yellowish; beneath white, streaked with brown.
Forepart of throat, superciliary, and median stripe strongly tinged
with brownish-yellow. Length of male, 9.50; wing, 5.00; tail, 4.15.

HAB. United States from Atlantic to Pacific; north to Great Slave
Lake, Fort Resolution, Fort Simpson, Fort Rae, etc.; Guatemala
(SCLATER, Ibis I, 19; breeding); Costa Rica (LAWRENCE, America, N. Y.
Lyc. IX, 104); Bahamas (BRYANT, B. P. VII, 1859); Texas (DRESSER,
Ibis, 65, 492); Arizona (COUES, P. A. N. S. 1866, 90; Fort Whipple);

There is some variation in the shade of red on the shoulders, which is
sometimes of the color of arterial blood or bright crimson. It never,
however, has the hæmatitic tint of the red in _A. tricolor_. The
middle coverts are usually uniform brownish-yellow to the very tips;
sometimes some of these middle coverts are tipped at the end with
black, but these black tips are usually of slight extent, and indicate
immaturity, or else a transition of hybridism or race to _A.

There is also some variation in the size and proportions of the bill.
The most striking is in a series of three from the Red River
Settlement, decidedly larger than more southern ones (wings, 5.15;
tail, 4.40). The bill is about as long as that of Pennsylvania
specimens, but much stouter, the thickness at the base being
considerably more than half the length of the culmen. One specimen
from San Elizario, Texas, has the bill of much the same size and

The male of _A. assimilis_ of Cuba cannot be distinguished from
small-sized males of _phœniceus_ from the United States, the females,
however, as in nearly all West Indian _Icteridæ_, are uniform though
rather dull black. This we consider as simply a local variation of
melanism, not indicating a specific difference. A young male is
similar, but with the lesser coverts red, tipped with black. On the
other extreme, streaked female and young birds from Lower California,
Arizona, and Western Mexico are much lighter than in eastern birds,
the chin, throat, jugulum, and superciliary stripe tinged with a
peculiar peach-blossom pink; not buff, sometimes tinged with orange.

HABITS. The much abused and persecuted Redwinged Blackbird is found
throughout North America as far north as the 57th parallel, from the
Atlantic to the Pacific; and it breeds more or less abundantly
wherever found, from Florida and Texas to the plains of the
Saskatchewan. According to the observations of Mr. Salvin, it is
resident all the year in Guatemala. It breeds among the reeds at the
lake of Dueñas, deferring its incubation until the month of June. The
females congregate in large flocks near the lake, feeding about the
swampy grass on the edge of the water, the males keeping separate. At
Orizaba, Mexico, Sumichrast regarded this species as only a bird of

On the Pacific coast, it is only found, in any numbers, in Washington
Territory and in Oregon, about cultivated tracts. Dr. Cooper thinks
that none inhabit the bare and mountainous prairie regions east of the
Cascade Mountains. Small flocks wintered at Vancouver about stables
and haystacks. Dr. Suckley speaks of them as quite common west of the
Cascade Mountains, arriving from the South in March. In all the marshy
places of the entire West Mr. Ridgway met with this species and their
nests in great abundance. In all respects he found the western birds
identical with the eastern. Their nests were in low bushes in
overflowed meadows.

Donald Gunn found this species common in the Red River Settlements;
and Richardson met with them on the Saskatchewan, where they arrive in
May, but do not breed until the 20th of June.

In New England this Blackbird is generally migratory, though instances
are on record where a few have been known to remain throughout the
winter in Massachusetts. They are among the earliest to arrive in
spring, coming, in company with the Rusty Grakle, as early as the 10th
of March. Those which remain to breed usually come a month later. They
breed throughout New England, as also in New Brunswick and Nova

It is equally abundant and resident in Arizona and Texas, and in the
adjoining portions of Mexico. On the Rio Grande, Mr. Dresser found it
very abundant, breeding on the banks of the rivers and streams. In the
winter season these birds are found in immense flocks in the lower
parts of Virginia, both the Carolinas, and all the Gulf States,
particularly near the sea-coast and among old fields of rice and
grain. Wilson states that once, passing, in January, through the lower
counties of Virginia, he frequently witnessed the aerial evolutions of
great bodies of these birds. Sometimes they appeared as if driven
about like an enormous black cloud carried before the wind, varying
every moment in shape. Sometimes they rose up suddenly from the fields
with a noise like thunder, while the glittering of innumerable wings
of the brightest vermilion, amid the black cloud, occasioned a very
striking effect. At times the whole congregated multitude would
suddenly alight in some detached grove and commence one general
concert, that he could plainly distinguish at the distance of more
than two miles, and when listened to at a distance of a quarter of a
mile, the flow of its cadences was grand, and even sublime.

He adds that with the Redwings the whole winter season seems one
continued carnival. They find abundant food in the old fields of rice,
buckwheat, and grain, and much of their time is spent in aerial
movements, or in grand vocal performances.

Early in March these large assemblies break up. A part separate in
pairs and remain among the Southern swamps. The greater portion, in
smaller flocks, the male bird leading the way, commence their
movements northward. Late in April they have all re-established
themselves in their chosen haunts, have mated, and are preparing to
make their nests. In Pennsylvania this is done in May, in New England
early in June, and farther north a fortnight later. For their nest
they invariably select either the borders of streams or low marshy
situations. These they usually place in low bushes, such as grow in
moist situations, among thick bunches of reeds, or even on the ground.
In one instance, in an island on the marshes of Essex River, Mr.
Maynard found these nests placed in trees twenty feet from the ground.
One nest was built on a slender sapling at the distance of fourteen
feet from the ground. The nest was pensile, like that of the Baltimore
Oriole. It was woven of bleached eel-grass.

When built in a bush, the outer, basket-like frame of the nest is
carefully and strongly interwoven with, or fastened around, the
adjacent twigs, and, though somewhat rudely put together, is woven
firmly and compactly. Within this is packed a mass of coarse
materials, with an inner nest of sedges and grasses. The outer
framework is usually made of rushes and strong leaves of the iris. The
male bird is a very attentive and watchful parent, constantly on the
lookout for the approach of danger, and prompt to do all in his power
to avert it, approaching close to the intruder, and earnestly
remonstrating against the aggression. If the nest is pillaged, for
several days he evinces great distress, and makes frequent
lamentations, but soon prepares to remedy the disaster. So tenacious
are they of a selected locality, that I have known the same pair to
build three nests within as many weeks in the same bush, after having
been robbed twice. The third time the pair succeeded in raising their

In New England these birds have but one brood in a season. Farther
south they are said to have three or more. In August they begin to
collect in small flocks largely composed of young birds. The latter do
not reach their full plumage until their third summer, but breed in
their immature plumage the summer following their appearance. When the
Indian corn is in the milk, these birds are said to collect in
numbers, and to commit great depredations upon it. As soon, however,
as the corn hardens, they desist from these attacks, and seek other
food. In the grain-growing States they gather in immense swarms and
commit great havoc, and although they are shot in immense numbers, and
though their ranks are thinned by the attacks of hawks, it seems to
have but little effect upon the survivors. These scenes of pillage
are, for the most part, confined to the low sections, near the
sea-coast, and only last during a short period, when the corn is in a
condition to be eaten.

On the other hand, these Blackbirds more than compensate the farmer
for these brief episodes of mischief, by the immense benefits they
confer in the destruction of grub-worms, caterpillars, and various
kinds of larvæ, the secret and deadly enemies of vegetation. During
the months of March, April, May, June, and July, their food is almost
wholly insects, and during that period the amount of their insect
food, all of it of the most noxious kinds, is perfectly enormous.
These they both consume themselves and feed to their young. Wilson
estimated the number of insects destroyed by these birds in a single
season, in the United States, at twelve thousand millions.

The notes of this bird are very various and indescribable. The most
common one sounds like _con-cur-ee_. But there is also an almost
endless mingling of guttural, creaking, or clear utterances that defy

Their eggs vary greatly in size; the largest measures 1.08 inches by
.82 of an inch, the smallest .90 by .65. They average about an inch in
length and .77 of an inch in breadth. They are oval in shape, have a
light-bluish ground, and are marbled, lined, and blotched with
markings of light and dark purple and black. These markings are almost
wholly about the larger end, and are very varying.

Agelaius phœniceus, var. gubernator, BON.


  _Psarocolius gubernator_, WAGLER, Isis, 1832, iv, 281. _Agelaius
       gubernator_, BON. List, 1838.—IB. Conspectus, 1850, 430.—AUD.
       Syn. 1839, 141.—IB. Birds Am. IV, 1842, 29, pl.
       ccxv.—NEWBERRY, P. R. R. Rep. VI, IV, 1857, 86.—BAIRD, Birds
       N. Am. 1858, 529.—HEERM. X, S, 53 (nest).—COOPER, Orn. Cal.
       I, 1870, 263. _Icterus_ (_Zanthornus_) _gubernator_, NUTTALL,
       Man. I, (2d ed.,) 1840, 187.

SP. CHAR. Bill rather shorter than the head, without any longitudinal
sulci, but with faint traces of transverse ones at the base of the
lower jaw. Tail rounded. First quill nearly equal to the fourth.

_Male._ Throughout of a lustrous velvety-black, with a greenish
reflection. The lesser coverts rich crimson; the middle coverts
brownish-yellow at the base, but the exposed portion black. Wing,
5.00; tail, 3.90; culmen, .90; tarsus, 1.10.

_Female._ Nearly uniform dark slaty-brown; an indistinct superciliary
stripe, an indication of a maxillary stripe, and blended streaks on
chin and throat delicate pale peach-blossom pink, this on the jugulum
interrupted by dusky streaks running in longitudinal series; lesser
wing-coverts tinged with dark wine-red. Wings with just appreciable
paler edges to the feathers. Wing, 4.20; tail, 3.20.

HAB. Pacific Province of United States, and Western Mexico, to Colima;
Western Nevada (RIDGWAY). ? Xalapa (SCLATER, 1859, 365).

In the female and all the immature stages, the dusky beneath is
largely in excess of the light streaks; the superciliary light stripe
is badly defined, and there is no trace of a median light stripe on
the crown. These characters distinguish this race from _phœniceus_;
while the rounded instead of square tail, and brown instead of pure
white border to middle wing-coverts, distinguish it from corresponding
stages of _tricolor_.

HABITS. The Crimson-shouldered Blackbird was first met with by Mr.
Townsend, on the Columbia River, where two specimens were obtained,
which were described by Mr. Audubon, in his Synopsis, in 1839. No
information in regard to its habits, distribution, or nesting, was
obtained by either Mr. Townsend or by his companion, Mr. Nuttall.

This species, or local race, whichever it is considered, occurs from
the Columbia River south throughout California. It is given doubtingly
as also from the Colorado River, but Dr. Cooper was only able to
detect there the common _phœniceus_. According to the observations of
that careful naturalist, this species is chiefly found in the warmer
interior of California, Santa Cruz being the only point on the coast
where he has met with it. He found it in scattered pairs, in May,
throughout the Coast Range, even to the summits, where there are small
marshes full of rushes, in which they build. He has not been able to
detect any difference between the habits and notes of this bird and
the common Redwing. The fact that specimens with entirely red
shoulders seem limited to the middle of the State, or are rare along
the coast, while most of those on the coast closely resemble the
eastern bird, Dr. Cooper regards as suggestive of its being only a
local race, though said to occur also in Mexico.

During the summer this species is said to emit a variety of sweet and
liquid notes, delivered from some tree near its favorite marsh. These
are also sometimes mingled with jingling and creaking sounds.

Dr. Suckley, in his Report on the Zoölogy of Washington Territory,
expresses the opinion, that, although a specimen of this bird is
reported as having been taken by Townsend on the Columbia, it is very
rarely found so far north, as he never met with it in Washington
Territory, and has never been able to hear of any other specimen
having been found there.

Dr. Kennerly, in his Report on the birds observed in the survey of the
35th parallel, states that during the march along Bill Williams Fork,
and along the Great Colorado and the Mohave Rivers, this species was
found quite numerous. They were more abundant still along the creeks
and swampy grounds that were passed as they approached the settlements
of California. Large flocks could there be seen whirling around in
graceful curves, like dark clouds, chattering joyfully as they moved
along, or settling as a black veil on the topmost branches of some
tree, indulging loudly in their harsh music.

In his Report of the birds observed in the survey under Lieutenant
Williamson, Dr. Heermann mentions finding this species abundant, and,
in the fall season, as associated with _Molothrus pecoris_ and _A.
tricolor_. Its nest he found built in the willow bushes and tussocks
of grass above the level of the water, in the marshes. There were but
a few pairs together, and in this respect they differ from the
_tricolor_, which prefers dry situations near water, and which
congregate by thousands while breeding. The nest was composed of mud
and fine roots, and lined with fine grasses. The eggs, four in number,
he describes as pale blue, dashed with spots and lines of black.

Neither this nor the _tricolor_ was detected by Dr. Coues in Arizona.

These Blackbirds were found by Mr. Ridgway abundant in the marshy
regions of California, but they were rarely met with east of the
Sierra Nevada. A few individuals were collected in Nevada in the
valley of the Truckee. A few pairs were found breeding among the
_tulé_ sloughs and marshes. The nests found in the Truckee
Reservations were built in low bushes in wet meadows.

A nest procured by Dr. Cooper from the summit of the Coast Range was
built of grass and rushes, and lined with finer grass. The eggs are
described as pale greenish-white, with large curving streaks and spots
of dark brown, mostly at the large end. They are said to measure one
inch by .75 of an inch.

Eggs of this variety in my cabinet, taken in California by Dr.
Heermann, are of a rounded-oval shape, nearly equally obtuse at either
end, and varying in length from .90 of an inch to an inch, and in
breadth from .70 to .80. Their ground-color is a light blue, fading
into a bluish-white, marked only around the larger end with waving
lines of dark brown, much lighter in shade than the markings of the
_phœniceus_ usually are.

Agelaius tricolor, BONAP.


  _Icterus tricolor_, “NUTTALL,” AUD. Orn. Biog. V, 1839, I, pl.
       ccclxxxviii.—NUTTALL, Man. I, (2d ed.,) 1840, 186. _Agelaius
       tricolor_, BON. List, 1838.—AUD. Syn. 1839, 141.—IB. Birds
       Am. IV, 1842, 27, pl. ccxiv.—HEERM. X, S, 53 (nest).—BAIRD,
       Birds N. Am. 1858, 530.—COOPER, Orn. Cal. 1, 1870, 265.

SP. CHAR. Tail nearly even. Second and third quills longest; first a
little shorter than the fourth. Bill slender, not half as high as

_Male._ General color uniform lustrous velvet-black, with a strong
silky-bluish reflection. Shoulders and lesser wing-coverts
brownish-red, of much the color of venous blood; the median coverts of
a well-defined and nearly pure white, with sometimes a brownish tinge.
Wing, 4.90; tail, 3.70; culmen, .97; tarsus, 1.13.

_Female._ General color dusky slaty-brown, faintly variegated on head
also by lighter streaks; middle wing-coverts broadly and sharply
bordered with pure white. An obsolete superciliary and maxillary
stripe of grayish-white. Beneath grayish-white for anterior half, with
narrow streaks of dusky, this color gradually prevailing posteriorly,
the sides, flanks, and crissum being nearly uniform dusky. Wing, 4.25;
tail, 3.20.

HAB. Pacific Province of United States, from Columbia River southward,
not yet found out of California and Oregon.

Immature males sometimes have the white on the wing tinged with
brownish-yellow, as in _A. phœniceus_. The red, however, has the usual
brownish-orange shade so much darker and duller than the brilliantly
scarlet shoulders of the other species, and the black has that soft
bluish lustre peculiar to the species. The relationships generally
between the two species are very close, but the bill, as stated, is
slenderer and more sulcate in _tricolor_, the tail much more nearly
even; the first primary longer, usually nearly equal to or longer than
the fourth, instead of the fifth.

Two strong features of coloration distinguish the female and immature
stages of this species from _gubernator_ and _phœniceus_. They are,
first, the soft bluish gloss of the males, both adult and immature;
and secondly, the clear white and broad, not brown and narrow, borders
to the middle wing-coverts.

HABITS. The Red and White shouldered Blackbird was seen by Mr. Ridgway
among the _tulé_ in the neighborhood of Sacramento City, where it was
very abundant, associating with the _A. phœniceus_ and _gubernator_,
and the Yellow-headed Blackbird. The conspicuous white stripe on the
wings of this bird renders it easily recognizable from the other
species, where they are all seen together. Mr. Ridgway is of the
opinion that the notes of the white-shouldered species differ very
considerably from those of the two other Blackbirds.

Dr. Heermann found this a very abundant bird in California. He states
that during the winter of 1852, when hunting in the marshes of Suisan
Valley, he had often, on hearing a dull, rushing, roaring noise, found
that it was produced by a single flock of this species, numbering so
many thousands as to darken the sky for some distance by their masses.
In the northern part of California he met with a breeding-place of
this species that occupied several acres, covered with alder-bushes
and willow, and was in the immediate vicinity of water. The nests,
often four or five in the same bush, were composed of mud and straw,
and lined with fine grasses. The eggs he describes as dark blue,
marked with lines and spots of dark umber and a few light purple
dashes. Dr. Heermann, at different times, fell in with several other
breeding-places of this species, similarly situated, but they had all
been abandoned, from which he inferred that each year different
grounds are resorted to by these birds for the purposes of incubation.

Dr. Kennerly obtained a specimen of this bird on the Colorado River,
in California, December, 1854. Dr. Cooper is of the opinion that it
is, nevertheless, a rare species in that valley. The latter found them
the most abundant species near San Diego and Los Angeles, and not rare
at Santa Barbara. North of the last place they pass more into the
interior, and extend up as far as Klamath Lake and Southern Oregon.

They are to be seen in considerable flocks even in the
breeding-season. Their song, Dr. Cooper states, is not so loud and is
more guttural than are those of the other species. Their habits are
otherwise very similar, and they associate, in fall and winter, in
immense flocks in the interior, though often also found separate.

These birds were first obtained by Mr. Nuttall near Santa Barbara, in
the month of April. They were very common there, as well as at
Monterey. He observed no difference in their habits from those of the
common Redwing, except that they occurred in much larger flocks and
kept apart from that species. They were seldom seen, except in the
near suburbs of the towns. At that time California was in the
possession of Mexico, and its inhabitants were largely occupied in the
slaughter of wild cattle for the sake of the hides. Mr. Nuttall found
these birds feeding almost exclusively on the maggots of the
flesh-flies generated in the offal thus created. They were in large
whirling flocks, and associated with the _Molothri_, the Grakles, the
Redwings, and the Yellow-headed Blackbirds. They kept up an incessant
chatter and a discordant, confused warble, much more harsh and
guttural than even the notes of the Cow Blackbird.

Two eggs of this species, obtained by Dr. Heermann in California, and
now in my cabinet, measuring an inch in length by .67 of an inch in
breadth, are more oblong in shape than the preceding, but nearly
equally obtuse at either end. They are similar in ground-color to the
_phœniceus_, but are of a slightly deeper shade of blue, and are
marked around one end with a ring of dark slaty-brown, almost black,
lines, and irregular oblong blotches.


  _Xanthocephalus_, BONAP. Conspectus, 1850, 431. (Type, _Icterus
    icterocephalus_, BONAP.)

  [Line drawing: _Xanthocephalus icterocephalus._

GEN. CHAR. Bill conical, the length about twice the height; the
outlines nearly straight. Claws all very long; much curved; the inner
lateral the longest, reaching beyond the middle of the middle claw.
Tail narrow, nearly even, the outer web scarcely widening to the end.
Wings long, much longer than the tail; the first quill longest.

This genus differs from typical _Agelaius_ in much longer and more
curved claws, even tail, and first quill longest, instead of the
longest being the second, third, or fourth. The yellow head and black
body are also strong marks.

Xanthocephalus icterocephalus, BAIRD.


  _Icterus icterocephalus_, BONAP. Am. Orn. I, 1825, 27, pl.
       iii.—NUTT. Man. I, 1832, 176.—IB., (2d ed.,) 187 (not
       _Oriolus icterocephalus_, LINN.). _Agelaius icterocephalus_,
       CABANIS, Mus. Hein. 1851, 188. _Icterus_ (_Xanthornus_)
       _xanthocephalus_, BONAP. J. A. N. Sc. V, II, Feb. 1826,
       222.—IB. Syn. 1828, 52. _Icterus xanthocephalus_, AUD. Orn.
       Biog. V, 1839, 6, pl. ccclxxxviii. _Agelaius xanthocephalus_,
       SWAINSON, F. Bor.-Am. II, 1831, 281.—BON. List, 1838.—AUD.
       Syn. 1839, 140.—IB. Birds Am. IV, 1842, 24, pl.
       ccxiii.—NEWBERRY, Zoöl. Cal. and Or. Route; Rep. P. R. R.
       Surv. VI, IV, 1857, 86.—MAX. Cab. J. VI, 1858, 361.—HEERM. X,
       S, 52 (nest). _Agelaius longipes_, SWAINSON, Phil. Mag. I,
       1827, 436. _Psarocolius perspicillatus_, “LICHT.” WAGLER, Isis,
       1829. VII, 753. _Icterus perspicillatus_, “LICHT. in Mus.”
       WAGLER, as above. _Xanthocephalus perspicillatus_, BONAP.
       Consp. 1850, 431. _Icterus frenatus_, LICHT. Isis, 1843,
       59.—REINHARDT, in Kroyer’s Tidskrift, IV.—IB. Vidensk.
       Meddel. for 1853, 1854, 82 (Greenland). _Xanthocephalus
       icterocephalus_, BAIRD, M. B. II, Birds, 18; Birds N. Am. 1858,
       531.—COOPER, Orn. Cal. 1, 1870, 267.

SP. CHAR. First quill nearly as long as the second and third
(longest), decidedly longer than the fourth. Tail rounded, or slightly
graduated. General color black, including the inner surface of wings
and axillaries, base of lower mandible all round, feathers adjacent to
nostrils, lores, upper eyelids, and remaining space around the eye.
The head and neck all round; the forepart of the breast, extending
some distance down on the median line, and a somewhat hidden space
round the anus, yellow. A conspicuous white patch at the base of the
wing formed by the spurious feathers, interrupted by the black alula.

_Female_ smaller, browner; the yellow confined to the under parts and
sides of the head, and a superciliary line. A dusky maxillary line. No
white on the wing. Length of male, 10 inches; wing, 5.60; tail, 4.50.

  [Illustration: _Xanthocephalus icterocephalus._]

HAB. Western America from Texas, Illinois, Wisconsin, and North Red
River, to California, south into Mexico; Greenland (REINHARDT); Cuba
(CABANIS, J. VII, 1859, 350); Massachusetts (MAYNARD, D. C. Mass.
1870, 122); Volusia, Florida (Mus. S. I.); Cape St. Lucas.

The color of the yellow in this species varies considerably; sometimes
being almost of a lemon-yellow, sometimes of a rich orange. There is
an occasional trace of yellow around the base of the tarsus. Immature
males show every gradation between the colors of the adult male and

A very young bird (4,332, Dane Co., Wis.) is dusky above, with
feathers of the dorsal region broadly tipped with ochraceous, lesser
and middle wing-coverts white tinged with fulvous, dusky below the
surface, greater coverts very broadly tipped with fulvous-white;
primary coverts narrowly tipped with the same. Whole lower parts
unvariegated fulvous-white; head all round plain ochraceous, deepest

HABITS. The Yellow-headed Blackbird is essentially a prairie bird, and
is found in all favorable localities from Texas on the south to
Illinois and Wisconsin, and thence to the Pacific. A single specimen
is recorded as having been taken in Greenland. This was September 2,
1820, at Nenortalik. Recently the Smithsonian Museum has received a
specimen from New Smyrna, in Florida. In October, 1869, a specimen of
this bird was taken in Watertown, Mass., and Mr. Cassin mentions the
capture of several near Philadelphia. These erratic appearances in
places so remote from their centres of reproduction, and from their
route in emigration, sufficiently attest the nomadic character of this

They are found in abundance in all the grassy meadows or rushy marshes
of Illinois and Wisconsin, where they breed in large communities. In
swamps overgrown with tall rushes, and partially overflowed, they
construct their nests just above the water, and build them around the
stems of these water-plants, where they are thickest, in such a manner
that it is difficult to discover them, except by diligent search,
aided by familiarity with their habits.

In Texas Mr. Dresser met with a few in the fall, and again in April he
found the prairies covered with these birds. For about a week vast
flocks remained about the town, after which they suddenly disappeared,
and no more were seen.

In California, Dr. Cooper states that they winter in large numbers in
the middle districts, some wandering to the Colorado Valley and to San
Diego. They nest around Santa Barbara, and thence northward, and are
very abundant about Klamath Lake. They associate with the other
Blackbirds, but always keep in separate companies. They are very
gregarious, even in summer.

Dr. Cooper states that the only song the male attempts consists of a
few hoarse, chuckling notes and comical squeakings, uttered as if it
was a great effort to make any sound at all.

Dr. Coues speaks of it as less numerous in Arizona than at most other
localities where found at all. He speaks of it as a summer resident,
but in this I think he may have been mistaken.

In Western Iowa Mr. Allen saw a few, during the first week in July,
about the grassy ponds near Boonesboro’. He was told that they breed
in great numbers, north and east of that section, in the meadows of
the Skunk River country. He also reports them as breeding in large
numbers in the Calumet marshes of Northern Illinois.

Sir John Richardson found these birds very numerous in the interior of
the fur countries, ranging in summer as far to the north as the 58th
parallel, but not found to the eastward of Lake Winnipeg. They reached
the Saskatchewan by the 20th of May, in greater numbers than the

Through California, as well as in the interior, Mr. Ridgway found the
Yellow-headed Blackbird a very abundant species, even exceeding in
numbers the _A. phœniceus_, occurring in the marshes filled with
rushes. This species he found more gregarious than the Redwing, and
frequently their nests almost filled the rushes of their
breeding-places. Its notes he describes as harsher than those of any
other bird he is acquainted with. Yet they are by no means
disagreeable, while frequently their attempts at a song were really
amusing. Their usual note is a deep _cluck_, similar to that of most
Blackbirds, but of a rather deeper tone. In its movements upon the
ground its gait is firm and graceful, and it may frequently be seen
walking about over the grassy flats, in small companies, in a manner
similar to the Cow Blackbird, which, in its movements, it greatly
resembles. It nests in the sloughs, among the _tulé_, and the maximum
number of its eggs is four.

Mr. W. J. McLaughlin of Centralia, Kansas, writes (American
Naturalist, III, p. 493) that these birds arrive in that region about
the first of May, and all disappear about the 10th of June. He does
not think that any breed there. During their stay they make themselves
very valuable to the farmers by destroying the swarms of young
grasshoppers. On the writer’s land the grasshoppers had deposited
their eggs by the million. As they began to hatch, the Yellow-heads
found them out, and a flock of about two hundred attended about two
acres each day, roving over the entire lot as wild pigeons feed, the
rear ones flying to the front as the insects were devoured.

Mr. Clark met with these birds at New Leon, Mexico. They were always
in flocks, mingled with two or three of its congeneric species. They
were found more abundant near the coast than in the interior. There
was a roost of these birds on an island in a lagoon near Fort Brown.
Between sunset and dark these birds could be seen coming from all
quarters. For about an hour they kept up a constant chattering and
changing of place. Another similar roost was on an island near the
mouth of the Rio Grande.

Dr. Kennerly found them very common near Janos and also near Santa
Cruz, in Sonora. At the former place they were seen in the month of
April in large flocks. He describes them as quite domestic in their
habits, preferring the immediate vicinity of the houses, often feeding
with the domestic fowls in the yards.

Dr. Heermann states that these birds collect in flocks of many
thousands with the species of _Agelaius_, and on the approach of
spring separate into smaller bands, resorting in May to large marshy
districts in the valleys, where they incubate. Their nests he found
attached to the upright stalks of the reeds, and woven around them, of
flexible grasses, differing essentially from the nests of the
_Agelaii_ in the lightness of their material. The eggs, always four in
number, he describes as having a ground of pale ashy-green, thickly
covered with minute dots of a light umber-brown.

Mr. Nuttall states that on the 2d of May, during his western tour, he
saw these birds in great abundance, associated with the Cowbird. They
kept wholly on the ground, in companies, the sexes separated by
themselves. They were digging into the earth with their bills in
search of insects and larvæ. They were very active, straddling about
with a quaint gait, and now and then whistling out, with great effort,
a chuckling note, sounding like _ko-kuk kie-ait_. Their music was
inferior even to the harsh notes of _M. pecoris_.

Several nests of this species, procured in the marshes on the banks of
Lake Koskonong, in Southern Wisconsin, were sent me by Mr. Kumlien;
they were all light, neat, and elegant structures, six inches in
diameter and four in height. The cavity had a diameter of three and a
depth of two and a half inches. The base, periphery, and the greater
portion of these nests were made of interwoven grasses and sedges. The
grasses were entire, with their panicles on. They were impacted
together in masses. The inner portions of these nests were made of
finer materials of the same. They were placed in the midst of large,
overflowed marshes, and were attached to tall flags, usually in the
midst of clumps of the latter, and these were so close in their growth
that the nests were not easily discovered. They contained, usually,
from five to six eggs. These are of an oblong-oval shape, and measure
1.02 inches in length by .70 of an inch in breadth. Their ground-color
is of a pale greenish-white, profusely covered with blotches and finer
dottings of drab, purplish-brown, and umber.


  _Sturnella_, VIEILLOT, Analyse, 1816. (Type, _Alauda magna_, L.)

  [Line drawing: _Sturnella magna._

  [Illustration: _Sturnella magna._]

GEN. CHAR. Body thick, stout; legs large, toes reaching beyond the
tail. Tail short, even, with narrow acuminate feathers. Bill slender,
elongated; length about three times the height; commissure straight
from the basal angle. Culmen flattened basally, extending backwards
and parting the frontal feathers; longer than the head, but shorter
than tarsus. Nostrils linear, covered by an incumbent membranous
scale. Inner lateral toe longer than the outer, but not reaching to
basal joint of middle; hind toe a little shorter than the middle,
which is equal to the tarsus. Hind claw nearly twice as long as the
middle. Feathers of head stiffened and bristly; the shafts of those
above extended into a black seta. Tertials nearly equal to the
primaries. Feathers above all transversely banded. Beneath yellow,
with a black pectoral crescent.

The only species which we can admit is the _S. magna_, though under
this name we group several geographical races. They may be
distinguished as follows:—

Species and Varieties.

1. S. magna. Above brownish, or grayish, spotted and barred
with black; crown divided by a median whitish stripe; side
of the head whitish, with a blackish streak along upper edge
of the auriculars. Beneath more or less yellowish, with a
more or less distinct dusky crescent on the jugulum. Sides,
flanks, and crissum whitish, streaked with dusky; lateral
tail-feathers partly white. _Adult._ Supraloral spot, chin,
throat, breast, and abdomen deep gamboge-yellow; pectoral
crescent deep black. _Young._ The yellow only indicated;
pectoral crescent obsolete. Length, about 9.00 to 10.50
inches. Sexes similar in color, but female much smaller.

  A. In spring birds, the lateral stripes of the vertex
  either continuous black, or with black largely
  predominating; the black spots on the back extending to
  the tip of the feather, or, if not, the brown tip not
  barred (except in winter dress). Yellow of the throat
  confined between the maxillæ, or just barely encroaching
  upon their lower edge. White of sides, flanks, and crissum
  strongly tinged with ochraceous.

    _a._ Pectoral crescent much more than half an inch wide.

      Wing, 4.50 to 5.00; culmen, 1.20 to 1.50; tarsus, 1.35
      to 1.55; middle toe, 1.10 to 1.26 (extremes of a
      series of four adult males). Lateral stripe of the
      crown continuously black; black predominating on back
      and rump (heavy stripes on ochraceous ground). Light
      brown serrations on tertials and tail-feathers
      reaching nearly to the shaft (sometimes the terminal
      ones uninterrupted, isolating the black bars). _Hab._
      Eastern United States                             var. _magna_.

      Wing, 3.75 to 4.30; culmen, 1.15 to 1.30; tarsus, 1.50
      to 1.75; middle toe, 1.10 to 1.25. (Ten adult males!)
      Colors similar, but with a greater predominance of
      black; black heavily prevailing on back and rump, and
      extending to tip of feathers; also predominates on
      tertials and tail-feathers. _Hab._ Mexico and Central
      America                                        var. _mexicana_.[31]

      Wing, 4.45; culmen, 1.62; tarsus, 1.50; middle toe,
      1.20. (One specimen). Colors exactly as in last.
      _Hab._ Brazil                              var. _meridionalis_.[32]

    _b._ Pectoral crescent much less than half an inch wide.

      Wing, 3.90 to 4.10; culmen, 1.25 to 1.35; tarsus, 1.40
      to 1.55; middle toe, 1.00 to 1.20. (Three adult
      males.) Colors generally similar to _magna_, but crown
      decidedly streaked, though black predominates;
      ground-color above less reddish than in either of the
      preceding, with markings as in _magna_. Pectoral
      crescent about .25 in breadth. _Hab._ Cuba  var. _hippocrepis_.[33]

  B. In spring birds, crown about equally streaked with
  black and grayish; black spots of back occupying only
  basal half of feathers, the terminal portion being
  grayish-brown, with narrow bars of black; feathers of the
  rump with whole exposed portion thus barred. Yellow of the
  throat extending over the maxillæ nearly to the angle of
  the mouth.

      Wing, 4.40 to 5.05; culmen, 1.18 to 1.40; tarsus, 1.30
      to 1.45. (Six adult males.) A grayish-brown tint
      prevailing above; lesser wing-coverts concolor with
      the wings (instead of very decidedly more bluish);
      black bars of tertials and tail-feathers clean,
      narrow, and isolated. White of sides, flanks, and
      crissum nearly pure. _Hab._ Western United States and
      Western Mexico                                 var. _neglecta_.

In _magna_ and _neglecta_, the feathers of the pectoral crescent are
generally black to the base, their roots being grayish-white; one
specimen of the former, however, from North Carolina, has the roots of
the feathers yellow, forbidding the announcement of this as a
distinguishing character; _mexicana_ may have the bases of these
feathers either yellow or grayish; while _hippocrepis_ has only the
tips of the feathers black, the whole concealed portion being bright

In _mexicana_, there is more of an approach to an orange tint in the
yellow than is usually seen in _magna_, but specimens from Georgia
have a tint not distinguishable; in both, however, as well as in
_hippocrepis_, there is a deeper yellow than in _neglecta_, in which
the tint is more citreous.

As regards the bars on tertials and tail, there is considerable
variation. Sometimes in either of the species opposed to _neglecta_ by
this character there is a tendency to their isolation, seen in the
last few toward the ends of the feathers; but never is there an
approach to that regularity seen in _neglecta_, in which they are
isolated uniformly everywhere they occur. Two specimens only (54,064
California and 10,316 Pembina) in the entire series of _neglecta_ show
a tendency to a blending of these bars on the tail.

_Magna_, _mexicana_, _meridionalis_ and _hippocrepis_, are most
similar in coloration; _neglecta_ is most dissimilar compared with any
of the others. Though each possesses peculiar characters, they are
only of degree; for in the most widely different forms (_neglecta_ and
_mexicana_) there is not the slightest departure from the pattern of
coloration; it is only a matter of extension or restriction of the
several colors, or a certain one of them, that produces the

Each modification of plumage is attended by a still greater one of
proportions, as will be seen from the diagnoses; thus, though
_neglecta_ is the largest of the group, it has actually the smallest
legs and feet; with nearly the same general proportions, _magna_
exceeds it in the latter respects (especially in the bill), while
_mexicana_, a very much smaller bird than either, has disproportionally
and absolutely larger legs and feet united with the smallest size
otherwise in the whole series. _Meridionalis_ presents no differences
from the last, except in proportions of bill and feet; for while the
latter is the smallest of the series, next to _neglecta_, it has a
bill much exceeding that of any other.

The markings of the upper plumage of the young or even winter birds
are different in pattern from those of the adult; the tendency being
toward the peculiar features of the adult _neglecta_; the various
species in these stages being readily distinguishable, however, by the
general characters assigned. _Mexicana_ and _neglecta_ are both in
proportions and colors the most widely different in the whole series;
_hippocrepis_ and _neglecta_ the most similar. The relation of the
several races to each other is about as follows:—

  A. Yellow of throat confined within maxillæ.

    Crown with black streaks predominating.

      Smallest species, with reddish tints, and maximum
      amount of black.

        Largest bill                                  _meridionalis_.

        Smallest bill; largest feet                       _mexicana_.

      Next largest species, with less reddish tints, and
      smaller amount of black. Bill and feet the standard of
      comparison                                             _magna_.

    Crown with the light streaks predominating.

      Narrowest pectoral crescent                      _hippocrepis_.

  B. Yellow of throat covering maxillæ.

    Crown with black and light streaks about equal.

      Largest species, with grayish tints, and minimum
      amount of black.

        Smallest feet                                     _neglecta_.

     [31] _Sturnella mexicana_, SCLATER, Ibis, 1861, 179.

     [32] _Sturnella meridionalis_, SCLATER, Ibis, 1861, 179.

     [33] _Sturnella hippocrepis_, WAGLER, Ibis, 1832,
     281.—LAWR. Ann. N. Y. Lyc. 1860.

Sturnella magna, SWAINSON.


  _Alauda magna_, LINN. Syst. Nat. I, 1758, 167, ed. 10 (based on
       _Alauda magna_, CATESBY, tab. 33).—IB., (12th ed.,) 1766,
       289.—GM. I, 1788, 801.—WILSON, Am. Orn. III, 1811, 20, pl.
       xix.—DOUGHTY, Cab. I, 1830, 85, pl. v. _Sturnella magna_,
       SWAINSON, Phil. Mag. I, 1827, 436.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858,
       535.—SAMUELS, 343. _Sturnus ludovicianus_, LINNÆUS, Syst. Nat.
       I, 1766, 290.—GM. I, 802.—LATH. Ind. I, 1790, 323.—BON. Obs.
       Wils. 1825, 130.—LICHT. Verz. 1823, No. 165.—AUD. Orn. Biog.
       II, 1834, 216; V, 1839, 492, pl. cxxxvi. _Sturnella
       ludoviciana_, SWAINSON, F. Bor.-Am. II, 1831, 282.—NUTTALL,
       Man. I, 1832, 147.—BON. List, 1838.—IB. Conspectus, 1850,
       429.—AUD. Syn. 1839, 148.—IB. Birds Am. IV, 1842, 70, pl.
       ccxxiii.—CABANIS, Mus. Hein. 1851, 192.—ALLEN, B. E. Fla.
       288. _Sturnella collaris_, VIEILL. Analyse, 1816.—IB. Galerie
       des Ois. I, 1824, 134, pl. xc. _Sturnus collaris_, WAGLER,
       Syst. Av. 1827, 1.—IB. Isis, 1831, 527. “_Cacicus alaudarius_,

SP. CHAR. The feathers above dark brown, margined with brownish-white,
and with a terminal blotch of pale reddish-brown. Exposed portions of
wings and tail with dark brown bars, which on the middle tail-feathers
are confluent along the shaft. Beneath yellow, with a black pectoral
crescent, the yellow not extending on the side of the maxilla; sides,
crissum, and tibiæ pale reddish-brown, streaked with blackish. A light
median and superciliary stripe, the latter yellow anterior to the eye;
a black line behind. _Female_ smaller and duller. _Young_ with
pectoral crescent replaced by streaks; the yellow of under surface
replaced more or less by ochraceous or pale fulvous. Length, 10.60;
wing, 5.00; tail, 3.70; bill above, 1.35.

HAB. Eastern United States to the high Central Plains, north to
Southern British Provinces. England (SCLATER, Ibis, III, 176).

HABITS. The eastern form of the Meadow Lark is found in all the
eastern portions of the United States, from Florida to Texas at the
south, and from Nova Scotia to the Missouri at the north. Richardson
met with it on the Saskatchewan, where it arrives about the first of
May. In a large portion of the United States it is resident, or only
partially migratory.

In Maine this species is not abundant. A few are found in Southern
Maine, even as far to the east as Calais, where it is very rare. It
was not found in Oxford County by Mr. Verrill. In New Hampshire and
Vermont, especially in the southern portions, it is much more
abundant. Throughout Massachusetts it is a common summer visitant, a
few remaining all winter, the greater number coming in March and
leaving again in November, at which time they seem to be somewhat,
though only partially, gregarious. South of Massachusetts it becomes
more generally resident, and is only very partially migratory, where
the depth of snow compels them to seek food elsewhere. Wilson states
that he met a few of these birds in the month of February, during a
deep snow, among the heights of the Alleghanies, near Somerset, Penn.

The favorite resorts of this species are old fields, pasture-lands,
and meadows, localities in which they can best procure the insects,
largely coleopterous, and the seeds on which they feed. They are not
found in woods or thickets, or only in very exceptional cases.

In New England they are shy, retiring birds, and are rarely seen in
the neighborhood of houses; but in Georgia and South Carolina, Wilson
found them swarming among the rice plantations, and running about in
the yards and the out-buildings, in company with the Killdeer Plovers,
with little or no appearance of fear, and as if domesticated.

In Alabama and West Florida, Mr. Nuttall states, the birds abound
during the winter months, and may be seen in considerable numbers in
the salt marshes, seeking their food and the shelter of the sea-coast.
They are then in loose flocks of from ten to thirty. At this season
many are shot and brought to market. By some their flesh is said to be
sweet and good; but this is denied by Audubon, who states it to be
tough and of unpleasant flavor.

Mr. Sclater records the occurrence of one or more individuals of this
species in England.

The song of the eastern Meadow Lark is chiefly distinguished for its
sweetness more than any other excellence. When, in spring, at the
height of their love-season, they alight on the post of a fence, a
bush, or tree, or any other high object, they will give utterance to
notes that, in sweetness and tenderness of expression, are surpassed
by very few of our birds. But they are wanting in variety and power,
and are frequently varied, but not improved, by the substitution of
chattering call-notes, which are much inferior in quality. It is
noticeable that at the West there is a very great improvement in the
song of this bird as compared with that of their more eastern kindred,
though still very far from equalling, either in volume, variety, or
power, the remarkable song of the _neglecta_.

In the fall of the year these birds collect in small companies, and
feed together in the same localities, but keeping, individually,
somewhat apart.

In New England these birds mate during the latter part of April, and
construct their nests in May. They always place their nest on the
ground, usually in the shelter of a thick tuft of grass, and build a
covered passage to their hidden nest. This entrance is usually formed
of withered grass, and so well conceals the nest that it can only be
detected by flushing the female from it, or by the anxiety of her
mate, who will frequently fly round the spot in so narrow a circuit as
to betray its location.

The eggs of the Meadow Lark vary greatly in size and also in their
markings, though the general character of the latter is the same. The
smallest, from Florida, measure .95 by .68 of an inch. The largest,
from Massachusetts, measure 1.20 inches by .90. They have a white
ground, marked and dotted with irregular reddish-brown spots.
Generally these are equally distributed, but occasionally are chiefly
about the larger end. Their shape is oval, nearly equally rounded at
either end.

The diversity in the characteristics of the eggs of this species has
not unfrequently occasioned remarks, and even suggested conjectures as
to specific differences. They are all, however, reconcilable with
differences in the age of the parents, and are, to some extent,
affected by the circumstances under which they are deposited. The eggs
of old, mature birds, deposited in the early summer, or the first
brood, are usually sub-globular or obtusely pointed at either end,
large in size, and irregularly sprinkled over with fine bright red
dots. Younger birds, breeding for the first time, birds that have been
robbed of their eggs, or those depositing a third set, have smaller
eggs, sometimes two thirds of the maximum size, more oblong and more
pointed at one end, and are marked, at the larger end only, with
plashes of dark purplish-brown.

Sturnella magna, var. neglecta, AUD.


  _Sturnella neglecta_, AUD. Birds Am. VII, 1843, 339, pl.
       cccclxxxvii.—NEWBERRY, Zoöl. Cal. & Or. Route; Rep. P. R. R.
       Surv. VI, IV, 1857, 86.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 537.—HEERM.
       X, S, 54.—COOPER & SUCKLEY, 208.—COOPER, Orn. Cal. 1, 1870,
       270. _? Sturnella hippocrepis_, (WAGLER,) HEERMANN, J. A. N.
       Sc. Ph. 2d series, II, 1853, 269, Suisun.

SP. CHAR. Feathers above dark brown, margined with brownish-white,
with a terminal blotch of pale reddish-brown. Exposed portion of wings
and tail with transverse bands, which, in the latter, are completely
isolated from each other, narrow and linear. Beneath yellow, with a
black pectoral crescent. The yellow of the throat extending on the
sides of the maxilla. Sides, crissum, and tibiæ very pale
reddish-brown, or nearly white, streaked with blackish. Head with a
light median and superciliary stripe, the latter yellow in front of
the eye; a blackish line behind it. The transverse bars on the
feathers above (less so on the tail) with a tendency to become
confluent near the exterior margin. Length, 10 inches; wing, 5.25;
tail, 3.25; bill, 1.25.

HAB. Western America from high Central Plains to the Pacific; east to
Pembina, and perhaps to Wisconsin, on the north (Iowa, Allen), and
Texas on the south; western Mexico, south to Colima.

  [Illustration: PLATE XXXIV.
  1. Sturnella neglecta. ♂ Nevada, 53592.
  2.     ”     magna. ♂ Pa., 1303.
  3. Icterus bullocki. ♂ Ft. Bridger, 11282.
  4.    ”    spurius. ♂ La., 4286.
  5.    ”       ” ♂ _juv._ Pa., 1437.
  6.    ”       ” ♀ Pa., 150.
  7.    ”    bullocki. ♀ Cal., 3900.]

HABITS. The differences of plumage between this species and our
eastern Meadow Lark are so slight that we might hesitate to allow the
existence of any specific distinctness between the two forms, were it
not for the very strongly marked differences between them in other
respects. Whether we regard them as races or as different species,
their history diverges as we cross the Missouri River, though both are
found on either bank.

The existence of this variety was first made known by Messrs. Lewis
and Clark, in their memorable expedition to the Rocky Mountains. They
refer especially to the difference, in the notes, between this bird
and the old Field Lark of the east. It remained unnoticed by our
ornithologists until 1844, when Mr. Audubon included it in the
appendix to his seventh volume. He met with it in his voyage to the
Yellowstone, and it would have escaped his notice had not the
attention of his party been called to its curious notes. In its
flight, manners on the ground, or general habits, he could perceive no
difference between it and the common species. None of its nests that
he found were covered over, in the manner of the _magna_, and the eggs
were differently marked.

Mr. J. A. Allen, in his interesting paper on the birds observed in
Western Iowa, while he does not admit any specific difference between
these two forms, presents with impartial exactness the very striking
dissimilarity between them, both in habits and in song. In regard to
the diversity in habits we quote his words:—

     “At the little village of Denison, where I first noticed it in
     song, it was particularly common, and half domestic in its
     habits, preferring the streets and grassy lanes, and the
     immediate vicinity of the village, to the remoter prairie. Here,
     wholly unmolested and unsuspicious, it collected its food; and
     the males, from their accustomed perches on the housetops, daily
     warbled their wild songs for hours together.” These traits of
     familiarity, so totally different from anything ever observed in
     our eastern birds, he does not concede, however, as establishing
     necessarily specific difference. Yet he does admit that its song
     was so new to him that he did not at first have the slightest
     suspicion that its utterer was the western Meadow Lark, as he
     found it to be. He adds: “It differs from that of the Meadow Lark
     in the Eastern States, in the notes being louder and wilder, and
     at the same time more liquid, mellower, and far sweeter. They
     have a pensiveness and a general character remarkably in harmony
     with the half-dreamy wildness of the primitive prairie, as though
     the bird had received from its surroundings their peculiar
     impress. It differs, too, in the less frequency of the harsh,
     complaining chatter so conspicuous in the eastern bird.”

The value of these marked differences, both in song and character,
between the eastern and western birds, we will not argue, but will
only add that they are none too strikingly presented by Mr. Allen.
During the writer’s brief visit to the Plains he was strongly
impressed by the natural, confiding trustfulness of this species and
its wonderful beauty of song, both in such remarkable contrast with
the habits of our eastern birds. At Antelope Station a pair of these
birds had built their nest under the window of the office, and seemed
to enjoy the society of the family, while the depot-master, familiar
with the song and habits of our eastern birds, appreciated the great
differences between the two forms, and called my attention to them.

Mr. Allen also found this Lark everywhere abundant in Colorado, but
its notes appeared to him quite different from those of the
representatives of this species living to the eastward, in the prairie
States, being less varied and ringing, and more guttural.

Dr. Cooper says this bird is abundant in California, and resident
nearly throughout the entire State, breeding in the Colorado Valley
and in all other districts not quite waterless. Their songs are
lively, sweet, and varied. They sing at all seasons, early and late,
from the ground, from the tree-top, or in the air, and when unmolested
are so tame as to make the house-top their favorite perch. Even the
female has considerable musical power, and cheers her mate by singing
to him while he relieves her by sitting on the eggs. She also has a
harsh, petulant chirp, frequently repeated as if in anger. He states
that they build their nest in a slight depression under a bunch of
grass, and usually more or less arched over and artfully concealed.
The female, when flushed, usually skulks off some distance before she
flies. The eggs he describes as white, with a few large purplish-brown
blotches and dots towards the larger end, and measuring 1.15 inches by
.85. They are very obtuse in shape.

They feed chiefly on insects, seeds, and grain, do no damage to the
crops, and destroy a vast number of noxious insects.

Dr. Suckley found this bird common everywhere in Oregon and Washington
Territory, some remaining throughout every winter. In 1855 a few were
seen at Fort Dalles as early as March 5. On the 7th he found them
quite abundant on the ploughed fields near Fort Vancouver. Some of
these had probably remained all the winter. In February, 1856, he
found them quite abundant at Fort Steilacoom. At Fort Dalles, by the
2d of May, he obtained young birds nearly fledged.

Mr. Dresser found it very common during winter near San Antonio, where
a few remain to breed.

In Arizona, according to Dr. Coues, it is resident, but quite rare.

Lieutenant Couch found these birds from the Rio Grande to the high
bottoms of the Lower Bolson de Mapimi. Its notes he speaks of as
highly musical, contending even with the Mocking Bird for a supremacy
in song.

Mr. Ridgway found the western Meadow Lark one of the most abundant and
characteristic birds of California and all fertile portions of the
interior as far east as the Missouri, and remarks that, although
closely resembling the eastern bird in appearance, its song is totally
different, not a note uttered by it having more than a very distant
resemblance to any of the well-known _magna_ of the eastern meadows.
In the depth of its tone and the charms of its articulation its song
is hardly excelled, resembling very nearly the song of the Wood
Thrush. Mr. Ridgway describes its modulations as expressed by the
syllables _tung-tung-tungah-til’lah-til’lah-tung_, each note powerful
and distinct. The difference between the other notes of the two birds
is still greater than in their song, and even in character these are
not alike. In the _neglecta_ the call-note of watchfulness or alarm is
a loud, deep-toned _tuck_, similar to the _chuck_ of the Blackbird,
but much louder and more metallic. That of sympathy for the young, or
anxiety when the nest is approached, is a loud, liquid _tyur_,
slightly resembling the complaining note of the eastern Bluebird, and
also of the Orchard Oriole. All of its notes are of a power
corresponding to the size of the bird.

Mr. Ridgway also notices important differences in their flight. That
of the eastern species is carried on by an occasional spasmodic beat
or jerk of the wings, which are then extended, the bird sailing a
short distance. The flight of the western Lark is much more irregular,
the bird flitting along by a trembling flutter of the wings, never
assuming these peculiar features.

An egg of this species, collected by Dr. Cooper in Washington
Territory, June 19, 1856, measures 1.20 inches in length and .86 in
breadth. It is of an oblong-oval shape, obtuse; the ground white,
sparingly spotted with a very dark purple, most of the markings being
at the larger end. Three eggs from Arizona, collected by Dr. Palmer,
measure 1.10 inches by .80. The markings are of much lighter shades of
lilac, purple, and purplish and reddish-brown. The markings are more
generally diffused, but predominate at the larger end. An egg from the
Yellowstone, collected by Mr. Audubon, is unusually pointed at one
end, measures 1.13 inches by .82. The spots are a dark purplish-brown,
intermingled with smaller and lighter dottings of reddish-brown. Eggs
from California do not vary essentially in their markings from those
of Arizona, and have an average measurement of 1.10 inches by .85. As
a general rule, the mottling of the eggs of the western bird is finer
than that of the eastern.



  _Icterus_, BRISSON, R. A. 1760.—GRAY, Genera.
  _Xanthornus_, CUVIER, Leç. Anat. Comp. 1800.—GRAY, Genera.
  _Pendulinus_, VIEILLOT, Analyse, 1816.
  _Yphantes_, VIEILLOT, Analyse, 1816.—GRAY, Genera.

GEN. CHAR. Bill slender, elongated, as long as the head, generally a
little decurved, and very acute. Tarsi not longer than the middle toe,
nor than the head; claws short, much curved; outer lateral toe a
little longer than the inner, reaching a little beyond base of middle
toe. Feet adapted for perching. Tail rounded or graduated. Prevailing
colors yellow or orange, and black.

The species of this subfamily are all as strikingly characterized by
diversity and brilliancy of plumage as the others are (with few
exceptions) for their uniform sombre black, scarcely relieved by other
colors. Of the four genera of this subfamily, recognized by Gray, all
but _Cacicus_ are well represented in the United States. This differs
from all the rest in having the culmen widened and much depressed
towards the base, where it advances in a crescent on the forehead,
separating the frontal plumes. In the other genera the culmen advances
somewhat on the forehead, but it is in a narrow acute point, and not

  [Line drawing: _Icterus bullocki._

In studying the North American Orioles we have found it exceedingly
difficult to arrange them in any sharply defined sections, as whatever
characters be taken as the basis of classification, the other features
will not correspond. Thus, species with the bill of the same
proportions and amount of curvature differ in the shape and graduation
of the tail, while tails of the same form are accompanied by entirely
dissimilar bills and wings. The bill is sometimes much attenuated and
decurved, as in _I. cucullatus_, while in _melanocephalus_ and
_baltimore_ it is stouter and straighter. The tail is usually much
graduated; in _I. baltimore_ and _bullocki_ it is only moderately
rounded. These last-mentioned species constitute the genus
_Hyphantes_. Many of the species have a naked space round the eye,
very evident in _I. vulgaris_, less so in _melanocephalus_. _I.
vulgaris_ is peculiar in having the feathers of the throat pointed and
lanceolate, as in the ravens.

  [Illustration: _Icterus bullocki._]

In view of the difficulties attendant upon the definition of
subordinate groups among the United States _Icterinæ_, we propose to
consider them all under the single genus _Icterus_, leaving it for
some one with more ingenuity to establish satisfactory divisions into

The colors of the Orioles are chiefly black and yellow, or orange, the
wing sometimes marked with white. The females are generally much
duller in plumage, and the young male usually remains in immature
dress till the third year. In all the North American species the rump
is of the same color with the belly; the chin, throat, and tail,

In the North American Orioles the _baltimore_ and _bullocki_ have the
tail but little graduated; _spurius_, more so; the others very
decidedly graduated. The bills of the two first mentioned are stout
and nearly straight; that of _I. melanocephalus_ quite similar. _I.
parisorum_ has the bill more attenuated, but scarcely more decurved;
in _spurius_ it is attenuated and decurved, much as in _wagleri_; this
character is strongest in _I. cucullatus_. The much graduated tail is
combined with a slender decurved bill in _I. cucullatus_ and
_wagleri_; with a straighter one in _parisorum_; with a thick, nearly
straight, one in _melanocephalus_. The arrangement, according to the
graduation of the tail, would be _baltimore_, _bullocki_, _spurius_,
_parisorum_, _wagleri_, _melanocephalus_, and _cucullatus_. According
to stoutness and curvature of bill, it would be _baltimore_,
_melanocephalus_, _bullocki_, _parisorum_, _spurius_, _wagleri_, and

All the species have the rump and under parts yellow or orange. All
have the head entirely black, except _bullocki_, in which its sides
are orange, and _cucullatus_, which has an orange crown. All have
black on the throat. In the species with black head and neck, all have
the tails black towards the end, except _bullocki_ and _baltimore_.

The females and young males are so entirely different in colors from
the adult males, and so similar in the different species, that they
can best be distinguished by the details of form and size. The _I.
prosthemelas_ and _I. melanocephalus_ are placed, according to the
above arrangement, in different subgenera, yet the young male of the
former and the adult male of the latter are so perfectly similar in
colors as to be undistinguishable in this respect, and require careful
examination of points of external structure to be separated (see
description of _I. melanocephalus_, p. 782).

The following synopsis may help to distinguish the North American
Orioles and their nearest allies, as far as color is concerned.

     [34] An attempt at division into subgenera is as follows:—

     _Icterus_, bill stout, conical, the culmen and gonys nearly
     straight. Tail graduated. Species: _vulgaris_, _auduboni_,

     _Xanthornus_, bill slender, slightly decurved. Tail
     graduated. Species: _wagleri_, _parisorum_, _spurius_,

     _Hyphantes_, bill stout, conical; the culmen and gonys
     straight. Tail slightly rounded. Species: _baltimore_,
     _bullocki_, _abeillei_.

     We do not find, however, that these subgenera are very
     tangible, excepting _Hyphantes_, which is rather well marked
     by square tail and straight outlines of the bill, as
     indicated above. The differences are really so minute, and
     the characters so variable with the species, that it seems
     entirely unnecessary to subdivide the genus.

Species and Varieties.

  ICTERUS. Head all round deep black, sharply defined
  against the yellow of the nape; wings black, with or
  without white markings. Body generally, including lesser
  wing-coverts, deep greenish-yellow (intense orange-red in
  some South American species).

    I. vulgaris. Feathers of the throat elongated and
    lanceolate. Bill longer than head. Back and scapulars
    black; greater coverts and tertials with much white on
    outer webs; middle wing-coverts white. Rest of plumage,
    including lesser coverts, chrome-yellow. Sexes alike.
    _Hab._ Northern South America. Jamaica? Accidental in
    southeastern United States? ? Several races.

    I. melanocephalus. Feathers of the throat not elongate
    and lanceolate, but soft and normal; bill shorter than
    head. Back and scapulars greenish-yellow. Rest of
    plumage, including lesser wing-coverts, gamboge-yellow.
    Sexes alike.

      Wings without any white. Wing, 4.00; tail, 4.00;
      culmen, .95; tarsus, .96. _Hab._ Southern Mexico
                                               var. _melanocephalus_.

      Wings with white edgings to greater coverts,
      secondaries and tertials. Wing, 4.25; tail, 4.40;
      culmen, 1.10; tarsus, 1.10. _Hab._ Northern Mexico and
      Rio Grande Valley of United States             var. _auduboni_.

  XANTHORNUS. Back, scapulars, wings, tail, and throat,
  black; wings and tail with, or without, white. Rest of
  plumage greenish-yellow, gamboge-yellow, orange,
  orange-red, or chestnut-rufous.

    A. Head and neck, all round, deep black.

      _a._ Tail-feathers wholly black.

        I. dominicensis. Head, neck, back, scapulars, wings,
        tail, and jugulum, deep black; lesser and middle
        wing-coverts, lining of the wing, anal region,
        tibiæ, and rump, deep gamboge-yellow. No white on
        wings or tail. Sexes similar (in all the races?).

            _Abdomen and sides yellow._

          Tail-coverts partially or wholly yellow. Wing,
          3.25 to 3.50; Tail, 3.75 to 4.00; culmen, .80;
          tarsus, .85. _Hab._ South Mexico to Costa Rica
                                                 var. _prosthemelas_.[35]

          Tail-coverts uniform black. Wing, 3.75; tail,
          4.50; culmen, .80; tarsus, .90. _Hab._ Mexico and
          Guatemala                                   var. _wagleri_.

            _Abdomen and sides black._

          Flanks and crissum yellow; upper tail-coverts
          yellow. Wing, 3.50; tail, 3.50; culmen, .80;
          tarsus, .85. _Hab._ Hayti              var. _dominicensis_.[36]

          Flanks black; crissum mostly yellow; upper
          tail-coverts black. Wing, 3.75; tail, 4.00;
          culmen, .93; tarsus, .85. _Hab._ Porto Rico
                                                var. _portoricensis_.[37]

          Flanks black; crissum mostly black; upper
          tail-coverts black. Wing, 3.75; tail, 3.90;
          culmen, .80; tarsus, 86. _Hab._ Cuba      var. _hypomelas_.[38]

        I. spurius. Head, neck, back, scapulars, wings, and
        tail, deep black; other portions, including lesser
        and middle wing-coverts, lining of wing, and the
        tail-coverts, above and below, chestnut-rufous;
        greater coverts and secondaries edged with dull
        white, and tail-feathers margined terminally with
        the same. _Female_ greenish-yellow, darker above.
        _Young male_ in second year similar, but with a
        black patch covering face and throat. Wing, 3.20;
        tail, 3.20, its graduation, .45; culmen, .73;
        tarsus, .92. _Hab._ Eastern Province of United
        States; south throughout Middle America, to New

      _b._ Tail-feathers (except the two middle ones) with
      their basal half yellow.

        I. parisorum. Head, neck, jugulum, back, scapulars,
        wings, and terminal half of tail, deep black; rest
        of plumage, including lesser and middle
        wing-coverts, bright lemon-yellow, approaching white
        on the middle coverts; greater coverts tipped with
        white, and tertials edged with the same;
        tail-feathers margined terminally with the same.
        Sexes very different. _Hab._ Mexico; Rio Grande
        Valley and Cape St. Lucas.

    B. Crown, occiput, nape, and auriculars, orange;
    frontlet, lores, cheeks, chin, throat, and jugulum, deep

      I. cucullatus. Back, scapulars, wings, and tail, and
      patch covering jugulum and throat, extending up over
      lores, around eyes and across frontlet, deep black.
      Other portions orange. Sexes very different.

        Lesser coverts black; middle coverts white; greater
        coverts tipped with white, and secondaries,
        primaries, and tertials edged with the same;
        tail-feathers with narrow white tips. Wing, 3.30;
        tail, 4.00; culmen, .80; tarsus, .90. Sexes very
        unlike. _Hab._ Southern border of Western United
        States (San Bernardino, California, Camp Grant,
        Arizona and Rio Grande of Texas), south through
        Mexico to Guatemala; Cape St. Lucas        var. _cucullatus_.

        Lesser coverts gamboge-yellow; middle coverts
        yellow; no white on wings or tail. Wing, 3.50; tail,
        3.90; culmen, .85; tarsus, .90. _Hab._ New Granada,
        Venezuela, and Trinidad                  var. _auricapillus_.[39]

  HYPHANTES. Crown, back, scapulars, wings, and part of
  tail, deep black; wing with much white. Other portions
  orange or yellow. Sexes very different.

    I. baltimore. Head entirely deep black; tail orange, the
    feathers black at base; greater coverts broadly tipped
    with white; secondaries and primaries skirted with the
    same. Other portions rich, mellow orange, the rump as
    intense as the breast. Wing, about 3.75; tail, 3.50;
    culmen, .80; tarsus, .97.

      (Specimens from Eastern United States and Middle
      America with middle coverts deep orange.)

      (Specimens from the Plains of Kansas, Nebraska, etc.,
      with middle coverts pure white. Some eastern specimens

    I. bullocki. Head mainly black, with an orange or yellow
    superciliary stripe, and a broader one beneath the eye,
    cutting off the black of the throat into a narrow strip;
    tail orange or yellow, the feathers with black at ends;
    greater coverts with outer webs wholly white, and middle
    coverts entirely white, producing a large conspicuous
    longitudinal patch on the wing; tertials and secondaries
    broadly edged with white, and primaries more narrowly
    skirted with the same. Other portions rich orange or

      Rump grayish-orange; sides and flanks deep orange;
      forehead and auriculars orange; a broad supraloral
      stripe of the same. Xanthic tints deep orange, with a
      reddish tinge on the breast. Wings, 4.00; tail, 3.50;
      culmen, .80; tarsus, .90. _Hab._ Western Province of
      United States                                  var. _bullocki_.

      Rump black; sides and flanks black; forehead and
      auriculars black; no yellow or orange supraloral
      stripes. Xanthic tint a very intense gamboge, without
      any shade of orange. Wing, 4.00; tail, 3.50; culmen,
      .75; tarsus, .85. _Hab._ Mexico                var. _abeillei_.[40]

     [35] _Icterus dominicensis_, var. _prosthemelas_. _Icterus
     prosthemelas_, STRICKLAND, Jard. Cont. Orn. 1850, 120, pl.
     lxii. _Pendulinus p._ CASSIN, Icteridæ, P. A. N. S. 1867,
     56. _Pendulinus lessoni_, BONAP. Consp. I, 432, 1850.

     [36] _Icterus dominicensis_, var. _dominicensis_. _Oriolus
     dominicensis_, LINN. S. N. I, 163, 1766. _Pendulinus d._
     CASSIN. P. A. N. S. 1867, 58. _Pendulinus flavigaster_,
     VIEILL. Nouv. Dict. V, 317, 1816. _Pendulinus viridis_,
     VIEILL. Nouv. Dict. V, 321, 1816?

     [37] _Icterus dominicensis_, var. _portoricensis_, BRYANT,
     Pr. Bost. Soc. 1866, 254. _Pendulinus portoricensis_, CASS.
     P. A. N. S. 1867, 58. _Turdus ater_, GM. S. N. I, 830, 1788?
     _Turdus jugularis_, LATH. Ind. Orn. I, 351, 1790?

     [38] _Icterus dominicensis_, var. _hypomelas_. _Pendulinus
     hypomelas_, BONAP. Consp. I, 433, 1850.—CASS. P. A. N. S.
     1867, 59.

     There seems to be no reason for not referring all the above
     forms to one species, the differences being merely in the
     relative amount of black and yellow. The greater
     predominance of the former color we should expect in
     specimens from the West Indies, where in this family the
     melanistic tendency is so marked.

     [39] _Icterus cucullatus_, var. _auricapillus_. _Icterus
     auricapillus_, CASS. P. A. N. S. 1847, 382.—IB. Journ. A.
     N. S. I, pl. xvi, f. 2.—IB. P. A. N. S. 1867, 60.

     [40] _Icterus bullocki_, var. _abeillei_. _Xanthornus
     abeillei_, LESS. Rev. Zoöl. 1839, 101. _Hyphantes a._ CASS.
     P. A. N. S. 1867, 62. _? Oriolus costototl_, GM. Syst. Nat.
     I, 385, 1788.

     The only essential difference from _I. bullocki_ is in the
     greater amount of black, it being merely more extended,
     while the pattern is the same.

Icterus vulgaris, DAUDIN.


  _Oriolus icterus_, LINN. Syst. Nat. I, 1766, 161. _Icterus
       vulgaris_, “Daudin.”—AUD. Birds Am. VII, 1844, 357, pl.
       ccccxcix.—BP. Conspectus Av. 1850, 434.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am.
       1858, 542.—CASS. P. A. N. S. 1867, 46. _Le troupiale
       vulgaire_, BUFFON, Pl. enl. “532” (535, BP.).

SP. CHAR. Bill curved. Throat and chin with narrow pointed feathers. A
naked space around and behind the eye. Tail-feathers graduated. Head
and upper part of neck all round, and beneath from tail to upper part
of breast, interscapular region of back, wings, and tail, black. Rest
of under parts, a collar on the lower hind neck, rump, and upper
tail-coverts, yellow-orange. A broad band on the wing and outer edges
of secondaries, white. Length, 10 inches; wing, 4.50; tail, 4.50; bill
above, 1.35.

HAB. Northern South America and West Indies? Accidental on the
southern coast of the United States?

This is the largest Oriole said to be found in the United States, and
differs from the rest in its longer bill, and pointed, elongated
feathers on the throat. The bill is attenuated, and somewhat decurved.
The third quill is longest, the first quill almost the shortest of all
the primaries. The outer tail-feather is about .60 of an inch less
than the middle.

There is only a trace of whitish on the edges of the primaries. The
broad white edges to the secondaries are continuous in the folded wing
with the white on the greater coverts, the lowest row of which,
however, is black. The extreme and concealed base of the tail is

One specimen has the light markings yellow, instead of orange.

This species is given by Mr. Audubon as North American, on the
strength of occasional stragglers from South America. One of the
specimens before us was received from Mr. Audubon (2,842), and is,
possibly, North American, although we doubt very much whether the
species was ever taken within our limits, except as escaped from

An allied race (_I. longirostris_) from New Grenada has a longer and
more slender bill, and a paler, lemon-yellow color. The _I. aurantius_
of Brazil lacks the long, pointed, distinct feathers of the throat,
and is of an intensely rich orange-red color, with much the same
pattern as the present bird.

HABITS. The common Troupial of South America and some of the West
India Islands is probably only an imported species, or an accidental
visitant. It is given by Mr. Audubon in the appendix to his seventh
volume, on the strength of a specimen shot in Charleston, S. C., by
his son, John W. The bird, when first seen, was perched on the point
of the lightning-rod of Dr. Bachman’s house. A few days after others
were seen, one of which was shot, though it fell into the river and
was lost. Mr. Audubon was afterwards informed that small groups of
four or five subsequently made their appearance in the same city and
among the islands. If his information was correct, it precludes the
supposition that those which have been procured are caged birds. Yet
the Troupial is so common and so popular a bird in the cage, that its
accidental occurrence is possible in many localities it never visits
of its own accord.

This bird is common in all the northern countries of South America,
Venezuela, Guiana, Rio Negro, Northern Brazil, etc. Its occurrence in
Jamaica and the West Indies may be only accidental. It is said by
Daudin to be a common species in South America, where it associates in
large flocks, and constructs a large and pensile nest. In confinement
it becomes very easily tamed, is reconciled to a life of imprisonment,
and is very fond of those who feed and care for it. It has a loud,
clear, and ringing whistle, and a great variety of call-notes and
single or brief utterances, but rarely indulges in a continuous song.
One kept in confinement several years answered readily to the name of
_Troopy_, and always promptly responded, when thus addressed by his
mistress, in notes of unmistakable and affectionate recognition. He
was very fond of his liberty, and used his sharp bill with such effect
that it was difficult to keep him in his cage. When at large he never
attempted to escape, but returned upon being called. He, however,
acquired such a mortal antipathy to children, attacked them so
fiercely when at large, and his sharp bill was so dangerous a weapon,
that it was found very necessary to keep him a close prisoner.

The eggs of this species measure 1.02 inches in length by .88 of an
inch in breadth; they are a rounded, obtuse oval in shape. Their
ground-color is a reddish-drab, and they are very generally blotched
with markings of a deep claret-brown and faint purple, the markings
being deeper and larger at one end.

Icterus melanocephalus, var. auduboni, GIRAUD.


  _Icterus auduboni_, GIRAUD, Sixteen New Species Texas Birds, 1841
       (not paged).—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 542.—CASSIN, Pr. A. N.
       S. 1867, 53. _Xanthornus melanocephalus_, BON. Consp. 1850, 434
       (not the description of the young). _Icterus melanocephalus_,
       CASSIN, Ill. I, V, 1854, 137, pl. xxi (the description, but
       perhaps not the figure).

SP. CHAR. Bill stout; upper and lower outlines very little curved
downwards. Tail much graduated. Head and neck all round (this color
extending down on the throat), tail, and wings black; rest of body,
under wing-coverts, and middle and lesser upper coverts, yellow; more
olivaceous on the back. An interrupted band across the ends of the
greater wing-coverts, with the terminal half of the edges of the
quills, white. Supposed female similar, but the colors less vivid.
Length, 9.25; wing, 4.00; tail, 4.65; tarsus, 1.10.

HAB. Valley of the Lower Rio Grande of Texas, southward; Oaxaca (SCL.
1859, 38); Xalapa (SCL. 132); Vera Cruz (temperate regions;

This bird is perhaps rather a local race (larger as more boreal) of
_I. melanocephalus_[41] of Southern Mexico. The differences are
indicated in the foot-note.

The adult male of this species can be distinguished from the young
male of _I. prosthemelas_ only by stouter and less decurved bill,
stronger feet, and black instead of yellow middle wing-coverts.

  [Illustration: PLATE XXXV.
  1. Icterus auduboni. ♂ Tamaulipas, Mex., 4063.
  2.    ”    wagleri. ♂ Guat., 8089.
  3. Scolecophagus cyanocephalus. ♀ Nevada, 53596.
  4.       ”       ferrugineus. ♂ Pa., 1322.
  5. Icterus baltimore. ♂ Ft. Garry, 27046.
  6.    ”    cucullatus. ♂ Tamaulipas, Mex., 4066.
  7.    ”    parisorum. ♂ N. Leon, Mex., 4056.
  8. Sturnus vulgaris. ♂ France, 19020.]

HABITS. This handsome and rather recent addition to our fauna is a
Northern Mexican species, which extends north to the valley of the Rio
Grande and into Texas, from various localities in which it has been
procured. Lt. D. N. Couch, who found this species common from the
Lower Rio Grande to the Sierra Madre, speaks of the strong mutual
attachment shown by the sexes. He describes its song as soft and
melancholy, and the notes as resembling _peut-pou-it_. The sweetness
of its notes renders it a favorite as a caged bird. In the State of
Vera Cruz this bird is given by Sumichrast as inhabiting the temperate
regions, and as there having exclusively their centre of propagation.
They are very common in the district of Orizaba, where they breed.
Their common name is _Calandria_, a name also given, without
discrimination, to four or five other species of _Icteri_ common in
Vera Cruz. Mr. Pease, in 1847, observed either this species or the
_melanocephalus_ at Jalapa, and in the neighborhood of the city of
Mexico, in considerable numbers. This bird was first described and
brought to notice as belonging to our fauna, by Mr. Giraud, in 1841.
Since then, Mr. John H. Clark, zoölogist on the Mexican Boundary
Survey, obtained several specimens from the Lower Rio Grande. It was
first seen by him near Ringgold Barracks. It was not abundant, and its
quiet manners and secluded habits prevented it from being very
conspicuous. It was most frequently observed by him feeding on the
fruit of the hackberry, but whenever approached, while thus feeding,
it always showed signs of uneasiness, and soon after sought refuge in
some place of greater concealment.

Usually pairs were to be seen keeping close together, apparently
preferring the thick foliage found on the margin of ponds, or in the
old bed of the river. They did not communicate with each other by any
note, and Mr. Clark was struck with their remarkable silence. Their
habits seemed to him very different from those of any other Oriole
with which he was acquainted.

From the papers of Lieutenant Couch, quoted by Mr. Cassin, we learn
that these birds were seen by him, March 3, at Santa Rosalio, eight
leagues from Matamoras. They were in pairs, and both sexes were very
shy and secluded, seeking insects on the prickly pear, or among the
low mimosa-trees, seeming to be never at rest, but ever on the lookout
for their favorite food.

While at Charco Escondido, farther in the interior of Tamaulipas,
Lieutenant Couch met with a pair of these birds, and having brought
down the male bird with his gun, the female flew to a neighboring
tree, apparently unaware of her loss. She soon, however, observed his
fall, and endeavored to recall him to her side with notes uttered in a
strain of such exquisite sadness that he could scarcely believe them
uttered by a bird; and so greatly did they excite his sympathy, that
he almost resolved to desist from further ornithological collections.
He adds that he never heard the lay of any songster of the feathered
tribe expressed more sweetly than that of the present species. At
Monterey he found it a favorite cage-bird. The female also sings, but
her notes are less powerful than those of the male. Generally the
flight of this bird was low and rapid, and it seemed to prefer the
shade of trees. It was observed almost invariably in pairs, and the
male and female showed for each other great tenderness and solicitude.

The eggs of this species measure .90 of an inch in length by .70 in
breadth. Their ground-color is a light drab or a dull purplish-white,
scattered over which are faint markings of a subdued purple, blending
imperceptibly with the ground, and above these markings are dots and
irregular zigzag lines of dark brown, and darker purple, almost
running into black.

     [41] _Icterus melanocephalus_, GRAY. _Psarocolius
     melanocephalus_, WAGLER, Isis, 1829, 756. _Icterus
     melanocephalus_, GRAY, Genera.—SCLATER, Pr. Zoöl. Soc.
     1858, 97.—CASSIN, Pr. A. N. S. 1867, 53.—BAIRD, Birds N.
     Am. 1858, 543. _Xanthornus melanocephalus_, BON. Consp.
     1850, 434 (description of young only). _? Icterus
     graduacauda_, LESSON, Rev. Zoöl. 1839, 105.

     SP. CHAR. Similar to _I. auduboni_, but without any white
     whatever on the wing. Head and neck all round, wings,
     scapulars, and tail, uniform pure black. Rest of body,
     including inside of wing and tibia and the lesser
     wing-coverts, orange-yellow; clouded with olivaceous-green
     on the back, less so on the rump. Bill and legs plumbeous,
     the former whitish at base. Length, 7.70; wing, 3.75; tail,
     4.80. _Hab._ Warm parts of Mexico.

     Very like the _auduboni_, but smaller, the bill much
     stouter, shorter, and the culmen more curved. The third
     quill is longest; the fourth, fifth, and second successively
     a little shorter; the first and seventh about equal. The
     black of the head and neck comes farther behind and on the
     sides than in _auduboni_. The wings are totally destitute of
     the white edges of quills and coverts as seen in _auduboni_,
     and the middle coverts are black instead of pure yellow. The
     tail, too, is entirely black.

Icterus parisorum, BONAP.


  _Icterus parisorum_, (“BON. Acad. Bonon. 1836.”)—BP. Pr. Zoöl. Soc.
       V, 1837, 109.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 544, pl. lvii, f. 1;
       Mex. B. II, Birds, 19, pl. xix, f. 1.—CASSIN, Pr. 1867,
       54.—COOPER, Orn. Cal. 1, 1870, 276. _Xanthornus parisorum_,
       IB. Conspectus, 1850, 434. _Icterus melanochrysura_, LESSON,
       Rev. Zoöl. 1839, 105.—_Icterus scotti_, COUCH, Pr. A. N. Sc.
       Phil. VII, April, 1854, 66 (Coahuila).

SP. CHAR. Bill attenuated; not much decurved; tail moderately
graduated. Head and neck all round, breast, interscapular region,
wings, and tail, black. Under parts generally, hinder part of back to
the tail, middle and lesser upper, and whole of lower wing-coverts,
and base of the tail-feathers, gamboge-yellow; a band across the ends
of the greater coverts, with the edges of the inner secondaries and
tertiaries, white. Length, 8.25; extent, 11.75; wing, 4.00; tail,
3.75; tarsus, .95.

_Female._ Olivaceous above, the back with obsolete dusky streaks; rump
and under parts yellowish, clouded with gray. Tail brownish-olive on
upper surface, more yellow beneath; wings with two white bands.

HAB. Valley of the Rio Grande; south to Guatemala. In Texas, found on
the Pecos. Cape St. Lucas. Oaxaca, winter (SCL. 1858, 303); Orizaba
(SCL. 1860, 251); Vera Cruz, temp. and alpine (SUM. M. B. S. I, 553).

The bill is slender and attenuated, very little decurved, much less so
than in _I. cucullatus_, slenderer and a little more decurved than in
_I. baltimore_. The tail is moderately graduated, the outer feather
.45 of an inch less than the middle.

In this species the black feathers of the neck, except below, have a
subterminal bar of yellow; elsewhere it is wanting. The black of the
breast comes a little posterior to the anterior extremity of the
folded wing. The posterior feathers in the yellow patch on the
shoulders are tinged with white. The white in the bar across the ends
of the greater coverts is confined mainly to the terminal quarter of
an inch of the outer web. In the full plumage, there is only a faint
trace of white on the edges of the primaries. The yellow of the base
of the tail only extends on the middle feather as far as the end of
the upper tail-coverts; on the three outer, it reaches to within an
inch and a quarter of the end of the tail.

An immature male has the yellow more tinged with green, the black
feathers of the head and back olivaceous with a black spot.

Specimens vary much in size; the more northern being the larger.

_Icterus wagleri_[42] is an allied species found just south of the Rio
Grande by Lieutenant Couch, but not yet detected within our limits.

HABITS. Notwithstanding the apparent abundance of the species at Cape
St. Lucas, and also in Northern Mexico along our entire border, as far
as New Mexico and Texas, our knowledge of its history still remains
quite incomplete. A single specimen was obtained in Western Texas on
the Pecos River, by Captain Pope, in 1856. Others were obtained by
Lieutenant Couch, April, 1853, at Santa Catarina, in Mexico. They were
first seen by him in the vicinity of Monterey. They were found to be
generally of secluded habits. Their song, consisting of three or four
notes, is said to be both rich and melodious.

In the State of Vera Cruz, this species is given by Sumichrast as
occurring in both the temperate and the alpine regions. Its common
name is _Calandria india_. They are said by him to occur chiefly in
the temperate parts, where they breed, but not to be exclusively
confined there, for they are also found in the alpine region to the
height of at least five thousand feet, near Orizaba, and on the
plateau at even a higher elevation. Dr. Cooper saw a bird at Fort
Mohave, in April, which he supposed to be this bird, but he was not
able to assure himself of the fact, by obtaining it.

Mr. Xantus found this species very abundant during his stay at Cape
St. Lucas, and procured a number of specimens of the birds and of
their nests and eggs. From his brief notes we gather that the nests
are open, and are not pensile. One, found May 22, was built in a bunch
of moss hanging down from an old cactus. Another was made in a bunch
of hops, suspended from a cactus. A third was placed in a bunch of
weeds growing out from a crevice in a perpendicular rock. Another,
found May 29, was built in a small dead tree, overhung with vines.
This nest was about five feet from the ground. A nest containing four
young birds was found placed in a bunch of moss, hanging out of a
crevice in a rock. These instances serve to show the general character
of the position of their nests. Without being pensile they are usually
resting upon pendent branches, and are not placed at great elevations.

The eggs measure .90 of an inch in length by .65 in breadth. Their
shape is an oblong-oval, and they are obtuse at either end. Their
ground-color is a dull white, with a purplish or a bluish tint. They
are variously marked, in different eggs, with small blotches and finer
dottings of a light purple, purplish-brown, darker purple, and even

     [42] _Icterus wagleri_, SCLATER, Pr. Zoöl. Soc. 1857,
     7.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 545, pl. lvii, f. 2.—IB. Mex.
     B. II, Birds, 19, pl. xix, f. 2.—CASS. Pr. 1867, 55.
     _Psarocolius flavigaster_, WAGLER, Isis, 1829, 756 (not of
     VIEILLOT). _Pendulinus dominicensis_, BP. Consp. 1850, 432
     (not of LINN.).

     SP. CHAR. Bill much attenuated and considerably decurved.
     Tail considerably graduated. Head and neck all round, back
     (the color extending above over the whole interscapular
     region), wings, and tail, including the whole of the lower
     coverts and the tips of the upper, black. Lesser and middle
     upper, with lower wing-coverts, hinder part of back, rump,
     and under parts generally (except tail-coverts),
     orange-yellow. Length, 9.50; extent, 12.00; wing, 4.50;
     tail, 4.25; tarsus, 1.15.

     _Young or female._ Above yellowish-green; more yellow on
     head; throat black; sides of neck and body beneath dull
     yellow. Wings dark brown, the coverts edged with white;
     middle tail-feathers brownish-black; outer yellowish-green.
     Length about 8 inches.

     Younger birds are entirely dull olive-green above; beneath

     _Hab._ Northeastern Mexico to Rio Grande Valley; south to
     Guatemala. Oaxaca, Jan. and March (SCL. 1859, 381);
     Guatemala (SCL. Ibis, I, 20); Vera Cruz, hot region,
     resident (SUMICHRAST, M. B. S. I, 552).

     A close ally, and perhaps only a race, of this species, is
     the _I. prosthemelas_, STRICKL., which differs in smaller
     size, and in having the lower tail-coverts yellow instead of
     black (see synoptical table, p. 778).

     HABITS. This fine species appears to be an abundant bird
     from Northern Mexico throughout that republic and Central
     America to Costa Rica. I am not aware that any specimens
     have been procured actually within our territory. It was met
     with at Saltillo, in the state of Coahuila, Mexico, by
     Lieutenant Couch, where only a single specimen was obtained.
     It was taken at the rancho of _Ojo Caliente_, or Hot
     Springs. It was quite shy and difficult of approach. Like
     all the other Orioles, it appeared to be quite fond of the
     palm-tree known as the Spanish bayonet. It is given by
     Sumichrast as occurring in the department of Vera Cruz,
     where it appears to be confined to the hot region. It is
     quite common in the district of Cordova, to the height of
     about three thousand feet.

     Mr. Salvin states this to be the only _Icterus_ found by him
     about Dueñas, where it was not uncommon. In a letter written
     by this naturalist, published in the Ibis of October, 1859,
     he mentions having taken the nest and eggs of this species.
     The structure, though of the same character,—a hanging
     nest,—is very different from that of _I. gularis_, the
     common species on the Yzabal road. The nest has none of the
     depth of the other, but is comparatively shallow.

Icterus spurius, BON.


  _Oriolus spurius_, LINN. Syst. Nat. I, 1766, 162.—GM. I, 1788, 389
       (very inaccurate description; only identified by the
       references). _Icterus spurius_, BON. Obs. on Nom. Wils. 1825,
       No. 44.—AUD. Orn. Biog. I, 1831, 221; V, 485, pl. xlii.—IB.
       Birds Am. IV, 1842, 46, pl. ccxix.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858,
       547.—SAMUELS, 346. _Oriolus varius_, GMELIN, Syst. Nat. I,
       1766, 390. _Turdus ater_, GM. Syst. 1788, I; 1788, 83. _Oriolus
       castaneus_, LATHAM, Ind. Orn. I, 1790, 181 (same citations as
       _O. varius_, GM.). _Turdus jugularis_, LATHAM, Ind. Orn. I,
       1790, 361 (same citations as _Turdus ater_, GM.). _Yphantes
       solitaria_, VIEILLOT ♂. “_Pendulinus nigricollis_, VIEILL.
       ♂—_viridis_, IB.” _Oriolus mutatus_, WILSON, Am. Orn. I, 1808,
       64, pl. iv, f. 1-4. _Xanthornus affinis_, LAWRENCE, Ann. N. Y.
       Lyc. N. H. V, May, 1851, 113 (small race from Texas).
       _Pendulinus s._, CASS. Pr. 1867, 61. _Pendulinus affinis_,
       CASS. Pr. 1867, 61.

SP. CHAR. Bill slender, attenuated, considerably decurved; tail
moderately graduated. _Male_, three years. Head and neck all round,
wings, and interscapular region of back, with tail-feathers, black.
Rest of under parts, lower part of back to tail, and lesser upper
wing-coverts, with the lower one, brownish-chestnut. A narrow line
across the wing, and the extreme outer edges of quills, white.
_Female._ Uniform greenish-yellow beneath, olivaceous above, and
browner in the middle of the back; two white bands on the wings. Young
male of two years like the female, but with a broad black patch from
the bill to the upper part of the breast, this color extending along
the base of the bill so as to involve the eye and all anterior to it
to the base of the bill, somewhat as in _I. cucullatus_. Length of
Pennsylvania male specimens, 7.25; wing, 3.25.

HAB. United States from the Atlantic to the high Central Plains,
probably throughout Texas; south to Guatemala. Xalapa (SCL. 1859,
365); Cordova (SCL. 1856, 301); Guatemala (SCL. Ibis, I, 20; LAWR. N.
Y. Lyc. IX, 104); Rio Atrato (CASS. P. A. N. S. 1860, 140); Costa Rica
(CABAN. J. 1861, 8); Panama (LAWR. N. Y. Lyc. 1861, 331); Cuba
(GUNDLACH); Veragua (SALVIN, 1867, 142); Vera Cruz, winter (SUM. M. B.
S. I,); Mazatlan.

This species varies greatly in size with its geographical

Winter specimens from Mexico have the black obscured by brownish
borders to the feathers.

HABITS. The Orchard Oriole is found abundant throughout most of the
United States, from the Atlantic to the Missouri Valley, and on the
southwest to the valley of the Rio Grande. Mr. J. A. Allen met with
individuals of this species as far west as the base of the Rocky
Mountains, in Colorado, which he regards as the extreme western limit.
It is a very rare summer visitant in New England, though found even as
far eastward as Calais, Me. It was not found in Western Maine by
Verrill, nor am I aware of its having been met with in either New
Hampshire or Vermont. Mr. Allen states that a few pairs breed every
season near Springfield, in Western Massachusetts. I have never met
with it in the eastern part of the State, but others have been more
fortunate, and it is probable that a few visit us each season.

In Texas Mr. Dresser found this species very common at San Antonio
during the summer, arriving there quite early in April. He procured a
number of their nests, all of which were made of light-colored
flexible grasses, and suspended from the upper branches of the
mesquite-trees. He also found them breeding near Houston, and on
Galveston Island. He describes them as much smaller than birds from
the Northern States. This smaller race Mr. Lawrence has regarded as a
distinct species, to which he gives the name of _affinis_. It has been
traced as far to the west as Fort Riley in Kansas, and Fort Lookout in
Nebraska. It winters in Guatemala, where it is very abundant at that
season. Mr. James McLeannan killed it as far south as Panama.

Dr. Elliott Coues considers this bird as rare and chiefly migrant in
South Carolina; but Mr. H. S. Rodney (Naturalist, Jan., 1872) found
them quite numerous at Camden, in that State, in the summer of 1871.
He met with five nests between June 28 and July 19, and has no doubt
he could have taken many more, as he counted at least fifteen
different pairs. From the fact that Dr. Coues did not meet with any
nest at Columbia, only thirty miles distant, Mr. Rodney infers that
this Oriole is very partial to certain favored localities, as is also
the Baltimore.

The Orchard Oriole is an active, sprightly, and very lively species,
and possesses a very peculiar and somewhat remarkable song. Its notes
are very rapidly enunciated, and are both hurried and energetic. Some
writers speak of the song as confused, but this attribute is not in
the utterance of the song, the musician manifesting anything but
confusion in the rapid and distinct enunciation of his gushing notes.
These may be too quick in their utterance for the listener to follow,
but they are wonderful both for their rapidity and their harmony. His
performance consists of shrill and lively notes, uttered with an
apparent air of great agitation, and they are quite as distinct and
agreeable, though neither so full nor so rich, as are those of the
more celebrated Golden Robin.

In the Central States, from New York to North Carolina, these birds
are not only very abundant, but very generally diffused. Hardly an
orchard or a garden of any size can be found without them. They seem
to prefer apple-trees for their abode, and for the construction of
their nests. These structures, though essentially different, are, in
their style of architecture, quite as curiously wrought and ingenious
as those of the Baltimore. They are suspended from small twigs, often
at the very extremity of the branches. In Pennsylvania they are
usually formed externally of a peculiar kind of long, tough, and
flexible grass. This material is woven through and through in a very
wonderful manner, and with as much neatness and intricacy as if
actually sewed with a needle. They are hemispherical in shape, open at
the top, and generally about four inches in breadth and three deep.
The cavity has a depth and a width of about two inches.

Wilson states that, having had the curiosity to detach one of these
fibres of dried grass from the nest, he found it thirteen inches in
length, and that, in that distance, it had been hooked through and
returned no less than thirty-four times! In this manner it was passed
entirely around the nest. The nests are occasionally lined with wool
or the down of seeds. The external portions are strongly fastened to
several twigs, so that they may be blown about by the wind without
being upset.

Wilson also remarks that he observed that when these nests are built
in the long pendent branches of the weeping-willow, where they are
liable to much greater motion, though formed of the same materials,
they are always made much deeper and of slighter texture. He regards
this as a manifestation of a remarkable intelligence, almost
equivalent to reason. The willow, owing to the greater density of its
foliage, affords better shelter, and is preferred on that account, and
owing to the great sweep, in the wind, of the branches, the eggs would
be liable to be rolled out if the nest were of the usual depth; hence
this adaptation to such positions.

The food of the Orchard Oriole is almost exclusively insects. Of these
it consumes a large number, and with them it also feeds its young.
Most of these are of the kinds most obnoxious to the husbandman,
preying upon the foliage, destroying the fruit, and otherwise injuring
the trees, and their destroyers render an incalculable amount of
benefit to the gardens they favor with their presence. At the same
time they are entirely innocent of injury to crops of any description,
and I cannot find that any accusations or expressions of suspicion
have been raised against them. They seem to be, therefore, general
favorites, and, wherever protected, evince their appreciation of this
good-will by their familiarity and numbers.

The female sits upon her eggs fourteen days, and the young remain in
the nest about ten days longer. They are supposed to have occasionally
two broods in a season, as nests with eggs are found the last of July.
They are said to arrive in Pennsylvania about the first of May, and to
leave before the middle of September.

According to Wilson they are easily raised from the nest, and become
very tame and familiar. One that he kept through the winter, when two
months old whistled with great clearness and vivacity.

All the nests of this species that I have seen from Georgia, Florida,
Louisiana, or Texas, have no lining, but are wholly made of one
material, a flexible kind of reed or grass.

The sociability of this species is one of its most marked
characteristics. Audubon says that he has known no less than nine
nests in the same enclosure, and all the birds living together in
great harmony.

A nest of this bird, taken in Berlin, Conn., by Mr. Brandigee, has a
diameter and a height of four inches. Its cavity is three inches in
depth, and varies from three to three and a half in diameter, being
widest at the centre, or half-way between the top and the base. It is
entirely homogeneous, having been elaborately and skilfully woven of
long green blades of grass. The inside is lined with animal wool, bits
of yarn, and intermingled with a wooly substance of entirely vegetable
origin. It was built from the extremity of the branch of an

An egg of this species, from Washington, measures .85 of an inch in
length by .62 in breadth. The ground is a pale bluish-white, blotched
with a pale purple, and dashed, at the larger end, with a few deep
markings of dark purplish-brown. An egg from New Mexico is similar,
but measures .79 of an inch by .54. Both are oblong oval, and pointed
at one end.

Icterus cucullatus, SWAINSON.


  _Icterus cucullatus_, SWAINSON, Philos. Mag. I, 1827,
       436.—LAWRENCE, Ann. N. Y. Lyc. V, May, 1851, 116 (first
       introduced into fauna of United States).—CASSIN, Ill. I, II,
       1853, 42, pl. viii.—COOPER, Orn. Cal. 1, 1870, 275.—BAIRD,
       Birds N. Am. 1858, 546. _Pendulinus cucullatus_, BON. Consp.
       1850, 433.—CASS. Pr. 1867, 60.

SP. CHAR. Both mandibles much curved. Tail much graduated. Wings, a
rather narrow band across the back, tail, and a patch starting as a
narrow frontal band, involving the eyes, anterior half of cheek, chin,
and throat, and ending as a rounded patch on the upper part of breast,
black. Rest of body orange-yellow. Two bands on the wing and the edges
of the quills white. _Female_ without the black patch of the throat;
the upper parts generally yellowish-green, brown on the back, beneath
yellowish. Length, 7.50; wing, 3.25.

HAB. Valley of Lower Rio Grande, southward; Tucson, Arizona (DR.
PALMER); Lower California, Cordova (SCL. 1856, 300); Guatemala? (SCL.
Ibis I, 20); Cuba? (LAWR. Ann. VII, 1860, 267); San Bernardino,
California (COOPER, P. Cal., etc. 1861, 122); Vera Cruz hot region
(SUM. M. B. S. I, 553); Mazatlan.

The orange varies greatly in tint and intensity with the individual;
sometimes it is deep orange-red; often clear dull yellow, but more
frequently of an oily orange.

This species is closely allied to the _I. aurocapillus_ of South
America, but differs in having black, not yellow, shoulders, and in
the white markings on the wings.

HABITS. The Hooded Oriole is essentially a Mexican species, though it
also extends northward into Texas at the Rio Grande, and into Southern
California and Arizona. It was not noticed by Dr. Coues in Arizona,
but Lieutenant Charles Bendire found it breeding near Tucson in the
summer of 1872. It is abundant at Cape St. Lucas. Dr. Cooper found
that this species arrived at San Diego about April 22, where they were
not rare for a fortnight afterwards, and all then retired into the
warmer interior valleys, where he has seen them as far to the north as
Los Angeles. While migrating, they were generally silent.

Captain McCown found it quite common on the Rio Grande, where it rears
its young. When met with in the woods and far away from the abodes of
men, it seemed shy and disposed to conceal itself. Yet a pair of these
birds were his constant visitors, morning and evening. They came to
the vicinity of his quarters—an unfinished building—at Ringgold
Barracks, and at last became so tame and familiar that they would pass
from some ebony-trees, that stood near by, to the porch, clinging to
the shingles and rafters, frequently in an inverted position, prying
into the holes and crevices, apparently in search of spiders and such
insects as could be found there. From this occupation they would
occasionally desist, to watch his movements. He never could induce
them to partake of the food he offered them.

Lieutenant Couch found this species common in the states of Tamaulipas
and New Leon. He found their nests generally on or under the tops of
the palm known as the Spanish bayonet.

This species is given by Mr. Sumichrast as one of the birds of Vera
Cruz, where it is exclusively an inhabitant of the hot region, and
where it is rarely found above an elevation of eighteen hundred feet.

These birds were found quite abundant at Cape St. Lucas, Lower
California, by Mr. Xantus, by whom a number of their nests and eggs
were obtained. The following brief memoranda in regard to a few of
these nests will serve to show their general position:—“Nest and two
eggs, found May 20, about ten feet from the ground, woven to a small
aloe, in a bunch of the _Acacia prosopis_. Nest and two eggs, found
May 22, on a dry tree overhung with hops. Nest and one egg, found May
30, on an acacia, about fifteen feet from the ground. Nest with young,
found on an aloe four feet high. Nest and eggs, found on a moss
hanging out of a perpendicular bluff, on the sea-coast. Nest and eggs
found on a _Yucca angustifolia_, on its stem, six feet from the
ground. Nest and two eggs, found in a convolvulus, on a perpendicular
rock fifty feet high. Nest and three eggs, found on an acacia,
twenty-five feet high.”

The eggs of this species vary somewhat in shape, some being obtuse and
more spherical, others more pointed and oblong. They vary in length
from .92 to .88 of an inch, and from .68 to .65 of an inch in breadth.
They have a clear white ground, marbled and blotched with large
dashes, dots, and irregular zigzag lines of purple, brown, and black,
chiefly disposed around the larger end. In those where the spots are
more diffused they are blended with obscure blotches of a faint

Icterus baltimore, DAUDIN.


  _Oriolus baltimore_, LINN. Syst. Nat. I, 1766, 162.—WILSON, Am.
       Orn. I, 1808, 23, pl. i.—IB. VI, 1812, pl. liii. “_Icterus
       baltimore_, DAUD.”—AUD. Orn. Biog. I, 1831, 66; V, 1839, 278,
       pls. xii. and ccccxxiii.—IB. Birds Am. IV, 1842, 37, pl.
       ccxvii.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 548.—SCLATER & SALVIN, Ex.
       Orn. I, 69, 188 (diagnosis).—SAMUELS, 348. _Yphantes
       baltimore_, VIEILLOT, Gal. des Ois. I, 1824, 124, pl. lxxxvii.
       _Psarocolius baltimore_, WAGLER, Syst. Av. 1825, No. 26. _Le
       Baltimore_, BUFF. pl. enl. 506, f. 1. _Hyphantes b._, CASS. Pr.
       1867, 62.

SP. CHAR. Tail nearly even. Head all round and to middle of back,
scapulars, wings, and upper surface of tail, black; rest of under
parts, rump, upper tail-coverts, and lesser wing-coverts, with
terminal portion of tail-feathers (except two innermost), orange-red.
Edges of wing-quills, with a band across the tips of the greater
coverts, white. Length, 7.50 inches; wing, 3.75.

The female much less brilliant in color; the black of the head and
back generally replaced by brownish-yellow, purer on the throat; each
feather with a black spot.

HAB. From Atlantic coast to the high Central Plains, and in their
borders; south to Panama. Xalapa (SCL. 1856, 365); Guatemala (SCL.
Ibis, I, 20); Cuba (CABAN. J. IV, 10); Costa Rica (CABAN. J. 1861, 7;
LAWR. IX, 104); Panama (LAWR. N. Y. Lyc. 1861, 331); Veragua (SALV.
1867, 142); Mosquito Coast (SCL. & SALV. 1867, 279); Vera Cruz
(autumn, SUM. M. B. S. I, 553).

A young bird is soft, dull orange beneath, palest on the throat, and
tinged along the sides with olive; above olive, with an orange cast on
the rump and tail, the latter being without any black; centres of
dorsal feathers blackish; wings blackish, with two broad white bands
across coverts, and broad edges of white to the tertials.

Specimens collected in Western Kansas, by Mr. J. A. Allen, have the
middle wing-coverts pure white instead of deep orange, and, according
to that naturalist, have more slender bills than Eastern birds. Mr.
Allen thinks they form a race peculiar to the plains; but in examining
the series of specimens in the museum of the Smithsonian Institution,
we have failed to discover any constancy in this respect. A male
(5,356, Farm Isl., May 30) from Nebraska has the middle wing-coverts
pure white,—the lesser, clear orange; the black throat-stripe is
almost separated from the black of the cheeks by the extension forward
of the orange on each side of it, only the tips of the feathers being

No. 61,192 ♂, Mount Carmel, Ill. (August 12), has the throat-stripe
even more isolated, being connected anteriorly for only about a
quarter of an inch with the black of the jaw; there is also a distinct
indication of an orange superciliary stripe, mostly concealed,
however, by the black tips of the feathers. The middle coverts, like
the lesser, are pure plain orange.

A male from Cape May, N. J. (59,458, May), has the middle coverts
white, and the lesser wholly uniform black. The head, however, is as
in typical specimens.

In a series of twenty adult spring males from Carlisle, Penn., seven
have the middle coverts more or less white. But it is noticed that all
these specimens with white middle coverts have invariably less intense
colors than those with orange shoulders, while in the Kansas specimens
the other colors are of the brightest character.

A male from Washington (12,317, May 6) is exactly similar.

HABITS. The familiar Baltimore Oriole, the Golden Robin of the New
England States, is found throughout eastern North America, at various
seasons, from Texas to the British Possessions, and from the Atlantic
to the plains. It is, however, for the most part, not common beyond
the Mississippi River. It has been traced as far to the north as the
55th parallel of latitude, and probably breeds more or less abundantly
in every State east of the Mississippi River. It is rare in Florida,
and is not given by Mr. Allen as known to that State, but I have
received its nest and eggs from Monticello in West Florida. The
Smithsonian Museum embraces specimens from as far west as Powder River
and the Yellowstone.

Mr. J. A. Allen (Am. Naturalist, June, 1872) mentions finding this
species at the base of the Rocky Mountains, in Colorado, which he
regards as its extreme western limit. In Kansas he found this species,
as well as the Orchard Oriole, abundant, the Baltimore indulging in a
dialect so different from that of its northern relatives as often to
puzzle him to make out to what bird its strange notes belonged. Its
colors were also unusually bright in all the specimens he examined.

Mr. Boardman gives it as very rare at Calais, but Professor Verrill
thinks it common in Western Maine. It is abundant throughout the
southern and central portions of Vermont, and New Hampshire, and in
all New York. It is a common summer resident at Hamilton, Ontario,
where it arrives the second week in May. It was found on the plains of
the Saskatchewan by Captain Blakiston.

Mr. Dresser states it to have been abundant at Matamoras, where it was
breeding, though he was too late for its eggs. He saw none at San
Antonio, but Mr. J. H. Clark was more fortunate. Numbers of them, he
states, were seen nesting in the mesquite-trees on the prairies, at
which time they were very musical, having sometimes as many as three
nests in the same tree. These were all built of fine grass, among the
top branches, and interwoven with the leaves. Dr. Woodhouse found it
quite common in the Indian Territory and in Eastern Texas. Specimens
of this species were taken by Mr. James M. Leannan, at Panama, which
is presumed to be the most southern locality on record for this bird.

The Baltimore Oriole is one of the most common birds nearly throughout
New England. Gay and brilliant in plumage, interesting and lively in
manners and habits, and a vocalist of rare power, with pathos, beauty,
and variety in his notes, this bird has been, and would still be, a
great favorite, but for its transgressions among the pea-vines of our
gardens. He makes his appearance with exemplary punctuality, seeming
regardless of the prematureness or tardiness of the season. Rarely
does the 10th of May pass without the sound of his welcome notes, and
rarely, if ever, does he come sooner.

Their period of song is not a long one, but soon terminates, as family
cares increase and the tender broods require an undivided attention.
Early in July this Oriole ceases to favor the world with those
remarkable notes that seldom fail to attract attention by their
peculiarity, and to excite admiration by their rich and full-toned

When the male Baltimores first arrive, they come unaccompanied by
their mates. At this time their notes are unusually loud, and their
voices seem shrill. Their song appears to partake somewhat of the
nature of tender lamentations and complaining. At this period they are
very active and restless, moving rapidly through the branches of the
trees, just opening into leaf and blossom, searching busily for the
insects which then form their principal food. When, a few days after
their arrival, they are joined by the females, the whole character of
their song changes, which becomes a lower-toned, richer, and more
pleasing refrain. During their love-season their resonant and
peculiarly mellow whistle resounds in every garden and orchard, along
the highways of our villages, and in the parks and public squares of
our cities.

Nuttall, generally very felicitous in expressing by verbal equivalents
the notes of various species of our song-birds, describes the notes of
its song as running thus, _Tshippe-tshayia-too-too-tshippe-tshippe-too-too_,
with several other very similar modifications and variations. But
these characters give a very inadequate idea of their song. It must be
heard to be appreciated, and no description can do justice to its
beauties. The notes are of an almost endless variety, and each
individual has his own special variations. The female, too, has her
own peculiar and very pretty notes, which she incessantly warbles as
she weaves her curiously elaborate nest.

To agriculturists this Oriole renders immense service in the
destruction of vast numbers of highly injurious insects; among the
most noteworthy of these are the common canker-worm and the tent
caterpillars, both great pests to orchards. These benefits far more
than compensate for its annoying attacks on the pods of esculent peas,
the only sin that can rightfully be brought against it, except,
perhaps, the acts of theft committed against other birds, in seizing
upon and appropriating to it materials collected by smaller birds for
their nests.

The Baltimore Orioles are devoted, faithful, and courageous parents,
resolutely defending their young when in danger, and exposing
themselves fearlessly to danger and to death rather than forsake them.
If their young are taken and caged, the parents follow them, and, if
permitted, will continue to feed them.

Mr. Ridgway mentions an instance where the female entered her nest
while he was in the act of severing the limb from which it was
suspended, and persisted in remaining there until the nest had been
cut off and taken into the house. One of these birds, reared from the
nest by a family in Worcester, Mass., became perfectly domesticated,
was allowed full liberty, and even when taken by the married daughter
of its mistress, perched on her finger, through the open grounds to
her own house, made no attempt to escape. It delighted in occasional
acts of mischief, especially in putting its pointed bill through the
meshes of the lace curtains, and then opening its beak, seeming to
enjoy the sound produced by tearing the threads.

In the construction of its nest the Oriole displays great skill and
ingenuity. This structure is a pendulous and nearly cylindrical pouch,
suspended from the extremity of some hanging branch. It is constructed
by means of the interweaving of the natural filaments of several
flaxlike plants into a homogeneous fabric of great strength, and
admirably adapted to its purpose. A nest of this species from West
Florida, as well as the one figured by Audubon, was made entirely of
the long moss (_Tillandsia usneoides_) so abundant in Southern

The young birds, before they can fly, climb to the edge of the nest,
and are liable, in sudden tempests, to be thrown out. If uninjured,
they are good climbers, and by means of wings, bill, and claws, are
often able to reach places of safety. In one instance a fledgling,
which had broken both legs, and was placed in a basket to be fed by
its parents, managed, by wings and bill, to raise itself to the rim,
and in a few days took its departure.

The parents feed their young chiefly with caterpillars, which they
apparently swallow and then disgorge for this purpose. In confinement
they feed readily on soaked bread and fruit, and are especially fond
of figs. They are soon reconciled to confinement, become very docile
and even playful, sing readily, and will even come at a given signal
and alight on the finger of their master.

The eggs of the Baltimore are usually five and rarely six in number.
They are of an oblong-oval shape, pointed at one end, and measure .91
of an inch in length by .60 in breadth. Their ground-color is white,
with a slight roseate tinge when fresh, fading into a bluish shade in
time. They are all variously marked, dotted, and marbled, with spots,
blotches, and irregular waving lines of purplish-brown. These markings
are of greatly varying shades, from a light purple to almost complete
blackness, only perceptibly purplish in a strong light.

Icterus bullocki, BON.


  _Xanthornus bullocki_, SW. Syn. Mex. Birds, Taylor’s Phil. Mag. I,
       1827, 436. _Agelaius bullocki_, RICH. Rep. Brit. Assoc. 1837.
       _Icterus bullocki_, BON. List, 1838.—AUD. Orn. Biog. V, 1839,
       9, pls. ccclxxxviii and ccccxxxiii.—IB. Birds Am. IV, 1842,
       43, pl. ccxviii.—NEWBERRY, Rep. P. R. R. VI, IV, 1857,
       87.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 549.—MAX. Caban. J. VI, 1858,
       259.—LORD, Pr. R. A. Inst. IV, 121.—COOPER & SUCKLEY,
       209.—SCLATER & SALVIN, Ex. Orn. I, 1869, 188
       (diagnosis).—COOPER, Orn. Cal. 1, 1870, 273. _Psarocolius
       auricollis_, MAXIM. Reise Nordam. I, 1839, 367 (Fort Pierre,
       Neb.). _Hyphantes b._, CASS. Pr. A. N. S. 1867, 62.—HEERM. X,
       _S_, 52 (nest).

SP. CHAR. Tail very slightly graduated. Upper part of the head and
neck, back, wings, two central tail-feathers, line from base of bill
through the eye to the black of the nape, and a line from the base of
the bill running to a point on the throat, black. Under parts
generally, sides of head and neck, forehead and line over the eye,
rest of tail-feathers, rump, and upper tail-coverts, yellow-orange. A
broad band on the wings, involving the greater and middle coverts, and
the outer edges of the quills, white. Young male with the black
replaced by greenish-yellow, that on the throat persistent; female
without this. The first plumage of the young differs from that of
_baltimore_ in being more whitish beneath; lighter olive above, and
without dark spots on back; white of middle and greater coverts
connected by white edges of the latter. Length, about 7.50 inches;
wing, 3.80.

HAB. High Central Plains to the Pacific; rare on Upper Missouri; south
into Mexico. City of Mexico (SCL. & SALV. 1869, 362).

A closely allied Mexican species is _I. abeillei_ of Lesson, differing
principally in having the sides and rump black.

HABITS. Bullock’s Oriole, the western counterpart of the eastern
Baltimore, is found throughout the Pacific shore, from the great
Central Plains to the ocean, and from Washington Territory to Mexico.
It is not given by Sumichrast as occurring in Vera Cruz, where its
place is taken, as a migrant, by the Baltimore. It was not noticed by
Mr. Dresser on the Rio Grande, but in Arizona it was found by Dr.
Coues to be a common summer resident. It was there seen to frequent,
almost exclusively, the willows and cottonwoods of the creek-bottoms.
To the small twigs of these trees its pensile nests were usually
attached. It is said to arrive in Arizona late in April, and to remain
there nearly through September.

In the survey of the Mexican boundary Dr. Kennerly met with this
species in passing through Guadaloupe cañon, where it was often seen,
but it was observed at no other point on the route. It seemed to
prefer the low bushes on the hillside to the large trees. In its
motions it was quick and restless, passing rapidly from bush to bush.

In Washington Territory this species is stated by Dr. Suckley to be
more abundant in the sparsely wooded districts of the eastern base of
the Cascade Mountains than in the Coast Range. He found it exceedingly
abundant at Fort Dalles and along the eastern base of Mt. Adams. They
arrive about the 15th of May, and were very common among the low oaks
of that region. He speaks of its song as very pleasant, and especially
melodious early in the morning, when the bird is generally perched on
the sunny side or top of an oak.

At Puget Sound, according to Dr. Cooper, these birds do not arrive
until the beginning of June, and are at no time very common there. He
describes their habits as similar to those of the _spurius_, they
being shy and difficult to discover among the foliage. Their song is
more like that of the Baltimore, loud, clear, and varied.

In his Report on the birds of California, Dr. Cooper states that these
birds arrive at San Diego, from the south, about March 1; but at Fort
Mohave, one hundred and sixty miles farther north, he saw none until a
month later. Like the Baltimore Oriole, they resort to the open roads,
gardens, and orchards, putting themselves under the protection of man,
and repaying him both by their sweet melody and their usefulness in
destroying insects. They keep chiefly in the trees and rarely descend
to the ground, except to collect materials for their nests. These are
suspended from the end of a branch, and are constructed of fibrous
grasses, horse-hairs, strings, bits of rags, wool, hempen fibres of
plants, etc. At times only a single material is used, such as
horse-hair. These nests are neatly and closely interwoven in the form
of a deep bag or purse, and are suspended by the edges from the forks
of a branch, near its end. They have usually a depth of about four or
five inches, and a diameter of about three or three and a half. In
most cases they are largely made of the flaxen fibres of wild hempen
plants, and by strings of this are firmly bound around the ends of the
twigs to which they are suspended. They are lined within with fine,
soft vegetable down. In some nests the inner bark of the silkweed
largely predominates.

Dr. Cooper states that the eggs of Bullock’s Oriole are, in number,
from four to six. He describes them as bluish-white, with scattered,
winding streaks and hair-lines of black and reddish-brown near the
larger end, measuring .98 by .60 of an inch. In the southern half of
California they are laid in the first or second week of May. At Santa
Cruz, in 1866, he did not observe any of this species until April 3.

Mr. Allen did not meet with this species in Western Kansas, and it is
not included in his list of birds observed by him near Fort Hays. At
Ogden and Salt Lake City, in Utah, which he reached the first of
September, Bullock’s Oriole had already migrated southward.

In all the fertile portions of the country west of the plains, Mr.
Ridgway found Bullock’s Oriole—the western representative of the
Baltimore—extremely abundant. In May, when the valley of the Truckee,
near Pyramid Lake, was visited, he observed great numbers feeding upon
the buds of the grease-wood, in company with the Louisiana Tanager and
the Black-headed Grosbeaks. In certain localities there was scarcely a
tree that did not contain one or more nests of these birds, and as
many as five have been found in a single tree. Although constructed in
a manner almost precisely similar to those of the common eastern
species, its nest is less frequently pendulous, being in many cases
fixed between the upright twigs near the top of the tree. It is,
however, not unfrequently suspended, like that of the Baltimore, from
the extremity of a drooping branch, though very rarely in so beautiful
a manner. The notes of this Oriole, which are similar to those of the
Baltimore, are neither so distinct, so mellow, nor so strong, and
their effect is quite different from that produced by the splendid
mellow whistling of the eastern species; and the mellow, rolling
chatter so characteristic of the latter is not so full in the western
species, and generally ends in a sharp _chow_, much like the curious
mewing of an _Icteria_. He regards Bullock’s Oriole as altogether a
less attractive species.

Mr. Lord found this bird by no means an abundant species in British
Columbia. Those that were seen seemed to prefer the localities where
the scrub-oaks grew, to the pine regions. He found their long,
pendulous nests suspended from points of oak branches, without any
attempt at concealment. He never met with any of these birds north of
Fraser’s River, and very rarely east of the Cascades. A few stragglers
visited his quarters at Colville, arriving late in May and leaving
early in September, the males usually preceding the females three or
four days.

On the Shasta Plains Mr. Lord noticed, in the nesting of this bird, a
singular instance of the readiness with which birds alter their habits
under difficulties. A solitary oak stood by a little patch of water,
both removed by many miles from other objects of the kind. Every
available branch and spray of this tree had one of the woven nests of
this brilliant bird hanging from it, though hardly known to colonize
elsewhere in this manner.

Dr. Coues, in an interesting paper on the habits of this species in
the Naturalist for November, 1871, states that its nests, though
having a general resemblance in their style of architecture, differ
greatly from one another, usually for obvious reasons, such as their
situation, the time taken for their construction, and even the taste
and skill of the builders. He describes one nest, built in a
pine-tree, in which, in a very ingenious manner, these birds bent down
the long, straight, needle-like leaves of the stiff, terminal
branchlets, and, tying their ends together, made them serve as the
upper portion of the nest, and a means of attachment. This nest was
nine inches long and four in diameter.

Another nest, described by the same writer, was suspended from the
forked twig of an oak, and draped with its leaves, almost to
concealment. It had an unusual peculiarity of being arched over and
roofed in at the top, with a dome of the same material as the rest of
the nest, and a small round hole on one side, just large enough to
admit the birds.

The eggs of this Oriole are slightly larger than those of the
Baltimore, and their ground-color is more of a creamy-white, yet
occasionally with a distinctly bluish tinge. They are marbled and
marked with irregular lines and tracings of dark umber-brown,
deepening almost into black, but never so deep as in the eggs of the
eastern species. These marblings vary constantly and in a remarkable
degree; in some they are almost entirely wanting. They measure .90 of
an inch in length by .65 in breadth.


  [Line drawing: _Scolecophagus ferrugineus._

CHAR. Bill rather attenuated, as long as or longer than the head. The
culmen curved, the tip much bent down. The cutting edges inflected so
as to impart a somewhat tubular appearance to each mandible. The
commissure sinuated. Tail longer than the wings, usually much
graduated. Legs longer than the head, fitted for walking. Color of
males entirely black with lustrous reflections.

The bill of the _Quiscalinæ_ is very different from that of the other
_Icteridæ_, and is readily recognized by the tendency to a rounding
inward along the cutting edges, rendering the width in a cross section
of the bill considerably less along the commissure than above or
below. The culmen is more curved than in the _Agelainæ_. All the North
American species have the iris white.

The only genera in the United States are as follows:—

Scolecophagus. Tail shorter than the wings; nearly even. Bill shorter
than the head.

Quiscalus. Tail longer than the wings; much graduated. Bill as long as
or longer than the head.


  _Scolecophagus_, SWAINSON, F. Bor.-Am. II, 1831. (Type, _Oriolus
    ferrugineus_, GMELIN.)

GEN. CHAR. Bill shorter than the head, rather slender, the edges
inflexed as in _Quiscalus_, which it otherwise greatly resembles; the
commissure sinuated. Culmen rounded, but not flattened. Tarsi longer
than the middle toe. Tail even, or slightly rounded.

The above characteristics will readily distinguish the genus from its
allies. The form is much like that of _Agelaius_. The bill, however,
is more attenuated, the culmen curved and slightly sinuated. The bend
at the base of the commissure is shorter. The culmen is angular at the
base posterior to the nostrils, instead of being much flattened, and
does not extend so far behind. The two North American species may be
distinguished as follows:—

Synopsis of Species.

S. ferrugineus. Bill slender; height at base not .4 the total length.
Color of male black, with faint purple reflection over whole body;
wings, tail, and abdomen glossed slightly with green. Autumnal
specimens with feathers broadly edged with castaneous rusty. _Female_
brownish dusky slate, without gloss; no trace of light superciliary

S. cyanocephalus. Bill stout; height at base nearly .5 the total
length. Color black, with green reflections over whole body. Head only
glossed with purple. Autumnal specimens, feathers edged very
indistinctly with umber-brown. _Female_ dusky-brown, with a soft
gloss; a decided light superciliary stripe.

Cuba possesses a species referred to this genus (_S. atroviolaceus_),
though it is not strictly congeneric with the two North American ones.
It differs in lacking any distinct membrane above the nostril, and in
having the bill not compressed laterally, as well as in being much
stouter. The plumage has a soft silky lustre; the general color black,
with rich purple or violet lustre. The female similarly colored to the

Scolecophagus ferrugineus, SWAINSON.


  _Oriolus ferrugineus_, GMELIN, Syst. Nat. I, 393, No. 43.—LATH.
       Ind. I, 1790, 176. _Gracula ferruginea_, WILSON, Am. Orn. III,
       1811, 41, pl. xxi, f. 3. _Quiscalus ferrugineus_, BON. Obs.
       Wils. 1824, No. 46.—NUTTALL, Man. I, 1832, 199.—AUD. Orn.
       Biog. II, 1834, 315; V, 1839, 483, pl. cxlvii.—IB. Synopsis,
       1839, 146.—IB. Birds Am. IV, 1842, 65, pl. ccxxii.—MAX.
       Caban. J. VI, 1858, 204. _Scolecophagus ferrugineus_, SWAINSON,
       F. Bor.-Am. II, 1831, 286.—BON. List, 1838.—BAIRD, Birds N.
       Am. 1858, 551.—COUES, P. A. N. S. 1861, 225.—CASS. P. A. N.
       S. 1866, 412.—DALL & BANNISTER, Tr. Ch. Ac. I, 1869, 285
       (Alaska). _? ? Oriolus niger_, GMELIN, I, 1788, 393, Nos. 4, 5
       (perhaps _Quiscalus_).—SAMUELS, 350.—ALLEN, B. E. Fla. 291.
       _Scolecophagus niger_, BONAP. Consp. 1850, 423.—CABANIS, Mus.
       Hein. 1851, 195. _? ? Oriolus fuscus_, GMELIN, Syst. I, 1788,
       393, No. 44 (perhaps _Molothrus_). _Turdus hudsonius_, GMELIN,
       Syst. Nat. I, 1788, 818.—LATH. Ind. _Turdus noveboracensis_,
       GMELIN, I, 1788, 818. _Turdus labradorius_, GMELIN, Syst. Nat.
       I, 1788, 832.—LATH. Ind. I, 1790, 342 (_labradorus_).
       “_Pendulinus ater_, VIEILLOT, Nouv. Dict.” _Chalcophanes
       virescens_, WAGLER, Syst. Av. (Appendix, _Oriolus_ 9). _?
       Turdus_ No. 22 from Severn River, Forster, Phil. Trans. LXII,
       1772, 400.

SP. CHAR. Bill slender; shorter than the head; about equal to the hind
toe; its height not quite two fifths the total length. Wing nearly an
inch longer than the tail; second quill longest; first a little
shorter than the fourth. Tail slightly graduated; the lateral feathers
about a quarter of an inch shortest. General color black, with purple
reflections; the wings, under tail-coverts, and hinder part of the
belly, glossed with green. In autumn the feathers largely edged with
ferruginous or brownish, so as to change the appearance entirely.
Spring female dull, opaque plumbeous or ashy-black; the wings and tail
sometimes with a green lustre. Young like autumnal birds. Length of
male, 9.50; wing, 4.75; tail, 4.00. Female smaller.

HAB. From Atlantic coast to the Missouri. North to Arctic regions. In
Alaska on the Yukon, at Fort Kenai, and Nulato.

  [Illustration: _Scolecophagus ferrugineus._]

HABITS. The Rusty Blackbird is an eastern species, found from the
Atlantic to the Missouri River, and from Louisiana and Florida to the
Arctic regions. In a large portion of the United States it is only
known as a migratory species, passing rapidly through in early spring,
and hardly making a longer stay in the fall. Richardson states that
the summer range of this bird extends to the 68th parallel, or as far
as the woods extend. It arrives at the Saskatchewan in the end of
April, and at Great Bear Lake, latitude 65°, by the 3d of May. They
come in pairs, and for a time frequent the sandy beaches of secluded
lakes, feeding on coleopterous insects. Later in the season they are
said to make depredations upon the grain-fields.

They pass through Massachusetts from the 8th of March to the first of
April, in irregular companies, none of which make any stay, but move
hurriedly on. They begin to return early in October, and are found
irregularly throughout that month. They are unsuspicious and easily
approached, and frequent the streams and edges of ponds during their

Mr. Boardman states that these birds are common near Calais, Me.,
arriving there in March, some remaining to breed. In Western
Massachusetts, according to Mr. Allen, they are rather rare, being
seen only occasionally in spring and fall as stragglers, or in small
flocks. Mr. Allen gives as their arrival the last of September, and
has seen them as late as November 24. They also were abundant in Nova
Scotia. Dr. Coues states that in South Carolina they winter from
November until March.

These birds are said to sing during pairing-time, and become nearly
silent while rearing their young, but in the fall resume their song.
Nuttall has heard them sing until the approach of winter. He thinks
their notes are quite agreeable and musical, and much more melodious
than those of the other species.

During their stay in the vicinity of Boston, they assemble in large
numbers, to roost in the reed marshes on the edges of ponds, and
especially in those of Fresh Pond, Cambridge. They feed during the day
chiefly on grasshoppers and berries, and rarely molest the grain.

According to Wilson, they reach Pennsylvania early in October, and at
this period make Indian corn their principal food. They leave about
the middle of November. In South Carolina he found them numerous
around the rice plantations, feeding about the hog-pens and wherever
they could procure corn. They are easily domesticated, becoming very
familiar in a few days, and readily reconciled to confinement.

In the District of Columbia, Dr. Coues found the Rusty Grakle an
abundant and strictly gregarious winter resident, arriving there the
third week in October and remaining until April, and found chiefly in
swampy localities, but occasionally also in ploughed fields.

Mr. Audubon found these birds during the winter months, as far south
as Florida and Lower Louisiana, arriving there in small flocks, coming
in company with the Redwings and Cowbirds, and remaining associated
with them until the spring. At this season they are also found in
nearly all the Southern and Western States. They appear fond of the
company of cattle, and are to be seen with them, both in the pasture
and in the farm-yard. They seem less shy than the other species. They
also frequent moist places, where they feed upon aquatic insects and
small snails, for which they search among the reeds and sedges,
climbing them with great agility.

In their habits they are said to resemble the Redwings, and, being
equally fond of the vicinity of water, they construct their nests in
low trees and bushes in moist places. Their nests are said to be
similarly constructed, but smaller than those of the Redwings. In
Labrador Mr. Audubon found them lined with mosses instead of grasses.
In Maine they begin to lay about the first of June, and in Labrador
about the 20th, and raise only one brood in a season.

The young, when first able to fly, are of a nearly uniform brown
color. Their nests, according to Audubon, are also occasionally found
in marshes of tall reeds of the _Typha_, to the stalks of which they
are firmly attached by interweaving the leaves of the plant with
grasses and fine strips of bark. A friend of the same writer, residing
in New Orleans, found one of these birds, in full plumage and slightly
wounded, near the city. He took it home, and put it in a cage with
some Painted Buntings. It made no attempt to molest his companions,
and they soon became good friends. It sang during its confinement, but
the notes were less sonorous than when at liberty. It was fed entirely
on rice.

The memoranda of Mr. MacFarlane show that these birds are by no means
uncommon near Fort Anderson. A nest, found June 12, on the branch of a
spruce, next to the trunk, was eight feet from the ground. Another
nest, containing one egg and a young bird, was in the midst of a
branch of a pine, five feet from the ground. The parents endeavored to
draw him from their nest, and to turn his attention to themselves. A
third, found June 22, contained four eggs, and was similarly situated.
The eggs contained large embryos. Mr. MacFarlane states that whenever
a nest of this species is approached, both parents evince great
uneasiness, and do all in their power, by flying from tree to tree in
its vicinity, to attract one from the spot. They are spoken of as
moderately abundant at Fort Anderson, and as having been met with as
far east as the Horton River. He was also informed by the Eskimos that
they extend along the banks of the Lower Anderson to the very borders
of the woods.

Mr. Dall states that these Blackbirds arrive at Nulato about May 20,
where they are tolerably abundant and very tame. They breed later than
some other birds, and had not begun to lay before he left, the last of
May. Eggs were procured at Fort Yukon by Mr. Lockhart, and at Sitka by
Mr. Bischoff.

Besides these localities, this bird was found breeding in the Barren
Grounds of Anderson River in 69° north latitude, on the Arctic coast
at Fort Kenai, by Mr. Bischoff, and at Fort Simpson, Fort Rae, and
Peel River. It has been found breeding at Calais by Mr. Boardman, and
at Halifax by Mr. W. G. Winton.

Eggs sent from Fort Yukon, near the mouth of the Porcupine River, by
Mr. S. Jones, are of a rounded-oval shape, measuring 1.03 inches in
length by .75 in breadth. In size, shape, ground-color, and color of
their markings, they are hardly distinguishable from some eggs of
Brewer’s Blackbird, though generally different. All I have seen from
Fort Yukon have a ground-color of very light green, very thickly
covered with blotches and finer dottings of a mixture of ferruginous
and purplish-brown. In some the blotches are larger and fewer than in
others, and in all these the purple shading predominates. One egg,
more nearly spherical than the rest, measures .98 by .82. None have
any waving lines, as in all other Blackbird’s eggs. Two from near
Calais, Me., measure 1.02 by .75 of an inch, have a ground of light
green, only sparingly blotched with shades of purplish-brown, varying
from light to very dark hues, but with no traces of lines or marbling.

According to Mr. Boardman, these birds are found during the summer
months about Calais, but they are not common. Only a few remain of
those that come in large flocks in the early spring. They pass along
about the last of April, the greater proportions only tarrying a short
time; but in the fall they stay from five to eight weeks. They nest in
the same places with the Redwing Blackbirds, and their nests are very
much alike. In early summer they have a very pretty note, which is
never heard in the fall.

Scolecophagus cyanocephalus, CAB.


  _Psarocolius cyanocephalus_, WAGLER, Isis, 1829, 758. _Scolecophagus
       cyanocephalus_, CABANIS, Mus. Hein. 1851, 193.—BAIRD, Birds N.
       Am. 1858, 552.—CASS. P. A. N. S. 1866, 413.—HEERM. X, _S_,
       53.—COOPER & SUCKLEY, 209.—COOPER, Orn. Cal. 1, 1870, 278.
       _Scolecophagus mexicanus_, SWAINSON, Anim. in Men. 2¼ cent.
       1838, 302.—BON. Conspectus, 1850, 423.—NEWBERRY, Zoöl. Cal.
       and Or. Route; Rep. P. R. R. Surv. VI, IV, 1857, 86. _Quiscalus
       breweri_, AUD. Birds Am. VII, 1843, 345, pl. ccccxcii.

SP. CHAR. Bill stout, quiscaline, the commissure scarcely sinuated;
shorter than the head and the hind toe; the height nearly half length
of culmen. Wing nearly an inch longer than the tail; the second quill
longest; the first about equal to the third. Tail rounded and
moderately graduated; the lateral feathers about .35 of an inch
shorter. General color of male black, with lustrous green reflections
everywhere except on the head and neck, which are glossed with
purplish-violet. _Female_ much duller, of a light brownish anteriorly;
a very faint superciliary stripe. Length about 10 inches; wing, 5.30;
tail, 4.40.

HAB. High Central Plains to the Pacific; south to Mexico. Pembina,
Minn.; S. Illinois (Wabash Co.; R. RIDGWAY); Matamoras and San
Antonio, Texas (breeds; DRESSER, Ibis, 1869, 493); Plateau of Mexico
(very abundant, and resident; SUMICHRAST, M. B. S. I, 553).

Autumnal specimens do not exhibit the broad rusty edges of feathers
seen in _S. ferrugineus_.

The females and immature males differ from the adult males in much the
same points as _S. ferrugineus_, except that the “rusty” markings are
less prominent and more grayish. The differences generally between the
two species are very appreciable. Thus, in _S. cyanocephalus_, the
bill, though of the same length, is much higher and broader at the
base, as well as much less linear in its upper outline; the point,
too, is less decurved. The size is every way larger. The purplish
gloss, which in _ferrugineus_ is found on most of the body except the
wings and tail, is here confined to the head and neck, the rest of the
body being of a richly lustrous and strongly marked green, more
distinct than that on the wings and tail of _ferrugineus_. In one
specimen only, from Santa Rosalia, Mexico, is there a trace of purple
on some of the wing and tail feathers.

HABITS. This species was first given as a bird of our fauna by Mr.
Audubon, in the supplementary pages of the seventh volume of his Birds
of America. He met with it on the prairies around Fort Union, at the
junction of the Yellowstone and the Missouri Rivers, and in the
extensive ravines in that neighborhood, in which were found a few
dwarfish trees and tall rough weeds or grasses, along the margin of
scanty rivulets. In these localities he met with small groups of seven
or eight of these birds. They were in loose flocks, and moved in a
silent manner, permitting an approach to within some fifteen or twenty
paces, and uttering a call-note as his party stood watching their
movements. Perceiving it to be a species new to him, he procured
several specimens. He states that they did not evince the pertness so
usual to birds of this family, but seemed rather as if dissatisfied
with their abode. On the ground their gait was easy and brisk. He
heard nothing from them of the nature of a song, only a single
_cluck_, not unlike that of the Redwing, between which birds and the
_C. ferrugineus_ he was disposed to place this species.

Dr. Newberry found this Blackbird common both in California and in
Oregon. He saw large flocks of them at Fort Vancouver, in the last of
October. They were flying from field to field, and gathered into the
large spruces about the fort, in the manner of other Blackbirds when
on the point of migrating.

Mr. Allen found this Blackbird, though less an inhabitant of the
marshes than the Yellow-headed, associating with them in destroying
the farmers’ ripening corn, and only less destructive because less
numerous. It appears to be an abundant species in all the settled
portions of the western region, extending to the eastward as far as
Wisconsin, and even to Southeastern Illinois, one specimen having been
obtained in Wisconsin by Mr. Kumlien, and others in Wabash Co., Ill.,
by Mr. Ridgway.

In the summer, according to Mr. Ridgway, it retires to the cedar and
piñon mountains to breed, at that time seldom visiting the river
valley. In the winter it resorts in large flocks to the vicinity of
corrals and barn-yards, where it becomes very tame and familiar. On
the 3d of June he met with the breeding-ground of a colony of these
birds, in a grove of cedars on the side of a cañon, in the mountains,
near Pyramid Lake. Nearly every tree contained a nest, and several had
two or three. Each nest was saddled on a horizontal branch, generally
in a thick tuft of foliage, and well concealed. The majority of these
nests contained young, and when these were disturbed the parents flew
about the heads of the intruders, uttering a soft _chuck_. The maximum
number of eggs or young was six, the usual number four or five. In
notes and manners it seemed to be an exact counterpart of the _C.

Dr. Suckley found these birds quite abundant at Fort Dalles, but west
of the Cascade Mountains they were quite rare. At Fort Dalles it is a
winter resident, where, in the cold weather, it may frequently be
found in flocks in the vicinity of barn-yards and stables. Dr. Cooper
also obtained specimens of this Grakle at Vancouver, and regards it as
a constant resident on the Columbia River. He saw none at Puget Sound.
In their notes and habits he was not able to trace any difference from
the Rusty Blackbird of the Atlantic States. In winter they kept about
the stables in flocks of fifties or more, and on warm days flew about
among the tree-tops, in company with the Redwings, singing a harsh but
pleasant chorus for hours.

Dr. Cooper states it to be an abundant species everywhere throughout
California, except in the dense forests, and resident throughout the
year. They frequent pastures and follow cattle in the manner of the
_Molothrus_. They associate with the other Blackbirds, and are fond of
feeding and bathing along the edges of streams. They have not much
song, but the noise made by a large flock, as they sit sunning
themselves in early spring, is said to be quite pleasing. In this
chorus the Redwings frequently assist. At Santa Cruz he found them
more familiar than elsewhere. They frequented the yards about houses
and stables, building in the trees of the gardens, and collecting
daily, after their hunger was satisfied, on the roofs or on
neighboring trees, to sing, for an hour or two, their songs of thanks.
He has seen a pair of these birds pursue and drive away a large hawk
threatening some tame pigeons.

This species has an extended distribution, having been met with by Mr.
Kennicott as far north as Pembina, and being also abundant as far
south as Northern Mexico. In the Boundary Survey specimens were
procured at Eagle Pass and at Santa Rosalia, where Lieutenant Couch
found them living about the ranches and the cattle-yards.

Mr. Dresser, on his arrival at Matamoras, in July, noticed these birds
in the streets of that town, in company with the Long-tailed Grakles
_Q. macrurus_ and _Molothrus pecoris_. He was told by the Mexicans
that they breed there, but it was too late to procure their eggs. In
the winter vast flocks frequented the roads near by, as well as the
streets of San Antonio and Eagle Pass. They were as tame as European
Sparrows. Their note, when on the wing, was a low whistle. When
congregated in trees, they kept up an incessant chattering.

Dr. Coues found them permanent residents of Arizona, and exceedingly
abundant. It was the typical Blackbird of Fort Whipple, though few
probably breed in the immediate vicinity. Towards the end of September
they become very numerous, and remain so until May, after which few
are observed till the fall. They congregate in immense flocks about
the corrals, and are tame and familiar. Their note, he says, is a
harsh, rasping squeak, varied by a melodious, ringing whistle. I am
indebted to this observing ornithologist for the following sketch of
their peculiar characteristics:—

“Brewer’s Blackbird is resident in Arizona, the most abundant bird of
its family, and one of the most characteristic species of the
Territory. It appears about Fort Whipple in flocks in September; the
numbers are augmented during the following month, and there is little
or no diminution until May, when the flocks disperse to breed.

“The nest is placed in the fork of a large bush or tree, sometimes at
the height of twenty or thirty feet, and is a bulky structure, not
distantly resembling a miniature Crow’s nest, but it is comparatively
deeper and more compactly built. A great quantity of short, crooked
twigs are brought together and interlaced to form the basement and
outer wall, and with these is matted a variety of softer material, as
weed-stalks, fibrous roots, and dried grasses. A little mud may be
found mixed with the other material, but it is not plastered on in any
quantity, and often seems to be merely what adhered to the roots or
plant-stems that were used. The nest is finished inside with a
quantity of hair. The eggs are altogether different from those of the
_Quiscali_ and _Agelæi_, and resemble those of the Yellow-headed and
Rusty Grakles. They vary in number from four to six, and measure
barely an inch in length by about three fourths as much in breadth.
The ground-color is dull olivaceous-gray, sometimes a paler, clearer
bluish or greenish gray, thickly spattered all over with small spots
of brown, from very dark blackish-brown or chocolate to light umber.
These markings, none of great size, are very irregular in outline,
though probably never becoming line-tracery; and they vary
indefinitely in number, being sometimes so crowded that the egg
appears of an almost uniform brownish color.

“In this region the Blackbirds play the same part in nature’s economy
that the Yellow-headed Troupial does in some other parts of the West,
and the Cowbird and Purple Grakle in the East. Like others of their
tribe they are very abundant where found at all, and eminently
gregarious, except whilst breeding. Yet I never saw such innumerable
multitudes together as the Redwinged Blackbird, or even its
Californian congener, _A. tricolor_, shows in the fall, flocks of
fifty or a hundred being oftenest seen. Unlike the _Agelæi_, they show
no partiality for swampy places, being lovers of the woods and fields,
and appearing perfectly at home in the clearings about man’s abode,
where their sources of supply are made sure through his bounty or
wastefulness. They are well adapted for terrestrial life by the size
and strength of their feet, and spend much of their time on the
ground, betaking themselves to the trees on alarm. On the ground they
habitually run with nimble steps, when seeking food, only occasionally
hopping leisurely, like a Sparrow, upon both feet at once. Their
movements are generally quick, and their attitudes varied. They run
with the head lowered and tail somewhat elevated and partly spread for
a balance, but in walking slowly the head is held high, and oscillates
with every step. The customary attitude when perching is with the body
nearly erect, the tail hanging loosely down, and the bill pointing
upward; but should their attention be attracted, this negligent
posture is changed, the birds sit low and firmly, with elevated and
wide-spread tail rapidly flirted, whilst the bright eye peers down
through the foliage. When a flock comes down to the ground to search
for food, they generally huddle closely together and pass pretty
quickly along, each one striving to be first, and in their eagerness
they continually fly up and re-alight a few paces ahead, so that the
flock seems, as it were, to be rolling over and over. When disturbed
at such times, they fly in a dense body to a neighboring tree, but
then almost invariably scatter as they settle among the boughs. The
alarm over, one, more adventurous, flies down again, two or three
follow in his wake, and the rest come trooping after. In their
behavior towards man, they exhibited a curious mixture of heedlessness
and timidity; they would ramble about almost at our feet sometimes,
yet the least unusual sound or movement sent them scurrying into the
trees. They became tamest about the stables, where they would walk
almost under the horses’ feet, like Cowbirds in a farm-yard.

“Their hunger satisfied, the Blackbirds would fly into the pine-trees
and remain a long time motionless, though not at all quiet. They were
at singing-school,’ we used to say, and certainly there was room for
improvement in their chorus; but if their notes were not particularly
harmonious, they were sprightly, varied, and on the whole rather
agreeable, suggesting the joviality that Blackbirds always show when
their stomachs are full, and the prospect of further supply is good.
Their notes are rapid and emphatic, and, like the barking of coyotes,
give an impression of many more performers than are really engaged.
They have a smart chirp, like the clashing of pebbles, frequently
repeated at intervals, varied with a long-drawn mellow whistle. Their
ordinary note, continually uttered when they are searching for food,
is intermediate between the guttural _chuck_ of the Redwing and the
metallic _chink_ of the Reedbird.

“In the fall, when food is most abundant, they generally grow fat, and
furnish excellent eating. They are tender, like other small birds, and
do not have the rather unpleasant flavor that the Redwing gains by
feeding too long upon the _Zizania_.

“These are sociable as well as gregarious birds, and allied species
are seen associating with them. At Wilmington, Southern California,
where I found them extremely abundant in November, they were flocking
indiscriminately with the equally plentiful _Agelaius tricolor_.”

Dr. Heermann found this Blackbird very common in New Mexico and Texas,
though he was probably in error in supposing that all leave there
before the period of incubation. During the fall they frequent the
cattle-yards, where they obtain abundance of food. They were very
familiar, alighting on the house-tops, and apparently having no cause
for fear of man. Unlike all other writers, he speaks of its song as a
soft, clear whistle. When congregated in spring on the trees, they
keep up a continual chattering for hours, as though revelling in an
exuberance of spirits.

Under the common Spanish name of _Pajaro prieto_, Dr. Berlandier
refers in MSS. to this species. It is said to inhabit the greater part
of Mexico, and especially the Eastern States. It moves in flocks in
company with the other Blackbirds. It is said to construct a well-made
nest about the end of April, of blades of grass, lining it with
horse-hair. The eggs, three or four in number, are much smaller than
those of _Quiscalus macrurus_, obtuse at one end, and slightly pointed
at the other. The ground-color is a pale gray, with a bluish tint, and
although less streaked, bears a great resemblance to those of the
larger Blackbird.

Dr. Cooper states that these birds nest in low trees, often several in
one tree. He describes the nest as large, constructed externally of a
rough frame of twigs, with a thick layer of mud, lined with fine
rootlets and grasses. The eggs are laid from April 10 to May 20, are
four or five in number, have a dull greenish-white ground, with
numerous streaks and small blotches of dark brown. He gives their
measurement at one inch by .72. They raise two and probably three
broods in a season.

Four eggs of this species, from Monterey, collected by Dr. Canfield,
have an average measurement of 1.02 inches by .74. Their ground-color
is a pale white with a greenish tinge. They are marked with great
irregularity, with blotches of a light brown, with fewer blotches of a
much darker shade, and a few dots of the same. In one egg the spots
are altogether of the lighter shade, and are so numerous and confluent
as to conceal the ground-color. In the other they are more scattered,
but the lines and marbling of irregularly shaped and narrow zigzag
marking are absent in nearly all the eggs.

Mr. Lord found this species a rare bird in British Columbia. He saw a
few on Vancouver Island in the yards where cattle were fed, and a
small number frequented the mule-camp on the Sumas prairie. East of
the Cascades he met none except at Colville, where a small flock had
wintered in a settler’s cow-yard. They appeared to have a great liking
for the presence of those animals, arising from their finding more
food and insects there than elsewhere, walking between their legs, and
even perching upon their backs.

Captain Blakiston found this species breeding on the forks of the
Saskatchewan, June 3, 1858, where he obtained its eggs.


  _Quiscalus_, VIEILLOT, Analyse, 1816 (GRAY). (Type, _Gracula
    quiscala_, L.)

  [Line drawing: _Quiscalus purpureus._

SP. CHAR. Bill as long as the head, the culmen slightly curved, the
gonys almost straight; the edges of the bill inflected and rounded;
the commissure quite strongly sinuated. Outlines of tarsal scutellæ
well defined on the sides; tail long, boat-shaped, or capable of
folding so that the two sides can almost be brought together upward,
the feathers conspicuously and decidedly graduated, their inner webs
longer than the outer. Color black.

The excessive graduation of the long tail, with the perfectly black
color, at once distinguishes this genus from any other in the United
States. Two types may be distinguished: one _Quiscalus_, in which the
females are much like the males, although a little smaller and perhaps
with rather less lustre; the other, _Megaquiscalus_, much larger, with
the tail more graduated, the females considerably smaller, and of a
brown or rusty color. The _Quiscali_ are all from North America or the
West Indies (including Trinidad); none having been positively
determined as South American. The _Megaquiscali_ are Mexican and Gulf
species entirely, while a third group, the _Holoquiscali_, is West

Synopsis of Species and Varieties.

  A. QUISCALUS. Sexes nearly similar in plumage. Color
  black; each species glossed with different shades of
  bronze, purple, violet, green, etc. Lateral tail-feathers
  about .75 the length of central. _Hab._ Eastern United
  States. Proportion of wing to tail variable.

    Q. purpureus. _a._ Body uniform brassy-olive without
    varying tints. Head and neck steel-blue, more violaceous

      1. Length, 13.50; wing, 5.50 to 5.65; tail, 5.70 to
      5.80, its graduation, 1.50; culmen, 1.35 to 1.40.
      Vivid blue of the neck all round abruptly defined
      against the brassy-olive of the body. _Female._ Wing,
      5.20; tail, 4.85 to 5.10. _Hab._ Interior portions of
      North America, from Texas and Louisiana to
      Saskatchewan and Hudson’s Bay Territory; New England
      States; Fort Bridger, Wyoming Territory           var. _æneus_.

    _b._ Body variegated with purple, green, and blue tints.
    Head and neck violaceous-purple, more blue anteriorly.

      2. Length, 12.50; wing, 5.60; tail, 5.30, its
      graduation, 1.20; culmen, 1.32. Dark purple of neck
      all round passing over the breast, and appearing in
      patches on the lower parts. Wing and tail purplish;
      tail-coverts reddish-purple. _Female._ Wing, 5.10;
      tail, 4.50. _Hab._ Atlantic coast of United States
                                                    var. _purpureus_.

      3. Length, 11.75; wing, 4.85 to 5.60; tail, 4.60 to
      5.50, its graduation, .90; culmen, 1.38 to 1.66. Dark
      purple of neck sharply defined against the dull
      blackish olive-green of the body. Wings and tail
      greenish-blue; tail-coverts violet-blue. _Female._
      Wing, 4.65 to 4.90; tail, 3.80 to 4.60. _Hab._ South
      Florida; resident                              var. _agelaius_.

  B. HOLOQUISCALUS. (CASSIN.) Tail shorter than wings; sexes
  similar. Color glossy black, but without varying shades of
  gloss; nearly uniform in each species. Tail moderately
  graduated. _Hab._ West India Islands, almost exclusively;
  Mexico and South America.

    Q. baritus. Black, with a soft bluish-violet gloss,
    changing on wings and tail into bluish-green.

        _Culmen decidedly curved; base of mandibles on
        sides, smooth._

      1. Bill robust, commissure sinuated; depth of bill, at
      base, .54; culmen, 1.33; wing, 6.15; tail, 5.50, its
      graduation, 1.30. _Female._ Wing, 5.20; tail, 4.70;
      other measurements in proportion. _Hab._ Jamaica
                                                      var. _baritus_.[43]

      2. Bill slender, commissure scarcely sinuated; depth
      of bill, .43; culmen, 1.35; wing, 5.40; tail, 5.10,
      its graduation, 1.20. _Female._ Wing, 4.60; tail,
      4.20. _Hab._ Porto Rico                    var. _brachypterus_.[44]

        _Culmen almost straight; base of mandibles on sides

      3. Depth of bill, .51; culmen, 1.44; wing, 6.00; tail,
      5.50, its graduation, 1.50. _Female._ Wing, 5.15;
      tail, 4.80. _Hab._ Cuba                       var. _gundlachi_.[45]

      4. Depth of bill, .40; culmen, 1.35; wing, 5.00; tail,
      4.50, its graduation, .85. _Hab._ Hayti           var. _niger_.[46]

  C. MEGAQUISCALUS. (CASSIN.) Tail longer than wings. Sexes
  very unlike. Female much smaller, and very different in
  color, being olivaceous-brown, lightest beneath. Male
  without varying shades of color; lateral tail-feather
  about .60 the middle, or less.

    Q. major. Culmen strongly decurved terminally; bill
    robust. _Female_ with back, nape, and crown like the
    wings; abdomen much darker than throat.

        _Lustre of the plumage green, passing into violet
        anteriorly on head and neck._

      1. Length, 15.00; wing, 7.50; tail, 7.70, its
      graduation, 2.50; culmen, 1.60. _Female._ Wing, 5.10.
      _Hab._ South Atlantic and Gulf coast of United States
                                                        var. _major_.

        _Lustre, violet passing into green posteriorly._

      2. Length, 14.00; wing, 6.75; tail, 7.20, its
      graduation, 2.40; culmen, 1.57. _Female._ Wing, 5.30;
      tail, 5.00. _Hab._ Western Mexico. (Mazatlan, Colima,
      etc.)                                         var. _palustris_.[47]

      3. Length, 18.00; wing, 7.70; tail, 9.20, its
      graduation, 3.50; culmen, 1.76. _Female._ Wing, 5.80;
      tail, 6.30. _Hab._ From Rio Grande of Texas, south
      through Eastern Mexico; Mazatlan (accidental?) var. _macrurus_.

    Q. tenuirostris.[48] Culmen scarcely decurved
    terminally; bill slender. _Female_ with back, nape, and
    crown very different in color from the wings; abdomen as
    light as throat.

      1. _Male._ Lustre purplish-violet, inclining to
      steel-blue on wing and upper tail-coverts. Length,
      15.00; wing, 7.00; tail, 8.00, its graduation, 3.00.
      _Female._ Crown, nape, and back castaneous-brown; rest
      of upper parts brownish-black. A distinct superciliary
      stripe, with the whole lower parts as far as flanks
      and crissum, deep fulvous-ochraceous, lightest, and
      inclining to ochraceous-white, on throat and lower
      part of abdomen; flanks and crissum blackish-brown.
      Wing, 5.10; tail, 5.35, its graduation, 1.80; culmen,
      1.33; greatest depth of bill, .36. HAB. Mexico

     [43] _Quiscalus baritus_ (LINN.), CASS. Proc. Ac. Nat. Sc.
     Phila., 1866, p. 405. (_Gracula barita_, LINN. S. N. I, 165,
     1766). _Q. crassirostris_, SWAINSON.

     [44] _Quiscalus brachypterus_, CASS. Pr. A. N. S. 1866, 406.

     [45] _Quiscalus gundlachi_, CASS. Pr. A. N. S. 1866, 406.

     [46] _Quiscalus niger_ (BODDAERT), CASS. Pr. A. N. S. 1866,
     407. (_Oriolus niger_, BODD. Tab. Pl. Enl. p. 31, 1783.)

     None of the continental forms are in the collection, and
     therefore their relationship to each other and to the West
     Indian species cannot be here given. They are: (1) _Q.
     lugubris_, SWAINS. (Cabinet Cyclopædia, p. 299, 1838.—CASS.
     Pr. A. N. S. 1866, 408). _Hab._ S. Am., Trinidad. (2) _Q.
     mexicanus_, CASS. (Pr. A. N. S. 1866, 408). _Hab._ Mexico.
     Besides these are the two following, whose habitats are
     unknown: _Q. inflexirostris_, SWAINS. (Cab. Cyc. p. 300,
     1838), and _Q. rectirostris_, CASS. (Pr. A. N. S. 1866,

     [47] _Quiscalus palustris_ (SWAINS.), CASSIN, Pr. A. N. S.,
     Phila., 1866, p. 411. (_Scaphidurus pal._, SWAINS. Phil.
     Mag. 1827, 437).

     [48] _Quiscalus tenuirostris_, SWAINS. Cabinet Cyclopædia,
     1838, p. 299.—CASSIN, Pr. A. N. S. 1866, 411. The _Q.
     assimilis_, SCL. Cat. Am. B. 1862, 141, from Bogota, and _Q.
     peruvianus_, SWAINS. Cab. Cyc. 1838, 354, of Peru, are not
     in the collection; they are probably referrible to the
     _major_ type.

Quiscalus purpureus, BARTR.


  [Illustration: Quiscalus purpureus.]

SP. CHAR. Bill above, about as long as the head, more than twice
as high; the commissure moderately sinuated and considerably
decurved at tip. Tail a little shorter than the wing, much
graduated, the lateral feathers .90 to 1.50 inches shorter. Third
quill longest; first between fourth and fifth. Color black,
variously glossed with metallic reflections of bronze, purple,
violet, blue, and green. _Female_ similar, but smaller and
duller, with perhaps more green on the head. Length, 13.00; wing,
6.00; bill above, 1.25.

_Hab._ From Atlantic to the high Central Plains.

Of the Crow Blackbird of the United States, three well-marked
races are now distinguished in the species: one, the common form
of the Atlantic States; another occurring in the Mississippi
Valley, the British Possessions, and the New England States, and
a third on the Peninsula of Florida. The comparative diagnoses of
the three will be found on page 809.

Var. purpureus, BARTRAM.


  _Gracula quiscala_, LINN. Syst. Nat. I, (ed. 10,) 1758, 109
       (_Monedula purpurea_, Cal.); I, (ed. 12,) 1766,
       165.—GMELIN, I, 1788, 397.—LATHAM, Ind. I, 1790,
       191.—WILSON, Am. Orn. III, 1811, 44, pl. xxi, f. 4.
       _Chalcophanes quiscalus_, WAGLER, Syst. Av. 1827
       (_Gracula_).—CAB. Mus. Hein. 1851, 196. _? ? Oriolus
       ludovicianus_, GMELIN, Syst. Nat. I, 1788, 387; albino
       var. _? ? Oriolus niger_, GMELIN, Syst. Nat. I, 1788, 393.
       _? Gracula purpurea_, BARTRAM, Travels, 1791, 290.
       _Quiscalus versicolor_, VIEILLOT, Analyse? 1816.—IB.
       Nouv. Dict. XXVIII, 1819, 488.—IB. Gal. Ois. I, 171, pl.
       cviii.—BON. Obs. Wils. 1824, No. 45.—IB. Am. Orn. I,
       1825, 45, pl. v.—IB. List, 1838.—IB. Conspectus, 1840,
       424.—SW. F. Bor.-Am. II, 1831, 485.—NUTTALL, Man. I,
       1832, 194.—AUD. Orn. Biog. I, 1831, 35; V, 1838, 481 (not
       the pl. vii.).—IB. Syn. 1839, 146.—IB. Birds Am. IV,
       1842, 58 (not the pl. ccxxi.).—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858,
       575. _Gracula barita_, ORD., J. A. N. Sc. I, 1818, 253.
       “_Quiscalus purpureus_, LICHT.”—CASSIN, Pr. A. N. Sc.,
       1866, 403.—RIDGWAY, Pr. A. N. S. 1869, 133.—ALLEN, B. E.
       Fla. 291 (in part). _Quiscalus nitens_, LICHT. Verz. 1823,
       No. 164. _Quiscalus purpuratus_, SWAINSON, Anim. in Menag.
       1838, No. 55. _Purple Grakle_, PENNANT, Arctic Zoöl. II.

SP. CHAR. Length about 12.50; wing, 5.50; tail, 4.92; culmen, 1.24;
tarsus, 1.28. Second quill longest, hardly perceptibly (only .07 of an
inch) longer than the first and third, which are equal; projection of
primaries beyond secondaries, 1.56; graduation of tail, .92. General
appearance glossy black; whole plumage, however, brightly glossed with
reddish-violet, bronzed purple, steel-blue, and green; the head and
neck with purple prevailing, this being in some individuals more
bluish, in others more reddish; where most blue this is purest
anteriorly, becoming more violet on the neck. On other portions of the
body the blue and violet forming an iridescent zone on each feather,
the blue first, the violet terminal; sometimes the head is similarly
marked. On the abdomen the blue generally predominates, on the rump
the violet; wings and tail black, with violet reflection, more bluish
on the latter; the wing-coverts frequently tipped with steel-blue or
violet. Bill, tarsi, and toes pure black; iris sulphur-yellow.

HAB. Atlantic States, north to Nova Scotia, west to the Alleghanies.

  [Illustration: Var. _purpureus_.]

This form is more liable to variation than any other, the arrangement
of the metallic tints varying with the individual; there is never,
however, an approach to the sharp definition and symmetrical pattern
of coloration characteristic of the western race.

The female is a little less brilliant than the male, and slightly
smaller. The young is entirely uniform slaty-brown, without gloss.

An extreme example of this race (22,526, Washington, D. C.?) is almost
wholly of a continuous rich purple, interrupted only on the
interscapulars, where, anteriorly, the purple is overlaid by bright
green, the feathers with terminal transverse bars of bluish. On the
lower parts are scattered areas of a more bluish tint. The purple is
richest and of a reddish cast on the neck, passing gradually into a
bluish tint toward the bill; on the rump and breast the purple has a
somewhat bronzy appearance.

HABITS. The common Crow Blackbird of the eastern United States
exhibits three well-marked and permanently varying forms, which we
present as races. Yet these variations are so well marked and so
constant that they almost claim the right to be treated as
specifically distinct. We shall consider them by themselves. They are
the Purple Grakle, or common Crow Blackbird, _Quiscalus purpureus_;
the Bronzed Grakle, _Q. æneus_; and the Florida Grakle, _Q. aglæus_.

The first of these, the well-known Crow Blackbird of the Atlantic
States, so far as we are now informed, has an area extending from
Northern Florida on the south to Maine, and from the Atlantic to the
Alleghanies. Mr. Allen states that the second form is the typical form
of New England, but my observations do not confirm his statement. Both
the eastern and the western forms occur in Massachusetts, but the
_purpureus_ alone seems to be a summer resident, the _æneus_ occurring
only _in transitu_, and, so far as I am now aware, chiefly in the

The Crow Blackbirds visit Massachusetts early in March and remain
until the latter part of September, those that are summer residents
generally departing before October. They are not abundant in the
eastern part of the State, and breed in small communities or by
solitary pairs.

In the Central States, especially in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, they
are much more abundant, and render themselves conspicuous and dreaded
by the farmers through the extent of their depredations on the crops.
The evil deeds of all birds are ever much more noticed and dwelt upon
than their beneficial acts. So it is, to an eminent degree, with the
Crow Blackbird. Very few seem aware of the vast amount of benefit it
confers on the farmer, but all know full well—and are bitterly
prejudiced by the knowledge—the extent of the damages this bird

They return to Pennsylvania about the middle of March, in large, loose
flocks, at that time frequenting the meadows and ploughed fields, and
their food then consists almost wholly of grubs, worms, etc., of which
they destroy prodigious numbers. In view of these services, and
notwithstanding the havoc they commit on the crops of Indian corn,
Wilson states that he should hesitate whether to consider these birds
most as friends or as enemies, as they are particularly destructive to
almost all the noxious worms, grubs, and caterpillars that infest the
farmer’s fields, which, were they to be allowed to multiply
unmolested, would soon consume nine tenths of all the productions of
his labor, and desolate the country with the miseries of famine.

The depredations committed by these birds are almost wholly upon
Indian corn, at different stages. As soon as its blades appear above
the ground, after it has been planted, these birds descend upon the
fields, pull up the tender plant, and devour the seeds, scattering the
green blades around. It is of little use to attempt to drive them away
with the gun. They only fly from one part of the field to another. And
again, as soon as the tender corn has formed, these flocks, now
replenished by the young of the year, once more swarm in the
cornfields, tear off the husks, and devour the tender grains. Wilson
has seen fields of corn in which more than half the corn was thus

These birds winter in immense numbers in the lower parts of Virginia,
North and South Carolina, and Georgia, sometimes forming one
congregated multitude of several hundred thousands. On one occasion
Wilson met, on the banks of the Roanoke, on the 20th of January, one
of these prodigious armies of Crow Blackbirds. They rose, he states,
from the surrounding fields with a noise like thunder, and, descending
on the length of the road before him, they covered it and the fences
completely with black. When they again rose, and after a few
evolutions descended on the skirts of the high timbered woods, they
produced a most singular and striking effect. Whole trees, for a
considerable extent, from the top to the lowest branches, seemed as if
hung with mourning. Their notes and screaming, he adds, seemed all the
while like the distant sounds of a great cataract, but in a more
musical cadence.

A writer in the American Naturalist (II. 326), residing in Newark, N.
Y., notes the advent of a large number of these birds to his village.
Two built their nest inside the spire of a church. Another pair took
possession of a martin-house in the narrator’s garden, forcibly
expelling the rightful owners. These same birds also attempted to
plunder the newly constructed nests of the Robins of their materials.
They were, however, successfully resisted, the Robins driving the
Blackbirds away in all cases of contest.

The Crow Blackbird nests in various situations, sometimes in low
bushes, more frequently in trees, and at various heights. A pair, for
several years, had their nest on the top of a high fir-tree, some
sixty feet from the ground, standing a few feet from my front door.
Though narrowly watched by unfriendly eyes, no one could detect them
in any mischief. Not a spear of corn was molested, and their food was
exclusively insects, for which they diligently searched, turning over
chips, pieces of wood, and loose stones. Their nests are large,
coarsely but strongly made of twigs and dry plants, interwoven with
strong stems of grasses. When the Fish Hawks build in their
neighborhood, Wilson states that it is a frequent occurrence for the
Grakles to place their nests in the interstices of those of the
former. Sometimes several pairs make use of the same Hawk’s nest at
the same time, living in singular amity with its owner. Mr. Audubon
speaks of finding these birds generally breeding in the hollows of
trees. I have never met with their nests in these situations, but Mr.
William Brewster says he has found them nesting in this manner in the
northern part of Maine. Both, however, probably refer to the var.

The eggs of the Grakle exhibit great variations in their ground-color,
varying from a light greenish-white to a deep rusty-brown. The former
is the more common color. The eggs are marked with large dashes and
broad, irregular streaks of black and dark brown, often presenting a
singular grotesqueness in their shapes. Eggs with a deep brown ground
are usually marked chiefly about the larger end with confluent, cloudy
blotches of deeper shades of the same. The eggs measure 1.25 inches by

Var. æneus, RIDGWAY.


  _Quiscalus versicolor_, AUD. Orn. Biog. pl. vii; Birds Am. IV, pl.
       ccxxi (figure, but not description).—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858,
       555 (western specimens).—SAMUELS, 352. _Quiscalus æneus_,
       RIDGWAY, Pr. Phil. Acad., June, 1869. 134.

  [Illustration: Var. _æneus_.]

SP. CHAR. Length, 12.50 to 13.50; wing, 6.00; tail, 6.00; culmen,
1.26; tarsus, 1.32. Third and fourth quills longest and equal; first
shorter than fifth; projection of primaries beyond secondaries, 1.28;
graduation of tail, 1.48.

Metallic tints rich, deep, and uniform. Head and neck all round rich
silky steel-blue, this strictly confined to these portions, and
abruptly defined behind, varying in shade from an intense Prussian
blue to brassy-greenish, the latter tint always, when present, most
apparent on the neck, the head always more violaceous; lores
velvety-black. Entire body, above and below, uniform continuous
metallic brassy-olive, varying to burnished golden olivaceous-bronze,
becoming gradually uniform metallic purplish or reddish violet on
wings and tail, the last more purplish; primaries violet-black; bill,
tarsi, and toes pure black; iris sulphur-yellow.

HAB. Mississippi region of United States, east to Alleghany Mountains,
west to Fort Bridger; Saskatchewan Region, Hudson’s Bay Territory;
Labrador? and Maine (52,382, Calais, Me., G. A. Boardman). More or
less abundant in all eastern States north of New Jersey.

This species may be readily distinguished from the _Q. purpureus_ by
the color alone, independently of the differences of proportions.

The impression received from a casual notice of a specimen of the _Q.
purpureus_ is that of a uniformly glossy black bird, the metallic
tints being much broken or irregularly distributed, being frequently,
or generally, arranged in successive bands on the feathers over the
whole body, producing a peculiar iridescent effect. In the _Q. æneus_
nothing of this character is seen; for, among a very large series of
western specimens, not one has the body other than continuous bronze,
the head and neck alone being green or blue, and this sharply and
abruptly defined against the very different tint of the other
portions. These colors, of course, have their extremes of variation,
but the change is only in the shade of the metallic tints, the precise
pattern being strictly retained. In the present species the colors are
more vivid and silky than in the eastern, and the bird is, in fact, a
much handsomer one. (Ridgway.)

Just after moulting, the plumage is unusually brilliant, the metallic
tints being much more vivid.

HABITS. The Bronzed Blackbird has been so recently separated from the
_purpureus_ that we cannot give, with exactness or certainty, the area
over which it is distributed. It is supposed to occupy the country
west of the Alleghanies as far to the southwest as the Rio Grande and
Fort Bridger, extending to the Missouri plains on the northwest, to
the Saskatchewan in the north, and to Maine and Nova Scotia on the
northeast. Subsequent explorations may somewhat modify this supposed
area of distribution. It is at least known that this form occurs in
Texas, in all the States immediately west of the Alleghanies, and in
the New England States, as well as the vicinity of New York City.

In regard to its habits, as differing from those of _purpureus_, we
are without any observations sufficiently distinctive to be of value.
It reaches Calais about the first of April, and is a common summer

In the fall of 1869, about the 10th of October, several weeks after
the _Quiscali_ which had been spending the summer with us had
disappeared, an unusually large number of these birds, in the bronzed
plumage, made their appearance in the place; they seemed to come all
together, but kept in smaller companies. One of these flocks spent the
day, which was lowering and unpleasant, but not rainy, in my orchard.
They kept closely to the ground, and seemed to be busily engaged in
searching for insects. They had a single call-note, not loud, and
seemingly one of uneasiness and watchfulness against danger. Yet they
were not shy, and permitted a close approach. They remained but a day,
and all were gone the following morning. On the day after their
departure, we found that quite a number of apples had been bitten
into. We had no doubt as to the culprits, though no one saw them in
the act.

Audubon’s observations relative to the Crow Blackbird are chiefly made
with reference to those seen in Louisiana, where this race is probably
the only one found. The only noticeable peculiarity in his account of
these birds is his statement that the Blackbirds of that State nest in
hollow trees, a manner of breeding now known to be also occasional in
the habits of the _purpureus_. The eggs of this form appear to exhibit
apparently even greater variations than do those of the _purpureus_.
One egg, measuring 1.10 inches by .85, has a bright bluish-green
ground, plashed and spotted with deep brown markings. Another has a
dull gray ground, sparingly marked with light brown; the measurement
of this is 1.13 inches by .85. A third has a greenish-white ground, so
profusely spotted with a russet-brown that the ground-color is hardly
perceptible. It is larger and more nearly spherical, measuring 1.16
inches by .90. A fourth is so entirely covered with blotches, dots,
and cloudings of dark cinnamon-brown that the ground can nowhere be

Mr. Gideon Lincecum, of Long Point, Texas, writes, in regard to this
species, that, in his neighborhood, they nest in rookeries, often on a
large live oak. They build their nests on the top of large limbs. In
favorable situations four or five nests can be looked into at once.
They are at this time full of song, though never very melodious. The
people of Texas shoot them, believing them to be injurious to their
crops; but instead of being an injury they are an advantage, they
destroy so many worms, grasshoppers, caterpillars, etc. They are
migratory, and very gregarious. They all leave Texas in the winter,
and the same birds return in the spring to the same nesting-places.
They lay five eggs in a nest.

In Southern Illinois, as Mr. Ridgway informs me, these birds are
resident throughout the year, though rather rare during the winter
months. They breed in the greatest abundance, and are very gregarious
in the breeding-season. On a single small island in the Wabash River,
covered with tall willows, Mr. Ridgway found over seventy nests at one
time. These were placed indifferently on horizontal boughs, in forks,
or in excavations,—either natural or made by the large Woodpeckers
(_Hylotomus_),—nests in all these situations being sometimes found in
one tree. They prefer the large elms, cottonwoods, and sycamores of
the river-bottoms as trees for nesting-places, but select rather
thinly wooded situations, as old clearings, etc. In the vicinity of
Calais, according to Mr. Boardman, they nest habitually in hollow
stubs in marshy borders of brooks or ponds.

Var. aglæus, BAIRD.


  _Quiscalus baritus_, BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 556, pl. xxxii (not
       of _Linn._). _Quiscalus aglæus_, BAIRD, Am. Jour. Sci. 1866,
       84.—CASSIN, Pr. A. N. S. 1866, 44.—RIDGWAY, Pr. A. N. S.
       1869, 135. _Q. purpureus_, ALLEN, B. E. Fla. 291.

  [Illustration: Var. _aglæus_.]

SP. CHAR. Length, 10.60; wing, 5.20; tail, 5.12; culmen, 1.40; tarsus,
1.40. Second and third quills equal and longest; first shorter than
fourth; projection of primaries beyond secondaries, 1.12; graduation
of tail, 1.00.

Bill very slender and elongated, the tip of upper mandible abruptly
decurved; commissure very regular.

Metallic tints very dark. Head and neck all round well defined
violaceous steel-blue, the head most bluish, the neck more purplish
and with a bronzy cast in front; body uniform soft, dull, bronzy
greenish-black, scarcely lustrous; wings, upper tail-coverts, and tail
blackish steel-blue, the wing-coverts tipped with vivid violet-bronze;
belly and crissum glossed with blue.

HAB. South Florida.

This race is quite well marked, though it grades insensibly into the
var. _purpureus_. It differs from both that and _æneus_ in much
smaller size, with more slender and more decurved bill.

The arrangement of the colors is much as in the larger western
species, while the tints are most like those of the eastern. All the
colors are, however, darker, but at the same time softer than in
either of the others.

In form this species approaches nearest the western, agreeing with it
in the primaries, slender bill, and more graduated tail, and, indeed,
its relations in every respect appear to be with this rather than the

This race was first described from specimens collected at Key Biscayne
by Mr. Wurdemann, in April, 1857, and in 1858, and is the smallest of
the genus within our limits. The wing and tail each are about an inch
shorter than in the other varieties of _purpureus_. The bill, however,
is much longer and more slender, and the tip considerably more
produced and decurved. The feet are stouter and much coarser, the pads
of the toes very scabrous, as if to assist in holding slippery
substances, a feature scarcely seen in _purpureus_.[49]

HABITS. This race or species seems to be confined exclusively to the
peninsula of Florida. We have no notes as to any of its peculiarities,
nor do we know that it exhibits any differences of manners or habits
from those of its more northern relatives.

Of its eggs I have seen but few specimens. These do not exhibit much
variation. The ground-color shades from a light drab to one with a
greenish tinge. They average 1.17 inches in length by .85 in breadth,
are more oblong in shape, and are very strikingly marked with
characters in black and dark brown, resembling Arabic and Turkish

     [49] A series of twenty-nine specimens of _Q. purpureus_ from
     Florida, has been kindly furnished for examination by Mr. C. J.
     Maynard, chiefly from the northern and middle portions of the
     State, and consequently intermediate between the varieties
     _aglæus_ and _purpureus_. In color, however, they are nearly all
     essentially, most of them typically, like the former; but in size
     and proportions they scarcely differ from more northern specimens
     of the latter. Their common and nearly constant features of
     coloration are, uniform soft dark greenish body, with blue tinge
     on belly, and bluish-green tail-coverts and tail, violet head,
     more blue anteriorly and more bronzy on the foreneck, and with
     this color abruptly defined posteriorly against the peculiar
     uniform blackish dull green of the body; the wing-coverts usually
     tipped with vivid violet and green spots. One male is a typical
     example of the var. _purpureus_, distinguished by the blending of
     the similar metallic tints on the body and head, the broken tints
     on the body arranged in transverse bars on the back, more purple
     tail-coverts, and lack of the vivid metallic tips to the
     wing-coverts. There are also four nearly typical specimens of the
     var. _aglæus_, these probably from farther south on the
     peninsula, but with the characteristics of the race less
     exaggerated than in the types from the keys. The measurements of
     this series are as follows:—

     Var. _purpureus_ (one specimen). ♂. Wing, 5.30; tail, 4.65;
     culmen, 1.38.

     Intermediate specimens. Typical _aglæus_ in colors, but like
     _purpureus_ in size. (16 males, and 17 females). ♂. Wing, 4.85 to
     5.50; tail, 4.60 to 5.50; culmen, 1.25 to 1.50. ♀. Wing, 4.65 to
     4.90; tail, 3.80 to 4.50; culmen, 1.10 to 1.30.

     Var. _aglæus_ (four specimens). ♂. Wing, 5.30 to 5.60; tail, 5.00
     to 5.30; culmen, 1.38 to 1.40.

Quiscalus major, VIEILL.


  _Gracula barita_, WILSON, Index Am. Orn. VI, 1812 (not of LINNÆUS).
       _Gracula quiscala_, ORD. J. A. N. Sc. I, 1818, 253 (not of
       LINNÆUS). _Quiscalus major_, VIEILLOT, Nouv. Dict. XXVIII,
       1819, 487.—BON. Am. Orn. I, 1825, 35, pl. iv.—IB. List,
       1838.—IB. Consp. 1850, 424.—AUD. Orn. Biog. II, 1834, 504; V,
       1838, 480, pl. clxxxvii, IB. Syn. 1839, 146.—IB. Birds Am. IV,
       1842, 52, pl. ccxx.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 555.—CASSIN,
       Pr. A. N. S. 1867, 409.—ALLEN, B. E. Fla. 295.—COUES, Ibis,
       N. S. IV, No. 23, 1870, 367 (Biography). _Chalcophanes major_,
       “TEMM.” CAB. Mus. Hein. 1851, 196.

SP. CHAR. (1,563.) Form rather lengthened, but robust; bill strong,
about the length of head; wing rather long, second and third quills
usually longest, though the first four quills are frequently nearly
equal; tail long, graduated; lateral feathers about 2.50 inches
shorter than the central; legs and feet strong.

_Adult male._ Black; head and neck with a fine purple lustre, rather
abruptly defined on the lower part of the neck behind, and succeeded
by a fine green lustre which passes into a purple or steel-blue on the
lower back and upper tail-coverts. On the under parts the purple
lustre of the head and neck passes more gradually into green on the
abdomen; under tail-coverts usually purplish-blue, frequently plain
black. Smaller wing-coverts with green lustre; larger coverts
greenish-bronze; quills frequently plain black, with a greenish or
bronzed edging and slight lustre. Tail usually with a slight bluish or
greenish lustre, frequently plain black. Bill and feet black. Iris
yellow. Total length about 15 inches; wing, 7.00; tail, 6.50 to 7.00.

  [Illustration: PLATE XXXVI.
  1. Quiscalus macrourus. ♂ Texas, 3948.
  2.     ”        ”       ♀ Texas, 3949.
  3.     ”     major. ♀ S. Car., 39005.
  4.     ”       ”    ♂ S. Car., 39003.]

_Adult female._ Smaller. Upper parts dark brown, lighter on the head
and neck behind; darker and nearly a dull black on the lower part of
the back and upper tail-coverts; under parts lighter, dull
yellowish-brown; tibiæ and under tail-coverts darker; wings and tail
dull brownish-black; upper parts frequently with a slight greenish
lustre. Total length, about 12.50; wing, 5.50 to 6.00; tail, 5.50.

HAB. Coast region of South Atlantic and Gulf States of North America.
Galveston and Houston, Texas (DRESSER, Ibis, 1865, 494).

HABITS. The Boat-tailed Grakle, or Jackdaw, of the Southern States, is
found in all the maritime portions of the States that border both on
the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, from North Carolina to Rio
Grande. In Western Texas it does not seem to be abundant. Lieutenant
Couch met with only a single specimen at Brownsville, in company with
_Q. macrurus_. Mr. Dresser, when at Houston and at Galveston in May
and June, 1864, noticed several of these birds. Mr. Salvin mentions
finding them as far south as the Keys of the Belize coast.

We learn from the observations of Mr. Audubon that this species is
more particularly attached to the maritime portions of the country. It
rarely goes farther inland than forty or fifty miles, following the
marshy banks of the larger streams. It occurs in great abundance in
the lower portions of Louisiana, though not found so high up the
Mississippi as Natchez. It also abounds in the Sea Islands on the
coast of the Carolinas, and in the lowlands of South Carolina,
Georgia, and Florida.

Dr. Coues states that this species hardly occurs in any abundance
north of the Carolinas, and that it is restricted to a narrow belt
along the coast of the ocean and gulf, from North Carolina throughout
our entire shore to Mexico. He supposed it to stop there, and to be
replaced by the _macrurus_. Though the larger proportion of these
birds pass beyond our southern boundaries to spend the winter, a few,
chiefly old males, are resident in North Carolina throughout the year.
In the spring the females are the first to appear. Just before the
mating has taken place, the flocks of these birds are said to execute
sudden and unaccountable evolutions, as if guided by some single
commanding spirit; now hovering uncertain, then dashing impulsive, now
veering in an instant, and at last taking a long, steady flight
towards some distant point. During this period, Dr. Coues further
informs us, their voices crack, and they utter a curious medley of
notes from bass to falsetto, a jingling, unmusical jargon that is

The laying-season is said to be at its height during the latter part
of April. He found in no instance more than six eggs in a nest, nor
less than three. He thinks that they have two, and perhaps three,
broods in a season, as he found it not uncommon to meet with newly
fledged birds in September.

These birds are eminently gregarious at all seasons of the year, and
at certain seasons assemble in large flocks. They are omnivorous,
eating both insects and grain, and are alternately benefactors and
plunderers of the planters. In the early season they seek their food
among the large salt marshes of the seaboard, and along the muddy
banks of creeks and rivers. They do great damage to the rice
plantations, both when the grain is in the soft state and afterwards
when the ripened grain is stacked. They also feed very largely upon
the small crabs called fiddlers, so common in all the mud flats,
earthworms, various insects, shrimps, and other aquatic forms of the
like character.

A few of these birds are resident throughout the year, though the
greater part retire farther south during a portion of the winter. They
return in February, in full plumage, when they mate. They resort, by
pairs and in companies, to certain favorite breeding-places, where
they begin to construct their nests. They do not, however, even in
Florida, begin to breed before April. They build a large and clumsy
nest, made of very coarse and miscellaneous materials, chiefly sticks
and fragments of dry weeds, sedges, and strips of bark, lined with
finer stems, fibrous roots, and grasses, and have from three to five

It is a very singular but well-established characteristic of this
species, that no sooner is their nest completed and incubation
commenced than the male birds all desert their mates, and, joining one
another in flocks, keep apart from the females, feeding by themselves,
until they are joined by the young birds and their mothers in the

These facts and this trait of character in this species have been
fully confirmed by the observations of Dr. Bachman of Charleston. In
1832 he visited a breeding-locality of these birds. On a single Smilax
bush he found more than thirty nests of the Grakles, from three to
five feet apart, some of them not more than fifteen inches above the
water, and only females were seen about the nests, no males making
their appearance. Dr. Bachman also visited colonies of these nests
placed upon live-oak trees thirty or forty feet from the ground, and
carefully watched the manners of the old birds, but has never found
any males in the vicinity of their nests after the eggs had been laid.
They always keep at a distance, feeding in flocks in the marshes,
leaving the females to take charge of their nests and young. They have
but one brood in a season.

As these birds fly, in loose flocks, they continually utter a peculiar
cry, which Mr. Audubon states resembles or may be represented by
_kirrick, crick, crick_. Their usual notes are harsh, resembling loud,
shrill whistles, and are frequently accompanied with their ordinary
cry of _crick-crick-cree_. In the love-season these notes are said to
be more pleasing, and are changed into sounds which Audubon states
resemble _tirit, tirit, titiri-titiri-titirēē_, rising from low to
high with great regularity and emphasis. The cry of the young bird,
when just able to fly, he compares to the whistling cry of some kind
of frogs.

The males are charged by Mr. Audubon with attacking birds of other
species, driving them from their nests and sucking their eggs.

Dr. Bryant, who found this species the most common bird in the
neighborhood of Lake Monroe, adds that it could be seen at all times
running along the edge of the water, almost in the manner of a
Sandpiper. They were breeding by hundreds in the reeds near the inlet
to the lake. On the 6th of April some of the birds had not commenced
laying, though the majority had hatched, and the young of others were
almost fledged.

The eggs of this species measure 1.25 inches in length by .92 in
breadth. Their ground-color is usually a brownish-drab, in some tinged
with olive, in others with green. Over this are distributed various
markings, in lines, zigzags, and irregular blotches of brown and black.

Quiscalus major, var. macrurus, SW.


  _Quiscalus macrourus_, SWAINSON, Anim. in Menag. 2¼ centen. 1838,
       299, fig. 51, a.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, pl. lviii.—IB.
       Mex. B. II, Birds, 20, pl. xx.—CASSIN, Pr. A. N. S. 1867, 410.
       _Chalcophanes macrurus_, CAB. Mus. Hein. 1851, 196.

SP. CHAR. (The largest species of this genus.) Form lengthened but
robust, bill strong, longer than the head; wing long, third quill
usually longest; tail long, graduated, outer feathers three to five
inches shorter than those in the middle; legs and feet strong.

_Adult male._ Black; head, neck, back, and entire under parts with a
fine bluish-purple lustre; lower part of back and the upper
tail-coverts, and also the abdomen and under tail-coverts, frequently
with green lustre, though in specimens apparently not fully adult
those parts are sometimes bluish-brown, inclining to dark steel-blue.
Wings and tail with a slight purplish lustre, smaller coverts with
bluish-green, and larger coverts with greenish-bronze lustre. Bill and
feet black. Iris yellow. Total length, 17.50 to 20.00; wing, about
8.00; tail, 8.00 to 10.50.

_Female._ Smaller, and generally resembling that of _Q. major_, but
rather darker colored above. Entire upper parts dark brown, nearly
black, and with a green lustre on the back; wings and tail dull
brownish-black. Under parts light, dull yellowish-brown; paler on the
throat, and with a trace of a narrow dark line from each side of the
lower mandible. Tibiæ and under tail-coverts dark brown. Total length
about 13.00; wing, 6.00; tail, 6.50. (CASSIN.)

HAB. Eastern Texas to Panama and Carthagena. Cordova (SCL. 1856, 300);
Guatemala (SCL. Ibis. I, 20, eggs); Honduras (SCL. II, 112);
Carthagena, N. 9 (CASS. R. A. S., 1860, 138); Costa Rica (CABAN.
Journ. IX, 1861, 82; LAWR. IV, 104); Nicaragua (LAWR. N. Y. Lyc. VIII,
181); Rio Grande of Texas (DRESSER, Ibis, 1865, 493, breeds); Vera
Cruz (from hot to alpine regions; resident. SUMICHRAST, M. B. S. I,

HABITS. The Great-tailed or Central American Grakle is an abundant
species throughout Mexico and Central America, and probably extends to
some distance into South America. In Vera Cruz, Sumichrast states it
to be one of the few birds that are found in nearly equal abundance
throughout the three regions, hot, temperate, and alpine, into which
that department is physically divided. It is abundant everywhere
throughout that State, and also nests there. In the neighborhood of
Cordova and Orizaba it lives in large communities, a single tree being
often loaded with the nests.

On the Rio Grande it extends into Texas, and thus qualifies itself for
a place within our fauna. A few specimens were procured at Eagle Pass
and elsewhere by the Mexican Boundary Survey party. It is more
abundant on the western banks of the Rio Grande, especially at
Matamoras. Among the MS. notes left by Dr. Kennerly is a part of the
memoranda of the late Dr. Berlandier of that place. Under the name of
_Pica elegans_ the latter refers to what is evidently this species. He
describes it as found in all parts of the Republic of Mexico, where it
is known as _Uraca_, _Pajaro negro_, and, in Acapulco, _Papate_. It is
found, he adds, abundantly throughout the State of Tamaulipas. It
lives upon grain, especially corn, devouring the planted seeds and
destroying the crops. It builds its nest in April, laying its eggs in
the same month, and the young birds are hatched out by the beginning
of May. The nests are large, the edges high, and the cavity
correspondingly deep. They are constructed of dry plants and small
bits of cloth, which the birds find about the settlements, and the
bottom of the nest is plastered with clay, which gives it great
firmness. This is covered with grasses and pieces of dry weeds. The
eggs are described as large, of a pale leaden-gray or a rusty color,
over which are black marks, stripes, lines, and spots without order or
regularity. They are generally four in number. The nests are built on
the tops of the highest trees, usually the willows or mesquites.

Mr. G. C. Taylor, in his notes on the birds of Honduras, states that
he found this Blackbird common, and always to be met with about the
villages. It appeared to be polygamous, the males being generally
attended by several females. A fine male bird, with his accompanying
females, frequented the court-yard of the Railroad House at Comayagua,
where Mr. Taylor was staying. They generally sat on the roof of the
house, or among the upper branches of some orange-trees that grew in
the yard. They had a very peculiar cry, not unlike the noise produced
by the sharpening of a saw, but more prolonged.

Mr. Salvin found the bird very abundant in Central America. In one of
his papers relative to the birds of that region, he states that this
species, in Guatemala, plays the part of the European House Sparrow.
It seeks the abode of man, as does that familiar bird, and is
generally found frequenting larger towns as well as villages. Stables
are its favorite places of resort, where it scratches for its food
among the ordure of the horses. It will even perch on the backs of
these animals and rid them of their ticks, occasionally picking up
stray grains of corn from their mangers. At Duenas he found it
breeding in large societies, usually selecting the willows that grow
near the lake and the reeds on the banks for its nest. The breeding
season extends over some length of time. In May, young birds and fresh
eggs may be found in nests in the same trees. On the coast, young
birds, nearly capable of flying, were seen in the early part of March.
Mr. Salvin adds that the nests are usually made of grass, and placed
among upright branches, the grass being intwined around each twig, to
support the structure. The eggs in that region were seldom found to
exceed three in number.

Mr. Dresser found the Long-tailed Grakles very common at Matamoras,
where they frequented the streets and yards with no signs of fear.
They were breeding there in great quantities, building a heavy nest of
sticks, lined with roots and grass. They were fond of building in
company, and in the yard of the hotel he counted seven nests in one
tree. At Eagle Pass, and as far east as the Nueces River, he found
them not uncommon, but noticed none farther in the interior of Texas.
Their usual note is a loud and not unmelodious whistle. They have also
a very peculiar guttural note, which he compares to the sound caused
by drawing a stick sharply across the quills of a dried goose-wing.

Captain McCown states that he observed these Blackbirds building in
large communities at Fort Brown, Texas. Upon a tree standing near the
centre of the parade-ground at that fort, a pair of the birds had
built their nest. Just before the young were able to fly, one of them
fell to the ground. A boy about ten years old discovered and seized
the bird, which resisted stoutly, and uttered loud cries. These soon
brought to its rescue a legion of old birds, which vigorously attacked
the boy, till he was glad to drop the bird and take to flight. Captain
McCown then went and picked up the young bird, when they turned their
fury upon him, passing close to his head and uttering their sharp caw.
He placed it upon a tree, and there left it, to the evident
satisfaction of his assailants. These birds, he adds, have a peculiar
cry, something like tearing the dry husk from an ear of corn. From
this the soldiers called them corn-huskers. He often saw other and
smaller birds building in the same tree. They were very familiar, and
would frequently approach to within ten feet of a person.

The eggs measure 1.32 inches in length by .92 of an inch in breadth,
and exhibit great variations both in ground-color and in the style and
character of their marking. In some the ground-color is of a light
grayish-white with a slight tinge of green or blue; in others it is of
a light drab, and again many have a deep brownish-drab. The markings
are principally of a dark brown, hardly distinguishable from black,
distributed in the shape of drops, or broad irregular narrow plashes,
or in waving zigzag lines and markings. Intermingled with these deeper
and bolder markings are suffused cloud-like colorations of


CHAR. General characters of the _Icteridæ_, but with a rudimentary
first primary, making the total number ten.

The introduction of this family into the present work is required by
the occurrence of the typical species, _Sturnus vulgaris_, in
Greenland, although it otherwise characterizes the Old World
exclusively. There are several subfamilies, principally African and
East Indian (_Lamprotornithinæ_, _Buphaginæ_, _Sturninæ_, and
_Graculinæ_), some of them of very brilliant plumage.

The _Sturnidæ_ in many respects constitute a natural stage of
transition from the _Icteridæ_ to the _Corvidæ_, through the Jays.


  _Sturnus_, LINN. Syst. Nat., I, (ed. 10,) 1758, 167. (Type, _S.

  [Line drawing: _Sturnus vulgaris._

GEN. CHAR. Bill long, conical, much depressed; the culmen, gonys, and
commissure nearly straight, the latter angulated at base. Wings, twice
length of tail; much pointed, the primaries graduating rapidly from
the second, the first being rudimentary, the secondaries much shorter.
Tail nearly even; the feathers acuminate. Tarsi short; about equal to
middle toe; lateral toes equal. Plumage coarse and stiff, each feather
distinctly outlined.

The bill of _Sturnus_ is very similar to that of _Sturnella_, although
less inflected at the edges. The shorter tarsi, much longer wings,
with the innermost secondaries much less than the primaries, etc.,
readily distinguish the two families.

Sturnus vulgaris, LINN.


  _Sturnus vulgaris_, LINN. Syst. Nat. I, (ed. 10,) 1758, 167; (ed.
       12,) 1766, 290.—DEGLAND & GERBE, Orn. Europ. I, 1867,
       232.—REINHARDT, Ibis, 1861, 7 (Greenland).

SP. CHAR. Feathers principally lustrous-black, with purple and green
reflections, except at their extremities, which are dull and opaque;
brownish above, silvery-white beneath. Bill yellow in spring, brown in
autumn. Legs flesh-color. Length about 8.51; wing, 5.11; tail, 2.81;
bill above, 1.11, from nostril, .75; gape, 1.15; tarsus, 1.15; middle
toe and claw, 1.15. _Female_ similar, but less brilliant.

HAB. Europe and North Africa, most abundant in Holland. One specimen
killed in Greenland, in 1851, and preserved in the Royal Zoölogical
Museum of Copenhagen.

The preceding description will serve to distinguish the Starling from
any North American species, although it is subject to considerable
variation. A second form, scarcely distinguishable as a species (_S.
unicolor_, De la Marmora), of a prevailing black color, without
terminal spots, and with the feathers of the under part elongated, is
found in Sardinia and Sicily.

HABITS. We give a place to the common Starling of Europe in the fauna
of North America, as an occasional and rare visitant of Greenland.
Only a single instance is on record of its actual capture,—a female
taken by Holböll in 1851, and now in the Royal Museum of Copenhagen.

The well-known Starling of Europe is handsome in plumage and of
graceful shape. It is numerous, as a species, is very generally
distributed, and therefore very well known. With many it is a great
favorite, and is also familiar as a caged bird. Its sprightly habits,
retentive memory, and flexibility of voice, commend it as an
interesting and entertaining pet. It has been taught to whistle tunes,
and even to imitate the human voice, with facility and correctness. In
its natural state it is a very social bird, and lives in flocks the
greater part of the year.

Mr. Waterton, who was a great admirer of the Starling, sought to
induce these birds to frequent his grounds, and with this view made
various cavities in the walls of an old tower near his residence. His
wishes were gratified, and soon every cavity he had made was taken
possession of by a pair, and many more would have been thus domiciled
had provision been made for them.

A similar instance is on record in Hamburg, where, within a few years,
a well-known horticulturist induced nearly two hundred pairs of
Starlings to occupy and to breed in wooden boxes put up in his grounds
for their accommodation. His plants had been destroyed by the attacks
of hosts of subterranean larvæ, and the Starlings were invited in the
hope that they would remove this evil, which they did quite

Dr. Beverley Morris gives a very interesting account of a female
Starling that he observed building a nest in a hollow tree. The male
looked on, but took no part, except to drive away other intrusive
birds. The female made on an average three trips a minute, with small
twigs and bits of dry grass, taking sometimes three or four at a time.
He estimated that in the space of six hours she had taken to her nest
not less than a thousand sticks.

The Starling is said to select for its nest suitable places in
church-steeples, the eaves of houses, and holes in walls, especially
of old towers and ruins; occasionally it builds in hollow trees, in
cliffs or in high rocks overhanging the sea, and also in dovecotes.
The nests are made of slender twigs, straw, roots, and dry grasses.
The birds incubate sixteen days. The old birds are devoted to their

Almost as soon as the nestlings are able to fly, different families
unite to form large flocks, which may be seen feeding on commons and
grass-grounds, in company with the Rooks and other birds. Their chief
food consists of larvæ, worms, insects in various stages, and, at
times, berries and grain. In confinement they are very fond of raw

Mr. Yarrell, quoting Dr. Dean of Wells, gives an account of an
extraordinary haunt of Starlings on an estate of a gentleman who had
prepared the place for occupation by Pheasants. It was in a plantation
of arbutus and laurustinus, covering some acres, to which these birds
repaired, in the evening, almost by the million, coming from the low
grounds about the Severn. A similar instance is given by Mr. Ball, of
Dublin, of an immense swarm of several hundred thousand Starlings
sleeping every night in a mass of thorn-trees at the upper end of the
Zoölogical Garden in Phœnix Park.

The Starlings are found throughout Great Britain, even to the Hebrides
and the Orkneys, where they are great favorites, and holes are left in
the walls of the houses for their accommodation. They are common
throughout Norway, Sweden, and the north of Europe, and as far east as
the Himalayas and even Japan. They are also found in all the countries
on both sides of the Mediterranean, and Mr. Gould states that they
occur in Africa as far south as the Cape of Good Hope.

The eggs of the Starling are five in number, of a uniform delicate
pale blue, oval in shape and rounded at one end; they measure 1.20
inches in length by .88 in breadth.


CHAR. Primaries ten; the first short, generally about half as long as
the second (or a little more); the outer four sinuated on the inner
edge. The nasal fossæ and nostrils usually more or less concealed by
narrow, stiffened bristles (or bristly feathers), with short appressed
lateral branches extending to the very tip, all directed forwards
(these bristles occasionally wanting). Tarsi scutellate anteriorly,
the sides undivided (except sometimes below), and separated from the
anterior plates by a narrow naked strip, sometimes filled up with
small scales. Basal joint of middle toe united about equally to the
lateral, generally for about half the length. Bill generally notched.

The preceding characters distinguish the family of Crows quite
markedly from all others. The features of the bristles on the bill,
and the separation of the lateral and anterior scales by a narrow
interval, are worthy of particular attention. The commissure is
without the obtusely angular bend near the base, seen in the

There are two sub-families of _Corvidæ_ represented in America, one
embracing the true Crows, the other the Jays. They pass very
insensibly into each other, and it is difficult to mark the dividing
line. We may, however, distinguish these, as found in the United
States, by the following characters:—

Corvinæ. Bill as long as the head. Tail short, nearly even; wings long
and pointed, longer than tail, and nearly reaching its tip; projecting
beyond the under tail-coverts, which reach the middle of tail. Tip of
wing formed by the third, fourth, and fifth quills, which are longest.

Garrulinæ. Bill usually shorter than head. Tail lengthened, rounded,
and generally longer than the wings, which are short, rounded, and
extend scarcely beyond the lower tail-coverts; these not reaching the
middle of the tail. Tip of wing formed by the fourth, fifth, and sixth
quills, which are longest.

The row of small scales is usually present on both sides of the tarsi
in the _Corvinæ_, but in the Jays is generally restricted to the inner


CHAR. Wings long and pointed; longer than the tail, and, when closed,
reaching nearly to its tip, extending far beyond the under
tail-coverts; the third, fourth, and fifth quills forming the tip of
the wing.

The following diagnosis may serve to distinguish the three genera of
North American _Corvinæ_:—

  A. (_Corveæ_). Bill compressed, much higher than broad;
  its tip compressed. Size large (i. e. over 15 inches
  long), color black, or mainly black.

    Color black throughout; bill much compressed, the culmen
    much arched, and the gonys convex; nasal bristles strong

  B. (_Nucifrageæ._) Bill cylindrical, scarcely or not at
  all higher than broad; its tip depressed. Size small (i.
  e. less than 15 inches long). Color uniform blue or with
  ashy on body, and black wings and tail.

    Color ashy, with wings and tail mainly black. Culmen
    convex, gonys slightly concave. Nostrils covered by the
    short nasal tuft                                    _Picicorvus_.

    Color uniform blue, brighter on the head; the throat
    streaked with whitish. Culmen straight; gonys slightly
    convex. Nostrils completely exposed; no nasal tufts _Gymnokitta_.


  _Corvus_, LINNÆUS, Syst. Nat. 1735. (Type, _Corvus corax_, L.)

  [Line drawing: _Corvus carnivorus._

GEN. CHAR. The nasal feathers lengthened, reaching to or beyond the
middle of the bill. Nostrils large, circular, overhung behind by
membrane, the edges rounded elsewhere. Rictus without bristles. Bill
nearly as long as the tarsus, very stout; much higher than broad at
the base; culmen much arched. Wings reaching nearly or quite to the
tip of the tail, the outer four primaries sinuated internally. Tarsi
longer than the middle toe, with a series of small scales on the
middle of each side separating the anterior scutellate portion from
the posterior continuous plates. Sides of the head occasionally with
nearly naked patches. Tail graduated or rounded.

  [Illustration: PLATE XXXVII.
  1. Quiscalus purpureus. ♂ Pa., 1363.
  2.    ”    aglæus. ♂ Fla., 10342.
  3. Corvus caurinus. ♂ Sitka, 46662.
  4.   ”    mexicanus. ♂ Mazatlan, 52802.
  5.   ”    americanus. ♂ D. C.
  6.   ”    carnivorus. ♀ Neb., 4546.
  7.   ”    ossifragus. D. C., 4515.
  8.   ”    cryptoleucus. Texas, 46798.
  9.   ”    floridanus. Fla., 10374.]

Species and Varieties.

  RAVENS. Feathers of the chin and throat stiffened,
  elongated, narrow and lanceolate, with their outlines very

        1. C. corax var. carnivorus. Length about 25.00;
        wing, 17.00; tail, 10.00; graduation of tail, 1.60
        to 2.40. Feathers of the neck and breast light gray
        beneath surface. _Hab._ Whole of North America;
        Guatemala and Mexico. Rare in Eastern United States.

        2. C. cryptoleucus. Length about 21.00; wing, 14.00;
        tail, 8.50; graduation of tail, about 1.25. Feathers
        of neck and breast snowy-white beneath surface.
        _Hab._ Llano Estacado, or Staked Plain of Texas;
        Arizona; Colorado.

  CROWS. Feathers of chin and throat soft, short, broad,
  obtuse, and with their webs blended.

    A. Angle of mouth feathered—North American Crows.

      _a._ Tarsus longer than the bill. First quill not
      longer than tenth.

        3. C. americanus. The gloss of the plumage
        purplish-violet, and hardly perceptible on head and
        neck, middle toe and claw rather shorter than
        tarsus, measured from beginning of scutellæ.

          Wing, 12.25; tail, 7.20; culmen, 1.85; tarsus,
          2.00; middle toe, 1.45; wing-formula, 4, 3, 5, 6,
          2; first quill equal to tenth. _Hab._ North
          America generally                        var. _americanus_.[50]

          Wing, 12.50; tail, 7.20; culmen, 2.10; tarsus,
          2.30; middle toe, 1.60. Wing-formula? (moulting).
          _Hab._ South Florida                     var. _floridanus_.

        4. C. ossifragus. The gloss of plumage
        violaceous-blue, almost green on the head, neck, and
        breast, where very perceptible. Middle toe and claw
        longer than tarsus, as above. Wing, 10.50; tail,
        6.50; culmen, 1.55; tarsus, 1.65; middle toe, 1.35.
        Wing-formula, 4, 3, 5; first quill slightly shorter
        than tenth. _Hab._ Atlantic Coast of the United

      _b._ Tarsus shorter than the bill. First quill longer
      than tenth.

        5. C. caurinus. Gloss of the plumage as in
        _americanus_, but deeper. Wing, 10.50; tail, 6.40;
        culmen, 1.95; tarsus, 1.70; middle toe, 1.25.
        Wing-formula, 4, 3, 5. _Hab._ Northwestern coast of
        North America.

        6. C. mexicanus.[51] Plumage highly lustrous,
        blended. Soft burnished steel-blue, changing to
        violet on the crown, and with a greenish cast on
        lower parts. Wing, 9.00; tail, 6.50; culmen, 1.60;
        tarsus, 1.20; middle toe, 1.10. Wing-formula, 4, 3,
        5. First quill very much longer than tenth. _Hab._
        Western Mexico (Mazatlan, etc.).

    B. Angle of mouth naked—West Indian Crows.

      _a._ Tarsus much shorter than the bill.

        7. C. nasicus.[52] Nostrils scarcely concealed by
        the short nasal bristles. Entirely violaceous-black,
        the feathers smoky-gray beneath the surface. Wing,
        11.00; tail, 7.75; culmen, 2.45; depth of bill, .80;
        tarsus, 1.95; middle toe, 1.50; graduation of tail
        about 1.00; wing-formula, 4, 3, 5, 6, 2; first quill
        shortest. _Hab._ Cuba.

        8. C. leucognaphalus.[53] Nostrils well concealed by
        the longer, but rather scant, nasal bristles.
        Entirely violaceous-black, the feathers of the neck
        all round, breast and sides, pure white below the
        surface. Wing, 12.50; tail, 9.00; culmen, 2.45;
        depth of bill, .95; tarsus, 2.15; middle toe, 1.50;
        graduation of tail about 1.25. Wing-formula, 4, 5,
        3, 6, 2; first quill much the shortest. _Hab._ Porto

      _b._ Tarsus about equal to bill.

        9. C. jamaicensis.[54] Nostrils just covered by the
        short but dense tuft of nasal bristles. Entirely
        dark sooty-plumbeous, inclining to black on the
        head, wings, and tail, where is a very faint
        violaceous gloss. Wing, 9.50; tail, 6.50; culmen,
        2.00; depth of bill, 1.70; tarsus, 2.05; middle toe,
        1.35; graduation of tail, about .60. Wing-formula,
        5, 4, 3, 6, 2; first shortest. _Hab._ Jamaica.

     [50] The measurements given are of a California specimen, in
     order the better to show the great distinction to be made
     between this species and _caurinus_, which is probably not
     found in California, being a more northern species, and
     having the coast of Washington Territory, or perhaps Oregon,
     as about its southern limit.

     [51] _C. mexicanus_, GMEL. Syst. Nat. p. 375. This species
     is perfectly distinct from all the others. The plumage has a
     silky blended character, and very high lustre, almost
     exactly as in the larger Grakles (_Quiscalus major_, etc.).

     [52] _C. nasicus_, TEMM. Pl. Col. 413.—GUNDL. Rev. y Catal.
     de las Aves de Cuba., 1865, 290. _Corvus americanus_, LEMB.
     Aves de Cuba, 1830, 65. _Hab._ Cuba.

     [53] _C. leucognaphalus_, DAUD. Tr. d’Orn. II, 231.—SALLÉ,
     P. Z. S. 1857, 232.—BRYANT, Pr. Bost. Soc. 1866, XI, 94.
     _Hab._ Porto Rico and Santo Domingo.

     [54] _C. jamaicensis_, GM. S. N. I, 367.—GOSSE, B. Jam.
     209.—SCL. Catal. Am. B. 1860, 146.—BONAP. Consp.
     385.—SALLÉ, P. Z. S. 1857, 232.—MARCH, P. A. N. S. 1863,
     300.—BRYANT, Pr. Bost. Soc. 1866, XI, 94. _Hab._ Jamaica
     and Santo Domingo.

     The _C. minutus_ of Cuba we have not seen; it seems,
     however, to be rather nearly related to _C. ossifragus_, and
     possesses more lengthened nasal plumes than the three West
     Indian species diagnosed above. Its synonomy is as

     _Corvus minutus_, GUNDL. Cab. J. 1856, 20, p. 97.—IB. Rev.
     y Catal. de las Aves de Cuba. _Hab._ Cuba.

Corvus corax, var. carnivorus, BARTRAM.


  _Corvus carnivorus_, BARTRAM, Travels in E. Florida, 1793,
       290.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 560, pl. xxi.—COOPER &
       SUCKLEY, 210, pl. xxi.—COUES, P. A. N. S. 1866, 225.—LORD,
       Pr. R. A. Inst. IV, 1864, 121 (British Columbia).—DALL &
       BANNISTER, Tr. Ch. Ac. I, 1869, 285 (Alaska).—COOPER, Orn.
       Cal. I, 1870, 282.—SAMUELS, 355. _Corvus corax_, WILSON, Am.
       Orn. IX, 1825, 136, pl. lxxv. f. 3.—BONAP. Obs. Wils. 1825,
       No. 36.—IB. Syn. 1828, 56.—DOUGHTY, Cab. N. H. I, 1830, 270,
       pl. xxiv.—RICH. F. B. Am. II, 1831, 290.—NUTTALL, Man. I,
       1832, 202.—AUD. Orn. Biog. II, 1834, 476, pl. ci.—IB. Syn.
       1839, 150.—IB. Birds Am. IV. 1842, 78, pl. ccxxiv.—HEERM. X,
       _S_, 54.—FINSCH, Abh. Nat. III, 1872, 40 (Alaska). _Corvus
       cacalotl_, “WAGLER,” ? BONAP. Pr. Zoöl. Soc. 1837, 115 (perhaps
       true _cacalotl_).—IB. List, 1838 (probably not of
       Wagler).—IB. Conspectus, 1850, 387.—MAXIMILIAN, Reise
       innere Nord Amer. II, 1841, 289 (does not consider it different
       from European).—NEWBERRY, P. R. R. Rep. VI, IV, 1857, 82.
       _Corvus lugubris_, AGASSIZ, Pr. Bost. Soc. N. H. II, Dec. 1846,
       188.—IB. Caban. J. VI, 1858, 195.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858,
       563, pl. xx.—KENNERLY, P. R. R. X. b. pl. xxii. _Corvus_, var.
       _littoralis_, “HOLBÖLL, Kroger Tidsk. IV, 1843,
       390.”—SCHLEGEL, note on _Corvus_.

SP. CHAR. Fourth quill longest; third and fifth about equal; second
between fifth and sixth; first nearly equal to the eighth. Length,
about 24.00 or 25.00; extent, 50.00 to 51.00; wing, about 17.00; tail,
10.00. Tail moderately graduated; the outer feather about 1.60 to 2.40
inches less than the middle. Entirely glossy black, with burnished
violet reflections.

HAB. Entire continent of North America. Rare east of the Mississippi.
South to Guatemala.

  [Illustration: _Corvus carnivorus._]

Though easily distinguishable from the European bird, the American
Raven is so nearly related to it as to be beyond doubt referrible to
it as a variety. The differences presented in a very large series of
both forms are, however, very constant and tangible. In the American
bird the bill is always longer and less deep, and the plumage is more
highly burnished, while the wings, especially the secondaries, are
perceptibly of a more reddish violet than the other portions. Though
in an immense series of American specimens many differences of form
and size are noted, yet there is nothing sufficiently characteristic
of any particular region to indicate more than one variety. As a rule,
however, specimens from the high north exceed in size those from
elsewhere, and have the bill more robust, though not so short as in
the European bird; while those from the Middle Province and Mexico to
Guatemala (= “_cacalotl_,” Baird et Auct.) have the plumage more
brilliant than others, and frequently the bill very narrow.

HABITS. Assuming that we must consider as but one species the two
differing forms of Raven found in North America, we find this bird
more or less common throughout nearly the whole continent. It is much
more abundant in some regions than in others, and, as a general rule,
is much more common and also more generally distributed in the western
portion, where also its habits are remarkably different from the
manners of its eastern representative.

It seems to be more or less common throughout the Arctic regions. Mr.
Kennicott met with Ravens at Lake Winnipeg. Mr. MacFarlane found them
abundant at Lockhart River, at Fort Anderson, and on the Lower
Anderson River. Mr. Ross obtained them at Fort Simpson, Mr. Reid at
Big Island, Mr. Clarke at Fort Rae, Mr. Lockhart at Fort Resolution,
and Mr. Dall at Nulato, in Alaska.

Richardson speaks of it as abounding in the fur countries, where it
frequents the barren grounds even in the intense winter cold, and
where its movements are regulated by those of reindeer, musk-oxen, and
other animals, which it follows, to assist in devouring whatever may
be killed. Ravens are seen to collect from various quarters wherever
any animal is slain, in order to feast on the offal, and considerable
numbers are in constant attendance upon the several fishing-stations.
He mentions a singular instance of the disposition of this bird to
appropriate glittering objects of no value to it for food or anything
else. A Raven was seen flying off with something in its claws, pursued
by a number of its clamorous companions. Having been fired at, it
dropped the object of contention, which proved to be the lock of a

Mr. MacFarlane’s notes in regard to the nesting of these birds
describe certain variations as to position, etc. One nest was on a
ledge of a cliff of shale, and was composed of dry willow sticks,
lined with pieces of rabbit skin and the hair of moose. Both parents
were seen,—one on the nest, the other on a tree,—but both flew away
on being approached. A second nest was in the top crotch of a tall
pine on the river-bank. It was made of dry sticks, and thickly lined
with reindeer hair. There were eight eggs in this nest. A third was in
a tall pine, and was forty-five feet from the ground. It was
constructed in a manner precisely similar to the preceding. A fourth
was on the top of a tall pine, and only differed in having been lined
with dry grass, moss, and a few reindeer hairs. The other nests appear
to have been similarly situated and constructed. Nearly all were in
high trees, built of dry sticks, and lined with dry grasses, mosses,
and the hair of various quadrupeds. The maximum number of eggs was
eight, their average six.

Mr. MacFarlane states that the Raven is found throughout the winter in
the Arctic regions, and that, though he has met with it north of
latitude 69°, he has never known it to breed north of that line. He
informs us that it is seldom that more than a single pair is to be
seen at a time, and occasionally they may be noted singly, flying
alone, or feeding on garbage. Sometimes a dead fox or wolf will
attract quite a number to the spot. On one occasion he observed as
many as twenty Ravens amicably associated together around the
carcasses of two wolves that had been poisoned with strychnine. In
many cases he has known the partaking of a poisoned animal prove fatal
to them, as also the eating of bait laid for foxes and wolves.

According to this same correspondent, one of these birds became almost
domesticated at Fort Anderson, during February and March, 1865. At
first it fed about the fort with a companion; soon after, coming
alone, it grew bolder and bolder, alighted within the square, allowed
itself to be closely approached, where the young dogs soon became
familiar with it, and would even frolic and gambol with it, the Raven
joining heartily in the sport in its own way. It was never known to
attempt to injure even the smallest of the young dogs, nor did any of
the dogs ever offer to annoy it. It at length came to be considered by
all as an inmate of the establishment. While it seemed to have full
confidence in the people of the fort, it kept at a careful distance
from all Indian or Esquimaux visitors.

Mr. B. R. Ross speaks of Ravens as common as far north as the Arctic
Ocean. They feed on carrion, and act as scavengers to the
establishments. Their sight is remarkably keen, and the sagacity with
which they follow the trapper is wonderful. Early as the hunter may
start, these harpies will have been before him, and torn out the eyes
and entrails of each hare. They will break into marten-traps for the
sake of the bait or the captured animal, thrusting aside or pulling
out with their beaks the sticks that compose the enclosure. Sometimes
they are caught in steel traps that are set for foxes, or eat the
strychnine baits laid for the same animals, and slowly succumb to this
powerful poison. Their flesh is so rank that even a fox, unless sorely
pressed by hunger, will not eat it. They pair in April, and usually
construct their nests in the loftiest trees. They have various
call-notes, one of which is like that of the Canada Goose, and another
is said by Mr. Ross to be very liquid and musical.

Mr. Dall states that these birds were abundant all the year at Nulato,
and indeed everywhere throughout Alaska, but much more common near the
Indian villages and trading-posts than elsewhere. They build on the
sandstone cliffs at Nulato, in cavities that have been occupied for
years. They lay about the 20th of April, and the young are hatched
before open water. He also speaks of them as very intelligent, and
states that on several expeditions made to obtain their eggs, the
instant he stopped at the foot of the bluff the whole colony would
arrange themselves on the edge of the rock in anxious consultation,
uttering repeated cries of warning. On one occasion, where the nest
was inaccessible and the party went back unsuccessful, their departure
was announced by significant and joyous croaks and derisive screeches.
Ravens were also found by Mr. Bannister common all the year on the
small islands lying off the northeast point of St. Michaels.

In the Eastern States the Raven is a comparatively rare bird, except
in a few special localities. These are usually mountain-ranges, high
precipitous banks of rivers and lakes and of the ocean, and among wild
and lonely islands. It occurs on the Labrador coast, at Grand Menan in
the Bay of Fundy, the Adirondacks, Lake George, the Hudson River, etc.
Mr. Lawrence speaks of it as quite common on the coast of New Jersey.
It is found among the mountains of Buncombe and other counties in
North Carolina, and Mr. Audubon mentions its occurrence at Table
Mountain, in the district of Pendleton, South Carolina. Dr. Coues
found Ravens not rare at Labrador, where the almost inaccessible
cliffs afford them safe and convenient retreats. They were so
excessively wary that it was found impossible to shoot them. They
descended in pairs to the sea-shore to feed on dead fish, crabs, and
other animal substances thrown up by the sea.

Mr. Ridgway informs me of the presence of this bird in the heavy
forests of the bottom-lands in Southern Illinois. It is there quite
rare, however, as he has met with but a few pairs. These were
resident, and nested in the tall timber of the Big Creek bottoms, in
Richland Co.

Audubon’s party found it equally impossible to obtain a specimen at
Labrador. One afternoon Mr. Audubon hid himself under a nest several
hours, to no purpose. The old Ravens would not show themselves while
he was within gunshot, though the young clamored for food. As soon as
he had left the spot the female alighted on the nest, fed her young,
and was off again before she could be approached.

At Grand Menan, where they are not rare, and where they breed among
the high cliffs, I found them so wild that it was almost impossible
even to obtain sight of them. Passing high in the air above our heads,
their loud, hoarse croak attested their alarm at the sight of their
enemy, man. They are looked upon with aversion by the islanders, and
are persecuted by them without mercy. They rob the nests of the
Herring Gulls, interfering with the islanders in this privilege, and
are, wrongfully I believe, charged with destroying young lambs.

Years afterwards, when I again encountered individuals of this species
at Cheyenne, on the Plains, I could not but notice the immense
difference in their character. There perfect confidence in man took
the place of dread. Unmolested by the people, who regard them as
desirable scavengers, valueless for food and useful in removing
nuisances, they were as tame and familiar as the European Sparrow in
the parks of New York or Boston. On one occasion I found one engaged
in eating the remains of a dead cow just outside the city. It allowed
me to approach to within five or six feet, when with a very stately
and dignified stride it moved out of my way, and kept me at about this
distance. I could not compel it to fly to any distance, even when I
hastened my steps.

In New England these birds are very rare, and their occurrence is only
accidental. One has been shot on the Connecticut, and another on the
Merrimack, in Massachusetts. They are not unfrequently met with in
Northern New York.

On the Pacific Coast the Raven is common from Sitka to San Diego.
Throughout Washington Territory it is said to be plentiful, more
scattered in the summer, and in the winter congregating about
settlements and the sea-shore. At Vancouver, during the winter, it was
observed amicably associating with the Crows, and on the coast with
the Fish Crows, but during the spring, when the latter had nests, they
boldly attacked the Ravens, and drove them away.

In California and in all the adjacent regions, Dr. Cooper states, the
Raven is found everywhere in pairs, more numerous than in the Atlantic
States, and abundant even in the most barren desert districts. It
follows trains and herds of cattle, and keeps on the lookout for
anything befalling them. It is omnivorous, eating snakes, lizards,
eggs, carrion, and even grain, though the last very rarely. It is
accused of destroying young chickens and lambs.

In Arizona Dr. Coues speaks of it as resident, and very abundant about
the cattle enclosures, where it congregates in immense numbers during
the autumn and winter. During the severe winter of 1864-65 great
numbers perished of cold and hunger at Fort Whipple. Dr. Coues has
favored us with the following interesting sketch of the habits of this
bird as observed by him in that Territory.

     “The geographical distribution of the Raven seems to be in great
     measure complementary to that of the Crow. On the prairies, in
     the desert, among the mountains, of the Western States and
     Territories, where the Ravens and their congenial companions, the
     coyotes, abound, the Crows are rare or wanting altogether. In
     travelling westward, I saw no Crows after leaving the settlements
     this side of the Plains, while the Ravens were conspicuous, until
     in some parts of Southern California Crows reappeared, but no
     Ravens amongst them. I saw a fair number of Ravens along the
     Arkansas River, and they were frequent in the valley of the Rio
     Grande; after crossing the river, while traversing the wild
     region thence to the Colorado, they were our inseparable
     companions; hundreds, if not thousands, of them lived about Fort
     Whipple all the year, seemingly attracted from miles around by
     probabilities of finding abundant food. Throughout the Western
     wilds they hang on the footsteps of man, needy adventurers,
     claiming their share of his spoils, disputing with the wolves and
     vultures for the refuse of his camp, and polishing the skeletons
     of the buffalo, with which he sometimes strews the plain. The
     more desolate the land, the closer the Raven follows in the trail
     of the emigrant, till its dismal croaking sounds ominous of
     hardship, and its plumage seems to foreshadow days as dark.

     “One accustomed to the shrewdness and prudence of Crows in
     populous districts is at first surprised at an apparent
     familiarity the Raven often shows in the West. There no one would
     think of wasting ammunition on the worthless bird, and it comes
     to look upon man more as its provider than as an enemy.
     Nevertheless, like the rest of its tribe, the Raven is a
     sagacious bird, not likely to be twice deceived, and very ready
     to take a hint; he always has his wits about him, and keeps a
     bright lookout when anything stranger than a coyote is near. This
     wariness is something altogether different from the childlike
     timidity of little birds like Sparrows, that scurry away in
     terror from any unusual sight or sound, and unquestionably
     implies keen powers of observation coupled with no small degree
     of reasoning faculty. Almost every day during the winter of
     1864-65 I must have passed within a few paces of Ravens stalking
     about the fort; and yet, when I wanted a specimen, it was not an
     easy matter to secure one. The birds assuredly knew the
     difference between a person going quietly about his business and
     one “on mischief bent,” and their intelligent watchfulness
     rendered it quite impossible to approach them openly with gun in

     “Ravens are resident in the region about Fort Whipple, and their
     apparently diminished number in summer is simply due to the fact
     that they are then spread over a greater surface, are less
     restless, and better provided for in the matter of food. In
     winter, and especially when snow covered the ground, their
     numbers at the fort were simply incalculable. They dotted the
     ground everywhere during the day, and roosted in crowds on the
     neighboring pines by night. One patriarchal tree, that stood
     somewhat isolated, was a favorite resting-place for the Ravens
     and Buzzards, and gradually assumed a singular appearance, as if
     it had been whitewashed. This great pine overlooked a little open
     space where our beeves were slaughtered, and the banqueting there
     was never ended. All night long the wolves howled and barked as
     they tugged at the offal, till daylight sent them reluctant to
     their rocky fastnesses, when the great dark birds, with a
     premonitory stretching of the wings, flapped down to renew the
     feast. The Ravens and Buzzards seemed to get along very well
     together, quarrelling no more with each other than each species
     did with its own kind; but in the occasional disputes the smaller
     birds seemed to have rather the advantage of the heavier and
     clumsier gluttons. This comparative good-fellowship was in
     striking contrast to the behavior of Crows towards Turkey

     “The Raven is not, on the whole, so noisy a bird as the Crow,
     though he croaks vigorously on occasion, and his caw may claim to
     be impressive, if not agreeable. But the queer sounds that the
     bird can utter, if he be so minded, are indescribable; even his
     ordinary cawing is susceptible of considerable modulation. A
     favorite amusement of his, when, his hunger appeased for the
     time, he feels particularly comfortable, is to settle snugly on
     the top of a pine-tree, and talk to himself. The performance
     generally begins with a loud caw, self-asserting, followed by a
     complacent chuckle; and then comes a series of comical syllables,
     so low as to be scarcely audible from the ground below, as if he
     were musing aloud, and tickled with his own fancies. Then he will
     raise his voice again, and file away at some old saw for a while,
     finishing with the inimitable ‘cork-drawing’ for which his tribe
     is famous.

     “A Raven that I had slightly wounded in the wing and captured
     soon became quite tame, and developed a variety of amusing
     traits. Proving rather obtrusive and inconvenient in my narrow
     quarters, I undertook to tie him in a corner with a string round
     his leg. This he objected to, and it was astonishing to see the
     perseverance he showed in untying any number of knots I might
     make. It was a task that sometimes took him hours, but he never
     rested until it was done. I had no chain light enough for the
     purpose, but I finally got the better of him by twisting a wire
     with the cord. His intelligence did not reach in that direction
     more than six inches from his leg.”

Mr. Dresser observed the Raven common at San Antonio, frequenting the
slaughter-houses. In November, in the Baudera Hills, several came to
his camp to feast on the offal of deer. Dr. Woodhouse also found them
very abundant in Texas, the Indian Territory, and New Mexico, and
especially so on the buffalo plains. In the Mexican Boundary Survey,
Dr. Kennerly observed these birds everywhere in Northern Mexico,
flocks of them following the train from point to point. They were not
at all shy, but often came into camp in search of food.

Captain Blakiston, having enjoyed unusual opportunities for observing
the habits of the American Raven during his residence in high northern
regions, characterizes the species as anything but solitary. During
the day they are usually met with in pairs, except when drawn together
in large numbers around the carcass of a dead animal. At night, during
the winter, they repair to some chosen resting-place, usually a clump
of trees on the edge of a prairie, and there roost in one immense
body. One of these roosting-places was about a mile from Fort Carlton,
and Captain Blakiston’s attention was first drawn to it by noticing
that about sunset all the Ravens, from all quarters, were flying
towards this point. Returning to the fort in the evening by that
quarter, he found a clump of aspen-trees, none of them more than
twenty-five feet high, filled with Ravens, who, at his approach, took
wing and flew round and round. He also noted the wonderful regularity
with which they repaired to their roosting-place in the evening and
left it again in the morning, by pairs, on their day’s hunt. They
always left in the morning, within a minute or two of the same time,
earlier and earlier as the days grew longer, on cold or cloudy
mornings a little later, usually just half an hour before sunrise. In
April they all paired off, and their roosting-place became deserted.
During an excursion about one hundred and fifty miles southwest of
Fort Carlton, Captain Blakiston found several nests of Ravens with
eggs, one of which was in a small tree near a lake, and was not more
than fifteen feet above it. It contained six eggs, was about a foot in
diameter, composed of sticks, and was lined with buffalo-hair and
pieces of scarlet cloth, evidently picked up about an Indian

Dr. Heermann states that while in California he always found the nests
of the Raven placed high on bold precipitous cliffs, secure against
danger; in the vast desolate plains of New Mexico he saw these birds
building on low trees, and even on cactus-plants, less than three feet
from the ground, showing how much circumstances and localities affect
the habits of birds regarding incubation.

A Raven, probably this species, is abundant on the plateau of Mexico.
The Cerro Colorado, near Tehuacan, is the rendezvous of a large number
of these birds, where, according to Sumichrast, at the time of the
flowering of the _maguey_, they gather in great abundance, to feed on
the blossoms of this plant, which are their favorite food.

Mr. Boardman writes me that he has several times collected Ravens’
eggs at Grand Menan, but always found the nest a hard one to take, as
they usually build it under some high cliff. They make a very large
and bulky nest, and, where not disturbed, use it several years in
succession. They also breed very early. He once took a nest with eight
eggs on the 10th of April, when the snow all around was quite deep.
This was sent to the Smithsonian Institution. Its contents nearly
filled a bushel basket. He does not regard the Ravens as migratory.
Though they are apparently more numerous in winter than in summer,
this is probably because they forsake the woods and come about the
open fields and the banks of rivers for dead fish, and thus are more
noticed. They are very shy, sagacious, and vigilant, so much so that
it is almost impossible for one to get a shot at them. Crows avoid
them, and the two are never seen together. The farmers of Grand Menan
accuse them of pecking the eyes out of young lambs, and always try to
destroy them, and they grow less and less numerous every year. The
Ravens, he adds, appear to be on good terms with the Duck Hawks, as he
has known a nest of the former within a few rods of one of the latter.

An egg of this species, from Anderson River, measures 1.96 inches in
length by 1.32 in breadth. Two from Grand Menan measure, one 2.05
inches by 1.30, the other 1.95 by 1.25. The ground-color of two of
these is a soiled sea-green, that of the third is a light
bluish-green. This is more sparingly marked with dots, blotches, and
cloudings of faint purple and purplish-brown, chiefly at the larger
end. The others are marked over the entire egg with blotches of
varying size and depth of coloring, of a deep purple-brown; some of
the markings are not readily distinguishable from black.

Corvus cryptoleucus, COUCH.


  _Corvus cryptoleucus_, COUCH, Pr. A. N. Sc. VII, April, 1854, 66
       (Tamaulipas, Mexico).—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 565, pl.
       xxii.—COOPER, Orn. Cal. 1, 1870, 284.

SP. CHAR. The fourth quill is longest; the third and fifth equal; the
second longer than the sixth; the first about equal to the seventh.
Glossy black, with violet reflections; feathers of neck all round,
back, and breast, snow-white at the base. Length, about 21.00; wing,
14.00; tail, 8.50. Feathers of throat lanceolate; bristly feathers
along the base of the bill covering it for nearly two thirds its

HAB. Valley of Rio Grande and Gila. Abundant on the Llano Estacado,
and at Eagle Pass, Texas (DRESSER, Ibis, 1865, 494). Colorado (AIKEN).

In the white bases to the feathers of the neck, etc., there is a
resemblance in this species to the _C. leucognaphalus_ of Porto Rico;
but the latter has entirely different proportions, blended instead of
lanceolate feathers on the throat, exceedingly short instead of
unusually long nasal plumes, and many other differences, and is in
every feature totally distinct.

HABITS. Of the distinctive habits or the extent of the distribution of
the White-necked Raven we have very little knowledge. It was first
described by Lieutenant Couch, in 1854, from specimens obtained by him
at Charco Escondido, Mexico, in May, 1853. Other specimens were
afterwards procured by Dr. Kennerly, at Janos, Mexico, in 1855, and by
Mr. Dresser at Eagle Pass, Texas, in March, 1864. The latter gives no
notes as to its habits.

Dr. Kennerly’s note in regard to it is that it was not very common,
and when seen was generally associated with the larger species of
Raven. Lieutenant Couch merely mentions it as found in small numbers
in Eastern Tamaulipas, generally near ranches.

Mr. J. H. Clark writes that this species does not seem to possess the
cunning or wariness of its congeners. It was met with, in the greatest
abundance, about watering-places. It was not found habitually in great
flocks, though at the head of the Limpia many were congregated and
flying about the face of an immense rocky mountain wall, where they
were probably nesting. Their note he describes as coarse, and less
shrill than that of the common Crow. He met with the supposed nest in
an arborescent cactus.

Dr. Coues does not appear to have met with this species in Arizona,
but Lieutenant Bendire writes to Professor Baird from Tucson, April
12, 1872, that it is the most common Crow or Raven there. This he
discovered accidentally, finding that three fourths of the Ravens he
shot proved to be of this species; the others were the Colorado race
of the Raven. Specimens of this Crow were obtained at Fort Buchanan by
Dr. Irwin, at Pecos River by Dr. Anderson, and in the Indian Territory
by Mr. McCarthy.

An egg of this species, from Trout Creek, Texas, obtained June 20 by
Charles S. McCarthy, measures 1.75 inches in length by 1.25 in
breadth. The ground-color is a light grayish-green, and is pretty
uniformly marked with fine dottings of mingled purple and brown.

Corvus americanus, AUD.


  _Corvus corone_, WILSON, Am. Orn. IV, 1811, 79, pl. xxv, f. 3.—BON.
       Obs. Wils. 1824, No. 37.—IB. Syn. 1828, 56.—RICH. F. B. Am.
       II, 1831, 291.—NUTTALL, Man. I, 1832, 209 (not _Corvus corone_
       of LINN.). CORVUS AMERICANUS, AUD. Orn. Biog. II, 1834, 317; V,
       477, pl. clvi.—IB. Syn. 1839, 150.—IB. Birds Am. IV, 1842,
       87, pl. ccxxv.—BON. List, 1838.—IB. Consp. 1850,
       385.—NUTTALL, Man. I, (2d ed.,) 1840, 221.—MAXIM. Reise, I,
       1839, 140.—NEWBERRY, Zoöl. Cal. & Or. Route, P. R. R. Rep. VI,
       IV, 1857, 82.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 566, pl. xxiii.—MAX.
       Caban. J. VI, 1858, 198.—SCHLEGEL, Notice sur les Corbeaux,
       10, pl. i, f. 16.—COUES, P. A. N. S. 1861, 226.—SAMUELS,
       357.—ALLEN, B. E. Fla. 297 (in part).

SP. CHAR. Fourth quill longest; second shorter than sixth; first
shorter than ninth. Glossy black with violet reflections, even on the
belly. Length, 19.00 to 20.00; wing, 13.00 to 13.50; tail about 8.00.
Tarsus longer than the middle toe and claw.

HAB. United States, from Atlantic to Pacific; rare in the Middle
Province and on Missouri Plains, and on northwest coast. N. E. Texas
(DRESSER, Ibis, 1865, 494). North to Great Slave Lake, Fort Rae, and
Nelson River, H. B. T.

The _C. americanus_ has no analogue in Europe, though the _C. corone_
somewhat resembles it. The most important feature of distinction
appears to lie in the structure of the feathers of the head and neck,
which in _C. corone_ are narrow, with the tips distinct, while in the
American bird these tips are blended together and do not maintain
their individuality. The feathers on the fore-neck in _corone_ are
also lanceolate and distinct, showing the outline of each one as in
the Raven, while in the American Crow they are three times as broad,
rounded, and entirely blended. Mr. Audubon further remarks that the
neck of the European bird is glossed with green and blue, while that
of the American has a decided purplish-brown tinge.

Prince Maximilian states, in addition, that the note differs in the
two species.

HABITS. The Common Crow of North America is found in great abundance
in all the Eastern States, from Texas to Florida, and from the
Missouri to Nova Scotia. A few are found beyond the Great Plains, and
they also extend their migrations, in summer, into high Arctic
regions. Richardson found them as far north as the 55th parallel, but
was in error when he stated that beyond this they do not go. He adds
that none approach within five or six hundred miles of Hudson’s Bay.
They were observed at Cross Lake and at Lake Winnepeg by Mr.
Kennicott, at Big Island by Mr. Reid, at Fort Rae by Mr. Clarke, and
at Fort Anderson and on the Lower Anderson River by Mr. MacFarlane,
who also found them breeding even at this high latitude. They were not
seen in Russian America, and Dr. Cooper thinks that the species does
not occur in California, or, if at all, only rarely, but that it is
there replaced by _C. caurinus_.

Mr. Ridgway found the Crow of very rare occurrence in the interior. A
very few were seen in the Truckee meadows, in November, and others at
the Humboldt marshes, in October. These western birds were exceedingly
unsuspicious and familiar, so much so that those seen in the Humboldt
marshes were walking about with all the familiarity of domestic
pigeons, only hopping aside as they were approached. None were seen
either in spring or summer.

In Western Iowa Mr. Allen states that he saw but very few of this
species, and even in Northern Illinois it was not very common. At the
West this bird is reported to be held in better estimation than at the
East, by the farmers. It is not known to pull corn, and seems to be
entirely unsuspicious. It is regarded generally as a benefactor, and
not only deserves, but receives, good treatment. In Indiana he found
it more common.

Dr. Coues met with a single individual on the Labrador coast. In Nova
Scotia it is much more abundant, and there, as on the Western
prairies, being unmolested by the inhabitants, it is exceedingly
unsuspicious, and will permit a very near approach before it will fly,
and even then will not move to a distance. In all of the United States
east of the Mississippi it is very abundant. In Texas, between San
Antonio and the Mexican frontier, it is not common; but Mr. Dresser
found it very common in the northeast part of the State during the
whole year.

Probably no one of our birds, so wholly worthless for food, has been
more hunted and destroyed than this species. In certain parts of the
country it is held in great aversion by the farmers, and in some
States bounty-laws have been enacted by legislatures to promote its
destruction. Had not these birds been possessed of an extraordinary
intelligence, they must long since have been exterminated or driven
from a large part of the country. In some sections their numbers have
been of late much diminished by the use of strychnine. During the
month of May the Crow is very destructive in the cornfield, pulling up
the grains as soon as they begin to vegetate, and compelling the
farmer to replant perhaps several times. Wilson remarks that in the
State of Delaware these birds collect in immense flocks and commit
great devastation upon crops of standing corn. They also occasionally
commit depredations in the barn-yard, robbing hens’-nests of their
eggs, and even destroying young chickens. They also destroy the eggs
and young of other birds. The mischief they thus do is doubtless very
great, and the ground for the prevalent prejudice against them is
quite apparent. Yet it is equally demonstrable that this bird is
surpassed, and probably is equalled, by no other in the vast amount of
the benefits conferred upon agriculturalists. The evil it perpetrates
is very limited, and is confined to but a short period, but during all
the time it is resident the Crow is constantly engaged in the
destruction of injurious insects and rodent quadrupeds. In the early
spring it feeds almost wholly upon the most destructive grubs, and in
extensive districts of Massachusetts, where these birds have been
largely destroyed, the ravages of the May-bugs and the grasshoppers in
pasture-lands have been a natural consequence of so short-sighted a

The persecutions to which the Crow is subjected have developed in them
a wariness and a distrust that is foreign to their nature. They can
only live by keeping on a constant lookout for dangers, and by
learning to distinguish the weapons that threaten their destruction.
As soon as anything is seen that causes alarm, the signal is at once
given, and the warning passed from one to another.

In New Jersey and in Pennsylvania, during the winter months, the Crows
assemble in immense flocks, and their movements appear to be regulated
by the guidance of a few chosen leaders. I received from the lips of
the late John Cassin, an ornithologist hardly less remarkable for his
outdoor observations than for his researches in the closet, only a few
days before his death, a very surprising account of the movements of a
large army of Crows, witnessed by himself, in the spring of 1868.

On a Sunday morning in April, when Philadelphia was enveloped in a fog
so dense and impenetrable that it was hardly possible to distinguish
objects across its streets, Mr. Cassin’s attention was called to an
immense accumulation of these birds in Independence Square. The whole
park he found, to his utter astonishment, occupied by an immense army
of Crows. They filled all the trees, bending down the overloaded
branches, and swarmed over and covered the ground. The entire space
seemed alive with Crows. They had evidently become bewildered in the
fog, and had strangely taken refuge in this small park in the very
heart of Philadelphia. As if aware of their close proximity to danger,
the whole assembly was quiet, orderly, and silent. A few birds,
evidently acting as leaders, moved noiselessly back and forth through
their ranks, as if giving tacit signals. These movements were followed
by the departure of a few scouts, as if sent to make explorations, but
they soon returned unsuccessful. Again were repeated the uneasy
movements of their leaders, passing slowly and cautiously through
their close ranks. After an apparently much longer consultation,
another small party ascended to explore, wheeling round and round in
wider and wider zones. At length, satisfied with their observations,
they quietly returned, and made their report in a manner evidently
understood, though not audibly expressed; for immediately the leaders
passed again among the crowd, and, as if signals were given for a
general movement, the whole of this immense congregation, numbering,
Mr. Cassin estimated, hundreds of thousands, rose slowly and silently,
preceded by their scouts, and, moving off in a westerly direction,
were soon lost to view.

When taken young, the Crow can be easily domesticated, and becomes a
very entertaining, but a very mischievous pet. It is very secretive,
hiding objects of no value to itself, and seems to delight in
mischief. It displays often a wonderful intelligence, appears to
understand and to obey certain directions, and manifests also
remarkable quickness of vision. A tame Crow belonging to a family
resident near Boston, and permitted to go at large, manifested all the
attachment of a dog. It especially enjoyed the society of the
children, and played with them in their games of hide and seek,
surpassing them by its readiness in finding the secreted object. It
was especially attached to the mistress of the house, flying to her
whenever she approached, hovering over her head, and alighting on her

In a few instances the Crow has been taught to imitate articulate
sounds. In one of these, in Grafton, Mass., the Crow not only
vociferated a single monosyllable repeatedly, but at other times
enunciated a short sentence of five syllables.

A few are resident in Massachusetts during the year, but the greater
portion move south in November and return in March. Those who remain
during the winter are chiefly resident near the sea-shore. The Crow
breeds from April to June, varying with the latitude of its residence.
In Massachusetts it has full-grown young by June 1. It builds, usually
in March, a large rudely constructed nest of sticks, moss, and bark,
lined with finer mosses, and sometimes with hair. The parent birds are
very watchful and vigilant if their nest is in danger, and often
expose their lives in their anxiety for their young. The male bird is
attentive to his mate during incubation, and assists in feeding the
young. The young are fed chiefly on insects, frogs, mice, and similar

The eggs of the Crow vary from 1.60 to 1.55 inches in length, and from
1.20 to 1.10 in breadth. In their markings they exhibit surprising
variations. They usually have a ground of a light sea-green, over
which are scattered, more or less thickly, blotches, some of them
quite large, of a dark-brown, almost black, with purplish reflections.
These are chiefly about the larger end. Another quite common variety
is of a deeper ground of green, very uniformly and thickly sprinkled
with fine dottings of a sepia-brown. Others have a ground nearly
white, slightly tinged with green, more sparingly spotted with small
blotches of light purplish-brown. A nest found near Springfield
contained eggs having the ground-color on one side a pinkish-gray, the
rest being greenish-white, all spotted with brown. Another set of eggs
from Hudson, Mass., were of a light bluish-green, entirely unspotted,
resembling large Robin’s eggs; and Dr. Wood mentions another four, the
ground of which was flesh-color, and the spots red.

Corvus americanus, var. floridanus, BAIRD.


  _Corvus americanus_, var. _floridanus_, BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 568, pl.
       lxvii, f. 1. _C. americanus_, ALLEN, B. E. Fla. 297.

SP. CHAR. About the size of _C. americanus_, but bill and feet larger.
Tail less rounded. Third, fourth, and fifth quills nearly equal; third
rather longer than fifth. Color less violet above. Length, 19.50;
wing, 12.00; tail, 7.70; tarsus, 2.60.

HAB. Southern peninsula of Florida.

This resident Crow of Florida differs in some marked features from
that of the more northern localities in several characters. Although
perhaps rather smaller, the bill and feet, especially the latter, are
very considerably larger. The nasal feathers extend over the basal two
fifths of the bill, instead of the half. The proportions of the bill
are about the same; in the Florida bird it is rather the longer. The
greatest difference is in the feet. The tarsal joint of the tibia is
bare, the feathers scarcely coming below it, even anteriorly, instead
of projecting some distance. The tarsus is almost a quarter of an inch
longer, covered anteriorly by nine scutellæ, instead of eight. The
outer lateral toe is shorter, not reaching the base of the middle
claw. The middle toe and claw are considerably shorter than the
tarsus; the middle claw is shorter than in the northern bird.

The wing-formula differs somewhat; the third, fourth, and fifth quills
are nearly equal, the third even longer than the fifth, instead of
shorter. The tail is short and very nearly even, the difference in
length of feathers being less than half an inch, instead of an inch.
This, however, may in part be owing to the absence of the middle pair.

The colors differ somewhat from those of the common Crow. There is
less violet, and the feathers of the back have almost a brassy gloss
on their margins, as in _Crotophaga_.

The specimen upon which these remarks are based, though apparently
perfectly mature, is changing some of its feathers, such as the inner
primaries, the middle tail-feathers, and the greater coverts. The long
primaries and ten tail-feathers, however, are of full length. It is
possible that the bird is really as large as the northern Crow,
although this is hardly probable. It was killed on the mainland of the
extreme southern portion of Florida, not far from Fort Dallas.

No comparison of this bird is required with the Fish Crow, which has
the middle toe and claw longer than the tarsus, not shorter, and the
proportions much less.

HABITS. The common resident Crow of Florida exhibits so many
peculiarities differing from the northern species, that Professor
Baird, in his Birds of America, deemed it worthy of mention at least
as a race, if not a distinct species. We have no account of its
habits, and do not know if, in any respects, they differ from those of
the common Crow. Dr. J. C. Cooper, in his brief manuscript notes on
the birds of Florida, made in the spring of 1859, speaks of the
Florida Crow as very common, as being quite maritime in its habits,
and as having full-fledged young on the 20th of April. Three eggs of
this race, obtained in Florida in the spring of 1871, by Mr. Maynard,
differ not more from those of the Crow than do those of the latter
occasionally from one another. They measure 1.73 by 1.20 inches; 1.70
by 1.20; and 1.54 by 1.25. Their ground-color is a bright
bluish-green, and they are all more or less marked, over the entire
egg, with blotches of a mingled bronze and brown with violet shadings.
The latter tints are more marked in one egg than in the others, and in
this the spots are fewer and more at one end, the larger end being
nearly free from markings. Their average capacity, as compared with
the average of the _C. americanus_, is as 5.1 to 4.2.

Corvus caurinus, BAIRD.


  _Corvus caurinus_, BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 569, pl. xxiv.—COOPER
       & SUCKLEY, 211, pl. xxiv.—DALL & BANNISTER, Tr. Chic. Ac. I,
       1869, 286 (Alaska).—FINSCH, Abh. Nat. III, 1872, 41
       (Alaska).—COOPER, Orn. Cal. 1, 1870, 285.

SP. CHAR. Fourth quill longest; fifth and third about equal; second
longer than sixth; first shorter than ninth. Color black, glossed with
purple. Tail nearly even. Tarsus longer than middle toe and claw.
Length about 16.50; wing about 11.00; tail about 7.00.

HAB. Northwestern coast, from Columbia River to Sitka.

This species is readily distinguished from the eastern Fish Crow by
the larger size; the absence of green gloss on the belly; the tarsi
longer than the middle toe and claw, instead of shorter; and the
second quill being generally shorter than the sixth instead of longer,
and considerably shorter than the culmen, instead of longer.

It is rather to be compared with _C. americanus_, with which it agrees
in colors, but from which it differs, essentially, in having the wing
and tail very much shorter, while the bill is considerably longer, and
in having the tarsus shorter than the culmen, instead of longer, as in
all the other North American species. In this last respect it agrees
with _C. mexicanus_ (see synopsis, p. 829) of Western Mexico; in this,
however, the color and proportions are entirely different.

HABITS. This species appears to be confined to the seaboard of the
Pacific, from Alaska to California inclusive. Smaller than the common
Crow, in its more essential features it closely resembles that bird,
while in all its habits it appears the exact counterpart of the Fish
Crow, from which it is specifically and essentially distinct.

It is found as far north as Sitka, several specimens having been
procured at that point by Mr. Bischoff.

In the opinion of Dr. Suckley, the marked differences in the habits of
this species from those of the common Crow, even more than the great
difference in size, sufficiently mark them as entirely distinct. The
western Fish Crow is never wary or suspicious, like the common
species, but in its impudent familiarity with man resembles the
English Jackdaw, and hardly learns to be shy even after having been
annoyed with the gun. In Oregon and Washington Territory, he states,
this Crow is very abundant, and is one of the marked ornithological
features of the country. The great abundance of fish, especially of
salmon, in both of these divisions, amply supplies this species with
food. At Puget Sound it is abundant throughout the year. During the
winter it subsists principally upon the refuse food and offal thrown
out by the natives from their lodges. He describes it as cunning, but
very tame and impudent, allowing a very near approach, and retiring
but a short distance when pursued. Like the Raven and the Herring
Gull, these birds are in the habit of carrying clams high into the air
and then dropping them, in order to break the shell. Dr. Suckley
observed one fruitlessly trying to break the shell of a clam by
letting it drop on soft ground. In this effort he persisted
perseveringly as long as he was watched.

Dr. Suckley found a nest of this species at Fort Dalles. It was
situated in a dense willow-thicket, near a lagoon on the Columbia, and
contained three eggs. He describes them as about an inch and a half
long, and very wide in their short diameter, of a dirty green ground
with brown spots.

Dr. Cooper speaks of it as much more gregarious and familiar than the
common Crow, but otherwise resembling that bird in habits, being very
sagacious, feeding upon almost everything animal and vegetable,
differing rather in the tone than in the character of its cries. Its
chief dependence for food being on the sea, it is generally found
along the beach, devouring dead fish and other objects thrown up by
the waves. At high tide the birds leave the shore and resort to
dwellings near the sea, where they devour the offal and any refuse,
vegetable or animal. As soon as the tide changes they are sure to
notice it and to return to their favorite feeding-ground. They are
very troublesome to the Indians, stealing their fish exposed for
drying, and other articles of food. From some superstitious awe of
them the Indians never molest these birds, but set their children to
watch and drive them away. They build in trees near the shore, and the
young are fledged in May.

In the southern half of California, Dr. Cooper states, these birds are
rarely seen near the sea, preferring inland districts, and only
occasionally coming to the shores of the bays to feed. During most of
the year they associate in large flocks, feeding in company, and are
gregarious even in the breeding-season, building in close proximity to
one another. Frequently several nests may be found on the same tree.
In this respect they are very unlike the eastern species, which never
permit another pair near their nest.

These birds were found by Dr. Cooper breeding as far south as San
Diego, where they selected for their breeding-places the groves of
evergreen oaks growing in ravines. Their nests were from twelve to
forty feet from the ground. In the north they generally build in
spruces. He describes their nests as strongly built of sticks, coarse
on the outside, but finer on the inside, where they are mingled with
roots, grasses, moss, horse-hair, etc., to form a soft lining. The
eggs, four in number, have a ground-color of a dark shade of green,
thickly marked with dark brown and olive. He gives their average
measurement as 1.60 by 1.10 inches. At San Diego they are laid about
April 15.

Where unmolested, these birds have not yet become so shy as in the
older districts, but they soon learn to apprehend the danger of a gun,
and to evince the cunning characteristics of their tribe. They have
not, as yet, manifested any disposition to disturb the growing crops,
and the small depredations they commit are far more than
counterbalanced by their destruction of immense numbers of grubs,
grasshoppers, and other injurious insects. They obtain a large supply
of food around the cattle-ranches.

In northern California they feed largely on fish, and on the Columbia
on clams and oysters.

For reasons not well understood, they avoid particular districts
during the breeding-season. Dr. Cooper has never noticed one, during
this season, on the coast south of Santa Clara, has never seen one in
the Colorado Valley, nor in the Sierra Nevada.

At Visalia, where an extensive forest of oaks forms an oasis in the
great Tulare plain, he met with large flocks of these birds, with the
same gregarious habits as were observed on the coast.

During the month of July, 1866, a large number of these Crows came
every evening to roost in an alder-grove near the town of Santa Cruz.
They gathered in long, continuous flocks from the neighboring fields,
flying rather high. All at once they would descend, with zigzag turns,
to the low trees, sportively chasing and pecking at one another, and
chattering in the air.

Mr. John K. Lord, who enjoyed an unusually good opportunity of
comparing the habits of our common Crow with those of this species,
has not the slightest doubt as to their distinctness, though so very
like in all essential respects, as far as color, form of bill, and
other details are concerned. The smaller size of this bird, the
difference in voice, and their habit of building with mud a domed
nest, sufficiently demonstrate their difference. This Crow he found
principally near the sea-coast; retiring to the trees at high tide,
following out its ebb and retreating before its flood, they feed on
any marine food they can find. The caw of this species reminded him of
the Jackdaws of Europe. During the breeding-season they abandoned the
coast, from early May resorting by pairs to the interior. Selecting
patches of open prairie, they build their nests in the bushes of the
crab-apple or wild thorn, and something in the manner of the Magpie,
arching over the top with sticks, with two openings for entrance and
exit on either side. The inside is plastered with mud, and lined with
a few loose grass-stalks. The eggs he found generally small, and of a
lighter color than those of the common Crow. After nesting, they
return with their young to the sea-coast, and remain in large flocks.
During the breeding-season they feed on small reptiles, freshwater
mollusks, insects, grubs, etc. Mr. Lord noticed them capturing
butterflies flying near their nests. Their eggs range in number from
five to seven.

An egg of this species from Sitka measures 1.62 inches in length by
1.12 in breadth. It is of an oblong-oval shape, pointed at one end.
The ground-color is a light sea-green, with marks and blotches of
olive-brown, of varying size and different shades.

Corvus ossifragus, WILSON.


  _Corvus ossifragus_, WILSON, Am. Orn. V, 1812, 27, pl. xxxvii, f.
       2.—BON. Obs. Wils. 1825, No. 39.—IB. Syn. 1828, 57.—IB.
       Conspectus, 1850, 385.—WAGLER, Syst. Avium, 1827, _Corvus_,
       No. 12.—NUTTALL, Man. I, 1832, 216.—AUD. Orn. Biog. II, 1834,
       268; V, 479, pl. cxlvi.—IB. Syn. 1839, 151.—IB. Birds Am. IV,
       1842, 94, pl. ccxxvi.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 571, pl.
       lxvii, f. 2.—SAMUELS, 363.—ALLEN, B. E. Fla. 297.

SP. CHAR. Fourth quill longest; second rather longer than seventh;
first shorter than the ninth. Glossy black, with green and violet
reflections; the gloss of the belly greenish. Length, about 15.50;
wing, 10.50; tail, less than 7.00; tarsus shorter than the middle toe
and claw.

HAB. Atlantic coast, from New Jersey to Florida.

The Fish Crow of the Atlantic States is readily distinguishable from
the common Crow by the much smaller size (16 inches instead of 20;
wing, about 11 inches instead of 13); the bill is broader at the base
and tapers more rapidly to the end; the middle toe and claw are longer
than the scutellate portion of the tarsus, not shorter, the inner claw
not reaching to the base of the middle one. The tail is less rounded.
The gloss on the belly is green instead of violet; that on the back is
mixed with green, not entirely violet.

HABITS. The Fish Crow of Eastern North America has a distribution
restricted to the Southern Atlantic and the Gulf shore. It is found in
the States of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia,
the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida, and, according to Audubon, thence
to the mouth of the Mississippi. West of that river it appears to be
very rarely met with. Dr. Würdemann obtained it at Calcasieu, La. Mr.
Allen, in a list of the birds of Massachusetts, published in 1864,
names this species as an occasional visitor along the southern coast
of that State, but I am not able to find any corroboration of the
statement, and believe it to be a mistake. Dr. De Kay, in his Report
on the birds of New York, states that this Crow is occasionally seen
on the shores of Long Island, but Mr. Lawrence is confident that it
never occurs farther north than Squaw Beach, in New Jersey. So, too,
Mr. Townsend is quoted by both Audubon and Nuttall as authority for
its occurrence on the Columbia River, of which we have no

This species was first described by Wilson, who met with it and
observed its habits on the sea-coast of Georgia. In some respects its
habits were the exact reverse of those of the common Crow, as the
former regularly retired at evening into the interior to roost, and
came down to the shores of the river Savannah, on the first appearance
of day, to feed. Its voice first attracted his notice; there was
something in it very different from the utterances of the Crow, being
more hoarse and guttural, and more varied in its modulations. The mode
of flight was also observed to be quite different, as the Fish Crow
occasionally soars about in the manner of the Raven and of Hawks,
without flapping its wings,—a flight which the Crow is never observed
to make, and is probably not able to execute.

The food was also observed to be unlike, as well as the manner of
procuring it. The favorite haunt of this species seemed to be the
banks of the river, up and down which they soared, and in a very
dexterous manner snatched up with their claws dead fish, or other
garbage found floating on the surface. This Crow was also seen to
perch frequently on the back of cattle, in the manner of the Jackdaw
of Europe. It was never seen to mingle with the common Crows; and
never, like the latter, roosts among the reeds and marshes near the
water, but always seeks the shelter of the woods, in which to pass the

Afterwards, in his journey near the Mississippi, Wilson observed the
same birds frequenting the borders of rivers and ponds, and feeding on
the reptiles found in those waters. They were close attendants upon
the cow-yards, and were more solitary, but much less shy and
suspicious, than the common Crow. This species was also observed by
Wilson in Cape May County, New Jersey, and in the regions bordering on
the Schuylkill and the Delaware, near Philadelphia, during the shad
and herring fishing, or from March till June.

During the breeding-season they were observed to separate into pairs,
and to build their nests in tall trees near the sea or the river
shore. One of their nests was in a tall wood at Great Egg Harbor, and
they were presumed to have four or five young at a time.

In the District of Columbia, Dr. Coues found the Fish Crow to be an
abundant resident throughout the year, less wary and suspicious than
the common Crow, and more confined to the borders of rivers. It was
generally confounded with _C. americanus_.

The Fish Crow appears to have received, even if it does not merit, an
exemption from the general unpopularity of its race. It is generally
believed to be at least a harmless species, and in its destruction of
reptiles and vermin to be even beneficial. This belief, we apprehend,
is for the most part well founded. Yet Mr. Audubon accuses these Crows
of entering gardens and feeding upon the best fruits. He also states
that, near Charleston, they commit such depredations upon the ripe
figs, and become so troublesome generally in the gardens, that it is
often found necessary to station a man near the fig-trees to shoot and
destroy them.

The Fish Crow is confined either to the maritime districts or to the
banks of rivers branching from them. Audubon states that they ascend
the Delaware to quite a distance, and that some breed in New Jersey
every year, but that all retire to the South on the approach of cold
weather. Some go up the Mississippi to the distance of five hundred
miles, but return to the seashore in the winter. In East Florida,
where they were very abundant, Mr. Audubon found them breeding in
February, in South Carolina on the 20th of March, and in New Jersey a
month later. On the St. John’s River, during February, he saw them in
flocks of several hundred, but all seemed mated and to move in pairs,
sailing high in the air in the manner of Ravens. After these aerial
excursions the whole body descended to the water’s edge to feed. When
their fishing was over, they would alight in flocks on the live-oaks
near the shore, and there keep up their gabbling, while they plumed
themselves, for hours. They then returned to their fishing-grounds,
where they remained until near sunset, moving into the interior to
great distances, to roost on the loblolly-pines. These retreats were
made in silence, but their return to the sea-shore in the early
morning was made with noisy and lively demonstrations. They were then
to be seen among the bays, rivers, salt ponds, and marshes, searching
for small fry, and picking up any garbage they might find.

Mr. Audubon also accuses them of robbing other birds of their eggs and
young. This was especially observed on the Florida Keys, where they
even dared to plunder the nests of the Cormorants and White Ibis. They
feed largely on the small crabs called fiddlers, which they pursue and
easily capture in their burrows. He has also seen them attack and
pursue small Gulls and Terns, and attempt to make them disgorge the
fish they have caught; but as the flight of the latter is swifter,
they are frequently unsuccessful in these attempts at robbery. This
Crow can catch living fish with considerable dexterity, but cannot
feed while on the wing.

During the winter and early spring, Mr. Audubon states that these
birds feed on various kinds of berries, especially those of the _Ilex
cassina_ and of the common holly, and those of the exotic tallow-tree,
now so common near Charleston (_Stillingia sebifera_). In January and
February these trees are much resorted to by the Crows, who greedily
devour their white and oily seeds.

Mr. Audubon found these birds breeding generally on moderate-sized
trees of the loblolly-pine, building their nests towards the
extremities of the branches, about twenty feet from the ground. The
nests are smaller than those of the Crow, and are built of sticks,
lined with dry grasses and moss, and neatly finished with fine fibrous
roots. The eggs are five or six in number, and resemble those of the
Crow, but are smaller.

Two eggs of this species, from St. Simon’s Island, measure, one 1.50
in length by 1.10 in breadth, the other 1.52 by 1.09. Their
ground-color is a light blue with a slight greenish tinge, marked over
the entire egg with small blotches of a light brown. An egg from Great
Egg Harbor, obtained by Wilson, from the old Peale Museum, and which
may be a faded specimen, has no tinge of blue or green, but a ground
of pinkish-gray, marked with smaller blotches and cloudings of dark
drab. It measures 1.46 inches in length by one inch in breadth.


  _Picicorvus_, BONAPARTE, Consp. Av. 1850, 384. (Type, _Corvus
    columbianus_, WILS.)

  [Illustration: _Picicorvus columbianus._]

GEN. CHAR. Leaden-gray color, with black wings and tail. Bill longer
than the head, considerably longer than the tarsus, attenuated,
slightly decurved; tip without notch. Culmen and commissure curved;
gonys straight or slightly concave, as long as the tarsi. Nostrils
circular, completely covered by a full tuft of incumbent white bristly
feathers. Tail much shorter than the wings, nearly even or slightly
rounded. Wings pointed, reaching to the tip of tail. Third, fourth,
and fifth quills longest. Tarsi short, scarcely longer than the middle
toe, the hind toe and claw very large, reaching nearly to the middle
of the middle claw, the lateral toe little shorter. A row of small
scales on the middle of the sides of tarsus. Color of the single
species leaden-gray, with black wings and tail.

  [Line drawing: _Picicorvus columbianus._

  [Line drawing: _Nucifraga caryocatactes._

This genus is so similar to _Nucifraga_ as to be hardly separable; the
principal difference being in the slender and more decurved and
attenuated bill, with a slightly concave, instead of convex, culmen,
and plain instead of spotted plumage. The differences of form are
expressed by the accompanying outlines of the generic features of the
two. But one species is known, this being peculiar to Western North

Picicorvus columbianus, BONAP.


  _Corvus columbianus_, WILSON, Am. Orn. III, 1811, 29, pl. xx.—BON.
       Obs. Wilson, 1824, No. 38.—IB. Syn. 1828, 57.—NUTTALL, I,
       1832, 218. _Nucifraga columbiana_, AUD. Orn. Biog. IV, 1838,
       459, pl. ccclxii.—IB. Syn. 1839, 156.—IB. Birds Am. IV, 1842,
       127, pl. ccxxxv.—BON. List, 1838.—NUTTALL, Man. I, (2d ed.,)
       251. _Picicorvus columbianus_, BONAP. Consp. 1850,
       384.—NEWBERRY, P. R. R. Rep. VI, IV, 1837, 83.—BAIRD, Birds
       N. Am. 1858, 573.—LORD, Pr. R. A. Inst. IV, 121 (British
       Columbia).—DALL & BANNISTER, Tr. Chic. Ac. I, 1869,
       286.—COOPER, Orn. Cal. 1, 1870, 289. “_Corvus megonyx_,

SP. CHAR. Tail rounded or moderately graduated, the closed wings
reaching nearly to its tip. Fourth quill longest; second considerably
shorter than the sixth. General color bluish-ash, changing on the
nasal feathers, the forehead, sides of head (especially around the
eye), and chin, to white. The wings, including their inner surface,
greenish-black, the secondaries and tertials, except the innermost,
broadly tipped with white; tail white, the inner web of the fifth
feather and the whole of the sixth, with the upper tail-coverts,
greenish-black. The axillars plumbeous-black. Bill and feet black.
Young similar in color, without additional markings of any kind. The
gonys, however, convex, and the bill generally more like that of the
Jays. Length of male (fresh), 12.00; wing, 7.00; tail, 4.30; tarsus,

HAB. From Rocky Mountains to Pacific. East to Fort Kearney, north to
Sitka, south to Arizona.

HABITS. Clarke’s Crow was first met with by the parties composing the
celebrated exploring party to the Rocky Mountains under the direction
of Lewis and Clarke. It was described by Wilson in 1811, who was
informed by individuals belonging to the expedition that these birds
were found inhabiting the shores of the Columbia and the adjacent
country in great numbers, frequenting the rivers and sea-shore, and
that it seemed to have all the noisy and gregarious habits of the
common Crow of Europe.

In his account of this species, Mr. Nuttall states that during his
journey westward in the month of July, he first observed individuals
of this bird in a small grove of pines on the borders of Bear River,
near where it falls into Lake Timpanagos. This was at a height of
about seven thousand feet above the sea level, and in the 42d
parallel. Their habits appeared to him to correspond with those of the
Nutcrackers of Europe.

He afterwards saw a considerable flock of the young birds early in
August, in a lofty ravine near the Three Buttes, a remarkable isolated
mountain group about forty miles west of the Lewis River. They
appeared somewhat shy, and were scattered through a grove of aspens,
flying, with a slight chatter, from the tops of bushes and trees, to
the ground. He was of the opinion that this species never descends
below the mountain plains, but that it has a constant predilection for
the pine forests.

Mr. Townsend afterwards found this species abundant on the Blue
Mountains of Oregon. He describes its flight as very unlike that of a
Crow, being performed in jerks, in the manner of a Woodpecker. At
times, when sitting, it is said to keep up a constant scream, in a
very harsh and grating voice, and in an unvaried and prolonged tone.
He states that it breeds in very high pine-trees, and that he did not
meet with it within five hundred miles of the Columbia River.

Mr. Ridgway found this species one of the most abundant birds of the
pine forests of the Sierra Nevada. East of this range it was also met
with, though only in smaller numbers, in the cedar and piñon woods of
the East Humboldt Mountains. He adds that it is a bird so curiously
striking as at once to attract attention. It bears but very little
resemblance to any bird of its family, and in its general appearance,
flight, and notes approaches so nearly to the Woodpeckers as to be
usually known to the settlers as a bird of that tribe.

He further remarks that its flight much resembles that of _Melanerpes
torquatus_, and, as it alights from the top of a tall dead tree, and
sits quietly gazing around, it might readily be mistaken for one of
the _Picidæ_. He describes them as being very active in their
movements, now flying from a tree to the ground to pick up some
article of food, now examining the excavations of an old dead stump or
snag, or, on being approached, as flying up and alighting upon the
extreme summit of a tree, out of gunshot. It is a very noisy bird, and
its notes are harsh and discordant, though less so than are those of
the Steller’s Jay, which is generally seen in the same localities. Its
usual note is a harsh guttural _churr-churr_, generally uttered when
two or more alight on the same tree. Occasionally an individual takes
up a peculiar piping strain, which is immediately answered by all the
others in the neighborhood, thus awakening the echoes of the
surrounding solitude with their discordant cries. In regard to its
nest he can give no positive information, but thinks that they breed
in cavities in old dead trees and stumps, having found a nest in such
a situation in the East Humboldt Mountains, which he thinks belonged
to a pair of these birds which were flying about, and seen to enter
this cavity.

Dr. Newberry, in his Report on the zoölogy of his route, states that
he found this species rather common along a large portion of it, and
was thus enabled to study its habits at leisure. He found it strictly
confined to the highlands and mountains, never, where he saw it,
descending to a lower altitude than about four thousand feet. On the
other hand, while crossing the Cascade Mountains at the line of
perpetual snow, seven thousand feet above the sea-level, he has seen
this bird, in company with the _Melanerpes torquatus_, flying over the
snow-covered peaks three thousand feet above him.

He first met with this bird on the spur of the Sierra Nevada, near
Lassen’s Butte, and found it constantly, when in high and timbered
regions, from there to the Columbia. He describes its habits as a
compound, in about equal parts of those of the Jays and of the
Woodpeckers. Its cry he speaks of as particularly harsh and
disagreeable, something like that of Steller’s Jay, but louder and
more discordant. It seems to combine the shrewdness with all the
curiosity of the Jays and Crows, and from its shyness is a very
difficult bird to shoot, the Doctor never being able to get directly
within killing distance of one of them, but only obtaining specimens
by concealing himself and waiting for them to approach him. Apparently
from excess of caution, it almost invariably alights on a dry tree.
Even when going to a living tree for its food, it always flies first
into a dry one, if one is near, to reconnoitre, and, if the coast is
clear, it begins to feed. At the first movement of an intruder,
without uttering a note, it puts a safe distance between itself and
its enemy.

The food of this bird, at the time when Dr. Newberry visited its
haunts, consisted exclusively of the seeds of the yellow pine (_P.
ponderosa_), in dislodging which from the cones the bird displays
great dexterity. Both Maximilian’s Jay and Steller’s Jay were, at that
time, feeding on the same seeds, but not so exclusively.

Dr. Suckley obtained a specimen of this bird as far east as Milk
River, in Nebraska, about two hundred miles east of the Rocky

In crossing the Cascade Mountains, in 1853, Dr. Cooper found these
birds quite abundant on the banks of the Yakima River, and from thence
north wherever there were trees of the long-leaved pine, the seeds of
which were its principal food. On returning to Vancouver during the
severe cold weather of the following January, these birds appeared
there in considerable numbers. At no other season of the year has he
met with them west of the Cascade Mountains, and believes these
migrations westward are only made in the severest weather. They extend
eastward throughout Washington Territory, as Dr. Cooper has shot them
at Fort Laramie, and met with a straggling pair even as far east as
Fort Kearney. Dr. Cooper has never known these birds to eat anything
except seeds and berries. They rarely descend to the ground, and never
frequent river-banks, or other places, for fish or carrion. They may
be seen on the tops of trees extracting seeds from cones, hanging head
downwards, like a Chickadee. Dr. Cooper has observed this bird pecking
at dead bark, in quest of insects. When feeding they are very shy,
flying off, if approached, to a great distance before alighting. They
are not known to visit the Coast Mountains south of San Francisco, but
abound in the Rocky Mountains throughout our limits.

Mr. J. K. Lord notes the arrival of this species at Fort Colville, in
May, in large flocks. They were hopping busily from branch to branch,
amidst pine-trees.

The statement made to Wilson that this species frequents rivers and
seashores, and his inference that its formidable claws indicated that
they feed on living animals, is controverted by Mr. Lord. They never
frequent river-banks, never by any chance eat fish, and never capture
any living thing. Their habits are strictly arboreal, and their food
the seeds of pine-trees. These noisy seed-hunters use their formidable
claws to enable them to hang on to the pine cones while they are
extracting the seed, which they are obliged to get out from under
scaly coverings. For this nature has given them feet and claws that
serve the purpose of hands, and a powerful bill, like a small crowbar.
The cone must be steadied when they pry it open, or it would snap and
fall. One foot clasps it, and the powerful claws hold it firmly. The
other foot, encircling a branch, supports the bird in every possible
position, the long grasping claws being equal to any emergency. The
cone is thus fixed, and the seeds are forced out from under the
scales. Mr. Lord collected a large packet of seeds of the _Abies
douglassi_ from the crops of these birds.

On their arrival they assemble in immense flocks, and the noise they
make he describes as a most discordant, continuous, grating clatter,
intensified at times into a perfect shriek. These assemblies last
about a week, after which they separate in pairs.

A nest of this bird was found by Mr. Lord in the top of a lofty pine
at least two hundred feet high,—felled in cutting the boundary line.
By chance he discovered the nest, about which the old birds were
hovering, leaving no doubt of its identity. This nest was very large
and composed of fir twigs, bits of bark, the leaves of the pine, fine
root-fibres, with small pieces of moss, and gray lichens mixed
carelessly with the other materials. It was shallow and round, and
presented a large extent of surface beyond the margins of the hollow
containing the eggs. The eggs were in fragments, much like the eggs of
Steller’s Jay in color, but of a lighter shade of bluish-green. He
thinks that their habit is to build in the very tallest pines.

Dr. Kennerly also met with this Crow west of Albuquerque, in New
Mexico, in the thick pine woods skirting the eastern slope of the
Rocky Mountains, where it was quite abundant. He rarely saw more than
two or three together. None were met with after leaving the mountains.

A single specimen of this crow was obtained at Sitka, by Bischoff.


  _Gymnorhinus_, PR. MAX. Reise Nord. Amer. II, 1841, 21. (Type, _G.
  _Gymnokitta_, PR. MAX. “1850,” GRAY.
  _Cyanocephalus_, BONAP. “1842,” preoccupied in Botany.

  [Line drawing: _Gymnokitta cyanocephala._

GEN. CHAR. Bill elongated, depressed, shorter than the tarsus, longer
than the head, without notch, similar to that of _Sturnella_ in shape.
Culmen nearly straight; commissure curved; gonys ascending. Nostrils
small, oval, entirely exposed, the bristly feathers at the base of the
bill being very minute. Tail short, nearly even, much shorter than the
pointed wings, which cover three fourths of the tail. Tarsi
considerably longer than the middle toe. Color of the single species
blue, most intense anteriorly; the throat streaked with white.

The bill in this genus is not unlike that of _Sturnus_ and
_Sturnella_, and conspicuous among _Corvinæ_ by its uncovered nostrils.

Gymnokitta cyanocephala, PR. MAX.


  _Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus_, PR. MAXIMILIAN, Reise in das innere
       Nord-Amerika, II, 1841, 21.—IB. Voyage dans l’Am. du Nord,
       III, 1843, 296. _Gymnokitta cyanocephala_, “PR. MAX. 1850,” BP.
       Conspectus, 1850, 382.—CASSIN, Illust. I, VI, 1854, 165, pl.
       xxviii.—NEWBERRY, Rep. P. R. R. VI, IV, 1857, 83.—BAIRD,
       Birds N. Am. 1858, 574.—MAX. Cab. J. VI, 1858, 193.—COOPER,
       Orn. Cal. 1, 1870, 292. _Psilorhinus cyanocephalus_, GRAY,
       Genera. _Cyanocorax cassini_, M’CALL, Pr. A. N. Sc. V, June,
       1851, 216.

  [Illustration: _Gymnokitta cyanocephala._]

SP. CHAR. Wings considerably longer than the tail, and reaching to
within an inch of its tip. Tail nearly even. General color dull blue,
paler on the abdomen, the middle of which is tinged with ash; the head
and neck of a much deeper and more intense blue, darker on the crown.
Chin and forepart of the throat whitish, streaked with blue. Length,
10.00; wing, 5.90; tail, 4.50; tarsus, 1.50. Young bird not differing
in markings.

HAB. Rocky Mountains of Colorado, to Cascade Mts. of California and
Oregon. Not on the Pacific coast? South to New Mexico and Arizona.

The female is appreciably different from the male, both in size and
plumage, being smaller, and of a light bluish-ash tint. This
difference is readily appreciable when the birds are seen flying.

HABITS. Maximilian’s Jay was discovered and first described by that
eminent naturalist, Maximilian, Prince of Wied, in his book of travels
in North America, published in 1841. Mr. Edward Kern, who was
connected with Colonel Fremont’s exploring expedition in 1846, was the
first to bring specimens of this interesting and remarkable bird to
the notice of American naturalists, transmitting them to the
Philadelphia Academy. The specimens procured by its discoverer were
met with by him on Maria’s River, one of the tributaries of the Upper
Missouri, in the extreme northern portion of our northwestern
territory, a point much farther north than it has been met with by any
other naturalist. As this species has since been seen in large numbers
in New Mexico, it may be presumed to extend its movements over quite
an extended area of distribution in the region of the Rocky Mountains.

According to the more recent observations of Mr. Ridgway, the
Maximilian Jay inhabits exclusively the nut-pine and cedar woods on
the interior mountain ranges, and is one of the most characteristic
birds of those regions. This species he states to be eminently
gregarious, even breeding in colonies, and in winter congregating in
flocks, sometimes of thousands. Ever restless and in motion, as it
moves it is constantly uttering its curious, querulous notes. It is a
very conspicuous bird, and is one well worthy of particular attention.
Its blue color is the only thing suggestive of its affinity to the
Jay. All its habits are different, and its appearance is quite
peculiar. It is as essentially migratory as the _Ectopistes
migratoria_, its coming and its going being quite as sudden and
uncertain. On one occasion, in visiting a nut-pine wood, Mr. Ridgway
found it full of roving, noisy troops of these birds, but upon
visiting the same locality the next day not one could be seen.

He also states that these birds are exceedingly early in their
nesting, as he met with companies of fully fledged young flying about
on the 21st of April. Near Carson City, April 20, 1868, he found these
birds abundant among the scattered cedars and nut-pines on the lower
slopes of the hills. They were in pairs, often three or four pairs in

The notes of this bird are both peculiar and curious. The usual ones
are said to have some resemblance to the querulous wailings of the
Screech Owl; but none, in his opinion, have any resemblance to the cry
of the Catbird.

It flies very swiftly, but with a gentle floating motion, very much in
the manner of the Robin. In its movements among the small cedars, it
generally alighted upon the summit of a tree, and, quietly sitting
there, would look about in the manner of the _Picicorvus columbianus_.
In flying, it continually uttered a very peculiar querulous note,
resembling very much one of the notes of the Magpie,—the peculiarly
soft note of that bird uttered during the love-season, or when its
nest is approached. In searching among the cedars, Mr. Ridgway found
several of its nests. Nearly all had been deserted, and there were
several families of fully fledged young flying about. One nest
contained four fully feathered young. When these had been taken, and
placed in a hat, they all jumped out, squalling vociferously. These
nests were all saddled upon horizontal branches of cedars, and, except
in their greater bulk, they closely resembled the nest of the eastern
Blue Jay.

In autumn and in winter the large flocks of these birds, as they fly
back and forth over the hills, present a very peculiar appearance.
Their flight is then very swift.

Dr. Kennerly, in November, 1853, frequently saw large flocks of these
birds between the Puebla of Laguna and the Sierra Madre, about a
hundred miles west of Albuquerque, in New Mexico. They were found
chiefly frequenting the watercourses, and when startled would circle
around, rising higher above their heads, uttering their singular
cries; then suddenly descending they would alight in the top of some
tree on the adjoining cliffs. He compares its voice to that of the
common Catbird.

Dr. T. C. Henry also repeatedly noticed these birds in the vicinity of
Fort Webster, in New Mexico. He first met with them near San Miguel,
in July, 1852, where he observed a party of about thirty flitting
through the cedars along the roadside. They were chiefly young birds,
and were constantly alighting on the ground for the purpose of
capturing lizards, which they killed with great readiness, and
devoured. After that he repeatedly, in winter, saw these birds near
Fort Webster, and usually in flocks of about forty or fifty. They
evinced great wariness, and were very difficult of approach.

The flocks would usually alight near the summit of a hill and pass
rapidly down its sides, all the birds keeping quite near to each
other, and frequently alighting on the ground. They appeared to be
very social, and kept up a continual twittering note. This bird, so
far as Dr. Henry observed it, is exclusively a mountain species, and
never seen on the plains or bottom-lands, and was never observed
singly, or even in a single pair, but always in companies.

Dr. Newberry met with this species in the basin of the Des Chutes, in
Oregon. He first noticed it in September. Early every morning flocks
of from twenty-five to thirty of these birds came across, in their
usual straggling flight, chattering as they flew to the trees on a
hill near the camp, and then, from tree to tree, they made their way
to the stream to drink. He describes their note, when flying or
feeding, as a frequently repeated _ca-ca-că_. Sometimes, when made by
a straggler separated from mate or flock, it was rather loud and
harsh, but was usually soft and agreeable. When disturbed, their cry
was harsher. They were very shy, and could only be shot by lying in
wait for them. Subsequently he had an opportunity of seeing them feed,
and of watching them carefully as they were eating the berries of the
cedars, and in their habits and cries they seemed closely to resemble
Jays. A specimen, previously killed, was found with its crop filled
with the seeds of the yellow pine.

Dr. Cooper has seen specimens of this bird from Washoe, just east of
the California State line, and he was informed by Mr. Clarence King
that they frequent the junipers on mountains near Mariposa.

From Dr. Coues we learn that this bird is very abundant at Fort
Whipple, where it remains all the year. It breeds in the retired
portions of the neighboring mountains of San Francisco and Bill
Williams, the young leaving the nest in July. As the same birds are
ready to fly in April, at Carson City, it may be that they have two
broods in Arizona. During the winter they collect in immense flocks,
and in one instance Dr. Coues estimates their number at a thousand or
more. In a more recent contribution to the Ibis (April, 1872), Dr.
Coues gives a more full account of his observations in respect to this
bird. In regard to geographical range he considers its distribution
very nearly the same with that of the _Picicorvus_. Mr. Aiken has
recently met with these birds in Colorado Territory, where, however,
Mr. Allen did not obtain specimens. General McCall found these birds
abundant near Santa Fé, in New Mexico, at an altitude Of seven
thousand feet; and the late Captain Feilner obtained specimens at Fort
Crook, in Northeastern California. Dr. Coues considers its range to be
the coniferous zone of vegetation within the geographical area bounded
eastward by the foot-hills and slopes of the Rocky Mountains; westward
by the Cascade and Coast ranges; northward, perhaps to Sitka, but
undetermined; and somewhat so southward, not traced so far as the
_tierra fria_ of Mexico.

Dr. Coues adds that, like most birds which subsist indifferently on
varied animal or vegetable food, this species is not, strictly
speaking, migratory, as it can find food in winter anywhere except at
its loftiest points of distribution. A descent of a few thousand feet
from the mountains thus answers all the purposes of a southward
journey performed by other species, so far as food is concerned, while
its hardy nature enables it to endure the rigors of winter. According
to his observations, this bird feeds principally upon juniper berries
and pine seeds, and also upon acorns and other small hard fruits.

Dr. Coues describes this bird as garrulous and vociferous, with
curiously modulated chattering notes when at ease, and with extremely
loud harsh cries when excited by fear or anger. It is also said to be
restless and impetuous, as if of an unbalanced mind. Its attitudes on
the ground, to which it frequently descends, are essentially
Crow-like, and its gait is an easy walk or run, very different from
the leaping manner of progress made by the Jays. When perching, its
usual attitude is stiff and firm. Its flight resembles that of the
_Picicorvus_. After breeding, these birds unite in immense flocks, but
disperse again in pairs when the breeding-season commences.

Nothing, so far, has been published in regard to the character of the


CHAR. Wings short, rounded; not longer or much shorter than the tail,
which is graduated, sometimes excessively so. Wings reaching not much
beyond the lower tail-coverts. Bristly feathers at base of bill
variable. Bill nearly as long as the head, or shorter. Tarsi longer
than the bill or than the middle toe. Outer lateral claws rather
shorter than the inner.

The preceding diagnosis may perhaps characterize the garruline birds,
as compared with the Crows. The subdivisions of the group are as

  A. Nostrils moderate, completely covered by incumbent

    _a._ Tail much longer than the wings; first primary
    attenuated, falcate.

      Pica. Head without crest.

    _b._ Tail about as long as the wings; first primary not

      Cyanura. Head with lengthened narrow crest. Wing and
      tail blue, banded with black.

      Cyanocitta. Head without crest. Above blue, with a
      gray patch on the back. No bands on wing and tail.

      Xanthoura. Head without crest. Color above greenish;
      the head blue; lateral tail-feathers yellow.

    Perisoreus. Head full and bushy. Bill scarcely half the
    head, with white feathers over the nostrils. Plumage

  B. Nostrils very large, naked, uncovered by feathers.

      Psilorhinus. Head not crested; tail broad; wings two
      thirds as long as the tail.

      Calocitta. Head with a recurved crest; wings less than
      half as long as the tail.

There is a very close relationship between the Jays and the Titmice,
the chief difference being in size rather than in any other
distinguishing feature. The feathers at the base of the bill, however,
in the Jays, are bristly throughout, with lateral branches reaching to
the very tip. In _Paridæ_ these feathers are inclined to be broader,
with the shaft projecting considerably beyond the basal portion, or
the lateral branches are confined to the basal portion, and extended
forwards. There is no naked line of separation between the scutellæ on
the outer side of the tarsi. The basal joint of the middle toe is
united almost or quite to the end to the lateral, instead of half-way.
The first primary is usually less than half the second, instead of
rather more; the fourth and fifth primaries nearly equal and longest,
instead of the fifth being longer than the fourth.


  _Coracias_, LINNÆUS, Syst. Nat. 1735 (GRAY).
  _Pica_, BRISSON, Ornithologia, 1760, and of Cuvier (AGASSIZ). (Type,
    _Corvus pica_, L.)
  _Cleptes_, GAMBEL, J. A. N. Sc. 2d Ser. I, 1847, 47.

GEN. CHAR. Tail very long, forming much more than half the total
length; the feathers much graduated; the lateral scarcely more than
half the middle. First primary falcate, curved, and attenuated. Bill
about as high as broad at the base; the culmen and gonys much curved,
and about equal; the bristly feathers reaching nearly to the middle of
the bill. Nostrils nearly circular. Tarsi very long; middle toe
scarcely more than two thirds the length. A patch of naked skin
beneath and behind the eye.

The peculiar characteristic of this genus, in addition to the very
long graduated tail, lies in the attenuated, falcate first primary.
_Calocitta_, which has an equally long or longer tail, has the first
primary as in the Jays generally (besides having the nostrils exposed).

  [Line drawing: _Pica hudsonica._

A specimen of _P. nuttalli_ has the lateral tarsal plates with two or three
transverse divisions on the lower third. This has not been observed by us
to occur in _P. hudsonica_.

Species and Varieties.

  P. caudata. Head, neck, breast, interscapulars, lining of
  wing, tail-coverts and tibiæ, deep black: wings metallic
  greenish-blue; tail rich metallic green, the feathers
  passing through bronze and reddish-violet into
  violet-blue, at their tips. Scapulars, abdomen, sides,
  flanks, and inner webs of primaries, pure white. Sexes
  alike; young similar.

    _a._ Bill and bare space around the eye black.

      Wing, 7.50; tail, 9.50 or less, its graduation less
      than half its length, 4.50; culmen, 1.20; tarsus,
      1.75; middle toe, 1.05. _Hab._ Europe           var. _caudata_.[55]

      Wing, over 8.00 (8.50 maximum); tail over 10.00
      (13.50, max., its graduation more than half its
      length, 7.70); culmen, 1.55; tarsus, 1.75; middle toe,
      1.05. _Hab._ Northern and Middle North America,
      exclusive of the Atlantic Province of United States
      and California                                var. _hudsonica_.

    _b._ Bill and bare space around the eye yellow.

      Wing, 7.50; tail, 10.50; its graduation, 5.00; culmen,
      1.50; tarsus, 1.75; middle toe, 1.05. _Hab._
      California                                     var. _nuttalli_.

     [55] _Pica caudata_, FLEM. Brit. An. p. 87. _Corvus pica_,
     LINN. Faun. Suec. p. 31. _Pica melanoleuca_, VIEILL. N. D.
     XXVI, 121. _Pica albiventris_, VIEILL. Faun. Franc. p. 119,
     t. 55, f. 1. _Pica european_ (CUV.) BOIE, Isis, 1822, 551.
     _Pica rusticorum_, LEACH, Syst. Cat. Mamm. and Birds in
     Brit. Mus. p. 18.

Pica caudata, var. hudsonica, BONAP.


  _Corvus pica_, FORSTER, Phil. Trans. LXXII, 1772, 382.—WILSON, Am.
       Orn. IV, 1811, 75, pl. xxxv.—BON. Obs. Wils. 1825, No.
       40.—IB. Syn. 1828, 57.—NUTTALL, Man. I, 1832, 219.—AUD. Orn.
       Biog. IV, 1838, 408, pl. ccclvii (not of LINNÆUS). _Corvus
       hudsonica_, JOS. SABINE, App. Narr. Franklin’s Journey, 1823,
       25, 671. _Picus hudsonica_, BONAP. List, 1838.—IB. Conspectus,
       1850, 383.—MAXIM. Reise Nord Amer. I, 1839, 508.—IB. Cabanis,
       Journ. 1856, 197.—NEWBERRY, Zoöl. Cal. & Or. Route, Rep. P. R.
       R. VI, IV, 1857, 84.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 576, pl.
       xxv.—LORD, Pr. R. A. Inst. IV, 121 (British Columbia).—COOPER
       & SUCKLEY, 213, pl. xxv.—DALL & BANNISTER, Tr. Chic. Ac. I,
       1869, 286 (Alaska).—FINSCH, Abh. Nat. III, 1872, 39
       (Alaska).—COOPER, Orn. Cal. 1, 1870, 296. _Cleptes
       hudsonicus_, GAMBEL, J. A. N. Sc. 2d Ser. I, Dec. 1847, 47.
       _Pica melanoleuca_, “VIEILL.” AUD. Syn. 1839, 157.—IB. Birds
       Am. IV, 1842, 99, pl. ccxxvii.

  [Illustration: _Pica nuttalli._]

SP. CHAR. Bill and naked skin behind the eye black. General color
black. The belly, scapulars, and inner webs of the primaries white;
hind part of back grayish; exposed portion of the tail-feathers glossy
green, tinged with purple and violet near the end; wings glossed with
green; the secondaries and tertials with blue; throat-feathers spotted
with white in younger specimens. Length, 19.00; wing, 8.50; tail,
13.00. Young in color and appearance similar generally to the adult.

HAB. The northern regions of North America. The middle and western
Provinces of the United States exclusive of California; Wisconsin,
Michigan, and Northern Illinois, in winter.

The American Magpie is almost exactly similar to the European, and
differs only in larger size and disproportionably longer tail.
According to Maximilian and other authors, the iris of the American
bird has a grayish-blue outer ring, wanting in the European bird, and
the voice is quite different. It is, however, difficult to consider
the two birds otherwise than as geographical races of one primitive

HABITS. The American Magpie has an extended western distribution from
Arizona on the south to Alaska on the northwest. It has been met with
as far to the east as the Missouri River, and is found from there to
the Pacific. It is abundant at Sitka; it was observed at Ounga, one of
the Shumagin Islands, and was obtained by Bischoff at Kodiak.

  [Illustration: PLATE XXXVIII.
  1. Pica hudsonica. ♂ Nev., 53629.
  2. Gymnokitta cyanocephala. ♂ Cal., 16247.
  3. Pica nuttalli. ♂ Cal., 3938.
  4. Picicorvus columbianus. Oregon, 4461.]

Richardson observed these birds on the Saskatchewan, where a few
remain even in winter, but are much more frequent in summer.

Mr. Lord, the naturalist of the British branch of the Northwest
Boundary Survey, characterizes our Magpie as murderous, because of its
cruel persecution of galled and suffering mules, its picking out the
eyes of living animals, and its destruction of birds. These birds
caused so much trouble to the party, in winter, at Colville, as to
become utterly unbearable, and a large number were destroyed by
strychnine. They were then so tame and impudent that he repeatedly
gave them food from his hand without their showing any evidence of
fear. He says they nest in March.

Dr. Suckley states that this Magpie is abundant throughout the central
region of Oregon and Washington Territory. He first met with it a
hundred miles west of Fort Union, at the mouth of the Yellowstone. It
became more abundant as the mountains were approached, and so
continued almost as far west as the Cascade Mountains, where the dense
forests were an effectual barrier. On Puget Sound he saw none until
August, after which, during the fall, it was tolerably abundant. It
breeds throughout the interior. He obtained a young bird, nearly
fledged, about May 5, at Fort Dalles. At this place a few birds remain
throughout the winter, but a majority retire farther south during the
cold weather. One of its cries, he says, resembles a peculiar call of
Steller’s Jay.

Mr. Ridgway regards this Magpie as one of the most characteristic and
conspicuous birds of the interior region, distinguished both for the
elegance of its form and the beauty of its plumage. While not at all
rare in the fertile mountain cañons, the principal resort of this
species is the rich bottom-land of the rivers. The usual note of the
Magpie is a frequently uttered chatter, very peculiar, and, when once
heard, easily recognized. During the nesting-season it utters a softer
and more musical and plaintive note, sounding something like
_kay´-e-ehk-kay-e_. It generally flies about in small flocks, and,
like others of its family, is very fond of tormenting owls. In the
winter, in company with the Ravens, it resorts to the slaughter-houses
to feed on offal. The young differ but little in plumage from the
adult, the metallic colors being even a little more vivid; the white
spotting of the throat is characteristic of the immature bird.

The nests were found by Mr. Ridgway in various situations. Some were
in cedars, some in willows, and others in low shrubs. In every
instance the nest was domed, the inner and real nest being enclosed in
an immense thorny covering, which far exceeded it in bulk. In the side
of this thorny protection is a winding passage leading into the nest,
possibly designed to conceal the very long tail of the bird, which, if
exposed to view, would endanger its safety.

Dr. Cooper first met this bird east of the Cascade Mountains, near the
Yakima, and from there in his journey northward as far as the 49th
degree it was common, as well as in all the open unwooded regions
until the mountains were passed on his return westward.

Dr. Kennerly met with these birds on the Little Colorado in New
Mexico, in December. He found them in great numbers soon after leaving
the Rio Grande, and from time to time on the march to California. They
seemed to live indifferently in the deep cañons among the hills or in
the valleys, but were only found near water.

Dr. Newberry first met with these birds on the banks of one of the
tributaries of the Des Chutes, one hundred miles south of the
Columbia, afterwards on the Columbia, but nowhere in large numbers. He
regards them as much less gregarious in their habits than _Pica
nuttalli_, as all the birds he noticed were solitary or in pairs,
while the Yellow-bills were often seen in flocks of several hundreds.

All accounts of this bird agree in representing it as frequently a
great source of annoyance to parties of exploration, especially in its
attacks upon horses worn down and galled by fatigue and privations. In
the memorable narrative of Colonel Pike’s journey in New Mexico, these
birds, rendered bold and voracious by want, are described as
assembling around that miserable party in great numbers, picking the
sore backs of their perishing horses, and snatching at all the food
they could reach. The party of Lewis and Clark, who were the first to
add this bird to our fauna, also describe them as familiar and
voracious, penetrating into their tents, snatching the meat even from
their dishes, and frequently, when the hunters were engaged in
dressing their game, seizing the meat suspended within a foot or two
of their heads.

Mr. Nuttall, in his tour across the continent, found these birds so
familiar and greedy as to be easily taken, as they approached the
encampment for food, by the Indian boys, who kept them prisoners. They
soon became reconciled to their confinement, and were continually
hopping around and tugging and struggling for any offal thrown to

Observers have reported this bird from different parts of Arizona and
New Mexico; but Dr. Coues writes me that he never saw it at Fort
Whipple, or elsewhere in the first-named Territory. He found it
breeding, however, in the Raton Mountains, in June, under the
following circumstances, recorded at the time in his journal.

     “Yesterday, the 8th, we were rolling over smooth prairie,
     ascending a little the while, but so gradually that only the
     change in the flora indicated the difference in elevation. The
     flowery verdure was passed, scrubby junipers came thicker and
     faster, and pine-clad mountain-tops took shape before us. We made
     the pass to-day, rounding along a picturesque ravine, and the
     noon halt gave me a chance to see something of the birds. Troops
     of beautiful Swallows were on wing, and as their backs turned in
     their wayward flight, the violet-green colors betrayed the
     species. A colony of them were breeding on the face of a cliff,
     apparently like _H. lunifrons_, but the nests were not
     accessible. Whilst I was watching their movements, a harsh scream
     attracted my attention, and the next moment a beautiful Magpie
     flew swiftly past with quivering wings, and with a flirt of the
     glittering tail and a curious evolution dashed into a dense
     thicket close by. In the hope of seeing him again, and perhaps of
     finding his nest, I hurried to the spot where he had disappeared,
     and pushed into the underbrush. In a few moments I stood in a
     little open space, surrounded on all sides and covered above with
     a network of vines interlacing the twigs and foliage so closely
     that the sun’s rays hardly struggled through. A pretty shady
     bower! and there, sure enough, was the nest, not likely to be
     overlooked, for it was as big as a bushel basket,—a globular
     mass, hung in the top of one of the taller saplings, about twelve
     feet from the ground. The mother bird was at home, and my
     bustling approach alarmed her; she flew out of the nest with loud
     cries of distress, which brought the male to her side in an
     instant. As I scrambled up the slender trunk, which swayed with
     my weight, both birds kept flying about my head with redoubled
     outcry, alighting for an instant, then dashing past again so
     close that I thought they would peck at me. As I had no means of
     preserving the nest, I would not take it down, and contented
     myself with such observations as I could make whilst bestriding a
     limb altogether too slender for comfort. It was nearly spherical
     in shape, seemed to be about eighteen inches in diameter, arched
     over, with a small hole on one side. The walls, composed entirely
     of interlaced twigs bristling outwardly in every direction, were
     extremely thick, the space inside being much less than one would
     expect, and seemingly hardly enough to accommodate the bird’s
     long tail, which I suppose must be held upright. The nest was
     lined with a little coarse dried grass, and contained six young
     ones nearly ready to fly. Authors state that the American Magpie
     lays only two eggs; but I suppose that this particular pair lived
     too far from scientific centres to find out what was expected of
     them. Other birds, noticed to-day, were Steller’s Jays among the
     pines and cedars, a flock of _Chrysomitris_, apparently _pinus_,
     feeding on willow-buds along the rivulet that threaded the gorge,
     and some Robins.”

The eggs of this Magpie are somewhat larger than any I have seen of
_P. nuttalli_, and are differently marked and colored. Six specimens
from the Sierra Nevada exhibit the following measurements: 1.40 ×
0.98, 1.22 × 1.00, 1.41 × 0.95, 1.28 × 0.95, 1.26 × 0.92, 1.32 × 0.96.
Their ground-color is a grayish-white, or light gray with a yellowish
tinge, spotted with blotches, dottings, and dashes of a purplish or
violet brown. In some they are sparsely distributed, showing plainly
the ground, more confluent at the larger end. In others they are
finer, more generally and more thickly distributed. In others they are
much larger and of deeper color, and cover the whole of the larger end
with one large cloud of confluent markings. None of these closely
resembles the eggs of _P. nuttalli_. The usual number of eggs in a
nest, according to Mr. Ridgway, varies from six to nine, although it
is said that ten are sometimes found.

Pica caudata, var. nuttalli, AUD.


  _Pica nuttalli_, AUD. Orn. Biog. IV, 1838, 450, pl. ccclxii.—IB.
       Syn. 1839, 152.—IB. Birds Am. IV, 1842, 104, pl.
       ccxxviii.—BON. List, 1838.—IB. Conspectus, 1850,
       383.—NUTTALL, Man. I, (2d ed.,) 1840, 236.—NEWBERRY, Rep. P.
       R. R. VI, IV, 1857, 84.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 578, pl.
       xxvi.—HEERM. X, _S_, 54.—COOPER, Orn. Cal. 1, 1870, 295.
       _Cleptes nuttalli_, GAMBEL, J. A. N. Sc. Ph. 2d Series, I,
       1847, 46.

SP. CHAR. Bill, and naked skin behind the eye, bright yellow;
otherwise similar to _P. hudsonica_. Length, 17.00; wing, 8.00; tail.

HAB. California (Sacramento Valley, and southern coast region).

We cannot look upon the Yellow-billed Magpie otherwise than as a local
race of the common kind, since it is well known that among the Jays
many species have the bill either black or yellow according to sex,
age, or locality; and as the Yellow-billed Magpie occupies a more
southern locality than usual, and one very different from that of the
black-billed species, it well may exhibit a special geographical
variation. The great restriction in range is another argument in favor
of its being a simple variety.

HABITS. The Yellow-billed Magpie seems to be exclusively a bird of
California, where it is very abundant, and where it replaces almost
entirely the more eastern form. Mr. Ridgway, who met with this variety
only in the valley of the Sacramento, states that he there found it
very abundant among the oaks of that region. It differed from the
common Magpie in being exceedingly gregarious, moving about among the
oak groves in small companies, incessantly chattering as it flew, or
as it sat among the branches of the trees. He saw many of their nests
in the tops of the oaks,—indeed, all were so situated,—yet he never
met with the nests of the other species in a high tree, not even in
the river valleys. The young of this Magpie have the white of the
scapulars marked with rusty triangular spots.

Dr. Cooper found this Magpie abundant in the valleys of California,
especially near the middle of the State, except during the spring
months, when none were seen in the Santa Clara Valley, the supposition
being that they had retired eastward to the mountains to build their
nests. At Santa Barbara he found them numerous in April and May, and
saw their nests in oak-trees. The young were already fledged by the
25th of April. The nest, he states, is composed of a large mass of
coarse twigs twisted together in a spherical form, with a hole in the
side. The eggs he saw resembled those of the other species, and are
described as being whitish-green, spotted with cinereous-gray and
olive-brown. They also breed abundantly about Monterey. They have not
been traced to the northern border of the State.

Their food, Dr. Cooper adds, consists of almost everything animal and
vegetable that they can find, and they come about farms and gardens to
pick up whatever they can meet with. They have a loud call that sounds
like _pait-pait_, with a variety of chattering notes, in tone
resembling the human voice, which, indeed, they can be taught to

An egg of this species from Monterey, California, is of a rounded oval
shape, a little less obtuse at one end than the other. The
ground-color is a light drab, so closely marked with fine cloudings of
an obscure lavender color as nearly to conceal the ground, and to give
the egg the appearance of an almost uniform violet-brown. It measures
1.20 inches in length by .90 in breadth.


  _Cyanurus_, SWAINSON, F. Bor.-Am. II, 1831, 495, Appendix. (Type,
    _Corvus cristatus_, LINN.)
  _Cyanocitta_, CABANIS, Mus. Hein. 1851 (not of STRICKLAND, 1845).

GEN. CHAR. Head crested. Wings and tail blue, with transverse black
bars; head and back of the same color. Bill rather slender, somewhat
broader than high at the base; culmen about equal to the head.
Nostrils large, nearly circular, concealed by bristles. Tail about as
long as the wings, lengthened, graduated. Hind claw large, longer than
its digit.

  [Line drawing: _Cyanura cristata._

Species and Varieties.

COMMON CHARACTERS. Wings and tail deep blue, the latter,
with the secondaries and tertials, sometimes also the greater
coverts, barred with black.

  A. Greater coverts, tertials, secondaries, and
  tail-feathers tipped broadly with white; lower parts
  generally, including lateral and under parts of head,

    C. cristata. Head above, back, scapulars, lesser
    wing-coverts, rump and upper tail-coverts, light ashy
    purplish-blue; a narrow frontal band, a loral spot,
    streak behind the eye, and collar round the neck,
    commencing under the crest, passing down across the end
    of the auriculars and expanding into a crescent across
    the jugulum, black; throat tinged with purplish-gray,
    the breast and sides with smoky-gray; abdomen, anal
    region, and crissum pure white. Wing, 5.70; tail, 6.00;
    bill, 1.25; tarsus, 1.35; middle toe, .85; crest, 2.20.
    _Hab._ Eastern Province of North America.

  B. No white on wing or tail; lower parts deep blue.

    C. stelleri. Color deep blue, less intense than on wings
    and tail, except dorsal region, which may be deep blue,
    ashy-brown, or sooty-black. Head and neck dark
    grayish-brown, dusky-blue, or deep black, the throat
    more grayish.

      _a._ No white patch over the eye; throat and chin not
      abruptly lighter than adjacent parts; secondary
      coverts not barred with black.

        Whole head, neck, jugulum, and dorsal region plain
        sooty-black; no blue streaks on forehead, or else
        these only faintly indicated. The blue everywhere of
        a uniform dull greenish-indigo shade. Depth of bill,
        .45; crest, 2.60; wing, 6.00; tail, 6.00; culmen,
        1.35; tarsus, 1.75; middle toe, 1.00. _Hab._
        Northwest coast, from Sitka to the Columbia  var. _stelleri_.

        Whole head, neck, jugulum, and dorsal region
        plumbeous-umber; the forehead conspicuously streaked
        with blue, and the crest washed with the same. The
        blue of two very different shades, the wings and
        tail being deep indigo, the body and tail-coverts
        greenish cobalt-blue. Depth of bill, .35; crest,
        2.80; wing, 6.00; tail, 6.00; culmen, 1.25; tarsus,
        1.55; middle toe, .90. _Hab._ Sierra Nevada, from
        Fort Crook to Fort Tejon                    var. _frontalis_.

      _b._ A patch of silky white over the eye; throat and
      chin abruptly lighter than the adjoining parts;
      secondary coverts barred distinctly with black.

        Whole crest, cheeks, and foreneck deep black; the
        crest scarcely tinged with blue; dorsal region light
        ashy-plumbeous; forehead conspicuously streaked with
        milk-white. The blue contrasted as in var.
        _frontalis_. Depth of bill, .35; crest, 3.00; wing,
        6.10; tail, 6.10; culmen, 1.25; tarsus, 1.65; middle
        toe, .90. _Hab._ Rocky Mountains of United States
                                                   var. _macrolopha_.

        Whole crest, cheeks, and foreneck deep black, the
        crest strongly tinged with blue; dorsal region
        greenish plumbeous-blue. The blue nearly uniform;
        forehead conspicuously streaked with bluish-white.
        Depth of bill, .35; crest, 2.80; wing, 5.90; tail,
        5.90; culmen, 1.30; tarsus, 1.60; middle toe, .90.
        _Hab._ Highlands of Mexico                  var. _diademata_.[56]

        Whole crest, cheeks, and foreneck deep blue, lores
        black; dorsal region deep purplish-blue; forehead
        conspicuously streaked with light blue. The blue of
        a uniform shade—deep purplish-indigo—throughout.
        Depth of bill, .40; length of crest, 2.50; wing,
        5.80; tail, 5.80; culmen, 1.30; tarsus, 1.60; middle
        toe, .95. _Hab._ Southeastern Mexico (Xalapa,
        Belize, etc.)                                var. _coronata_.[57]

The different varieties just indicated under _Cyanura stelleri_,
namely, _stelleri_, _frontalis_, _macrolopha_, _diademata_, and
_coronata_, all appear to represent well-marked and easily defined
races of one primitive species, the gradation from one form to the
other being very regular, and agreeing with the general variation
attendant upon geographical distribution. Thus, beginning with _C.
stelleri_, we have the anterior part of head and body, including
interscapular region, black, without any markings on the head. In
_frontalis_ the back is lighter, and a glossy blue shows on the
forehead. In _macrolopha_ the blue of posterior parts invades the
anterior, tingeing them very decidedly, leaving the head black, with a
blue shade to the crest; the forehead is glossed with bluish-white;
the upper eyelids have a white spot. In _coronata_ the blue tinge is
deeper, and pervades the entire body, except the side of the head. The
shade of blue is different from _macrolopha_, and more like that of
_stelleri_; _diademata_, intermediate in habitat between _macrolopha_
and _coronata_, is also intermediate in colors. The tail becomes
rather more even, and the bill more slender, as we proceed from
_stelleri_ to _coronata_. The bars on the secondary coverts become
darker in the same progression.

     [56] _Cyanura diademata_ (BONAP.), _Cyanogarrulus
     diadematus_, BONAP. Consp. p. 377. _Cyanocitta diad._,
     SCLATER, Catal. Am. B. 1862, 143. The _C. galeata_, CAB.,
     from Bogota, we have not seen.

     [57] _Cyanura coronata_, SWAINS. Phil. Mag. I, 1827, 437.

Cyanura cristata, SWAINSON.


  _Corvus cristatus_, LINN. Syst. Nat. I, (10th ed.,) 1758, 106; (12th
       ed.,) 1766, 157.—GMELIN, Syst. Nat. I, 1788, 369.—WILSON, Am.
       Orn. I, 1808, 2, pl. i, f. 1.—BON. Obs. Wilson, 1824, No.
       41.—DOUGHTY, Cab. N. H. II, 1832, 62, pl. vi.—AUD. Orn. Biog.
       II, 1834, 11; V, 1839, 475, pl. cii. _Garrulus cristatus_,
       “VIEILLOT, Encyclop. 890.”—IB. Dict. XI, 477.—BON. Syn. 1828,
       58.—SW. F. Bor.-Am. II, 1831, 293.—VIEILLOT, Galerie, I,
       1824, 160, pl. cii.—AUD. Birds Am. IV, 110, pl. ccxxxi.—MAX.
       Caban. J. 1858, VI, 192. _Pica cristata_, WAGLER, Syst. Av.
       1827, _Pica_, No. 8. _Cyanurus cristatus_, SWAINSON, F.
       Bor.-Am. II, 1831, App. 495.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858,
       580.—SAMUELS, 364.—ALLEN, B. E. Fla. 297. _Cyanocorax
       cristatus_, BON. List, 1838. _Cyanocitta cristata_, STRICKLAND,
       Ann. Mag. N. H. 1845, 261.—CABANIS, Mus. Hein. 1851, 221.
       _Cyanogarrulus cristatus_, BON. Consp. 1850, 376.

SP. CHAR. Crest about one third longer than the bill. Tail much
graduated. General color above light purplish-blue; wings and
tail-feathers ultramarine-blue; the secondaries and tertials, the
greater wing-coverts, and the exposed surface of the tail, sharply
banded with black and broadly tipped with white, except on the central
tail-feathers. Beneath white; tinged with purplish-blue on the throat,
and with bluish-brown on the sides. A black crescent on the forepart
of the breast, the horns passing forward and connecting with a
half-collar on the back of the neck. A narrow frontal line and loral
region black; feathers on the base of the bill blue, like the crown.
Female rather duller in color, and a little smaller. Length, 12.25;
wing, 5.65; tail, 5.75.

HAB. Eastern North America, west to the Missouri. Northeastern Texas
(DRESSER, Ibis, 1865, 494). North to Red River and Moose Factory.

Specimens from north of the United States are larger than more
southern ones. A series of specimens from Florida, brought by Mr.
Boardman, are quite peculiar in some respects, and probably represent
a local race resident there. In these Florida specimens the wing and
tail are each an inch or more shorter than in Pennsylvania examples,
while the bill is not any smaller. The crest is very short; the white
spaces on secondaries and tail-feathers more restricted.

  [Illustration: _Cyanura cristata._]

HABITS. The common Blue Jay of North America is found throughout the
continent, from the Atlantic coast to the Missouri Valley, and from
Florida and Texas to the fur regions nearly or quite to the 56th
parallel. It was found breeding near Lake Winnepeg by Donald Gunn. It
was also observed in these regions by Sir John Richardson. It was met
with by Captain Blakiston on the forks of the Saskatchewan, but not
farther west.

The entire family to which this Jay belongs, and of which it is a very
conspicuous member, is nearly cosmopolitan as to distribution, and is
distinguished by the remarkable intelligence of all its members. Its
habits are striking, peculiar, and full of interest, often evincing
sagacity, forethought, and intelligence strongly akin to reason. These
traits belong not exclusively to any one species or generic
subdivision, but are common to the whole family.

When first met with in the wild and unexplored regions of our country,
the Jay appears shy and suspicious of the intruder, man. Yet, curious
to a remarkable degree, he follows the stranger, watches all his
movements, hovers with great pertinacity about his steps, ever keeping
at a respectful distance, even before he has been taught to beware of
the deadly gun. Afterwards, as he becomes better acquainted with man,
the Jay conforms his own conduct to the treatment he receives. Where
he is hunted in wanton sport, because of brilliant plumage, or
persecuted because of unjust prejudices and a bad reputation not
deserved, he is shy and wary, shuns, as much as possible, human
society, and, when the hunter intrudes into his retreat, seems to
delight to follow and annoy him, and to give the alarm to all dwellers
of the woods that their foe is approaching.

In parts of the country, as in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and other
Western States, where the Jay is unmolested and exempt from
persecution, we find him as familiar and confiding as any of the
favored birds of the Eastern States. In the groves of Iowa Mr. Allen
found our Blue Jay nearly as unsuspicious as a Black-capped Titmouse.
In Illinois he speaks of them as very abundant and half domestic. And
again, in Indiana, in one of the principal streets of Richmond, the
same gentleman found the nest of these birds in a lilac-bush, under
the window of a dwelling. In the summer of 1843 I saw a nest of the
Jay, filled with young, in a tree standing near the house of Mr.
Audubon, in the city of New York. The habits of no two species can
well be more unlike than are those which persecution on the one hand
and kind treatment on the other have developed in this bird.

The Blue Jay, wherever found, is more or less resident. This is
especially the case in the more southern portions of its area of
reproduction. In Texas, Dr. Lincecum informs us, this Jay remains both
summer and winter. It is there said to build its nest of mud, a
material rarely if ever used in more northern localities; and when
placed not far from dwelling-houses, it is lined with cotton thread,
rags of calico, and the like. They are, he writes, very intelligent
and sensible birds, subsisting on insects, acorns, etc. He has
occasionally known them to destroy bats. In Texas they seem to seek
the protection of man, and to nest near dwellings as a means of safety
against Hawks. They nest but once a year, and lay but four eggs. In a
female dissected by him, he detected one hundred and twelve ova, and
from these data he infers that the natural life of a Jay is about
thirty years.

Mr. Allen mentions finding the Blue Jay in Kansas equally at home, and
as vivacious and even more gayly colored than at the North. While it
seemed to have forgotten none of the droll notes and fantastic ways
always to be expected from it, there was added to its manners that
familiarity which characterizes it in the more newly settled portions
of the country, occasionally surprising one with some new expression
of feeling or sentiment, or some unexpected eccentricity in its varied
notes, perhaps developed by the more southern surroundings.

The Blue Jay is arboreal in its habits. It prefers the shelter and
security of thick covers to more open ground. It is omnivorous, eating
either animal or vegetable food, though with an apparent preference
for the former, feeding upon insects, their eggs and larvæ, and worms,
wherever procurable. It also lays up large stores of acorns and beech
mast for food in winter, when insects cannot be procured in sufficient
abundance. Even at this season it hunts for and devours in large
quantities the eggs of the destructive tent caterpillar.

The Jay is charged with a propensity to destroy the eggs and young of
the smaller birds, and has even been accused of killing full-grown
birds. I am not able to verify these charges, but they seem to be too
generally conceded to be disputed. These are the only serious grounds
of complaint that can be brought against it, and are more than
outweighed, tenfold, by the immense services it renders to man in the
destruction of his enemies. Its depredations on the garden or the farm
are too trivial to be mentioned.

The Blue Jay is conspicuous as a musician. He exhibits a variety in
his notes, and occasionally a beauty and a harmony in his song, for
which few give him due credit. Wilson compares his position among our
singing birds to that of the trumpeter in the band. His notes he
varies to an almost infinite extent, at one time screaming with all
his might, at another warbling with all the softness of tone and
moderation of the Bluebird, and again imparting to his voice a grating
harshness that is indescribable.

The power of mimicry possessed by the Jay, though different from, is
hardly surpassed by that of the Mocking-Bird. It especially delights
to imitate the cries of the Sparrow Hawk, and at other times those of
the Red-tailed and Red-shouldered Hawks are given with such similarity
that the small birds fly to a covert, and the inmates of the
poultry-yard are in the greatest alarm. Dr. Jared P. Kirtland, of
Cleveland, on whose grounds a large colony of Jays took up their abode
and became very familiar, has given me a very interesting account of
their habits. The following is an extract: “They soon became so
familiar as to feed about our yards and corn-cribs. At the dawn of
every pleasant day throughout the year, the nesting-season excepted, a
stranger in my house might well suppose that all the axles in the
country were screeching aloud for lubrication, hearing the harsh and
discordant utterances of these birds. During the day the poultry might
be frequently seen running into their hiding-places, and the gobbler
with his upturned eye searching the heavens for the enemy, all excited
and alarmed by the mimic utterances of the adapt ventriloquists, the
Jays, simulating the cries of the Red-shouldered and the Red-tailed
Hawks. The domestic circle of the barn-yard evidently never gained any
insight into the deception by experience; for, though the trick was
repeated every few hours, the excitement would always be re-enacted.”

When reared from the nest, these birds become very tame, and are
perfectly reconciled to confinement. They very soon grow into amusing
pets, learning to imitate the human voice, and to simulate almost
every sound that they hear. Wilson gives an account of one that had
been brought up in a family of a gentleman in South Carolina that
displayed great intelligence, and had all the loquacity of a parrot.
This bird could utter several words with great distinctness, and,
whenever called, would immediately answer to its name with great

The late Dr. Esteep, of Canton, Ohio, an experienced bird-fancier,
assured Dr. Kirtland that he has invariably found the Blue Jay more
ingenious, cunning, and teachable than any other species of bird he
has ever attempted to instruct.

  [Illustration: PLATE XXXIX.
  1. Cyanura stelleri. ♂ Oregon, 46040.
  2.    ”        ”     _var_. frontalis. ♂ Sierra Nevada, 53639.
  3.    ”    macrolopha. ♂ Ariz., 41015.
  4.    ”    coronata. ♂ Xalapa, 16313.]

Dr. Kirtland has also informed me of the almost invaluable services
rendered to the farmers in his neighborhood, by the Blue Jays, in the
destruction of caterpillars. When he first settled on his farm, he
found every apple and wild-cherry tree in the vicinity extensively
disfigured and denuded of its leaves by the larvæ of the _Clisiocampa
americana_, or the tent caterpillar. The evil was so extensive that
even the best farmers despaired of counteracting it. Not long after
the Jays colonized upon his place he found they were feeding their
young quite extensively with these larvæ, and so thoroughly that two
or three years afterwards not a worm was to be seen in that
neighborhood; and more recently he has searched for it in vain, in
order to rear cabinet specimens of the moth.

The Jay builds a strong coarse nest in the branch of some forest or
orchard tree, or even in a low bush. It is formed of twigs rudely but
strongly interwoven, and is lined with dark fibrous roots. The eggs
are usually five, and rarely six in number.

The eggs of this species are usually of a rounded-oval shape, obtuse,
and of very equal size at either end. Their ground-color is a
brownish-olive, varying in depth, and occasionally an olive-drab. They
are sparingly spotted with darker olive-brown. In size they vary from
1.05 to 1.20 inches in length, and in breadth from .82 to .88 of an
inch. Their average size is about 1.15 by .86 of an inch.

Cyanura stelleri, SWAINSON.


  _Corvus stelleri_, GMELIN, Syst. Nat. I, 1788, 370.—LATH. Ind. Orn.
       I, 1790, 158.—PALLAS, Zoog. Rosso-As. I, 1811, 393.—BONAP.
       Zoöl. Jour. III, 1827, 49.—IB. Suppl. Syn. 1828, 433.—AUD.
       Orn. Biog. IV, 1838, 453, pl. ccclxii. _Garrulus stelleri_,
       VIEILLOT, Dict. XII, 1817, 481.—BONAP. Am. Orn. II, 1828, 44,
       pl. xiii.—NUTTALL, Man. I, 1832, 229.—AUD. Syn. 1839,
       154.—IB. Birds Am. IV, 1842, 107, pl. ccxxx (not of SWAINSON,
       F. Bor.-Am.?). _Cyanurus stelleri_, SWAINSON, F. Bor.-Am. II,
       1831, 495, App. _Pica stelleri_, WAGLER, Syst. Av. 1827,
       _Pica_, No. 10. _Cyanocorax stelleri_, BON. List, 1838. FINSCH,
       Abh. Nat. III, 1872, 40 (Alaska). _Cyanocitta stelleri_, CAB.
       Mus. Hein. 1851, 221. NEWBERRY, P. R. R. Rep. VI, IV, 1857, 85.
       _Cyanogarrulus stelleri_, BONAP. Conspectus, 1850, 377.
       _Steller’s Crow_, PENNANT, Arctic Zoöl. II, Sp. 139. LATH. Syn.
       I, 387. _Cyanura s._ BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 581 (in part).
       LORD, Pr. R. A. Inst. IV, 122 (British Columbia; nest).—DALL &
       BANNISTER, Tr. Chic. Ac. I, 1869, 486 (Alaska).—COOPER, Orn.
       Cal. I, 1870, 298 (in part).

SP. CHAR. Crest about one third longer than the bill. Fifth quill
longest; second about equal to the secondary quills. Tail graduated;
lateral feathers about .70 of an inch shortest. Head and neck all
round, and forepart of breast, dark brownish-black. Back and lesser
wing-coverts blackish-brown, the scapulars glossed with blue. Under
parts, rump, tail-coverts, and wings greenish-blue; exposed surfaces
of lesser quills dark indigo-blue; tertials and ends of tail-feathers
rather obsoletely banded with black. Feathers of the forehead streaked
with greenish-blue. Length, about 13.00; wing, 5.85; tail, 5.85;
tarsus, 1.75 (1,921).

HAB. Pacific coast of North America, from the Columbia River to Sitka;
east to St. Mary’s Mission, Rocky Mountains.

HABITS. Dr. Suckley regarded Steller’s Jay as probably the most
abundant bird of its size in all the wooded country between the Rocky
Mountains and the Pacific. He describes it as tame, loquacious, and
possessed of the most impudent curiosity. It is a hardy, tough bird,
and a constant winter resident of Washington Territory. It is
remarkable for its varied cries and notes, and seems to have one for
every emotion or pursuit in which it is engaged. It also has a great
fondness for imitating the notes of other birds. Dr. Suckley states
that frequently when pleasantly excited by the hope of obtaining a
rare bird, in consequence of hearing an unknown note issuing from some
clump of bushes or thicket, he has been not a little disappointed by
finding that it had issued from this Jay. It mimics accurately the
principal cry of the Catbird.

Dr. Cooper also found it very common in all the forests on both sides
of the Cascade Mountains. While it seemed to depend chiefly upon the
forest for its food, in the winter it would make visits to the
vicinity of houses, and steal anything eatable it could find within
its reach, even potatoes. In these forages upon the gardens and
farm-yards, they are both silent and watchful, evidently conscious of
the peril of their undertaking, and when discovered they instantly fly
off to the concealment of the forests. They also make visits to the
Indian lodges when the owners are absent, and force their way into
them if possible, one of their number keeping watch. In the forest
they do not appear to be shy or timid, but boldly follow those who
intrude upon their domain, screaming, and calling their companions
around them. Hazel-nuts are one of their great articles of winter
food; and Dr. Cooper states that, in order to break the shell, the Jay
resorts to the ingenious expedient of taking them to a branch of a
tree, fixing them in a crotch or cavity, and hammering them with its
bill until it can reach the meat within. Their nest he describes as
large, loosely built of sticks, and placed in a bush or low tree.

At certain seasons of the year its food consisted almost entirely of
the seeds of the pine, particularly of _P. brachyptera_, which Dr.
Newberry states he has often seen them extracting from the cones, and
with which the stomachs of those he killed were usually filled. He
found these birds ranging as far north as the line of the British
Territory, and from the coast to the Rocky Mountains.

In his Western journey Mr. Nuttall met with these birds in the Blue
Mountains of the Oregon, east of Walla-walla. There he found them
scarce and shy. Afterwards he found them abundant in the pine forests
of the Columbia, where their loud trumpeting clangor was heard at all
hours of the day, calling out with a loud voice, _djay-djay_, or
chattering with a variety of other notes, some of them similar to
those of the common Blue Jay. They are more bold and familiar than our
Jay. Watchful as a dog, no sooner does a stranger show himself in
their vicinity than they neglect all other employment to come round
him, following and sometimes scolding at him with great pertinacity
and signs of irritability. At other times, stimulated by curiosity,
they follow for a while in perfect silence, until something seems to
arouse their ire, and then their vociferous cries are poured out with
unceasing volubility till the intruder has passed from their view.

In the month of May, Mr. Nuttall found a nest of these birds in a
small sapling of the Douglas fir, on the borders of a dense forest,
and, some time after, a second nest with young, in an elevated branch
of another fir, on the border of a rocky cliff. The first nest
contained four eggs, of a pale green, marked with small olive-brown
spots, varied with others inclining to a violet hue. The parents flew
at him with the utmost anger and agitation, almost deafening him with
their cries; and although he took only two of their eggs, the next day
he found they had forsaken their nest. This nest was bulky, made of
interlaced twigs and roots, with a stout layer of mud, and lined with
black rootlets. One of the eggs taken by Mr. Nuttall is in my cabinet,
and is as he describes it, except that the obscure markings of violet
have nearly faded out. It measures 1.20 inches in length, and .90 in
breadth, is oval in shape, and a little more obtuse at one end than at
the other.

This Jay was obtained by Steller at Nootka, on the west coast of
Vancouver Island, in latitude 50°. It was also found in abundance by
Mr. Dall at Sitka, in British Columbia, where a number of specimens
were obtained by Mr. Bischoff and by Mr. Elliot.

Mr. J. K. Lord states that this Jay ever makes its presence known by
the constant utterance of discordant screams. It is continually
hopping from bough to bough, darting down to catch an insect,
performing short, erratic flights, and jerking up and down its crest
of bright feathers. Its noisy song seems to be everywhere. It is the
embodiment of restlessness, and, by dint of sheer impudence, attracts
attention even from the hunter. He adds that it seemed fond of
frequenting the haunts of man, and is always plentiful near Indian
lodges or white men’s shanties. It is by no means epicurean in taste,
but readily devours anything, whether seeds or salmon, grasshoppers or
venison. Its nest he found artfully concealed amidst the thick foliage
of a young pine-tree. It was composed of moss, small twigs, lichens,
and fir fronds, and lined with deer’s hair. The average number of eggs
laid appears to be seven.

Cyanura stelleri, var. frontalis, RIDGWAY.


  _Cyanura stelleri_, AUCT. All reference to Steller’s Jay as
       occurring in California, excepting on the northern Coast Range,
       relate to this variety.

SP. CHAR. Head, neck, and dorsal region plumbeous-umber, darker on the
head, and posteriorly changing gradually into the light greenish-blue
of the rest of the body; wings and tail deep indigo-blue, the
tertials, secondaries, and tail conspicuously marked with broad and
rather distant bars of black; primaries greenish light-blue, like the
rump, abdomen, etc. Whole forehead conspicuously streaked with blue
(the streaks forming two parallel series, where the feathers are not
disarranged), and the crest strongly tinged with blue. ♂ (53,639,
Carson City, Nevada, April 30, 1868): wing, 6.00; tail, 6.00; culmen,
1.25; depth of bill, .35; tarsus, 1.55; middle toe, .90; crest, 2.80.
♀ (53,640, Carson City, Nevada, April 30, 1868): wing, 5.70; tail,
5.50. _Young_ with the blue of the body and head entirely replaced by
a sooty grayish; and that of the wings and tail duller, and less
distinctly barred.

HAB. Whole length of the Sierra Nevada, from Fort Crook (where it
approaches var. _stelleri_) to Fort Tejon.

In the colors of the body, wings, and tail, this well-marked race
resembles _C. macrolopha_ in every respect, except that the greater
coverts are not barred with black; there being the same abrupt
contrast between the deep blue of the wings and tail, and the light
greenish-blue of the body, tail-coverts, and primaries,—seen only in
these two forms. The variety is confined to the mountains of
California and Western Nevada, extending along the Sierra Nevada about
the entire length of the State, there being specimens in the
collection from Fort Crook and Fort Tejon, and intermediate

HABITS. The Blue-fronted Jay, so far as it was observed by Mr.
Ridgway, was found to be exclusively an inhabitant of the pine woods
of the Sierra Nevada, and is, with Clarke’s Nutcracker, one of the
most characteristic birds of that region. In its general habits and
manners, it greatly resembles the eastern Blue Jay, but is rather more
shy, while its notes are very different, and do not possess the
variety and flexibility of the _cristata_, but are in comparison harsh
and discordant. The usual note is a hoarse, deep-toned monosyllabic
squawk. Sometimes it utters a hollow sonorous chatter.

Near Carson City one of these birds had been winged by a shot, and, in
falling, alighted on the lower branches of a pine-tree. Upon an
attempt to capture it, the bird began to ascend the tree limb by limb,
at the same time uttering a perfect imitation of the cry of the
Red-tailed Hawk, evidently in the hope of frightening away his
tormentors. Dr. Newberry regards this Jay as the western counterpart
of the _C. cristata_. By its more conspicuous crest, its bold, defiant
air, and its excessively harsh and disagreeable cry, it challenges and
secures attention. He found it almost exclusively confined to the
hilly and mountainous districts, choosing in preference those covered
with pines.

Dr. Heermann found these Jays abundant and resident as far south as
Warner’s Ranch, where, though common, they were for some reason so
unusually wild and vigilant as not to be easily procurable. In
feeding, he observed that they seemed always to begin in the lower
branches and ascend, hopping from twig to twig, to the topmost point,
and, while thus employed, utter a harsh screaming note that can be
heard to a considerable distance.

This species, Dr. Cooper states, is numerous in the mountains of
California, inhabiting the whole length of the Sierra Nevada, and the
Coast Range as far south, at least, as Santa Cruz. Though showing a
decided preference for the pine forests, they sometimes in winter
frequent those of oaks. They are omnivorous, eating seeds, acorns,
nuts, insects, and in winter even potatoes and dead fish. They are at
times bold and prying, and at others very cautious and suspicious.
They soon learn to appreciate a gun, and show great sagacity in their
movements to avoid its peril. On the Columbia they lay in May, and in
California about a month earlier.

Cyanura stelleri, var. macrolopha, BAIRD.


  _Cyanocitta macrolopha_, BAIRD, Pr. A. N. Sc. Phila. VII, June,
       1854, 118 (Albuquerque). _? Garrulus stelleri_, SWAINSON, F.
       Bor.-Am. II, 1831, 294, pl. liv (head-waters of Columbia;
       figure of a bird intermediate between _C. stelleri_ and
       _macrolopha_). _Cyanura macrolopha_, BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858,
       582.—ELLIOT, Illust. Am. B, I, xvii.—COOPER, Orn. Cal. 1,
       1870, 300.

SP. CHAR. Crest nearly twice the length of the bill. Tail moderately
graduated; the lateral feathers about .60 of an inch shorter than the
middle. Fourth and fifth quills longest; second shorter than the
secondaries. Head all round, throat, and forepart of the breast,
black, the crest with a gloss of blue; rest of back dark ashy-brown
with a gloss of greenish. Under parts, rump, tail-coverts, and outer
surfaces of primaries, greenish-blue; greater coverts, secondaries,
and tertials, and upper surface of tail-feathers bright blue, banded
with black; forehead streaked with opaque white, passing behind into
pale blue; a white patch over the eye. Chin grayish. Length, 12.50;
wing, 5.85; tail, 5.85; tarsus, 1.70 (8,351).

HAB. Central line of Rocky Mountains from northern border of the
United States to table-lands of Mexico; Fort Whipple, Arizona.

Young birds have the bright blue of body and black of head replaced by
a dull slate; the head unvaried.

An apparent link between this variety and _C. stelleri_ is represented
in the Smithsonian collection by three specimens from the region
towards the head-waters of the Columbia, where the respective areas of
distribution of the two overlap. In this the anterior parts of the
body are nearly as black as in _stelleri_ (much darker than
_macrolopha_), with the short crest; but the forehead (except in one
specimen) is streaked with blue, and there is a white patch over the
eye. As in _stelleri_, there are no black bars on the greater
wing-coverts. As this is an abundant form, whether permanent race or
hybrid, it may be called var. _annectens_.

HABITS. The Long-crested Jay appears to occur throughout the central
range of the Rocky Mountains from British Columbia to Mexico, where it
is replaced by a closely allied species or race, the _Cyanura
coronata_ of Swainson.

Mr. Ridgway met with this Jay only among the Wahsatch and the Uintah
Mountains. They appeared to be rather common in those regions, though
far from being abundant. In their manners and in their notes they are
described as having been almost an exact counterpart of the Sierra
Nevada form. Their notes, however, are said to be not so loud nor so
coarse as those of the more western species. A nest, found by Mr.
Ridgway, June 25, 1869, in Parley’s Park, Wahsatch Mountains, was in a
small fir-tree on the edge of a wood. It was saddled on a horizontal
branch about fifteen feet from the ground, and contained six eggs. The
base of the nest was composed of coarse strong sticks, rudely put
together. Upon this was constructed a solid, firm plastering of mud of
a uniform concave shape, lined with fine wiry roots. The external
diameter is about nine inches, and the height of the nest four. The
interior is five inches in diameter, and three in depth.

The species was first described by Professor Baird, from specimens
obtained by Dr. Kennerly, who writes that he first saw this bird among
the lofty pines of the Sierra Madre in November, 1853. Leaving that
range, he did not meet with it again until his party crossed the Aztec
Mountains, in January, 1854, where it was less abundant than when
first met with. It was, for the most part, found among the cedars on
the high grounds, though occasionally seen among the clumps of large
pines that were scattered along the valley. The party did not meet
with it again.

Dr. Coues found this species a common and a resident bird in Arizona.
It was observed to be almost exclusively an inhabitant of pine woods,
and was generally to be met with only in small companies, never
congregating in the manner of Woodhouse’s Jay. He describes it as very
shy, vigilant, noisy, and tyrannical.

The eggs of _C. macrolopha_ measure 1.30 inches in length and .91 in
breadth. Their ground-color is a light sea-green. They are somewhat
sparingly spotted with fine markings of dark olive-brown, and lighter
cloudings of a purplish or violet brown. They are oblong oval in
shape, obtuse at either end, but more tapering at one end. They appear
to be a little larger than the eggs of _stelleri_, and the
ground-color is brighter, and the markings deeper and more of an olive


  _Cyanocitta_, STRICKLAND, Annals and Mag. N. H. XV, 1845, 260.
    (Type, _Garrulus californicus_, VIGORS.)
  _Aphelocoma_, CABANIS, Mus. Hein. 1851, 221. (Same type.)

CHAR. Head without crest. Wings and tail blue, without any bands. Back
usually with a gray patch, different from the head. Bill about as
broad as high at the base, and the culmen a little shorter than the
head. Nostrils large, nearly circular, and concealed. Tail nearly
equal to the wings, lengthened, graduated, or else shorter and nearly

This genus is readily distinguished from the preceding by the entire
absence of crest and of black bars on the blue of wings and tail. The
species and races hitherto described will be found detailed in the
accompanying synopsis. The characters indicated above are of no very
great generic value, but as the group is a very natural one it will be
as well to retain it. As in _Cyanura_, the species are peculiar to the
United States and Mexico, one indeed being apparently confined to the
Peninsula of Florida.

  [Line drawing: _Cyanocitta californica._

It would perhaps be not very far out of the way to consider Sections A
and B as representing in their general characters, respectively, the
types from which their subdivisions have sprung.

  A. Tail longer than wings. A superciliary stripe of
  whitish streaks; jugular and pectoral feathers faintly
  edged with bluish, posteriorly forming an indistinct
  collar, interrupted medially. Ear-coverts dusky, except in
  var. _woodhousei_.

    _a._ Forehead and nasal tufts hoary white; the
    superciliary stripe a continuous wash of the same.
    Scapulars blue like the wings; dorsal region (the
    interscapulars) as light-colored as the lower parts.

      C. floridana. Back and lower parts pale ashy-brown;
      lower tail-coverts bright blue. Wing, 4.50; tail,
      5.70; bill, 1.20 and .35; tarsus, 1.40; middle toe,
      .85. Wing-formula, 4, 5, 6, 7, 3, 8, 9, 2, 10; first,
      1.80 shorter than longest. Graduation of tail, 1.50.
      _Hab._ Florida (only).

    _b._ Forehead and nasal tufts bright blue; superciliary
    stripe composed of narrow streaks; scapulars ashy like
    the back; back much darker than the lower parts.

      C. californica.

        Lower tail-coverts bright blue, dorsal region not
        well-defined ashy; auriculars bluish, beneath
        continuous pure ash. Superciliary streak well
        defined. Wing, 5.15; tail, 6.00; bill, 1.35 and .30;
        tarsus, 1.40; middle toe, .85. Wing-formula, fourth,
        fifth, and sixth equal; 7, 3, 8, 9 = 2; first, 1.80
        shorter than longest. Graduation of tail, .90.
        _Hab._ Rocky Mountains and Middle Province of United
        States                                     var. _woodhousei_.

        Lower tail-coverts pure white; dorsal region
        well-defined ashy; auriculars blackish; beneath dull
        white, approaching ash on breast. Superciliary
        streak indistinct. Wing, 5.65; tail, 6.00; bill,
        1.20 and .35; tarsus, 1.42; middle toe, .90.
        Wing-formula, 5, 6, 7, 4, 8, 3, 9, 10 = 2; first,
        2.20 shorter than longest. Graduation of tail, .80.
        _Hab._ Mexico (Orizaba; City of Mexico)   var. _sumichrasti_.[58]

        Superciliary streak sharply defined, conspicuous.
        Wing, 5.00; tail, 5.60; bill, 1.20 and .37; tarsus,
        1.55; middle toe, .95. Wing-formula, 4, 5, 6, 7, 3,
        8, 9, 2, 10; first, 2.10 shorter than longest.
        Graduation of tail, 1.15. _Hab._ Pacific Province of
        United States; Cape St. Lucas             var. _californica_.

  B. Tail not longer than wings, or considerably shorter. No
  superciliary stripe, and no streaks on throat or jugulum.
  Auriculars blue like the crown.

    C. ultramarina. Lower parts whitish, conspicuously
    different from the upper.

          _Tail nearly, or perfectly even._

      Length, 13.00; tail even; bill, 1.50; tail, 7.00.
      _Hab._ Mexico                               var. _ultramarina_.[59]

      Length, 11.50; tail very slightly rounded (graduation,
      .25 only); bill, 1.28 and .35; tail, 50. Above bright
      blue, dorsal region obscured slightly with ashy;
      beneath dull pale ash, becoming gradually whitish
      posteriorly, the crissum being pure ash. Lores blue.
      Tarsus, 1.45; middle toe, .95. Wing-formula, 5, 4 = 6,
      7, 3, 8, 9, 10, 2; first, 2.10 shorter than longest.
      Graduation of tail, .25. _Hab._ Lower Rio Grande var. _couchi_.

          _Tail considerably rounded._

      Colors as in _couchi_, but dorsal region scarcely
      obscured by ashy. Lores black. Wing, 7.50; tail, 7.50;
      bill, 1.30 and .40; tarsus, 1.60; middle toe, .90.
      Wing-formula, 5, 4, 6, 3 = 7, 8, 9, 2; first, 2.75,
      shorter than longest. Graduation of tail, 1.15. _Hab._
      Mexico (Orizaba, Mirador, etc.)                 var. _sordida_.[60]

      Graduation of the colors as in _sordida_, but the
      blue, instead of being a bright ultramarine, is very
      much paler and duller, and with a greenish cast, the
      whole dorsal region decidedly ashy; ash of the
      pectoral region much paler, and throat similar,
      instead of decidedly whitish, in contrast; pure white
      of posterior lower parts covering whole abdomen
      instead of being confined to crissum. Wing, 6.20;
      tail, 5.70; bill, 1.30 and .40; tarsus, 1.50; middle
      toe, .97. Wing-formula, fourth, fifth, and sixth
      equal; 7, 3, 8, 9, 2; first, 2.20, shorter than
      longest. Graduation of tail, .50. _Hab._ Southern
      Rocky Mountains (Fort Buchanan, and Copper Mines,
      Arizona)                                        var. _arizonæ_.

    C. unicolor.[61] Lower parts bright blue, like the
    upper. Entirely uniform rich ultramarine-blue; lores
    black. Wing, 6.70; tail, 6.70; bill, 1.30 and .50;
    tarsus, 1.45; middle toe, .95. Wing-formula, 5, 6, 4, 7,
    3, 8, 9, 2; first, 2.60 shorter than longest. Graduation
    of tail, 1.50. _Hab._ Southern Mexico (Cordova, Mirador,
    etc.); Guatemala.

In the first section of this group we see the same indication of
variation from a common type with the region that is so evident in
_Cyanura_. Thus, _Cyanocitta woodhousei_ differs from _californica_,
much as _Cyanura macrolopha_ does from _C. stelleri_ (var.
_frontalis_), in more slender bill and a greater percentage of blue;
this invading the back and under parts, the lower tail-coverts
especially. But here the parallel of modification ends, for the
Mexican representative of the species (_C. sumichrasti_) appears to
revert back to the characters of _californica_, having like it a
minimum amount of blue, though this almost obliterates the
superciliary stripe of white. In this respect there is more
resemblance to the case of _Pipilo fusca_ and its three races in the
three regions inhabited by these representative forms of _Cyanocitta
californica_; for, while the Mexican (_P. fusca_) and Californian (_P.
crissalis_) are very much alike, the one from the intervening region
(_P. mesoleuca_) is more different from the two extreme races than
they are from each other.

In the other section of the genus the relation between _arizonæ_ and
_sordida_ is a parallel to that between _Cyanura macrolopha_ and _C.
coronata_; the southern forms (_sordida_ and _coronata_) differing
principally in the greater intensity and prevalence or amount of the
blue. The relations of _couchi_ and _ultramarina_ to the two above
mentioned are yet obscure, owing to the small material at
command,—there being only two specimens of the former, and none of
the latter, in the National Museum at Washington.

     [58] _Cyanocitta sumichrasti_, RIDGWAY, Rep. U. S. Geol.
     Expl. 40th Par. All Mexican _Cyanocittas_ with a whitish
     superciliary streak, blue edgings to jugular feathers, etc.,
     are to be referred to this strongly marked race. A very
     conspicuous character of this variety is the strong “hook”
     to the upper mandible; the tip beyond the notch being much
     elongated, or unusually “produced.” In the collection is a
     specimen (60,058 ♀, Mexico, A. BOUCARD) which we have
     referred to this race, but which differs in such an
     important respect from all other specimens of the several
     races referrible to _californica_, as extended, that it may
     belong to a distinct form. Having the precise aspect of
     _sumichrasti_ in regard to its upper plumage, it lacks,
     however, any trace of the blue edgings and pectoral collar,
     the whole lower parts being continuously uninterrupted dull
     white, purer posteriorly. The appearance is such as to cause
     a suspicion that it may be a link between _sumichrasti_ and
     one of the races of _ultramarina_. It measures: wing, 5.50;
     tail, 6.00; graduation of tail, .70.

     [59] _Cyanocitta ultramarina_, (BONAP.)
     STRICKLAND.—_Garrulus ultramarinus_, BONAP. J. A. N. S. IV,
     1825, 386 (not of Audubon).

     [60] _Cyanocitta sordida_, (SWAINS.) (not of BAIRD, Birds N.
     Am., which is _arizonæ_).—SCLATER, Cat. Am. B. 1862, 143.
     _Garrulus sordidus_, SWAINS. Phil. Mag. 1827, i, 437.

     [61] _Cyanocitta unicolor_, (DU BUS) BONAP. Consp. p.
     378.—_Cyanocorax unicolor_, DU BUS, Bull. Acad. Brux. XIV,
     pt. 2, p. 103.

Cyanocitta floridana, BONAP.


  _Corvus floridanus_, BARTRAM, Travels, 1791, 291.—AUD. Orn. Biog.
       I, 1831, 444, pl. lxxxvii. _Garrulus floridanus_, BON. Am. Orn.
       II, 1828, 11, pl. xi.—NUTTALL, Man. I, 1832, 230.—AUD. Syn.
       1839, 154.—IB. Birds Am. IV, 1842, 118, pl. ccxxxiii.
       _Cyanurus floridanus_, SWAINSON, F. B. A. II, 1831, 495.
       _Cyanocorax floridanus_, BON. List, 1838. _Cyanocitta
       floridana_, BON. Consp. 1850, 377.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858,
       586.—ALLEN, B. E. Fla. 298. _Aphelocoma floridana_, CABANIS,
       Mus. Hein. 1851, 22. _Garrulus cyaneus_, VIEILLOT, Nouv. Dict.
       XII, 1817, 476 (not described). _? Garrulus cærulescens_,
       VIEILLOT, Nouv. Dict. XII, 1817, 480.—ORD. J. A. N. Sc. I,
       1818, 347. _Pica cærulescens_, WAGLER, Syst. Av. 1827, _Pica_,
       No. 11.

SP. CHAR. Tail much graduated; lateral feathers nearly 1.50 inches
shortest. Tail an inch longer than the wings. Above blue, including
scapulars; interscapular region and back brownish-ash, the former
lighter. Forehead and sides of the crown, including the nasal
feathers, hoary white. Sides of head and neck blue; the former tinged
with blackish, the latter sending a streaked collar of the same
entirely across the breast; region anterior to this collar dirty
white, streaked on the edges of the feathers with blue; rest of under
parts dirty whitish-brown; under tail-coverts blue, the tibia tinged
with the same. Length, 11.00; wing, 4.50; tail, 5.70; tarsus, 1.45.

HAB. Florida only, and quite local.

HABITS. This beautiful species appears to be exclusively confined to
the peninsula of Florida, and there is no authentic evidence that it
has ever been found outside of the limits of that State. The statement
of Bonaparte, that these birds are found in the States of Louisiana
and Kentucky, has never been confirmed, and Mr. Audubon, who was for
many years a resident of both States and familiar with the birds of
each, was very positive the statement was without foundation. It has
never been observed even in Georgia or Alabama, and Mr. Nuttall states
that it is not found in any part of West Florida.

Mr. Allen, in his recent paper on the winter birds of East Florida,
speaking of this species, states that it is numerous in the scrub, but
does not appear to frequent the pine woods, the hummocks, or the
swamps. He saw none along the St. John’s, except at Blue Springs, but
they occur in numbers a few miles back from the river.

Dr. Bryant, in his Notes on the birds of Florida, mentions that this
species is tolerably plentiful in the vicinity of Enterprise. He
regarded it as exceedingly interesting on account of its limited
geographical distribution. With no apparent obstacle to its movements,
it is yet confined to a small part of the peninsula of Florida, its
area of distribution north and south not exceeding three degrees of
latitude, if so much. He saw none north of St. Augustine, and none
south of Jupiter’s Inlet. So far as he observed them, they were
exclusively confined to the growth of scrub-oak, which in many places
is so entangled with creeping plants that it is impossible to walk
through without cutting a path. This growth is generally found on
elevated ridges running parallel to the sea-coast. The most extensive
of these, near Enterprise, is about three miles wide, and eighty feet
above the lake.

The flight of this species is said by Mr. Audubon to be performed at a
short distance from the ground, and to consist either of a single
sailing sweep, as it passes from one tree to another, or of continuous
flappings with a slightly undulating motion, in the manner of the
Canada Jay. Its notes are described as softer than those of the Blue
Jay, and more frequently uttered. Its motions are also quicker and
more abrupt. Its food is said to consist of snails, which it collects
on the ground, insects, and various kinds of fruits and berries. It is
also charged with being very destructive of eggs and young birds.

The Florida Jay is said to be easily kept in confinement, feeding
readily on dried or fresh fruit and the kernels of various nuts, and
soon appears to be reconciled to its loss of liberty. It secures its
food between its feet, and breaks it into pieces before swallowing it.
In this way it feeds on the acorn of the live-oak, snails, and the
seeds of the sword-palmetto.

The nest of this Jay is formed of dry sticks, placed across each
other, and, although rounded in form, is so lightly made that the
birds may be seen through its interstices. It is lined with fibrous
rootlets. Only one brood is raised in a season. Audubon’s descriptions
of its eggs are inaccurate, and only applicable to those of the Blue

Mr. Audubon observed a pair of these birds in confinement in New
Orleans. They were fed upon rice and dry fruit. At dessert they were
allowed their liberty, when they would fly to the table, feed on the
almonds given them, and drink claret diluted with water. They
attempted to mimic various sounds, but did so very imperfectly.

Mr. Nuttall states that at the approach of winter these birds retire
to the south of St. Augustine. He regards their voice as less harsh
than that of the Blue Jay, and states that they have a variety of
notes, some of which are probably imitations, and are said to resemble
the song of the Wood Thrush and the calls of the common Jay.

An egg of the Florida Jay before me is of a rounded oval shape, being
nearly equally obtuse at either end. The ground-color is a light
bluish-gray, marked almost exclusively at the larger end with a few
small spots of a light rufous-brown. It has no near resemblance to the
eggs of the California Jay, nor to those of any other Jay that I have
seen. It measures 1.05 inches by .80.

In its flight and action, Dr. Bryant thought the Florida Jay resembled
the Mocking-Bird. It has none of the restless, suspicious manner of
the Blue Jay. He never heard it utter more than a single note, this
being much softer than the usual cry of the Blue Jay; its song he
regarded as rather monotonous. It seldom flies more than a short
distance at a time, and seems to trust for protection to the
difficulty of access to its abode. It also evinces a great partiality
for particular localities. Generally only a single pair is seen at a
time, though in one place he has seen three pairs together. It is not
fond of civilization, and is seldom known to frequent the vicinity of

A nest found by Dr. Bryant on the 15th of April was built in a
scrub-oak about three feet from the ground. It was made of small
twigs, compactly and carefully lined with fibres of the dwarf
palmetto, that had apparently been brought a distance of half a mile.
The cavity measured about five inches in breadth and one and a half in
depth. The nest contained three eggs of a light blue, sparingly
sprinkled with rufous, the spots being larger and more numerous
towards the larger end. Another nest, found a few days later,
contained five eggs of a more neutral tint, with the spots darker,
larger, and more evenly distributed.

Cyanocitta californica, STRICKLAND.


  _Garrulus californicus_, VIGORS, Zoöl. Beechey’s Voyage, 1839, 21,
       pl. v. _Cyanocitta californica_, STRICKLAND, Ann. Mag. XV,
       1845, 342.—GAMBEL, J. A. N. Sc. 2d series, I, Dec. 1847,
       45.—BON. Conspectus, 1850, 377.—NEWBERRY, P. R. R. Rep. VI,
       IV, 1857, 85.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 584.—HEERM. X, _S_,
       55.—COOPER, Orn. Cal. 1, 1870, 302. _Cyanocorax californicus_,
       GAMBEL, Pr. A. N. Sc. III, Ap. 1847, 201. _Aphelocoma
       californica_, CABANIS, Mus. Hein. 1851, 221.—BON. Comptes
       Rendus, XXXVII, Nov. 1853, 828; Notes Orn. Delattre. _Corvus
       ultramarinus_, AUD. Orn. Biog. IV, 1838, 456, pl. ccclxii (not
       _Garrulus ultramarinus_, BON.). _Garrulus ultramarinus_, AUD.
       Syn. 1839, 154.—IB. Birds Am. IV, 1842, 115, pl. ccxxxii (not
       of BONAPARTE). _Cyanocitta superciliosa_, STRICKLAND, Ann. Mag.
       XV, 1845, 260 (type of genus _Cyanocitta_). “_Corvus
       palliatus_, DRAPIEZ,” BONAP.

SP. CHAR. Width of bill at base of lower mandible rather more than
half the length of culmen. Lateral tail-feathers about an inch the
shortest. Tail an inch longer than the wings. General color above,
including the surface of the wings, bright blue, without bars. The
whole back, including to some extent the scapulars, brownish-ash, very
faintly glossed with blue in the adult. À streaked white superciliary
line from a little anterior to the eye as far as the occiput. Sides of
the head and neck blue, the region around and behind the eye,
including lores and most of ear-coverts, black. The blue of the sides
of the neck extends across the forepart of the breast, forming a
crescent, interrupted in the middle. The under parts anterior to the
crescent white, the feathers edged with blue; behind it dull white;
the sides tinged with brown. Length, 12.25; wing, 5.00; tail, 6.15;
tarsus, 1.55. (No. 2,841.)

HAB. Pacific Province from Columbia River to Cape St. Lucas; Carson
City, Nevada (RIDGWAY).

  [Illustration: _Cyanocitta californica._]

Specimens from Cape St. Lucas are rather smaller and perhaps whiter
beneath than elsewhere; those from the eastern slope of Sierra Nevada
are very large. Upon a careful comparison, we find that the supposed
specimens of _C. californica_ in the Smithsonian collection from
Mexico (Orizaba, etc.) constitute a quite different form,
characterized by very indistinct superciliary white and bluish edges
to throat and jugular feathers, and especially by the lengthened
wings, which average 5.75 inches instead of 5.00. In general respects
the resemblance, as suggested by Sclater, is to _californica_, and not
to _woodhousei_. The dorsal patch is very distinct.

  [Illustration: PLATE XL.
  1. Cyanocitta californica. ♂ Nev., 56642.
  2.     ”           ”       _var._ sumichrasti. ♂ Orizaba, 42129.
  3.     ”      woodhousii. ♂ Nev., 53647.
  4.     ”      floridana. ♂ Fla., 13734.]

One Mexican specimen (8,465 from Real del Monte?), presented by Mr.
John Gould, differs again in having the dorsal patch obscured by a
bluish wash; an unusual amount of blue edging to the throat and
jugular feathers, and a dull brownish tinge to the belly. It almost
suggests the possibility of a hybrid form between _sumichrasti_ and

HABITS. The California Jay appears to be a Pacific coast species,
occurring from the Columbia River southward to Cape St. Lucas, but not
found in the interior at any considerable distance from the coast. Mr.
Ridgway speaks of it as the Valley Jay of California, having been
observed by him in abundance only among the oaks of the Sacramento
Valley, the brushwood of the ravines, and the scattered pines of the
foot-hills along the western base of the Sierra Nevada. It was also
quite common, in April, in the vicinity of Carson City, where he found
it breeding. Its notes and manners, he adds, are very similar to those
of the Woodhouse Jay, belonging to the wooded regions of the interior,
but the shrill cries of this species are even more piercing. There is,
moreover, something in its appearance, caused by the sharp contrast of
the bright blue, the light ash, and the pure white colors, by which it
may be distinguished at a glance from the more uniformly colored

Dr. Heerman speaks of it as frequenting to some extent the same
districts as Steller’s Jay, but also found in greater abundance
throughout the valleys. He likewise describes it as noisy, alert, and
cunning in its habits, wild and wary, and yet often seeking the
habitations of man, near which to rear its young, drawn thither by the
abundance of food found in such localities. Their nests, he states,
are built in a thick-leaved bush, or on the lower branches of an oak,
at but little height from the ground. They are constructed of twigs,
and are lined with fine rootlets. The eggs, four in number, are, he
says, emerald-green in color, profusely dotted with umber-brown spots.

Dr. Newberry states that he found the trees and the thickets bordering
the streams in the valleys the favorite haunts of the California Jay.
As his party ascended among the evergreen forests of the higher
grounds, and passed northeasterly from the Sacramento Valley, these
birds were no longer met with, and long before reaching the Oregon
line they lost sight of it altogether. Nor did they meet with it again
until their return to California. This Jay, he adds, has all the
sprightliness and restlessness of the family, but is less noisy, and
its notes are far more agreeable than those of Steller’s Jay, by which
it is replaced at the north.

The Smithsonian Museum has a specimen of this species obtained on the
Columbia by Townsend, and Mr. Nuttall mentions that early in October,
on arriving at the forests of the Columbia, near Fort Vancouver, he
met with it in company with Steller’s Jay. They were breeding in the
dark pine woods, and by the 15th of June they were feeding their fully
fledged young. He also states that they were found as far north as
Fraser’s River, migrating to the south at the approach of winter.
Without questioning the correctness of this statement, it is worthy of
mention that these birds have not been met there by more recent
collectors, and that Dr. Newberry nowhere met with them in Oregon. Dr.
Cooper suggests that, since then, the increased severity of the
winters may have driven them permanently farther south.

Mr. Nuttall describes its habits as very much like those of the Blue
Jay. It usually flies out to the tops of the tallest pines, jerks its
tail, and perches playfully on some extreme branch, where, as if in
anger, it calls _woit, woit-woit_, with an occasional recognition note
of _twee-twee_. When pursued, it retreats to the shade of the loftiest
branches. It feeds on insects, acorns, which it breaks up, and pine
seeds. He describes it as a graceful, active, and shy bird, with a
note much less harsh and loud than that of Steller’s Jay.

Dr. Cooper remarks that this species is one of the most common and
conspicuous of the birds of the State of California. They frequent
every locality in which oak-trees are found, even within the limits of
large towns, where they enter gardens and audaciously plunder the
fruit. They have all the usual cunning of their tribe, and when
alarmed become very quiet, and conceal themselves in the thick
foliage. They are usually noisy and fearless, and their odd cries,
grotesque actions, and bright plumage make them general favorites in
spite of their depredations. They are also said to have a talent for
mimicry, besides notes to express their various wants and ideas.

They breed abundantly throughout the western parts of California, and
construct a large and strong nest of twigs, roots, and grass. These
are placed in a low tree or bush. They lay about five eggs, which Dr.
Cooper describes as dark green marked with numerous pale brown
blotches and spots, and measure 1.80 by 1.04 inches. At San Diego he
found these eggs laid as early as April 5.

This Jay inhabits the Coast Range of mountains to their summit, south
of San Francisco, and the Sierra Nevada as far as the oaks extend, or
to an elevation of from 1,000 to 5,000 feet. Dr. Cooper saw none on
the east side of the Sierra Nevada in latitude 39°.

He describes their flight as slow and laborious, on account of their
short wings, and states that they never fly far at a time. He also
accuses them of being very destructive to the eggs of smaller birds,
hunting for them in the spring, and watching the movements of other
birds with great attention.

Mr. Xantus found these birds very abundant at Cape St. Lucas, being,
like all the other resident species there, much smaller than those
occurring in more northern localities. Their habits are said to be
very much the same.

This species was taken in winter near Oaxaca, Mexico, by Mr. Boucard.

Four eggs of this species from different parts of California present
the following measurements: 1.20 × 0.85; 1.10 × 0.80; 1.13 × 0.80;
1.05 × 0.80. The measurements given by Dr. Cooper we are confident
must be a mistake. Their ground-color is a bright, but not a dark,
emerald-green; and they are marked and blotched with faint
purplish-brown, and deeper spots of dark umber. These spots are
sparingly distributed, and are chiefly about the larger end. In one
they are wholly of a light violet-brown. These eggs are of a perfectly
oval shape.

Mr. Charles D. Gibbes, of Stockton, writes that he found in a garden
in that city a nest built by a pair of these birds that had become
half domesticated. It was placed in a very thick arbor of honeysuckle.
The body of the nest was composed of clippings from a hedge of osage
orange, with thorns on them half an inch long. These twigs were tied
and interlaced with twine and bits of cotton strings. Within this
frame was a layer of fine weeds and grasses nicely arranged, the whole
lined with horse-hair. The nest was found in May, and contained five
eggs. The parents kept a good deal about the kitchen door, and would
steal anything they had an opportunity to take. They made use of an
old nest in the same garden as a receptacle for their stolen goods;
among other things was found a large slice of bread-and-butter.

Cyanocitta californica, var. woodhousei, BAIRD.


  _Cyanocitta woodhousei_, BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 585, pl.
       lix.—IB. Mex. B. II, Birds, 20, pl. xxi.—COOPER, Orn. Cal. 1,
       1870, 304.

SP. CHAR. Size and general appearance of _C. californica_. Bill
slender. Graduation of tail one inch. Blue, with a very obscure ashy
patch on the back. Sides of the head and neck and incomplete pectoral
collar, blue; throat streaked with the same. Breast and belly uniform
brownish-ash, glossed with blue; under tail-coverts bright blue. Sides
of head, including lores, black, glossed with blue below; a streaked
white superciliary line. Length, 11.50; wing, 5.35; tail, 6.10;
tarsus, 1.60. _Young._ All the blue, except that of the wings and
tail, replaced by dull ash.

HAB. Rocky Mountains and Middle Province of United States; north to
Idaho and Wyoming (RIDGWAY); south to Northern Mexico; east to Wyoming
and Colorado.

The bluish wash on the back nearly obscuring the dorsal patch, the
general ashy tinge of the under parts, the decided blue under
tail-coverts, and the longer and much slenderer bill, distinguish this
form from _californica_, although probably both are geographical races
of the same species.

HABITS. This bird was first met with by Dr. Woodhouse among the San
Francisco Mountains of New Mexico, and was given by him, in his Report
of the Sitgreaves Expedition, as the California Jay. He states in
regard to it, that wherever he found the piñon, or nut-pine (_Pinus
edulis_), growing in New Mexico, this bird was sure to be there in
great numbers, feeding upon the fruit of those trees. Among the men it
was known as the piñon bird. Its notes are said to be harsh and
disagreeable. It was extremely restless, and was continually in
motion, flying from tree to tree, uttering its well-known cries.

Mr. Ridgway calls this a very interesting species, and states that it
was found very abundant in the fertile cañons of the West Humboldt
Mountains, as well as in all the extensive nut-pine and cedar woods to
the eastward. On the Toyaba and East Humboldt Mountains, and the
extensive piñon woods in Southern Idaho, it was equally common. In
Utah, in the cañons of the Wahsatch Mountains, it was occasionally
seen, though oftener observed in the valley of the Weber. When
unmolested, this bird is, he states, very unsuspicious, and anything
unusual at once excites its curiosity. Often when at work, in camp,
skinning birds, on the edge of bushes, one of them would approach
within a few feet, and quietly watch every movement. At Unionsville
they were quite common in the gardens and around the door-yards of the
town, and were very familiar and unsuspicious. Their cries greatly
resembled those of the California Jay, and consisted of a repetition
of harsh screeching notes.

This species, according to Dr. Coues, is a resident and a very
abundant species in Arizona, where it is one of the most
characteristic species. It was found in all situations, but seemed to
shun dense pine woods, and to prefer to keep on the open hillsides,
among the scrub-oaks, etc. In winter it collects in rather large
flocks, sometimes as many as fifty together. They are, however,
usually seen in small groups of six or seven individuals. They are
said to be a restless, vigilant, shy, and noisy species.

Mr. C. E. Aiken found this bird a common and resident species in
Colorado. He met with it along the foot of the mountains, in brush
thickets, in which they also breed. The base and periphery of a nest
found by him were composed of dead twigs, intermingled within with
fine rootlets and horsehair. The eggs, four or five in number, are
said to be laid about the first of May. They have a ground-color of a
light bluish-green, and marked with reddish-brown specks, thickest at
the larger end. They are of a rounded oval shape, much more pointed at
one end, and rounded at the other, and average 1.06 inches in length
by .80 of an inch in breadth.

Cyanocitta ultramarina, var. arizonæ, RIDGWAY.

  _Cyanocitta sordida_ (not of SWAINS.!), BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858,
       587, pl. lx. f. 1.—IB. Mex. B. II, Birds, 21, pl. xxii, f.
       1.—COOPER, Orn. Cal. 1, 1870, 305. _Cyanocitta sordida_ var.
       _arizonæ_, RIDGWAY, Rep. U. S. Geol. Expl. 40th Par.

  [Illustration: PLATE XLI.
  1. Cyanocitta sordida. Orizaba, 38209.
  2.     ”         ”     _var._ arizonæ. ♂ Ariz., 18279.
  3. Perisoreus canadensis. ♂ Nova Scotia, 26940.
  4.     ”          ”       _var._ capitalis. ♂ Colorado, 51642.]

SP. CHAR. Bill short, thick; half as high as long. Wing considerably
longer than the tail, which is slightly graduated (.50 of an inch).
Upper surface (including whole side of head to the throat) light
sky-blue, the whole dorsal region inclining to pure bluish-ashy.
Beneath fine, uniform, pale ash for anterior half (including the
throat), this gradually fading into white on the posterior portions
(including whole abdomen), the lower tail-coverts being pure white.
Lores blue. Length, 13.00; wing, 6.20; tail, 5.70; culmen, 1.30; depth
of bill, .40; tarsus, 1.50; middle toe, .97. Fourth, fifth, and sixth
quills equal and longest, second shorter than ninth; first 2.20
shorter than longest. (18,279, Fort Buchanan, Arizona, December; Dr.
Irwin.) _Immature_ (8,469 ♂, Copper Mines, Arizona). The blue, except
that of the wings and tail, replaced by dull ash; the blue feathers
appearing in scattered patches.

HAB. Arizona (Copper Mines, J. H. Clark; and Fort Buchanan, Dr. Irwin,
U. S. A.).

The nearest ally of this race is the var. _sordida_ of Mexico, which,
however, differs in many important respects; the differences between
the two being giving in the synopsis (page 880), it is unnecessary to
repeat them here. In both there is a tendency towards a party-colored
bill; each example of the northern style, and most of those of the
southern, having more or less whitish on the lower mandible.

Nothing definite is known as to the habits or reproduction of this

Cyanocitta ultramarina, var. couchi, BAIRD.


  _Garrulus ultramarinus_, BONAP. J. A. N. Sc. IV, 1825, 386 (not of
       AUDUBON).—TEMM. Pl. Col. II, 439. _Cyanocitta ultramarina_,
       STRICKLAND, Ann. & Mag. XV, 1845, 260.—GAMBEL, J. A. N. Sc. 2d
       Ser. I, 1847, 45.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 588, pl. 60, f. 2.—IB.
       Mex. B. II, Birds 21, pl. xxii. _Cyanogarrulus ultramarinus_,
       BON. Consp. 1850, 378. _Cyanocitta couchi_, BAIRD, Birds N. Am.
       1858, 588.

SP. CHAR. Tail rounded, but little graduated; lateral feather about a
quarter of an inch shortest. Wings longer than the tail; when closed,
reaching nearly to its middle. Above and on sides of head and neck
bright blue; the lores blackish; the middle of the back slightly
duller, the tips of some of the feathers dark brown. Beneath
brownish-ash, paler on the chin and towards the anal region, which,
with the crissum, is white. No trace of white or black on the sides of
the head, nor of any streaks or collar on the breast. Length, (fresh,)
11.50; wing, 6.00; tail, (dried,) 5.40; tarsus, 1.50.

HAB. South side of valley of Rio Grande, near the coast, and

This well-marked species is quite different in form from the _C.
californica_, having a shorter, more even tail, much longer wings, and
stouter feet. The absence of any collar or streaks on the breast and
throat, of black or white on the side of the head, and of decided ash
on the back, are very well marked features. There is also much more
green in the blue of the head.

As suggested in the P. R. R. Report, the birds collected by Lieutenant
Couch at Monterey, Mexico, although agreeing almost exactly with the
original description of Bonaparte, are much smaller, and perhaps
entitled to recognition as a separate form. The tail is nearly two
inches less, 5.40 instead of 7.00, or over.

HABITS. The Ultramarine Jay is a well-marked species, and is
specifically quite distinct from the _C. californica_. It is found in
the valley of the Rio Grande, and thence southward and eastward in the
northern provinces of Mexico. Though we know of no specimens having
been procured on this side of the boundary line, their occurrence is
quite probable. Lieutenant Couch met with this species near Monterey,
Mexico, and from thence west to Parras. He describes it as being
gregarious and eminently Jay-like in its habits. They are very noisy
and vociferous in their outcries, and three or four of them suffice to
keep a whole forest in an uproar. Near Guyapuco a large snake
(_Georgia obsoleta_) was seen pursued by three or four of this
species. The reptile was making every effort to escape from their
combined attacks, and would, no doubt, have been killed by them, had
they not been interfered with. The cause of so much animosity against
the snake was explained when, on opening its stomach, three young of
this species, about two thirds grown, were found.

In the Department of Vera Cruz, Sumichrast found what he calls _C.
ultramarina_ in company with _Cyanura coronata_ and _Cyanocitta nana_,
“_californica_” (_Sumichrasti_), and _sordida_, occurring in the
alpine region, and with the three first named restricted to that
locality. The limit of their extension is about that of the alpine
region, that is, from an elevation of about 4,500 feet to the height
of 10,500 feet. The _sordida_ is also found on the plateau.


  _Xanthoura_, BONAPARTE, Consp. Av. 1850. (Type, “_Corvus
    peruvianus_, GM.”)

  [Line drawing: _Xanthoura luxuosa._

CHAR. Head without crest. Throat black. Lateral tail-feathers bright
yellow. Bill very stout, rather higher than broad; culmen curved from
the base. Nostrils rather small, oval, concealed by a nasal tuft
varying in length with species. Tail longer than the wings; graduated.
The wings concave, rounded; the secondaries nearly as long as the
primaries. Legs very stout; hind claw about half the total length of
the toe.

The genus _Xanthoura_ is composed of three so-called species, of
different geographical distribution, and exhibits a progressive change
from one to the other, with variation of latitude that enforces assent
to the hypothesis of their all belonging to one primitive form. These
differences may be expressed as follows:—

COMMON CHARACTERS. Nasal tufts, patch on side of lower jaw
and one above eye, (both eyelids,) bright blue; remainder of
face and throat black. Back, and upper surface of wings and
tail (the four central feathers), green, the latter tinged
with blue at end; the rest of tail-feathers bright yellow.
Belly and crissum varying from bright yellow to green.
Forehead yellowish or whitish.

  _a._ Nasal tufts short, only covering the nostrils; whole
  top of head (except anteriorly) and nape bright blue.

    1. Body beneath, and crissum, green. _Hab._ Mexico and
    South Texas                                       var. _luxuosa_.

    2. Body beneath, and crissum, yellow, sides more
    greenish. _Hab._ Guatemala and Honduras     var. _guatemalensis_.

  _b._ Nasal tuft elongated, forming an anterior crest, the
  feathers reaching far beyond nostrils. Whole top of head
  pale heavy yellow, glossed behind with bluish.

    3. Body beneath, and crissum, very bright
    gamboge-yellow. _Hab._ Colombia, Ecuador, Bogota, and
    Bolivia                                             var. _incas_.

Thus, starting with the green-bellied _luxuosa_ of the Rio Grande, we
come to the yellow-bellied _guatemalensis_; but intermediate
localities show different proportions of the two colors. The nasal
tufts in the first do not extend beyond the nasal fossæ; and the
frontal yellowish is very narrow. In the second these tufts reach
beyond the fossæ, and the frontal yellowish is more extended. In
_incas_ again the nasal tufts have reached their maximum, while the
frontal yellowish extends over the whole cap, leaving only a trace of
blue on the nape.

Xanthoura incas, var. luxuosa, BONAP.


  _Garrulus luxuosus_, LESSON, Rev. Zoöl. April, 1839, 100.
       _Cyanocorax luxuosus_, DU BUS, Esquisses Ornithologiques, IV,
       1848, pl. xviii.—CASSIN, Illust. I, 1853, I, pl. i. _Xanthoura
       luxuosa_, BON. Consp. 1850, 380.—CABANIS, Mus. Hein. 1851,
       224.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 589. _Pica chloronota_, WAGLER,
       Isis, 1829, 750 (young male; name belongs to _Corvus
       peruvianus_, GM.). _Cyanocorax cyanicapillus_, CABANIS, Fauna
       Peruana, 1844-46, 233 (note). _Cyanocorax yncas_, “BODDÆRT,”
       LAWRENCE, Ann. N. Y. Lyc. V, April, 1851, 115 (first added here
       to fauna of United States).

SP. CHAR. Wings shorter than the tail, which is much graduated, the
lateral feathers 1.25 inches shorter. Above green; beneath yellow,
glossed continuously with green; inside of wings and outer four
tail-feathers straw-yellow; rest of tail feathers green, glossed with
blue. Sides of the head, and beneath from the bill to the forepart of
the breast, velvet-black. Crown, nape, and a short maxillary stripe
running up to the eye and involving the upper eyelid, brilliant blue;
the nostril-feathers rather darker; the sides of the forehead whitish.
Bill black; feet lead-color. Length, 11.00; wing, 4.75; tail, 5.40;
tarsus, 1.65.

HAB. Valley of Rio Grande, of Texas, and southward.

As remarked above, the passage into the yellow-bellied _guatemalensis_
is gradual as we proceed south; and the latter, and perhaps even the
_incas_, can only be considered as fellow races of a common original

  [Illustration: _Xanthoura luxuosa._]

HABITS. Within the limits of the United States this beautiful species
has thus far been only met with in Southeastern Texas in the lower
valley of the Rio Grande. It was first described in 1839, by M.
Lesson, a French naturalist, from a Mexican specimen, and in 1851 was
first brought to our notice as a bird of the United States by Mr. Geo.
N. Lawrence of New York. Specimens of this bird were obtained by the
party of the Mexican Boundary Survey, and by Lieutenant Couch on the
Rio Grande, at Matamoras, New Leon, and San Diego, Mexico. The only
note as to its habits by Lieutenant Couch is to the effect that it
eats seeds and insects.

The late Dr. Berlandier of Matamoras obtained specimens of this bird
in the vicinity of that city, which were found among his collections.
Among his manuscript notes occurs a description of the plumage and
habits of this species, which he had described under the name of _Pica
cervantesii_. In this he states that this bird inhabits the whole
eastern coast of Mexico, but that he has only met with it on the banks
of the Rio Bravo del Norte, in the vicinity of Matamoras. It is said
to be both carnivorous and graminivorous, and comes about the houses
in search of the refuse. Although it can swallow whole grains of corn,
before eating it breaks them with its beak, holding them between its
claws, in the manner of birds of prey, and biting with great force. It
is commonly known as _Pajaro verde_, or Greenbird.

Mr. Dresser states that this species was common on the lower Rio
Grande during the winter, but was not found on the Upper Rio Grande or
in Texas, except as a straggler from Mexico.

This bird, Mr. Sumichrast states, is common throughout the Department
of Vera Cruz, where it is generally known by the name of _Verde
detoca_ and _Sonaja_. It is said to be one of the birds most generally
diffused throughout the whole department. It inhabits both the hot and
the temperate regions, and is found even at the foot of the alpine, to
the altitude of nearly six thousand feet above the sea. It is also
said to be abundant in other parts of Mexico. It was observed to be
quite numerous on the _Tierra templada_, or table-lands, and also
among the hills that bound the plains of Perote and Puebla on the
east, by Mr. William S. Pease, a naturalist who was with General
Scott’s army in its campaign in Mexico. Mr. Pease stated that it lived
on the sides of the hills throughout the year, and that its local name
was _Pepe verde_.

Colonel George A. McCall, Inspector-General of the United States Army,
was the first person to collect these birds within our limits. He
obtained them in the forests that border the Rio Grande on the
southeastern frontier of Texas. There he found them all mated in the
month of May, and he felt no doubt that they had their nests in the
extensive and almost impenetrable thickets of mimosa, commonly called
chaparral. From the jealousy and pugnacity which these birds
manifested on the approach, or appearance even, of the large
boat-tailed Blackbirds of that country (_Quiscalus macrurus_), which
were nesting in great numbers in the vicinity, Colonel McCall was
satisfied that the Jays were at that time also engaged in the duties
of incubation and rearing their young. In character and temperament
these birds appeared to be very active and lively, though less noisy
than some other species of the family. Their gay plumage was exhibited
to great advantage as they flitted from tree to tree, or dashed boldly
in pursuit of such of their more plainly attired neighbors as ventured
to intrude upon their domain.

Captain J. P. McCown, also quoted by Mr. Cassin, furnishes some
additional observations in regard to these birds. He states that
during the several years that he was in Texas, he frequently saw these
Jays, but never met with them above Ringgold Barracks, or north of the
woods that skirt the Rio Grande. They seemed to prefer the acacia
groves which have sprung up where the ground has been overflowed. He
regards it as a rather cautious bird. He observed nests high up in the
trees above mentioned, which he supposes belong to this species,
though this was never positively ascertained. He had no doubt that
they breed in Texas.


  _Perisoreus_, BONAP. Saggio di una dist. met. 1831. (Type, _Corvus
  _Dysornithia_, SWAINSON, F. B. Am. II, 1831, 495. (Same type.)

CHAR. Feathers lax and full, especially on the back, and of very dull
colors, without any blue. Head without distinct crest. Bill very
short; broader than high. Culmen scarcely half the length of the head;
straight to near the tip, then slightly curved; gonys more curved than
culmen. Bill notched at tip. Nostrils round, covered by bristly
feathers. Tail about equal to the wings; graduated. Tarsi rather
short; but little longer than the middle toe. Plumage very soft, and
without any lustre.

The Canada Jay has a near ally in a species of northern Europe and
Siberia,—the Siberian Jay (_P. infaustus_). In size and proportions
the two are quite identical, there being about the same proportionate
length of wing and tail, and a general correspondence in the minutiæ
of external anatomy. In colors, however, they differ entirely; the _P.
infaustus_ having the head darker than the body, and uniform (instead
of the contrary), and in having the lower primary and lower feathers
of the greater coverts, as well as the greater part of the tail,
bright rufous.

  A. Dusky nuchal hood reaching forward to, or in front of,
  the eyes; plumbeous-black.

         _Dorsal feathers with white shafts in old and
         young. Tail-feathers not distinctly paler at ends._

    1. White frontal patch narrower than length of the bill;
    blending gradually with the blackish of the crown. Upper
    parts umber-brownish. Wing, 5.50; tail, 5.40; bill, .90
    and .30. _Young._ Entirely plumbeous-brown, feathers of
    head above bordered with paler. Beneath paler, whitish
    brown. _Hab._ Oregon, Washington Territory, British
    Columbia, etc.                                   var. _obscurus_.

         _Dorsal feathers without white shafts in old or
         young. Tail-feathers broadly tipped with dull

    2. White frontal patch much broader than length of bill;
    abruptly defined, with a convex outline behind, against
    the dusky of the occiput. Upper parts plumbeous, with a
    slight brownish cast. Wing, 5.25; tail, 5.80; bill, .95
    and .35. _Young._ Entirely uniform dark plumbeous. _Hab._
    Canada, Maine, and Labrador to the Yukon       var. _canadensis_.

  B. Dusky nuchal hood not reaching to the eyes, but
  confined to the nape; bluish-plumbeous.

    3. White frontal patch covering whole crown, melting
    gradually into the ashy of the nape; upper parts
    bluish-ashy. Wing, 6.00; tail, 6.00; bill, 1.00 and .31.
    _Young._ Bluish-plumbeous, inclining to ashy-white on
    the crown and cheeks. _Hab._ Rocky Mountains of United
    States                                          var. _capitalis_.

  [Line drawing: _Perisoreus canadensis._
                  18440   8452]

In the more slender form, longer and narrower bill, and paler tints
with a predominance of the light colors, of the var. _capitalis_,
compared with the typical, or standard, var. _canadensis_, we see the
peculiar impression of the middle region; while in the var.
_obscurus_, the more dusky tints, and predominance of darker colors,
the influence of the well-known law affecting colors in birds of the
northwest coast region is seen.

Perisoreus canadensis, BONAP.


  _Corvus canadensis_, LINN. Syst. Nat. I, 1766, 158.—FORSTER, Phil.
       Trans. LXII, 1772, 382.—WILSON, Am. Orn. III, 1811, 33, pl.
       xxi.—BON. Obs. 1824, No. 42.—AUD. Orn. Biog. II, 1834, 53; V,
       1839, 208, pl. cvii. _Garrulus canadensis_, BON. (Saggio,
       1831?) Syn. 1828, 58.—SWAINSON, F. Bor.-Am. II, 1831,
       295.—NUTTALL, Man. I, 1832, 232.—AUD. Syn. 1839, 155.—IB.
       Birds Am. IV, 1842, 121, pl. ccxxxiv. _Dysornithia canadensis_,
       SWAINSON, F. Bor.-Am. II, 1831, Appendix. _Perisoreus
       canadensis_, BON. List, 1838.—IB. Conspectus, 1850, 375.—CAB.
       Mus. Hein. 1851, 219.—NEWBERRY, Rep. P. R. R. Surv. VI, IV,
       1857, 85.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 590.—COUES, P. A. N. S.
       1861, 226.—SAMUELS, 366. _Garrulus fuscus_, VIEILLOT, Nouv.
       Dict. XII, 1817, 479. _Pica nuchalis_, WAGLER, Syst. Av. 1827
       (Pica No. 14). _Garrulus trachyrrhynchus_, SWAINSON, F.
       Bor.-Am. II, 1831, 296, pl. lv (young). “_Coracias mexicanus_,

  [Illustration: _Perisoreus canadensis._]

SP. CHAR. Tail graduated; lateral feathers about one inch shortest.
Wings a little shorter than the tail. Head and neck and forepart of
breast white. A rather sooty plumbeous nuchal patch, becoming darker
behind, from the middle of the cap to the back, from which it is
separated by an interrupted whitish collar. Rest of upper parts dark
ashy-plumbeous; the outer primaries margined, the secondaries,
tertials, and tail-feathers obscurely tipped with white. Beneath
smoky-gray. Crissum whitish. Bill and feet black. Length, 10.70; wing,
5.75; tail, 6.00; tarsus, 1.40.

HAB. Eastern Northern America into the northern part of United States;
British America to Upper Yukon.

The young of this species are everywhere of a dull sooty-plumbeous,
lighter on the middle of the belly, and more bluish-plumbeous on the
wings and tail. With increasing age the region about the base of the
bill whitens.

There is a decided bluish cast to the plumbeous of the tail. The white
frontal patch has a convex posterior outline, and is abruptly defined
against the blackish of the occiput and nape.

All specimens from Canada and the Northeastern United States, to the
interior of British America, are referrible to this variety; in the
Yukon Territory specimens show a tendency to var. _obscurus_ of the
northwest coast, having a narrower whitish frontal patch.

HABITS. The Canada Jay was procured at Fort Simpson by Mr. Kennicott
in August, September, and December, and at the same point by Mr. Ross
in March and April, in the years 1860 and 1861. It was found breeding
in May at Anderson River Fort by Mr. MacFarlane. It was also procured
at Big Island by Mr. Reid, at Nulato and Unalakleet by Mr. Dall, at
St. Michael’s by Colonel Bulkley, at Fort Kenai by Bischoff, and at
Fort Rae by Mr. Clarke. From the memoranda of Mr. MacFarlane, we have
valuable information in regard to the nesting and breeding habits of
this species. May 24, at Fort Anderson, an Indian lad discovered a
nest of this Jay. It was built in a tree, was composed of hay and
feathers, and contained, with two young birds a few days old, an egg
that was perfectly fresh. This bird, Mr. MacFarlane states, is
tolerably numerous in that quarter. During the severe cold of winter
it is not quite so common as at other seasons. It is by no means a
difficult bird to shoot, as it will always venture into close
proximity to man. Flesh or fish are certain to attract numbers of
them, and they also cause great annoyance to the marten-hunter, by
eating the bait placed in the traps used for capturing those animals.
None of this species were observed on the Arctic coast, nor east of
Horton River, Fort Anderson being the most northern point where Mr.
MacFarlane saw any, in his journeys across the barren grounds.

Other nests found in the same region were usually built in
spruce-trees, on branches near the trunk, well concealed from view,
and about ten feet from the ground. They were constructed of hay and
feathers, supported underneath by a few willow sticks laid crosswise.

Mr. Dall characterizes this species as a very bold and familiar bird,
that will frequently fly down and steal away his dinner from some
hungry dog, if he is not on the alert, or devour the fish hung up in
camp by the Indians to dry. They breed very early, and occupy the same
nest year after year. The nest is very large, and composed entirely of
soft materials, moss, hair, and the like. On the 20th of April, Mr.
Dall received a nest of this Jay containing four half-fledged young,
so that they must lay in March. The bird was abundant everywhere on
the Yukon River.

These birds are known throughout the fur countries by the name of
Whiskey-Jack, not from any supposed predilection for that beverage,
but probably, as Mr. Kennicott has suggested, from a corruption of the
Indian name for these birds, Wiss-ka-chon, which has been contorted
into Whiskey-John and thence into Whiskey-Jack. Richardson observed
these birds from Canada to the fur countries as far as latitude 69°.
Throughout that region it is a constant attendant at the fur-posts and
fishing-stations, and becomes so tame in the winter as to feed from
the hand. Yet it is impatient of confinement, and soon pines away if
deprived of its liberty. Its voice is said to be plaintive and
squeaking, though it occasionally makes a low chattering. It hoards
berries, pieces of meat, etc., in hollow trees, or between layers of
bark, by which it is enabled to feed its young while the ground is
still covered with snow.

Dr. Newberry found this Jay as far to the south, in California, as the
upper end of the Sacramento Valley, in latitude 40°. The fact that the
isothermal line of this region passes south of Cincinnati, shows that
climate and temperature do not regulate the range of this species. As
observed in the summer months among the forests of Oregon, the Canada
Jay appeared as a rather shy bird, exhibiting none of the familiarity
and impudence exhibited in winter when made bold by hunger.

Wilson mentions the St. Lawrence as the southern boundary of this
bird, a few only wintering in Northern New York and Vermont. But this
is inexact. They are found resident throughout the year in a large
part of Maine and in all the highlands of New Hampshire and Vermont.
They are resident at Calais, where they breed in March at about
latitude 45°, and descend in the winter to the southwest corner of
Vermont, whence it is quite probable a few cross into Massachusetts,
at Williamstown and Adams, though none have been detected, that I am
aware. Wilson himself states that he was informed by a gentleman
residing near Hudson, N. Y., that these birds have been observed in
that neighborhood in the winter.

Dr. Coues met with these birds in Labrador. The first he saw were in a
dense spruce forest. These were very shy, alighting only on the tops
of the tallest trees, and flying off with loud harsh screams on his
approach. Subsequently, at Rigolet, he found them abundant and very
familiar. One or more were always to be seen hopping unconcernedly in
the garden-patches around the houses, not in the least disturbed by
the near presence of man, and showing no signs of fear even when very
closely approached. He describes their voice as a harsh, discordant

Mr. Edward Harris, of Moorestown, N. J., informed Mr. Audubon, that
once, when fishing in a canoe in one of the lakes in the interior of
Maine, these Jays were so fearless as to light on one end of his boat
while he sat in the other, and helped themselves to his bait without
taking any notice of him.

A nest of the Canada Jay, found by Mr. Boardman near St. Stephen’s,
New Brunswick, measures four and a half inches in diameter and three
inches in height. The cavity is about three inches wide and two deep.
The nest is woven above a rude platform of sticks and twigs crossed
and interlaced, furnishing a roughly made hemispherical base and
periphery. Upon this an inner and more artistic nest has been wrought,
made of a soft felting of fine mosses closely impacted and lined with
feathers. The nest contained three eggs.

The egg of the Canada Jay measures 1.20 inches in length, by .82 of an
inch in breadth. They are of an oblong-oval shape, and are more
tapering at the smaller end than are most of the eggs of this family.
The ground-color is of a light gray, with a slightly yellowish tinge
over the entire egg, finely marked, more abundantly about the larger
end, with points and blotches of slate-color and brown, and faint
cloudings of an obscure lilac.

Perisoreus canadensis, var. obscurus, RIDGWAY.


  _Perisoreus canadensis_, COOPER & SUCKLEY, 216.—DALL & BANNISTER,
       Tr. Chic. Ac. I, 1869, 286 (Alaska).—FINSCH, Abh. Nat. III,
       1872, 40 (Alaska).—COOPER, Orn. Cal. 1, 1870, 307.

SP. CHAR. (8,454 Shoalwater Bay, W. T., March 10, 1854; Dr. J. G.
Cooper.) Above plumbeous-umber, inclining to grayish-plumbeous on
wings and tail; shafts of the dorsal feathers conspicuously white.
Whole crown and nape, above the lores and auriculars, sooty-black;
separated from the brown of the back by a whitish tint. Forehead
(narrowly), nasal tufts, lores, whole lateral and under side of head,
with jugulum, pure white, rest of lower parts a duller and more
brownish white. Wing, 5.50; tail, 5.30; culmen, .93; tarsus, 1.20.
_Young_ (5,904, Shoalwater Bay). Entirely plumbeous-brown, inclining
to brownish-white beneath. Dorsal feathers with white shafts, and
those of the forehead, crown, and nape, as well as the wing-coverts,
with obsolete whitish borders.

This form, as described above, seems to be peculiar to the northwest
coast, reaching its extreme development in Washington Territory and
Oregon. North of Sitka, and in the Yukon Territory, specimens incline
toward the var. _canadensis_, in broader frontal white, and purer
plumbeous colors.

HABITS. Dr. Cooper met with this variety at the mouth of the Columbia
River in March in small scattered flocks, industriously seeking
insects and seeds among the spruce-trees, occasionally whistling in a
loud melodious tone like that of the Cardinal Grosbeak. He also states
that the notes of this bird differ much from the other Jays in being
clear and musical, and they sometimes show a considerable variety of

This Jay, Mr. Lord states, is so familiar and confiding, and so fond
of being near the habitations of man, that the settlers never harm it.
In the cold weather he has seen it hop by the fire, ruffle up its
feathers and warm itself without the least fear, keeping a sharp
lookout for crumbs, and looking so beseechingly with its glittering
gray eyes, that no one could refuse such an appeal for a stray morsel.
It winters in British Columbia and Vancouver Island.

Perisoreus canadensis, var. capitalis, BAIRD.


SP. CHAR. (61,084, Henry’s Fork, Wyoming Territory, F. V. Hayden.)
Above fine light bluish-plumbeous, becoming much lighter on the
anterior portion of the back; tertials, secondaries, wing-coverts,
primaries, and tail-feathers passing into whitish terminally, on the
latter forming quite broad and distinct tips. A nuchal patch of a
slightly darker tint than the back, and separated from it by the hoary
whitish of the anterior dorsal region. Whole of the head (except the
nuchal patch), with the anterior lower parts, as far as the breast,
pure white; rest of lower parts ashy-white, becoming gradually more
ashy posteriorly. Wing, 5.80; tail, 6.00; culmen, 1.00. _Young_
(18,440, Fort Benton, April 23, J. A. Mullan). Generally
ashy-plumbeous, with a decided bluish cast to wings and tail; orbital
region, lores, forehead, and nasal tufts blackish; crown, a broad
space below the eye from the bill across the auriculars, with the
middle of the abdomen, pale hoary-ashy. Wings and tail as in the

This race, very different from the two styles found to the westward
and eastward of it, is peculiar to Rocky Mountain regions, and
apparently only occurring south of the northern boundary of the United
States. A very large series of specimens, brought in at various times
from numerous localities, substantiate the constancy of the characters
pointed out above.


  _Psilorhinus_, RÜPPELL, Mus. Senck. 1837, 188. (Type, _Pica morio_,

  [Line drawing: _Psilorhinus morio._

CHAR. Color very dull brown above. Bill very stout, compressed,
without notch; higher than broad at the nostrils; culmen curved from
the base. Nostrils rounded; the anterior extremity rounded off into
the bill; not covered by bristles, but fully exposed. Tail rather
longer than the wings, graduated; the lateral feather three fourths
the longest; secondaries and tertials nearly as long as the primaries.
Legs stout and short, not equal to the head, and little longer than
the bill from base.

This genus embraces Jays of large size and very dull plumage. The
thick bill, with the much curved culmen, the moderate tail, and the
open nostrils, may serve to distinguish it from its allies. The
nostril is very large, and its anterior portion is bevelled off to a
greater degree than in any genus, except in _Calocitta_. This
last-mentioned genus has the same form of bill and of nostrils, but
the head has a long recurved crest; the tail is twice as long as the
wings; the lateral feather nearly half the middle; the lateral tarsal
plates scutellate for the inferior half, etc.

In the shape of the bill and the shortness of the primaries, compared
with the broad tertials and secondaries, there is much resemblance to
_Xanthoura_. The nostrils are, however, uncovered, the legs much
stouter and shorter, being shorter than the head instead of longer;
the tail-feathers are broader, etc.

Psilorhinus morio, GRAY.


  _Pica morio_, WAGLER, Isis, 1829, VII, 751.—IB. Isis, 1831,
       527.—Voyage de la Favorite, V, 1839, 54 (said to have been
       killed at San Francisco, Cal., by Botta). _Psilorhinus morio_,
       GRAY, List, genera, 1841, 51.—BONAP. Consp. 1850, 381.—CAB.
       Mus. Hein. 1851, 226.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 592, pl.
       lxviii, f. 1, 2. “_Pica fuliginosa_, LESSON, Traite d’Orn.
       1831, 333.” _Psilorhinus mexicanus_, RÜPPELL, Mus. Senck, 1837,
       pl. xi, f. 2.

  [Illustration: _Psilorhinus morio._]

SP. CHAR. Tail much graduated; the lateral feathers about two inches
shortest. Second quill equal to the secondaries; third and fourth
longest. General color dark smoky-brown, becoming almost black on the
head; the breast brownish-gray; nearly white about the anus; under
tail-coverts tinged with brown; the exposed portion of the tail with a
decided gloss of blue; bill and feet, in some specimens yellow, in
others black. Length, 16.00; wing, 8.00; tail. 8.25; tarsus. 1.80.

HAB. Rio Grande Valley, north-eastern Mexico, southward. Cordova (SCL.
1856, 300); ? Guatemala (SCL. Ibis, I, 22); Honduras (SCL. II, 113);
Costa Rica (CABAN. J. 1861, 83); Vera Cruz, hot and temperate regions
(SUMICH. Mem. Bost. Soc. I, 554).

The difference in the color of the bill appears to be independent of
sex. The feet of the yellow-billed birds are not of the same pure

The _Psilorhinus mexicanus_ of Rüppell is described as having white
tips to the tail-feathers; of these there is no trace in the adult
specimens, male and female, from the Rio Grande, before us. He speaks
of a supposed young bird sent from Tamaulipas, by Lindheimer, as being
without these white tips.

  [Illustration: PLATE XLII.
  1. Xanthoura luxuosa. New Leon, New Mex., 4052.
  2. Psilorhinus morio. ♀ New Leon, Mex., 4114.
  3. Cyanura cristata. ♂ D. C., 12408.
  4. Perisoreus canadensis. _Juv._, Maine, 1920.]

A series of specimens of this species exhibits considerable
diversities. Some skins from Mirador, Mex., not far from Vera Cruz,
perhaps best represent the species as first described by Wagler. In
these the head and neck are sooty-brown, becoming lighter on the
jugulum and on the back. The wings and tail show a trace of dull
bluish. In No. 23,915 the under parts are sooty-gray, the bill and
legs black; in 23,916 the colors are similar, with a fulvous tinge on
the breast, the bill and feet yellow. In both the under surface of
tail is brown to the end. In 23,917 the under parts, from breast to
crissum inclusive, with the tibiæ, are brownish-white, the
tail-feathers (excepting the two median) tipped with white for over an
inch, the bill and feet black. This one also has an obscure dull
bluish wash or patch along the feathers of the ramus of lower jaw not
observed in other specimens.

The specimens collected by Lieutenant Couch, and described in the
Pacific Railroad Report are considerably smaller, and exhibit other
differences which may prove of specific importance. In this case they
will appropriately bear Rüppell’s name of _P. mexicanus_.

HABITS. This is a Mexican species, occasionally extending its
movements as far north as the valley of the Rio Grande, and probably
crossing our lines into Texas, although of this there is as yet no
positive evidence.

Specimens of this species were procured by Lieutenant Couch at
Boquillo, San Diego, and at China, in north-eastern Mexico, and were
found by him living in forests of high trees. It is Jay-like in its
habits, being decidedly gregarious, and having harsh and loud notes.
Though making more noise than any other bird in the neighborhood, if
one of their number is brought down by the discharge of a gun, the
noise hushes them at once, and the rest move off in perfect silence.

Mr. Sumichrast, in his paper on the Distribution of the Birds of Vera
Cruz, states that this species abounds in both the hot and the
temperate regions of that department, and, indeed, the greater
portions of Vera Cruz. He speaks of it as a bird well known and
generally detested on account of its troublesome and noisy habits. It
is found everywhere except in the alpine region, and it does not
appear ever to go beyond a vertical elevation of 4,500 feet. This
gentleman has been assured that the bird never makes any nest of its
own, but invariably lays its eggs in those belonging to other birds.
He does not so state, but we infer that he means to convey the idea
that this Jay appropriates the nests of other birds in which to hatch
its own young, not that, like the Cowbird, it leaves its eggs to be
brought up by strangers.

This Jay was met with by Mr. G. C. Taylor at Taulevi, in Honduras; and
from that place eastward, as far as the Atlantic, he found it very
common. It was generally seen or heard shrieking in the bushes by the
roadsides. It was also found by Mr. Salvin to occur on the eastern
road between Quiriqua and Iguana, on the road to Guatemala.

Mr. Joseph Leyland found this species common both in Honduras and the
Belize. It occurred in small flocks, which were very noisy, and
annoyed the hunter by always giving the alarm.


PRIMARY CHARACTERS. Primaries ten. Bill in typical forms broad,
triangular, much depressed, abruptly decurved and notched at tip, with
long bristles along gape. Tarsi with scutellæ extending round the
outer face of tarsus from the front to back; sometimes divided on the
outer side. Bill with culmen nearly as long as the head, or shorter;
straight to near the tip, then suddenly bent down into a conspicuous
hook, with a notch behind it; tip of lower jaw also notched.
Commissure straight to near the notch; gonys slightly convex. Nostrils
oval or rounded, in the anterior extremity of the nasal groove, and
more or less concealed by long bristles which extend from the
posterior angle of the jaws along the base of the bill, becoming
smaller, but reaching nearly to the median line of the forehead. These
bristles with lateral branches at the base. Similar bristles are mixed
in the loral feathers and margin the chin. Tarsi short, generally less
than middle toe, completely enveloped by a series of large scales,
which meet near the posterior edge of the inner side, and are
separated either by naked skin or by a row of small scales. Sometimes
a second series of rather large plates is seen on the posterior face
of the tarsus, these, however, usually on the upper extremity only.
Basal joint of middle toe united almost throughout to that of the
outer toe, but more than half free on the inner side; outer lateral
toe rather the longer. Wings and tail variable; first quill always
more than three fourths the second. The outer primaries sometimes
attenuated near the tip.

The primary characters given above will serve to distinguish the North
American _Tyrannidæ_ from their allies; the essential features
consisting in the peculiarity of the scales of the tarsus and the ten
primaries. In the _Sylvicolidæ_ there are species as truly
“flycatching,” and with a depressed bristly bill, but the nine (not
ten) primaries, and the restriction of the scales to the anterior face
of the tarsus, instead of extending entirely round the outer side,
will readily separate them.

The relationships of the _Tyrannidæ_ are closest to the _Cotingidæ_.
These last differ mainly in having the tarsus more or less
reticulated, or covered in part at least with small angular scales,
instead of continuous broad ones; and in the greater adhesion of the
toes. The legs are shorter, and the body broader and more depressed.
The bill is less abundantly provided with bristles, and the species do
not appear to be strictly flycatchers, feeding more on berries and on
stationary insects and larvæ, rather than capturing them on the wing.
Two species of this family, _Hadrostomus affinis_[62] and
_Pachyramphus major_,[63] were introduced into the Birds of North
America, from specimens collected by Lieutenant Couch in the valley of
the Rio Grande, not far from the border of the United States, but as
they have not yet been detected within our limits, we have concluded
to omit them in the present work.

The bird fauna of America may be said to have one of its chief
features in the great number and variety of its _Tyrannidæ_, the
family being strictly a New World one. Nearly every possible diversity
of form is exhibited by different members; the size, however, usually
varying from that of our common Robin to that of the Kinglet, our
smallest bird with exception of the Humming-Bird. Of the numerous
subfamilies, however, only one, the _Tyranninæ_ proper, belongs to
North America, and will be readily distinguished from other of our
land birds by the family characters given at the head of this article,
and which, as drawn up, apply rather to the subfamily than to the
_Tyrannidæ_ generally.

The North American species of the _Tyranninæ_ may, for our present
purposes, be divided into _Tyranni_ and _Tyrannuli_. The former are
large, generally with bright color, pointed wings, with attenuated
primaries and a colored crest in the middle of the crown. The others
are plainer, smaller, without colored crest; the primaries not

The genera of our Flycatchers may be arranged as follows:—

  TYRANNI. Size large; colors generally brilliant; crown
  with a brightly colored crest, usually concealed; outer
  primaries abruptly contracted or attenuated near the tip;
  upper scales of tarsus usually continuing round on the
  outside and behind. Nest in trees, very bulky, containing
  much downy material; eggs white or pinkish, with ovate
  dots of rich brown, of various shades.

      Milvulus. Tail excessively forked and lengthened; more
      than twice as long as the wings.

      Tyrannus. Tail moderate; nearly even or slightly
      forked; less than the wings.

  TYRANNULI. Size generally small; colors usually plain;
  crown without any colored crest concealed by the tips of
  the feathers; primaries normal; scales of the upper part
  of the tarsus usually continuing only to the middle of the
  outer face, and a second series opposite to them behind.

    1. Tail lengthened; about equal to the wings, which
    reach scarcely to its middle.

      Myiarchus. Tarsus equal to the middle toe, which is
      decidedly longer than the hinder one. Tail even or
      rounded. Throat pale ash, rest of lower parts yellow
      generally, the primaries edged with rufous, and inner
      webs of tail-feathers with more or less of the same
      color. Nest in a cavity of a tree, of loose material;
      eggs whitish, with intricate tangled lines and streaks
      of dark brown, the general effect salmon-color.

      Sayornis. Tarsus rather longer than the middle toe,
      which is scarcely longer than the hind toe. Tail
      slightly forked. Bill very narrow. No light orbital
      ring, nor distinct bands on wings; both mandibles
      black. Nest attached to rocks or parts of buildings,
      very compact and bulky, containing much mud in its
      composition; eggs pure white, immaculate, or with very
      minute sparse dots near larger end.

    2. Tail decidedly shorter than the wings, which reach
    beyond its middle. Tarsus shorter than the middle toe.

      Contopus. Hind toe much longer than the lateral. Tail
      considerably forked. Wings long, pointed; much longer
      than the tail, reaching beyond the middle of the
      latter; first quill about equal to the fourth. Bill
      broad. Color olive-gray, and white, sometimes with a
      yellowish tinge beneath. Lower mandible pale-colored.
      Nest saucer-shaped, compact, and very small, saddled
      very securely upon a thick branch; eggs cream-colored,
      with a zone of lilac and rich brown blotches round the
      larger end.

    3. Tail shorter than the wings, as in the last. Tarsus
    considerably longer than the middle toe; hind toe much
    longer than lateral. Tail nearly even, sometimes
    slightly rounded, but little shorter than the wings;
    first primary much shorter than the fourth.

      Empidonax. Head moderately crested; tail about even.
      Bristles of bill reaching about half-way to tip. Legs
      stout. A conspicuous light orbital ring, and distinct
      bands on the wing. More or less tinged with
      sulphur-yellow on lower parts. Nest variously
      constructed, deeply cup-shaped, compact or loose,
      entirely of either grassy or fibrous and downy
      material, and fixed to slender twigs or lodged in a
      crotch between thick branches; eggs white, immaculate,
      or with blotches of brown round larger end.

      Mitrephorus. Head decidedly crested. Tail forked.
      Bristles of bill reaching nearly to tip. Legs very
      weak and slender. Beneath more or less tinged with
      fulvous or ochraceous.

      Pyrocephalus. Head with a full crest. Tarsus but
      little longer than the middle toe; hind toe not longer
      than the lateral. Tail broad, even; first quill
      shorter than the fifth. Beneath, with whole crown
      bright red (except in _P. obscurus_). Female very
      different, lacking the red, except posteriorly
      beneath, and with the breast obsoletely streaked.

     [62] _Hadrostomus affinis. Platypsaris affinis_, ELLIOT,
     Ibis, 1859, 394, pl. xiii. _Pachyramphus aglaiæ_, BAIRD,
     Birds N. Am. 1858, 164, pl. xlvii, f. 1.—IB. Rep. Mex.
     Bound. II, Birds, 7, pl. xix, f. 1. _Hadrostomus aglaiæ_,
     CABANIS, Mus. Hein. II, 85 (Xalapa).—IB. Journ. 1861,
     252.—SCLATER, P. Z. S. 1864, 176 (City Mex.). _Hab._
     Northern Mexico, Jalapa, Nicaragua (SCL. Catalogue, p. 240);
     Yucatan (LAWRENCE).

     [63] _Pachyramphus major. Bathmidurus major_, CAB. Orn. Nat.
     1847, I, 246.—CAB. ET HEIN. Mus. Hein. II, 89.—BAIRD,
     Birds N. Am. 1858, 165, pl. xlvii, f. 2 ♀.—IB. Rep. Mex.
     Bound. II, Birds, 7, pl. xix, f. 2. _Pachyramphus major_,
     SCLATER, P. Z. S. 1857, 78; 1864, 176 (City of Mex.). _Hab._
     Mexico and Guatemala.


  _Milvulus_, SWAINSON, Zoöl. Jour. III, 1827, 165.
  _Despotes_, REICHENBACH, Avium Syst. Naturale, 1850 (in part).

  [Line drawing: _Milvulus forficatus_ (tail abnormal).
                  7374 ♀]

SP. CHAR. Bill shorter than the head, and nearly equal to the tarsus.
Tail nearly twice as long as the wing, excessively forked; the middle
feathers scarcely half the lateral. First primary abruptly attenuated
at the end, where it is very narrow and linear. Head with a concealed
crest of red.

This group is distinguished from _Tyrannus_ by the very long tail, but
the two species assigned by authors to North America, although
agreeing in many respects, differ in some parts of their structure.
The peculiarities of coloration are as follows:—

  M. forficatus. Whitish-ash above; rump black.
  Tail-feathers rose-white with black tips; shoulders,
  axillars, and belly light vermilion. _Hab._ Middle
  America, and open portions of Texas, Indian Territory,
  etc.; accidental in New Jersey.

  M. tyrannus.[64] Head above and tail black; the latter
  edged externally with white. Back ashy. Beneath pure
  white. _Hab._ Middle America, accidental in Eastern United

     [64] _M. tyrannus_, var. _violentus_ (_Tyrannus violentus_,
     VIEILL. N. D. XXXV, p. 89. _Milvulus v._, SCL. Catal. Am. B.
     1862, 237), is the South American race of this species. It
     is exceedingly similar, but differs slightly, though
     constantly, in certain characters. We have not at present
     the means of comparing the two.

Milvulus tyrannus, BON.


  _Muscicapa tyrannus_, LINN. Syst. Nat. I, 1766, 325. _Milvulus
       tyrannus_, BONAP. Geog. List, 1838.—AUDUBON, Synopsis, 1839,
       38.—IB. Birds Am. I, 1840, 196, pl. lii.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am.
       1858, 168.—CABAN. Journ. 1861, 251.—SCL. List, 1862,
       237.—FINSCH, P. Z. S. 1870, 572 (Trinidad; considers
       _violentus_, _tyrannus_, and _monachus_ as identical).
       _Despotes tyrannus_, BONAP. Comptes Rendus, 1854, 87. _Tyrannus
       savana_, VIEILLOT, Ois. Am. Sept. I, 1807, 72, pl.
       xliii.—SWAINSON, Mon. Ty. Shrikes; Quarterly Jour. XX, Jan.
       1826, 282. _Muscicapa savana_, BONAP. Am. Orn. I, 1825, 1, pl.
       i, f. 1.—AUD. Orn. Biog. II, 1834, 387, pl. clxviii. _Milvulus
       savanus_, GRAY, List, 1841. _Tyrannus milvulus_, NUTTALL, Man.,
       (2d ed.,) I, 1840, 307. _Fork-tailed Flycatcher_, PENNANT,
       LATHAM. _Tyran a queue fourchue_, BUFFON, pl. enl. 571.

SP. CHAR. Outer four primaries abruptly attenuated at the end, the
sides of the attenuated portion parallel. Second and third quills
longest; fourth little shorter, and not much exceeding the first. Tail
very deeply forked; the external feather linear, and twice as long as
the head and body alone. Top and sides of the head glossy black. Rump,
upper tail-coverts, and tail almost black; the outer web of outer
tail-feather yellowish-white for more than the basal half; rest of
upper parts ash-gray. Under parts generally pure white. Wings dark
brown; the outer primary and tertials edged with white. Crown with a
concealed patch of yellow. Length, 14.00; wing, 4.75; tail, 10.00;
depth of fork, 7.00. _Young._ No colored patch on crown; wing-coverts
(including the lesser) and tail-feathers, with their upper coverts,
bordered with rusty ochraceous. Black of head, tail, etc., duller than
in adult.

HAB. Mexico to South America. Accidental in the United States. (New
Jersey, Kentucky, and Mississippi, AUDUBON.)

This species claims a place in the fauna of the United States on
account of two specimens captured in New Jersey, at long intervals,
and one or two seen by Mr. Audubon in the southwest. It is, however,
hardly proper to include it in our work on so slight a basis, and we
only retain it for the purpose of referring to the notice of it by Mr.

HABITS. The Fork-tailed Flycatcher is of purely accidental occurrence
in the United States. Two specimens, taken at long intervals, are said
to have been captured in the United States. One of these was shot by
Mr. Audubon, in June, 1832, near the city of Camden, N. J. It was
first observed flying over a meadow, in pursuit of insects. It
afterwards alighted on the top of a small detached tree, when it was
secured. The bird appeared to have lost its way, was unsuspicious, and
paid no attention when approached. On the wing, it seemed to make use
of its long tail whenever it sought to suddenly turn in pursuit of its
prey. On the ground, it vibrated its tail in the manner of a

When the bird fell to the ground severely wounded, it uttered a sharp
squeak, which it repeated, accompanied by a smart clicking of the
bill, when Mr. Audubon approached it. It lived only a few moments, and
from this specimen he made his drawing.

Several years previous to this, one of these birds had been shot near
Henderson, Ky., but it was so far decayed when given to Mr. Audubon
that it could not be preserved. It had been obtained among the Barrens
late in October. Near Natchez, Miss., in August, 1822, Mr. Audubon was
confident he saw two others of this species. They were high in the
air, and were twittering in the manner of a Kingbird. He was, however,
unable to secure them.

Another straggler was obtained near Bridgton, N. J., early in
December. From this specimen was made the engraving in Bonaparte’s
Ornithology. It was given to Titian Peale by Mr. J. Woodcraft of that

This Flycatcher is a resident in tropical South America from Guiana to
La Plata, and in its habits resembles the swallow-tailed species of
our southern fauna. It is said to be a solitary bird, remaining
perched on the limb of a tree, from which, from time to time, it darts
after passing insects; while standing, it is said to vibrate its long
tail in the manner of the European Wagtail. It also occasionally
utters a twitter not unlike the common note of the Kingbird. Besides
insects, this bird also feeds on berries, as the bird obtained near
Bridgton had its stomach distended with the fruit of the poke-weed.

This species, according to Sumichrast, is found abundantly in winter
in the savannas of the hot lands of Vera Cruz, and occurs to the
height of about two thousand feet. He is not aware of its being

Mr. Leyland found this species frequenting Old River and the pine
ridges of Belize. They were also plentiful on the flats near Peten,
and were occasionally found at Comayagua and Omoa, Honduras.

Mr. C. W. Wyatt met with this Flycatcher in Colombia, South America,
on the savanna in the neighborhood of Aquachica. When at Ocaña, he
used to see them congregated in considerable numbers just before
sunset, whirling round high up in the air, and darting down like
rockets to the ground. He only found it frequenting the open part of
the country, and he never met with it at a greater elevation than five
thousand feet.

An egg of this species obtained by Dr. Baldamus, from Cayenne,
exhibits a strong resemblance to the egg of the common Kingbird. It
has a clear white ground, and is spotted with deep and prominent
marking of red and red-brown. They are of an oblong-oval shape, are
tapering at one end, and measure .90 by .68 of an inch.

  [Illustration: PLATE XLIII.
  1. Milvulus forficatus. ♂ Texas, 7375.
  2. Tyrannus verticalis. ♂ Cal., 16137.
  3. Myiarchus crinitus. ♂ Pa., 1489.
  4. Tyrannus carolinensis. ♂ E. U. S., 6482.
  5.     ”    vociferans. ♂ Cal., 31887.
  6. Myiarchus cinerascens. ♂ Cal., 13719.
  7. Tyrannus couchi. ♂ Tamaulipas, 4001.
  8.     ”    dominicensis. ♂ Fla., 13737.
  9. Myiarchus lawrencii. ♂ N. Mex., 29344.]

Milvulus forficatus, SWAIN.


  _Muscicapa forficata_, GMELIN, Syst. Nat. I, 1788, 931.—VIEILLOT,
       Ois. Am. Sept. I, 1807, 71.—STEPHENS, in Shaw’s Zoöl. X, II,
       413, pl. iii.—BONAP. Am. Orn. I, 1825, 15, pl. ii, f. 1.—AUD.
       Orn. Biog. IV, 1838, 426, pl. ccclix, f. 3. _Tyrannus
       forficatus_, SAY, Long’s Exped., II, 1823, 224.—NUTTALL’S
       Manual, I, (2d ed.,) 1840, 309. _Milvulus forficatus_,
       “SWAINS.” RICH. List, 1837.—AUDUBON, Synopsis, 1839, 38.—IB.
       Birds Am. I, 1840, 197, pl. liii.—CABAN. Mus. Hein. II,
       79.—SCL. List, 1862, 237.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 169.—IB.
       Mex. B. II, Zoöl. 7.—HEERM. X, c. p. 11. _Tyrannus mexicanus_,
       STEPHENS, Shaw, Gen. Zoöl. Birds, XIII, II, 1826, 135.
       _Moucherolle a queue fourchue du Mexique_, BUFFON, pl. enl.
       677. _Bird of Paradise_ of the Texans.

  [Illustration: _Milvulus forficatus._]

SP. CHAR. Wing with the outer primary only abruptly attenuated, and
narrowly linear (for about .85 of an inch); the second but slightly
emarginate; second quill longest; first and third equal. Tail very
deeply forked, the lateral feathers twice as long as the body, all
narrow and linear or subspatulate. Top and sides of the head very pale
ash; the back a little darker, and faintly tinged with light
brick-red; under parts nearly pure white, tinged towards the tail with
light vermilion, rather more rose on the under wing-coverts; a patch
on the side of the breast and along the fore-arm dark vermilion-red.
Tail-feathers rosy white, tipped at the end for two or three inches
with black. Rump dark brown, turning to black on the coverts. Wings
very dark brown; the coverts and quills, excepting the primaries (and
including the outer of these), edged with whitish. Crown with a
concealed patch of white, having some orange-red in the centre.
Length, 13.00; wing, 4.75; tail, 8.50; depth of fork, 5.80.

HAB. Middle America, from Panama northward; prairies and oak barrens
of Texas, Indian Territory, and occasionally Southwest Missouri and
Kansas. Accidental in Eastern States (New Jersey, TURNBULL; District
of Columbia? COUES); Xalapa (SCL. 1857, 204); Guatemala (SCL. Ibis, I,
121; Mus. S. I.); Honduras (SCL. II, 114); Costa Rica (CABAN. J.,
1861, 252); Vera Cruz, hot and temperate regions (SUM. M. B. S. I,

This exquisitely beautiful and graceful bird is quite abundant on the
prairies of Southern Texas, and is everywhere conspicuous among its
kindred species. It is usually known as the Scissor-tail from the
habit of closing and opening the long feathers of the tail like the
blades of a pair of scissors. The adult female is very similar, though
rather smaller. The young is not conspicuously different, only lacking
the concealed patch of the head.

HABITS. The Swallow-tailed Flycatcher appears to be a common species
from Central Texas to the Rio Grande, and thence throughout Mexico to
Central America, as far south at least as Guatemala. It is also found
in the Indian Territory, where it breeds, specimens of the nest and
eggs having been obtained at the Kioway Agency by Dr. E. Palmer.

It was found very plentiful at Langui, in Honduras, by Mr. G. C.
Taylor, and also in fewer numbers in other localities. In the evening,
just before roosting time, they were in the habit of assembling on the
tops of certain favorite trees, where they remained until nearly dark.
They then all went off to the woods. He generally met with them on
open ground, not much encumbered by trees or brushwood.

Mr. Dresser states that he found this very graceful bird quite
abundant at Matamoras and in Western Texas, where it is known by the
name of “Texan Bird of Paradise.” He found it as far east as the river
Guadaloupe. It arrives, he states, in the neighborhood of San Antonio,
late in March, and remains until the middle or latter end of October.
It breeds abundantly near San Antonio, building its nest in a mesquite
or other tree, and lays from three to four eggs, which, as he states,
are pure white, blotched with large spots of a dark red color.

He adds that these birds are of a quarrelsome and fearless
disposition, rarely brooking intruders near their homes. During the
breeding-season Mr. Dresser has often, when travelling, stopped to
admire four or five of them fighting on the wing. They show their long
tail-feathers and the rich scarlet color under their wings to the
fullest advantage. After passing Guadaloupe River, he saw none of
these birds to the eastward, though he was told they have occasionally
been seen on Galveston Island.

This Flycatcher was met with at Eagle Pass, in Lower Texas, and in
Tamaulipas by Mr. Clark and Lieutenant Couch, in the Mexican Boundary
Survey. None were found occurring west of the valley of the Rio Pecos.
Mr. Clark states that he always saw them either following one another
through the air, or perched upon some solitary twig. In their
gyrations the scissors were always more or less expanded, suggesting
the idea of balancers. Their nests were built of sticks, lined on the
inside, though not very softly, with grass, and were placed almost
invariably on dry limbs of the mesquite. They contained from three to
five eggs, and, what was quite remarkable, more than one pair always
seemed to have an interest in the same nest, over which they were all
very watchful, and gave proofs of their courage by darting at the
intruders. He describes their notes as short and sharp, without much
variation, and they can be heard at quite a distance. The Mexicans
imagine that this Flycatcher lives on the brains of other birds.

Lieutenant Couch describes the Scissor-tail as shy, but of a very
lively disposition. Usually four or more are seen in company, and seem
to prefer the thinly wooded prairies to close thickets. In beauty,
Lieutenant Couch considers it the queen of all the birds found in
Northern Tamaulipas. This superiority is not owing so much to the
brilliancy of its plumage, for in that it is excelled by several
species, but to the inimitable grace and charm of its flight. Rising
from the topmost branch of some acacia, it seems to float, rather than
to fly; then descending perpendicularly, it retakes its position,
uttering its usual note. He did not see it west of the Cadereita. Dr.
Kennerly, in his march from the Gulf of Mexico into Western Texas,
frequently met with these Flycatchers along his route. He usually saw
them in the open prairie, or among the mesquite-bushes. When perched,
they were generally on the top of a bush or a tall weed, and their
tails were constantly in motion. When they darted off after some
passing insect, they usually circled around, displaying the singular
bifurcation of their tail, but seldom alighting again on the same
bush. It was occasionally seen on the open prairie, flying for a long
distance near the earth, as if in search of insects.

In Vera Cruz this species is an inhabitant of the hot lands. A few
individuals ascend, though very rarely, to the height of the city of
Orizaba, or about 3,700 feet.

Mr. Nuttall states that he met with this Flycatcher rather common
along the banks of the Red River, near the confluence of the Kiamesha.
He again met them, even more frequently, near the Great Salt River of
Arkansas, in August. They seemed to be preying upon grasshoppers.

Dr. Woodhouse not only found this species abundant in Texas, in the
vicinity of San Antonio, but in the Indian Territory also it was quite
common, particularly near the Cross Timbers. He found them breeding in
the beginning of the month of July, on the Great Prairie. Its nest was
built on the horizontal branch of a small scrub-oak, about six feet
from the ground, and was composed of coarse dry grass and sticks. It
contained four young birds nearly able to fly. On his approach the
female flew from the nest to a bush near by. The male bird flew to a
great height above him, circling round in the air, apparently watching
his movements, and at the same time uttering a coarse scolding chirp.

Dr. Gideon Lincecum, of Texas, writes that the Scissor-tail
Flycatchers have greatly increased in numbers in that State since
1848. They are severe hunters of insects, and make great havoc among
honey-bees. They are exclusively prairie birds. He adds that they
construct their nests far out on the top branches of the live-oak or
any other lone tree on the prairies. They seem to be a very playful
bird, and delight in shooting rapidly upwards, cutting the air with
their strong wings with such force that the sound may be heard to the
distance of three hundred yards or more. Their notes are harsh and
inharmonious. They leave Texas late in autumn, and return again about
the first of April. The resounding strokes of their wings and their
oft-repeated cries are heard just before the dawn of day. They usually
have but three eggs.

A single individual of _Milvulus_, and supposed to be one of this
species, was seen by Mr. C. Drexler, May 6, 1861, but was not
obtained, in the vicinity of Washington. Another bird of this species
is mentioned by Mr. Abbott as having been taken near Trenton, N. J.,
April 15, 1872. It was a male bird in full health and feather. Its
stomach was found to be full of small coleoptera, insects’ eggs,
flies, etc.

The eggs of this species vary greatly in size, from .92 by .75 to .80
by .60 of an inch. They are in shape a rounded oval, and tapering at
one end. The ground-color is white, marked with a few very large dark
red spots, and occasionally of an obscure purple.


  _Tyrannus_, CUVIER, Leçons Anat. Comp. 1799, 1800 (AGASSIZ).

  [Line drawing: _Tyrannus carolinensis._

GEN. CHAR. Tail nearly even, or moderately forked; rather shorter than
the wings; the feathers broad, and widening somewhat at the ends.
Wings long and pointed; the outer primaries rather abruptly attenuated
near the end, the attenuated portion not linear, however. Head with a
concealed patch of red on the crown.

The species of this genus are especially characterized by their long,
attenuated primaries, their moderately forked or nearly even tail, and
the concealed colored crest in the crown. Their affinities are nearest
to _Milvulus_, from which the tail, shorter than the wings, instead of
twice as long, or more, will always serve as a point of distinction.
The attenuation of the primary differs in being less abrupt, and not
truly linear, sloping gradually, and not bounded behind by a notch. We
are unable to appreciate any other differences of importance.

The character and extent of the attenuation of the primaries, the
depth of the fork of the tail, with the size of the legs and bill, all
vary considerably, and may, perhaps, serve as ground for further
subdivisions. The bill, in particular, varies much in size in the
North American species, from that of _T. carolinensis_, where the
culmen is but little more than half the head, to that of _T.
dominicensis_ (genus _Melittarchus_ of Cabanis), where it is decidedly
longer than the head, and almost as stout as that of _Saurophagus_.

The North American species of _Tyrannus_ (with their nearest Mexican
allies) may be arranged by colors, accordingly as they are white
beneath or yellow, in the following manner:—

  A. Under parts whitish, without any shade of yellow. A
  faint grayish-plumbeous pectoral band.

      1. T. carolinensis. Tail slightly rounded. Bill much
      shorter than the head. Above black, shading into dark
      plumbeous on the back. Tail abruptly and broadly
      margined and tipped with pure white. (_Tyrannus._)
      _Hab._ Whole of North America, north to the British
      Provinces, and south to Panama. Rare in the Western
      Province of North America.

      2. T. dominicensis. Tail moderately forked. Bill
      longer than the head. Above gray; the tail and wings
      brownish. The edges and tips of the tail narrowly
      margined with soiled white. (_Melittarchus._) _Hab._
      West Indies, New Granada, Panama, Florida, Georgia,
      and South Carolina.

  B. Above ashy-olive, becoming purer ash on the head. Tail
  brown or black. Beneath yellow; the chin paler; the breast
  strongly shaded with olivaceous or ashy. (_Laphyctes._)

    _a._ Tail nearly black; the outer edges of the outer
    webs of the feathers with the fibres united closely
    throughout, and colored similarly to the rest of the
    feathers; beneath sulphur-yellow.

      3. T. verticalis. Tail slightly forked; external
      feather with the entire outer web and the outer half
      of the shaft abruptly yellowish-white. Pectoral band
      pale ashy, lighter than the back. _Hab._ Western
      Province of United States.

      4. T. vociferans. Tail nearly even or slightly
      rounded; external feather with the shaft brown; the
      outer edge only of the outer web obscurely
      yellowish-white, and all the feathers fading into
      paler at the tip. Throat and breast broadly tinged
      with dark ashy-olive like the back. _Hab._ Plains and
      southern Middle Province of United States, south into
      Middle America.

    _b._ Tail brown, scarcely darker than the wings; outer
    edges of the outer webs of the tail-feathers olivaceous
    like the back, in contrast with the brown; the fibres
    loosened externally; shafts of tail-feathers white
    beneath. Beneath bright gamboge-yellow.

      5. T. melancholicus.[65] Tail quite deeply forked (.70
      of an inch), brownish-black, the lighter edgings
      obsolete, and those on wings indistinct. Throat ashy.
      _Hab._ South America                      var. _melancholicus_.

      Tail moderately forked (.30 of an inch),
      grayish-brown, the light edges conspicuous, as are
      also those of the wings. Throat white. _Hab._ Middle
      America, north to southern boundary of United States
                                                       var. _couchi_.

In the Birds of North America a supposed new species, _T. couchi_, was
mentioned as coming so close to the boundary line of the United States
in Texas as to warrant its introduction into our fauna. We have,
however, concluded to give in the present work nothing but what has
actually been found within its prescribed limits.

     [65] _Tyrannus melancholicus_, VIEILLOT, Nouv. Dict. xxxv,
     1819, 84.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 176.—SCLATER, Catal.
     Am. Birds, 1862, 235. _Hab._ South America. A more northern
     race scarcely distinguishable (Panama, Costa Rica, etc.),
     separated as _T. satrapa_, LICHT.

Tyrannus carolinensis, BAIRD.


  _? Lanius tyrannus_, LINN. Syst. Nat. I, 1766, 136. This belongs to
       the Cuban _T. matutinus_, according to Bonaparte. _Muscicapa
       tyrannus_, (BRISSON?) WILSON, Am. Orn. I, 1808, 66, pl.
       xiii.—AUD. Orn. Biog. I, 1832, 403; V, 1839, 420, pl.
       lxxix.—IB. Birds Am. I, 1840, 204, pl. lvi. _Lanius tyrannus_,
       var. γ, _carolinensis_, δ, _ludovicianus_, GMELIN, Syst. Nat.
       I, 1788, 302. _Muscicapa rex_, BARTON, Fragments N. H. Penna.
       1799, 18. _Tyrannus pipiri_, VIEILLOT, Ois. Am. Sept. I, 1807,
       73, pl. xliv.—CAB. Journ. Orn. III, 1855, 478.—SCL. List,
       1862, 236. _Tyrannus intrepidus_, VIEILLOT, Galerie Ois. I,
       1824, 214, pl. cxxxiii.—SWAINSON, Mon. Ty. Shrikes, Quart.
       Jour. 1826, 274. _Muscicapa animosa_, LICHT. Verz. Doubl. 1823,
       No. 558. _Gobe Mouche de la Caroline_, BUFFON, Ois. V, 281,
       enl. pl. 676. _Tyrannus leucogaster_, STEPHENS, Shaw, Gen.
       Zoöl. XIII, II, 1826, 132. _Tyrannus carolinensis_, BAIRD,
       Birds N. Am. 1858, 171.—CABAN. Mus. Hein. II, 79.—LORD, Pr.
       R. A. Inst. IV, 64, 113.—COOPER & SUCKLEY, 167.—SAMUELS,
       128.—COOPER, Orn. Cal. 1, 1870, 311.

  [Illustration: _Tyrannus carolinensis._]

SP. CHAR. Two, sometimes three, outer primaries abruptly attenuated at
the end. Second quill longest; third little shorter; first rather
longer than fourth, or nearly equal. Tail slightly rounded. Above dark
bluish-ash. The top and sides of the head to beneath the eyes
bluish-black. A concealed crest on the crown vermilion in the centre,
white behind, and before partially mixed with orange. Lower parts pure
white, tinged with pale bluish-ash on the sides of the throat and
across the breast; sides of the breast and under the wings similar to,
but rather lighter than, the back. Axillaries pale grayish-brown
tipped with lighter. The wings dark brown, darkest towards the ends of
the quills; the greater coverts and quills edged with white, most so
on the tertials; the lesser coverts edged with paler. Upper
tail-coverts and upper surface of the tail glossy black, the latter
very dark brown beneath; all the feathers tipped, and the exterior
margined externally with white, forming a conspicuous terminal band
about .25 of an inch broad. Length, 8.50; wing, 4.65; tail, 3.70;
tarsus, .75.

HAB. Eastern North America to Rocky Mountains. Occasional in various
parts of the Western Province (Washington Territory, Salt Lake Valley,
Truckee River, Nevada, etc.). South to Panama. Oaxaca, lowlands, March
(SCL. P. Z. S. 1858, 302); Honduras (MOORE, P. Z. S. 1859, 55);
Guatemala (SCL. Ibis I, 120); Cuba (CAB. J. III, 476; GUNDL. Rep.
1865, 239, “_T. pipiri_”); Panama, (Mus. S. I.; LAWR. Ann. N. Y. Lyc.
VII, 295); Greytown, Nic. (LAWR. Ann. VIII, 183); East of San Antonio,
Texas (DRESSER, Ibis, 1865, 472; breeds); Upper Amazon, Peru, Nauta
(SCL. and SALV. P. Z. S. 1866, 189); Vera Cruz, hot region, resident
(SUMICHRAST, M. B. S. I, 557).

The young of the year is similar; the colors duller, the concealed
colored patch on the crown wanting. The tail more rounded; the
primaries not attenuated.

Specimens vary in the amount of white margining the wing-feathers; the
upper tail-coverts are also margined sometimes with white.

HABITS. The common Kingbird or Bee Martin of North America is found
throughout the continent, from Texas and Florida, on the south, as far
to the north as the 57th parallel of north latitude. Westward, north
of the 44th parallel, it is found from the Atlantic to the Pacific,
but south of this it has not been found west of the Rocky Mountains.
It is included by Dr. Cooper among the birds of California, but I am
not aware that it has ever been taken within the limits of that State.
Mr. Allen regards the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains its extreme
western limit; but Mr. Ridgway states that this species was met with
by him in various portions of the Great Basin, though always in less
abundance than the _T. verticalis_. Among the cottonwoods of the
Truckee Valley, in Western Nevada, two or three pairs were seen in
July and August. In the fertile Salt Lake Valley it was nearly or
quite as common as the _T. verticalis_, and was also met with in the
fertile “parks” of the Wahsatch Mountains.

This species not only has this widely extended area, but is also quite
abundant wherever found. It is apparently as abundant throughout Nova
Scotia as it is in the State of Florida. Richardson even found it
common on the banks of the Saskatchewan, where he traced its northern
migrations beyond the 57th parallel of latitude. It was found at the
Carlton House early in May, and retired southward in September. It
winters in Central and South America, and has been received by Mr.
Lawrence from Panama.

Dr. Suckley found this species quite plentiful at the eastern base of
the Rocky Mountains, in Washington Territory, and more sparingly at
Puget Sound, where he obtained several specimens. They appeared to
shun the dense forests near Puget Sound, but were moderately plentiful
in the groves of low oaks, and among the cottonwood-trees fringing the
lakes on Nisqually Plains, where, August 5, he obtained a nest with
newly fledged young.

Mr. Joseph Leyland found this species near Omoa, in Honduras,
migratory. They came in flocks of two or three hundred, but remained
only a short time before departing farther south. They flew high, and
seemed very wild. This species was also met with, in May, at Playa
Vicente, in the low lands of the State of Oaxaca, Mexico, by Mr.
Boucard, and during the winter months is found throughout Mexico.

No one of our common birds possesses more strongly marked
characteristics of manners and habits than this species. Its
pugnacious disposition during the breeding-season, the audacious
boldness with which it will attack any birds larger than itself, the
persistent tenacity with which it will continue these attacks, and the
reckless courage with which it will maintain its unequal warfare, are
well-known peculiarities of this interesting and familiar species. Its
name, Kingbird, is given it on the supposition that it is superior to
all other birds in these contests. My own observations lead me to the
conclusion that writers have somewhat exaggerated the quarrelsome
disposition of this bird. I have never, or very rarely, known it to
molest or attack any other birds than those which its own instinct
prompts it to drive away in self-defence, such as Hawks, Owls, Eagles,
Crows, Jays, Cuckoos, and Grakles. These it will always attack and
drive off to quite a distance from their nests. Nothing can be more
striking than the intrepidity with which one of these birds will
pounce upon and harass birds vastly larger and more powerful than
itself. The Kingbird is always prompt to perceive the approach of one
of these enemies, and always rushes out to meet it. Mounting in the
air high above, it pounces down upon its back, upon which it will even
rest, furiously pecking at the exposed flanks of its victim, and only
leaving it to descend again and again with the same unrelenting
animosity. In these encounters it always comes off conqueror.

Wilson states that his jealous affection for his mate and for his nest
and young makes him suspicious of every bird that happens to pass near
his residence. But this is not the case in all instances. A pair of
these birds nested, in the summer of 1871, and peacefully reared their
young, in an apple-tree near my residence, within four feet of the
nest of the Baltimore Oriole, and not more than eight or ten feet from
the nest of a Robin, all in the same tree. The three pairs were on
evident terms of amity and mutual good-will. The male Kingbird kept a
sharp lookout for danger from the topmost bough, and seemed to have
all under his special guardianship, but showed no disposition to
molest or annoy them.

The Purple Martin is said to be the implacable enemy of the Kingbird,
and one of the few birds with which the latter maintains an unequal
contest. Its superiority in flight gives the former great advantages,
while its equal courage and strength render it more than a match.
Audubon relates an instance in which the Kingbird was slain in one of
these struggles.

Wilson also narrates an encounter, of which he was an eyewitness,
between one of this species and a Red-headed Woodpecker, in which the
latter, while clinging on the rail of a fence, seemed to amuse itself
with the violence of the Kingbird, playing bo-peep with it round the
rail, while the latter became greatly irritated, and made repeated but
vain attempts to strike at him.

The Kingbird feeds almost exclusively upon winged insects, and
consumes a vast number. It is on this account one of our most useful
birds, but, unfortunately for its popularity, it is no respecter of
kinds, and destroys large numbers of bees. In districts where hives of
honey-bees abound, the Kingbird is not in good repute. Wilson suggests
that they only destroy the drones, and rarely, if ever, meddle with
the working bees. But this discrimination, even if real, is not
appreciated by the raisers of bees, who regard this bird as their

The Kingbirds arrive in Pennsylvania the latter part of April, and in
New England early in May, and leave for the South in September. They
nest in May, selecting an upper branch, usually of an isolated tree,
and often in an exposed situation. Their nests are large, broad, and
comparatively shallow, and coarsely, though strongly, made of rude
materials, such as twigs, withered plants, bits of rags, strings, etc.
These are lined with fine rootlets, horse-hair, and fine grasses.

The Kingbird has no song, but, instead, utters an incessant monotonous
succession of twitterings, which vary in sharpness and loudness with
the emotions that prompt them.

The flight of the Kingbird when on the hunt for insects is peculiar
and characteristic. It flies slowly over the field, with rapid
vibrations of the wings, in the manner of Hawks, and soars or seems to
float in the air in a manner equally similar. At other times it flies
with great rapidity, and dives about in the air in the manner of a
Swallow. It also exhibits great power and rapidity of flight when
rushing forth to encounter a Hawk or an Eagle.

As they are known occasionally to plunge into the water, and, emerging
thence, to resume their seat on a high branch, to dry and dress their
plumage, it has been conjectured that they feed on small fish, but
this is unsupported by any positive evidence.

Though the Kingbird usually builds in trees, it does not always select
such situations. In the summer of 1851, passing over a bridge near the
village of Aylesford, in Nova Scotia, I observed a Kingbird fly from a
nest built on the projecting end of one of the planks of which the
bridge was made. So remarkably exposed a position, open to view, and
on a level with and within a few feet of a highway, must be quite

The eggs of this bird are five, sometimes six, in number, and vary
considerably in size. Their ground-color is white with a more or less
decided roseate tinge, beautifully spotted with blotches and markings
of purple, brown, and red-brown. In some, these are disposed in a
confluent crown around the larger end; in others they are irregularly
distributed over the entire egg. In length they vary from 1.05 to .86
of an inch, and in breadth from .72 to .70 of an inch.

Tyrannus dominicensis, RICH.


  _Tyrannus dominicensis_, BRISSON, Ois. II, 1760, 394, pl. xxxviii.
       fig. 2.—RICH. List, 1837.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 172.
       _Lanius tyrannus_, var. β, _dominicensis_, GMELIN,
       Syst. Nat. I, 1788, 302. _Muscicapa dominicensis_, AUD. Orn.
       Biog. II, 1834, 392, pl. xlvi.—IB. Birds Am. I, 1840, 201,
       pl. lv. _Melittarchus dominicensis_, CABANIS, Journal für
       Ornith. III, Nov. 1855, 478. _Tyrannus griseus_, VIEILLOT, Ois.
       Am. Sept. I, 1807, 76, pl. xlvi.—SWAINSON, Mon. Shrikes,
       Quart. Jour. XX, 1826, 276.—BP. Consp. 1850, 192 (Bonaparte
       makes two species).—SCL. List, 1862, 236. _Tyrannus
       matutinus_, VIEILL. De La Sagra, pl. xiv.

SP. CHAR. Bill very large and stout. Tail conspicuously forked. Wings
long; the first six quills attenuated abruptly, much longer than the
seventh. Tertials much developed, nearly intermediate in length
between the longest primaries and the shortest secondary. Above, and
on the sides of the head and neck, ash-gray, shaded in places with
brown, which forms the middle portion of each feather. Downy portion
at the base of each feather above light ash, then light brown, tipped
and edged with darker ash-gray. The mottled appearance is caused by
the brown showing from under the feathers; the ear-coverts darker. A
concealed colored patch on the crown, formed by the base of the
feathers, white before and behind, orange in the middle. Lower parts
grayish-white, tinged with ash across the breast, deepest anteriorly.
Sides of the breast similar to, but lighter than, the back. Under
wing-coverts and axillars pale sulphur-yellow. The wings brown, darker
to the tips; the secondaries narrowly, the tertials more broadly,
edged with dull white. Edges of the coverts paler. Alula dark brown.
Tail similar in color to the quills. Upper tail-coverts brown. Bill
and feet black. Length, 8.00; wing, 4.65; tail, 4.00; tarsus, .76.

_Young._ Lesser wing-coverts and upper tail-coverts distinctly
bordered with pale ochraceous; tail-feathers bordered all round with a
deeper shade of the same. No colored patch on the crown.

HAB. South Carolina coast, accidental; Florida Keys and West Indies;
Nicaragua; New Granada; Santa Cruz (NEWTON, Ibis I, 146, eggs);
Carthagena, N. G. (CASS. P. A. N. S. 1860, 143); Cuba (CAB. J. III,
478, breeds; GUNDL. Rep. 1865, 238, “_Mel. griseus_”); Jamaica (GOSSE,
B. J. 169, breeds; MARCH, P. A. N. S. 1863, 287); St. Thomas (CASS. P.
A. N. S. 1860, 375); Sombrero (LAWR. Ann. N. Y. Lyc. VIII, 1864, 99,
“_griseus_”); Greytown, Nicar. (LAWR. Ann. 183); Sta. Bartholemy
(SUND. 1869, 584); Massachusetts (MAYNARD, B. E. Mass. 1870, 124).

This species, though about the same size as the _T. carolinensis_, is
much more powerfully built, the bill and feet being much stronger, the
former considerably longer than the head, and as large as that of
_Saurophagus sulphuratus_, though less compressed.

Specimens from Nicaragua and New Granada appear to be almost perfectly
identical with those from Florida and the West Indies, differing only
in being just appreciably smaller, which, however, might be expected
from their more southern habitat.

HABITS. The Gray Kingbird—the Pipiry Flycatcher of Audubon, or Gray
Petchary of Jamaica—is, except in Florida, of scarcely more than
occasional occurrence within the limits of the United States. A single
specimen has been taken in Massachusetts. This was shot in Lynn,
October 23, 1868, and was in immature plumage. The bird was shot on a
tree near one of the streets of that city by Mr. Charles Goodall. Mr.
Audubon also found these birds quite common on the Florida Keys,
almost every Key, however small, having its pair. A pair was observed
breeding in the college yard at Charleston, S. C., by Dr. Bachman; and
for at least three years in succession they regularly returned each
year, and raised two broods in a season. This Flycatcher is abundant
in St. Croix, Cuba, Jamaica, and in the other West India Islands. In
the first-named locality Mr. Alfred Newton found it one of the most
conspicuous and commonest birds over the entire island. Its favorite
station, he states, was the top of the spearlike unexpanded frond of a
tall mountain-cabbage tree, from which place, in the breeding-season,
it darted down to attack almost any animal that passed near. Its
favorite object of attack was the Green Heron (_Butorides virescens_),
at which it would make several well-directed swoops, never leaving it
until it had driven it into some shelter, when, much pleased with its
prowess, it would return to its lookout station and celebrate its
victory with cries of triumph. On one occasion Mr. Newton observed a
Gray Kingbird pursue a Green Heron out to sea for a quarter of a mile
and back. It is described as a very clamorous bird, even when there is
apparently no need; taking alarm from the domestic poultry, its
oft-repeated notes were heard every morning before the dawn. This
noise it continued pertinaciously till sundown. Its food consists of
insects, which are caught with great dexterity on the wing. It also
feeds very largely on the black berries of a myrtle-leaved parasite
that grows abundantly on the orange-trees. The nest is often
placed under the fronds or among the spathes of a cocoanut or
mountain-cabbage tree, and sometimes in any ordinary situation. It is
described as flat in construction and large for the size of the bird,
being nearly a foot in diameter, composed of a platform of twigs, in
the midst of which is hollowed a cup lined with fine roots. In St.
Croix the eggs rarely exceeded three in number, and are spoken of as
exceedingly beautiful when fresh, of a delicate creamy white, marked
at the larger end with blotches and spots of pink or orange-brown,
often disposed in a zone. He found their eggs from May till August.

Mr. Richard Hill, of Spanishtown, Jamaica, in some interesting notes
furnished to Mr. Gosse, states that along the seaside savannas of that
island migrant flocks of these birds swarm early in September. Numbers
then congregate on the trees around the cattle ponds and about the
open meadows, pursuing the swarms of insects which fill the air at
sundown. These throngs are immediately joined by resident birds of
this species, which gather about the same places, and do not return to
their usual abodes until the breeding-season is at hand.

The Jamaica bird is not exclusively an insect-feeder, but eats very
freely of the sweet wild berries, especially those of the pimento.
These ripen in September, and in groves of these this bird may always
be found in abundance. By the end of September most of the migrant
birds have left the island.

This is among the earliest to breed of the birds of Jamaica. As early
as January the mated pair is said to be in possession of some lofty
tree, sounding at day-dawn a ceaseless shriek, which is composed of a
repetition of three or four notes, sounding like _pē-chēē-ry_,
according to Mr. Hill, and from which they derive their local name. In
these localities they remain until autumn, when they quit these haunts
and again congregate about the lowland ponds. In feeding, just before
sunset, they usually sit, eight or ten in a row, on some exposed twig,
darting from it in pursuit of their prey, and returning to it to
devour whatever they have caught. They are rapid in their movements,
ever constantly and hurriedly changing their positions in flight. As
they fly, they are able to check their speed suddenly, and to turn at
the smallest imaginable angle. At times they move off in a straight
line, gliding with motionless wings from one tree to another. When one
descends to pick an insect from the surface of the water, it has the
appearance of tumbling, and, in rising again, ascends with a singular
motion of the wings, as if hurled into the air and endeavoring to
recover itself.

In the manner in which the male of this species will perch on the top
of some lofty tree, and from that vantage-height scream defiance to
all around him, and pursue any large bird that approaches, as
described by Mr. Hill, all the audacity and courage of our Kingbird is
exhibited. At the approach of a Vulture or a Hawk, he starts off in a
horizontal line, after rising in the air to the same height as his
adversary, and, hovering over him for a moment, descends upon the
intruder’s back, rising and sinking as he repeats his attack, and
shrieking all the while. In these attacks he is always triumphant.

This Flycatcher is also charged by Mr. Hill with seizing upon the
Humming-Birds as they hover over the blossoms in the garden, killing
its prey by repeated blows struck on the branch, and then devouring

The nest, according to Mr. Hill, is seldom found in any other tree
than that of the palm kind. Among the web of fibres around the
footstalk of each branch the nest is woven of cotton-wool and grass.
The eggs, he adds, are four or five, of an ivory color, blotched with
deep purple spots, intermingled with brown specks, the clusters
thickening at the greater end. Mr. Gosse, on the contrary, never found
the nest in a palm. One, taken from an upper limb of a bitterwood-tree
that grew close to a friend’s door, at no great height, was a cup made
of the stalks and tendrils of a small passion flower, the spiral
tendrils very prettily arranged around the edge, and very neatly and
thickly lined with black horse-hair. The other, made in a spondias
bush, was a rather loose structure, smaller and less compact, almost
entirely composed of tendrils, with no horse-hair, but a few shining
black frond-ribs of a fern.

Mr. March states that the migrant birds of this species return to
Jamaica about the last of March, gradually disperse, and, like the
resident birds, occupy their selected trees in solitary pairs, and
immediately set about preparing their nests. At St. Catharine’s the
first nest found was on the 14th of April, and the latest in the
middle of July. They seldom build in the tree in which they perch, but
select a lower tree near it. Some make their nests high, others low,
usually at the extremity of a lateral branch. He describes them as
loose structures of twigs and the stems of trailing plants, with the
cup of grass, horse-hair, and vegetable fibre. The eggs are three,
rarely four, of a long oval, with a ground of light cream-color,
dashed around the larger end more or less thickly with blotches of
burnt sienna, and with cloudings of pale bistre underneath.

Mr. Audubon states that this Flycatcher reaches the Florida Keys about
the first of April. He describes their usual flight as performed by a
constant flutter of the wings, except when in chase, when they exhibit
considerable power and speed. He noticed them pursue larger birds,
such as Herons, Crows, Cuckoos, Grakles, and Hawks, following them
quite a distance. They did not molest the Doves. They built their
nests in a manner similar to the Kingbird, on the horizontal branches
of the mangrove, almost invariably on the western side of the tree and
of the island. Some were not more than two feet above the water,
others were twenty feet. On one of the keys, although of small size,
he saw several of their nests, and more than a dozen of the birds
living amicably together.

Dr. J. G. Cooper, who visited Florida in the spring of 1859, informed
me, by letter, on his return, that when he reached Cape Florida, March
8, none of this species were to be seen on any of the keys. The first
he noticed were about the first of May, near Fort Dallas on the
mainland. As, however, it rarely appears at this place, he supposes
they reached the keys some weeks sooner. About May 14 he found several
pairs at the Cape, and, going up the coast to New Smyrna, he found
them abundant about the marshy islands. On the first of June, with a
companion, he went in a small boat for the express purpose of finding
their nests; and, pushing the boat about among the islands which
almost filled Mosquito Lagoon, he discovered three in one afternoon.
They were all built among the small branches of low dead
mangrove-trees, about ten feet from the ground, formed of a loose,
open flooring of small twigs, with scarcely any lining of a finer
material. One contained four eggs half hatched, another three young
and one egg, the third four young just hatched. He preserved one nest
and all the eggs, and presented them to the National Museum in
Washington. The old birds showed no resentment, and neither came near
nor followed him, differing very much in this respect from the
fearless and devoted Kingbird. The only notes this bird was heard to
utter were loud and harsh rattling cries. Dr. Bachman informed Dr.
Cooper that these birds had become quite regular summer visitants of
Charleston, where they continued to breed each season. Dr. Cooper saw
none away from the Florida coast, and thinks that none go inland.

The eggs of this species measure from 1 to 1.05 inches in length, and
from .70 to .72 of an inch in breadth. They are of an oblong oval
shape, variously marked with large blotches and smaller spots of
purple, red-brown, and a dark purplish-brown. The latter color, in a
few cases, is found in large masses, covering nearly a fifth of the
entire surface of the egg; not inaptly compared by Mr. Gosse to the
sinuous outlines of lands, as represented on a terrestrial globe.

Tyrannus verticalis, SAY.


  _Tyrannus verticalis_, SAY, Long’s Exped. II, 1823, 60.—NUTTALL,
       Man. II, (2d ed.,) 1840, 306.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858,
       173.—SCL. Catal. 1862, 235.—LORD, Pr. R. A. Inst. IV, 113
       (Br. Col.).—COOPER & SUCKLEY, 168.—COOPER, Orn. Cal. 1, 1870,
       312. _Muscicapa verticalis_, BONAP. Am. Orn. I, 1825, 18, pl.
       xi.—AUD. Orn. Biog. IV, 1838, 422, pl. ccclix.—IB. Birds Am.
       I, 1840, 199, pl. liv. _Laphyctes verticalis_, CABAN. Mus.
       Hein. II, 1859, 77.—HEERM. X. _S_, 37.

SP. CHAR. The four exterior quills attenuated very gently at the end,
the first most so; third and fourth quills longest, second and fifth
successively a little shorter. Tail slightly forked; bill shorter than
the head. Crown, sides of head above the eyes, nape, and sides of neck
pale lead-color, or ash-gray; a concealed crest on the crown,
vermilion in the centre, and yellowish before and behind. Hind neck
and back ash-gray, strongly tinged with light olivaceous-green, the
gray turning to brown on the rump; upper tail-coverts nearly black,
lower dusky; chin and part of ear-coverts dull white; throat and upper
part of breast similar to the head, but lighter, and but slightly
contrasted with the chin; rest of lower parts, with the under
wing-coverts and axillars, yellow, deepening to gamboge on the belly,
tinged with olivaceous on the breast. Wing brown, the coverts with
indistinct ashy margins; secondaries and tertials edged with whitish;
inner webs of primaries whitish towards the base. Tail nearly black
above and glossy, duller brownish beneath; without olivaceous edgings.
Exterior feather, with the outer web and the shaft, yellowish-white;
inner edge of latter brown. Tips of remaining feathers paler. Bill and
feet dark brown. _Female_ rather smaller and colors less bright.
Length of male, 8.25; wing about 4.50.

HAB. Western North America, from the high Central Plains to the
Pacific; Colima, Mexico. Accidental in Eastern States (New Jersey,
TURNBULL; Plymton, Maine, Oct. 1865, BRYANT, Pr. Bost. Soc., X, 1865,

The young bird is, in general, quite similar, with the exception of
the usual appearance of immaturity, the colored patch on the crown
wanting. In one specimen the first primary only is attenuated, in
others none exhibit this character.

A specimen of this bird, shot at Moorestown, N. J., is in the museum
of the Philadelphia Academy, but this locality can only be considered
as very exceptional.

HABITS. The Arkansas Flycatcher was first discovered by the party in
Long’s Expedition in 1823, and described by Mr. Say. It is a bird of
western North America, found from the great plains to the Pacific, and
only accidentally occurring east. A single specimen is said to have
been shot in Moorestown, N. J., near Philadelphia. It has been met
with in Texas as far east as the river Mimbres, and in Nebraska nearly
to the Missouri River. The specimen from which the first description
was made was obtained in the beginning of July, near the Platte River.

Mr. Nuttall, in his Western tour, first met with this species early in
July, among the scanty wood on the banks of the northwest branch of
the Platte River. He characterizes it as a bold and querulous bird. He
found it all the way from thence to the forests of the Columbia and
the Wahlamet, and throughout California to latitude 32°. He speaks of
them as remarkably noisy and quarrelsome with each other, and, like
the Kingbird, suffering nothing of the bird kind to approach them
without exhibiting their predilection for dispute. He describes
their note as a discordant, clicking warble, resembling
_tsh’k-tsh’k-tshivait_,—sounding not unlike the creaking of a rusty
door-hinge, something in the manner of a Kingbird, with a blending of
the notes of the common Purple Grakle.

Mr. Townsend mentions finding this bird numerous along the banks of
the Platte, particularly in the vicinity of trees. From that river to
the banks of the Columbia, and as far as the ocean, it was a very
common species. The males were wonderfully belligerent, fighting
almost constantly and with great fury.

Dr. J. G. Cooper states that in California this is an abundant
species, arriving in that State about the 20th of March. None are
known to remain within the State during the winter. Small parties of
males come first, and are very quarrelsome until each one has selected
its mate. This is not done for several weeks, and the earliest nest
with eggs that he has found was on the 12th of May at Santa Barbara.
The nest, built on a branch of a low oak near the town, was five
inches wide, constructed of lichens, twigs, coarse grass, and wool,
lined with hair. It contained four eggs, measuring .94 by .70 of an
inch. He describes them as creamy-white, spotted with purple of two
shades near the larger end.

These birds are said to be almost an exact counterpart of the
Kingbird, exhibiting the same courage in defence of their nests. Their
notes are more varied and noisy, and they utter them almost constantly
during the spring, often when flying and fighting. They are very
destructive to bees, but compensate for this damage by destroying
great quantities of noxious insects. They leave the State in October.
At Puget Sound, early in June, Dr. Cooper found this species
associating with the common Kingbird without any signs of
disagreement, though their similar habits would naturally lead to
disputes. He has even seen them together in parties of four about the
period of mating. They do not approach the coast in Washington

Dr. Suckley found this species abundant in the central and western
portions of Oregon and Washington Territory. He first noted their
arrival from the South about May 15. The first notification of their
presence is given by the skirmishes and quarrels incident to the
love-season. Their battles are generally fought in the air, and
present ludicrous alternations of pursuit and flight. At Fort Dalles
their favorite breeding-places were oak-trees for the most part.

Mr. Charles D. Gibbes, of Stockton, informs us that these birds
occasionally build their nests in the shrubbery about the gardens, but
more frequently in large oak-trees, fifteen or twenty feet from the
ground. They are constructed of weeds and grass firmly woven together,
and lined with cotton, feathers, strings, and other soft materials.
They are usually secured to the limb on which they are placed by a
portion of the string. The diameter of the cavity of the nest is about
three inches, depth one and a half. Their eggs are laid in May and
June, and are four, five, or six in number. They are described as
white, marked with dark brown spots on the larger end. In some the
spots, decreasing in size, extend to the smaller end.

Dr. Hoy informs me that he has never detected this bird within the
limits of Wisconsin, though he has no doubt that they may occasionally
straggle into its limits, as have many of the birds peculiar to the
Missouri region.

Mr. Ridgway gives it as one of the most abundant and familiar of the
_Tyrannidæ_ in the Sacramento Valley and the fertile portions of the
Great Basin. He notes their excessively quarrelsome disposition, which
far exceeds that of the eastern Kingbird, for fighting among
themselves seems to be their chief amusement. As many as half a dozen
of these birds were sometimes noticed pitching at one another
promiscuously, in their playful combats; and when a nest was
disturbed, the cries of the parents invariably brought to the vicinity
all the birds of this species in the neighborhood, which, as soon as
gathered together, began their aerial battles by attacking each other
without regard apparently to individuals, accompanying the fight by a
shrill twitter, very different from the loud rattling notes of the _T.
carolinensis_. Indeed, all the notes of the western Kingbird are very
conspicuously different from those of the eastern species, being
weaker, and more twittering in their character. The nesting habits,
the construction of the nest, and appearance of the eggs, are,
however, almost perfectly identical.

Mr. Ridgway gives an interesting account (Am. Nat., Aug., 1869) of a
young bird of this species which became quite domesticated with his
party in the geological survey of the 40th parallel. It had been taken
about the middle of July, fully fledged, from the nest, by some
Indians, and was fed with grasshoppers and flies until able to catch
them for itself. When not in quest of food it remained quietly perched
on Mr. Ridgway’s shoulder or his hat, or would perch on a rope
extending from the top of the tent to a stake. At night it frequently
roosted under an umbrella which hung outside of the tent. If
permitted, it would have preferred to keep on its master’s shoulder,
snuggling against his neck. In the morning it was sure to come
fluttering about his head, singling him out from a dozen or more
persons who lay around upon the ground. It had an insatiable appetite,
and was ascertained by actual count to consume one hundred and twenty
fat grasshoppers in a day. It soon learned its own name, Chippy, and
always answered to the call. It followed Mr. Ridgway when on
horseback, occasionally leaving to sport with other birds, but always
returning to his shoulder or hat. It evidently preferred the society
of the camp to that of his own race. It was once, by accident, nearly
shot, and ever after held the gun in great dread. It went with Mr.
Ridgway from camp to camp, continuing perfectly tame and domesticated,
until, as was supposed, it fell a prey to a Hawk.

The eggs of this species are not easily distinguishable from those of
the common Kingbird. They have a ground-color of a crystalline
whiteness, marked with bold dashes of reddish and purplish brown, the
latter fewer and faint. They are oblong in shape, are pointed at one
end, and measure 1 inch in length by .70 of an inch in breadth.

Tyrannus vociferans, SWAINSON.


  _Tyrannus vociferans_, SWAINSON, Mon. Tyrant Shrikes in Quarterly
       Journal Sc. XX, Jan. 1826, 273.—IB. Philos. Mag. I, 1827,
       368.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 174, pl. xlviii.—IB. M. B. II,
       Birds 8, pl. x.—SCL. Catal. 1862, 235.—COOPER, Orn. Cal. 1,
       1870, 314. _Laphyctes vociferans_, CABAN. Mus. Hein. II, 77.
       _Tyrannus cassini_, LAWRENCE, Ann. N. Y. Lyc. N. H. V, 1852,
       39, pl. iii, fig. 2 (Texas).

SP. CHAR. Bill from the forehead about as long as the head. Tail even
or slightly rounded. Outer five primaries attenuated; the first four
abruptly and deeply emarginated; third quill longest, second and
fourth a little less, first shorter than the sixth, and half an inch
less than the longest. Head and neck above and on the sides rather
dark bluish-ash; the throat and breast similar, and only a little
paler. Rest of upper parts olive-green tinged with gray, mixed with
brown on the rump; the upper tail-coverts and surface of the tail
nearly black; the outer web of the external feather and the tips of
all pale brown. The chin is white, in strong contrast to the dark ash
of the throat; the rest of the under parts bright sulphur-yellow (the
sides olivaceous), palest on the under tail-coverts and inside of
wing. A concealed vermilion patch in the crown, bordered by
straw-yellow. Wing-feathers brown, tinged with olive, becoming paler
towards the edge. Length, 8.80; wing, 5.25; tail, 4.25.

HAB. Valley of Gila and southern California, eastward to Pecos River,
Texas, and into Mexico, on table-lands; north along the Plains to Fort
Laramie, south to Costa Rica. Oaxaca (SCL. P. Z. S. 1859, 383); Vera
Paz (SCL. Ibis I, 121); W. Arizona (COUES, P. A. N. S. 1866, 59); Vera
Cruz, hot and temp. regions, and Plateau (SUM. M. Bost. Soc. I, 557.)

The table of specific characters presented under the generic head will
readily serve to distinguish this species from its near ally, _T.
verticalis_. The white outer web of the exterior tail-feather in
_verticalis_, compared with the brown web, only edged with whitish of
the present bird, is always sufficient to separate them; while the
deep ash of the jugulum, and the much lighter, more brownish shade of
the wings, are entirely peculiar features.

HABITS. This bird is abundant in Vera Cruz, where it is known by the
name of _Portuguéz_. According to Sumichrast, it belongs to the hot
and temperate regions, rather than the alpine. It is also common in
the Plateau, and is found in all parts of Mexico.

In Arizona Dr. Coues states this bird to be an abundant summer
resident, arriving in that Territory during the third week in April,
and remaining until the latter part of September. It was found in
every kind of locality. He furnishes no information as to its habits.

During the Mexican Boundary Survey this species was taken on the
Colorado River, in California, by Dr. A. Schott, and at Los Nogales,
Mexico, by Dr. Kennerly. It was also met with in the Sacramento Valley
by Dr. Heermann; at Fort Thorn, New Mexico, by Dr. Henry; on the
Pecos, Texas, by Captain Pope; and specimens from Mexico have been
received from Mr. Gould. It does not appear to have been observed in
Southwestern Texas by Mr. Dresser.

This species Dr. Cooper states to be quite common throughout the
southern half of California, and resident throughout the year at least
as far north as Los Angeles. In color they greatly resemble the _T.
verticalis_, but are less lively and not so quarrelsome in their
habits. During the early part of the year they begin to sing by
daylight, generally from the top of some high tree. Their notes are
said to be loud and much more musical than those of the other species,
and their song exhibits considerable variety for a bird of this
family. During the middle of the day they are rather quiet, and sit
much of the time on their perch, occasionally catching an insect that
comes very near, but they are supposed by Dr. Cooper to feed mostly in
the very early morning. This observer found them breeding at San Diego
as early as March 28, as well as subsequently. Their nest is said to
be much larger and more firmly built than are those of others of the
genus, being five and a half inches in external diameter and about two
and a half in height. The cavity is three inches wide at the rim. The
eggs, which he describes as white, with large scattered reddish-brown
and umber blotches, measure .96 of an inch in length and .70 in
breadth. He found some of these birds in Santa Clara Valley in May,
1864. They appeared to be smaller and greener on the back than those
from the South. They winter in large numbers at Santa Clara, in
latitude 37°.

Dr. Coues found this a very abundant summer resident at Fort Whipple,
breeding there in considerable numbers, and all leaving early in

Mr. Ridgway did not meet with this species anywhere in the Great
Basin, nor in the Sacramento Valley. On the plains it is found as far
north as Cheyenne and Laramie Peak, and in the southern portion of the
Western Provinces extends westward to California.

Specimens were obtained by Mr. George M. Skinner from Salamá, Vera
Paz, in Central America. It was also taken, in February, near Oaxaca,
Mexico, by Mr. Boucard.

A nest of this bird (No. 1,828), in the Smithsonian Museum, was taken
at Volcan de Colima, June, 1863, by Mr. John Xantus. It is a slight
structure composed chiefly of wiry grass, mixed with bits of wool, and
lined with finer grasses. The eggs are two in number, having a
pure-white ground, freckled on the larger end with purplish-brown and
grayish-lilac. These markings are more sparse and are finer than those
of the eggs of any other species of this genus, so far as I am aware.
One of the eggs has a few blotches of umber on the larger end. They
measure, one .93 by .68 of an inch, the other .93 by .65.

Tyrannus melancholicus, var. couchi, BAIRD.


  _Tyrannus couchi_, BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 175, pl. xlix, f.
    1.—SCL. Catal. Am. B. 1862, 235.

SP. CHAR. Bill long as the head. Feet stout. Five outer primaries
abruptly attenuated at the end; the third and fourth longest; the
first a little longer than the sixth. Tail considerably forked (depth
of fork about .30 of an inch, or more). Head, neck, and jugulum
bluish-ashy, becoming nearly white on the throat, and shaded with
yellow on the breast. Rest of lower parts gamboge-yellow. Rest of
upper parts olive-green, tinged with ash anteriorly. Tail and
primaries grayish-brown, the tail not the darker. Wing-coverts passing
externally into pale, the tertials edged with almost white. Crown with
a concealed patch of bright orange-red. Length, 9.00; wing, 5.00;
tail, 4.70.

HAB. Middle America (both coasts), from southern border of United
States, south to Guatemala; Tucson, Arizona (BENDIRE).

All specimens of _T. melancholicus_ from regions north of Guatemala
are referrible to var. _couchi_; all from Costa Rica southward, to

It is only by comparing specimens from near the extreme northern and
southern limits of the range of the species, that differences are
readily discernible; and between these two extremes there is so
gradual a transition that it is impossible to draw a line separating
two well-marked varieties, so that it is necessary to assume an
arbitrary geographical line, and determine specimens from the middle
regions by their position, whether to the north or south of the line
established. Specimens from Buenos Ayres, the Parana, and Brazil, to
Peru and New Granada, are identical. Costa Rica specimens (_T.
satrapa_, LICHT.) have the dark tail of var. _melancholicus_ and white
throat of _couchi_.


  _Myiarchus_, CABANIS, Fauna Peruana, 1844-46, 152.—BURMEISTER,
    Thiere Brasiliens, II, Vögel, 1856, 469.

GEN. CHAR. Tarsus equal to or not longer than the middle toe, which is
decidedly longer than the hinder one. Bill wider at base than half the
culmen. Tail broad, long, even, or slightly rounded, about equal to
the wings, which scarcely reach the middle of the tail; the first
primary shorter than the sixth. Head with elongated lanceolate
distinct feathers. Above brownish-olive, throat ash, belly yellow.
Tail and wing feathers varied with rufous.

This genus is well marked among the American Flycatchers, and
constitutes what Bonaparte called _Ultimi Tyrannorum sive Tyrannularum
primæ_. The type is the _Muscicapa ferox_ of Gmelin, (_M.
tyrannulus_,) which, as identified by Cabanis and Burmeister as above,
appears to resemble our species very closely.

  [Line drawing: _Myiarchus mexicanus._

For an elaborate discussion of the various forms of this exceedingly
difficult genus, we are indebted to a recent monograph by Dr. Coues,
in the Proceedings of the Philadelphia Academy, for June and July,
1872 (pp. 56-81). With the same material for our investigations, we
have been led, after a very careful perusal of the valuable paper
mentioned, and tedious critical comparison of the large material at
our command, to adopt a somewhat difficult view of the relationship of
the forms characterized. The following synopsis expresses their
affinity as at present understood:—

COMMON CHARACTERS. Above olivaceous, usually uniform, sometimes
darker, sometimes more ashy, on the head above. Head and jugulum more
or less ashy, though the latter is sometimes very pale. Rest of lower
parts sulphur-yellow, sometimes almost or quite white. Primaries,
secondaries, and rectrices usually more or less edged on either web
with rufous; but sometimes entirely destitute of this color.

Species and Varieties.

  A. Bill sub-conical; sometimes nearly terete, its depth
  equal to, or exceeding, its breadth in the middle portion;
  its lateral outlines moderately divergent basally;
  terminal hook abrupt, strong. (_Myionax._)

    1. M. tyrannulus. No trace of rufous edgings on either
    wings or tail. Above ashy-olive, the pileum similar, the
    outer webs of wing-coverts and secondaries edged with
    whitish. Head, laterally and beneath, ashy, the throat
    and jugulum more whitish; rest of lower parts
    sulphur-yellow. Tail slightly rounded.

      Pileum and nape umber-brown; upper surface
      umber-grayish. Bill dark brown. Wing, 3.50-3.70; tail,
      3.60-3.90; culmen, .90-.95; tarsus, .80-.90. _Hab._
      South and Central America, from Bolivia and Southern
      Brazil to Costa Rica                         var. _tyrannulus_.[66]

      Whole head and neck pure ash, paler on the throat, and
      darker on the pileum; upper surface greenish-ash. Bill
      black. Wing, 3.70; tail, 4.00; culmen, .82; tarsus,
      .91. _Hab._ Ecuador and Guayaquil          var. _phæocephalus_.[67]

    2. M. validus.[68] All the wing-coverts, tertials,
    secondaries, primaries, and rectrices distinctly edged
    with rufous (the latter on both webs). Above olivaceous,
    more ashy anteriorly; the upper tail-coverts more
    rufescent; remiges broadly rufous on exterior edges;
    rectrices with the whole inner web (except a narrow
    streak along the shaft) and edge of outer web rufous.
    Head beneath, and entire throat and breast, deep ash;
    rest of lower parts sulphur-yellow, the junction of the
    two colors not well defined. Wing, 3.80-4.20; tail,
    3.80-4.20; culmen, 1.00; tarsus, .80-91; tail even;
    third and fourth quill longest. _Hab._ Jamaica.

    3. M. crinitus. Outer webs of primaries distinctly edged
    with rufous (no other rufous on wings); inner webs of
    rectrices broadly, sometimes entirely, rufous, none on
    outer webs (except in young). Above olivaceous, varying
    from a greenish to an ashy cast, the pileum more
    brownish. Wing-coverts (both rows) broadly tipped with
    brownish ashy-whitish; tertials, secondaries, and
    lateral tail-feather broadly edged on outer web with the
    same. Head laterally and beneath ashy paler on the
    throat and jugulum; rest of lower parts delicate yellow,
    varying from a rich lemon to a pale sulphur tint. _Hab._
    Continental America.

      Bill dark brown (never black). Upper parts decidedly
      greenish; ash of throat and jugulum, and yellow of
      abdomen, etc., very deep.

        Inner webs of rectrices wholly rufous, or with only
        a narrow strip of dusky along the shaft. Wing,
        3.75-4.25; tail, 3.75-4.20; culmen, .95-1.00;
        tarsus, .85-.90. _Hab._ Eastern Province of North
        America; in winter south through Eastern Mexico to
        Guatemala (grading into var. _irritabilis_ in
        Nicaragua)                                   var. _crinitus_.

      Bill deep black; upper parts without a greenish, but,
      instead, an ashy-brownish cast; ash of throat and
      jugulum, and yellow of abdomen, etc., very pale.

        Inner webs of rectrices broadly (but not entirely)
        rufous to the extreme tip, with a broad dusky stripe
        next the shaft.

          Wing, 4.10-4.50; tail, 4.00-4.70; culmen,
          1.10-1.20; tarsus, 1.00-1.05. _Hab._ Southern and
          Western Mexico (Tehuantepec, Yucatan, Mazatlan,
          etc.)                                       var. _cooperi_.[69]

          Wing, 3.60-3.90; tail, 3.50-3.75; culmen,
          .90-1.00; tarsus, .80-.85. _Hab._ Eastern South
          America, and Central America, from Paraguay to
          Costa Rica (grading into var. _cooperi_ in
          Guatemala, and into var. _cinerascens_ in
          Tehuantepec)                            var. _irritabilis_.[70]

        Inner webs of rectrices almost entirely rufous to
        near the extreme tip, the end of the web, however,
        being brownish-dusky like the outer.

          Wing, 3.35-4.10; tail, 3.35-4.10; culmen,
          .80-1.00; tarsus, .80-.91. _Hab._ Western Province
          of United States, and Western Mexico (grading into
          var. _irritabilis_ in Tehuantepec, and in winter
          migrating into Eastern Mexico)          var. _cinerascens_.

    4. M. stolidus. Colors essentially nearly as the
    varieties of _M. crinitus_. Primaries more or less
    distinctly edged with rufous, especially on inner
    quills; rectrices with inner webs more or less edged
    with rufous (found only terminally in var.
    _antillarum_). Wing-coverts broadly tipped with dull
    ashy-whitish. Above brownish-slaty, with an olivaceous
    cast, the pileum more or less appreciably darker.
    Beneath ashy-white, without distinct yellow (except in
    var. _stolidus_, in which the abdomen, etc., are pale
    sulphury yellow). Tail varying in shape from slightly
    rounded to distinctly emarginated. _Hab._ West Indies.

      Beneath entirely white, only faintly, or hardly
      appreciably, tinged with sulphur-yellow on the flanks.

        Inner web of rectrices broadly edged with rufous for
        the whole length. Crown scarcely darker than the
        back. Tail distinctly emarginated. Wing, 3.15-3.50;
        tail, 3.30-3.60; culmen, .85-.95; tarsus, .80-85.
        (Bahaman specimens the larger). _Hab._ Bahamas and
        Cuba                                            var. _phœbe_.[71]

        Inner web of rectrices not edged with rufous except
        at extreme tip, where sometimes also absent. Crown
        decidedly darker than the back. Tail slightly
        rounded. Wing, 3.25-3.50; tail, 3.20-3.60; culmen,
        .85-95; tarsus, .85-90. _Hab._ Porto Rico  var. _antillarum_.[72]

      Beneath white only on throat and jugulum, the abdomen,
      etc., being sulphur-yellow.

        Inner webs of rectrices more or less distinctly
        edged with rufous for whole length. Pileum very much
        darker than the back. Wing, 3.35-3.50; tail,
        3.35-3.65; culmen, .90-.95; tarsus, .80-.85. Tail
        faintly doubly-rounded. _Hab._ Hayti, Jamaica, (and
        Yucatan?)                                    var. _stolidus_.[73]

  B. Bill much depressed, its depth only about half its
  width, in the middle portion; lateral outlines widely
  divergent basally; terminal hook weak. (_Myiarchus._)

    5. M. tristis. Colors very variable, and amount of
    rufous exceedingly different in the different races.
    Inner webs of rectrices seldom edged with rufous; rufous
    sometimes entirely absent on both wings and tail, and
    sometimes the whole wing and both webs of rectrices
    distinctly edged with it. Above ashy-olive, usually with
    more or less of a greenish cast, the pileum decidedly
    darker (except in var. _lawrencei_); throat and jugulum
    ashy-white; rest of lower parts sulphur-yellow. _Hab._
    Central and South America, and Jamaica.

      Pileum sooty-brown, decidedly darker than the back;
      wings and tail entirely destitute of rufous edgings,
      except a faint tinge on outer webs of inner
      secondaries and rectrices, towards the base. Tail
      faintly rounded. Wing, 3.00; tail, 3.10; culmen, .80;
      tarsus, .65. _Hab._ Jamaica                     var. _tristis_.[74]

      Pileum grayish-brown, not appreciably darker than the
      back; outer webs of inner secondaries and primaries
      and rectrices faintly edged with rufous. Wing,
      2.80-3.40; tail, 2,85-3.45; culmen, .85-.90; tarsus,
      .75-.80. _Hab._ Northern Mexico, from northern
      boundary, south to Colima, Tehuantepec, Yucatan, and
      Salvador                                      var. _lawrencei_.[75]

      Pileum sooty-blackish, decidedly and abruptly darker
      than the back. Outer webs of wing-coverts, primaries,
      secondaries, and rectrices distinctly edged with
      rufous. Yellow beneath brighter than in _lawrencei_.
      Wing, 3.20-3.30; tail, 3.15-3.30; culmen, .80-.85;
      tarsus, .75-.80. _Hab._ Central America from Panama to
      Guatemala (grading into var. _lawrencei_ in
      Tehuantepec, and Orizaba)                 var. _nigricapillus_.[76]

      Pileum deep black, abruptly different from the
      greenish-olive of the back, and separated from it by a
      more ashy shade. Wings and tail wholly destitute of
      rufous edgings. Yellow beneath brighter than in var.
      _nigricapillus_. Wing, 3.20; tail, 3.20; culmen, .85;
      tarsus, .78. Tail about even. _Hab._ Northwest South
      America, from Ecuador northward (grading into
      _nigricapillus_ on Isthmus of Panama)         var. _nigriceps_.[77]

     [66] _Myiarchus tyrannulus_ (MÜLL.), COUES. _Muscicapa
     tyrannulus_, MÜLL. (G. R. GR. Hand List, No. 5,527).
     _Myiarchus t._ COUES, P. A. N. S. Phila. July, 1872, 71.
     (_M. aurora_, BODD.; _flaviventris_, STEPH.; _ferox_, GM.;
     _swainsoni_, CABAN.; _panamensis_, LAWR.; _venezuelensis_,

     [67] _Myiarchus tyrannulus_, var. _phæocephalus_ (SCLATER).
     _Myiarchus phæocephalus_, SCL. P. Z. S. 1860, 481.—COUES,
     P. A. N. S. 1872, 73.

     [68] _Myiarchus validus_, CABANIS. _Tyrannus crinitus_,
     GOSSE, B. Jam. 186 (nec Auct.). _Myiarchus validus_, CABAN.
     Orn. Nat. II, 351, et Auct. COUES, P. A. N. S. July, 1872,

     [69] _Myiarchus crinitus_, var. _cooperi_ (KAUP). BAIRD.
     _Tyrannula cooperi_, KAUP. P. Z. S. 1851, 51. _Myiarchus
     cooperi_, BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 180. _Myiarchus
     crinitus_, var. _cooperi_, COUES, P. A. N. S. July, 1872,

     [70] _Myiarchus crinitus_, var. _irritabilis_ (VIEILL.),
     COUES. _Tyrannus irritabilis_, VIEILL. Enc. Meth. 1823, II,
     847. _Myiarchus crinitus_, var. _irritabilis_, COUES, P. A.
     N. S. July, 1872, 65. (_M. erythrocercus_, SCL.; _M.
     mexicanus_, KAUP, LAWR.; _M. yucatanensis_, LAWR.)

     _Obs._—It is, perhaps, probable that in Yucatan this race
     grades into the _M. stolidus_ (var. _stolidus_), since there
     is a specimen in the collection from Merida (39,213, April
     9, 1865, A. Schott) which seems to be very nearly
     intermediate in every way between the two. It has the very
     black hill, restricted rufous on inner webs of rectrices,
     and pale yellow of lower parts of _M. stolidus_, and the
     brown pileum and more robust proportions of _irritabilis_.
     The specimen, however, is in poor condition, being of worn
     and faded plumage, and much distorted, so that its true
     characters cannot be ascertained satisfactorily.

     [71] _Myiarchus stolidus_, var. _phœbe_ (D’ORB.), COUES.
     _Tyrannus phœbe_, D’ORB. Sagra’s Cuba, Ois. p. 84.
     _Myiarchus stolidus_, var. _phœbe_, COUES, P. A. N. S. July,
     1872, 78. (_Sagræ_, GUNDL.; _stolida_, var. _lucaysiensis_,

     [72] _Myiarchus stolidus_, var. _antillarum_ (BRYANT),
     COUES. _Tyrannus (Myiarchus) antillarum_, BRYANT, P. B. S.
     N. H. 1866, p. 2. _Myiarchus stolidus_, var. _antillarum_,
     COUES, P. A. N. S. July, 1872, 79.

     [73] _Myiarchus stolidus_, var. _stolidus_ (GOSSE), CABANIS.
     _Myiobius stolidus_, GOSSE. B. Jam. p. 168. _Myiarchus s._
     CABANIS, J. für Orn. 1855, 479.—COUES, P. A. N. S. 1872,
     77. (_Stolidus_ var. _dominicensis_, BRYANT.)

     [74] _Myiarchus tristis_ (GOSSE), COUES. _Myiobius tristis_,
     GOSSE, B. Jam. 167, pl. xli. _Myiarchus t._ COUES, P. A. N.
     S. July, 1872, 80.

     [75] _Myiarchus tristis_, var. _lawrencei_ (GIRAUD), BAIRD.
     _Tyrannula lawrencei_, GIRAUD, 16 sp. Tex. B. pl. ii.
     _Myiarchus l._ BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 181, pl. xlvii, f.
     3.—COUES, P. A. N. S. July, 1872, 74.

     _Obs._—The most typical specimens are from Mazatlan and
     northward, across the northern portion of Mexico. On the
     eastern coast, specimens from Mirador and Orizaba already
     strongly incline toward var. _nigricapillus_.

     [76] _Myiarchus tristis_, var. _nigricapillus_, CABANIS.
     “_Myiarchus nigricapillus_, CABAN.” SCL. Cat. Am. B. 1862,
     233, et Auct. _M. lawrencei_, COUES, P. A. N. S. 1872, 74
     (in part).

     _Obs._—A very strongly differentiated form, but
     unquestionably grading into var. _lawrencei_ on the one
     hand, and var. _nigriceps_ on the other.

     [77] _Myiarchus tristis_, var. _nigriceps_, SCLATER.
     _Myiarchus nigriceps_, SCL. P. Z. S. 1860, 68, 295.—COUES,
     P. A. N. S. July, 1872, 75.

     _Obs._—The last three races appear to be all reducible to
     one species, as, taking the large series of specimens before
     us (over 30 skins), we find it impossible to draw the line
     between them. Specimens from Southern Mexico are referrible,
     with equal propriety, to _lawrencei_ or to _nigricapillus_,
     while skins from Panama of _nigriceps_ are less typical than
     those from Ecuador. This case of gradually increasing
     melanistic tendency as we proceed southward affords an exact
     parallel to that of _Vireosylvia gilvus_ and _V. josephæ_,
     _Sayornis nigricans_ and _S. aquaticus_, and many other

Myiarchus crinitus, CABANIS.


  _Muscicapa crinita_, LINN. Syst. Nat. I, 1766, 325.—WILSON,
       Am. Orn. II, 1810, 75, pl. xiii.—LICHT. Verzeichniss
       Doubl. 1823, No. 559.—AUD. Orn. Biog. II, 1834, 176; V,
       423, pl. cxxix.—IB. Birds Am. I, 1840, 209, pl. lvii.
       _Tyrannus crinitus_, SWAINSON, Mon. Tyrant Shrikes in
       Quarterly Journal, XX, Jan. 1826, 271.—NUTTALL, Man. I,
       (2d ed.,) 1840, 302.—MAX. Cab. J. VI, 1858, 182.
       _Myiobius crinitus_, GRAY, Genera, I, 248. _Tyrannula
       crinita_, BONAP. Consp. 1850, 189.—KAUP, Pr. Zoöl. Soc.
       1851, 51. _Myiarchus crinitus_, CABANIS, Journ. für
       Ornith. III, 1855, 479.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858,
       178.—SCL. Catal. 1862, 232.—SAMUELS, 131. _Myionax
       crinitus_, CABAN. Mus. Hein. 1859, 73 (type, Journ. 1861,
       250). _Muscicapa ludoviciana_, GM. Syst. Nat. I, 1788,
       934.—LATHAM, Ind. _Tyrannus ludovicianus_, VIEILLOT, Ois.
       Am. Sept. I, 1807, pl. xlv. _Muscicapa virginiana
       cristata_, BRISSON, II, 1760, 412. _Crested Flycatcher_,
  Figure: BUFFON, pl. enl. 569, fig. 1.

  [Illustration: _Myiarchus cinerascens._]

SP. CHAR. Head with a depressed crest. Third quill longest;
fourth and second successively but little shorter; first a little
longer than seventh; much shorter than sixth. Tail decidedly
rounded or even graduated; the lateral feather about .25 of an
inch shorter. Upper parts dull greenish-olive, with the feathers
of the crown and to some extent of the back showing their brown
centres; upper tail-coverts turning to pale rusty-brown. Small
feathers at the base of the bill, ceres, sides of the head as
high as the upper eyelid, sides of the neck, throat, and forepart
of the breast, bluish-ashy; the rest of the lower parts,
including axillaries and lower wing-coverts, bright
sulphur-yellow. A pale ring round the eye. Sides of the breast
and body tinged with olivaceous. The wings brown; the first and
second rows of coverts, with the secondary and tertial quills,
margined externally with dull white, or on the latter slightly
tinged with olivaceous-yellow. Primaries margined externally for
more than half their length from the base with ferruginous; great
portion of the inner webs of all the quills very pale ferruginous.
The two middle tail-feathers light brown, shafts paler; the rest have
the outer web and a narrow line on the inner sides of the shaft brown,
pale olivaceous on the outer edge; the remainder ferruginous to the
very tip. Outer web of exterior feather dull brownish-yellow. Feet
black. Bill dark brown above and at the tip below; paler towards the
base. Length, 8.75; wing, 4.25; tail, 4.10; tarsus, .85.

HAB. Eastern North America to the Missouri and south to Eastern
Texas (not yet observed farther west). Guatemala (SCL. Ibis, I,
121); Cuba (GUNDL. Repert. 1865, 239; CAB. J. III, 479); ?
Jamaica (GOSSE, B. J. 186); Panama (LAWR. N. Y. Lyc. 1861, 329);
Costa Rica (CABAN. J. 1861, 250; LAWR. N. Y. Lyc. IX, 115); San
Antonio, Texas (DRESSER, Ibis, 1865, 473, rare).

The female appears to have no brown on the inner web of the
quills along the shaft, or else it is confined chiefly to the
outer feathers.

The young is hardly appreciably different, having merely the
wing-coverts tinged with rusty at the ends.

HABITS. The common Great-crested Flycatcher of eastern North
America has a much more extended northern distribution than has
been generally given it by earlier writers. Wilson speaks of it
only as a bird of Pennsylvania. Audubon mentions their occurring
as far as Massachusetts, but as confined to the mountains, and as
entirely unknown farther eastward. Mr. Nuttall refers to it as
nearly unknown in New England, and as never appearing near the

It is now known to be a regular though a somewhat rare summer
resident, at least as far to the northeast as St. Stephen, New
Brunswick, latitude 45° north, longitude 67° west, and as far to
the north in Vermont as Randolph, and Hamilton in Canada, both in
about latitude 44°. Mr. Boardman mentions it as a regular summer
visitant, and as breeding near Calais. Professor Verrill gives it
as a rare summer visitant of Western Maine. Mr. McIlwraith states
it to be a common summer resident of Hamilton, Canada West, where
it arrives about the 10th of May, after which its harsh cry is
heard in all parts of the woods. It winters in Central America
and Panama.

In a letter dated June 17, 1865, Mr. C. S. Paine of Randolph,
Vt., informed me that he had, within a few days, found a nest of
this Flycatcher. It was built in the hollow of a decayed
apple-tree, in one of its limbs. The nest was built up from the
bottom of the cavity some eight inches, and contained six eggs.
Though not very abundant in that neighborhood, Mr. Paine had been
aware, for several years, of the occurrence of this Flycatcher,
but had never before been able to ascertain its manner of
nesting. He has since informed me that these Flycatchers have
continued to occur every summer, as they always make their
presence known by their harsh notes, which may be heard to quite
a distance, and he knows that they breed there regularly every
year. They are shy, and do not come about the buildings, but are
generally seen in the woods and orchards.

In Eastern Massachusetts they are not common, but scattered pairs
have been met with in Concord, Acton, Newton, Hingham, and in
other places.

Dr. Coues states that the Great-crested Flycatcher reaches
Washington the third week in April, and leaves the last of
September. It is a common summer resident, but is most numerous
in the spring and autumn. It is found on the edge of open woods,
and betrays its presence by its peculiar notes. In the western
part of Massachusetts, Mr. Allen gives it as a rare summer
visitant, having been taken by him from May 15 to September 17,
and having been found breeding on Mount Tom by Mr. C. W. Bennett.
It is found abundantly in the Middle and Southern States as far
south as Florida and Texas, and occurs as far to the west as the
Missouri River. Dr. Woodhouse found it very abundant in Texas and
in the Indian Territory, and Mr. Dresser obtained specimens at
San Antonio in the month of April.

In speaking of the habits of this species, Wilson accuses it of
being addicted to eating bees equally with the Kingbird; but as
this bird is known to feed largely on berries, and to feed its
young to some extent with the same, the extent of such propensity
may well be doubted. It is not so prone to attack birds larger
than itself as is the Kingbird, which Wilson characterizes as
cowardice, but which it would be more charitable to call
prudence. It is said to be harsh, cruel, and vindictive to
smaller birds and to weaker individuals of its own species.

In its flight it moves with power, steadiness, and swiftness, and
when in pursuit of insects follows its prey with great zeal and
perseverance. When it captures a large insect, it retires to its
perch and beats it against the limb. These birds are not in the
least gregarious. They occur in isolated pairs, and appear to
have no interest or sympathy with others than those of their own
household. To each other, however, they are attentive and
considerate, and they are devoted in their solicitude for their

Their usual call-note is a sharp disagreeable squeak, which, once
known, is easily recognized. Besides this it has a monotonous
succession of squeaking, harsh notes, only a little less
unpleasant. They raise but one brood in a season, and remain
together in a family group of from six to eight until they leave,
in the middle of September.

During the early summer this species feeds chiefly upon insects
of various kinds, which it catches with great facility, skill,
and assiduity; afterwards, as if from choice, it chiefly eats
ripe berries of various kinds of shrubs and plants, among which
those of the poke-weed and the huckleberry are most noticeable.
It nests altogether in hollows in trees, stumps, or limbs. It
lines the bottoms of these hollows with a great variety of
miscellaneous materials, and in quantities that vary with the
size and shape of the place to be occupied. These beds are
composed of loose hay, feathers, the hair of various small
quadrupeds, etc., while the exuviæ of snakes are almost always to
be met with.

The eggs, four, five, or six in number, are peculiar and
noticeably varied and beautiful in their style of markings,
varying also somewhat in shape. Generally they are nearly
spherical, and equally obtuse at either end. Occasionally they
are an oblong oval, one end a very little more tapering than the
other. Their ground-color is a beautiful light buff, rather than
a cream-color, over which are waving lines, marblings, markings,
and dots of a brilliant purple, and others of a more obscure
shading. The lines are variously distributed, generally running
from one pole of the egg to the other with striking effect, as if
laid on with the delicate brush of an artist. In some eggs the
whole surface is so closely covered with these intercrossing and
waving lines, blending with the obscure cloudings of lilac, as
nearly to conceal the ground. Usually the buff color is
conspicuously apparent, and sets off the purple lines with great

An oblong-oval egg from New Jersey measures 1.10 inches in length
by .70 of an inch in breadth. A more nearly spherical egg from
Florida measures .90 by .75 of an inch. These well represent the
two extremes. Their average is about 1 inch by .75 of an inch.

The eggs of all the members of this genus have a remarkable
similarity, and can scarcely be mistaken for those of any other

Myiarchus crinitus, var. cinerascens, LAWR.


  _Tyrannula cinerascens_, LAWRENCE, Ann. N. Y. Lyc. N. Hist. V, Sept.
       1851, 109. _Myiarchus cinerascens_, SCL. List, 1862, 133.—IB.
       P. Z. S. 1871, 84.—COUES, Pr. A. N. S. July, 1872, 69.
       _Myiarchus mexicanus_, BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 179, pl.
       5.—HEERM. X, _S_, 37, pl. v.—COOPER, Orn. Cal. 1, 1870, 316.
       _Myiarchus mexicanus_, var. _pertinax_, BAIRD, P. A. N. S.
       1859, 303 (Cape St. Lucas).

SP. CHAR. Bill black, the width opposite the nostrils not half the
length of culmen. Head crested. Tail even, the lateral feathers
slightly shorter. Second, third, and fourth quills longest; first
rather shorter than the seventh. Above dull grayish-olive; the centres
of the feathers rather darker; the crown, rump, and upper tail-coverts
tinged with brownish. The forehead and sides of the head and neck
grayish-ash; the chin, throat, and forepart of the breast ashy-white;
the middle of the breast white; the rest of the under parts very pale
sulphur-yellow; wings and tail brown. Two bands across the wing, with
outer edges of secondaries and tertials, dull white; the outer edges
of the primaries light chestnut-brown (except towards the tip and on
the outer feather); the inner edges tinged with the same. Whole of
middle tail-feathers, with the outer webs (only) and the ends of the
others brown; the rest of the inner webs reddish-chestnut, the outer
web of exterior feather yellowish-white. Legs and bill black; lower
mandible brownish at the base. Length about 8.00; wing, 4.00; tail,
4.10; tarsus, .90.

HAB. Coast of California, to Cape St. Lucas,