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Title: Bird Biographies
Author: Ball, Alice E.
Language: English
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                            BIRD BIOGRAPHIES
                       A GUIDE-BOOK FOR BEGINNERS

 An Introduction to 150 Common Land Birds of the Eastern United States

                             ALICE E. BALL
                   Author of “A YEAR WITH THE BIRDS”

                             ILLUSTRATED BY
                         ROBERT BRUCE HORSFALL
  Painter of Backgrounds in Habitat, Groups American Museum of Natural
                         History New York City

                           56 COLORED PLATES

                     [Illustration: Publisher logo]

                                NEW YORK
                         DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY

                            Copyright, 1923.
                     By DODD, MEAD & COMPANY, Inc.
                          PRINTED IN U. S. A.

                          VAIL-BALLOU COMPANY
                        BINGHAMTON AND NEW YORK

                              TO MY FRIEND
                            ELIZABETH JONES
                          INSPIRING CRITICISM
                         THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED


In the “Foreword” of this book I express my grateful appreciation to Dr.
A. K. Fisher and Mr. E. H. Forbush for permission to use extracts from
published works. I wish to add my thanks to Dr. Charles Richmond and Mr.
Joseph Riley of the National Museum of Washington, for their courtesy in
furnishing me with bird-skins from the National Museum collections and a
copy of the A. O. U. Check-list of 1910, used for the descriptions and
ranges of the birds described in the text.

I am indebted to Dr. John M. Clarke, Director of the State Museum of the
University of New York, for the permission to make selections from
Eaton’s “Birds of New York”; also to Dr. Francis H. Herrick, of Western
Reserve University, and Dr. Alexander Wetmore, of the Biological Survey,
for the right to quote from their publications.

The selections from John Burroughs, Thoreau, Frank Bolles, Dallas Lore
Sharp, Florence Merriam, Olive Thorne Miller, Henry W. Longfellow, E. R.
Sill, Celia Thaxter, Lucy Larcom, and Edna Dean Proctor, are used by
permission of, and by special arrangement with, The Houghton Mifflin
Co., the authorized publishers. Three selections from Wilson Flagg’s
“Birds of New England” are used by special arrangement with the Page Co.
of Boston.

To the Courtesy of D. Appleton & Co. I am indebted for the right to
quote one stanza of Bryant’s “To a Waterfowl,” dates and selections from
Frank M. Chapman’s “Birds of Eastern North America”; to G. P. Putman’s
Sons for the use of three extracts from Dr. Herrick’s “Home Life of Wild
Birds,” and to Charles Scribner’s Sons for Henry van Dyke’s rendering of
the song sparrow’s song. I acknowledge also with thanks my obligation to
Mr. T. Gilbert Pearson, for his permission to use six color-plates of
the National Association of Audubon Societies and to quote from the
Educational Leaflets of the Society.

To my friends, Dallas Lore Sharp, Mrs. Sylvester D. Judd, and Miss
Harriet E. Richards, I desire to express my deep appreciation of their
suggestions and criticisms. I am indebted to Mr. James P. Chapin,
Assistant-Curator at the American Museum of Natural History, New York,
for a critical reading of the manuscript.


John Burroughs, in his delightful essay called “Birds and Poets” says:
“The very idea of a bird is a symbol and a suggestion to the poet. A
bird seems to be at the top of the scale, so vehement and intense is his
life—large brained, large lunged, hot, ecstatic, his frame charged with
buoyancy and his heart with song. The beautiful vagabonds, endowed with
every grace, masters of all climes, and knowing no bounds,—how many
human aspirations are realized in their free, holiday-lives—and how many
suggestions to the poet in their flight and song.”[1]

Long before the place of birds in the great scheme of nature was
understood, they made their appeal: first, to primitive man, who had
curious superstitions and created beautiful myths concerning them; next,
to poets and dreamers of ancient civilizations, who used them in
allusions beautiful with Oriental imagery; to artists, who delighted in
portraying symbolism; to later poets and lovers of beauty, who perceived
deep truths and revelations of God; and to scientists, who saw back of
the phenomena of nature the marvelous laws of God.

It is interesting to follow the effect birds have had upon the
development of man. Though the religion of the early Egyptians was
largely worship of the sun and moon, yet reverence for birds entered
into their faith and their ritual. The swallow, the heron, the hawk, the
vulture, the goose, and the ibis were all held sacred. The people of
Egypt with their belief in transmigration, imagined the swallow and the
heron as possible abiding-places for their souls after death.

The Chinese and Japanese have had interesting conceptions regarding
birds that have been both symbolic and poetic. In Japan, wild ducks,
geese, cocks, herons, and cranes have been highly honored. The people
have built torii gates, or entrances to their temples, as “bird-rests”
or perches for their sacred fowl.

The Greek and Roman mythologies abound in allusions to bird-life. It was
natural that the powerful eagle should be held sacred to Jupiter, the
lordly peacock to Juno, the wise owl to Minerva, the repulsive vulture
that haunted battlefields to Mars, the beautiful swan to Apollo, and the
cooing dove to Venus.

The American Indians regarded birds with great reverence. Their
bird-myths are full of beauty. To them the eagle and the raven were
especially sacred.

The dove was a cherished symbol of early Christian writers and painters.
The pelican, too, was revered; it was the mediæval symbol of charity.
The red breast of the robin was thought to have been caused by a prick
of a thorn in Christ’s crown as the bird strove to “wrench one single
thorn away.” The red crossbill’s beak was believed to have been twisted
in its attempt to remove the iron nail from Christ’s blood-stained hand.

Burroughs continues: “The very oldest poets, the towering antique bards,
seem to make very little mention of the song-birds. They loved better
the soaring, swooping birds of prey, the eagle, the ominous birds, the
vultures, the storks and cranes, or the clamorous sea-birds and the
screaming hawk. These suited better the rugged, warlike character of the
times, and the simple, powerful souls of the singers themselves. Homer
must have heard the twittering of the swallows, the cry of the plover,
the voice of the turtle (dove), and the warble of the nightingale; but
they were not adequate symbols to express what he felt or to adorn his
theme. Æschylus saw in the eagle the ‘dog of Jove,’ and his verse cuts
like a sword with such a conception.

“It is not because the old bards were less as poets, but that they were
more as men. To strong, susceptible characters, the music of nature is
not confined to sweet sounds. The defiant scream of the hawk circling
aloft, the wild whinney of the loon, the whooping of the crane, the
booming of the bittern, the loud trumpeting of the migratory geese
sounding down out of the midnight sky, or the wild crooning of the
flocks of gulls—are much more welcome in certain moods than any and all
mere bird-melodies, in keeping as they are with the shaggy and untamed
features of ocean and woods, and suggesting something like Richard
Wagner music in the ornithological orchestra.”

As the life of man grew less warlike and heroic, as the humbler fireside
virtues were honored and the amenities of life were cultivated, it is
true that poets sang of the gentler, more beautiful aspects of nature.
Wordsworth wrote of the skylark, the cuckoo, and the throstle, Shelley
and Shakespeare of the skylark, Keats of the nightingale and of
goldfinches, Tennyson of the swallow and the throstle. They were,
however, all deeply sensitive to the wilder phases of nature—to the
scudding cloud, the dashing spray of the ocean, the raving and moaning
of the tempest. They saw, too, as have many later poets, a spiritual
significance and an inspiration as truly great and ennobling as the
conceptions of the older bards.

Numerous American poets have found spiritual help, comfort, and
inspiration in birds. Frank Bolles felt the presence of God in the
forest where the Oven-bird sings:

  “Pouring out his spirit’s gladness
  Toward the Source of life and being.”

Celia Thaxter mused on God’s care of man and bird:

  “For are we not God’s children both,
    Thou, little Sandpiper, and I?”

Serenity and joy came to Edna Dean Proctor:

  “My heart beside the bluebird, sings
  And folds serene its weary wings.”

Edward Rowland Sill voiced human need in his poem:

                            SPRING TWILIGHT

  “Surely thus to sing, Robin,
    Thou must have in sight,
  Beautiful skies behind the shower,
    And dawn beyond the night.

  Would thy faith were mine, Robin!
    Then, though night were long
  All its silent hours would melt
    Their shadow into song.”

Beautiful memories that soothed pain came to Helen Hunt Jackson at the
mere shadow of a bird’s wing across her darkened window. Bird-song bowed
Lucy Larcom’s heart in reverence:

  “Then will the birds sing anthems: for the earth and sky and air
  Will seem a great cathedral, filled with beings dear and fair;
  And long processions, from the time that bluebird notes begin
  Till gentians fade, through forest-aisles will still move out and in.”

All who appreciate Bryant’s great poem “To a Waterfowl” may see God, not
only “flying over the hill with the bird,” but as the unfailing guide of
the human soul.

    “He who, from zone to zone,
  Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight,
  In the long way that I must tread alone,
    Will lead my steps aright.”

No more triumphant lines exist in literature than those in Browning’s
“Paracelsus” which express faith in God’s guidance of man and bird:

      “I go to prove my soul!
  I see my way as birds their trackless way.
  I shall arrive: what time, what circuit first,
  I ask not: but unless God send his hail
  Or blinding fireballs, sleet or stifling snow,
  In some time, his good time, I shall arrive:
  He guides me and the bird.”

The poets of the past generations may have written much about birds, but
it is quite probable that they possessed very little accurate
information regarding the service they render to the world. Longfellow
alone has bequeathed to us, in his beautiful “Birds of Killingworth,” a
plea for the preservation of birds because of their practical use to man
as well as their æsthetic and spiritual value:

  “Plato, anticipating the Reviewers,
    From his Republic banished without pity
  The Poets; in this town of yours,
    You put to death, by means of a Committee,
  The ballad-singers and the Troubadours,
    The street musicians of the heavenly city,
  The birds, who make sweet music for us all
  In our dark hours, as David did for Saul.
                               · · · · · · ·
  “Think of your woods and orchards without birds!
    Of empty nests that cling to boughs and beams
  As in an idiot’s brain remembered words
    Hang empty ’mid the cobwebs of his dreams!
  Will bleat of flocks or bellowing of herds
    Make up for the lost music, when your teams
  Drag home the stingy harvest, and no more
  The feathered gleaners follow to your door?
                               · · · · · · ·
  “You call them thieves and pillagers; but know
    They are the winged wardens of your farms,
  Who from the cornfields drive the insidious foe,
    And from your harvests keep a hundred harms.”

During this past century, the period of scientific investigation, birds
have received a large share of attention. The immortal pioneers in
American Ornithology, Audubon, Wilson, and Nuttall have been followed by
a host of scientists who have done work of distinction along various
lines. They have described the birds of both fertile and arid regions,
as well as far distant lands, such as Alaska and the tundra of the
North. They have made complete and valuable collections, the most noted
of which are in the National Museum of Washington and the American
Museum of Natural History in New York. The latter contains famous
Habitat Groups with beautiful backgrounds, painted by distinguished

Scientists have studied the anatomy of birds, their eggs, their nests,
and nestlings; an army of field-men have been recording observations on
migration, on the molt of birds, their songs and call-notes, their food
habits, especially with relation to their economic importance. The work
of the Biological Survey in the Department of Agriculture at Washington
has been of incalculable value; the examination of the contents of
birds’ stomachs has given indisputable evidence of the relation the
different species bear to insect-life and thus to vegetation. The
bulletins published by the Department and the leaflets issued by the
National Association of Audubon Societies have been enormous factors in
the preservation of bird-life in the United States.

Dr. A. K. Fisher, Professor F. E. L. Beal, Dr. Sylvester D. Judd, Dr. C.
Hart Merriam, Dr. Henry W. Henshaw, Dr. E. W. Nelson, Dr. T. S. Palmer,
and Dr. Wells T. Cooke have done work of special distinction in the
Biological Survey, Mr. William Brewster and Mr. E. H. Forbush in
Massachusetts, and Dr. Frank Chapman in New York.

To Dr. Fisher I am especially indebted for the right to incorporate into
this book extracts from the bulletins of the Biological Survey, and to
Mr. Forbush for permission to quote from his admirable book “Useful
Birds and Their Protection.”

It has been my purpose to give, not only a portrait and a description of
the birds I have chosen for this volume, but a summing up of the
beneficial and injurious habits of each, gained from the highest
authorities obtainable. The book is intended for beginners, or for those
who long to know birds intimately and intelligently, and wish to belong
to the great army of bird-students who are “doing their bit” to preserve
the bird-life of our country.


  I PART ONE                                                         vii
    1. Acknowledgments
    2. Foreword
  II PART TWO                                                          1
    1. Introduction—Winter Birds
    2. Lists of Permanent Residents and Winter Visitors
    3. Descriptions and Biographies of Winter Residents and Visitors
  III PART THREE                                                      89
    1. Introduction—Early Spring Birds
    2. Spring Migration Lists
    3. Descriptions and Biographies of Early Spring Birds
  IV PART FOUR                                                       167
    1. Introduction—Later Spring Birds
    2. Descriptions and Biographies of Later Spring Arrivals
    3. Afterword

                         LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

                              WINTER BIRDS
  Blue Jay                                                             6
  Cardinal                                                            19
  Red Crossbill                                                       24
  Junco                                                               27
  Snowflake                                                           30
  *Tree Sparrow                                                       34
  Bob White                                                           39
  Cedar Waxwing                                                       47
  Tufted Titmouse                                                     51
  *Chickadee                                                          53
  Downy Woodpecker and Hairy Woodpecker                               65
  White-Breasted Nuthatch                                             73
  Brown Creeper                                                       78
                           EARLY SPRING BIRDS
  Robin                                                               96
  Bluebird                                                           102
  Song Sparrow                                                       107
  Phœbe                                                              111
  Purple Grackle                                                     114
  Red-Winged Blackbird                                               118
  Cowbird                                                            121
  Meadowlark                                                         123
  Flicker                                                            127
  Red-Headed Woodpecker                                              131
  Red-Bellied Woodpecker and Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker                134
  Mourning Dove                                                      141
  Kingfisher                                                         144
  Field Sparrow                                                      147
  Vesper Sparrow                                                     149
  Chipping Sparrow                                                   151
  Towhee                                                             161
                         LATER SPRING ARRIVALS
  Tree Swallow                                                       169
  Barn Swallow                                                       172
  Purple Martin                                                      175
  Chimney Swift                                                      180
  Whip-poor-will                                                     184
  Nighthawk                                                          187
  House Wren                                                         190
  Hummingbird                                                        192
  Indigo-Bird                                                        196
  Baltimore Oriole                                                   198
  Orchard Oriole                                                     202
  Scarlet Tanager                                                    204
  Rose-Breasted Grosbeak                                             207
  *Bobolink                                                          212
  Goldfinch                                                          216
  *Catbird                                                           220
  Brown Thrasher                                                     224
  *Mockingbird                                                       227
  *Yellow-Billed Cuckoo                                              231
  Kingbird                                                           235
  Wood Pewee                                                         242
  Red-Eyed Vireo                                                     248
  Oven-Bird                                                          257
  Yellow Warbler                                                     268
  Maryland Yellow-Throat                                             270
  Wood Thrush                                                        285

Note—The illustrations starred are made from plates loaned by T. Gilbert
    Pearson, President of the National Association of Audubon Societies.

                        OUR COMMON WINTER BIRDS
                                PART TWO

                            BIRD BIOGRAPHIES

                              WINTER BIRDS
                          Permanent Residents
                            Winter Visitors

Most people are surprised to learn that about sixty species of birds may
be seen in the north-central part of Eastern North America during the
winter months. Many of us, if questioned, would affirm that sparrows,
crows, and jays are the only winter birds to be found. If some one opens
for us the door which leads out into the great bird-world, we may say,
as did the writer of the old couplet:

  “I hearing get, who had but ears,
  And sight, who had but eyes before,”

and we may then find, even during the winter season, a surprising wealth
of bird-life to enrich our own.

In spite of wings that will bear them immeasurable distances, birds seem
to have unusual loyalty to their native haunts, and they stay in the
North until hunger impels them to seek friendlier climes. Those that
remain may be grouped according to the kind of food upon which they
subsist during the winter: first, birds that eat animal food; second,
birds that eat vegetable food; and third, those that eat the eggs or
young of insects on tree-trunks and branches, or chisel them from the

To the first group belong six species of owls and eight species of
hawks, eagles, crows, gulls, shrikes, and about eight species of ducks.
They feed on mice and other small rodents, on smaller birds and poultry,
and on seafood such as fish, clams, mussels, and scallops.

The birds that live on vegetable food during the winter are numerous.
Throughout the spring and summer months they may be useful destroyers of
insects; but in winter they are able to subsist on what the woods and
fields yield in the way of nuts, acorns, berries, and the seeds of
grasses and weeds. Such are jays, red-headed woodpeckers, quail, grouse,
and the following members of the finch or sparrow family: cardinals,
pine grosbeaks, crossbills, goldfinches, snow buntings, juncos, tree
sparrows, white-throated sparrows, redpolls, and pine siskins. Many of
these are permanent residents, but juncos, snow buntings, tree sparrows,
crossbills, pine grosbeaks, and a few others leave their homes in the
far North when deep snows bury their food supply and resort to less
severe climates. Winter wrens are found in some localities. A few
robins, bluebirds, meadowlarks, and flickers, remain North during open

The third group of winter birds consists of downy and hairy woodpeckers,
chickadees, tufted titmice, brown creepers, nuthatches, and
golden-crowned kinglets. They glean insect-eggs from the bark of trees
as a large part of their winter food-supply and form an exceedingly
important group. The enormous number of insect-eggs eaten by them every
year is almost incalculable. Every part of a tree—the trunk, the large
branches, and small twigs—is scrutinized by these industrious members of
the Life-Saving Army of our forests.

Dr. Frank Chapman recommends beginning the study of birds in the winter,
while the trees are leafless and the birds comparatively few in number.
People who spread tables for them are frequently surprised at the number
of species they attract and at the pleasure they experience in the
companionship of their interesting winter visitors.


The class of birds called PERMANENT RESIDENTS includes species which are
to be found throughout the year. Dr. Chapman states that comparatively
few species of this group are permanent residents in the strictest use
of the term. “The Bob-white, Ruffed Grouse, and several of the owls are
doubtless literally permanent residents, but it is not probable that the
Bluebirds, for example, found here during the winter are the same birds
which nested with us in the summer. Doubtless our winter Bluebirds pass
the summer farther north, while our summer Bluebirds winter farther
south, but as a species, the Bluebird is a permanent resident.”

                          PERMANENT RESIDENTS

  Ruffed Grouse
  8 species of Hawks
  Bald Eagle
  5 species of Owls
  Hairy Woodpecker
  Downy Woodpecker
  [B]Red-headed Woodpecker
  Blue Jay
  American Crow
  Fish Crow
  House Sparrow
  Purple Finch
  American Goldfinch
  Song Sparrow
  [B]Cedar Waxwing
  Carolina Wren
  White-breasted Nuthatch
  Tufted Titmouse

WINTER RESIDENTS or WINTER VISITANTS are birds that breed farther north
and move southward during the winter months to obtain food. They may
arrive in the fall and remain until spring.


  Horned Lark
  American or Red Crossbill
  White-winged Crossbill
  Pine Grosbeak
  [B]Pine Siskin
  Tree Sparrow
  White-throated Sparrow
  Northern Shrike
  [A]Myrtle Warbler
  Winter Wren
  Brown Creeper
  Red-breasted Nuthatch
  Golden-crowned Kinglet

[A]A few in winter.

[B]Rare or irregular in winter.

Grebes, Loons, Auks, Cormorants, Snowy Owls, and several species of
Gulls and Ducks may also be found during the winter months in the
vicinity of New York City.


                              THE BLUE JAY
                         _Crow Family—Corvidæ_

Length: About 11½ inches; 1½ inch longer than the robin; tail, over 5
    inches long.

General Appearance: A _crested_ grayish-blue bird, with _bright blue
    wings and tail_, barred and tipped with black and white. In flight,
    the long tail is conspicuous; it resembles a pointed fan.

Male and Female: Grayish-blue above, grayish-white below, lighter on
    throat and belly. Head with a conspicuous crest; forehead black;
    bill long, strong, and black. A black band that extends back of the
    crest and encircles the throat is widest across the breast. Wings
    bright blue, barred with black; the white tips of some of the
    feathers form bands and patches of white.

Note: A harsh _yăh, yăh, yăh_, or _jay, jay, jay_, which Thoreau says is
    “a true winter sound, wholly without sentiment.”[3]

Song: A pleasant, flute-like strain: _Pedunkle, pedunkle, parlez-vous_.
    There is a sort of jerkiness about his love-song, as though his
    throat was unaccustomed to make agreeable sounds. Jays are able to
    produce many strange noises, and appear to enjoy using their power.

Habitat: Woodlands; those containing oaks and other nut-bearing trees

Nest: A rough basket of twigs, with a soft lining of root-fibers.

Range: Eastern North America. A permanent resident of south-central
    Canada and eastern United States, west to the Dakotas, Colorado, and
    central Texas.

[Illustration: BLUE JAY]

This brilliant, handsome blue-coat never “hides his light under a
bushel”; his noisy _jay-jay_ always proclaims his presence. He would at
times be unendurable, except that he never remains long in one place; he
is on the leap constantly, with a dash and an impudent assurance that is

He is the “bad boy” of the bird neighborhood, the terror of the small
birds. They seem to have the same fear of him that children have of a
great bully. He swoops down upon them, worries and frightens them, robs
their nests, and brings to his own spoiled fledglings eggs and young as

He is a devoted husband and father, who shows his best traits in his
family circle. He reminds one of certain human beings who take excellent
care of their own, but who are neither good neighbors nor desirable
citizens. Occasionally, however, he has family differences. My sister
tells of watching a jay bring twig after twig for nest-building to his
mate, who was evidently in a bad mood. She would have none of them; she
seized each twig and threw it away with a disagreeable _yăh, yăh_. After
repeated attempts, he gave it up and both flew away. My sister never
learned what occurred later.

The jay is an inveterate tease. He delights in annoying poor half-blind
owls in the day-time, by pecking at them from unexpected quarters. An
owl has been known to seize the Tormentor and speedily put an end to his

The blue jay is a member of the same family to which the crow belongs,
and while totally different in appearance, resembles him in his
cleverness, his fearlessness, and his audacious insolence. Dr. Henshaw,
formerly of the Biological Survey in Washington, brings the following
accusation against this bird:

“The blue jay is of a dual nature. Cautious and silent in the vicinity
of its nest, away from it, it is bold and noisy. Sly in the commission
of mischief, it is ever ready to scream ‘thief’ at the slightest
disturbance. As usual in such cases, its remarks are applicable to none
more than itself, a fact neighboring nest-holders know to their sorrow,
for during the breeding season the jay lays heavy toll upon the eggs and
young of other birds, and in doing so deprives us of the services of
species more beneficial than itself.”[4]

Mr. E. R. Kalmbach, also of the Biological Survey, says that in winter
jays eat the eggs of the tent caterpillar, and the larvæ of the
brown-tail moth, besides waste grain, and “mast,”—the name given to
vegetable food such as acorns, beechnuts, chestnuts, hazelnuts, etc. It
likes pecans and cultivated fruit in their season—two other points
against the bird. The wild fruits it selects are of no economic value.

Mr. Kalmbach concludes: “The blue jay probably renders its best service
to man in destroying grasshoppers late in the season and in feeding on
hibernating insects and their eggs, as they do in the case of the tent
caterpillar and brown-tail moth. Beetles and weevils of various kinds
also fall as their prey. The severest criticism against the species is
the destruction of other birds and their eggs. Where we wish to attract
the latter in large numbers about our dooryards, in our parks, and in
game preserves, it will be well not to allow the jay to become too

Wilson Flagg says: “The blue jay is a true American. He is known
throughout the continent and never visits any other country. At no
season is he absent from our woods.

“He has a beautiful outward appearance, under which he conceals an
unamiable temper and a propensity to mischief. There is no bird in our
forest that is arrayed in equal splendor. But with all his beauty, he
has, like the peacock, a harsh voice. He is a sort of Ishmael among the
feathered tribes, who are startled at the sound of his voice and fear
him as a bandit. There is no music in his nature; he is fit only for
‘stratagems and spoils.’

“He is an industrious consumer of the larger insects and grubs, atoning
in this way for some of his evil deeds. I cannot say, therefore, that I
would consent to his banishment, for he is one of the most cheering
tenants of the grove at a season when they have but few inhabitants.”[6]

                              FLORIDA JAYS

Two species of jays are found in Florida. One, called the FLORIDA BLUE
JAY, resembles its northern relative, except that it is somewhat smaller
(10½ inches), is less brilliant in color, and has narrower, less
conspicuous white tips to its feathers. These jays frequent live-oak
trees. A flock of six or eight on the ground searching for acorns, is
pleasing to the eye, but not to the ear.

A second species is called the FLORIDA JAY. The top and sides of its
head are a _grayish-blue_; its neck, wings, and tail are a _brighter
blue_; _its back is a grayish-brown_; its under parts are gray, washed
with brown, and faintly streaked on throat and breast. Its breast-band
is _bluish_. This jay is found chiefly along the southern coast of
Florida. The _absence of a crest_ is its most distinguishing mark.

                           PACIFIC COAST JAYS

Two species of jays are common in California and its neighboring states.
One, the STELLER JAY, enjoys a good reputation. It differs from its
better-known relatives in appearance, also. Its _head_, _crest_,
_throat_, _breast_, and _back_ are a _brownish-black_; its _belly_ and
_rump_ are _light blue_, its wings and tail purplish-blue, barred with

It is a shy bird and does not often approach the haunts of man. Its food
is very like that of other jays, but its habits bring no condemnation
upon it.[7]

The CALIFORNIA JAY is similar to the Florida Jay and may be easily
distinguished by its blue head _without a crest_, its blue neck, wings,
and tail, its brown back, white throat, and gray under parts. This jay
is a decided reprobate. Professor Beal has characterized it as follows:
“It freely visits the stockyards near ranch buildings, and orchards and
gardens. As a fruit stealer it is notorious. One instance is recorded
where seven jays were shot from a prune tree, one after the other, the
dead bodies being left under the tree until all were killed. So eager
were the birds to get the fruit that the report of the gun and the sight
of their dead did not deter them from coming to the tree. In orchards,
in canyons, or on hillsides adjacent to chaparral or other cover, great
mischief is done by this bird. In one such case an orchard was under
observation at a time when the prune crop was ripening, and jays in a
continuous stream were seen to come down a small ravine to the orchard,
prey upon the fruit, and return.

“Fruit stealing, however, is only one of the sins of the California jay.
That it robs hens’ nests is universal testimony. A case is reported of a
hen having a nest under a clump of bushes; every day a jay came to a
tree a few rods away, and when it heard the cackle of the hen announcing
a new egg it flew at once to the nest. At the same time the mistress of
the house hastened to the spot to secure the prize, but in most cases
the jay won the race. This is only one of many similar cases recounted.
The jays have learned just what the cackle of the hen means. Another
case more serious is that related by a man engaged in raising white
leghorn fowls on a ranch several miles from a canyon. He stated that
when the chicks were very young the jays attacked and killed them by a
few blows of the beak and then pecked open the skull and ate out the
brains. In spite of all efforts to protect the chicks and kill the jays,
the losses in this way were serious.”[8]

                             THE CANADA JAY

The CANADA JAY is similar in form and size to its blue relatives, but
has the coloring of a northern winter landscape—gray, black, and white.
This jay has no crest; the back of its head and nape are black; the
forehead and neck are white; the upper parts are gray, with darker gray
wings and tail; under parts, light gray; tail, long; plumage, fluffy and

This bird is found in the forests of Canada and in the northern part of
the United States, where it is most common in the coniferous forests of
Maine and Minnesota, in the wilder parts of the White and Green Mts.,
and in the Adirondacks.

Major Charles Bendire, in his interesting “Life Histories of American
Birds,” published by our government, writes the following amusing
account of the Canada jay:

“No bird is better known to the lumbermen, trappers and hunters along
our northern border than the Canada Jay, which is a constant attendant
at their camps, and affords them no little amusement during the lonely
hours spent in the woods. To one not familiar with these birds it is
astonishing how tame they become.

“Mr. Manly Hardy writes: ‘The Canada Jay is a constant resident of
northern Maine, but in some seasons they are far more abundant than in
others, being usually found in companies of from three to ten. They are
the boldest of all our birds, except the Chickadee, and in cool
impudence far surpass all others. They will enter tents, and often
alight on the bow of a canoe where the paddle at every stroke comes
within 18 inches of them. I know of nothing which can be eaten that they
will not take, and I had one steal all my candles, pulling them out
endwise one by one from a piece of birch bark they were rolled in, and
another pecked a large hole in a cake of castile soap. A duck which I
had picked and laid down for a few minutes had the entire breast eaten
out by one or more of these birds. I have seen one alight in the middle
of my canoe and peck away at the carcass of a beaver I had skinned. They
often spoil deer saddles by pecking into them near the kidneys. They do
great damage to the trappers by stealing the bait from traps set for
martens and minks and by eating trapped game; they will spoil a marten
in a short time. They will sit quietly and see you build a log trap and
bait it, and then, almost before your back is turned, you hear their
hateful _ca-ca-ca_ as they glide down and peer into it. They will work
steadily carrying off meat and hiding it.’”

                           THE AMERICAN CROW
                         _Crow Family—Corvidæ_

The AMERICAN CROW is too well-known to need a description—merely a
reference to the steely-blue or dark purple sheen of his “crow-black”
plumage, and to the remarkable power of his long (twelve-inch) wings,
which in flight show feather finger-tips at their ends.

One cannot but admire his strength and his absolute fearlessness, nor
fail to be amused at his cleverness and his insolent bravado. Two or
three crows, cawing hoarsely, will people a woodland in winter; while a
flock, winging its way to the naked March woods, will cause a thrill of
joy and expectancy, in spite of the knowledge that the advent of these
black marauders means eternal vigilance to long-suffering farmers.

Dr. Sylvester D. Judd at Marshall Hall, Maryland, made an exhaustive
study of the crow’s food habits. He reported the following:

“The crow is by all means the worst pilferer of the cornfield. Every
year at Marshall Hall, as elsewhere, a part of the field must be
replanted because of his ‘pickings and stealings.’ In 1899, the
replanting was more extensive than usual—46 per cent. of the 3½ bushels
originally planted. This unusual ratio was probably caused by the
failure of the cherry crop, which left the crow short of food.”

Dr. Judd told of the “protective devices of tarring corn,” which did not
prevent the crows from pulling up the grain in large quantities, though
they did not eat it. He continued:

“The injury to corn at other seasons than sprouting time is, as a
general thing, comparatively insignificant, but in some years it has
been important when the ears were in the milk. They then tear open the
ears, and pick out the kernels in rapid succession. In the National
Zoölogical Park at Washington during the summer of 1896, their
depredations on an acre of corn were watched, and 50 per cent. of the
crop was found to have been ruined.

“The only scarecrows that proved effective at Marshall Hall were dead
crows, and strings stretched on poles around the field and hung with
long white streamers. Although in fall the number of marauders is
greatly increased by reënforcements from the North, ripe corn sustains
less injury from crows than roasting ears. One reason is the abundance
of fall fruit.

“Wheat suffers comparatively little. When it is ripening, cherries and
sprouting corn divert the crow’s attention. After it is cut and gathered
into the shock, however, they often join the English sparrows in
removing the kernels. Oats are injured even less than wheat, though
crows have been noticed feeding on them at harvest time.”

While the crow is considered the arch-criminal of the bird-world, Dr.
Judd ascribed to him a good habit—that of the dissemination of wild
seeds in an unusual manner. He wrote: “In November, 1899, a large flock
on the wing was noticed in the distance, at a point opposite Fort
Washington, several miles above Marshall Hall. They came on down the
river in a line that at times stretched almost from one bank to the
other. They circled several times and alighted on the shore. The flock
numbered at least a thousand, and hoarse caws and croaks gave evidence
that it was made up to some extent of fish crows.

“After the birds had remained on shore about fifteen minutes, they were
put to flight by a farmer’s boy and flew on down the river. Going to the
place where they had alighted, I found the sandy beach cut up for more
than a hundred yards with their tracks. Many led out to the water, and
floating black feathers here and there showed where baths had been

“The most interesting trace of their sojourn, however, was several
hundred pellets of fruit material, which they had ejected through their
mouths and dropped on the ground. These pellets were about an inch in
length and half an inch in diameter. They were of a deep purplish color,
due to the fruit of woodbine, wild grape, and pokeberry, of which they
were mainly composed. In 50 pellets collected there were only 11 seeds
of other plants—namely, holly, bitter-sweet, and poison ivy. Pokeberry
seeds were by far the most numerous. Mr. A. J. Pieters, of the Botanical
Division of the Department of Agriculture, germinated some of them, thus
demonstrating the fact that they were distributed uninjured.

“The pellets were made up not only of seeds and skins, but largely of
fruit pulp in an undigested state. It seems strange that the birds
should have rid themselves of a substance that still contained a good
deal of nutriment.

“Little is known of the distribution of fruit seeds by crows during
migration, but it is certain that they do this work effectively while
they fly to and from the roosts where they congregate in winter, for
their feeding grounds often cover an area stretching out on all sides
from the roosts for 50 miles or more. It appears highly probable that
the crows which are found in winter at Marshall Hall roost at
Woodbridge, D. C., some 15 miles distant. There, in the midst of several
acres of woodland, a crow dormitory is established, in which probably
100,000 crows sleep every winter night. It was visited in February,
1901, and the ground was found to be strewn with disgorged pellets.”[9]

The FISH CROW (16 inches long) is three inches smaller than the common
crow. It has a more uniform iridescence above, and is greenish
underneath. Its caw is hoarser and more nasal. Its range is from
Connecticut and the lower Hudson southward, generally near the coast. It
is abundant in Virginia, and near the city of Washington.

The FLORIDA CROW is similar to the American Crow, except that its bill
and feet are larger, its wings and tail shorter.

                               THE RAVEN

The NORTHERN RAVEN so resembles the crow that it is often difficult to
distinguish them. The chief differences are the raven’s much greater
size (from 22 to 26½ inches), and its note, which sounds more like
_Croak_ than _Caw_. This is the raven found in Alaska, northern Canada,
and Greenland,—the bird especially revered by Alaskan Indians. It is
found also in the northern United States,—in the state of Washington, in
Minnesota, the Adirondacks, and elsewhere.

Major Charles Bendire, in his “Life Histories of North American Birds,”
makes the following statements about the northern raven:

“It lives to a great extent on offal and refuse of any kind, and is
generally most abundant in the immediate vicinity of Indian camps and
settlements, which are mostly located on the seashore, or on the banks
of the larger rivers in the interior where these birds act as
scavengers. Hundreds of ravens may frequently be seen in the vicinity of
the salmon-canning stations. Clams also form a part of their food; these
are said to be carried some distance in the air and dropped on the rocks
to break their shells. They also prey to no small extent on the young
and eggs of different water-fowl.”

[Illustration: CARDINAL]

                              THE CARDINAL
            Cardinal Grosbeak, Redbird, Virginia Nightingale

(_Cardinals belong to the Grosbeak group of the large Finch or Sparrow
Family, or the Fringillidæ._)

Length: About 8¼ inches; slightly smaller than the robin.

General Appearance: Brilliant rose-red plumage; crested head and thick

Male: A soft cardinal red, except for a black throat, a black band
    encircling bill, and, in winter, a grayish tinge to wings. Bill
    large, heavy, and light red. Red crest conspicuous; it may be raised
    and lowered at will. Tail long and slender; it is twitched nervously
    and frequently.

Female: Brownish-gray above, yellowish underneath. Crest, wings, and
    tail reddish—the color especially noticeable in flight. Throat and
    band about bill grayish-black.

Call-note: A sharp, insistent _tsip, tsip_.

Song: A loud and clear, yet sweet and mellow whistle, _cheer, cheer,
    he-u, he-u, he-u_, repeatedly rapidly with descending inflection,
    and with nearly an octave in range. The female, unlike most of her
    sex in the bird-world, is also a fine singer; her soft melodious
    warble is considered by many listeners to be superior to the song of
    her mate.

Habitat: “Shrubbery is its chosen haunt, the more tangled the better.
    Here the nest is built and here they spend most of their days.
    Higher trees are usually sought only under the inspiration of

Range: From southeastern South Dakota, Iowa, northern Indiana and Ohio,
    southeastern and southwestern Pennsylvania, southern Hudson Valley,
    south to the Gulf States; a resident of Bermuda. Cardinals are not

Cardinals are especially numerous in our Southern States. They abound in
Florida and Bermuda, where their brilliant coloring contrasts
wonderfully with the light sands and the coral limestone. A cardinal
singing in an hibiscus bush, laden with gorgeous red blooms, makes a
never-to-be-forgotten memory; while a sight of one in a blossoming
Virginia dog-wood tree or against a northern snow-scene is equally
memorable. These birds are great favorites in the South, rivaling the
mockingbirds in the affections of many people. In the North, a glimpse
of a cardinal marks a red-letter day; and bird-lovers whose kind hands
spread bountiful tables for winter residents, count themselves highly
favored to have a pair of cardinals for their guests. Aside from the joy
which their beauty and their song bring, they possess great practical

Mr. W. L. McAtee, of the Biological Survey, writes that about one-fourth
of the cardinal’s food consists of destructive pests such as the worms
which infest cotton plants, and numerous other caterpillars, besides
grasshoppers, scale insects, beetles, and others. A large part of their
food consists of the seeds of troublesome weeds and of wild fruits. “The
bird has a record for feeding on many of the worst agricultural
pests.”[11] No sins are laid at his door. “Cardinals are usually seen in
pairs, but in winter they often collect in southern swamps and thickets,
and flock to feeding-places near the haunts of man when food is

They were formerly trapped for cage-birds. They were so highly esteemed
that they were in great demand even in Europe, where they received the
name of the “Virginia Nightingale.” But trapping is now nearly
abolished, and the wild, liberty-loving cardinal may roam as he will
with the wife of his heart. Few birds are more ardent, jealous lovers,
more tenderly devoted husbands, or more anxious, solicitous fathers than
these beautiful, sweet-voiced redbirds.[12]

                           THE PINE GROSBEAK
                       _Finch Family—Fringillidæ_

Length: A little over 9 inches; slightly larger than his cousin, the
    cardinal, and nearly an inch smaller than the robin.

General Appearance: A _red bird_ with _brown and white wings, a brown
    tail, and a heavy beak_.

Male: A bright raspberry-red, deepest on the _head_, _breast_, _rump_,
    and _upper tail-coverts_; the rest of the body a slaty gray, lighter
    underneath, with a _soft red breast_; wings dark brown, edged with
    white, forming two broad wing-bars; tail forked; beak large and
    strong, with a small hook at the end.

Female: Slaty gray, with head, rump, and upper tail-coverts
    _olive-yellow_ where the male’s are red; under parts washed with
    yellow: wings and tail brown; wings edged with white; two wing-bars.

Young: Similar to female.

Song: A loud, clear whistle, given while on the wing. In spring, a
    melodious nesting song.

Range: Eastern North America. Breeds in the tree-regions of Canada, in
    the White Mts., and Maine; winters south to Iowa, Indiana,
    Pennsylvania, northern New Jersey, (and occasionally to the District
    of Columbia and Kentucky), westward to Manitoba, Minnesota, and

This brilliant, handsome Pine Grosbeak is comparatively unknown in the
United States, but wherever he appears as a rare visitor, he is hailed
with enthusiasm or excitement because of his beautiful color. He
resembles his cousin, the purple finch, in color and markings, but is
much larger.

Thoreau says, “When some rare northern bird like the pine grosbeak is
seen thus far south in the winter, he does not suggest poverty, but
dazzles us with his beauty. There is in them a warmth akin to the warmth
that melts the icicle. Think of these brilliant, warm-colored, and
richly-warbling birds, birds of paradise, dainty-footed, downy-clad, in
the midst of a New England, a Canadian winter.”[13]

The Pine Grosbeak “is of gentle, unobtrusive manner, almost entirely
fearless of man’s approach, and always seems to be perfectly contented
with its situation wherever encountered. A whole tree full of these
birds may be seen feeding on the seeds of mountain ash berries, apples,
or the buds of beeches. One may stand within a few feet of them for a
long time without their taking any notice of one’s presence. They are
slow and deliberate in manner. Their flight, however, is rather rapid
and aggressive, slightly undulating.”[14]

They are silent, uninteresting birds, awkward in their movements. They
are very hardy, and roam southward when the severe Canadian winters send
them forth in search of food. Seeds of cone-bearing trees, sumac and
mountain ash berries are their favorite winter diet. They return to
their northern nesting places when few birds would consider it seemly to
set up housekeeping.

                     THE AMERICAN OR RED CROSSBILL
                       _Finch Family—Fringillidæ_

Length: A little over 6 inches; slightly larger than the English

General Appearance: A small, plump red bird, with brown wings, brown
    forked tail, and a _bill crossed at the tip_.

Male: Head and body a dull red, brownish on the back, and bright red
    above tail; wings brown, _without white bars_; tail brown and
    notched; bill with long strong mandibles that are crossed somewhat
    like a parrot’s.

Female: Head and body dull olive, with a yellowish wash—brightest on
    rump; head, back, and under parts mottled with black.

Call-note: A short, clear, metallic whistle.

Song: A gentle warble, varied, and agreeable to hear.

Flight: Undulating.

Habitat: Coniferous forests, preferably.

Range: Northern North America. Breeds from central Alaska, and northern
    Canada south to the mountains of California, to Colorado, Michigan,
    and in the Alleghanies of Georgia, occasionally in Massachusetts,
    Maryland, and Virginia.

Red Crossbills are truly the “Wandering Jews” of the bird-world. They
are erratic nomads, living in flocks, and roaming where fancy leads or
necessity impels them. They pitch their tents and raise their broods
wherever they may happen to be sojourning in late winter or early
spring, even though many miles south of their natural breeding places.
Dr. Elliot Coues writes: “Their most remarkable habit is that of
breeding in the winter, or very early in the spring, when one would
think it impossible that their callow young could endure the rigors of
the season.” He mentions a nest taken in Maine in February, and another
in Vermont so early in March that the ground was covered with snow and
the weather was very severe.[15]

[Illustration: CROSSBILL]

They make no regular migrations, spring or fall, but like
will-o’-the-wisps appear and vanish, affording one of the most
delightful surprises to be found in nature. To see one of them,
accompanied by his olive-green mate, swinging from a spruce bough
against a flaming sunset sky or a snowy landscape, is an event in one’s

Crossbills are denizens of coniferous forests. Their twisted or crossed
bills are peculiarly adapted to extracting seeds from pine and spruce
cones, though they eat berries, fruit, grass seeds, and cankerworms in
season. Because of their curiously twisted beaks, these birds have
always been regarded with peculiar interest, even with superstition.
Longfellow has preserved for us the German legend regarding this bird in
his poem:

                      THE LEGEND OF THE CROSSBILL

  On the cross the dying Saviour
    Heavenward lifts his eyelids calm,
  Feels, but scarcely feels, a trembling
    In his pierced and bleeding palm.

  And by all the world forsaken,
    Sees He how with zealous care
  At the ruthless nail of iron
    A little bird is striving there.

  Stained with blood and never tiring
    With its beak it doth not cease;
  From the cross ’twould free the Saviour,
    Its Creator’s Son release.

  And the Saviour speaks in mildness:
    “Blest be thou of all the good!
  Bear, as token of this moment,
    Marks of blood and holy rood!”

  And that bird is called the crossbill;
    Covered all with blood so clear,
  In the groves of pine it singeth
    Songs, like legends, strange to hear.[16]
                                                     Henry W. Longfellow

                       THE WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL

The White-winged Crossbill is similar to the Red Crossbill, but its body
is a _dull crimson instead of red_, and its black wing-feathers are so
tipped with white as to form _two broad white wing-bars_. The female is
olive-green, gray underneath, with a yellow rump, dark wings and tail,
white wing-bars, and dark streaks on head, breast, and back.

This crossbill breeds in Canada, south to the Adirondacks, White
Mountains, and Maine. Its note is a soft _cheep_; its song a gentle
warble. To see a flock of these birds feeding silently in a grove of
spruces or hear them singing their low sweet song makes a memory
cherished by bird-lovers. They may be seen in winter as far south as
North Carolina.

[Illustration: JUNCO]

                       _Finch Family—Fringillidæ_

Length: About 6¼ inches; slightly smaller than the English sparrow.

General Appearance: Trim, dainty little birds, all gray and white,
    except for a _pinkish_ or _flesh-colored_ bill. _White outer
    tail-feathers_, showing in flight, are distinguishing marks.

Male: Dark slate-gray above and white below. The gray extends to the
    center of the breast in a nearly horizontal line, and with the white
    under parts, gives the effect of the birds’ having waded breast-deep
    in the snow, or having been sliced in two, like the “sliced animals”
    of our childhood. Sides grayish; wings slightly darker; tail dark
    brown, with two outer feathers white; third feather, partly white;
    bill heavy, adapted to a diet of seeds.

Female: Similar to male, only brownish-gray. Winter plumage of all
    juncos browner than summer plumage.

Young: Light brownish, streaked with black.

Note: A gentle _tseep, tseep_, and a _smack, smack_, of alarm or

Song: A tender, sweet trill in the spring. Though monotonous, the song
    is very pleasing.

Habitat: Groves of conifers; thickets of bushes or vines, or clumps of

Nest: Juncos’ nests are built of mosses or grasses on or near the
    ground. The speckled eggs and the streaked babies are excellent
    examples of protective coloring. The nests are sometimes placed very
    near houses, if the surroundings are to the liking of the birds.

Range: Eastern and northern North America. Breeds from the tree-limit of
    Alaska and Canada southward to northern United States,—northern
    Minnesota, central Michigan, Maine, the mountains of New York,
    Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts; winters throughout eastern United
    States and southern Canada to the Gulf Coast.

    The Carolina Junco, nesting in the southern Appalachian mountains,
    is a subspecies, differing but very slightly in color.

Juncos are gentle, attractive little creatures that come to our thickets
when the chill of autumn has driven away our insectivorous birds. Being
seed-eaters, they do not fear winter snows, except those that cover tall
weeds. According to Professor Beal, juncos should be rigidly protected.
They not only destroy large quantities of weed seeds, thereby rendering
service to agriculture, but they eat harmful insects, of which
caterpillars are their favorite. They do no damage to fruit or

Mr. Forbush writes of the junco as follows: “The Snowbird does not often
breed in Massachusetts, excepting on the higher lands of the
north-central and western parts of the State. Pairs are said to nest
occasionally in ice-houses, which are certainly cool, if not suitable
situations. It is a bird of the Canadian fauna, and it winters in
Massachusetts whenever conditions are favorable. In the southeastern
portion of the State, where the ground is bare in sheltered places
through much of the winter, or where weed seed, chaff, and other food
can be secured, this bird is common in the colder months. Its notes at
this season are chiefly sparrow like chirps.

“A flock of these dark birds on the new-fallen snow is an interesting
sight on a cold winter’s day, as they come familiarly about the house or
barnyard. Audubon says that in winter they burrow in stacks of corn or
hay for shelter at night during the continuance of inclement weather. As
spring comes they begin to sing much like the Chipping Sparrow. They
converse together with a musical twittering, and about the first of May
they leave for their northern breeding-ground.”[18]

                     THE SNOWFLAKE OR SNOW BUNTING
                       _Finch Family—Fringillidæ_

Length: A little less than 7 inches; slightly larger than the junco and
    the English sparrow.

General Appearance: A brown, black, and white bird; the _white is
    conspicuous on wings and tail_, especially in flight. The bird has a
    characteristic way of “hugging the ground” when walking or
    running—it does not hop.

Male and Female: _In winter_: head brown on top, lighter on neck; white
    on sides of head, with a brown thumb-mark below eye; back brown,
    streaked with black; throat and belly white; a broad brownish band
    across breast; a brownish wash on sides and rump; wings black and
    white, some of the feathers edged with brown—in flight, the wings
    appear white, broadly tipped with black; inner tail-feathers black,
    outer feathers white. _In summer_: back and shoulders black, the
    rest of the body white; wings and tail black and white.

Notes: Thoreau calls their note “a rippling whistle.” He says also,
    “Besides their rippling note, they have a vibratory twitter, and
    from the loiterers you hear quite a tender peep.”[19]

Habitat: The tundras of North America. Snow buntings breed in the
    treeless regions of the North; they migrate southward during the

Range: Northern Hemisphere. In North America, they breed from 83° north
    (including Greenland), to the northern part of Canada and Alaska;
    winter from Unalaska and south-central Canada to northern United
    States, irregularly to northern California, Colorado, Kansas,
    southern Indiana and Ohio, and Florida.

[Illustration: SNOWFLAKE]

Snow Buntings, or “Brown Snowbirds” as they are called to distinguish
them from the juncos, or “Gray Snowbirds,” are not generally known
because of the infrequency and irregularity of their visits. They belong
to the Sparrow family, but have so much black and white on their wings
and tail as to appear very unlike their relatives.

Snowflakes are gentle, fearless little birds, possibly because they come
from the sparsely settled regions of the North, where they need not
learn to fear human beings. Like chickadees, they appear to love driving
storms, and to frolic during February blizzards with as keen delight as
warmly clad children; like tree sparrows, they are protected by a layer
of fat that keeps out the cold. As they, too, are seed-eaters, snow
buntings must journey southward during the winter to regions where deep
snows do not bury the weeds.

Few people are aware that in the treeless plains of the north there
lives a bird that resembles the much-admired skylark of England in its
way of singing. Both snow buntings and skylarks begin to sing as they
rise from the ground, sing while on the wing or high up in the air, then
drop swiftly to the ground.

Dr. Judd writes as follows about the snowbird: “The snowflake is a bird
of the arctic tundra, above the limit of tree growth. In North America
it breeds about Hudson Bay, in the northernmost parts of Labrador and
Alaska, and to the northward. In its northern home it is a white,
black-blotched sparrow, of whose habits very little is known, except
that it makes a feather-lined nest on the ground, in which it rears four
or five young on a diet which probably consists principally of insects.
After the breeding season, however, a buffy brown comes mixed with the
black and white, and the birds assume a more sparrowlike aspect. They
migrate southward with the first severe cold weather, some of them
coming as far south as the northern half of the United States, where
their appearance is regarded as a sure sign that winter has begun in
earnest. Often a flock of a thousand will come with a blizzard, the
thermometer registering 30° to 40° below zero; and in their circling,
swirling flight, as they are borne along by the blast, they might well
be mistaken at a distance for veritable snowflakes. They settle in the
open fields and along railroad tracks, where they secure some food from
hayseed, grain that has sifted out of the grain cars, and seeds of weeds
that grow along the tracks. Here they remain until April, when, in
obedience to the migrating instinct, they journey north to nest on the
treeless plains of the arctic regions.

“The snowflake differs from many other winter sparrows, such as the tree
sparrow, junco, and white-throated sparrow, in that its flocks act more
nearly as units, the alarm of a single member causing the whole flock to
whirl up into the air and be off. A further difference may be noted in
its strictly terrestrial habits. When not flying, it is almost
invariably found on the ground; and when it does happen to alight in a
tree, awkward wobblings betray its discomfort. Where the feeding
conditions are favorable, immense flocks of snowflakes may be seen
apparently rolling like a cloud across the land, this curious effect
being due to the rear rank continually rising and flying forward to a
point just in advance of the rest of the flock.”[20]

Dr. Judd says that little information can be given concerning the summer
food of this bird, but that it probably feeds on the seeds of shore or
marsh plants. The winter food consists of grain, mostly gleanings or
waste, and of weed seed which is consumed in enormous quantities. “On
account of its good work as a weed destroyer and the apparent absence of
any noticeably detrimental food habits, the snowflake seems to deserve
high commendation, and should receive careful protection.”

                       _Finch Family—Fringillidæ_

Length: A little over 6 inches; about the size of the English sparrow.

General Appearance: A small brown bird with a gray breast that has an
    _indistinct black spot_ in the _center_.

Male and Female: _Crown reddish-brown_; a gray line over the eye, a
    reddish-brown line back of eye; gray below eye; a reddish-brown
    streak curving from bill; bill short and thick; back brown, streaked
    with black and buff; wings dark brown, edged with white, and with
    two white wing-bars; tail brown, slightly forked, outer feathers
    edged with white; sides brownish, other under parts white; _the
    black spot in the center of the breast_, the identification mark.

Notes: Cheerful twitters and chirps.

Song: A sweet, gentle trill, very delightful to hear.

Habitat: Fields, especially those bordered by bushes that can be used as
    shelter at night and as a refuge from enemies.

Range: Eastern North America. Breeds in northern and central Canada;
    winters from southern Minnesota and southeastern Canada to eastern
    Oklahoma, central Arkansas, and South Carolina.

[Illustration: TREE SPARROW]

                            THE TREE SPARROW

  When lordly Winter stalks abroad
    With trailing robes of snow,
  That hide the lovely tender things
    His icy breath lays low;
  When grasses, shrubs, and hardy weeds
    Hold high their heads, and mock
  Their tyrant lord,—from Northland woods
    There come a merry flock
  Of feathered songsters, soft and brown
    With a dark spot on each breast.
  They sway on stalk of golden-rod
    Above a snowdrift’s crest.
  Their voices ring like tinkling bells
    Beneath the wintry sky,
  Till April, when with joyous songs
    Back to the North they fly.

Such are the rollicking little Tree Sparrows, that whirl into our vision
like an eddy of brown leaves. To the untrained observer, they are “just
sparrows,” but to the “seeing eye” they are altogether more dainty and
refined than English sparrows, and have different markings. Their little
brown caps, the gray line over their bright eyes, their brown backs,
white wing-bars, pale gray breasts and forked tails resemble those of
their little cousins, the chipping sparrows. But _the soft grayish-black
spot on each_ tree sparrow’s breast is a difference. Careful comparison
with the “Chippy” will show no straight black line extending from the
eye, but a brown curve behind the eye that joins the one extending from
the bill.

The voices of winter chippies are infinitely sweeter than those of the
door yard chippies and their English relatives. Their note is sweet and
joyous. Mr. Forbush writes of their song as follows: “Tree Sparrows are
among the few birds that can ‘look our winters in the face and sing.’
They are occasionally heard singing in November and December and late in
February, when deep snow covers the ground. The song is among the
sweetest of sparrow notes, but not very strong. It slightly resembles
that of the Fox Sparrow. Like other sparrows they chirp and twitter from
time to time, but the full chorus of a flock in winter is a sound worth
going far to hear.”[21]

Dr. Judd says: “The tree sparrow breeds in Labrador and the Hudson Bay
region and westward to Alaska. In the fall the birds come down from the
north in immense throngs and spread over the United States as far south
as South Carolina, Kansas, and Arizona. During the winter, in company
with juncos, white-throats, white-crowns, and fox sparrows, they give
life to the hedgerows, tangled thickets, and weed patches.... The food
of the tree sparrow during its stay in the United States is almost
entirely made up of seeds. The bird shows an essential difference from
its associates, however, in its large consumption of grass seed, fully
half of its food consisting of this element.... Nearly two-thirds of the
vegetable food that is not grass seed is derived from such plants as
ragweed, amaranth, lamb’s quarters, ... and a variety of seeds such as
wild sunflower, goldenrod, chickweed, purslane, wood sorrel, violet, and
sheep sorrel.”[22]

Professor Beal says that the oily seeds of such plants as ragweed cause
the little bodies of tree sparrows to be encased in “a layer of fat
constituting a set of under-flannels from one-eighth to one-fourth of an
inch in thickness all over the bird’s body.” They are so warmly dressed
that it is no wonder they are happy, cheerful, and active. A sight of
them in a beautiful, snowy meadow is enough to repay one for the trouble
of a quest.

FINCHES, and GOLDFINCHES are other species of the large Finch family, or
Fringillidæ, that may be seen during the winter months.

The Pine siskin or PINE FINCH is a small brownish-gray bird streaked
with black, and with _buff edges_ to many of its feathers. The _yellow
in the wings and in the forked tail_ will distinguish it.

The REDPOLL is a little brownish-gray bird with a red forehead, reddish
breast and rump, black chin and throat. It has distinct dark streaks on
its head, back, and under parts, except the breast. There are several
species varying slightly in size and markings.

The Song Sparrow is described on page 106, the White-throat on page 154,
the Purple Finch on Page 159, the Goldfinch on page 216.

                         THE BOBWHITE OR QUAIL
               _American Partridge Family—Odontophoridæ_

Length: About 10 inches; the same length as the robin, but the quail has
    a stouter body and a shorter tail.

General Appearance: A plump, mottled brown bird, with a small head,
    short bill, and short tail.

Male: Upper parts reddish-brown and chestnut-brown, mottled with black,
    gray, and buff; head slightly crested; _forehead and line above eye
    white_, line extending to neck; black patch below eye, that curves
    to enclose _white throat_ and forms a band below it; under parts
    whitish, barred with black, except upper part of breast which is
    reddish-brown; tail short, gray, mottled with buff and a few black

Female: Similar to male, except for _buff patch over eye and buff
    throat_, and less black on head, neck, and across breast. In summer,
    the crown of both sexes is darker than in winter; the buff markings
    are lighter in color.

Note: _Bob-white? Bob-bob-white?_ A very clear, sweet, musical whistle.

Habitat: Grassy meadows and cultivated fields; farmyards, thickets, and
    swamps during the winter.

Range: Eastern North America, from southern Canada to the Gulf Coast and
    northern Florida and west to eastern Colorado. Usually a resident.

    In Florida, except in the north, is found the FLORIDA BOBWHITE, a
    smaller and darker species. A quail is called a partridge in the
    south. The CALIFORNIA QUAIL, one of several western species, is very
    different in appearance from the eastern quail. It has a nodding
    plume on its head and is largely black, white, and brownish-gray.

[Illustration: BOB-WHITE]

No birds of my acquaintance, unless it be bluebirds, goldfinches,
chickadees, and thrushes, seem so lovable, so interesting, and so
altogether desirable as quail. Our summer meadows would lose much of
their charm without the cheery “Bob White” ringing across them.

The character of human beings is shown in their voices; that of birds
seems likewise revealed. The note of the quail breathes sweetness,
tenderness, joy in life, and deep contentment. Unless need of food
compels it, the killing of these nearly human creatures seems to me like
the “Slaughter of the Innocents.”

Few birds are so devoted to their mates or to their young as the quail.
Many human parents are less alive to parental responsibilities. It is a
well-known fact that while Mother Quail is sitting upon her second
nestful of a dozen or more eggs, Father Bob assumes the entire care of
the large, restless, older brood.

Most birds love their mates and their young, but quail seem to have
affection for their brothers and sisters, also. The parents and the two
broods sometimes remain together during the winter. When one member of
the family is lost, the others give their tender covey-call, to lure
home the prodigal. There are few sweeter sounds in nature. Mr. Forbush
says: “When the broods are scattered by the gunner, they are reassembled
again by a whistled call of the old bird, which has been given,
‘_ka-loi-kee, ka-loi-kee_,’ and is answered by the whistled repeated
response, ‘_whoil-kee_.’ The syllables almost run together. The first
call is uttered with a rising and the other with a falling inflection.
It is plainly the rallying call and the answering cry.”[23]

Dallas Lore Sharp, in his charming book “Wild Life Near Home,” refers to
the covey-call as follows: “It was the sweetest bird-note I ever heard,
being so low, so liquid, so mellow that I almost doubted if Bob White
could make it. But there she stood in the snow with head high, listening
anxiously. Again she whistled, louder this time; and from the woods
below came a faint answering call, _White!_ The answer seemed to break a
spell; and on three sides of me sounded other calls. At this the little
signaler repeated her efforts, and each time the answers came louder and
nearer. Presently something dark hurried by me over the snow and joined
the quail I was watching. It was one of the covey I had heard call from
the woods.

“Again and again the signal was sent forth, until a third, fourth, and
finally a fifth were grouped about the leader. There was just an audible
twitter of welcome and gratitude exchanged as each new-comer made his
appearance. Once more the whistle sounded; but this time there was no
response across the silent field.”

Young quail are very precocious. They are able to run about soon after
they are hatched. They early learn how to hide and “freeze.” A friend
told me of coming suddenly upon a brood. The mother gave a call and all
fled instantly, except one that turned into a little brown wooden image
under a leaf at his feet. He picked it up and held it in his hand. Not a
motion did it make until its mother gave a second call, when it shot out
of his hand like a flash.

Another friend told me of her experience in finding a lost baby-quail.
It was too little and too weak to keep up with the family—was probably
the last born. It was so tired and distressed that when she knelt down
and placed her cupped hand near it, the poor little thing ran to it,
nestled down, and shut its eyes. She discovered the brood and carried
the baby over to join its family, but it seemed loath to leave her.
Three times it ran back to the warm shelter of her hand. She could
hardly bear to abandon it to the life that seemed more than it could

Dr. Judd made a careful study of the bobwhite. The following extracts
are from his report: “It is the general opinion that with the on-coming
of winter the bobwhite is found less often in the open fields, when
withered herbaceous plants afford but scant protection from enemies,
than in dense bushy, briery coverts and woods. In Maryland and Virginia,
the scattered and depleted coveys after the shooting season evidently
unite into large bevies. Their favorite resort is a bank with a southern
exposure and suitable food-supply.

“Robert Ridgway found a clutch of freshly deposited eggs in southern
Illinois on October 16, and H. C. Munger found another set in Missouri
in January, the parent being afterwards found frozen on the nest.
Authentic records show that bobwhite has been known to breed, at least
occasionally, somewhere in its range every month in the year....

“In Maryland and Virginia large land-owners often feed their birds in
severe weather. Wheat and corn are the best food and should be
scattered, if possible, among the briers where the birds are safe from
hawks. Bobwhites have been known to feed with chickens in barnyards. By
a little forethought land-owners and sportsmen can easily make provision
for their birds. Sumac bushes should be left along hedgerows and the
edge of woodland to furnish food that is always above the snow and lasts
well into spring.... The bayberry and wax-myrtle last until May, also.

“The food habits of the bobwhite are noteworthy in several respects.
Vegetable matter has long been known to be an important element in the
food of the bobwhite. Grain-eating birds are likely to do much harm to
crops.... The bobwhite is a notable exception. Not a single sprouting
kernel was found in the crops and stomachs of quail examined.”[24]

Dr. Judd enumerates eighty-eight varieties of weed seeds that are eaten
by quail, and states an amazing number eaten at one time. “One bird shot
at Marshall Hall had eaten 1000 ragweed akenes; another contained
[quantities of] leguminous seeds, mainly tick-trefoil; a third had eaten
5000 seeds of green foxtail grass, while a fourth had taken about 10000
[infinitesimal] pigweed seeds.”[24]

As an insect-destroyer the bobwhite is of enormous value. During the
summer, insects form more then one-third of its food. Over one hundred
varieties had been discovered by examination of the stomachs of quail in
1905, an unusually large proportion of which were highly injurious to
crops. Mr. Forbush thinks that no farmer in Massachusetts can afford to
shoot a quail or allow it to be shot on his land, and that if the
markets must be supplied, quail must be reared artificially.

Our bobwhite sleeps on the ground. The California quail roosts in bushes
or trees. One summer evening in Santa Barbara it was my privilege to see
a charming phase of quail family life. I was sitting quietly under a
tree on a knoll that overlooked a flat shed-roof, when I heard a low
call, and a whirring of wings. Mother Quail, accompanied by thirteen
little balls of brown feathers, alighted on the roof near me. She talked
to her adorable family, and, judging by their quick responses, she
evidently gave them numerous commands. They finally ran to the edge of
the roof and arranged themselves in a row, faces outward, until she gave
another call. Then obediently they gathered around her in a true
Kindergarten Circle, heads outward and tails toward her, all ready for
bed. There they nestled, until a passer-by disturbed them and, to my
great regret, they flew away. In a few minutes I heard a clear loud
_ku-ku-kow_, and on the same roof alighted Father Bob with fifteen
restless boys and girls—a veritable Primary Class. He had more trouble
in controlling them than Mother had experienced with her docile little
ones; they ran hither and thither in spite of his insistent, anxious
calls. He succeeded in gathering them about him, however; but just as
they were forming their circle, they, too, were frightened away.

                           THE RUFFED GROUSE
                       _Grouse Family—Tetraonidæ_

Length: About 17 inches.

Male: Upper parts reddish-brown, with black, yellowish, gray, and
    whitish markings; large tufts or “ruffs” of glossy black feathers at
    the sides of the neck. Tail long and broad, gray and reddish-brown,
    mottled and barred with black, and a broad blackish band near the
    end; when spread, the tail resembles a fan. Under parts buffy,
    becoming white, with black bars that are indistinct on breast and
    belly, and darker on the sides; a broken band on the breast.

Female: Similar to male, but with smaller ruffs on the sides of the

“Love-song”: A loud tattoo or drumming that sounds like a thump on a
    large drum—a _tum-tum-tum-tum-tum-tup-tup-whir-r-r-r-r-r_. This
    tattoo is most common in late winter and early spring, but may be
    heard in the summer and fall. While heard most frequently during the
    day, it may be heard at any hour of the night. In making it, the
    bird usually stands very erect on a hollow log or stump, with head
    held high and ruffs erected and spread, and, raising its wings,
    strikes downward and forward. The sound produced is a muffled boom
    or thump. It begins with a few slow beats, gradually growing
    quicker, and ends in a rolling, accelerated “tattoo.”[25]

Habitat: A bird of the woods that nests on the ground.

Range: A resident in the northern two-thirds of the United States and in
    the forested parts of Canada.

The Ruffed Grouse, the finest and most famous game-bird of the northern
woods, was formerly very abundant. Its numbers have greatly decreased.
Like the bobwhite, it responds to protection and may be raised under
artificial conditions. It eats nearly sixty kinds of wild fruit;
beechnuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts, acorns, and weed seeds form a large
part of its diet. It eats some insects, the most important being beetles
of various kinds.

Mr. Forbush says: “The female alone undertakes the task of incubation
and the care of the young.... All the young grouse in a nest hatch at
nearly the same instant; their feathers dry very rapidly, and they are
soon ready to run about.... They run about, stealing noiselessly along
among the dead leaves, under the foliage of ferns and shrubbery....
Meanwhile, the mother marches slowly in the rear, perhaps to guard them
against surprise from any keen-scented animal that may follow on the
trail. She seems to be always on the alert, and a single warning note
from her will cause the young birds to flatten themselves on the ground
or to hide under leaves, where they will remain motionless until they
are trodden upon, rather than run the risk of betraying themselves by
attempting to escape.

“During the fall, the Grouse keep together in small flocks. Sometimes a
dozen birds may be found around some favorite grape vine or apple tree,
but they are usually so harried and scattered by gunners that toward
winter the old birds may sometimes be found alone.

“As winter approaches, this hardy bird puts on its ‘snowshoes,’ which
consist of a fringe of horny processes or pectinations that grow out
along each toe, and help to distribute the weight of the bird over a
larger surface, and so allow it to walk over snows into which a bird not
so provided would sink deeply. Its digestion must resemble that of the
famous Ostrich, as broken twigs and dry leaves are ground up in its
mill. It is a hard winter that will starve the Grouse. A pair spent many
winter nights in a little cave in the rocky wall of an old quarry.
Sumacs grew there, and many rank weeds. The birds lived well on sumac
berries, weed seeds, and buds.

“Sometimes, but perhaps rarely, these birds are imprisoned under the
snow by the icy crust which forms in cold weather following a rain, but
usually they are vigorous enough to find a way out somewhere. The Grouse
is perfectly at home beneath the snow; it will dive into it to escape a
Hawk, and can move rapidly about beneath the surface and burst out again
in rapid flight at some unexpected place.

“The Ruffed Grouse is a bird of the woodland, and though useful in the
woods, it sometimes does some injury in the orchard by removing too many
buds from a single tree. In winter and early spring, when other food is
buried by the snow and hard to obtain, the Grouse lives largely on the
buds and green twigs of trees; but as spring advances, insects form a
considerable part of the food. The young feed very largely on insects,
including many very destructive species.”[26]

[Illustration: CEDAR WAXWING]

                   _Called Locally the “Cherry Bird”
                    Waxwing Family or Bombycillidæ_

Length: A little over 7 inches.

General Appearance: A grayish-brown bird, with a decided crest and a
    yellow band at end of tail. Plump and well-fed in appearance.

Male and Female: A beautiful, rich grayish-brown with a soft yellow
    breast. Head conspicuously crested; forehead glossy black; a black
    line above the bill is extended toward the top of the head,
    outlining the crest; crest elevated and lowered to express surprise,
    contentment, fear and other emotions; bill and chin black; throat
    blackish. Wings brown, becoming a soft gray; wing-feathers with
    small red tips that look like bits of sealing-wax—hence the name,
    Waxwing. Tail light gray, shading to a dark grey, rounded,
    fan-shaped in flight, and edged with a broad yellow band.

Young: Grayish-brown, streaked, and without red tips to their wings.

Note: A gentle lisping _tseep, tseep_, monotonous and uninteresting. Mr.
    Forbush says of the waxwing, “It moves about in silence, save as it
    utters a lisping ‘beading’ note or a ‘hushed whistle.’”

Habitat: During the nesting season, devoted pairs may be seen in
    orchards, in red cedars, or in shrubbery by roadsides, preferably
    near trees or bushes laden with berries. The birds are rovers,
    usually flying in large flocks.

Range: North America. Breeds from south-central Canada to southern
    Oregon, northern New Mexico, Kansas, northern Arkansas, and North
    Carolina; winters irregularly throughout nearly all the United
    States, and south to Cuba, Mexico, and Panama.

Cedar Waxwings are among our most exquisite birds in their delicate
blending of color and in their dainty refinement. They seem to have been
tinted by a water-color artist, or an expert in the use of pastels.
Their proverbial good manners seem to preclude any disturbance of their
well-preened feathers by undue haste of movement or quarrelsome

My earliest recollections of these beautiful but rather uninteresting
birds is of their frequent raids upon a great mulberry tree in my
grandparents’ garden. They gorged upon the dead-ripe mulberries with the
quiet enjoyment of epicures rather than the greedy haste of gourmands. I
remember, also, my grandmother’s dismay at the inroads which the
“cherry-birds” and robins made upon her cherry crop, and my bird-loving
grandfather’s command that no bird should be molested.

Cedar, juniper, sumac, and mountain ash berries, form the winter diet of
these frugivorous birds. As a larder is speedily exhausted by a flock of
from twenty to sixty hungry fruit-eaters, they must fly to “pastures
new.” During the spring and summer seasons, they supplement their diet
of wild fruit, most of which is of no commercial value, with beetles
that infest potato-patches and elm trees, and cankerworms that prey upon
apple trees. They are very valuable to man, and earn their dessert of
cultivated cherries. Mr. Forbush says that they deserve the name of
“cankerworm birds.”

He writes as follows: “They frequent infested orchards in large flocks,
and fill themselves with the worms until they can eat no more. Such
little gluttons rarely can be found among birds. The Cedar-bird seems to
have the most rapid digestion of any bird with which experiments have
been made. Audubon said that Cedar-birds would gorge themselves with
fruit until they could be taken by hand; and that he had seen wounded
birds, confined in a cage, eat of apples until suffocated. They will
stuff themselves to the very throat. So, wherever they feed, their
appetites produce a visible effect. Professor Forbes estimates that
thirty Cedar-birds will destroy ninety thousand cankerworms in a month.
This calculation seems to be far within bounds.

“Cedar-birds are devoted to each other and to their young. Sometimes a
row of six or eight may be seen, sitting close together on a limb,
passing and repassing from beak to beak a fat caterpillar or juicy
cherry. I have seen this touching courtesy but once, and believe it was
done not so much from politeness as from the fact that most of the birds
were so full that they had no room for more—a condition in which they
could afford to be generous. Nevertheless, the manner in which it was
done, and the simulation of tender regard and consideration for each
other exhibited, rendered it a sight well worth seeing. They also have a
habit of ‘billing’ or saluting one another with the bill.”[27]

A flock of cedar-birds “seep” and whisper to each other like over-fed
children. Their note seems to be an expression of their gentle,
affectionate, comfortable, ease-loving natures. There appears to be
absence of aspiration or longing in their bird-hearts, which seems so
poignant in thrushes and many other songsters.

                          THE BOHEMIAN WAXWING

The Bohemian Waxwing is very similar to its cousin, the Cedar Waxwing,
in color and markings, but may be distinguished by its _larger size_, (8
inches), by _reddish-brown feathers under the tail, by the absence of
yellow on the breast, by a crown that is reddish-brown in front_, and
_by yellow and white markings on the wings_. In note, feeding habits,
and other characteristics, it resembles the Cedar-bird.

This larger species of waxwing is found in the colder regions of the
whole Northern Hemisphere. In North America it breeds from northern
Alaska and northern Canada to southern British Columbia and Alberta;
winters east to Nova Scotia and south irregularly to eastern California,
Colorado, Kansas, southern Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and
Connecticut. It is a rare winter visitor in Massachusetts.

[Illustration: TUFTED TITMOUSE]

                     THE TUFTED TITMOUSE OR TOMTIT
                        _Titmouse Family—Paridæ_

Length: About 6 inches; a little smaller than the English sparrow.

General Appearance: A slender, active, gray and white bird, _with a
    crest_. Its reddish-brown sides are not visible at a distance. The
    titmouse need never be confused with the waxwing; it is much
    smaller, and lacks the yellow and red markings on tail and wings.

Male and Female: Head conspicuously crested; crest gray and pointed;
    forehead black; bill short, sharp, black; back, wings, and tail
    gray; under parts whitish, with a reddish-brown wash on the sides.

Call-note: _De-de-de-de_, similar to one of the chickadee’s notes, but

Song: A loud, sweet, clear whistle: _Pe’-to, pe’-to, pe’-to, pe’-to,
    pe’-to_, frequently repeated five times. The titmouse is called
    locally the “Peter-bird.”

Habitat: Woodlands; open groves of hard-wood trees preferred.

Range: Rare in New England. From Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana,
    Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, south to central Texas, the Gulf
    Coast, and Florida; occasional in Wisconsin, Michigan, New York, and
    Connecticut. Common permanent resident near Washington, especially
    in winter.

No winter bird more truly exemplifies protective coloring than the
lively crested Tomtit, unless it be his little cousin, the Black-capped
Chickadee. This sober-hued titmouse is such a blending of the grays and
blacks of tree-trunk and icy brook, of the dazzling white of snow and
the soft gray shadows that lie across it, of reddish-brown shrubs and
weeds, that he might escape notice except for his conspicuous crest. He
can be distinguished from the cedar waxwing at a glance by his reddish
sides, and because of the _absence_ of a yellow band across the tail and
of conspicuous black, white, and red patches or markings.

Few more active birds exist than titmice. They are at once the envy and
the despair of aspiring small boys who know them, because of their
extreme agility—their ability to perform acrobatic feats. They swing
head downward from twigs in the search for their favorite food of
insect-eggs; they seem strung on wires.

In the woodlands frequented by tufted titmice, they are as much in
evidence as blue jays, because of their loud, clear
_peto-peto-peto-peto-peto_, a welcome and pleasant sound during belated
spring days or a bleak March “sugaring-off” season.

They are less friendly than chickadees, but are not shy, so they can be
observed easily. They are very sociable with their kind, and are found,
“playing around” with chickadees, nuthatches, and downy woodpeckers in
the winter-time, and snuggling close together in old nest-holes during
winter weather. In the spring, titmice use hollowed trees for their
nesting sites and have been known to welcome a nesting-box.

These birds do enormous good, not only in eating insect-eggs, but in
destroying caterpillars, cutworms, beetles, weevils, flies, wasps,
plant-lice, and scale-insects in their season.[28] They will eat
berries, nuts, and acorns during the winter and are extremely hardy.

[Illustration: CHICKADEE]

                        _Titmouse Family—Paridæ_

Length: About 5¼ inches.

General Appearance: A very active little gray and white bird, with a
    black cap and throat and dull yellowish sides.

Male and Female: Head and throat a glistening black; sides of head
    white; bill small, black, sharp-pointed; back a soft brownish-gray;
    wings and tail gray, edged with white; breast white, becoming
    yellowish at the sides below the wings.

Song: _Chick-a-dee-dee-dee_, uttered with gurgles and chuckles, and with

Call-notes: _Day’-day_, and a whistle that resembles the word _Pé-whee_.
    The latter note is often called the “Phœbe note,” and sometimes the
    “Pewee note.” To me it resembles neither; it is not hoarse and
    wheezing like the phœbe’s, nor plaintive like the pewee’s. The last
    syllable has a descending inflection.

Flight: Very swift and jerky.

Habitat: Woodlands, orchards, and groves.

Range: Eastern North America, from the Hudson Bay region and N. F.,
    south to central Missouri, Illinois, northern Indiana, Ohio,
    Pennsylvania, northern New Jersey, and in the Alleghany Mts. to
    North Carolina; somewhat farther south in winter.

    The CAROLINA CHICKADEE, a smaller species, breeds from central
    Missouri, Indiana, central Ohio, Pennsylvania (infrequently), and
    central New Jersey, south to southeastern Louisiana, the Gulf Coast
    and northern Florida. In southern Florida, are found the FLORIDA
    CHICKADEES, that are still smaller and browner.

    In the White Mts., the Green Mts., the Adirondacks, and southeastern
    Canada live ACADIAN CHICKADEES, that differ from the preceding
    species in having brownish-gray crowns, and reddish-brown sides. A
    similarly marked species, slightly larger, is found from Ontario to

During tiresome days of a winter convalescence, spent largely on a
sleeping-porch that overlooked a beautiful hillside, my most constant
and cheering companions were lively little chickadees. Their blending
with the winter landscape was perfect. Whether they were seen against
the black snow-laden trunks or smooth gray boles of beeches, or among
yellowish willow-withes, they were bits of color harmony.

These active little gymnasts, performing unexpected feats in their
swinging from horizontal bars, furnished pleasant diversion, while their
friendly, confiding ways, their undaunted fearlessness, and their
optimism cheered lonely hours.

An ice-storm necessitated the spreading of a table for our brave little
all-kinds-of-weather friends. They came in pairs, grew very tame, and
drew near to us like confiding children who knew that no harm would
befall them. They acted as though our care of them was the most natural
thing in the world. Chickadees have never seemed to me to “grow up,” but
always to remain the trusting little ones of the bird-world, too small
to be out alone, and yet, like children, to fare forth with confidence
that their needs would be supplied.

They repay a thousand-fold any care bestowed upon them. Dr. Judd
reported finding in the stomach of one black-capped chickadee between
200 and 300 eggs of the fall cankerworm moth, and 450 eggs of a plant
louse in another. Mr. C. E. Bailey computed that one chickadee alone
would destroy 138,750 eggs of the cankerworm moth in 25 days, while
Prof. Sanderson estimated that 8,000,000,000 insects are destroyed
yearly in Michigan by these invaluable little birds.[29]

“Much of the daylight life of the chickadee is spent in a busy, active
pursuit of, or search for, insects and their eggs. This is particularly
the case in winter, when hibernating insects or their eggs must be most
diligently sought, for then starvation always threatens. But the
chickadee is one of the few insectivorous birds that is keen-witted
enough to find abundant food and safe shelter during the inclement
northern winter. Nevertheless, its busy search for food is sometimes
interrupted for so long a time during severe storms, when the trees are
encased in ice, that it dies from cold and hunger. During a sleet storm
Mr. C. E. Bailey saw two chickadees creep under the loose clapboards of
an old building for shelter. Their tails were so weighted down with ice
that they could hardly fly, and had he not cared for them they might
have perished.

“The chickadee, notwithstanding its hardiness, requires protection from
cold winds and storms at night. It finds such shelter either in some
hollow tree or in some deserted bird nest. Late one cold and snowy
afternoon Mr. Bailey detected a movement in a cavity under an old crow’s
nest, and on climbing the tree he found two chickadees nestling there.
They remained there until he had climbed to the nest and put his hand on
one, when they flew out, only to return before he reached the ground.
Minot speaks of a chickadee that slept alone in winter in a phoebe’s
nest under his veranda. It retires to its refuge rather early at night,
and does not come out until the Tree Sparrow, Song Sparrow, and Junco
are abroad.”[30]

                       THE GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET
                  _Old World Warbler Family—Sylviidæ_

Length: About 4 inches; smaller than the chickadee.

Male: Olive-green above, grayish-white underneath; crown with a _bright
    red center, bordered on each side_ by _bright yellow_, and by a
    _black stripe_ that edges the yellow; a light line over the eye;
    wings and tail brown; tail forked.

Female: Like male, but without the red in the center of the
    yellow-and-black crown.

Call-note: A weak _tzee, tzee_, highly pitched.

Song: William Brewster, in the _Auk_ for 1888, describes the song as
    follows: [It] “begins with a succession of five or six fine, shrill,
    high-pitched somewhat faltering notes, and ends with a short, rapid,
    rather explosive warble. The opening notes are given in a rising
    key, but the song falls rapidly at the end. The whole may be
    expressed as follows: _tzee, tzee, tzee, tzee, ti, ti, ter,

Habitat: Woodlands, where kinglets are usually found _near the ends of
    branches_, of coniferous trees especially.

Range: Eastern North America. Breeds in the tree-regions of central
    Canada, south in the Rocky Mts. to northern Arizona, New Mexico, and
    to Michigan, New York, and mountains of Massachusetts, and in the
    higher Alleghanies south to North Carolina; winters from Iowa,
    Ontario, New Brunswick, to northern Florida and Mexico.

Though the Golden-crowned Kinglet is one of our smallest birds, it
braves the rigors of winter in the United States. It may be seen from
the latter part of September until April or early May, when it goes to
its more northerly nesting ground.

Kinglets and chickadees are industrious searchers for insects’ eggs.
Their value is almost inestimable. Mr. Forbush tells of watching the
“Gold-crest” hunt for its food among the pines. He says: “The birds were
fluttering about among the trees. Each one would hover for a moment
before a tuft of pine ‘needles,’ and then either alight upon it and feed
or pass on to another. I examined the ‘needles’ after the Kinglets had
left them, and could find nothing on them; but when a bird was disturbed
before it had finished feeding, the spray from which it had been driven
was invariably found to be infested with numerous black specks, the eggs
of plant lice. Evidently the birds were cleaning each spray thoroughly,
as far as they went.”[31]

Mr. Forbush tells also of observing the work of seven kinglets in a
grove of white pine which “must have been infested with countless
thousands of these eggs, for the band of Kinglets remained there until
March 25, almost three months later, apparently feeding most of the time
on these eggs. When they had cleared the branches, the little birds
fluttered about the trunks, hanging poised on busy wing, like
Hummingbirds before a flower, meanwhile rapidly pecking the clinging
eggs from the bark. In those three months they must have suppressed
hosts of little tree pests, for I have never seen birds more industrious
and assiduous in their attentions to the trees. One might expect such
work of Creepers or of Woodpeckers; but the Kinglets seemed to have
departed from their usual habits of gleaning among limbs and foliage, to
take the place of the missing Creepers, not one of which was seen in the
grove last winter.”[32]

                           THE CAROLINA WREN
                       _Wren Family—Troglodytidæ_

Length: About 5½ inches; the largest of the six more common eastern

Male and Female: Reddish-brown above; _no bars_ or _streaks_, except on
    wings and tail, and occasionally underneath the body, near the tail;
    a _long light line over the eye, extending to the shoulders_; under
    parts buff with a brownish wash; throat white.

Notes: “Wren-like _chucks_ of annoyance or interrogation,” and “a
    peculiar fluttering _k-r-r-r-r-uck_, which resembles the bleating
    call of a tree-toad.”[33]

Song: A loud clear whistle, consisting of three similar syllables, with

Habitat: Thickets, vines, and undergrowth.

Range: Eastern United States. Breeds from southeastern Nebraska, Iowa,
    Ohio, southern Pennsylvania, the lower Hudson and Connecticut
    valleys south to central Texas, Gulf States, and northern Florida;
    casual north to Wisconsin, Michigan, Ontario, Massachusetts, New
    Hampshire, and Maine.

Professor Beal writes of this interesting wren as follows: “The Carolina
wren is resident from the Gulf of Mexico north to the southern
boundaries of Iowa, Illinois, and Connecticut in the breeding season,
but in winter it withdraws somewhat farther south. It is a bird of the
thicket and undergrowth, preferring to place its nest in holes and
crannies, but when necessary, will build a bulky structure in a tangle
of twigs and vines. Unlike the house wren it does not ordinarily use the
structures of man for nesting sites.

“It is one of the few American birds that sing throughout the year. Most
birds sing, or try to, in the mating season, but the Carolina wren may
be heard pouring forth his melody of song every month. The writer’s
first introduction to this bird was in the month of January when he
heard gushing from a thicket a song which reminded him of June instead
of midwinter.

“This wren keeps up the reputation of the family as an insect-eater, as
over nine-tenths of its diet consists of insects and their allies.”
Stomach analysis shows that the vegetable food of the Carolina wren is
largely seeds of trees and shrubs and some wild berries. He concludes:
“From this analysis of the food of the Carolina wren, it is evident that
the farmer and fruit-grower have not the slightest cause for complaint
against the bird. It eats neither cultivated fruit nor grain, and does
not even nest in an orchard tree; but it does feed on numerous injurious
insects and enlivens the tangled thickets with its cheerful songs for
twelve months of the year.”[34]

Dr. Witmer Stone writes of the song of the Carolina wren as follows:
“His most characteristic song has been likened by Mr. Chapman to
_tea-kettle, tea-kettle, tea-kettle_, and to _whee-udle, whee-udle,
whee-udle_. Wilson wrote it _sweet-william, sweet-william,
sweet-william_; and to Audubon it seemed to say _come-to-me, come-to-me,
come-to-me_. It has variations recalling forms in the Cardinal’s song,
and also that of the Tufted Titmouse; and the Wren after repeating one
form for some time, often changes suddenly to another producing a rather
startling effect, as if another bird has taken its place.”[35]

                            THE WINTER WREN
                       _Wren Family—Troglodytidæ_

Length: About 4 inches; the same size as the golden-crowned kinglet.

Male and Female: Similar in appearance to the house wren, but smaller
    and with a shorter tail; body brown, mostly barred with fine, black
    lines; light line over the eye; under parts darker than those of the
    house wren, with a buff wash across throat and breast.

Song: A very beautiful song, unusually loud for so small a bird. Those
    fortunate enough to hear it are extravagant in their praise. Mr.
    Eaton calls it the sweetest melody that he and his associates heard
    in the Adirondacks, excelling even the thrushes.

Habitat: Brush heaps, thickets in woods, along streams, and in wild
    rocky places.

Range: Breeds from southern Canada to Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan,
    New York, and Massachusetts, through the Alleghanies to North
    Carolina; winters from about its southern breeding limit to Texas
    and northern Florida.

Eaton says: “During the migration, this little wren is commonly observed
about the shrubbery of our lawns, parks, and the edges of woods, when
disturbed retreating to the recesses of some brush pile or under the
damp edges of the stream bank. A few remain throughout the winter in
western and central New York, and it is fairly common as a winter
resident in the southeastern portion of the State, but in the principal
breeding range of the Adirondacks and Catskills it is only a summer
resident.”[36] It is a rather common winter visitor near Washington, and
rare in New England.


                          THE DOWNY WOODPECKER
                       _Woodpecker Family—Picidæ_

Length: A little over 6½ inches; the smallest of our woodpeckers.

General Appearance: A _small_ black and white bird, with a _white stripe
    extending down the middle of its back_; a red patch on back of
    male’s head. The tail is used for a prop as the woodpecker climbs

Male: Upper parts black and white; crown of head black with _red patch
    at nape_; two broad white stripes above and below eye; a _broad
    white stripe down the center of back_; wings spotted and barred with
    white; tail sharply pointed; the long tail-feathers, black; the
    short _outer tail-feathers, white barred with black_; bill long,
    strong, with a tuft of feathers at its base.

Female: Like male, except for the _absence of a red patch on the head_.

Notes: A call-note _Peek-peek_. A metallic
    _Tut-tut-tut’-tut-tut-tut-tut_ might be considered the Downy’s song,
    but he belongs really to the group of songless birds. He beats loud
    tattoos on the boughs of trees, especially at mating time.

Flight: Labored, jerky, with a characteristic shutting of the wings
    against the sides.

Habitat: Tree-trunks in woods and orchards, and on lawns. The Downy is
    our most common woodpecker, and a permanent resident.

Range: Northern and central parts of eastern North America, from
    Alberta, Manitoba, and Ungava, south to eastern Nebraska, Kansas,
    the Potomac Valley, and in the mountains to North Carolina.

    The SOUTHERN DOWNY WOODPECKER of the South Atlantic and Gulf States
    is smaller and browner than its northern relative.

The Downy Woodpecker is a member of a family of birds that has attracted
man’s attention since the old days of superstition. Various myths have
grown up around these birds; those of the American Indians are possibly
the most interesting. Until recently, woodpeckers have been persecuted
by the white man, because of their habit of pecking at trees which they
were thought to kill. Many have been unjustly slain.

While one branch of the family, the Sapsuckers, have done a great deal
of harm to forests where they breed, and other woodpeckers have done
occasional damage, it is now known that they are invaluable as
preservers of our trees. Entomologists and foresters consider them the
greatest enemies known of spruce-bark beetles and sap-wood borers. As
borers are found near the surface in living trees, the holes made by
woodpeckers while extracting them soon heals and leaves little mark.

An examination of the structure of woodpeckers shows the admirable way
in which they are fitted for their work. They have short, stout legs;
strong feet, usually with two toes in front and two in the back; large
claws, and stiff tails tipped with sharp spines, to aid them in
supporting themselves firmly against tree-trunks and branches. Mr.
Forbush says: “The bird is thus more fully equipped for climbing than a
telegraph lineman. The claws and tail take the place of the man’s hand
and spurs.”[37]

Professor Beal writes the following: “As much of the food of woodpeckers
is obtained from solid wood, Nature has provided most of them with a
stout beak having a chisel-shaped point which forms an exceedingly
effective instrument. But the most peculiar and interesting point in the
anatomy of these birds is the tongue. This is more or less cylindrical
in form and usually very long. At the anterior end it generally
terminates in a hard point, with more or less barbs upon the sides.
Posteriorly the typical woodpecker tongue is extended in two long,
slender filaments of the hyoid bone _which curl up around the back of
the skull_ and, while they commonly stop between the eyes, in some
species they pass around the eye, but in others enter the right nasal
opening and extend to the end of the beak. In this last case the tongue
is practically twice the length of the head. Posteriorly this organ is
inclosed in a muscular sheath by means of which it can be extruded from
the mouth to a considerable length, and used as a most effective
instrument for dislodging grubs or ants from their burrows in wood or
bark. Hence, while most birds have to be content with such insects as
they find on the surface or in open crevices, the woodpeckers devote
their energies to those larvæ or grubs which are beneath the bark or
even in the heart of the tree. They locate their hidden prey with great
accuracy, and often cut small holes directly to the burrows of the

Mr. Forbush calls attention to the wonderfully constructed head of a
woodpecker “which is built so that it can withstand hard and continuous
hammering. The skull is very thick and hard. Its connection with the
beak is strong, but at the same time springy, and somewhat
jar-deadening. The membrane which surrounds the brain is very thick and

The Downy is the smallest member of the woodpecker family in North
America, and is one of the most useful. He is especially fond of
orchards and shade trees, and not only devours insects that infest them
during the spring and summer, but eats the eggs they laid in the
crevices of the bark during the winter. One Downy alone is of
inestimable value in an orchard or a grove. Mr. Forbush writes as
follows: “When the Metropolitan Park Commission first began to set out
young trees along the parkways of Boston, some species of trees were
attacked by borers; but the Downy Woodpeckers found them out and
extracted the grubs, saving most of the trees.

“The untiring industry of this bird and the perfection of its perceptive
powers may be shown by the experience of Mr. Bailey. On March 28, 1899,
a Downy Woodpecker that he watched climbed over and inspected one
hundred and eighty-one woodland trees between 9:40 A. M. and 12:15 P.
M., and made twenty-six excavations for food. Most of these holes
exposed galleries in the trunks in high branches where wood-boring ants
were hiding.... These ants often gain an entrance at some unprotected
spot on a living tree, and so excavate the wood of the trunk that the
tree is blown down by the wind. This woodpecker acts as a continual
check on the increase of such ants.”[39]

The Downy may easily be attracted to our yards by a piece of suet
fastened securely to a tree. During the past winter, one has sought my
suet-cage, in company with chickadees and nuthatches. This spring he
brought his mate to a maple in front of the house. He has seemed excited
and happy, and has drummed persistently on a certain broken limb of the
tree. He has indulged in numerous rapid flights and his metallic,
ringing call.

                          THE HAIRY WOODPECKER
                       _Woodpecker Family—Picidæ_

Length: About 9½ inches; nearly ⅓ larger than the Downy, whom he
    _resembles almost identically as to general appearance, except in_

Male: Black and white above; white underneath; _broad white stripe down_
    the _middle of_ the _back_; head with black and white stripes, a red
    patch at the back, and bristles at the bill; wings black, with white
    stripes and bars; tail black, with white outside feathers; _the
    absence of black flecks on the tail-feathers and the larger size of
    the bird_ distinguishes the Hairy from the Downy.

Female: Like male, except for the absence of a red patch on the head.

Note: A loud, shrill call, difficult to imitate or to reproduce on paper
    for identification. The Hairy also “drums” on the boughs of trees;
    it has no real song.

Habitat: Tree-trunks in woodlands, rather than in orchards or gardens,
    though I have noticed these woodpeckers in winter frequenting the
    trees of village streets without shyness or fear. During the
    breeding season, they remain in secluded spots in the woods.

Range: Three species of the Hairy Woodpecker may be found in Canada and
    the United States; the NORTHERN HAIRY WOODPECKER, the HAIRY
    WOODPECKER, and the SOUTHERN HAIRY WOODPECKER. The northern species
    lives in the tree-zone of Canada, and is the largest of the three;
    the Hairy, next in size, may be found in the United States from
    Colorado, Nebraska, and Oklahoma, to the middle and northern parts
    of the Eastern States. The Southern Hairy, the smallest of the
    three, is a resident of our southern section.

The Hairy Woodpecker is so like his small Downy relative in appearance
and habits that his characteristics are not usually dwelt upon; he is
like an older neglected cousin of a baby upon whom much attention is

But he is very worth while attracting. He is as untiring as the Downy in
his quest for beetles, his favorite kind of tree-food; he is also a
lover of ants and other “borers.” His longer bill enables him to reach
many that the Downy cannot. One Hairy Woodpecker alone saved an entire
orchard that had become infested with “borers.” One tree had died before
he began his rescue-work, but he saved all the others.[40]

He likes the caterpillars of the cecropia and gypsy moths. He eats much
vegetable food, especially during the winter; he has been known to take
an occasional bite of the soft inner bark of trees and a drink of sap
which he has well earned. Like the Downy, he will eat suet in the winter

Mr. Forbush writes: “While this bird often excavates a hole for winter
shelter, it sometimes sleeps exposed on a tree-trunk. Mr. Bailey and I
once watched one that slept for many winter nights on the north side of
a tree trunk in a thick grove. It attached its claws to the bark and
went to sleep in much the same position in which it ordinarily climbed
the tree. It invariably went to the same tree at night, and was found in
the same place at daylight every morning.”[40]

                      THE WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH
                       _Nuthatch Family—Sittidæ_

Length: About 6 inches.

General Appearance: A short, thickset bird, blue-gray, black, and white.
    Bill long; tail short and square.

Male: Mostly bluish-gray above; white underneath, shading to
    reddish-brown at sides and under tail; top of head and nape a
    shining blue-black; sides of head and throat white; wings gray
    shading to brown, edged and tipped with light gray or white;
    shoulders gray and black; bill large and strong, (¾ of an inch in
    length); tail short and square-cut; middle feathers bluish-gray;
    outer ones black, with large white patches near tips; legs short;
    feet large and strong; hind toe unusually long, with a long, sharp

Female: Head a dull grayish-black; otherwise like male.

Notes: A nasal _crank-crank_, which, though not melodious, is not
    unpleasant to hear. Dr. Chapman says: “There is such a lack of
    sentiment in the Nuthatch’s character, he seems so matter-of-fact in
    all his ways, that it is difficult to imagine him indulging in
    anything like song. But even he cannot withstand the conquering
    influences of spring, and at that season he raises his voice in a
    peculiar monotone—a tenor _hah-hah-hah-hah-hah_—sounding strangely
    like mirthless laughter.”[41]

Flight: Undulating.

Habitat: Trunks of trees, which he ascends and descends. The other
    tree-trunk birds, except the black and white warbler, usually ascend

[Illustration: NUTHATCH]

Range: North America, east of the Plains. A permanent resident, though
    irregularly distributed. Breeds from central Canada to the northern
    parts of the Gulf States.

Of the so-called tree-trunk birds, none are easier to identify than
nuthatches, because of their habit of _descending_ trees. Woodpeckers
jerk themselves up a tree somewhat as men might ascend telegraph-poles
or smooth slippery palm trees. Creepers wind spirally about trunks in a
gentle, unobtrusive manner. Both woodpeckers and creepers use their
sharply-pointed tails as props. Not so the nuthatches. They care not how
they go—“uphill or down dale”—all is one to them. They are as
sure-footed as burros descending the Grand Canyon. If they depart from
their trail, and decide to leap from crag to crag of their arboreal
cliffs, they alight on their strong feet with something of the assurance
of a cat. Their tails are not necessary to them as supports.

It is interesting to inquire into the reasons for curious habits of
birds. In the economy of Nature one finds marvelous adaptations and
harmonies. Mr. Francis H. Allen, in his delightful sketch written for
the National Association of Audubon Societies, speaks of the nuthatch as
“filling a gap in nature” by approaching his prey from an angle not
possible to woodpeckers and creepers. Mr. Allen says: “He would not have
adopted so unusual a method of feeding if it had not stood him in good
stead. I suspect that by approaching his prey from above he detects
insects and insect-eggs in the crevices of the bark which would be
hidden from another point of view. The woodpeckers and the creepers can
take care of the rest. Of course these other birds get something of a
downward view as they bend their heads forward, but the Nuthatch has the
advantage of seeing, before he gets to them, some insects which even a
Brown Creeper’s gentle approach would scare into closer hiding in their
holes and crannies.”[42]

In addition to beetles, moths, caterpillars, ants, and wasps, the
nuthatch eats seeds, waste grain, and nuts such as acorns, beechnuts,
and chestnuts.[43] His habit of wedging nuts into some crevice that will
hold them securely, and then using his strong bill as a hatchet to
“hatch” open the nuts is well-known. From that habit he derives his
name, which Mr. Forbush says originated probably from _nuthack_ or
_nuthacker_. The bird does much good, and no harm that is known.

He is active and cheerful, inquisitive, and intelligent. He makes an
interesting winter companion. During an ice-storm in Asheville, N. C., a
nuthatch was attracted by fragments of bread scattered for the hungry
winter birds during their famine time. This nuthatch pounced on large
crumbs so greedily and purloined them so rapidly that my sisters feared
he would die of acute indigestion! They finally discovered that he had
wedged the crumbs into large crevices in the bark of a tree near by, and
had stowed one good-sized crust in a hole in a telegraph-pole. When he
had appropriated most of the bread, he spent the day feasting, going
from one store house to another.

A nuthatch in Massachusetts frequently sought an improvised
feeding-table made from a bluebird’s nesting-box. One cold morning the
owner saw him emerging from the box, where he had evidently “spent the
night sitting on his breakfast,” literally seated in the lap of luxury.
He reminded me of that delicious tale I loved to read and contemplate
during childhood,—of the children who lived in a candy house and ate
their way out of it!

Another New England nuthatch, one that I watched at my feeding-table, at
first made rapid inroads upon the suet-cage, storing pieces in the
cracks of a tree near by. I saw him tuck one large crumb beneath a
warped shingle of the chicken-house, evidently laying it up for an icy
day, instead of the proverbial rainy one. When an unusually severe
ice-storm occurred, he returned to his store house and the crumb
disappeared. I had the satisfaction of having assisted him in his dire

                       THE RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH
                       _Nuthatch Family—Sittidæ_

The Red-breasted Nuthatch is very similar to its white-breasted cousin
except that it is smaller, (4½ to 5 inches), and is _yellowish_ or
“_rusty_” _underneath_, (except for a white throat), has a _white
stripe_ on each side of its _black crown_, and a _black stripe extending
through the eye_. The head of the female is gray, with white and gray

This species is not so well known as the white-breasted nuthatch,
because it frequents coniferous forests or woods that contain
evergreens. It breeds from the Upper Yukon Valley, central Canada, and
northern United States, and winters as far south as lower California,
New Mexico, Arizona, and the Gulf Coast.

Mr. Allen says of this bird: “To those who know it the Red-breasted
Nuthatch is dear out of all proportion to its size and its musical
attainments. It is livelier than its big cousin, and prettier in its
markings, and there is something particularly fetching about its quaint
little form. It is even less of a songster than the white-breasted
species, for prolongations and repetitions of its call-note seem to be
all it has that can pass for a song. This call-note can be rendered as
_äap_. It is nasal, like that of the White-breasted Nuthatch, but much
higher in pitch, more drawling, and lacks the _r_. It has been happily
likened to the sound of a tiny trumpet or tin horn.

“The habits of the Red-breasted Nuthatch are so like those of the
White-breasted that much that I have said about that species is
applicable to this. The most striking difference is in the favorite
haunts of the two birds, the Red-breasted preferring the coniferous
woods, or mixed woods that contain a large proportion of evergreens. In
those winters when they are found in southern New England, they come
freely to the neighborhood of man’s dwellings and feed familiarly on the
supplies provided for the winter birds, but even there they show their
partiality for coniferous trees. They are particularly fond of the seeds
of pines and spruces, so that they are much more vegetarian than their
white-breasted cousins. They have the same habit of hiding their savings
in cracks and crevices.”[44]

                           THE BROWN CREEPER
                       _Creeper Family—Certhiidæ_

Length: About 5½ inches.

Male and Female: Brown above, mottled with gray, buff, and white; under
    parts white. A _whitish line over eye_; bill long, curved; a bar of
    buff across wings; tail-feathers long, _sharply pointed_; _upper
    tail-coverts bright reddish-brown_.

Note: A faint, monotonous, _skreek-skreek, skreek-skreek_.

Song: According to Brewster, the brown creeper sings an unusually sweet
    song during the nesting season.

Habitat: Tree-trunks, which are carefully inspected by these industrious

Range: Eastern North America. Breeds from Nebraska, Indiana, the
    mountains of North Carolina and Massachusetts north to southern
    Canada; also in the mountains of western North America from Alaska
    to Nicaragua; winters over most of its range.

The Brown Creeper should inherit the earth, for he is one of the most
perfect examples of meekness that may be found. Small, slight,
self-effacing, untiring in his work, he reminds one of a quiet
industrious person who performs unremittingly small tasks that amount to
a large total.

He is a searcher for insect-eggs, and for insects so small that they
might escape the notice of eyes not peculiarly fitted to espy them. His
long bill is slender enough to slip into crevices which neither
nuthatches nor woodpeckers investigate. Possibly it is because he
selects such tiny particles of food that he must work so industriously
in order to get enough to eat. He seems always in a hurry. Mr. Frank
Chapman has humorously described the brown creeper as follows:

[Illustration: BROWN CREEPER]

“After watching him for several minutes, one becomes impressed with the
fact that he has lost the only thing in the world he ever cared for, and
that his one object in life is to find it. Ignoring you completely, with
scarcely a pause, he winds his way in a preoccupied, near-sighted manner
up a tree-trunk. Having finally reached the top of his spiral staircase,
one might suppose he would rest long enough to survey his surroundings,
but like a bit of loosened bark he drops off to the base of the nearest
tree and resumes his never-ending task.”[45]

The creeper is not easy to find. He is so wonderfully protected by his
dull brown feathers that he looks more like an animated lichen than a
bird. His nest is a cleverly camouflaged affair, tucked behind loose
bark and often containing eight whitish eggs about the size of beans.

We are surprised to learn that this patient, hard-working little
creature has the soul of a poet. His sweet nesting song, reserved for
his mate brooding in the woods, breathes exquisite tenderness and

                              THE STARLING
                       _Starling Family—Sturnidæ_

Length: About 8½ inches.

General Appearance: A _short-tailed, long-billed black bird_ with flecks
    of brown that look like freckles.

Male and Female: Head purple, flecked with light brown spots; body
    purple and green, the purple predominating on back and sides, the
    green on the breast. In summer, the upper parts and sides are
    speckled, the breast and belly dark, and the _bill yellow_. In
    winter, the upper parts are spotted with light brown, the under
    parts with white; the bill is _brown_ until January, when it begins
    to turn yellow.

Notes: Squeaks and gurgles, interspersed with pleasant musical notes. A
    flock of starlings make a great deal of noise.

Range: Numerous starlings live in the Eastern Hemisphere. A number of
    them were brought to America in 1890 and released in Central Park,
    New York City. They have increased in number and enlarged their
    range greatly. They have spread northward and southward; they are
    now reasonably common near Boston and Washington, as well as New
    York and other places in the East.

In the winter, starlings are easily identified, because they are the
only black birds smaller than crows to be found in some localities. In
the spring, they may be readily distinguished from grackles because they
have _yellow bills_, _dark eyes_, and _short, square_ tails, while
grackles have _dark_ bills, _yellow_ eyes, and _long_ tails. Both
starlings and grackles are iridescent; a near view reveals the spotted
plumage of the starlings and the iridescent bars on the backs of the
purple grackles.

Major Bendire says that starlings possess unusual adaptability and can
make their nests in a great variety of places. Accusations are brought
against them for driving away bluebirds and even flickers. It remains to
be seen how much harm is done to our native birds in this way.

There are different opinions regarding the economic value of Old World
starlings. Mr. Forbush tells of an Australian locust invasion near
Ballarat, Victoria, which made terrible havoc with crops. “It was feared
that all the sheep would have to be sold for want of grass, when flocks
of Starlings, Spoon-bills, and Cranes made their appearance and in a few
days made so complete a destruction of the locusts that only about forty
acres of grass were lost.” Mr. Forbush gives also “the experience of the
forest authorities in Bavaria during the great and destructive outbreak
of the nun moth which occurred there from 1889 to 1891. The flight of
Starlings collected in one locality alone was creditably estimated at
ten thousand, all busily feeding on the caterpillars, pupæ and moths.
The attraction of Starlings to such centers became so great that
market-gardeners at a distance felt their absence seriously.”[46]

In an article by E. R. Kalmbach of the Biological Survey, published in
“The Auk” of April, 1922, and entitled “A Comparison of the Food Habits
of British and American Starlings,” occur the following statements by
Dr. Walter E. Collinge, the eminent Scotch biologist:

“The Starling offers a most serious menace to the production of
home-grown food, and any further increase in its numbers can only be
fraught with the most serious consequences.” He says also, “For many
years past there has been taking place a sure but gradual change of
opinion with reference to the economic status of the Starling, for from
one of our most useful wild birds it has become one of the most
injurious. Its alarming increase throughout the country threatens our
cereal and fruit crops, and the magnitude of the plague is now fully
realized.” He states further, “There is fairly reasonable evidence to
show that in the past the bulk of the food consisted of insects and
insect larvæ, slugs, snails, earthworms, millepedes, weed seeds, and
wild fruits; in more recent years, this has been supplemented by cereals
and cultivated fruits and roots.”

Mr. Kalmbach reports a better record for the starling in America, and
refers to the decision made by the Department of Agriculture, reported
in Bulletin 868:

“Most of the Starling’s food habits have been demonstrated to be either
beneficial to man or of a neutral character. Furthermore, it has been
found that the time the bird spends in destroying crops or in molesting
other birds is extremely short compared with the endless hours it spends
searching for insects or feeding on wild fruits. Nevertheless, no policy
would be sound which would give the bird absolute protection and afford
no relief to the farmer whose crops are threatened by a local
overabundance of the species.... The individual farmer will be well
rewarded by allowing a reasonable number of Starlings to conduct their
nesting operations on the farm. Later in the season a little vigilance
will prevent these easily frightened birds from exacting an unfair toll
for services rendered.”

                        _Shrike Family—Laniidæ_

Length: A little over 10 inches.

Male and Female: Gray above, lighter underneath; forehead, rump, and
    upper tail-coverts white; wings black, irregularly marked with
    white; tail black, bordered with white; _a heavy black streak
    extending from the bill beyond the eye_; _bill hooked_ and blackish.

Notes: A call-note and a sweet song.

Habitat: Fields or roadsides where it can find insects, small rodents,
    and little birds for its prey.

Range: Northern North America. Breeds from northwestern Alaska and
    northern Canada to the base of the Alaskan Peninsula, Saskatchewan,
    Ontario, and Quebec; winters south to central California, Arizona,
    New Mexico, Texas, Kentucky, and Virginia.

The LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE, a resident of the Southern States, is similar to
    the Northern Shrike but smaller. It is found from southern Florida
    to North Carolina and west to Louisiana. Northward this species is
    represented by the MIGRANT SHRIKE, nesting locally from Virginia and
    eastern Kansas to the southern border of Canada.

Shrikes or Butcher-Birds are attractive to look at, but have a habit
which renders them extremely unpopular. They pursue small rodents and
little birds and impale them upon sharp twigs, thorns, or barbed wire
fences. In excuse for these cruel acts, it must be said that they have
not strong, sharp talons like hawks and owls; in order to tear their
prey to pieces, there must be a way of holding it firmly.[47] One agrees
with Mr. Forbush, however, in his estimate of the habit. He says:

“The Shrike or Butcher-Bird is regarded as beneficial; but our winter
visitor, the Northern Shrike, kills many small birds. It pursues Tree
Sparrows, Juncos, Song Sparrows, and Chickadees, overtakes and strikes
them while they are in flight, sometimes eating them, but oftener
leaving them to hang on trees, where they furnish food for other birds.
When one sees the little Butcher killing Chickadees and hanging them up,
his faith in its usefulness receives a great shock. Shrikes are probably
of less value here than in their northern homes, where in summer they
feed much on insects. Their chief utility while here [in Massachusetts]
consists in their mouse-hunting proclivities.”[47]

Their habit of killing English sparrows and thus getting rid of a
nuisance has been commended. Shrikes are likewise destroyers of
grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, and other insects.

“Like birds of prey and some other birds, the Butcher-Bird habitually
disgorges the indigestible part of its food after digesting the
nutritive portion. The bones and hair of mice are rolled into compact
pellets in the stomach before being disgorged.”[48]

                         OUR EARLY SPRING BIRDS
                               PART THREE

                           EARLY SPRING BIRDS

On a mild day late in February or early in March, before winter is
really over and snow has entirely disappeared, one may hear the cheerful
voice of the song sparrow, the welcome chirp of the robin, or the sweet
note of the bluebird. Even though ice and snow return, courage is
renewed with the advent of winged messengers who presage the ever fresh
miracle of spring, and who hold home-love in their hearts so strong that
they brave cold and distance to return to the “Land of Their Hearts’

As the season advances, other birds arrive. A “dusky line” of wild geese
“honk” noisily; flocks of grackles “creak” from the pines; red-winged
blackbirds join the hylas in awakening the marshes; phœbes call
disconsolately for their mates; fox sparrows, chewinks, and
white-throats sing melodiously from thickets; cowbirds appear in fields,
which ring with the clear songs of meadowlarks and the tender notes of
field and vesper sparrows. Mourning doves coo gently to each other;
chipping sparrows make their homes in our gardens; kingfishers sound
their rattles; flickers and red-headed woodpeckers raise their loud
voices. The hills “clap their hands with joy”; the earth shows a flush
of green and gold; trees and shrubs are touched with colors more
exquisite than in autumn; wild-flowers carpet the woods and fields, and
brooks join in the chorus of bird-song.

As the birds appear, it is not difficult to distinguish them, if one
begins before the great migration of late April or early May, and goes
forth with alert senses and infinite patience and perseverance. With a
reliable guide-book, a learner may be reasonably sure of the early
migrants, because only certain species of large and confusing families
are to be found during March and early April.

In watching birds, a student learns to observe with lightning speed; to
note color and comparative size; distinguishing marks such as crests or
striped crowns, spots on breast or throat, bars on wings or tail; the
length and shape of bill, wings, tail, and legs. He learns also to
notice whether the bird walks, runs, hops, or “teeters”; whether its
flight is swift or slow, direct like a robin’s, undulating like a
goldfinch’s, soaring like that of hawks and eagles, labored or jerky
like woodpeckers’, or graceful and “skimming” like that of swallows.

A careful observer notices also whether the bird was seen in a plowed
field or a grassy pasture; by a roadside or in a thicket; in an orchard
or an open grove; in deep woods or coniferous forests; in a treetop, on
a tree-trunk, on the ground; near a stream, a pond, or a marsh; near a
sandy or a rocky shore; in an arid region, or among mountains.

A sure means of identification for many species is the song or the
call-note. The songs of some birds are similar to those of others, but
there is usually a characteristic note or strain. When beginning my
study of birds, I traced every sound I could to its source, waited till
I saw the author of the note or song, listened till I learned it, could
reproduce it, or at least be sure of future recognition. I found that
the training of my sense of hearing opened an avenue of enjoyment of
which I had been utterly unconscious; many others testify to a similar
pleasure. Thoreau speaks repeatedly of his joy in sound and even in
silence. Truly the voice of God may thus be heard and His infinite power
further revealed.

                            MIGRATION LISTS

       Dates of Arrival of “Summer Visitants” Near New York City

                             February 15 to 28
  Purple Grackle
  Rusty Blackbird
  Red-winged Blackbird
  Winter Residents and Visitants

                            BIRDS SEEN IN MARCH

                  _Winter Residents Leaving For The North_
  Northern Shrike
  Horned Lark

                     _Migrants Arriving From The South_

  4 species of Ducks

                               March 1 to 10
  Purple Grackle
  Red-winged Blackbird
  Rusty Blackbird

                               March 10 to 20
  Fox Sparrow

                               March 20 to 31
  Mourning Dove
  Swamp Sparrow
  White-throated Sparrow
  Wilson’s Snipe

                            BIRDS SEEN IN APRIL

                  _Winter Residents Leaving For The North_
  Tree Sparrow
  Winter Wren
  Brown Creeper
  Red-breasted Nuthatch
  Golden-crowned Kinglet

                     _Migrants Arriving From The South_

                               April 1 to 10
  Great Blue Heron
  Black-crowned Night Heron
  Vesper Sparrow
  Field Sparrow
  Chipping Sparrow
  Tree Swallow
  Myrtle Warbler
  Hermit Thrush

                               April 10 to 20
  Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
  Barn Swallow
  Yellow Palm Warbler
  Pine Warbler
  Louisiana Water-thrush
  Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  Green Heron

                               April 20 to 30
  Chimney Swift
  Least Flycatcher
  Purple Martin
  Cliff Swallow
  Bank Swallow
  Rough-winged Swallow
  Black and White Warbler
  Black-throated Green Warbler
  Brown Thrasher
  Spotted Sandpiper

                           BIRDS ARRIVING IN MAY

                                May 1 to 10
  Yellow-billed Cuckoo
  Black-billed Cuckoo
  Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  Crested Flycatcher
  Baltimore Oriole
  Indigo Bunting
  Rose-breasted Grosbeak
  Scarlet Tanager
  Red-eyed Vireo
  Warbling Vireo
  Yellow-throated Vireo
  White-eyed Vireo
  Blue-winged Warbler
  Parula Warbler
  Black-throated Blue Warbler
  Magnolia Warbler
  Yellow-breasted Chat
  Chestnut-sided Warbler
  Hooded Warbler
  Yellow Warbler
  Maryland Yellow-throat
  House Wren
  Wood Thrush

                                May 10 to 20
  Wood Pewee
  White-crowned Sparrow
  Golden-winged Warbler
  Worm-eating Warbler
  Blackburnian Warbler
  Bay-breasted Warbler
  Black-poll Warbler
  Wilson’s Warbler
  Canadian Warbler
  Marsh Wrens
  Olive-backed Thrush
  Gray-cheeked Thrush
  Bicknell’s Thrush


  Red-bellied Woodpecker
  Summer Tanager
  Carolina Chickadee
  Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  Numerous Water-birds that nest in the Antarctic regions visit our
              shores during the summer.

                               FALL MIGRATION

                  _Summer Residents Leaving For The South_

                             September 1 to 10
  Orchard Oriole
  Rough-winged Swallow
  Worm-eating Warbler
  Blue-winged Warbler

                             September 10 to 20
  Baltimore Oriole
  Purple Martin
  Yellow Warbler
  Yellow-breasted Chat

                             September 20 to 30
  Green Heron
  Crested Flycatcher
  Wood Pewee
  Rose-breasted Grosbeak
  Yellow-throated Vireo
  Warbling Vireo
  Hooded Warbler
  Louisiana Water-thrush

                     _Migrants Arriving From The North_

                             September 1 to 10
  Black-poll Warbler
  Connecticut Warbler

                             September 10 to 20
  Wilson’s Snipe
  Olive-backed Thrush
  Bicknell’s Thrush

                             September 20 to 30
  Herring Gull
  White-throated Sparrow
  White-crowned Sparrow
  Myrtle Warbler
  Yellow Palm Warbler
  Brown Creeper
  Golden-crowned Kinglet
  Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  Winter Wren
  Gray-cheeked Thrush

                              October 1 to 10
  Black-crowned Night Heron
  Yellow-billed Cuckoo
  Black-billed Cuckoo
  Chimney Swift
  Least Flycatcher
  Indigo Bunting
  Scarlet Tanager
  Cliff Swallow
  Barn Swallow
  Bank Swallow
  White-eyed Vireo
  Black and White Warbler
  Wood Thrush

                              October 10 to 20
  Spotted Sandpiper
  Red-eyed Vireo
  Maryland Yellow-throat
  Brown Thrasher
  House Wren
  Marsh Wren

                              October 20 to 31
  Tree Swallow

                     _Migrants Arriving From The North_

                              October 1 to 10
  Bronzed Grackle
  Rusty Blackbird
  Hermit Thrush
  Canada Goose
  Pintail and Mallard Ducks

                              October 10 to 20
  Fox Sparrow

                              October 20 to 31
  Horned Lark
  Tree Sparrow
  Northern Shrike


                      _Migrants Leaving For The South_
  Mourning Dove
  Belted Kingfisher
  Red-winged Blackbird
  Purple Grackle
  Vesper Sparrow
  Chipping Sparrow
  Field Sparrow

                           BIRDS SEEN IN DECEMBER

  Permanent Residents
  Winter Residents and Visitants

It is interesting to note that the earliest arrivals in the spring are
the last to migrate in the fall. The reason is the food-supply. The
insectivorous birds arrive later and leave earlier than those that have
a more varied diet. An unusually severe winter sends birds south of
their usual winter range.

The dates of migration must necessarily vary with latitude. Migrants
arrive near Washington a week or two earlier than near New York City,
and near Boston a few days later. The lateness of the spring sometimes
causes a delay of a week or two. The May arrivals appear more nearly on
schedule. After May 15 birds begin to decrease in number, the “Transient
Visitors” passing farther north; by June 5 we have with us our
“Permanent Residents” and “Summer Residents.”

In the fall the mildness of a season may cause November migrants to
remain into December, or an open winter may tempt those that habitually
migrate only a short distance to remain north of their usual winter


                           THE AMERICAN ROBIN
                        _Thrush Family—Turdidæ_

Length: 10 inches.

Male: Head black; bill yellow; a white spot above and below eye; throat
    white, streaked with black; back and wings gray; tail black, with
    white spots near tips of outer feathers; white beneath tail; entire
    breast and sides reddish-brown; color less brilliant in autumn and
    winter, and bill darker.

Young Female: Paler than male.

Young: Similar to female, except for speckled breasts and backs.

Call-note: A sharp _tut_, used to express anger or alarm; also a sweet
    tender note, with which it encourages its young or converses with
    its mate.

Song: A loud, clear morning song, _Cheer-up, cheer-up, cheer-up,
    cheer-up_, sweeter and more subdued toward evening. The song varies
    decidedly with different individuals. Many robins seem to enjoy
    improvisations; we may hear them sing their somewhat monotonous
    strain with pleasing variations. During their sojourn in the South
    they sing but little, and live in flocks remote from human
    habitations; consequently they are not loved as they are in the

Range: North America, breeding from the tree-limit south to the northern
    part of the Gulf States and Mexican tableland; in winter, to Florida
    and the highlands of Guatemala.

None of our birds is so well-known and so universally beloved as the
robin. He, together with the song sparrow and the bluebird, arrives at a
time when we are weary of winter and yearning for spring. He seems to
show so much eagerness to return to us that he receives a hearty
welcome. He is the first bird that we knew in childhood, unless it be
the English sparrow; our earliest books were filled with tales and poems
concerning him. Most of us have a fund of anecdotes that we could

[Illustration: ROBIN]

A robin has distinct individuality. His is a many-sided nature. He is
cheerful and optimistic, aggressive and fearless, pugnacious and
ardent—like the brave Lochinvar, “so daring in love and so dauntless in
war,”—yet withal tender, joyous, and lovable. He is a fighter at mating
time, but a gentle husband.

There are few bird-choruses as sweet as robins’ rain-song or even-song.
I recall a flock of these happy birds singing from maple-tops in a
little village nestled beside a brawling river, when patches of brown
earth showed beneath melting snow, and heavy rain-clouds broke away to
reveal a golden western sky. The robins sang with the joy that my own
heart felt at the renewal of life on the earth. I once heard their
even-song in an elm-shaded college-town of Massachusetts during a lovely
Sunday evening in June, when church-bells rang and robins held a vesper
service all their own. My sister and I walked beneath the great arched
trees and found ourselves speaking in whispers, as was our habit in the
cathedrals of the Old World.

The robin’s _tut-tut_, or _tut-tut-tut′-tut-tut-tut-tut_,—his scolding
note,—is very similar to the exclamation of reproof our grandfather used
to administer to us for childish misdemeanors. It is amusing to see how
robins use this form of remonstrance to humans. John Burroughs wrote
that he was kept out of his own summer-house by a female robin that was
nesting there. She scolded him so soundly for trespassing upon his own
property, which she had appropriated, that he could have no peace. He
finally left her in possession till her young had flown.[49] I had a
similar experience when picking cherries in a friend’s garden. A robin
had preceded me and resented my intrusion in no uncertain manner. No
angry fishmonger of Billingsgate ever hurled more noisy vituperation at
a thief than did that robin fling at me, especially when I coolly
refused to heed his commands to “Keep Off.”

I recall an amusing experience with a robin family one summer. The
second brood of hungry babies were clamoring for “More,” and following
their overworked father about as I have seen human babies tease their
mothers. He was decidedly “frayed” as to temper, but he chose to assume
the entire parental responsibility. His faded, bedraggled spouse,
perched disconsolately upon the roof of the chicken-house, flew down two
or three times into the bosom of the family and endeavored to “do her
bit”; but her testy husband drove her off each time with a sharp
_tut-tut_, until in despair she remained upon the ridge-pole peeping
forlornly. The father proceeded to pull up worms for his gaping brood in
a manner so irritated and strenuous that I wondered whether he had had a
“family jar,” or was only worn out with anxiety and overwork. It is a
huge task to feed one baby robin alone, who can eat sixty-eight
angleworms a day,[50] or one hundred and sixty-five cutworms.[51]

Robins do good to the soil by dragging forth earthworms and preventing
their too rapid increase. Mr. Forbush calls attention to the value of
these birds in devouring “dormant cutworms and caterpillars even in
February,” also quantities of the larvæ of March flies and white grubs
that injure grass. The robin is an enemy of caterpillars, especially
those that live near the ground; his destruction of cutworms and white
grubs alone entitles him to our gratitude. He does eat early cherries,
and has been bitterly arraigned for so doing. When later cherries,
apples, peaches, pears, and grapes are ripe, wild fruits and mulberries
which he eats by preference, have also matured; so on the whole, he does
little harm.[52] He is now protected in most of our states.

A Maine robin that had an inordinate love for cherries and
garden-raspberries was at first intimidated by a most lifelike,
well-set-up scarecrow placed in the garden for his benefit. But he grew
wiser as the days passed: he approached the fearful creature and
received no harm. Familiarity finally bred contempt, for one day he was
discovered perched upon the scarecrow’s shoulder eating a raspberry!

Robins become very tame. I once had the pleasure of the companionship of
a dear, gentle, little English robin—a bird very different in size and
manner from his American cousin—who would come out of the shrubbery
whenever I called him. He would approach within two or three feet of my
chair, to snatch the soft crumbs that I placed on the ground to lure
him. He rewarded me frequently with his delightful little bubbling song.

An American robin during a March ice-storm learned that bread crumbs
were to be found upon the window-sill of a house in Cleveland. He flew
to the sill frequently. When he found no crumb awaiting him, he would
tap on the pane, then fly away a short distance and remain until a fresh
supply appeared. He and his mate nested in an apple-tree near by. They
and their brood were fed in this way the entire season by their
bird-loving friends, until they were in danger of becoming pauperized!
One morning the following March while the Cleveland family were
breakfasting, they heard the familiar tap upon the pane! There was Robin
back again—you may imagine his welcome! For four years, he continued to
announce his arrival in the same manner, and to build in the same yard;
each year he and his family were supplied with part of their food by
their devoted friends. Then ill must have befallen him, for he never

To another Ohio woman came the joy of having a robin enter her room
frequently. She had tempted him with crumbs inside a window-sill. One
day he perched upon the sewing-machine where she was at work, and sang
his sweet song to her, as the busy machine hummed its tune.

A robin’s nest is an untidy affair, but it is something that we should
miss were it not a part of our environment. Few birds’ eggs are more
lovely in color than those of the familiar robins’-egg blue, nestled in
their grass-lined cup of clay. Olive Thorne Miller wrote of a clever
robin that wished to build her nest during an almost rainless spring.
She could find no mud, so she waded about in her drinking-dish to wet
her legs; she then hopped into the dust, and with her bill scraped the
mud off her legs. This she did repeatedly, until she had the necessary

I once saw a mother-robin sheltering her brood during a rainstorm of
great violence. Her soft body and outspread wings were pelted by the
rain, but she seemed quite oblivious to everything except to keep harm
from her young. Her protecting attitude and the look in her bright eyes
made as beautiful an expression of mother-love as I ever witnessed.

                              THE BLUEBIRD
                        _Thrush Family—Turdidæ_

Length: About 6½ to 7 inches.

General Appearance: Upper parts bright blue; under parts reddish-brown;
    _no crest_.

Male: Head, back, and tail bright blue; wings blue, edged with black; in
    the fall, edged with reddish-brown; throat, breast, and sides
    reddish-brown; white from center of breast to tail.

Female: Similar to male, but paler; wings and tail brightest in flight.

Young: Grayish-blue, speckled with whitish; wings and tail bluish.

Call-note: An indescribably sweet rendering of the syllables,
    _Cheer-e-o_, given usually while the bird is on the wing.

Song: A gentle warble of exceptional sweetness—_whew′-ee, whew′-ee,
    whew′-ee_, uttered tenderly and pensively.

Habitat: Orchards and gardens. The birds are usually seen in pairs, and
    like rather conspicuous perches, such as fence-posts and telegraph

Nest: Made of grasses and placed in old hollow trees, preferably
    apple-trees. One objection raised against tree-surgery is that it
    deprives bluebirds of nesting-sites, but that objection may be
    removed by furnishing nesting-boxes.

Range: Eastern North America. Breeds from southern Canada and
    Newfoundland to the Gulf Coast and Florida, west to the Rockies;
    winters in the southern half of the eastern U. S., south to

[Illustration: BLUEBIRD]

As spring approaches, I invariably “go a-hunting,” not for
“rabbit-skins,” but for song sparrows and bluebirds. Robins usually seek
us, and sometimes their blue-winged cousins call _Cheer-e-o_ as they fly
swiftly over our housetops; but I am never happy until I have visited an
orchard or pasture frequented by these heaven-sent birds. “My heart
leaps up when I behold” once more their exquisite blue and hear their
soft, delightful warble. Then I know that spring is really on her way,
and I am again eager and expectant.

Bluebirds have always been much beloved, especially in New England.
Florence Merriam writes: “Although the Bluebird did not come over in the
Mayflower, it is said that when the Pilgrim Fathers came to New England
this bird was one of the first whose gentle warblings attracted their
notice, and, from its resemblance to the beloved Robin Redbreast of
their native land, they called it the Blue Robin.”[54]

The bluebird has always been a favorite theme for poets and
nature-writers, especially in New England, where the beauty and warm
coloring of this sweet bird seem exceptionally welcome after a long,
severe winter. In Thoreau’s diary, “Early Spring in Massachusetts,” he
refers to the bluebird thirteen times and writes: “The bluebird—angel of
the spring! Fair and innocent, yet the offspring of the earth. The color
of the sky, above, and of the subsoil beneath, suggesting what sweet and
innocent melody, terrestrial melody, may have its birthplace between the
sky and the ground.”[55]

Burroughs, too, makes frequent mention of the bluebird. In “Under The
Maples” he says: “None of our familiar birds endear themselves to us
more than does the bluebird. The first bluebird in the spring is as
welcome as the blue sky itself. The season seems softened and tempered
as soon as we hear his note and see his warm breast and azure wing. His
gentle manners, his soft, appealing voice, not less than his pleasing
hues, seem born of the bright and genial skies. He is the spirit of
April days incarnated in a bird. Not strictly a songster, yet his every
note and call is from out the soul of harmony.”[56]

Bluebirds are of economic as well as æsthetic value. They devour
cutworms and other kinds of caterpillars, grasshoppers, crickets,
katydids, and beetles. They eat fruit in the winter; they prefer that
taken from pastures, swamps, and hedgerows, rather than from gardens or
orchards. They never destroy cultivated crops; on the contrary, benefit

These birds are such devoted lovers that one is rarely seen far from its
mate. The female is very gentle and timid; she seems to need reassurance
and protection. There are times, however, when she knows her own mind
and shows firmness of character. A male bluebird in Asheville, N. C.,
intoxicated by the warmth of a sunshiny January day, wooed a female
ardently. She was very distant and finally dismissed him. She evidently
had sufficient foresight to realize that it would be disastrous to go to
housekeeping so early and therefore withheld her consent.

Numerous instances have been recorded of bluebirds that have lost their
mates by accident and have mourned so deeply as to touch the heart of
any one who saw the tragedy or heard the cries of sorrow.

                            THE SONG SPARROW
                       _Finch Family—Fringillidæ_

Length: A little over 6 inches; about the size of the English sparrow.

General Appearance: A small brown bird with a grayish breast, a body
    heavily streaked with black, _a black spot in the center of breast_,
    and at each side of the throat.

Male and Female: Brown head with black streaks, a grayish line in center
    and over eye; brown line back of eye; back brown and gray, streaked
    with black; wings brown, with black spots,—no white bars; throat
    grayish-white; _a dark patch on each_ side of throat; _a conspicuous
    black spot in center of breast_; belly white; sides whitish,
    streaked with brown and black; tail long, brown, darkest in center.

Call-note: _Chip, chip_—sharp and metallic.

Song: A sweet cheerful strain, with considerable variety in different
    individuals. It usually consists of three notes that sound like
    “See? See? See?” followed by a short trill. Henry van Dyke
    interprets the song as _Sweet, sweet, sweet, very merry cheer_.

Habitat: Bushes; near water, preferably.

Range: North America, east of the Rocky Mts. Breeds in Canada from Great
    Slave Lake to Cape Breton Island, south to southern Nebraska,
    central Missouri, Kentucky, southern Virginia, the mountains of
    North Carolina. Winters from Nebraska, Illinois, Massachusetts
    (locally) and New Jersey, south to the Gulf Coast.

[Illustration: SONG SPARROW]

The Song Sparrow, like air and sunshine, is a part of our daily lives
after we have once become acquainted with him. In some localities he
takes up his abode permanently; in others, he arrives in late February
or early March and remains until November. Joy in life and deep
contentment abide with him. He is the most incurable optimist of my
acquaintance. I have heard him sing beside a brook that has just broken
its icy fetters, while patches of snow still remained on the ground;
during days of rain which silenced most songsters; through hot summer
noons and during the almost songless molting-season,—nothing seems to
daunt him, from early morning until sunset. Occasionally during the
night is heard his simple strain, as though he needs must sing in his

His song is pleasing, but in no way remarkable. It is in a major key and
lacks the ecstasy and piercing sweetness of the fox sparrow’s, and the
exquisite tenderness of the field and the vesper sparrow’s, but it
possesses a charm all its own. It breathes a joy in simple things—a
steadfast and cheerful courage that makes us say, “He, too, is no mean

Song sparrows, like other members of the Finch family, are of great
service in their destruction of insects and weed seeds, of which they
consume enormous quantities. They eat wild berries and fruits only when
their favorite food is not obtainable. They possess no bad habits and
are desirable “bird-neighbors” to cultivate. Water always attracts them;
one is most likely to find them near streams, in which they love to

Their nests are made largely of grasses, dead leaves, and root-fibres,
and are lined with soft grasses. They are placed in bushes or on the
ground. The eggs, pale in color and flecked with brown, are well
concealed by their markings. Song sparrows, usually serene, grow
intensely nervous when the nest is approached, and betray its
whereabouts by their incessant _Chip, chip_.

                            THE SONG SPARROW

  “See? See? See? The herald of spring you see!
  What matters if winds blow piercingly!
  The brook, long ice-bound, struggles through
  Its glistening fetters, and murmurs anew
  With joy at the freedom the days will bring
  When the snow has gone! And I, too, sing!

  “See? See? See? A flush of color you see!
  The tassels are hung on the budding tree,
  Before it has drawn its curtain of leaves
  To shade the homes of the birds. Now weaves
  The silent spring a carpet fair,
  With wind-flower and hepatica there.

  “See? See? See? You are glad to welcome me.
  You will hear my voice ring cheerfully
  Through Summer’s heat or days of rain
  Until the winter has come again.
  From dawn till dusk, my heart is gay,
  And I sing my happy life away.
        See? See? See?”

                            THE FOX SPARROW
                       _Finch Family—Fringillidæ_

Length: A little over 7 inches; about an inch longer than the English
    sparrow, and nearly as large as a hermit thrush.

Male and Female: Upper parts reddish-brown, _brightest_ on _lower back_
    and _tail_. (The red-brown tail is a distinguishing mark of the fox
    sparrow as it is of the hermit thrush.) Under parts grayish-white;
    _throat_, _breast_, _belly_, and _sides_ _heavily_ and _irregularly
    streaked_ with reddish-brown and black, except the middle of the
    belly, which is white.

Note: A faint _seep_ or _cheep_.

Song: The most beautiful of all the sparrows’—a burst of melody
    possessing sweetness and power; joyous, yet with a minor strain.

Habitat: Tall thickets or clumps of weeds.

Range: North America. Breeds in the forest-regions of Canada and Alaska;
    winters from the lower Ohio and Potomac Valleys to central Texas and
    northern Florida.

Never shall I forget the thrill of surprise and ecstasy which my first
fox sparrow brought to me! My sister and I were on eager quest for early
migrants in open woods and overgrown pastures, when from a thicket of
tall shrubs there burst so marvelous a “concord of sweet sounds” that we
were spell-bound. No words can describe the tenderness, the joyous
abandon, yet withal the strain of sadness in the song, as though the
choristers had drunk deep of life, had visioned clearly its secrets, and
transmuted its experiences. When the music had become a soft cadence, we
sought the singers, and found a band of thrush like sparrows scratching
in the old brown leaves like bantam hens. They remained in the thicket
for several days, singing most rapturously toward sunset.

Though shy birds and seen infrequently, fox sparrows occasionally
approach houses. During a deep spring snow that covered the birds’
natural food-supply, several of these north-bound migrants came three
times a day with a flock of juncos to feed on bread-crumbs in our back
yard. Like Tommy Tucker, they “sang for their supper.” Twice they
arrived before a fresh supply of crumbs had been scattered; their songs
announced their presence and were accompanied by the gentle trill of the
juncos. A large flock remained in Middlesex Fells for several days.

Most bird-lovers consider an experience with fox sparrows as out of the
ordinary. Thoreau wrote: “Is not the coming of the fox-colored sparrow
something more earnest and significant than I have dreamed of? These
migrating sparrows bear all messages that concern my life.”[58]

[Illustration: PHŒBE]

                               THE PHŒBE
                     _Flycatcher Family—Tyrranidæ_

Length: About 7 inches; a little larger than the English sparrow.

Male and Female: Grayish-brown above; under parts light gray with
    yellowish wash; breast darker than throat, sides grayish-brown; head
    dark brown, somewhat crested; bill black, slightly hooked at tip,
    with bristles at base; wings dark brown, _with inconspicuous whitish
    wing-bars_; tail dark brown; edge of two outer tail-feathers

Song: No real song. Flycatchers are songless birds. The note is a hoarse
    _Phœbe_, sometimes _Pe-wit-Phœbe_. It is usually uttered mournfully
    and monotonously; occasionally the male gives numerous _Phœbes_
    rapidly while on the wing.

Habitat: Near streams preferably. A favorite nesting site is underneath
    a bridge; eaves of barns or beams of piazzas are also used.

Range: Eastern North America. Breeds from north-central Canada south to
    northeastern New Mexico, central Texas, northern Mississippi and
    highlands of Georgia; winters south of latitude 37° to southern

When March has lost some of its bluster and gentler weather prevails,
there arrives from the land of sunshine and teeming insect life, a small
brown and gray bird—the Phœbe, first of the Flycatcher family to come
North. Like many of the early migrants, he travels without his beloved
little mate, whom he seems to miss sadly; for he sits disconsolately on
a bare twig and calls her name in hoarse, wheezy tones. After she
appears, it is pleasant to see their devotion, not only to each other,
but to the nesting site. How they journey apart the great distance from
South to North and find their own especial bridge or barn year after
year, is one of the great mysteries.

Their large, loosely-constructed nest is made of moss and mud, lined
with soft grass, hair, or feathers. It is usually infested with
bird-lice, as I discovered, to my dismay. It is well not to allow phœbes
to build where the lice may become a nuisance.

Like all the soberly-dressed flycatchers, phœbes seek conspicuous
perches such as posts or dead branches. They have the family habit of
ruffling up their head-feathers into a sort of crest, and of jerking
their tails frequently, especially when uttering their note. They make
unexpected sallies after insects, which their unusually keen eyes can
see from dawn until dark.

Phœbes are among our most useful birds, for they destroy injurious
beetles, weevils, flies that annoy cattle and horses, house flies, ants,
mosquitoes, wasps, spiders, grasshoppers, and numerous other harmful
insects.[59] Their soft brown and gray plumage blends with dull March
meadows, with the silver sheen of the brooks they love, and with silken
pussy-willows and brown willow-boughs.

                            THE BLACK PHŒBE

The Black Phœbe is found from Texas west to the Pacific coast. It
catches flies persistently and well deserves its family name. In
appearance it resembles the slate-colored junco, for it has a dusky
head, back, wings, tail, and breast, with a white belly. Professor Beal
writes of this bird as follows: “The black phœbe has the same habits as
its eastern relative, both as to selection of food and nesting sites,
preferring for the latter purpose some structure of man, as a shed, or,
better still a bridge over a stream of water, and the preference of the
black phœbe for the vicinity of water is very pronounced. One may always
be found at a stream or pool and often at a watering-trough by the

“Careful study of the habits of the bird shows that it obtains a large
portion of its food about wet places. While camping beside a stream in
California the writer took some pains to observe the habits of the black
phœbe. The nesting season was over, and the birds had nothing to do but
eat. This they appeared to be doing all the time. When first observed in
the morning, at the first glimmer of daylight, a phœbe was always found
flitting from rock to rock, although it was so dusky that the bird could
hardly be seen. This activity was kept up all day. Even in the evening,
when it was so dark that notes were written by the aid of the camp fire,
the phœbe was still engaged in its work of collecting, though it was
difficult to understand how it could catch insects when there was
scarcely light enough to see the bird. Exploration of the stream showed
that every portion of it was patrolled by a phœbe, that each one
apparently did not range over more than twelve or thirteen rods of
water, and that sometimes two or three were in close proximity.”[60]

                  _American Blackbird Family—Icteridæ_

Length: 12 to 13½ inches. Tail about 5 inches long, nearly the length of
    that of the blue jay.

General Appearance: A glossy black bird with _yellow eyes_, and a _long
    tail_ that in flight resembles a pointed fan curving toward the
    midrib. Blackbirds _walk_ instead of _hopping_.

Male: Black with beautiful iridescence; head, neck, throat, and breast
    with green, blue, and purple reflections; back and rump purple and
    green, with iridescent bars; wings and tail purplish; under parts

Female: Duller than male, with less iridescence.

Call-note: A hoarse, loud _Chack_.

Song: A disagreeable grating noise that Mr. Forbush likens to the
    “rather musical creaking of a rusty hinge.” I once noticed the
    strong resemblance of the sound to the squeaking wheels of
    farm-wagons that passed near a noisy flock of grackles. Blackbirds
    always look unhappy and uncomfortable when making their attempt at
    singing, as though they emitted the sound with great difficulty.

Habitat: Groves of pine and spruce, as dark and gloomy as the birds
    themselves. They are found in parks and meadows, on lawns and near
    buildings. They live in large flocks except at nesting time.

Range: Middle Atlantic coast-region of the United States. Breed from
    north shore of Long Island Sound (rarely in Massachusetts), the
    middle Hudson Valley west to the Alleghanies, and south to the
    uplands of Georgia, Alabama, and eastern Tennessee; winter mainly
    south of the Delaware Valley. The Bronzed and Florida grackles
    extend the range over the whole of eastern North America, to Great
    Slave Lake, Newfoundland, Colorado, and Florida.

[Illustration: PURPLE GRACKLE]

It seems incredible that blackbirds should belong to the same family as
sweet-voiced meadowlarks, gay bobolinks, and musical orioles. They are
literally the “black sheep” of the family, with a plumage in keeping
with their dark deeds, and a sinister expression that arouses suspicion
and wins them few friends. Their habit of destroying birds’ eggs and
young birds makes them a terror to their neighbors. Dr. Frank Chapman
humorously says that he “can imagine bird-mothers frightening their
young into obedience by threatened visits from that ogre, the
Grackle.”[61] I saw a flock of them invading the seclusion of Wade Park,
Cleveland, one spring morning. Two irate robins drove three bandit
blackbirds away from their nest with loud cries and swift pursuit. A few
minutes later, I saw a wood thrush attack a grackle. She administered a
severe blow upon his shoulder, which disarranged his feathers and left
him in such evident pain as to be quite oblivious of my proximity. This
habit of devastating nests is not, however, so general as has been
supposed, for Professor Beal reports that “remains of birds and birds’
eggs amount to less than half of one per cent. of his diet.”[62]

During the breeding season, grackles do much good by their destruction
of insects upon which their young are almost wholly fed. They devour
beetles, the caterpillars of gypsy and brown-tail moths, cutworms,
grasshoppers, and locusts in great numbers. They “follow the plow” in
search of the grubs and worms to be found in the up-turned earth.

Grackles are in great disfavor, however, because of the grain they
consume. Professor Beal states that grain is eaten during the entire
year except for a short time in the summer. Waste kernels are consumed
during winter and early spring, but that eaten in July and August is
probably standing grain. Middle-western farmers suffer considerably.[63]

It is interesting to see blackbirds migrate. They fly in flocks
thousands strong. Mr. Forbush tells of a flock which formed a black
“rainbow of birds” that stretched from one side of the horizon to the
other. There seemed to be “millions” of them.

They fly with wonderful precision, like a well-trained army bent on
destruction. They are truly “Birds of a feather” that “flock together”
with a kind of joyless loyalty, disliked by most of the world.

                          THE BRONZED GRACKLE

The Bronzed Grackle, like the Purple Grackle, has a purple head, but has
a _bronzed back without iridescent bars_. It is found in central and
eastern North America from Great Slave Lake to Newfoundland in Canada,
south to Montana and Colorado, (east of the Rockies), and southeast to
the northern part of the Gulf States, western Pennsylvania, New York,
and Massachusetts. It winters mainly from the Ohio Valley to southern

                          THE FLORIDA GRACKLE

The Florida Grackle is abundant from South Carolina to Florida, and west
along the Gulf Coast to southeastern Texas. It is similar to the Purple
Grackle in appearance, but is smaller in size. Flocks of these grackles
frequent groves of palmettoes and live-oaks.

                        THE BOAT-TAILED GRACKLE

The Boat-tailed Grackle, the largest member of the blackbird family, (16
inches long), has wonderful violet reflections on head and neck. The
female is much smaller and is brownish. This grackle is found in the
South Atlantic and Gulf States from Chesapeake Bay to Florida and west
to the eastern coast of Texas, and like the red-winged blackbird seems
to prefer the vicinity of water.

                        THE RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD
                  _American Blackbird Family—Icteridæ_

Length: About 9½ inches; length varies in different individuals.

Male: Jet black, except shoulders, which are _scarlet_ edged with
    _yellow_; plumage mottled in winter—upper parts edged with rusty
    brown; bill long, sharp-pointed, black; legs and feet black; eyes

Female: Head and back blackish, rusty brown, and buff. Light streak over
    and under eye; throat yellowish; under parts streaked with black and
    white; wings brown, edged with buff; tail brown. Plumage
    inconspicuous, but attractive on close inspection.

Young Males: Similar to females, but with red and black shoulders.

Call-Note: A hoarse _chuck_ resembling that of the grackle.

Song: A liquid, pleasant _o-ka-ree_.


          In meadows where a streamlet flows
            Or sedges rim a pool,
          There swings upon a blade of green
            Beside the waters cool,
          A bird of black, with “epaulets”
            Of red and gold. With glee
          He plays upon his “Magic Flute”:
              “_O-o-ka-ree? O-o-ka-ree?_”

Nest: A beautiful structure, long and deep, fastened to reeds; a
    “hanging” nest.

Eggs: Pale bluish, with inky scrawls and spots.

Range: North America, east of the Great Plains, except the Gulf Coast
    and Florida; abundant where there are marshes and ponds; winters
    mainly south of Ohio and Delaware Valleys.


When the hylas begin to pipe in the spring, they are joined by the
musical Redwings. The voices of these birds have been likened to flutes,
also to violincellos in an orchestra. Their song is pleasant to hear,
but seems to require considerable effort on the part of the
performers—they lift their shoulders and spread their tails into broad
fans when singing.

Redwings are noisy chatterers; they are intensely social in their
nature. It is thought that some males have several wives at a time—one
marvels at their courage! During the winter the females flock by
themselves, and in the spring migrate about two weeks after their
venturesome, prospective husbands have come northward. When they arrive,
there is great “Confusion of Tongues”—the marsh is transformed into a
Babel. Then sites for homes are selected, and house-building begins in
earnest. Blackbirds make devoted parents.

They are much more popular than their cousins, the grackles, though in
some localities where they are very abundant, as in the Upper
Mississippi Valley, they are in disfavor because of the grain they
devour. They eat oats, corn, and wheat, but only one-third as much as do
the grackles; they eat the seeds of smartweed and barnyard grass in
preference. Grasshoppers they consider great delicacies, also many other
harmful insects.[64] Professor Beal states that nearly seven-eighths of
their food consists of weed seed and insects injurious to agriculture.
He pleads for their protection as does Mr. Forbush, who says: “Should
there be an outbreak of cankerworms in an orchard, the blackbirds will
fly at least half a mile to get them for their young.”[65] They eat
little fruit and do slight harm to garden or orchard. On the whole, they
are beneficial to mankind.

species of blackbirds.

The RUSTY BLACKBIRD resembles both the purple grackle and the redwing.
It is more nearly uniformly glossy black in summer than the former; it
is rusty in winter like the latter. It is about the size of the redwing
and has a sweeter voice. It is sometimes mistaken for the grackle; but
its smaller size, its shorter, rounder tail, and more musical voice
differentiate it.

The YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD, our western species, is easy to identify
because of his yellow head, neck, throat, and breast, and his black
body, with white wing-patches. The female has a paler yellow head,
which, with the breast, is marked with white.

The Yellowhead lives in swamps of the Mississippi Valley from Indiana
westward to California. He is attractive to see, but not pleasant to
hear. He, too, is a grain-thief and therefore unpopular.

[Illustration: COWBIRD]

                              THE COWBIRD
                  _American Blackbird Family—Icteridæ_

Length: About 8 inches.

Male: Glossy black, with a brown head, neck, and breast; some metallic
    reflections on body, tail, and upper wing-feathers. _Smaller than
    the grackle_, with a shorter tail, less iridescence, and _dark
    eyes_. Like the grackle, the cowbird is a walker.

Female: Dark brown, with a grayish tinge; under parts lighter,
    especially the throat, which has two dark streaks outlining the
    light patch.

Call-note: A loud _chuck_.

Song: No real song, only a disagreeable gurgle, that is emitted with
    great effort.

Habitat: Pastures and open woodlands; usually seen on the ground, but
    sometimes in trees.

Range: North America. Breeds in central Canada, south to northern
    California, Nevada, northern New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, and North
    Carolina; winters from southeast California and the Ohio and Potomac
    Valleys to the Gulf Coast and Central Mexico.

The four common black birds—crows, grackles, redwings, and cowbirds—all
have sins laid at their doors. Crows and blackbirds are grain-thieves
and destroyers of the eggs and young of other birds; redwings have been
accused of polygamy and theft; but if judged by human standards, none
compare with cowbirds in what might be called moral degeneracy. Cowbirds
not only mate promiscuously, but unlike blackbirds, have no regard for
their own young. They are like the human mothers who lay their babies on
doorsteps, depart, and let others rear them.

It is a well-known fact that the female cowbird always selects the nest
of a bird smaller and weaker than herself in which to deposit her egg.
Major Bendire lists ninety-one varieties of birds that have been thus
outraged, frequent victims being the song sparrow, indigo bunting,
parula warbler, yellow warbler, vireo, chipping sparrow, towhee,
oven-bird, yellow-breasted chat, and even the tiny blue-gray
gnatcatcher. From one to seven cowbirds’ eggs have been found at a time
in other birds’ nests, often in the warm center of the nest. Unless the
little bird should build a new floor, or abandon her nest entirely, the
cowbird egg will hatch first, and the lusty changeling will demand the
lion’s share of food and attention. Frequently the other eggs do not
hatch; if they do, the young birds often perish with hunger and cold.
When young cowbirds have been reared by their patient little
foster-parents, they leave their benefactors and join flocks of their
disreputable relatives.

In justice it must be said that cowbirds, like all villains, have a
redeeming trait—they are great destroyers of weed seeds and insects.
Like Cadmus and his band, they “Follow the Cow,” and enjoy the insects
that she arouses as she walks about in pastures. When the cow lies down,
they, too, pause; they have been known to hop upon her back in friendly
fashion. Self-interest prompts them, however, for they know that they
may find there a harvest of insects.

[Illustration: MEADOWLARK]

                             THE MEADOWLARK
               Called also Field Lark and Old Field Lark
                  _American Blackbird Family—Icteridæ_

Length: About 10¾ inches, a little larger than the robin; bill 1½

General Appearance: A large brown bird, with a _short tail that shows
    conspicuous white feathers_ at each side in flight. The bright
    yellow breast crossed by a black crescent is less frequently seen.

Male and Female: Upper parts dark brown, mottled with black and buff;
    head striped, with a light line through the center and a yellow line
    over each eye, alternating with two dark stripes; cheeks gray;
    throat, breast, and belly yellow; a V-shaped band on breast; sides
    and lower part of belly whitish, streaked with black; bill long and
    sharp; tail short, (about 3 inches); outer tail-feathers almost
    entirely white; middle feathers brown, barred with black.

Call-note: A sharp nasal _Yerk_, and a twitter that sounds like a
    succession of rapid sneezes.

Song: A loud, clear, sweet refrain that usually consists of four
    syllables, but sometimes of five or six. It has been interpreted in
    various ways as follows:

          I love—you d-e-a-r.
          I’m Mead′-ow-lar′-rk._

    Mr. T. Gilbert Pearson tells of a lazy darky down South who
    interpreted the lark’s song as

          “_Laziness-will kill′ you._”[66]

Flight: Direct, yet fluttering; usually away from the observer, showing
    the brown back and white tail-feathers, as though the bird was
    conscious of its bright yellow breast.

Habitat: Cultivated meadows, and grassgrown fields, especially one
    containing a running brook for drinking and bathing. Its fondness
    for unmown fields has given it the name of “Old Field Lark.”[67]

Range: Eastern North America. Breeds from eastern Minnesota and southern
    Canada, south to northern Texas, Missouri, and North Carolina, and
    west to western Iowa, eastern Kansas, and northwestern Texas;
    winters regularly from southern New England and Ohio valley south to
    the Gulf States, and north locally to the Great Lakes and southern

    In the South, from southern Illinois, southwestern Indiana and North
    Carolina to the coast of Texas, Louisiana, and southern Florida is
    found the SOUTHERN MEADOWLARK, smaller and darker than the northern
    species, and with a different song.

    In the West, from British Columbia to Manitoba and south to southern
    California, northern Mexico, and Texas is the WESTERN MEADOWLARK,
    similar to its eastern relative in habits and plumage, but very
    different as to song. Its pure, sweet, liquid notes are among my
    most delightful memories of western birds.

It is fortunate that no human being or bird is possessed of all the
virtues and charms, and that every individual may hold his own place in
our interest and affections. As the spring migrants arrive, each
receives a welcome peculiarly his own.

  “The lark is so brimful of gladness and love—
  The green fields below him, the blue sky above,
  That he sings and he sings and forever sings he,
  ‘I love my love, and my love loves me.’”[68]

His voice, clear and sweet, rings out joyously across the fields,
fragrant with up-turned earth and bright with sunshine. He is the
delight of spring meadows as Bob White is of summer fields.

The meadowlark has many friends: those who love him for his winning
ways—his brightness, cheerfulness, and devotion to his family; epicures,
ignorant of his value or fond only of their own pleasure; and people who
realize that he is of enormous economic importance.

He was formerly believed to be a destroyer of grain. He was accused of
pulling up as much corn and oats as crows, and of eating clover seed;
but he is now recognized as “one of the most useful allies of
agriculture, standing almost without a peer as a destroyer of noxious

So untiring is he in his search, that he uses his long sharp bill, even
while snow is on the ground, to probe the earth for larvæ. He rids the
fields of grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, caterpillars, flies, spiders,
and “thousand-legs.” Grasshoppers are his favorite delicacy. Professor
Beal states that these insects form three-fourths of the meadowlark’s
food during August. He eats also large numbers of the white grubs of
beetles “which are among the worst enemies of many cultivated crops,
notably grasses and grains, and to a less extent of strawberries and
garden vegetables.”[69]

Like the quail, meadowlarks destroy weed seeds, which are eaten mostly
in winter. When insects are obtainable, they are greatly preferred.

A search for a meadowlark’s nest is an exciting adventure that keeps one
alert. It is usually found by accident, perhaps after the wary builder
has ceased trying to deceive the searcher. A sight of the speckled eggs
or young fledglings in their cozy home with a grass-arched doorway is
not soon forgotten.

Unlike quail, baby meadowlarks are unable to run about as soon as they
are out of the egg, but remain for two weeks in their cleverly
camouflaged home, where they are often the prey of snakes and other
enemies. Meadowlarks are now being widely protected, for many farmers
regard them as one of their greatest assets.

[Illustration: FLICKER]

                       _Woodpecker Family—Picidæ_

Length: About 12 inches; one of our largest common birds.

General Appearance: A large brown bird with a _red patch on the back_ of
    the _head_, _conspicuous white rump_ and _yellow lining_ of _wings_,
    which distinguish it from the brown meadowlark with its white

Male: Top of head and neck gray; a _crescent_ of _red across nape_;
    cheeks and throat pinkish-brown, separated by _black patches_;
    strong bill 1½ inches long; under parts pinkish-brown and white,
    _heavily spotted with black_; a _black crescent_ separates throat
    and breast. Back and upper wing-feathers a grayish-brown, _barred
    with black_; large white patch at rump very conspicuous in flight;
    upper tail-coverts black and white; tail black above, yellow

Female: Like male, except for the _absence of black patches at the sides
    of the throat_.

Notes: A loud _che-ack′_; also a note which Mr. Frank M. Chapman says
    “can be closely imitated by the swishing of a willow-wand: _weechew,
    weechew, weechew_.”[70] Flickers drum frequently on boughs, also,
    and give a loud, rapid _flick, flick, flick, flick, flick, flick,
    flick, flick, flicker_,—which may be called, by courtesy, their

Habitat: Open woods, fields, orchards, and gardens, where trees or
    ant-hills are to be found.

Range: Northern and eastern North America. Breeds in the forested
    regions of Alaska and Canada; in the United States east of the
    Rockies and southward to the Gulf Coast and Texas in the winter.
    Resident in the U. S. except in the more northern parts.

    The SOUTHERN FLICKER, a resident as far south as southern Florida
    and central Texas, is _smaller_ and _darker_ than the Northern

    The RED-SHAFTED FLICKER, a western species, has _red cheek-patches_
    instead of _black_, _red wing_ and _tail_ feathers, instead of
    _yellow_; it _lacks_ the _red band_ on the _head_. It is found in
    the Rocky Mt. and Pacific Coast regions from British Columbia to
    Mexico, and east to western Texas, Nebraska, and South Dakota. In
    regions where the northern flicker also is found, these two species
    have hybridized. In the National Museum of Washington there are
    numerous specimens of these hybrids, where the red and black
    cheek-patches, the red and yellow wing-feathers and red band on the
    head appear in various unusual combinations.

The Flicker is a bird of distinction. A glimpse of him at once arouses
interest, curiosity, and a desire for further acquaintance. He is
handsome, well set up, full of vitality and power—the personification of

We like his cheerful voice—a trifle too loud for a gentleman of
refinement, but a welcome sound in the season when the whole world
wishes to shout with joy at the release from winter’s confinement.
Thoreau wrote: “Ah, there is the note of the first flicker, a prolonged,
monotonous _wick-wick-wick-wick-wick-wick_, etc., or, if you please,
_quick, quick, quick_, heard far over and through the dry leaves. But
how that single sound peoples and enriches all the woods and fields.
They are no longer the same woods and fields that they were. This note
really quickens what was dead. It seems to put life into the withered
grass and leaves and bare twigs, and henceforth the days shall not be as
they have been. It is as when a family, your neighbors, return to an
empty house after a long absence, and you hear the cheerful hum of
voices and the laughter of children.... So the flicker makes his voice
ring.... It is as good as a house-warming to all nature.”[71]

We cannot repress a smile as we watch this golden-winged woodpecker
striving to make a favorable impression upon Miss Flicker. He and a
group of rivals take amusing, awkward attitudes, make a variety of noisy
but pleasant calls, and without any ill-tempered quarreling, select
their mates and “live happily ever after.”

Though a woodpecker, the flicker departs from family habits and
traditions by seeking his livelihood on the ground in preference to
tree-trunks. He is a foe to the industrious ant that we were taught to
admire along with the “busy bee.” But ants destroy timber, infest
houses, and cause the spread of aphids that are enemies of garden
plants; therefore the ant’s destroyer, the flicker, is a neighborhood
benefactor and deserves our heartfelt protection. Professor Beal reports
finding 3,000 ants in the stomach of each of two flickers and fully
5,000 in that of another.[72] These insects form almost half of this
bird’s food. His long, sticky tongue is especially adapted to their
capture. He likes grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, and caterpillars, and
while he enjoys fruit, he takes little that is of any value to man.

Most northern flickers migrate. They remain during the winter in some
localities, as Cape Cod, where food is sufficiently abundant. Mr.
Forbush tells of flickers that have bored holes in summer cottages on
the Cape, and spent the winters in rooms which they damaged by their
habit of “pecking.” He states that bird-boxes containing large entrances
placed on the outside of the houses or on the trees near by, would have
prevented those flickers from forming the “criminal habit of breaking
and entering.”[73] Red-Shafted Flickers have also been found guilty of
the same crime, and have entered not only dwellings, but school-houses
and church steeples.[74]

Though rather shy birds, they often approach inhabited houses and
frequently cause amusing situations because of their regular drumming on
roof or wall. In Florida, a young woman whom I know was once aroused
from her early morning’s sleep by a flicker’s knock, and drowsily
responded with a “Come in.” A friend and I, spending a week-end in an
Ohio summer cottage that possessed no alarm-clock, asked to be called in
time for a very early boat. We heard a knocking, arose, dressed quietly
to avoid disturbing the household, and then found that our summons had
come from flickers on the roof, and that we had lost about two hours of
precious morning’s sleep.

Flickers have more local names than almost any other bird. Over one
hundred names have been recorded, of which “Yellowhammer,” and
“Golden-winged Woodpecker,” are perhaps most common.


                       THE RED-HEADED WOODPECKER
                       _Woodpecker Family—Picidæ_

Length: About 9¾ inches; nearly as large as a robin.

General Appearance: A black and white bird _with entire head and neck
    bright red_.

Male and Female: Head, neck, throat, and upper part of the breast
    brilliant red; upper part of back and wings black; longer
    wing-feathers or primaries also black; lower back and secondary
    wing-feathers white; under parts white; tail pointed, black,
    margined with white. In flight, the areas of red, black, and white
    are very distinct.

Young: Brown heads and necks, mottled with black; upper parts of backs
    barred with light brown. The other parts of their bodies resemble
    those of their parents.

Note: No song, but a loud, cheerful _Quir-r-r-k? Quir-r-r-k?_ and a
    drumming sound, similar to that made by other woodpeckers.

Habitat: Open woods, groves of beeches preferred.

Nest: In hollow tree-trunks or telegraph-poles.

Range: From southeastern British Columbia, to Ontario, south to the Gulf
    Coast, and from central Montana, Colorado, and Texas east to the
    valleys of the Hudson and Delaware; rare in New England. Irregularly
    migratory in the northern parts of its range.

This conspicuous bird is one of the handsomest members of the Woodpecker
family. He is the only one really entitled to the name of Red-Headed
Woodpecker. His male relatives wear only small skull-caps placed on
their crowns at various angles; he possesses a sort of toboggan-cap
pulled down over his head and tucked into his black coat and white

Many stories and legends are told of this woodpecker. He is the delight
of children in localities where he is to be found. I remember how I used
to look for the red hood and the black shawl worn over a white dress,
especially noticeable in flight. I never tired of watching one of these
birds approach his nest in a tall dead tree with food in his mouth. At a
signal from him, his wife’s red head would appear in the doorway. She
would emerge; he would then enter and remain with the children until her

Redheads have not been popular with farmers, who have accused them of
various crimes. They have been caught eating small fruit and corn on the
ear, destroying both the eggs and young of other birds, and boring holes
in telegraph-poles in which to build their nests. While individuals may
be guilty of such misdemeanors, the redheads are probably neither so
black nor so gory, except in plumage, as they are painted.

These woodpeckers are not such persistent destroyers of insects as
others of their family. They have a decided preference for beetles, but
eat fewer ants and larvæ than do the Downy and Hairy woodpeckers. They
are exceptionally fond of vegetable food; their preference for beechnuts
is very great. Dr. C. Hart Merriam states that in northern New York,
where the redhead is one of the commonest woodpeckers, it subsists
almost exclusively on beechnuts during the fall and winter, even pecking
the green nuts before they are ripe and while the trees are still
covered with leaves. He has shown that these woodpeckers invariably
remain throughout the winter after good nut-yields and migrate whenever
the nut-crop fails.[75]

“In central Indiana during a good beechnut year, from the time the nuts
began to ripen, the redheads were almost constantly on the wing; passing
from the beeches to some place of deposit. They hid the nuts in almost
every conceivable situation. Many were placed in cavities in partly
decayed trees; and the felling of an old beech was certain to provide a
feast for the children. Large handfuls were taken from a single knot
hole. They were often found under a patch of raised bark, and single
nuts were driven into cracks in the bark. Others were thrust into cracks
in gate-posts; and a favorite place of deposit was behind long slivers
on fence-posts. In a few cases grains of corn were mixed with beechnuts.
Nuts were often driven into cracks in the end of railroad ties, and the
birds were often seen on the roofs of houses pounding nuts into crevices
between the shingles. In several instances the space formed by a board
springing away from a fence was nearly filled with nuts, and afterwards
pieces of bark and wood were brought and driven over the nuts as if to
hide them from poachers.”[76]

In summer, Dr. Merriam has seen the redheads “make frequent sallies into
the air after passing insects, which were almost invariably secured.” He
has also seen them catch grasshoppers on the ground in a pasture.

They are cheerful, active birds, with a call like that of a giant
tree-toad. Their brilliant plumage has unfortunately made them a good
target for sportsmen.

                       THE RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER
                       _Woodpecker Family—Picidæ_

Length: About 9½ inches.

Male: _Crown of head and back of neck bright red_, resembling slightly
    that of the red-headed woodpecker, but _throat and cheeks gray_;
    back and wings barred with white, the barring reminding one of the
    flicker. _Under parts gray mashed with red_; tail black and white;
    upper tail-coverts white, streaked with black.

Female: _Crown gray, nostrils and neck bright red._

Notes: Mr. Frank Chapman writes of this woodpecker: “It ascends a tree
    in a curious, jerky fashion, accompanying each upward move by a
    hoarse _chu-chu_. It also utters _k-r-r-r-ring_ roll and, when
    mating, a _whicker_ call like that of the Flicker.”[77]

Habitat: Open woods of deciduous trees and conifers; also groves of
    live-oak, palmettoes, and other southern trees, where these birds
    may be seen in company with flickers.

Range: From southern Canada and eastern United States southward;
    abundant in the Southern States; rare in New England; is found in
    western New York and south-western Pennsylvania, and Delaware, south
    to central Texas and the Gulf States.


Professor Beal made the following report regarding this woodpecker: “The
red-bellied woodpecker ranges over the eastern United States as far west
as central Texas and eastern Colorado and as far north as New York,
southern Ontario, Michigan, and southern Minnesota. It breeds throughout
this range and appears to be irregularly migratory. It appears to go
north of its breeding range sometimes to spend the winter. Four
stomachs, collected in November and December, were received from Canada,
and in eight years’ residence in central Iowa the writer found the
species abundant every winter, but never saw one in the breeding season.
It is rather more of a forest bird than some of the other woodpeckers,
but is frequently seen in open or thinly timbered country. In the
northern part of its range it appears to prefer deciduous growth, but in
the South is very common in pine forests.

“Ants are a fairly constant article of diet. The most are taken during
the warmer months. Evidently this bird does not dig all the ants which
it eats from decaying wood, like the downy woodpecker, but, like the
flickers, collects them from the ground and the bark of trees.

“In Florida, the bird has been observed to eat oranges to an injurious
extent. It attacks the over-ripe fruit and pecks holes in it and
sometimes completely devours it. The fruit selected is that which is
dead ripe or partly decayed, so it is not often that the damage is
serious. The bird sometimes attacks the trunks of the orange trees as
well as others and does some harm. The contents of the stomachs,
however, show that wild fruits are preferred, and probably only when
these have been replaced by cultivated varieties is any mischief

                      THE YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER
                       _Woodpecker Family—Picidæ_

Length: About 8½ inches, larger than the Downy, and smaller than the
    Red-headed woodpecker.

General Appearance: A medium-sized bird, with _bars_, _stripes_, and
    _patches_ of black and white. The _scarlet crown_, the _black band
    across_ the _breast_, and the _scarlet throat_ of the males are
    distinguishing marks.

Male: Crown and throat bright red; bill long; head with broad black and
    white stripes, extending to neck. The black stripe beginning at bill
    unites with a _black crescent that encloses red throat_. _Breast_
    and _belly light yellow_; sides gray, streaked with black; back
    black, barred with white; wings black, with _large white patches_,
    white bars, and spots; _middle_ tail-feathers, white and black;
    outer tail-feathers mostly black.

Female: Resembles male, but throat is usually white instead of scarlet.

Young: Similar to parents, but with dull blackish crowns, whitish
    throats, and brownish-gray breasts.

Notes: A faint call-note; a ringing call, consisting of several similar

Habitat: Tree-trunks, into which these birds drill holes and thus kill
    the trees.

Range: Eastern North America. Breeds from the tree-belt of Canada to
    northern Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, mountains of Massachusetts and
    North Carolina; winters from Pennsylvania and Ohio Valley to the
    Gulf Coast, Bahamas, Cuba, and Costa Rica.

The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is the renegade of the woodpecker
family—the transgressor that has called down anathemas upon all his
tribe. He does more damage in some localities than others. Mr. Forbush
reports that while the sapsucker has undoubtedly killed trees in
northern New England where he breeds, yet in thirty years he has done no
appreciable harm in Massachusetts.

Dr. Henry Henshaw, formerly Chief of the Biological Survey, writes: “The
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, unlike other woodpeckers, does comparatively
little good and much harm.” Mr. Henshaw reports 250 kinds of trees known
to have been attacked by sapsuckers and left with “girdles of holes” or
“blemishes known as bird-pecks, especially numerous in hickory, oak,
cypress, and yellow poplar.”[79]

The experience of Dr. Sylvester Judd at Marshall Hall, Maryland, was as
follows: “In the summer of 1895 there was on the Bryan farm a little
orchard of nine apple trees, about twelve years old, that appeared
perfectly healthy. In the fall sapsuckers tapped them in many places,
and during spring and fall of the next four years they resorted to them
regularly for supplies of sap. Observations were made (October 15, 1896)
of two sapsuckers in adjoining trees of the orchard. From a point twenty
feet distant they were watched for three hours with powerful glasses to
see whether they fed to any considerable extent on ants or other insects
that were running over the tree-trunks. In that time one bird seized an
ant and the other snapped at some flying insect. One drank sap from the
holes thirty and the other forty-one times. Later in the day, one
drilled two new holes and the other five. The holes were made in more or
less regular rings about the trunk, one ring close above another, for a
distance of six to eight inches. The drills were about a quarter of an
inch deep, and penetrated the bark and the outer part of the wood.

“In November, 1900, seven of the nine trees were dead and the others
were dying. The loss of sap must have been an exhausting drain, but it
was not the sole cause of death. Beetles of the flat-headed apple-borer,
attracted by the exuding sap, had oviposited in the holes, and the next
generation, having thus gained an entrance, had finished the deadly work
begun by the sapsuckers.”[80]

Mr. W. L. McAtee, of the Biological Survey, made the following report on
sapsuckers: “These birds have short, brushy tongues not adapted to the
capture of insects, while the other woodpeckers have tongues with barbed
tips which can be extended to spear luckless borers or other insects
whose burrows in the wood have been reached by their powerful beaks. The
sapsuckers practically do not feed on wood-borers or other forest
enemies. Their chief insect food is ants. About 15 per cent. of their
diet consists of cambium and the inner bark of trees, and they drink a
great deal of sap.

“The parts of the tree injured by sapsuckers are those that carry the
rich sap which nourishes the growing wood and bark. Sapsucker pecking
disfigures ornamental trees, giving rise to pitch streams, gummy
excrescences, and deformities of the trunks. Small fruit trees,
especially the apple, are often killed, and whole young orchards have
been destroyed.

“These birds inflict much greater financial loss by producing defects in
the wood of the far larger number of trees which they work upon but do
not kill. Blemishes frequently render the trees unfit for anything
except coarse construction and fuel.

“Hickory trees are favorites of sapsuckers. It is estimated that about
10 per cent. of the merchantable material is left in the woods on
account of bird pecks. On this basis the annual loss on hickory is about
$600,000. To this must be added the loss on timber by the

It is no wonder that war has been declared upon sapsuckers; but it is
very sad that because of a lack of careful observation of the
distinctive markings of tree-trunk birds, many useful woodpeckers,
especially the Downy and Hairy, have been sacrificed.

Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers may be readily identified by a _broad white
stripe_ extending down the _center_ of the _back_, a _small patch_ of
_red_ on the _back_ of the head, _pure white throats_ and _breasts_, and
wings _barred_ with white. A _red forehead_ and _crown_ (and red throat
of males), a _black crescent across_ the _breast_, _large white patches_
on the _wings_, a _back_ with _black_ and _white bars instead of a white
streak_, differentiate this sapsucker from the Downy and Hairy
woodpeckers. The yellow belly is not a conspicuous “field-mark.”

There are several species of sapsucker in the West. The YELLOW-BELLIED
is found in western Texas; the RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER in the Rocky Mt.
region, from British Columbia to northwestern Mexico, and from Colorado
and Montana to the Cascade and Sierra Nevada Mts.; the RED-BREASTED
SAPSUCKER in the Canadian forests of the _Pacific Coast region_, from
Alaska to Lower California, east to the Cascades and Sierra Nevadas; and
the WILLIAMSON SAPSUCKER, from the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mts.
westward to the Pacific, and from Arizona and New Mexico to British
Columbia.[82] The last-named species is a great devourer of ants.

[Illustration: MOURNING DOVE]

                           THE MOURNING DOVE
                       _Pigeon Family—Columbidæ_

Length: Nearly 12 inches; tail 5½ inches.

General Appearance: A large, plump, grayish-brown bird, with a small
    head, a _black mark below the ear_, and a _long pointed tail_, in
    contrast to the round, fan-shaped tail of tame pigeons.

Male: Upper parts a soft grayish-brown, except the head, which is
    bluish-gray on the crown, with a pinkish-buff forehead, and the
    wings, which have long, gray primaries. _Sides of neck beautifully
    iridescent_, with a _small black spot below_ the _ear_, an
    identification-mark; black spots on the lower part of breast and
    wings; breast with a pinkish tinge, and underneath the tail pale
    yellow; tail long and sharply pointed when the bird is at rest. In
    flight, it resembles the jay’s in shape; the middle feathers are
    brown, like the back; outer feathers largely white; others brown,
    tipped with white and banded with black; feet and legs red.

Female: Duller than male, with less iridescence on neck.

Note: A soft, monotonous _coo-oo-a-coo-o-o_, uttered mournfully and with
    great tenderness. The sound is pleasing to some people, but
    unendurable to others.

Habitat: Open woodlands, or fields bordered with trees.

Range: North America. Breeds chiefly from southern Canada throughout the
    United States and Mexico; winters from southern Oregon, Colorado,
    the Ohio Valley, and North Carolina to Panama; casual in winter in
    the Middle States.

Mourning doves, whose “billing and cooing” have become proverbial, are
as devoted pairs of lovers as may be found in the bird-world. The ardent
male appears to seek the society of none except his loving mate. She
seems perfectly satisfied with his attentions and evidently gives him
her whole heart.

Madame Dove is a very inefficient housekeeper. Her nest, built of rough
sticks, and notoriously ill-constructed—is a sort of platform on which
two white eggs are laid. It is a wonder that they remain in safety long
enough to be hatched, for the nests are often not more than ten feet
from the ground. Were not her twin-babies as phlegmatic as their
parents, they might roll out of bed and come to an untimely end.

It is fortunate that the easy-going mother does not need to prepare the
bountiful repasts her family demand. She and her husband select a
home-site near fields where weeds abound and where grain is raised. The
family gorge themselves upon seeds until they almost burst. Mr. Charles
Nash says that “these birds are often so full of seeds that, if a bird
is shot, the crop bursts open when it strikes the ground.”[83]

They are of enormous economic value. Their food is almost entirely
vegetable, and consists largely of the seeds of weeds that a farmer must
pay to have destroyed or work hard to eradicate. Doves frequent fields
of wheat, corn, buckwheat, rye, oats, and barley, but the grain they
destroy is only a third of their food, and consists largely of waste
kernels, according to the reports of the Department of Agriculture.[84]
They like many varieties of infinitesimal seeds that are eschewed by
other birds; as many as 9200 seeds have been found in the stomach of one

These birds have an unerring instinct for fresh water. With a peculiar,
whistling sound, they fly at nightfall to a spring or pool for a cool
drink before retiring. Hunters are said to have watched them and thus
found springs for their needs.[85]

Doves eat quantities of gravel to aid in the digestion of their
epicurean feasts. They are fond of dust-baths. They also indulge in
queer, senseless-looking acrobatic performances, which appear like
attempts at gymnastics.

                         THE BELTED KINGFISHER
                     _Kingfisher Family—Alcedinidæ_

Length: About 13 inches—a rather large, stocky bird.

General Appearance: A large bluish-gray and white bird, with a _very
    large crested head_, a _long bill_, and a short tail.

Male: Bluish-gray above, becoming darker on the wings; a ragged-looking
    crest on an unusually large head; a white spot in front of each
    large dark eye; small flecks on the wings; tail bluish-gray, flecked
    and barred with white; _throat white_, a _band_ of _white extending
    nearly around the_ neck; a _broad band_ of _bluish-gray extending
    across the breast_; under parts white, except the sides, which are
    bluish-gray; feet relatively small, but with long, strong nails.

Female: Similar to the male, except for a _band_ of _reddish-brown
    across the breast_, extending to the sides, and forming a fourth
    belt; a white belt at the throat, then gray, white, and
    reddish-brown belts. Unlike most birds, the female kingfisher is
    more highly colored than the male.

Note: A long harsh rattle, similar to the sound made by two bones or
    smooth sticks in the hands of a boy, or to the noise of a
    policeman’s rattle.


          “By a wooded stream or a clear cool pond,
            Or the shores of a shining lake.”

Range: North America, and northern South America. Breeds from Alaska and
    northern Canada to the southern border of the United States; winters
    from British Columbia, central United States to the West Indies,
    Colombia, and Guiana, irregularly to Massachusetts, New Hampshire,
    and Ontario.

[Illustration: KINGFISHER]

This self-appointed guardian of our streams and lakes is clad in a suit
of gendarme blue. He wears a sharp two-edged sword in his cap, and
carries a rattle in his throat.

He is a perfect example of “Watchful Waiting,” as he sits motionless on
a bough overhanging a stream, with his fierce eyes fixed intently upon
the waters beneath him. When an unwary fish swims by, this blue-coat
plunges after it and spears it with deadly accuracy. If small, the fish
is swallowed whole; if large, it is beaten to death against a tree, and
devoured with difficulty. When fish are not obtainable, the kingfisher
will eat frogs and crustaceans, and sometimes grasshoppers, crickets,
and beetles. Fish, however, are his favorite food.[86]

The nest is as unusual and interesting as the bird himself. It consists
of a tunnel excavated in a bank by the long knife-shaped bills of the
kingfisher and his mate. A cavity of good size must be hollowed out to
accommodate so large a bird and a family of from five to eight lusty
youngsters. They are lively and quarrelsome; they set up a great clamor
when Father or Mother arrives with an already-prepared fish-dinner. Dr.
Francis H. Herrick, in his delightful book, “The Home Life of Wild
Birds,” tells of his observations of a kingfisher’s nest and nesting
habits as follows: “The nest had a 4 inch bore; 4 feet from the opening
was a vaulted chamber 6 inches high and 10 inches across....”

A series of rattles announced the approach of the parent bird “who came
at full tilt with a fish in her bill, making the earth resound.” In
response came “muffled rattles of five young kingfishers, who issued
from their subterranean abode.... With a rattle in shrillest crescendo,
she bolted right into the hole, delivered the fish, remained for half a
minute, then came out backwards, turning in the air as she dropped from
the entrance, and with a parting rattle was off to the river.”

There were five babies in what Dr. Herrick called the “King Row.” They
were amusing to look at as they sat back on their legs; the bill of one
nestling protruded above the shoulder of the bird in front of it. They
never seized their food (fish) of their own accord. “It was necessary to
open their bills and press the food well down into the distensible
throats.” Raw meat was rejected, but they throve on fish. “Kingfishers’
throats are lined with inwardly projecting papillae so that when a fish
is once taken in its throat, it is impossible for it to escape.”[87]

The young kingfishers that Dr. Herrick observed became very tame. He is
pictured with them on his hand, his shoulder, and on both knees.

While kingfishers do less good than most of our feathered benefactors,
they do not destroy enough fish to be a detriment to the fishing
interests of lakes and streams. They are true sportsmen, whose presence
we should miss when we followed the rod and creel. We are forced to
respect their prowess, and we may apostrophize them in the words of
Izaac Walton: “Angling is an Art, and you know that Art better than
others; and that this is the truth is demonstrated by the fruits of that
pleasant labor which you enjoy.”

[Illustration: FIELD SPARROW]

                           THE FIELD SPARROW
                       _Finch Family—Fringillidæ_

Length: About 5½ inches.

General Appearance: A small brown bird with a _reddish back_ and _bill_,
    and a _buff breast without spots_ or _streaks_.

Male and Female: Top of head reddish-brown; sides of head, nape of neck,
    and line over eye gray; bill reddish-brown; back reddish-brown,
    streaked with black and gray; rump brownish-gray; wings and tail
    brown, some wing-feathers edged with gray; _sides_ and _breast
    washed with buff_.

Song: A sweet trill, consisting of the syllable _dee_ repeated a number
    of times. It varies with different individuals, but is phrased
    somewhat as follows: _Dee′-dee′-dee′, de′-de, de′-de, de′-de,
    de′-de, de′-de, de′-de._

Habitat: Old overgrown pastures containing clumps of bushes, preferred
    to cultivated fields. This sparrow is not accurately named, for it
    is not strictly a bird of the fields.

Range: Eastern North America. Breeds from southern Minnesota, Michigan,
    Quebec, and Maine to central Texas, Louisiana, and northern Florida;
    winters from Missouri, Illinois, southern Pennsylvania, and New
    Jersey to the Gulf Coast.

Some gorgeous but noisy birds, like blue jays, peacocks, and parrots,
please only the eye; many quietly-dressed but sweet-voiced songsters are
a delight to the ear. To the latter class belongs the Field Sparrow, a
gentle little bird, so rarely seen as to recall to our minds the lines:

    “Shall I call thee Bird
  Or but a wandering Voice?
                                · · · · · ·
    Even yet thou art to me
  No bird, but an invisible thing,
    A voice, a mystery.”

It was several years after I had learned to love the sweet, tender song
of the field sparrow that I had my first glimpse of the singer. He is a
very real and delightful part of our April meadows, where he lives his
serene life.

[Illustration: VESPER SPARROW]

                           THE VESPER SPARROW
                       _Finch Family—Fringillidæ_

Length: A little over 6 inches; slightly larger than the field sparrow.

Male and Female: Brownish-gray above, with faint streaks of black and
    buff; wings brownish, with _bright reddish-brown shoulders_, giving
    this sparrow the name of _Bay-Winged Bunting_. Under parts white,
    the sides and breast streaked with black and buff; tail brownish,
    with _outer tail-feathers mostly white, and conspicuous in flight_.

Song: A plaintive minor strain, usually consisting of two notes followed
    by a trill. The syllables sound like _Sweet’-heart, I love

Habitat: Grassy pastures and plowed fields, usually in the open, away
    from farmhouses and out-buildings.

Range: Eastern North America. Breeds from central Canada south to
    eastern Nebraska, central Missouri, Kentucky, Virginia, and North
    Carolina, west to western Minnesota; winters from the southern part
    of its breeding range to the Gulf Coast, west to central Texas.

The Vesper Sparrow is very easy to identify because of its white
tail-feathers. They show conspicuously as the bird flutters beside
hedges that border fields, frequently keeping just ahead of the

The bird is less attractive in appearance than the other familiar
sparrows, but has to my mind the sweetest voice of all the sparrows that
I know except the fox sparrow. Its song is pensive and tender, with a
spiritual quality that gives it a high rank. The song sparrow’s lay
usually consists of three similar notes sung in a major key with a
rising inflection, and followed by a cheerful trill; the vesper
sparrow’s song generally has two plaintive notes preceding a trill, sung
in a minor key. It is particularly beautiful and uplifting when several
vesper sparrows are singing at sunset.

                           THE VESPER SPARROW

  When the meadows are brown or flushed with green
      And the lark’s glad note rings clear,—
  When the field sparrow’s voice like a silver bell
      Chimes a melody sweet to hear,—
  A small brown bird with bay-capped wings
      And feathers white in his tail,
  Flutters along by a roadside hedge
      And alights on a zigzag rail,
  And breathes forth a song entrancing,
      Of a beauty surpassed by few—
  A wistful, plaintive, minor strain—
      “O Sweetheart, I love you!”

  When a mist of green o’erspreads the trees,
      And corals and rubies gay
  Are hung on the maple and red-bud boughs,
      And the brooks are babbling away,—
  When the setting sun goes down in a glow
      Of the purest primrose gold,
  And the pearly east reflects a flush
      From the glories the west doth hold,—
  This brown bird then, with a soul in his voice,
      Sings to his mate so true
  The tenderest song of the April choir—
      “O Sweetheart, I love you!”

[Illustration: CHIPPING SPARROW]

                          THE CHIPPING SPARROW
                       _Finch Family—Fringillidæ_

Length: A little over 5 inches; the smallest of our common sparrows.

Male and Female: _Crown reddish-brown, bill black; a black line
    extending through the eye_; a _gray line above the eye_; back,
    wings, and tail brown; tail forked; rump gray; _breast pale gray
    without streaks or spots_. In the fall, the reddish crown becomes
    brown, streaked with black.

Call-note: _Chip-chip._

Song: A monotonous trill,
    _Chippy-chippy-chippy-chippy-chippy-chippy-chippy_, more like the
    metallic sound made by a locust than the song of a bird.

Habitat: A “doorstep” bird that loves to spend the spring and summer
    near man. It is found in gardens, orchards, and plowed fields.

Nest: An unusually dainty nest made of grass and fine root-fibers, lined
    with horsehair, which has given to the chipping sparrow the name of
    “hair-bird.” The nest is built in trees or low bushes, sometimes
    very near the ground.

Eggs: Four or five pale-green eggs, mottled with dark markings.

Range: North America, from central Canada to Central America; commonest
    in the east.

This gentle, trustful sparrow is a general favorite. He is an
unobtrusive little bird, seemingly contented to occupy his place in the
world near to the haunts of man, unconsciously doing his important work
without noisy demonstration. Like the brown creeper and the phœbe, he is
of great economic value; like them, he is not particularly interesting,
and he is without skill as a songster. But his monotonous trill is a
pleasant part of the spring chorus, and his presence in our yards we
should sorely miss.

Mr. Forbush speaks in high praise of this bird’s usefulness. He claims
that the chippy is “the most destructive of all birds to the injurious
pea-louse, which caused a loss of three million dollars to the pea-crop
of a single state in one year.”[88] This sparrow eats the grubs that
feed on beet-leaves, cabbages, and other vegetables; he devours
cankerworms and currant worms, besides gypsy, brown-tail, and tent
caterpillars, any one of which would entitle him to our protection. In
the fall, with the decrease of life in the garden, he takes to the
fields, where like other sparrows he feasts on seeds.

If it were more generally known how invaluable chipping sparrows are,
people would guard them more carefully from marauding cats. I wish it
might become as unlawful to let cats stalk abroad during the nesting
season as it is to allow unmuzzled dogs to go about freely during
dog-days. I know of a bird-lover near Painesville, Ohio, who never
during nesting-time allowed her pet cat to stir outside of a good-sized
enclosure without a weight attached to his collar. Some people have put
bells on their cats’ necks, but while that is efficacious in alarming
parent-birds, it is of no value in preventing the slaughter of young
birds that have just left the nest. Mr. Forbush has written an appeal,
which I wish was more widely known and heeded. It is called “The
Domestic Cat” and was published under the direction of the Massachusetts
State Board of Agriculture.

Mr. Forbush wrote to such eminent experts and authorities on bird-life
as Robert Ridgway, Dr. Frank M. Chapman, Dr. Witmer Stone, Dr. Henry W.
Henshaw, Dr. William T. Hornaday, John Burroughs, William Dutcher, T.
Gilbert Pearson, Dr. George W. Field, Dr. C. F. Hodge, Ernest Harold
Baynes, Mrs. Mabel Osgood Wright, and others, for their opinions
regarding the relative destructiveness of cats to the bird-life of the
country. They were unanimous in their denunciation of cats as the
“greatest destructive agency to our smaller song and insectivorous

Mrs. Wright says: “If the people of the country insist upon keeping cats
in the same number as at present, all the splendid work of Federal and
State legislation, all the labors of game- and song-bird protective
associations, all the loving care of individuals in watching and
feeding, will not be able to save our birds in many localities.”

Young chipping sparrows are spoiled bird-babies. They “tag” their gentle
little parents about with unusual persistence, knowing that they will
get what they demand. They frequently look as if they might not turn out
to be excellent bird-citizens like their ancestors. When a noted
ornithologist first saw Mr. Horsfall’s original drawing of the
accompanying family of chipping sparrows he remarked, “That baby looks a
million years old and steeped in sin!” But the duties of parenthood
sober the youngsters, and the following year, they become in turn
pleasant, docile, lovable little “Bird Neighbors.”

                       THE WHITE-THROATED SPARROW
                       _Finch Family—Fringillidæ_

Length: About 6¾ inches.

General Appearance: One of the larger sparrows, with a _black and white
    striped crown_, a _white throat_, and a _yellow spot before the

Male and Female: Striped crown, with a _narrow white line_ in the
    _center_, a broad black stripe on each side of the white; a broad
    white stripe _over_ the _eye_ edged with a narrow black line; _a
    yellow spot in front of the eye_, and at the outer curve of the
    wing. Back brown, streaked with black; rump and tail grayish-brown;
    wings with two white bars; breast gray, becoming whitish on the
    belly; sides brownish.

Notes: A sharp _chip_ for the alarm-note; low, pleasant twitterings.

Song: A sweet whistle, usually pitched high. It consists of two or three
    notes that vary considerably. Sometimes the first note is an octave
    below the second; at other times it is a few tones higher than the
    second. I heard one recently that sang a perfect monotone as
    follows: _Dee, dee, de′-de-de, de′-de-de, de′-de-de_. The song has
    been interpreted in Massachusetts as

              _Sam, Peabody, Peabody, Peabody_

    and the bird is known as the “Peabody Bird.”

Habitat: Hedgerows and thickets along roadsides, in parks, on estates,
    and in woods.

Range: Eastern and central North America. Breeds from north-central
    Canada to southern Montana, central Minnesota and Wisconsin, and
    mountains of northern Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachusetts;
    winters from Missouri, the Ohio Valley, southern Pennsylvania,
    Massachusetts, (casually in Maine), south to northeastern Mexico and

                       THE WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW
                       _Finch Family—Fringillidæ_

Length: Nearly 7 inches; a little larger than the white-throated

Male and Female: Crown _white_, bordered on each side by a broad black
    stripe that extends from bill in front of the eye; a broad white
    stripe borders each black stripe; a narrow line of black borders the
    white. _No yellow on head or wing_ like that of the white-throated
    sparrow. Cheeks, neck, throat, and under parts gray; belly white,
    sides buff; back, wings, and tail brown; back streaked; wings with
    two white bars.

Song: A sweet whistled strain.

Habitat: Thickets, woods, and fields.

Range: Breeds in Canada, the mountains of New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming,
    and Montana, and thence to the Pacific Coast; winters in the
    southern half of the United States and in northern Mexico.

The White-crowned Sparrow is considered by some admirers to be the
handsomest member of the sparrow tribe. It is not widely known in the
East, and is sometimes confused with the white-throat. The gray throat
of the white-crown and the absence of yellow on the wing and near the
eye, distinguish it from the white-throat.

In Bulletin 513 of the Biological Survey occurs this description of the
white-crown: “This beautiful sparrow is much more numerous in the
western than in the eastern States, where indeed it is rather rare. In
the East it is shy and retiring, but it is much bolder and more
conspicuous in the far West and often frequents gardens and parks. Like
most of its family it is a seed-eater by preference, and insects
comprise very little more than 7 per cent. of its diet. Caterpillars are
the largest item, with some beetles, a few ants and wasps, and some
bugs, among which are black olive scales. The great bulk of food,
however, consists of weed seeds, which amount to 74 per cent. of the
whole. In California this bird is accused of eating the buds and
blossoms of fruit trees, but buds or blossoms were found in only 30 out
of 516 stomachs, and probably it is only under exceptional circumstances
that it does any damage in this way. Evidently neither the farmer nor
the fruit-grower has much to fear from the white-crowned sparrow. The
little fruit it eats is mostly wild, and the grain eaten is waste.”

                            THE PURPLE FINCH
                       _Finch Family—Fringillidæ_

Length: About 6¼ inches; a little smaller than the English sparrow.

Adult Male: Body largely raspberry- or rose-red, streaked with brown.
    For two seasons the male is a brown sparrowlike bird, with a
    yellowish-olive chin and rump; the third season his body seems to
    have been washed with a beautiful _red, not purple_, the color
    richest on his head, breast, and rump. Head slightly crested; bill
    thick, with bristles at nostrils; cheeks and back brownish; under
    parts grayish-white; wings and tail brownish, edged with red; tail

Female: Decidedly sparrowlike; body grayish-brown, heavily streaked,
    lighter underneath; patch of light gray extending from eye, another
    from beak; wings dark grayish-brown, with indistinct gray bands. She
    is not unlike the song sparrow, except for the absence of the three
    black spots on breast and throat.

Call-note: A sharp, metallic _chip_.

Song: A clear, sweet, joyous warble.

Habitat: Woods, orchards, and gardens.

Range: Eastern North America. Breeds in central and southern Canada, and
    northern United States, in North Dakota, central Minnesota, northern
    Illinois, and New Jersey, Maine, Massachusetts, the Pennsylvania
    mountains, and Long Island; winters from considerably north of the
    southern boundary of its breeding-range to the Gulf Coast, from
    Texas to Florida.

None of our smaller finches, except the goldfinch and indigo bunting are
more beautiful in color than the PURPLE FINCH which wears a Tyrian
purple, rather than the shade we commonly know.

Few members of the family sing more sweetly and joyously than this
songster of the treetops. His delightful warble resembles somewhat the
song of the rose-breasted grosbeak, and attracts attention wherever the
bird is to be found. Several purple finches singing from neighboring elm
trees at once, makes a May or June concert not easily excelled. Mr.
Forbush says: “The song of the male is a sudden, joyous burst of melody,
vigorous, but clear and pure, which no mere words can do justice. When,
filled with ecstasy, he mounts in air and hangs with fluttering wings
above the trees where sits the one who holds his affections, his efforts
far transcend his ordinary tones, and a continuous melody flows forth,
until, exhausted with his vocal efforts, he sinks to the level of his
spouse in the treetop. This is a musical species, for some females sing,
though not so well as the males.”[89]

The bird has been accused of eating the buds of fruit and shade trees,
especially elms, and while he is at times guilty, he is not condemned by
those who know his food-habits best, but commended for his fondness for
weed seeds, especially ragweed, and for destroying plant-lice,
cankerworms, cutworms, and ground beetles.[89]

His cousin, the HOUSE FINCH, or LINNET of California, who is brighter in
color, is more beloved by tourists and more hated by fruit-growers than
almost any bird in the state. Professor Beal writes: “This bird, like
the other members of its family, is by nature a seed-eater, and before
the beginning of fruit-growing in California probably subsisted upon the
seeds of weeds, with an occasional wild berry. Now, however, when
orchards have extended throughout the length and breadth of the state
and every month from May to December sees some ripening fruit, the
linnets take their share. As their name is legion, the sum total of the
fruit that they destroy is more than the fruit-raiser can well spare. As
the bird has a stout beak, it has no difficulty in breaking the skin of
the hardest fruit and feasting upon the pulp, thereby spoiling the fruit
and giving weaker-billed birds a chance to sample and acquire a taste
for what they might not otherwise have molested. Complaints against this
bird have been many and loud.... Whatever the linnet’s sins may be,
grain-eating is not one of them. In view of the great complaint made
against their fruit-eating habit, the small quantity found in the
stomachs taken is somewhat of a surprise. When a bird takes a single
peck from a cherry or an apricot, it spoils the whole fruit, and in this
way may ruin half a dozen in taking a single meal. That the damage is
often serious no one will deny. It is noticeable, however, that the
earliest varieties are the ones most affected; also, that in large
orchards the damage is not perceptible, while in small plantations the
whole crop is frequently destroyed.”[90]

In spite of this troublesome habit, the linnet is a most engaging little
bird. Its sweet bubbling song, not unlike that of the purple finch, adds
much to the charm of California.

[Illustration: TOWHEE]

                         THE TOWHEE OR CHEWINK
                       _Finch Family—Fringillidæ_

Length: About 8½ inches; smaller than the robin and larger than the

General Appearance: A black bird with _reddish-brown sides_, _black
    breast_, and _white belly_; outer tail-feathers _tipped_ with

Male: Head, back, throat, and breast, a glossy black; wings black, outer
    feathers edged with white; tail black, outer edge of outer feather
    white; three other feathers partly white, decreasing in size toward
    middle of tail; belly white; _eyes dark red_.

Female: Brownish, where male is black. The young are streaked with

Call-note: A cheerful _cha-ree_, uttered with a rising inflection. The
    note is also interpreted as _tow hee′? chewink′? jaree′?_ An
    engaging trait of this bird is his almost invariable response to one
    imitating his note.

Song: Two notes, followed by a trill. The song may be translated into
    _chip-chur, pussy-pussy-willow_.

Habitat: Woodlands, where he is first found in April scratching among
    old leaves like fox sparrows, white-throats, and other members of
    his family.

Range: Eastern North America. Breeds from southern Canada and Maine to
    central Kansas and northern Georgia; winters from southeastern
    Nebraska, the Ohio and Potomac Valleys to central Texas, the Gulf
    Coast, and southern Florida.

    The WHITE-EYED TOWHEE is found on the Atlantic Coast region from
    about Charleston, South Carolina, to southern Florida. He resembles
    his northern cousin except that his _eyes_ are _white_, and that his
    wings and tail have _less_ white on them. There are several species
    of towhee in our western states.

Before the trees are in leaf, there appears in our April woods a lively,
trim, and attractive bird who makes himself known in no uncertain
manner. So bustling and energetic is he, so cheerful and self-confident,
without unpleasant aggressiveness, that he always attracts attention.
The uninitiated frequently call him an oriole, whom he does resemble in
having a glossy black head, throat, back, and tail, and white markings
on his wings, with reddish-brown like that of the orchard oriole on his
sides; but there the resemblance ceases, for the oriole has in addition
a reddish-brown breast, belly, and rump. Then, too, the towhee arrives
early, before larvæ have hatched; the oriole arrives in May, when swarms
of insects have begun their work of fertilizing blossoms of fruit trees.

Professor Beal writes of the towhee as follows: “After snow has
disappeared in early spring, an investigation of the rustling so often
heard among the leaves near a fence or in a thicket will frequently
disclose a towhee at work scratching for his dinner after the manner of
a hen; and in these places and along the sunny border of woods, old
leaves will be found overturned where the bird has been searching for
hibernating beetles and larvæ. The good which the towhee does in this
way can hardly be overestimated, since the death of a single insect at
this time, before it has had an opportunity to deposit its egg, is
equivalent to the destruction of a host later in the year.”[91]

While attending to business, this ground robin seems most materialistic
and worldly-minded; but when satisfied with his quest for food, “a
change comes over the spirit of his dreams.” He perches upon a low
bough; in a sweet and joyous song he reveals his passionate devotion to
his mate, and brings pleasure to listeners whose ears are attuned to the
sounds of Nature.

                         OUR LATER SPRING BIRDS
                               PART FOUR

                           LATER SPRING BIRDS

Spring comes with a rush in some parts of our country and remains but a
short time, so closely does Summer follow in her footsteps. But in New
England, New York, northern Pennsylvania, Ohio, and neighboring states,
her approach is more gradual and restrained.

When maple and red-bud have laid aside their corals and fruit-trees have
donned their robes of white and shell-pink; when the woods show again a
flush of tender green, Spring arrives. She has long been heralded by
early choristers; she is now accompanied by a host more wonderful than
retinue of kings, so varied is their dress and so sweet their triumphal
music. Grove and orchard are alive with happy-hearted birds, who help to
make May the loveliest month of the year.

First come the swallows, skimming over pools and circling above
meadows—embodiment of grace, gladdening the world with their joyous
twitterings. Swifts, nighthawks, and whip-poor-wills make nightfall
vocal. Little house wrens, each a fountain of bubbling music, take up
their abode near our homes.

Cuckoos slip quietly from tree to tree; thrashers and catbirds seek
thickets or perch on treetops, to sing like their celebrated cousins,
the mockingbirds. Shy ovenbirds and lustrous-eyed thrushes return to
live in the woods, or pass through them as they journey to their
northern homes. The advent of the tanager in his flashing scarlet, and
the grosbeak with his glowing rose bring to every bird-lover “a most
pointed pleasure.” With Stevenson he may say, [They] “stab my spirit
broad awake.”

Vireos and wood pewees appear in the groves; warblers flit from treetop
to treetop, many of them on their way to northern woods. Orioles in the
elms and orchards shout with joy; bobolinks bubble and tinkle in the
meadows; indigo buntings and kingbirds greet us from roadsides, and
Maryland yellow-throats from thickets. Goldfinches hold their May
festival, and choose their mates as they sing with joyous abandon. The
earth is fresh and beautiful, with promise of a glad fulfillment near at

[Illustration: TREE SWALLOW]


                            THE TREE SWALLOW
                      _Swallow Family—Hirundinidæ_

Length: About 6 inches.

General Appearance: Bluish-green above; pure white underneath, from beak
    to tail; _tail not deeply forked_; wings very long.

Male and Female: Back, a dark, glistening green, giving this swallow the
    name of “The Green-backed Swallow”; the snowy white under parts give
    it the names of “White-breasted Swallow” and “White-bellied
    Swallow.” The green and white are about equally distributed; the
    green on the head resembles a close-fitting skull-cap, pulled down
    below the eyes. Wings, _very long and powerful_ (nearly 4¾ inches),
    extending beyond the ends of the forked tail. Bill short, _very wide
    at base_. Feet small and weak—used only when resting, as swallows
    are generally on the wing.

Young: Brownish-gray, white beneath.

Note: A pleasant twitter.

Flight: Swift, in great circles.

Habitat: Tree swallows are seen along roadsides, and near swamps and
    thickets. They formerly nested in dead trees, in woodpeckers’ holes,
    or any available hollow. They now take kindly to nesting-boxes. They
    have “roosts” at night where they resort in great numbers,
    especially on their way south in the late summer. They have a great
    fondness for telegraph-wires. During the fall migration, long chains
    of these swallows are festooned on the wires during the daytime. At
    night they disappear to their roosts, preferably near marshes. They
    are a sight to be remembered in the Jersey marshes, which Mr.
    Horsfall’s accompanying drawing depicts.

Range: North America from Alaska and northern Canada to southern
    California, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, and Virginia. They winter
    from central California, southern Texas, southern parts of the Gulf
    States and southeastern North Carolina, south over Mexico,
    Guatemala, and Cuba; sometimes in New Jersey. They eat bayberries
    that grow along the coast, and thus are able to remain farther north
    in winter than their relatives.

First of the swallow host to speed northward is the Tree Swallow, that
migrates in April, as soon as a sufficient number of insects have
hatched to furnish a living for these almost wholly insectivorous birds.
Their cheerful twitter and beautiful circling flight make them very

Swallows have always been regarded with favor. They were formerly
considered a good omen, and were thought to bring fair weather and
prosperity. I shall always remember the welcoming swallow that met our
ship near the Scilly Islands one June day, and preceded us without
resting for long hours as we voyaged close to the shore of England. It
seemed to presage the good fortune that followed us.

Swallows fly with their broad beaks ready to open, and catch unwary
insects with great ease. They rise early and continue their ceaseless
quest for small beetles, flies, mosquitoes, and other insects. Professor
Beal says: “Most of these are either injurious or annoying, and the
numbers destroyed by swallows are not only beyond calculation but almost
beyond imagination.”[92] He pleads for the protection of all swallows
and suggests that the “white-bellied swallows” be supplied with boxes
similar to those constructed for bluebirds, only placed at a greater
elevation and protected from cats.

Tree swallows are the first to come and first to go. Before the summer
has really arrived, as early as July first, they begin to flock and form
great colonies that may be seen migrating during the daytime.

                            THE BARN SWALLOW
                      _Swallow Family—Hirundinidæ_

Length: About 7 inches; an inch longer than the tree swallow because of
    longer tail; body nearly the same size.

General Appearance: _Upper parts a glossy bluish-black; under parts
    reddish-brown and buff; tail deeply forked._

Male: Forehead and throat bright reddish-brown; breast, belly, and
    feathers under wings a light brown, becoming buffy; breast and
    throat separated by an indistinct dark band; upper parts a
    shimmering bluish-black; tail very deeply forked—the proverbial
    “swallow-tail”; rounded white spots on the inner web of all except
    the middle tail-feathers.

Female: Resembles male, though paler in color; outer tail-feathers a
    little shorter.

Young: Backs duller, breasts paler, tail-feathers shorter than those of
    adult male.

Notes: A clear, sweet call, and a joyous, musical twitter—_weet-weet_,
    or _twit-twit_.

Flight: Long, sweeping curves that are beautiful to see. The bird shows
    first his blue back, then his soft brown breast. He flies nearer the
    ground than other swallows, and surpasses them all in his power of
    flight. Imagine the number of miles he travels in a day!

Habitat: Fields and farm-lands; also the vicinity of ponds or other
    breeding-places of insects. The nest of mud is usually fastened to a
    rafter of a barn. These swallows often nest in colonies.

Range: North America, from northwestern Alaska and Canada, to southern
    California and southwestern Texas, northern Arkansas and North
    Carolina. They do not breed in the southeastern part of the United
    States. They winter in South America.

[Illustration: BARN SWALLOW]

Most beautiful of all the swallows is this bluebird fleet of the summer
time. It is associated in my mind with shining pools rimmed with iris;
with fragrant lilac-bushes, blossoming apple-trees, and waving fields of
grain near farm-buildings. Its sweet voice and marvelous flight bring
poetry into the prosaic life of the farm.

Burroughs characterizes the swallow delightfully in “Under the Maples.”
He says: “Is not the swallow one of the oldest and dearest of birds?
Known to the poets and sages and prophets of all peoples! So infantile,
so helpless and awkward upon the earth, so graceful and masterful on the
wing, the child and darling of the summer air, reaping its invisible
harvest in the fields of space as if it dined on sunbeams, touching no
earthly food, drinking and bathing and mating on the wing, swiftly,
tirelessly coursing the long day through, a thought on wings, a lyric in
the shape of a bird! Only in the free fields of the summer air could it
have got that steel-blue of the wings and that warm tan of the breast.
Of course I refer to the barn swallow. The cliff swallow seems less a
child of the sky and sun, probably because its sheen and glow are less,
and its shape and motions less arrowy. More varied in color, its hues
yet lack the intensity, and its flight the swiftness, of those of its
brother of the hay-lofts. The tree swallows and the bank swallows are
pleasing, but they are much more local and restricted in their ranges
than the barn-frequenters. As a farm boy I did not know them at all, but
the barn swallows the summer always brought. After all, there is but one
swallow; the others are particular kinds that we specify.”[93]

[Illustration: PURPLE MARTIN]

                           THE PURPLE MARTIN
                      _Swallow Family—Hirundinidæ_

Length: About 8 inches, the largest of the six common species of
    swallow. Wings nearly 6 inches long—very large when spread.

Male: _Glossy purplish-black head, body, and shoulders; wings and tail
    duller. No reddish-brown or white. Tail forked._

Female: Bluish-black head and back; black wings and tail; brownish-gray
    throat, neck, and sides, mottled with white-tipped feathers; belly,

Young: Similar to female.

Note: A sweet, rich, joyous warble. Mr. Forbush describes it as “a
    full-toned chirruping carol, musical and clear, beginning

Habitat: Farm-lands and the vicinity of dwellings shaded by trees. These
    birds were formerly more numerous in the North than at present. They
    are more abundant in the South than in the North.

Nests: Made of twigs, grass, straw, or leaves, placed in gourds or
    martin-houses. Martins are very social and seem to revel in large
    “bird-apartment-houses.” They formerly nested in hollow trees or

Range: North and South America, except Pacific Coast region. They breed
    in southern Canada, east of the Rockies; in the United States from
    Montana and Idaho, south to the Gulf Coast, Florida, and Mexico.
    They winter in Brazil. A WESTERN MARTIN is found on the Pacific

Purple Martins have long been favorites. Mr. Dutcher tells us that
Indians, keen observers of nature, realized that it was beneficial to
have them near their long-houses. They therefore hung hollowed gourds to
entice them. Southern negroes have done likewise. They sometimes suspend
a number of gourds from crossbars surmounting a pole, to form
nesting-sites for a small colony.

Martins form an ideal community—busy, happy, harmonious—unless English
sparrows attempt to evict them and appropriate their homes.
Martin-houses and bluebird nesting-boxes seem to be the envy of these
pugnacious sparrows. Martins attack crows and hawks but cannot endure
the persecutions of the English sparrow.

Martins are so useful that they should be protected and encouraged
whenever possible. A friend of mine told me that she was never obliged
to have her trees sprayed while the martins remained. They feed on
wasps, bugs, and beetles, several varieties of which are harmful, and
they devour many flies and moths.

Dr. Dutcher quotes from Audubon regarding the flight of martins as

“The usual flight of this bird ... although graceful and easy, cannot be
compared in swiftness with that of the Barn Swallow. Yet the martin is
fully able to distance any bird not of its own genus. They are very
expert at bathing and drinking while on the wing, when over a large lake
or river, giving a sudden motion to the hind part of the body, as it
comes in contact with the water, thus dipping themselves in it, and then
rising and shaking their body, like a water spaniel, to throw off the

                       THE CLIFF OR EAVE SWALLOW
                      _Swallow Family—Hirundinidæ_

Length: About 6 inches; one inch smaller than the barn swallow, and two
    inches smaller than the martin.

General Appearance: A multi-colored swallow—a sort of combination of
    barn swallow and martin, with areas and patches of dark blue,
    chestnut, gray, and white, and _bright reddish-brown upper
    tail-coverts_, that differentiate it from the other swallows.

Male and Female: Forehead creamy white, head bluish-black; throat and
    cheeks reddish-brown; a brownish ring about the neck shading to
    gray; back bluish-black streaked with white; breast gray with a wash
    of brown, and a blue-black patch where the throat joins the breast;
    wings and tail brownish; tail only slightly forked.

Note: A harsher, less musical note than that of the barn swallow and

Habitat: Meadows and marshes. These swallows formerly nested in cliffs;
    now they build under eaves of buildings.

Nests: Curiously shaped pouches of mud that make one think of
    protuberant knot-holes, or of flasks made of skin. The nests vary
    with the shape of the places to which they are fastened. Eave
    swallows also nest in colonies.

Range: North America. Breed from central Alaska and north-central Canada
    over nearly all the United States except Florida and the Rio Grande
    Valley. They probably winter in Brazil and Argentina.

Mr. Forbush writes about the Cliff or Eave Swallow as follows:

“When the first explorers reached the Yellowstone and other western
rivers, swallows were found breeding on the precipitous banks. As
settlers gradually worked their way westward, the swallows found
nesting-places under the eaves of their rough buildings. In these new
breeding-places they were better protected from the elements and their
enemies than on their native cliffs and so the Cliff Swallow became the
Eave Swallow, and, following the settlements, rapidly increased in
numbers and worked eastward.”[96] These swallows were very numerous
fifty years ago. It is now generally conceded that English sparrows are
largely responsible for their decrease. It is greatly to be deplored,
for swallows add much to the charm of out-door life, and subtract many
annoyances in the form of insect pests, especially flies and mosquitoes.

                            THE BANK SWALLOW
                      _Swallow Family—Hirundinidæ_

Length: A little over 5 inches; the smallest of the six common swallows.

General Appearance: _Brownish-gray above; band of same color across
    breast_; throat and under parts white. The gray head and white
    throat form a cap similar in effect to that of the tree swallow.

Note: A twitter, less pleasing than that of the martin and the barn

Habitat: Sandy banks of rivers, and shores of lakes.

Nests: In holes made in sand-banks.

Range: North and South America. Breeds from the tree-regions of Alaska
    and Canada to southern California, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, and
    Virginia. It migrates through Mexico and Central America and
    probably winters in northern South America to Brazil and Peru.

The ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW resembles the bank swallow so closely that it
is difficult to distinguish them, unless one can see the darker breast
and throat of the rough-wing and the _absence of a dark band across the
breast_. Upon careful examination of the latter species, each long outer
wing-feather is discovered to have a rough saw-tooth edge.

The habits of the birds are similar, though the rough-wings, like
phœbes, nest not only in banks, but against stone walls and stone
bridges. They have a more restricted range than barn swallows. They
breed from southern Canada to northern Florida and southern California,
and winter in Mexico and Central America.

                           THE CHIMNEY SWIFT
                       _Swift Family—Micropodidæ_

Length: About 5½ inches; wings nearly 5 inches long.

General Appearance: In the sky, the swift looks unlike any other bird.
    The wings are long and flap like those of a mechanical toy-bird. The
    tail appears _rounded_, not _forked_, like those of swallows.

Male and Female: Brownish-gray, lighter gray on throat; a black spot
    before each eye; wings longer than tail; tail short, with ribs of
    the feathers extending beyond the vanes, giving the effect of sharp
    needle- or pin-points. The bird has a _sooty_ appearance.

Note: A noisy, incessant twitter.

Flight: Rapid, and seemingly erratic and aimless. Swifts’ wings appear
    to beat the air alternately. The birds move in great curves, seldom
    alight, and drop suddenly into chimneys at night or when they wish
    to enter their nests.

Nest: A wall-pocket, built of sticks glued together and to the wall by a
    sticky saliva secreted by the swifts. During rainy weather the nest
    is sometimes loosened, and falls.

Eggs: White, like those of woodpeckers and some others laid in dark

Habitat: As swifts secure all of their food while on the wing and seldom
    alight, they have no habitat except the atmosphere and the hollow
    trees or chimneys in which they congregate at night, and where they
    nest. They do not perch on telegraph wires as swallows like to do.

Range: Breed in eastern North America, from southcentral Canada to the
    Gulf, and westward to the Plains; winter south of the United States.

[Illustration: CHIMNEY SWIFT]

Swifts have often been called “Chimney Swallows,” but the name is a
misnomer; they belong to an entirely different family. The breadth of
wing and rapid flight, the weak feet and broad bills are, however,
points of resemblance; the sooty appearance and lack of beautiful luster
of plumage are points of difference. Then, too, swifts’ tails are less
like swallows’ tails than they are like those of woodpeckers and
creepers; the spiny tips are used as props against a perpendicular

The following facts concerning swifts are taken from Eaton’s “Birds of
New York”:

“Nearly every village or city [in New York State] can boast at least one
large chimney or church or schoolhouse that harbors multitudes of swifts
every night late in summer. It is an interesting sight to watch these
swifts as they wheel about such a chimney in the August and September
evenings and, when the magic moment arrives, pour down its capacious
mouth in a living cascade. It seems impossible for this species to
perch, but it always alights on some perpendicular surface like the
inside of a large hollow tree or the inner surface of a chimney or the
perpendicular boards at the gable end of a barn or shed. In this
position it sleeps, clinging with its sharp claws to the irregular
surface and using its spiny tail as a support. The swift is seen abroad
early in the morning and late in the afternoon, but in cloudy weather
comes out at any time of day and evidently can see well in the bright
sunlight, for it frequently hunts material for its nest during the
brightest weather. They begin to construct the nest in May or early
June, the small twigs of which it is formed being broken from dead
branches of some shade tree by the bird flying directly against the tip
of the twig and snapping it off. The twigs are carried into the chimney
and are cemented to the wall and to each other by a gelatinous substance
secreted by the salivary glands of the bird itself. When completed, the
nest is like a little semi-circular bracket slightly hollowed downward.
The eggs are placed on this framework of twigs without lining.

“In food the swift is wholly insectivorous, and does an immense amount
of good destroying beetles, flies, and gnats, which he devours in
countless multitudes. The chimney swift, as he darts by, frequently
utters a rapid chipper something like the syllable _chip, chip, chip_,
rapidly repeated, and I have heard a loud cheeping in the chimney,
evidently uttered by the young birds. One of the earliest impressions of
my boyhood was the curious roaring caused by the wings of parent swifts
as they came and went from their nests at daybreak. This unfortunate
habit of early rising has brought the chimney swift into bad repute in
many civilized communities, ... closing chimneys against this beneficial

In Major Charles Bendire’s “Life Histories of American Birds” occur the
following statements from Mr. Otto Widman regarding the nests and young
of chimney swifts: “The setting parent shields the structure by
habitually covering its base with the breast and pressing its head
against the wall above. When disturbed, it hides below the nest, as do
the young birds. They make a hissing noise, and always remain 2 or 3
feet below the mouth of the chimney [shaft], where they are fed by the
parents until they are four weeks old.

“Few birds are more devoted to their young than the Chimney Swift, and
instances are recorded where the parent was seen to enter chimneys in
burning houses, even after the entire roof was a mass of flames,
preferring to perish with its offspring rather than to forsake them.”

                           THE WHIP-POOR-WILL
                    _Goatsucker Family—Caprimulgidæ_

Length: Nearly 10 inches; wings 7 inches long.

General Appearance: A _mottled brown bird with a narrow white band
    around throat, and white outer tail-feathers_.

          “He seems a lichen on a log,
          A dead leaf on the ground.”

Male and Female: Soft brown, irregularly mottled and barred with black,
    buff, and white. Throat dark with a _narrow curve of white_ in the
    male, and one of _buff_ in the female. Beak short, slightly hooked,
    and very wide (1½ inches), with long bristles at the sides. Breast
    dark, belly white. Middle tail-feathers mottled brown; _half of six
    other tail-feathers white_, which are visible in flight. Female has
    narrower white tips to outer tail-feathers.

Note: _Whip′-poor-will, whip′-poor-will, whip′-poor-will_, uttered
    rapidly, monotonously, lugubriously, continuously. My sister counted
    275 repetitions of his note given without a pause. To some people
    the sound is unendurable. When near the bird, I have heard him give
    a soft _chuck_ between the repetition of the word _whip-poor-will_.
    He is associated in my mind with bright moonlight evenings, for it
    is then he is most vociferous. He sings, also, early in the morning.

Flight: Swift, yet noiseless; almost as uncanny as his note.

Habitat: In woods and open groves, where one may come upon him both at
    night and during the daytime sitting lengthwise on a log or branch
    instead of crosswise.

[Illustration: WHIP-POOR-WILL]

Nest: No nest is made, but two dull-colored, mottled eggs are laid on
    the ground or on dead leaves.

Range: Eastern North America. Breeds from southern Canada to the
    northern parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Georgia, and from the
    Plains eastward; winters from eastern South Carolina and the
    southern Gulf States to Central America. The CHUCK-WILL’S-WIDOW is a
    resident of our southeastern states; the POOR-WILL of our western

The whip-poor-will is too interesting and useful a bird to be
disregarded. He has been widely disliked and even superstitiously
dreaded because of his weird notes. He is, however, of especial interest
to scientists because of his nocturnal habits and his value as a
destroyer of insects. Mr. Forbush calls him “an animated insect trap,”
with an “enormous mouth surrounded by long bristles which form a wide
fringe about the yawning cavity.”[97] The whip-poor-will is believed to
be the greatest enemy of night-moths; he eats other insects, also, in
great quantities.

The chuck-will’s-widow is even more interesting than the whip-poor-will.
Mr. W. L. McAtee writes of the bird as follows:

“Like other species of its family, it lays only two eggs, which may be
deposited almost anywhere on the forest floor, there being no nest.
Intrusion on this spot usually results in the bird moving the eggs,
which it carries in its mouth. Although the bird is only 12 inches long,
the mouth fully extended forms an opening at least 2 by 3½ inches in
size. It is but natural, therefore, that the bird should prey upon some
of the largest insects. Not only are large insects captured and
swallowed, but even small birds, in two cases warblers.

“Despite the fact that the chuck-will’s-widow occasionally devours small
insectivorous birds, it must be reckoned a useful species. It is
probable that birds are not deliberately sought, but that they are taken
instinctively, as would be a moth or other large insect coming within
reach of that capacious mouth.”[98]

[Illustration: NIGHTHAWK]

                             THE NIGHTHAWK
                    _Goatsucker Family—Caprimulgidæ_

Length: 10 inches; wings 7¾ inches.

General Appearance: A large dark bird, with a _white throat_, _a white
    band across the tail_, and _very long wings_, on each of which is a
    _large white spot or bull’s-eye_, unfortunately a target, like the
    white rump of the flicker.

Male: Black above, mottled with buff and white; under parts lighter
    (becoming whitish), barred with black; throat with a tent-shaped
    white patch below the _very wide_ bill; upper breast black; tail
    notched, a white band extending across it near the end except on the
    middle tail-feathers; wing with a conspicuous area of white about
    half-way between the curve and tip, when outspread.

Female: Throat buff; under parts buffy; no white on the tail.

Note: A loud _peeng-peeng_; uttered at frequent intervals while on the

Flight: Very swift, with numerous and rapid changes of direction. The
    bird is very active at nightfall. It makes rapid descents not unlike
    those made by an airplane; it has a habit of dropping “like a bolt
    from the blue.”

Habitat: The nighthawk is a “bird of the air” rather than of treetops or
    ground. It may be seen in cities flying above houses in search of
    its insect prey at sunset and during the night.

Nest: No nest, but two speckled eggs are laid on the ground or on a roof
    where they are not easily discovered. Mr. Forbush says, “The
    nighthawk has deposited its eggs on gravel roofs in cities for at
    least forty years and probably longer.”

Young: Dr. F. H. Herrick tells us that the nestlings are “clothed in
    down” and “look like two little flattened balls of fluffy worsted of
    a dark cream-color mottled with brown.”

Range: Eastern and central North America. Breeds from Manitoba, southern
    Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia south to northern Louisiana,
    Mississippi, and Georgia, and from eastern North Dakota, Nebraska,
    and Kansas eastward; winters from the lowlands of South Carolina and
    southern parts of the Gulf States to British Honduras and Salvador.

The nighthawk is a remarkable bird. Because of its nocturnal habits, it
has been regarded with superstitious awe. Erroneous ideas of it have
been entertained, and it has received a name that belies it. It is not a
_hawk_ at all; it preys only on insects, not on chickens or small

Mr. W. L. McAtee writes: “Nighthawks are so expert in flight that no
insects can escape them. They sweep up in their capacious mouths
everything from the largest moths and dragon flies to the tiniest ants
and gnats, and in this way sometimes gather most remarkable collections
of insects. Several stomachs have contained fifty or more different
kinds, and the numbers of individuals may run into the thousands. Nearly
a fourth of the bird’s total food consists of ants.”[99] Professor Beal
estimated that the stomachs of eighty-seven nighthawks which he examined
“contained not less than twenty thousand ants, and these were not half
of the insect contents.”[100] Mr. Forbush claims that the nighthawk
“ranks next to the flicker in the destruction of ants, and it takes them
when they are flying and about to propagate.”[101]

It has a fondness for fireflies, also. Dr. Herrick made careful
observation of the habits of nighthawks, and the manner of feeding their
young. He writes of seeing a mother-bird “loaded with fireflies.” He
says: “As her great mouth opened you beheld wide jaws and throat
brilliantly illuminated like a spacious apartment all aglow with
electricity. She made an electrical display at every utterance of her
harsh _ke-ark_. Then standing over her young, with raised and quivering
wings, she put her bill down into his throat and pumped him full. She
then tucked the little one under her breast and began to brood. She
repeated the performance, after which she settled down to brood as if
for the night. This young bird was fed but twice each evening between
the hours of eight and nine o’clock, and always, as I believe, by the
female. It is quite probable that another feeding occurs also at dawn.
The male would sometimes swoop down and once he sat by the chick for ten
minutes after dusk. The task of feeding was borne by the mother.”[102]

                             THE HOUSE WREN
                       _Wren Family—Troglodytidæ_

Length: About 4¾ inches.

Male and Female: Cinnamon-brown above, reddish-brown on the rump and
    tail. Back with fine indistinct bars; wings and tail with heavier
    bars; under parts grayish-white washed with brown, lighter on throat
    and breast; sides, and feathers under tail, barred with black; tail
    frequently held upright.

Notes: Sharp scolding notes.

Song: A sweet bubbling song. The notes are poured forth with joyous
    abandon and tireless energy.

Habitat: Near the homes of man preferably, though in the winter many
    house wrens are found in southern woods. They dart in and out of
    wood-piles and brush-heaps, run along walls and fences, and seek
    shrubbery, vines, and orchards.

Nest: Of small sticks, lined with root-fibers or grasses, placed in a
    hollow of a tree, in a nesting-box, or some out-of-the-way place,
    such as a flower-pot, tin-can, discarded shoe, old hat, etc.

Range: Eastern North America. Breeds from southeastern Canada, eastern
    Wisconsin and Michigan, southward to Kentucky and Virginia; winters
    in eastern Texas, and in the South Atlantic and Gulf States.

Little “Jenny Wren” figured in our nursery tales and was one of the
delights of our childhood, because of its diminutive size, its pert,
cocked tail, its incessant activity, and its continuous chatter. No dull
moments when a wren was near by!

Its nesting-habits make it interesting to young and old. Though loyal to
a nesting-locality, it will make its neat nest in a great variety of
places, such as boxes, empty jars, small pails, or gourds, if placed
conveniently, or in wren-houses.

[Illustration: HOUSE WREN]

Wrens are valiant defenders of their nests, but have been driven away
from favorite nesting-places by quarrelsome English sparrows;
consequently wrens are decreasing in number. Wren-houses with openings
about an inch in diameter, too small for sparrows to enter, may help
somewhat to check the decrease of these valuable insect-eating birds.

They are noisy little neighbors, a curious combination of joyousness and
irritability. A pair of wrens that built a nest on the piazza of my
brother’s home spent so much time in scolding and quarreling that they
were almost unendurable. One morning they disappeared; a few hours later
my brother found the drowned body of the female in a rain-barrel.
Whether it was accident, murder, or suicide, no one knew, but within
twenty-four hours a pleasanter-tempered Lady Wren appeared, swept and
garnished the home of her predecessor, and set up house-keeping. A
larger measure of peace reigned thereafter.

As songsters, wrens are very remarkable for volume of sound, for
sweetness of tone, and for extreme ecstasy. I remember wakening about
sunrise one morning in early June, when the spring chorus was at its
climax. For about an hour, I had the joy of listening to a bird-concert
more wonderful than any I had ever heard. After a time I distinguished
the voices of the various familiar birds. Loudest, clearest, and
sweetest of all rang the voice of the smallest member of the choir—that
of the tiny house wren.

                    _Hummingbird Family—Trochilidæ_

Length: About 3¾ inches; bill over ½ inch.

Male: Iridescent green above; gray below, with a glint of green,
    especially on the sides; wings and tail brown, with slight
    iridescence; throat brilliant ruby,—brownish in some lights; _tail

Female: Similar to male, but _without ruby on throat_, which is flecked
    with minute brownish spots; _tail-feathers of nearly even length_,
    outer feathers with white tips.

Note: No song—only a faint squeak.

Habitat: Open country; cultivated tracts of land, especially those
    overrun with vines; gardens, particularly those that contain
    trumpet-creepers and honey-suckles.

Nest: One of the most exquisite nests made. It is in the shape of a tiny
    cup, covered with lichens and lined with soft materials. It is
    frequently placed so high on a branch as to be difficult to
    distinguish from an excrescence on the bough. The eggs look like
    white beans.

Range: Eastern North America. Breeds from central Canada to the Gulf
    Coast and Florida; winters from central Florida and Louisiana
    through Southern Mexico and Central America to Panama.

Hummingbirds are rightly in a family by themselves—they are unique. They
are the smallest of our birds, and yet they possess a power of flight
unsurpassed. Mr. Forbush says: “The little body, divested of its
feathers, is no larger than the end of one’s finger, but the breast
muscles which move the wings are enormous in proportion to the size of
the bird. They form a large part of the entire trunk, and their power is
such that they can vibrate the inch-long feathers of those little wings
with such rapidity that the human eye can scarcely follow the bird when
it is moved to rapid flight by fear or passion.”[103]


The wings do not seem to be made of feathers, but of gauze, like those
of insects. I never really saw the feathers until I held a dead
hummingbird in my hand. Its iridescent body seems made of burnished

It is wonderful that so tiny a creature can wing its way from Central
America to the heart of Canada. It seems to know no fear; it is quite
able to defend itself with its long sharp bill. Mr. Forbush says: “The
males fight with one another, and, secure in their unequalled powers of
flight, they attack other and larger birds. When the Hummingbird says
‘Go!’ other birds stand not upon the order of their going, but go at
once; while the little warrior sometimes accelerates their flight, for
his sharp beak is a weapon not to be despised. Even the Kingbird goes
when the war-like Hummer comes; the English Sparrow flees in terror;
only the Woodpeckers stand their ground.”[103]

Hummingbirds are not only fearless and pugnacious, but they are very
inquisitive. Major Bendire says: “I once occupied quarters that were
completely covered with trumpet-vines, and when these were in bloom the
place fairly swarmed with Ruby-throats. They were exceedingly
inquisitive, and often poised themselves before an open window and
looked in my rooms, full of curiosity, their bright little eyes
sparkling like black beads. I caught several—by simply putting my hand
over them, and while so imprisoned they never moved, and feigned death,
but as soon as I opened my hand they were off like a flash. They seem to
be especially partial to anything red.”[104]

Their fondness for honey-producing flowers has caused many people to
believe that they live upon nectar and ambrosia, like the gods of the
Greeks, but the Biological Survey, has, by close observation, discovered
that they do not visit flowers wholly for the purpose of gathering
honey, but for obtaining also small insects that have been drowned in a
welter of sweetness. Professor Beal has observed them “hovering in front
of a cobweb, picking off insects and perhaps spiders entangled in the
net. They have also been observed to capture their food on the wing,
like flycatchers. Stomach examination shows that a considerable portion
of their food consists of insects and spiders.” Professor Beal
continues: “Although hummingbirds are the smallest of the avian race,
their stomachs are much smaller in proportion to their bodies than those
of other birds, while their livers are much larger. This would indicate
that these birds live to a considerable extent upon concentrated sweets,
as stated above, and that the insects, spiders, etc., found in the
stomachs do not represent by any means all their food.”[105]

A physician of my acquaintance owns a camp in the New Hampshire woods. A
birch near his house was attacked by sapsuckers. Sap exuded plentifully
and was eagerly sought by two red squirrels, a small swarm of bees, two
sapsuckers, and seven hummingbirds. With his glasses, the doctor
observed the birds eating insects served in birch syrup.

Professor Beal reports having seen as many as one hundred hummingbirds
“hovering about the flowers of a buckeye tree, and this number was
maintained all day and for many days, though the individuals were going
and coming all the time.” Burroughs once saw a hummingbird take his
morning bath in dewdrops.

There are about five hundred known species of hummingbird. They may be
found in North and South America from Alaska to Patagonia. They are most
numerous in northern South America, in Colombia and Ecuador. Seventeen
species are found in our western and southwestern states, but only one,
the Ruby-throat, lives in the East.

                       _Finch Family—Fringillidæ_

Length: About 5½ inches.

Male: Head and throat deep, purplish blue, becoming lighter on back and
    above tail; wings and tail a brownish black, edged with blue. Winter
    plumage, brownish like the female, mottled with blue.

Female: Brown above, darker on wings and tail; _no streaks on back_;
    breast grayish, washed and _faintly streaked with brown_; belly
    lighter. The female resembles her sparrow relatives, but may be
    distinguished by a glint of blue in her tail and wings.

Call-note: A sharp _chip_.

Song: A burst of melody, somewhat like that of a canary, loud, clear,
    and sweet. It is not remarkable except that it may be heard during
    the middle of the day and during the heat of midsummer. The bird
    sings frequently from treetops.

Habitat: In “scrubby” pastures, along roadsides—in trees and bushes.

Range: Eastern North America. Breeds east of the Great Plains from North
    Dakota to New Brunswick, south from central Texas to Georgia;
    winters from southern Mexico to Panama.

The Indigo Bunting possesses a brilliant beauty and a sweet voice. A
sight of him and his pretty brown mate brings a thrill of pleasure, but
he holds no such place in our affections as does the true bluebird. He
does not choose to nest close to human dwellings, but prefers overgrown
pastures, not too much frequented, where he performs his good office of
caterpillar-, canker worm-, and grasshopper-hunting, varying his diet
with an abundance of weed seeds.

[Illustration: INDIGO-BIRD]

The indigo-bird, the scarlet tanager, the goldfinch, and the Baltimore
oriole are our most brilliant summer birds. Thoreau, in his “Notes on
New England Birds” makes the following comment:

“This is a splendid and marked bird, high-colored as is the tanager,
looking strange in this latitude. Glowing indigo. It flits from the top
of one bush to another, chirping as if anxious. Wilson says it sings,
not like most other birds in the morning and evening chiefly, but also
in the middle of the day. In this I notice it is like the tanager, the
other fiery-plumaged bird. They seem to love the heat.”

During August, the songs of the indigo-bird and red-eyed vireo may be
heard along wooded roadsides, and are especially welcome because most
birds are silent at that time.

                          THE BALTIMORE ORIOLE
                  _American-Blackbird Family—Icteridæ_

Length: About 7½ inches.

Male: Head, throat, neck, and upper half of back black; breast, belly,
    shoulders, lower half of back and outer tail-feathers _brilliant
    orange_; wings black, many feathers edged with white; half of middle
    tail-feathers black; others largely orange; bill long, slender,

Female: Upper parts grayish-olive, washed with yellow and mottled with
    black on head and back; under parts, tail, and rump dull orange,
    paler at throat, which is sometimes marked with black; wings brown,
    barred with white.

Notes: A loud _whew-y_, or _whew_, uttered frequently and insistently,
    with a falling inflection. Orioles chatter noisily, also.

Song: A rich, melodious strain, very different in individuals, but alike
    in a liquid quality, and in frequency of utterance. For several
    successive years, two orioles returned to our elms and apple-trees
    in Cleveland. Their songs differed as decidedly from each other and
    from those of other orioles as the voices and enunciation of people

Habitat: Elm and maple-shaded streets and orchards preferred in the
    springtime. After the nestlings are grown, orioles may be found in
    thickets or in the woods.

Nest: A hanging nest in the shape of a bag, usually suspended near the
    end of a bough. The female weaves the nest.

Range: Breeds from southern Canada and northern United States to the
    northern part of Texas, Louisiana, and Georgia, west to the Rocky
    Mts.; winters from southern Mexico to Colombia.

[Illustration: BALTIMORE ORIOLE]

Orioles, with their brilliant plumage and beautiful song, belong to the
somber-hued, unmusical blackbird family. They are truly “the flower of
the flock,”—gorgeous tropical flowers, too. They invariably arouse
interest and almost always great admiration. So dashing are they that
they do not remain long enough near us to let us know them well or love
them. They remind me of brilliant opera-singers, elegantly attired, who
are followed by the eager eyes of a host of people.

So many poets and writers of prose have sung the praise of orioles that
it surprised me to learn that neither Thoreau nor Burroughs admired
them. Thoreau wrote: “Two gold robins; they chatter like blackbirds; the
fire bursts forth on their backs when they lift their wings.... But the
note is not melodious and rich. It is at most a clear tone.”[106]
Burroughs said: “I have no use for the oriole. He has not one musical
note, and in grape time his bill is red, or purple, with the blood of
our grapes.”[107]

A grape-eating propensity is not a trait common to orioles, according to
Professor Beal’s report of their food habits. He says: “Brilliancy of
plumage, sweetness of song, and food habits to which no exception can be
taken are characteristics of the Baltimore oriole. During the stay of
the oriole in the United States, vegetable matter amounts to only a
little more than 16 per cent. of its food, so that the possibility of
its doing much damage to crops is very limited. The bird is accused of
eating peas to a considerable extent, but remains of such were found in
only two cases. One writer says that it damages grapes, but none were
found in the stomachs.”[108] Professor Beal lists caterpillars, beetles,
bugs, ants, wasps, grasshoppers, and some spiders as the “fare of the

The nest and nesting habits of these birds are unusually interesting. In
Eaton’s “Birds of New York” occurs the following description:

“The female is an ideal mother, defending her young with great courage
and caring for them in all kinds of weather. The young, however, are not
such ideal offspring as she ought to expect. From the time they begin to
feather out until several days after they have left the nest, they keep
up a continual cry for food. In this way they are unquestionably located
by many predaceous animals and thereby destroyed. The young orioles are
usually out of the nest from the 20th of June to the 5th of July [in New
York State], and are very soon led away by the old birds into the woods,
groves, and dense hedgerows. Then we hear no more of the oriole’s song
until the latter days of August or the first week in September, when,
after the autumn molt has been completed, the males frequently burst
into melody for a few days before departing for their winter home.

“As every one knows, the oriole builds a pensile nest, usually
suspending it from the drooping branches of an elm tree, soft maple,
apple tree, or in fact, any tree, though his preference seems to be for
the elm. The main construction materials used by the oriole are gray
plant-fibers, especially those from the outside of milkweed stalks,
waste packing-cord and horsehair; sometimes pieces of rags and paper are
discovered in the nest, but it is almost without exception a grayish bag
as it appears from the outside, and is lined principally with horsehairs
and softer materials, making a thick felted gourd-shaped structure.”

One morning this past May when the heat was unseasonable and
overpowering, an oriole was observed fluttering anxiously near the nest
where his mate sat on her eggs. The foliage had not developed
sufficiently to shade her, so he alighted on the nest, a claw on either
side of the cup-like opening. There he stood astride for the greater
part of the day and protected her devotedly, like a chivalrous knight of

                           THE ORCHARD ORIOLE
                  _American Blackbird Family—Icteridæ_

Length: About 7 inches.

Adult Male: Breeding Plumage: Head, throat, neck, and upper half of back
    black; breast, belly, shoulders, lower half of back a bright
    chestnut brown; wings and tail dark brown; wing-feathers tipped or
    edged with white, forming a bar across wing. The winter plumage is
    different from the breeding plumage; the male passes through several
    changes as he matures.

Female: Olive-green above, darkest on head and back, dull yellow below;
    wing-feathers tipped with white, forming two bars across wing; tail

Immature Male: Like female, the first autumn; the next spring, he has a
    black throat; the chestnut plumage develops later.

Notes and Song: Similar to those of the Baltimore oriole. Song clear and
    melodious; tones possibly not quite so _mellow_ as those of its
    relatives, but sweeter.

Habitat: Orchards and shade trees.

Nest: A pensile nest, but shorter and more firmly attached than that of
    the Baltimore oriole.

Range: Eastern North America. Breeds from northern United States,
    southern Canada, and central New York, south to northern Florida and
    the Gulf Coast, west to Texas, central Nebraska, and western Kansas;
    winters from southern Mexico to northern Colombia. Not common in

The markings of the Orchard Oriole are similar to those of the more
brilliant and striking Baltimore Oriole, but its coloring more nearly
resembles that of the towhee. Like its cousin, it is arboreal, while the
towhee is a ground bird.

[Illustration: ORCHARD ORIOLE]

The orchard oriole is more shy than the Baltimore oriole and is less
well known. It is, however, very active and restless,—indefatigable in
its quest for insects. It has a better reputation than most members of
the blackbird family. Major Bendire says that it would be difficult to
find a bird that does more good and less harm than the orchard oriole,
and that it should be fully protected.

                          THE SCARLET TANAGER
                       _Tanager Family—Tangaridæ_

Length: About 7 inches.

General Appearance: _A bright scarlet body, with black wings and tail;
    no crest._

Male: Scarlet and black in breeding plumage; after the molt, _olive_ and
    _yellow, with black wings_ and _tail_; wings white underneath. The
    male does not acquire red plumage until the second year. While
    molting, the adult male has irregular patches of olive and yellow
    mixed with his red feathers, giving a curious effect.

Female: Olive-green above; yellowish-olive below, brightest on throat;
    wings and tail dark gray, washed with olive. She is very effectively
    protected by her coloring.

Note: Call-note _chip-chur_, very distinct and reasonably loud.

Song: A warble, full, rich, and pleasing, but not varied; sufficiently
    like the songs of the robin and the rose-breasted grosbeak to make
    identification difficult for a beginner. The frequent _chip-chur_
    betrays the tanager’s presence.

Habitat: Dense groves of hard-wood trees, especially those containing
    oaks. Mr. Forbush calls the tanager “the appointed guardian of the
    oaks.” The bird is found in parks and on well-wooded estates, as
    well as in the deep woods.

Range: Eastern North America and northern South America. Breeds in
    southern Canada as far west as the Plains, and in the United States
    to southern Kansas, northern Arkansas, Tennessee, northern Georgia,
    and the mountains of Virginia and South Carolina; winters from
    Colombia to Bolivia and Peru.

[Illustration: SCARLET TANAGER]

These “black-winged redbirds” are occasionally mistaken by novices for
cardinals, but the dusky wings and tail, and the absence of a crest
differentiate them. Then, too, the scarlet of their coats is of a
different shade of red.

Their cousins, the SUMMER TANAGERS, denizens of southeastern United
States and occasional residents of the North, resemble cardinals more
closely. Both have a nearly uniform rose-red plumage, but the summer
tanager has brownish wings edged with red, and _no crest_.

The beauty of male tanagers has caused them to be eagerly sought in the
past. I have childish memories of their scarlet bodies decorating the
hats of thoughtless women, and I blush to confess a feeling of envy
rather than regret at the wicked slaughter. Audubon Societies have done
much to change public sentiment and put a stop to barbarous practices.

Never shall I forget the breathless joy I felt when, grown to young
womanhood, I first saw a tanager’s vivid beauty gleaming against the
almost black-green foliage of a dense grove. I think that I remember
every tanager which I have since seen, as well as each lovely setting
that enhanced his gorgeous coloring. A glimpse of one marks a red-letter
day. Twice I have seen two males at once, in company with a
rose-breasted grosbeak—all singing; memorable experiences.

The WESTERN TANAGER, with his yellow body and crown, his red “face,”
black back and tail, and yellow and black wings, appeared before me one
day in the noble woods that crown Glacier Point in the Yosemite Valley.
I felt that his beauty, like that of his eastern relatives, was his
“excuse for being.” He does not enjoy quite so good a reputation as do
other tanagers, because he has a taste for fruit—almost as reprehensible
as horse- or cattle-stealing in the west.

Tanagers, however, are valuable insect-destroyers. Our brilliant species
deserves our whole-hearted protection, not only for aesthetic, but also
for economic reasons.


                       THE ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK
                       _Finch Family—Fringillidæ_

Length: A little over 8 inches.

General Appearance: A black and white bird, with a _rose-colored breast_
    and _heavy, flesh-colored beak_.

Male: Head, throat, and back black; rump and under parts white, except
    _on breast_ and _under wings_, which are a beautiful _rose-red_;
    wings black, with bars and patches of white; tail black; outer
    feathers with white tips to their inner webs. The winter plumage is
    slightly different from the summer plumage.

Female: A soft grayish-brown, streaked with white, buff, and gray; under
    parts light buff, faintly streaked with brown; head brown; a buff
    streak through center of the crown, a white streak over the eye;
    wings and tail grayish-brown, some of the wing-feathers tipped with
    white; yellow under wings instead of rose.

Note: A sharp _tsick, tsick_.

Song: A rich, beautiful warble, somewhat like that of the robin and
    tanager, but more joyous than either. It possesses a purer, more
    liquid quality. The song is remarkable, also, in that it may be
    heard at night, and at midday.

Habitat: Woodlands and thickets, fields and gardens. This grosbeak
    frequents also the shade trees of large estates and suburban

Nest: Large and loosely constructed, made of twigs, grasses, and
    root-fibers, and placed from five to twenty feet from the ground.

Eggs: Pale blue, spotted with brown or purple. The male takes his turn
    at sitting on the eggs.

Range: Eastern North America and northern South America. Breeds from
    southern Canada south to Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, New Jersey, and in
    the mountains of northern Georgia; winters from southern Mexico to
    Colombia and Ecuador.

So beautiful is the rose-breasted grosbeak and so melodious his song
that he invariably attracts attention. Upon close acquaintance, he
reveals many interesting habits and delightful traits. He is so useful
that he reminds one of the occasional rare person who combines practical
qualities with beauty of form and face and unusual gifts.

He is one of our most beneficial birds. Occasionally he partakes of
cultivated fruit and devours green peas, but the slight mischief he is
guilty of is greatly overbalanced by the good he does. So fond is he of
the Colorado potato beetle that in some localities he is called the
“potato-bug bird.”[109] Professor Beal tells of watching grosbeaks near
a potato-patch that was nearly riddled by these destructive insects. He
saw the parent-birds visit the field repeatedly, and then bring their
young when able to fly. The brood perched in a row on the top rail of
the fence, and were fed so frequently that in a few days the potato-bugs
had entirely disappeared. The crop was saved.

Grosbeaks appear to lead unusually happy domestic lives. Though the
males fight for their mates, they guard them and their young with great
devotion. They not only utter low sweet notes to the mother-bird as she
broods, but quite frequently take her place on the nest.

My sister tells of hearing a rose-breast’s song in a maple grove, and of
searching diligently for the singer. She located the tree from which the
sound proceeded, and waited patiently to see him “gaily flit from bough
to bough”; but no bird came into view. She went around the tree until,
to her delight, she discovered him sitting on the nest, only a few feet
from where she stood. He stopped singing when he saw her, but showed
neither surprise nor fear, and resumed his song after she went away. She
realized that she had had an unusually rare privilege.

To hear a grosbeak’s song at night is an experience similar to that of
listening to a nightingale in Europe, or to a mockingbird in our South
or West, singing by moonlight.

                           THE BLUE GROSBEAK
                       _Finch Family—Fringillidæ_

Length: 7 inches; indigo bunting, 5½ inches.

Male: Body a deep blue, almost black on the back; chin and cheeks black;
    bill heavy; tail black, edged with blue; wings black, tipped with
    bright brown, giving the effect of one broad and one narrow
    wing-bar. Winter plumage, rusty brown mottled with blue.

Female: Grayish-brown above, more or less washed with blue; wings brown,
    barred with buff; under parts washed with buff.

Song: A sweet grosbeak warble.

Range: Eastern North America. Breeds from Missouri, southern Illinois
    and Maryland, south to eastern Texas, and northern Florida;
    accidental in Wisconsin, New England, the Maritime Provinces, and
    Cuba; winters in Yucatan and Honduras.

The Blue Grosbeak resembles its smaller relative, the indigo bunting,
but it has a larger, darker body, a heavier bill, and brown-tipped wing
feathers. It is more nearly the size of a cowbird than of the
indigo-bird. It may be found in thickets similar to those frequented by
its small blue relative.

It is a bird of the southeastern part of the United States, but
occasionally strays northward.

                          THE EVENING GROSBEAK
                       _Finch Family—Fringillidæ_

Length: 8 inches; 3 inches larger than the goldfinch.

Male: Forehead bright yellow; crown of head black; body olive-brown,
    with yellow on shoulders, rump, and belly; wings black and white;
    tail forked, black; bill heavy and yellowish.

Female: Brownish-gray, tinged with yellow underneath; wings black and
    white; forked tail black, tipped with white.

Range: Central North America. Breeds in western Alberta; winters in the
    interior of North America east of the Rocky Mts., more or less
    irregularly in southern Missouri, Kentucky, Ohio, eastern
    Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, New England, and Quebec.

A sight of this handsome bird is an event in the East, and arouses great
interest in people who know how rare it is. Five were seen near
Washington in early April of this year, and were hailed with enthusiasm.
It is a common resident of our Northwest, though it wanders in flocks to
the East occasionally.

It looks like a large goldfinch, though it is a less brilliant yellow,
has larger patches of white on its wings and wears its dark cap back on
its head, above its yellow forehead, instead of pulled down to its eyes
and bill. It blends perfectly with the yellows and olive-browns of some
of our western landscapes.

It feeds on berries, seeds, and insects. It becomes very tame.

                       THE BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK
                       _Finch Family—Fringillidæ_

The Black-headed Grosbeak has _cinnamon-brown_ upper parts, breast, band
about the neck, and rump; yellow belly, black head, wings, and tail;
wings with two white bars and a white patch; tail with white tips.
Female brownish-black and buff above; under parts tawny and yellow,
streaked with dark; chin, sides of throat, and line over eye whitish.

“The Black-headed Grosbeak takes the place in the West of the rosebreast
of the East, and, like it, is a fine songster. Like it, also, the
blackhead readily resorts to orchards and gardens and is common in
agricultural districts. The bird has a very powerful bill and easily
crushes or cuts into the firmest fruit. It feeds upon cherries,
apricots, and other fruits, and also does some damage to peas and beans,
but it is so active a foe of certain horticultural pests that we can
afford to overlook its faults.... It eats scale insects, cankerworms,
codling moths, and many flower beetles, which do incalculable damage to
cultivated flowers and to ripe fruit.”[110]

                              THE BOBOLINK
                  _American Blackbird Family—Icteridæ_

Length: A little over 7 inches.

Male: _Spring_ or _Breeding plumage_: Crown, sides of head, throat, and
    other under parts black; _back of head and neck light yellow_; upper
    half of back black, streaked with creamy white; _lower half of back,
    rump, and shoulders white_; wings black, some of the feathers tipped
    with buff; tail black, the feathers pointed. Many birds have dark
    upper parts and light breasts; the bobolink wears his bright breast
    upon his back during the summer. In the fall, he resembles the

Female: Olive-brown and light yellow above, with black streaks; head
    with olive-brown and light yellow stripes; under parts pale yellow;
    wings and tail brown.

Notes: A tinkling _ding-ding_, not unlike the sound of a bell; likewise
    a chirp.

Song: A bubbling song, full of ecstasy and abandon. It is one of the
    most delightful songs of the later migrants.

Habitat: While in the North, the bobolink inhabits our fields and
    meadows, where he “swings on brier and weed.” In the fall, he
    frequents the rice-fields of our southern states on his way to South
    America, and does so much harm that he is dreaded and hated.

Range: North and South America. Breeds mainly from the plains of
    south-central Canada to Nevada, Utah, northern Missouri, Illinois,
    Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey; winters
    in South America, to southern Brazil, Paraguay, and Bolivia.

[Illustration: BOBOLINK]

Had Robert Louis Stevenson written the biography of a bobolink, he might
have given him the names of his immortal Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, for
the bird seems to possess a dual nature, and to bear totally different
reputations in the North and the South. When he visits Canada and
northern United States in May, dressed in his gay wedding finery, he is
greeted with joy. Few more delightful birds are to be found than this
attractive, happy-hearted singer against whom no reproaches are
registered in the North.

His song has been a favorite theme for poets and nature-writers. Thoreau
wrote: “One or two notes globe themselves and fall in bubbles from his
teeming throat. It is as if he touched his harp within a vase of liquid
melody, and when he lifted it out, the notes fell like bubbles from the
strings. Methinks they are the most liquidly sweet and melodious sounds
I ever heard.”[111]

The bobolink’s habits in the North are almost beyond reproach. Professor
Beal writes: “In New England there are few birds about which so much
romance clusters as this rollicking songster, naturally associated with
the June meadows; but in the South there are none on whose head so many
maledictions have been heaped on account of its fondness for rice.
During its sojourn in the Northern States it feeds mainly upon insects
and seeds of useless plants; but while rearing its young, insects
constitute its chief food, and almost the exclusive diet of its brood.
After the young are able to fly, the whole family gathers into a small
flock and begins to live almost entirely upon vegetable food. This
consists for the most part of weed seeds, since in the North these birds
do not appear to attack grain to any extent. They eat a few oats.”[112]

Dr. Henshaw adds: “When the young are well on the wing, they gather in
flocks with the parent birds and gradually move southward, being then
generally known as _reed-birds_. They reach the ricefields of the
Carolinas about August 20, when the rice is in the milk. Then until the
birds depart for South America, planters and birds fight for the crop,
and in spite of constant watchfulness and innumerable devices for
scaring the birds a loss of 10 per cent. of the rice is the usual

Major Bendire, in his “Life Histories of North American Birds,” quotes a
letter from Capt. W. M. Hazzard, a large rice-grower of South Carolina,
written concerning the warfare waged against these _ricebirds_:

“The Bobolinks make their appearance here during the latter part of
April. At that season, their plumage is white and black, and they sing
merrily when at rest. Their flight is always at night. In the evening
there are none. In the morning their appearance is heralded by the
popping of whips and firing of musketry by the bird-minders in their
efforts to keep the birds from pulling up the young rice. This warfare
is kept up incessantly until about the 25th of May, when they suddenly
disappear at night. Their next appearance is in a dark yellow plumage,
as the _Ricebird_. There is no song at this time, but instead a chirp
which means ruin to any rice found in the milk. My plantation record
will show that for the past ten years, except when prevented by stormy
south or southwest winds, the Ricebirds have come punctually on the
night of the 21st of August, apparently coming from seaward. All night
their chirp can be heard passing over our summer homes on South Island,
which is situated 6 miles to the east of our rice plantations, in full
view of the ocean. Curious to say, we have never seen this flight during
the day. During the nights of August 21, 22, 23, and 24, millions of
these birds make their appearance and settle in the ricefields. From the
21st of August to the 25th of September our every effort is made to save
the crop. Men, boys, and women with guns and ammunition, are posted....
The firing commences at dawn and is kept up till sunset.... If from any
cause there is a check to the crop during its growth which prevents the
grain from being hard, but in milky condition, the destruction of such
fields is complete, it not paying to cut and bring the rice out of the
field.... I consider these birds as destructive to rice as the
caterpillar is to cotton, with this difference, that these Ricebirds
never fail to come.”

                             THE GOLDFINCH
                       _Finch Family—Fringillidæ_

Length: About 5 inches.

Male: _Spring_ and _summer plumage_—_body_ and _shoulders bright
    yellow_; _crown black_; _wings_ and _tail_, _black_ and _white_;
    tail forked; feathers above tail, gray. _Winter plumage_—olive-brown
    back; throat, breast, and shoulders yellow; wings black and white.

Female: Olive-brown above; dull yellow below; wings and tail a dull
    black; white bars on wings, tail white-tipped; shoulders
    olive-green; grayish above tail. _No black on crown._

Notes: An unusually sweet chirp or call-note like that of a canary,
    _who-ee′_, with a rising inflection; a flight-note, _per-chick′ory_,
    given as the goldfinch bounds through the air; a number of gentle
    little twittering sounds, for these birds are very social and

Song: A rapid outpouring of notes in a wild, sweet, canary-like strain.

Flight: In great waves or undulations.

Habitat: Fields and gardens, or wherever its favorite food may be

Nest: In bushes or trees; made of soft grasses or fibers, and lined with

Range: Eastern North America. Breeds from south-central Canada to
    Oklahoma, Arkansas, and northern Georgia; winters over most of its
    breeding range and south to the Gulf Coast.

In winter, the goldfinch may be distinguished from others of the finch
or sparrow family by its undulating flight, its flight-note,
_per-chick′ory_, and its call-note. Its black and white wings and tail
are also distinctive. It is found in flocks during the winter season.

[Illustration: GOLDFINCH]

The Goldfinch or “Wild Canary” is one of our best-loved birds. The
beauty of the male’s coloring, the sweetness of his voice, the
joyousness of his nature have won him many friends.

John Burroughs wrote: “The goldfinch has many pretty ways. So far as my
knowledge goes, he is not capable of one harsh note. His tones are
either joyous or plaintive. In his spring reunions they are joyous. In
the peculiar flight song in which he indulges in the mating season,
beating the air vertically with his round open wings, his tones are
fairly ecstatic. His call to his mate when she is brooding, and when he
circles about her in that long, billowy flight, the crests of his airy
waves being thirty or forty feet apart, calling, ‘Perchic-o-pee,
perchic-o-pee,’ as if he were saying, ‘For love of thee, for love of
thee,’ and she calling back, ‘Yes, dearie; yes, dearie’—his tones at
such times express contentment and reassurance.

“When any of his natural enemies appear—a hawk, a cat, a jay,—his tones
are plaintive in sorrow and not in anger.

“When with his mate he leads their brood about the August thistles, the
young call in a similar tone. When in July the nesting has begun, the
female talks the prettiest ‘baby talk’ to her mate as he feeds her. The
nest-building rarely begins till thistledown can be had, so literally
are all the ways of this darling bird ways of softness and gentleness.
The nest is a thick, soft, warm structure, securely fastened in the fork
of a maple or an apple-tree.”[114]

The fondness of goldfinches for the seeds of thistles has given them the
name of _thistle-birds_. While they eat insects during the summer, they
are especially useful as seed-destroyers. At Marshall Hall, Md., Dr.
Judd observed them eating their first fresh supply in the spring from
dandelions; in June, they ate the seeds of the field daisy; in July, of
the purple aster and wild carrot. Thistles and wild lettuce were feasted
upon during August; while in September the troublesome beggar-tick and
ragweed were eagerly sought. At one time Dr. Judd counted a flock of
three hundred goldfinches busily stripping seeds from a rank growth of
the latter weed; he discovered them, also, devouring seeds of the
trumpet-creeper. They are invaluable aids to a farmer; the only fault of
which they can be accused is that of “pilfering” sunflower seeds. The
presence of sunflowers in a garden is likely to attract goldfinches,
just as trumpet-creeper blossoms lure hummingbirds.

I recall a lovely garden in which I spent many pleasant hours one
summer, happy in its beauty and fragrance, and in the companionship of
bird visitors. Near my accustomed seat grew a clump of sunflowers, often
sought by goldfinches. The black and gold of their plumage made a pretty
sight against the yellow petals and dark centers of the great flowers. I
remember one little bird that fluttered among the golden petals, too
busy singing to eat for a time.

Two bird-hunting cats haunted the garden. I took a malicious pleasure in
driving them away, because their ignorant, parsimonious owner had
informed me that she kept them locked up while her chickens were young,
so the cats wouldn’t catch them. She didn’t care how many birds were
killed, for then she wouldn’t be obliged to feed the prowlers. The
goldfinches soon learned that when I was there they could feast in
safety. More than once when I was in the house or on the porch I would
hear their alarm cry of _Dé-de? dé-de?_ sound from a maple near the
piazza, plainly calling for my aid. When I went out to the garden and
drove away their feline foes, the cries would cease. The angry owner of
the cats, who dared not remonstrate further with me, cut down the

My most beautiful memory of goldfinches is associated with one of their
spring mating-festivals. My sister and I had read Burroughs’s
description of these love-feasts, so we were prepared to understand what
the unusual chorus meant. The sweet call-notes of the males,
interspersed with rapturous bursts of melody and frequent flutterings
met with quick response from the olive-and-gold females, who chirped and
said “Yes” with a joy pleasant to see! It is impossible to convey
adequately any idea of the exquisite tenderness of their voices, of the
absence of quarreling and jealousies,—of the perfect harmony of the
proceeding. I can only wish that every person who loves birds might some
time have the pleasure of a similar experience.

                              THE CATBIRD
                      _Mockingbird Family—Mimidæ_

Length: Nearly 9 inches.

Male and Female: A slender, long-tailed, gray bird, with a _black crown_
    and _tail_, and _chestnut-brown feathers under the tail_; breast
    somewhat paler than back; bill slightly curved.

Note: A soft _wă_, not unlike the mew of a kitten.

Song: A delightful warble—soft, sweet, and musical, though it is
    occasionally interspersed with the catlike noise _wă_, and with
    sounds of mimicry. Catbirds are sometimes called northern

Habitat: Tangled thickets preferred. Fruit trees, berry-patches, and
    garden-shrubbery are also sought.

Nest: A veritable scrap-basket made of twigs, leaves, grasses,
    plant-fibers and rootlets, with paper sometimes interwoven. One nest
    that I examined contained a scrap from a torn letter and a fragment
    of a sermon from a newspaper. Several tell-tale cherry-stones lay on
    the bottom, circumstantial evidence of theft.

Eggs: A lovely greenish-blue, not unlike those of the robin.

Range: A common bird of eastern North America, from central Canada to
    the Gulf and northern Florida. It is found in the northwestern part
    of the U. S. and winters in our southern states and in Central

The catbird is well-named. It is the color of a Maltese cat, is sleek
and agile, and in movement quiet and stealthy. Its mew is so like that
of a kitten as to be confusing to the uninitiated. I recall the frantic
barking of our small dog at a catbird that she heard in the shrubbery
one day. It was difficult to convince her that one of her hated foes, a
cat, was not the author of the sound that always infuriated her.

[Illustration: CATBIRD]

Though catbirds possess little claim to beauty, they seem to be vain and
appear always to be doing something to attract attention. They are in
constant motion—twitching their tails, jerking their bodies, and making
their gentle, inane “cat-calls.”

I once had an amusing experience with a catbird. I had seated myself
near a thicket in which a Maryland Yellow-throat was flitting. Hoping to
beguile him from the shrubbery and thus afford myself a better view of
him, I gave his song repeatedly—“Witch-a-tee-o, witch-a-tee-o.” A
catbird on the fence-rail behind the thicket was flirting his tail,
looking knowingly at me, and giving his call repeatedly. I paid no
attention to him, and continued to say “Witch-a-tee-o.” It was not long
before he, too, warbled “Witch-a-tee-o.” Whether he did it from his love
of mimicry or from a desire to be noticed, I shall never know, but his
bearing was, “_Now_ will you pay some attention to _me_!”

Catbirds are in disfavor among the growers of cherries and berries, both
wild and cultivated; they make havoc in strawberry-beds. Mr. Forbush
reports that their depredations vary in different localities. He claims
that in spite of their fruit-stealing propensities they deserve
protection in Massachusetts, because they devour locusts, cankerworms,
and the caterpillars of various moths, most important being those of the
gypsy and brown-tail moths.

In the Biological Survey Bulletin “Fifty Common Birds of Farm and
Orchard” (No. 513) the following statements about the catbird are made:
“Half of its food consists of fruit, and the cultivated crops most often
injured are cherries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries.
Beetles, ants, crickets, and grasshoppers are the most important element
of its animal food. The bird is known to attack a few pests such as
cutworms, leaf beetles, clover-root curculio, and the periodical cicada,
but the good it does in this way probably does not pay for the fruit it
steals. The extent to which it should be protected may perhaps be left
to the individual cultivator; that is, it should be made lawful to
destroy catbirds that are doing manifest damage to crops.”

Dr. Judd found that catbirds fed their young almost entirely on insects;
he therefore scored a point in their favor. Their bravery in defense of
their nest and their young is well known.

Burroughs tells an unusual anecdote about a catbird as follows:

“A friend of mine who had a summer home on one of the trout-streams of
the Catskills discovered that the catbird was fond of butter, and she
soon had one of the birds coming every day to the dining-room, perching
on the back of the chair, and receiving its morsel of butter from a fork
held in the mistress’s hand. I think the butter was unsalted. My friend
was convinced after three years that the same pair of birds returned to
her each year because each season the male came promptly for his

Many other incidents might be related concerning this interesting
bird,—of its unusual intelligence and its remarkable power of mimicry.
One catbird in Tennessee learned to imitate the songs of all the birds
that nested near him. His rendering of the red-eyed vireo’s song was as
good as that of the vireo himself. His listeners felt that it was
wearisome enough to have the red-eye preaching constantly, but to have
the catbird reiterating it was more than they could endure.

                           THE BROWN THRASHER
                      _Mockingbird Family—Mimidæ_

Length: About 11 inches, larger than the robin; tail 5 inches long.

General Appearance: A large bird with a _bright brown back, white breast
    streaked with brownish-black_, and a _very long tail_ which is moved
    or “thrashed” about incessantly.

Male and Female: Reddish-brown above; white underneath, becoming buff
    after the August molt; throat indistinctly marked with dark streaks;
    breast and sides _heavily streaked_; wings with two indistinct white
    bars; tail almost half the length of the bird; bill long (about 1
    inch), sharp and curving.

Notes: A “smacking” sound and a sharp _whew_.

Song: A loud, clear, beautiful song. It consists of several phrases,
    each composed of two or more similar notes. Thoreau interpreted it
    as follows: “_cherruit, cherruit, cherruit; go ahead, go ahead; give
    it to him, give it to him_.”[116] The song is generally sung from
    the tops of trees or bushes.

Habitat: Like the catbird, the thrasher is found frequently in
    shrubbery, where it scratches among dead leaves for its food. Its
    brown color protects it admirably.

Nest: Made of twigs, leaves, and root-fibers, placed in thickets or on
    the ground.

Eggs: White, evenly speckled with fine brown spots.

Food: Wild fruit and berries (30 kinds), and insects, especially beetles
    and caterpillars. Professor Beal says: “The farmer has nothing to
    fear from depredations on fruit or grain by the brown thrasher. The
    bird is a resident of groves and swamps rather than of orchards and

[Illustration: BROWN THRASHER]

Range: Eastern United States and southern Canada, westward to the Rocky
    Mts.; winters in south-eastern United States.

Because of his brown color and his speckled breast, the Brown Thrasher
has often been erroneously called the _Brown Thrush_. Careful
observation reveals many points of difference. He is three or four
inches longer than our common thrushes—in fact, his tail alone is only
about 2½ inches shorter than the entire body of the veery or the hermit
thrush; his bill is almost four times as long as theirs and is decidedly
curved. Instead of dark, thrush-like eyes, he has pale yellow ones that
give him an uncanny appearance.

He is not a dweller in woods, but, like the catbird, prefers thickets.
Burroughs says: “The furtive and stealthy manners of the catbird
contrast strongly with the frank open manners of the thrushes. Its
cousin the brown thrasher goes skulking about in much the same way,
flirting from bush to bush like a culprit escaping from justice. But he
does love to sing from the April treetops where all the world may see
and hear, if said world does not come too near.”[118]

His song is a brilliant, delightful performance, admirable in technique,
but lacking in a quality of tone that moves the heart. It is often of
long duration. One May afternoon, I heard a thrasher singing so long
that I was moved to time him. He sang without stopping for fifteen
minutes by my watch, and his entire song must have lasted nearly half an

The brown thrasher, like the other members of his family, has power of
mimicry. In the north, he is sometimes called the “Northern Mocker”; in
some regions where he and the mockingbird both live, he is known as the
“Sandy Mocker.” There is sufficient similarity in the songs of the
catbird, the thrasher, and the mockingbird to make a listener pause a
moment to distinguish them when in a locality where the three birds are
to be found. The catbird’s mew betrays him; the thrasher’s song is more
brilliant and sustained; the mocker’s more varied. Thoreau says, “The
thrasher has a sort of laugh in his strain that the catbird has
not.”[119] His song resembles decidedly that of the English thrush,
famed in poetry. Browning’s description of the latter is equally
applicable to our thrasher:

  “He sings each song twice over,
  Lest you should think he never could recapture
  That first fine careless rapture.”

[Illustration: MOCKINGBIRD]

                            THE MOCKINGBIRD
                      _Mockingbird Family—Mimidæ_

Length: About 10 inches; an inch longer than the catbird and an inch
    shorter than the thrasher; tail about 5 inches long.

Male and Female: A long, slender, brownish-gray bird, with grayish-white
    under parts; wings and tail dark brown; wings with two white bars
    and _white patches that are conspicuous in flight_; middle
    tail-feathers brown, _outer feathers white, others partly white_.
    The female frequently has less white than the male.

Notes: A great variety. Some mockingbirds seem to possess unlimited
    powers of mimicry; others have far less ability to reproduce sounds.

Song: A sweet, delightful melody, sung in pure liquid tones and with
    ease and assurance, as though the birds were conscious of their
    power. They are probably the most famous songsters of America.
    Sidney Lanier, Walt Whitman, and other poets have written well-known
    poems in their praise, while Roosevelt and many other prose-writers
    have added their encomiums.

Habitat: Near the haunts of man, in gardens, parks, tree-shaded streets,
    and groves.

Range: Southeastern United States chiefly from eastern Nebraska,
    southern Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Maryland, south to
    eastern Texas, southern Florida and the Bahamas; occasional in New
    York and Massachusetts, though a number of records have been made
    near Boston; accidental in Wisconsin, Ontario, Maine, and Nova
    Scotia; introduced into Bermuda.

    The WESTERN MOCKINGBIRD is found in California, southern Wyoming,
    northwestern Nebraska, and western Kansas, south to Mexico and Lower
    California. It has a longer tail and wings than the eastern species,
    and is a paler gray.

Nuttall called the Mockingbird “the unrivalled Orpheus of the forest,
and the natural wonder of America.” His voice certainly has power to
“soothe the savage breast,” to interest the mind because of the varied
range and remarkable technique, and to uplift the soul, especially when
heard in the stillness and beauty of a moonlight night.

There is great difference of opinion regarding the “mocker.” He is more
loved and admired in the South than in the West, and is regarded with
pride as worthy to be called the nightingale of America. Most writers
have sung his praises, but occasionally some one regards him with
disfavor because of his habit of interlarding his beautiful song with
curious and disagreeable sounds. Wilson Flagg says, “He often brings his
tiresome extravaganzas to a magnificent climax of melody and as
frequently concludes an inimitable chant with a most contemptible

The power of mimicry varies with different individuals. In a brief
interval of time, one bird may imitate a woodpecker, a phœbe, a wren, a
jay, or a cardinal, so as to deceive most listeners. He may produce the
sound made by the popping of a cork or the buzzing of a saw; the next
moment he may scream like a hawk to frighten chickens and send them to
cover, or cluck like an old hen and bring young chicks from their
hiding-places. Some mockers seem to be able to reproduce the bird-songs
they hear more melodiously than the singers themselves render them.

Mockingbirds’ bravery in defense of their nests and their young is well
known. They have an especial antipathy to dogs and cats, and are
merciless in their attacks on those animals if seen near the vicinity of
their nests. A friend in California told me that her cat was in abject
terror of a mockingbird. Instead of considering him tempting prey, she
invariably fled to cover when he appeared, and remained in hiding for a
time. The fur on her sides was noticeably thinned where the angry bird
had pulled out numerous locks. One day, while my family were visiting
San Francisco, they heard a dog yelping piteously and discovered him
running at lightning speed down the middle of the street. A mockingbird
was perched on his back and was pulling hairs out of his tail with
spiteful tweaks. Mockers have been known to kill snakes that approached
their nests, and to attack human beings with great fury.

They like to live near people and seem to respond to the affection shown
them in the South, where they are such favorites that they are seldom
molested. Formerly mockingbirds were trapped for cage-birds, as were
cardinals, but this practice is largely discontinued now, because of
protective laws and aroused public sentiment.

Dr. Henry W. Henshaw says: “It is not surprising that the mockingbird
should receive protection principally because of its ability as a
songster and its preference for the vicinity of dwellings. Its place in
the affections of the South is similar to that occupied by the robin in
the North. It is well that this is true, for the bird appears not to
earn protection from a strictly economic standpoint. About half of its
diet consists of fruit, and many cultivated varieties are attacked, such
as oranges, grapes, figs, strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries.
Somewhat less than a fourth of the food is animal matter, of which
grasshoppers are the largest single element. The bird is fond of
cottonworms, and is known to feed on the chinch bug, rice weevil, and
bollworm. It is unfortunate that it does not feed on injurious insects
to an extent to offset its depredations on fruit.”[121]

Professor Beal says, however, “The mockingbird will probably do little
harm to cultivated fruits so long as wild varieties are accessible and
abundant.”[122] Wise cultivators of fruit take this into consideration
and plant accordingly, to keep both their fruit and the delightful,
amusing mockingbirds.


                        THE YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO
                        _Cuckoo Family—Cuculidæ_

Length: About 12 inches; tail over 6 inches.

Male and Female: Brownish-gray above with a greenish tinge; white
    underneath; _reddish-brown wings_; feathers brightest on inner web;
    middle tail feathers brownish-gray; outer ones _black, broadly
    tipped with white, tips decreasing in size toward center_; _lower
    mandible of bill yellow_ except at the end.

Notes: A rapid, guttural utterance of the words _cook-cook-cook-cook_
    and _cow-cow-cow-cow_. Our cuckoos sometimes give a cooing note, but
    do not say _cuck′-oo_ like their European relatives.

Flight: Swift and difficult to observe, as the cuckoo glides rapidly
    from bough to bough, under cover if possible.

Nest: A loosely-constructed platform of sticks.

Habitat: Orchards, woodlands, park-like estates, and quiet shady
    streets. Cuckoos are occasionally seen in exposed, sunny places.

Range: Eastern North America. Breeds from southern Canada and northern
    United States as far west as North Dakota and as far south as
    northern Louisiana and Florida; winters south to Argentina.

    The BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO is similar to the Yellow-bill in general
    appearance, but has several marked differences. Its upper parts are
    more greenish; its tail-feathers have smaller white tips; its wings
    are _gray, not reddish-brown_; its bill is _black_, not _yellow_;
    its eye-ring is red.

Cuckoos seem to have less individuality than many of our birds; they
resemble several of them. They are not unlike catbirds in their quiet,
stealthy movements; they are slender, gray-and-white, and long-tailed
like mockingbirds; they build nests somewhat like those of mourning

They are shy, solitary birds, that are known by their note rather than
by sight. I never heard of any one but Wordsworth and Wilson Flagg who
loved cuckoos or called them “darlings of the spring.” The European
cuckoo has, however, a very different nature and a more joyous note.

Burroughs is most amusing in his comments. He says: “We cannot hail our
black-billed as ‘blithe newcomer,’ as Wordsworth does his cuckoo.
‘Doleful newcomer,’ would be a fitter title. There is nothing cheery or
animated in his note, and he is about as much a ‘wandering voice’ as is
the European bird. He does not babble of sunshine and of flowers. He is
a prophet of the rain, and the country people call him the rain crow.
All his notes are harsh and verge on the weird.”[123]

He is, however, worthy of consideration. He is of great value to farmers
and apple-growers because of his appetite for caterpillars and
grasshoppers. Professor Beal wrote as follows: “The common observation
that cuckoos feed largely on caterpillars has been confirmed by stomach
examination. Furthermore, they appear to prefer the hairy and spiny
species, which are supposed to be protected from the attacks of birds.
The extent to which cuckoos eat hairy caterpillars is shown by the inner
coatings of the stomachs, which frequently are so pierced by these hairs
and spines that they are completely furred. The apple-tree
tent-caterpillar and the red-humped apple-caterpillar are also eaten. In
all, caterpillars constitute two-thirds of the total food of the
yellow-billed cuckoo in the South. Few birds feed so exclusively upon
any one order of insects.

“The natural food for cuckoos would seem to be bugs and caterpillars
which feed upon leaves, as these birds live in the shade among the
leaves of trees and bushes. Not so with grasshoppers, whose favorite
haunts are on the ground in the blazing sunshine, yet these creatures
are the second largest item in the cuckoo’s diet. Grasshoppers are so
agreeable an article of food that many a bird apparently forsakes its
usual feeding grounds and takes to the earth for them. Thus it is with
the cuckoos; they quit their cool, shady retreats in order to gratify
their taste for these insects of the hot sunshine. But there are some
members of the grasshopper order that live in the shade, as katydids,
tree crickets, and ground crickets, and these are all used to vary the
cuckoo’s bill of fare.”[124] It eats, also, bugs that injure oranges and
melons, and the cotton-boll weevil in large numbers.

                     _Flycatcher Family—Tyrannidæ_

In March, there comes to us from the South the phœbe, inconspicuous in
plumage, yet easy to identify because of its distinctive call. About a
month later there arrives the smallest member of our Flycatchers,—the
Chebec or Least-Flycatcher. Less than five and a half inches in length,
slender, olive-brown above, grayish-white beneath with an indistinct
grayish band across the breast, this little bird might escape our notice
were it not for its oft repeated and unmistakable call-note. It
announces its presence by uttering its name _Chebec_, as clearly and
persistently as its cousins, the phœbe and pewee, say theirs.

The chebec is a bird to be found in orchards, by roadsides, and in trees
of village streets. Like other members of its family it seeks
conspicuous perches, from which it dives after flies, moths, and other
insects, returning to its perch to wheeze out its name, with jerks and
twitches of its tail.

It breeds from central Canada to central United States as far south as
Nebraska, Iowa, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, and in the
Alleghany Mts. to North Carolina; winters from Mexico to Panama and

[Illustration: KINGBIRD]

                              THE KINGBIRD
                     _Flycatcher Family—Tyrannidæ_

Length: About 8½ inches.

Male and Female: Upper parts dark gray; under parts pure white, with an
    indistinct grayish wash at the sides of the breast; _head
    grayish-black, slightly crested, with a concealed orange patch_;
    bill with bristles at the base; wing-feathers and upper tail-coverts
    tipped or edged with white; _tail fan-shaped in flight, showing a
    broad white band at the end_.

Note: An unmusical, rattling _Squeak-squeak? squeak-squeak-squeak?_
    uttered frequently, and apparently in an irritated mood. The sharply
    hooked beak and fierce-looking eye also give the appearance of

Habitat: Orchards, trees by roadsides, and near farm-buildings. One
    looks for the kingbird in open country, not in woodlands; he seeks
    conspicuous perches. The nests are placed in trees—in those of
    orchards preferably.

Range: North and South America. Breeds from South-central Canada and
    throughout the United States except in the south-west; winters from
    Mexico to South America.

No more interesting description of the Kingbird has come to my attention
than that by Major Bendire. He writes as follows:

“Few of our birds are better known throughout the United States than the
Kingbird. Bold and fearless in character, yet tame and confiding in man,
often preferring to live in close proximity to dwellings, in gardens and
orchards, they are prime favorites with the majority of our farming
population, and they well deserve their fullest protection. Few birds
are more useful to the farmer; their reputation for pugnacity and
reckless courage is so well established that it is almost needless to
dwell on it, as it is well known that they will boldly attack and drive
off the largest of our Raptores, should one venture too near to their
chosen nesting-sites.

“Where a pair or more of these birds make their home in the vicinity of
a farmhouse, the poultry yard is not likely to suffer much through
feathered marauders at least; they are a perfect terror to all hawks,
instantly darting at them and rising above them, alighting on their
shoulders or necks, and picking away at them most unmercifully until
they are only too willing to beat a hasty retreat. The male is seemingly
always on the lookout from his perch on the top branches of a tree or
post for such enemies and no matter how large they may be, a pair of
Kingbirds is more than a match for any of them, our larger Falcons and
Eagles not excepted. Crows and Blue Jays seem to be especially obnoxious
to them, and instances are on record where they have done them material

Major Bendire says also that kingbirds do not “bully” all birds, but “as
a rule live in harmony with them, protecting not only their own nests
but those of their small neighbors as well, who frequently place their
nests within a few feet of the Kingbirds—the Orchard Oriole, for
instance.” He tells however, of the kingbird’s dislike of the
hummingbird—that he has twice seen the tiny “aggressor” put the larger
bird to flight.[125]

Kingbirds were for a long time believed to eat bees and therefore were
in disfavor. They were called Bee-birds or Bee-Martins and were shot by
bee-keepers who did not understand their great value. Professor Beal and
other investigators in the Biological Department at Washington have
discovered that ninety per cent. of kingbirds’ food consists of insects,
mostly injurious beetles that prey upon grain and fruit. They
occasionally eat bees, but examination of many stomachs reveals a marked
preference for drones over workers, and for wasps, wild bees, and ants
over hive bees.[126] So kingbirds have been exonerated.

                           THE GRAY KINGBIRD
                     _Flycatcher Family—Tyrannidæ_

Length: About 9 inches.

Male and Female: Upper parts light gray, darker about the cheeks;
    concealed orange patch on the crown; under parts whitish, washed
    with gray on the breast; wings and tail brownish; _no white band on
    the tail_, like the northern kingbird; _bill very heavy—almost an
    inch long_, with bristles at the base.

Note: A loud call, _Pit-tear′-re_, “which is constant and is at times
    lengthened and softened until it might almost be called a
    song.”[127] The natives of Porto Rico call the bird “pitir′re”
    because of its note.

Range: Breeds from Georgia, southeastern South Carolina, Florida, and
    Yucatan, through the Bahamas and West Indies to northern South
    America; winters from the Greater Antilles southward. It is common
    in our southeastern states.

The following is an extract from Dr. Wetmore’s interesting description
of the Gray Kingbird in the bulletin, “Birds of Porto Rico,” used with
the permission of the author:

“The gray kingbird has the reputation among the country people of being
the earliest riser among birds. In the daytime it scatters along the
slopes and through the fields to feed, but at nightfall gathers in small
parties along streams to roost in the bamboos or in the mangroves
surrounding the lagoons. The nesting season extends from April to July
and during the latter month young are abundant. At all times very
pugnacious, pursuing blackbirds, hawks, and other birds, they now become
doubly so, resenting all intrusions in their neighborhood. Occasionally
they were seen standing on open perches during showers with outspread
trembling wings, evidently enjoying the downpour.

“A few facts regarding the insect food of this kingbird were learned
from field observation. Birds were twice observed eating the
caterpillars of a large sphinx moth. These were beaten on a limb, and
then the juices were extracted by working the body through the bill,
while only the skin was discarded. Their services in eating these and
other caterpillars were recognized.”

                         THE CRESTED FLYCATCHER
                     _Flycatcher Family—Tyrannidæ_

Length: About 9 inches.

Male and Female: _Olive-gray above; throat and breast light gray; belly,
    bright yellow; head conspicuously crested_; bill, long, dark,
    slightly hooked, with bristles at its base; wings brown, margined
    with white, pale yellow, and reddish-brown; middle tail-feathers,
    dull brown; inner web of other tail-feathers reddish-brown.

Notes: A whistle that attracts attention. Major Bendire describes the
    “Great Crest’s” notes as follows:

    “It utters a variety of sounds; the most common is a clear whistle
    like _e-whuit-huit_, or _wit-whit, wit-whit_, repeated five or six
    times in a somewhat lower key, and varied to _whuir_, _whuree_, or
    _puree_, accompanied by various turnings and twistings of the head.
    Its alarm-note is a penetrating and far-reaching _whēēk, whēēk_.”

Nest: The nest of the crested flycatcher is unique. Major Bendire says
    that it “is usually placed in a natural cavity of some tree or dead
    stump; possibly in an abandoned woodpecker excavation, though a
    natural one is preferred.” He says also that “nests vary in bulk;
    are begun with a base of coarse trash and finished with fine twigs,
    bunches of cattle hair, pine needles, dry leaves and grasses, the
    tail of a rabbit, pieces of catbirds’ eggshells, exuviæ of snakes,
    owl and hawk feathers, tufts of woodchucks’ hair and fine grass

    Snake-skins “seem to be present in the majority of the nests of this
    species; sometimes in the nest proper, and again placed around the
    sides of it, in all probability for protective purposes, and changed
    and rearranged from time to time” ... probably hung outside to
    “alarm intruders.”[128]

The Crested Flycatcher lives in eastern North America; breeds from
southern Canada to Florida, and winters in Mexico and northern South
America. He is a common summer resident of the Middle and Southern
States especially. Though louder-voiced than his relatives, the
kingbird, phœbe, and wood pewee, he is not so well known because he is
shyer. He is not so pugnacious as the kingbird, but he is known to fight
fiercely for a mate.

                       THE OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER
                     _Flycatcher Family—Tyrannidæ_

Length: About 7½ inches.

Male and Female: Upper parts _and sides olive-gray_, the gray extending
    across the breast; throat and belly yellowish, the yellow extending
    in a point almost to the center of the breast; a patch of whitish
    feathers on both sides of the back near the rump; head slightly
    crested; bill long, black above, yellow below, bristles at the base,
    wings and tail olive-brown.

Notes: A monotonous call-note, _Pit-pit-pit_, and a loud, clear
    _Peep-here_ or _Peep-peep-here_, frequently uttered from the top of
    a tall spruce.

Habitat: Groves of conifers.

Range: North and South America. Breeds from central Alaska and Canada,
    in coniferous forests of western United States to northern Michigan,
    New York, and Maine, south to the mountains of North Carolina;
    winters in South America from Colombia to Peru.

                             THE WOOD PEWEE
                     _Flycatcher Family—Tyrannidæ_

Length: From 6 to 6½ inches.

Male and Female: Dark olive-gray above, darkest on the head, which is
    somewhat crested; the slightly hooked bill has bristles at its base;
    under parts, grayish-white, slightly tinged with yellow; breast and
    sides a darker gray; brownish wings and tail; two whitish wing-bars
    that are more conspicuous than those of the phœbe.

Notes: _Pee-a-wee_, uttered slowly and mournfully, yet with sweetness
    and tenderness. Sometimes the phrase is followed by an abrupt
    _Peer_, given with a falling inflection. At times pewees sing
    continuously. My sister timed one that sang for an hour and twenty
    minutes at daybreak.

Nest: One of the most beautiful made. It is rather broad and flat,
    decorated on the outside with lichens similarly to that of the
    hummingbird. The nest seems to grow out of the branch on which it is

Range: North and South America. Breeds from southern Canada to southern
    Texas and central Florida, westward to eastern Nebraska; winters
    from Nicaraugua to Colombia and Peru.

Of all the flycatchers of my acquaintance the Wood Pewee is the most
lovable. He is the only one that possesses a sweet voice; but his note,
long-drawn and sad, seems to proceed from an over-burdened heart. The
appearance of the little bird is dejected, as with drooping tail, he
utters the plaintive sound.

[Illustration: WOOD PEWEE]

The nature of the pewee is sweet and trustful. I have always found him
responsive, replying almost invariably as I have imitated his note. I
once had a particularly pleasant experience and succeeded in convincing
a little pewee of my friendly attitude toward him. One summer I was
obliged to spend many weary days in a hammock hung in a grove; I
beguiled the tedious hours by endeavoring to attract birds to close
proximity. A pewee came oftenest; he frequently perched on a bough
within a few feet of my hammock, and “talked back” to me between dives
after insects. That he knew me and was unafraid was proved, for when
relatives and friends arrived later in the summer, he would fly away at
their approach.

I saw much of him, even when parental responsibilities claimed him. One
day, after the young had flown, I came upon him calling earnestly,
evidently to a fledgling that was on the ground at my feet. I picked up
the little thing; it cuddled down in my warm hand and closed its eyes.
Its father continued to call, but without excitement at such a
proceeding; he seemed to know that I would not hurt his baby. I put it
on a bough near him and left them to work out their bird-problems

Not many days later, we saw four young pewees perched in a row on a wire
near the house, with their parents in attendance. The father called
repeatedly and the little ones made sweet inarticulate gurglings,
finding their voices. They were as dear a bird-family as it has ever
been my pleasure to see.

Dallas Lore Sharp, in his delightful essay, “A Palace in a Pig-pen,”
thus summarizes the flycatchers:

“Not much can be said of this flycatcher family, except that it is
useful—a kind of virtue that gets its chief reward in heaven. I am
acquainted with only four of the other nine eastern members, [besides
the phœbe], the great crested flycatcher, kingbird, wood pewee, and
chebec,—and each of these has some redeeming attribute besides the habit
of catching flies.

“They are all good nest-builders, good parents, and brave, independent
birds; but aside from phœbe and pewee—the latter in his small way the
sweetest voice of the oak woods—the whole family is an odd lot,
cross-grained, cross-looking, and about as musical as a family of ducks.
A duck seems to know that he cannot sing. A flycatcher knows nothing of
his shortcomings. He believes that he can sing, and in time he will
prove it. If desire and effort count for anything, he certainly must
prove it in time. How long the family has already been training no one
knows. Everybody knows, however, the success each flycatcher of them has
thus far attained. It would make a good minstrel show, doubtless, if the
family would appear together. In chorus, surely, they would be far from
a tuneful choir. Yet individually, in the wide universal chorus of the
out-of-doors, how much we should miss the kingbird’s metallic twitter
and the chebec’s insistent call!”[129]

                        THE RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET
                  _Old World Warbler Family—Sylviidæ_

Length: A little over 4¼ inches.

Male: Olive-green above, buff underneath, _a ruby-red crown_; wings
    brown, edged with olive-green; two light wing-bars; tail brown,

Female: Similar to male, but lacking the red crown. The females resemble
    tiny warblers in appearance.

Note: A sharp scolding-note.

Song: A wonderful song,—full, loud, and indescribably beautiful. It is
    hard to believe that so finished and remarkable a song could come
    from so small a bird.

Habitat: Woods, thickets, and orchards. Kinglets are usually seen near
    the ends of branches.

Range: Northern North America. Breeds in the tree-regions of southern
    Canada, southern Alaska, and the higher mountains of the western
    United States.

Like many of the warblers, the Ruby-crowned Kinglet is a spring and fall
migrant, and its arrival is therefore of especial interest. It excels
most of the warblers in its power of song, and is even more agile than

In Bulletin 513 of the Biological Survey is the following description of
the Ruby-crown: “In habits and haunts this tiny sprite resembles a
chickadee. It is an active, nervous little creature, flitting hither and
yon in search of food, and in spring stopping only long enough to utter
its beautiful song, surprisingly loud for the size of the musician.
Three-fourths of its food consists of wasps, bugs, and flies. Beetles
are the only other item of importance. The bugs eaten by the kinglet are
mostly small, but, happily, they are the most harmful kinds.
Treehoppers, leafhoppers, and jumping plant-lice are pests and often do
great harm to trees and smaller plants, while plant-lice and scale
insects are the worst scourges of the fruit-grower—in fact, the
prevalence of the latter has almost risen to the magnitude of a national
peril. It is these small and seemingly insignificant birds that most
successfully attack and hold in check these insidious foes of
horticulture. The vegetable food consists of seeds of poison ivy, or
poison oak, a few weed seeds, and a few small fruits, mostly

                       THE BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER
                  _Old World Warbler Family—Sylviidæ_

Length: About 4½ inches.

Male: Bluish-gray above; grayish white below; forehead black, black line
    over the eye; slender, curving bill; wings dark gray, edged with
    grayish-white; tail long, outer tail-feathers nearly all white;
    middle tail-feathers black; tail elevated and lowered frequently.

Female: Similar to male, but without the black forehead; line over eye

Call-note: A nasal _tang_.

Song: A delightful song,—sweet, but not strong.

Habitat: Woodlands, where it usually frequents treetops.

Range: Southeastern United States. Breeds from eastern Nebraska,
    southern Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ontario, southwestern
    Pennsylvania, Maryland, and southern New Jersey to southern Texas
    and central Florida; winters from northern Florida to the West
    Indies and central America; casual in Minnesota, New England, and
    New York.

This dainty little sprite partakes of the qualities of a number of
birds. Like the warblers, it is insectivorous and inhabits treetops;
like its relative, the ruby-crowned kinglet, it has a finished and
wonderful song; like the wrens it has a habit of cocking its tail
nervously; while its long black and white tail reminds one of the
mockingbird. It is an especially pretty sight, fluttering about the
moss-hung trees of Florida.

                           THE RED-EYED VIREO
                        _Vireo Family—Vireonidæ_

Length: About 6¼ inches.

Male and Female: Olive-green above, silvery white below; _crown gray,
    bordered with a narrow black line; a broader white line over the
    eye, a dark streak through the eye; iris red_ or _reddish-brown_;
    wings and tail grayish-green, edged with olive.

Habitat: In open woodlands and along well-shaded roads.

Range: North and South America. Breeds from central Canada,
    northwestern, central, and eastern United States, to central
    Florida; winters in South America.

Note: A nasal _whăh_, that sounds ill-natured and unpleasant.

Song: A series of phrases—incessant, monotonous,—that continue from
    morning until night, and during August, when most birds are quiet.
    Wilson Flagg called the Red-eye the “Preacher-bird” and wrote of him
    as follows:

    “The Preacher is more generally known by his note, because he is
    incessant in his song, and particularly vocal during the heat of our
    long summer days, when only a few birds are singing. His style of
    preaching is not declamation. Though constantly talking, he takes
    the part of a deliberative orator, who explains his subject in a few
    words and then makes a pause for his hearers to reflect upon it. We
    might suppose him to be repeating moderately, with a pause between
    each sentence, ‘You see it—you know it—do you hear me?—do you
    believe it?’ All these strains are delivered with a rising
    inflection at the close, and with a pause, as if waiting for an

[Illustration: RED-EYED VIREO]

    “He is never fervent, rapid, or fluent, but like a true zealot, he
    is apt to be tiresome from the long continuance of his discourse.
    When nearly all other birds have become silent, the little preacher
    still continues his earnest harangue, and is sure of an audience at
    this late period, when he has few rivals.”[130]

    Mr. Forbush discovered that this preacher “practiced as he
    preached,” and tells us of his own observations in the following

    “One sunny day in early boyhood I watched a vireo singing in a
    swampy thicket. He sang a few notes, his head turning meanwhile from
    side to side, his eyes scanning closely the nearby foliage. Suddenly
    his song ceased; he leaned forward,—sprang to another twig, snatched
    a green caterpillar from the under side of a leaf, swallowed it, and
    resumed his song. Every important pause in his dissertation
    signalized the capture of a larva. As the discourse was punctuated,
    a worm was punctured. It seems as if the preaching were a serious
    business with the bird; but this seeming is deceptive, for the song
    merely masks the constant vigilance and the sleepless eye of this
    premium caterpillar-hunter. In the discovery of this kind of game
    the bird has few superiors.”[131]

This vireo builds a very attractive nest of strips of bark and fiber, a
soft basket hung at the fork of a branch. I recall one nest suspended
only a few feet from the ground in a low tree on Cape Cod. We came upon
the nest so suddenly that the little brooding mother looked at us with
frightened eyes, but she remained at her post, and soon learned that we
meant no harm. Many times a day we went by her precious cradle. At night
we passed quietly, so as not to waken the faithful little mother-bird
with her head tucked under her wing. Our flashlight never once disturbed
her. Mr. Forbush says, “This vireo sleeps very soundly, and is sometimes
so oblivious to the world that she may be approached and taken in the

Burroughs wrote: “Who does not feel a thrill of pleasure when, in
sauntering through the woods, his hat just brushes a vireo’s nest?...
The nest was like a natural growth, hanging there like a fairy basket in
the fork of a beech twig, woven of dry, delicate, papery, brown and gray
wood products,—a part of the shadows and the green and brown solitude.
The weaver had bent down one of the green leaves and made it a part of
the nest; it was like the stroke of a great artist. Then the dabs of
white here and there, given by the fragments of spider’s cocoons—all
helped to blend it with the flickering light and shade.”[133]

                           THE WARBLING VIREO
                        _Vireo Family—Vireonidæ_

Length: About 5¾ inches.

Male and Female: Grayish-olive above; _indistinct whitish line over
    eye_; under parts grayish-white with a faint yellowish tinge; _no
    bars on wings; iris dark brown_, not reddish.

Note: A nasal _yăh_, not unlike the call-note of the red-eyed vireo.

Song: A sweet continuous warble, with a rising inflection at the end. It
    sounds like a whistled _Whew-whew-whew whew-whew-whew-whee?_

Habitat: Parks and shaded village streets. Its neutral coloring and its
    preference for treetops make it difficult to distinguish. Its
    cheerful, pleasant song is the surest means of identification.

Range: Eastern North America. Breeds from south-central Canada to
    northwestern Texas, southern Louisiana, North Carolina, and
    Virginia; winters south of the United States, though exact locality
    is unknown. Not nearly so widely distributed as the red-eyed vireo.

This vireo, like other members of its family, is an indefatigable
devourer of insects. Mr. Forbush reports that it feeds on flies,
mosquitoes, and grasshoppers, but that its chief food consists of
caterpillars and other leaf-eating insects, especially the elm-leaf
beetle; consequently it is found frequently in elm-shaded streets and

                          THE WHITE-EYED VIREO
                        _Vireo Family—Vireonidæ_

The White-Eyed Vireo differs from his red-eyed cousin in being slightly
smaller, in having a _small patch of yellow around the eye_, a _white
iris_, and _two wing-bars_. His head is greener and his breast and sides
are tinged with yellow.

He lives in thickets. He possesses in a marked degree the vireo habit of
scolding. He has more power as a songster than his better-known
relatives. Mr. Chapman describes him most delightfully as follows: “If
birds are ever impertinent, I believe this term might with truth be
applied to that most original, independent dweller in thickety
under-growths, the white-eyed vireo. Both his voice and manner say that
he doesn’t in the least care what you think of him; and, if attracted by
his peculiar notes or actions, you pause near his haunts, he jerks out
an abrupt ‘Who are you, eh?’ in a way which plainly indicates that your
presence can be dispensed with. If this hint is insufficient, he follows
it by a harsh scolding, and one can fancy that in his singular white eye
there is an unmistakable gleam of disapproval.

“I have always regretted that the manners of this Vireo have been a bar
to our better acquaintance, for he is a bird of marked character and
with unusual vocal talents. He is a capital mimic, and in the retirement
of his home sometimes amuses himself by combining the songs of other
birds in an intricate pot-pourri.”[134]

                       THE YELLOW-THROATED VIREO
                        _Vireo Family—Vireonidæ_

The Yellow-throated Vireo resembles the White-eye in being olive-green
above, yellowish underneath, and in having two distinct white wing-bars.
He differs in possessing a _bright yellow throat_, _breast_, and _ring_
about a _dark eye_.

Mr. Forbush says of this bird; “The song is a little louder than that of
most vireos, and may be easily distinguished from all others. It usually
consists of two or three rich and virile notes, uttered interrogatively
or tentatively, followed immediately by a few similar tones uttered
decisively. The bird appears to ask a question, and then answer it. Its
alarm notes are as harsh as those of an oriole, and somewhat similar in

                              THE WARBLERS
                      _Warbler Family—Mniotiltidæ_

No family of birds is more difficult for a beginner to identify than the
warblers. Reasons for this fact are various. In the first place,
warblers are small and agile, and usually inhabit treetops, where it is
hard to see their plumage. The number of the species is large,—155
species are known, 74 of which are found in North America, and 55 in the
United States alone. Some of the males wear a “Joseph’s coat of many
colors”; some of the females are so different from their mates as to
puzzle an observer, and the young birds frequently differ from both
parents. Then, too, most warblers are not gifted songsters, but utter
only a weak trill. A number of them are seen only during their migration
to northern woods; they linger too short a time to become more than
passing bird-acquaintances.

Warblers are insectivorous and do not arrive until the earth teems with
insect life. Most of them depart for the South as soon as insects begin
to decrease in number or disappear. They are very shy and migrate at

Many are the disasters that befall them when they journey near the
sea-coast. In Dr. Wells W. Cooke’s article entitled “Our Greatest
Travelers” are the following statements: “It is not to be supposed that
these long flights over the waters can occur without many casualties,
and not the smallest of the perils arises from the beacons which man has
erected along the coast to insure his own safety. ‘Last night I could
have filled a mail-sack with the bodies of little warblers which killed
themselves striking against my light,’ wrote the keeper of Fowey Rocks
lighthouse, in southern Florida.

“Nor was this an unusual tragedy. Every spring the lights along the
coast lure to destruction myriads of birds who are en route from their
winter homes in the South to their summer nesting-places in the North.
Every fall a still greater death-toll is exacted when the return journey
is made. A red light or a rapidly flashing one repels the birds, but a
steady white light piercing the fog proves irresistible.”[136]

Few people realize the great good done by warblers. Mr. Forbush says
that in migration they seem to possess enormous appetites. A Hooded
Warbler was found to catch on the average two insects a minute or one
hundred and twenty an hour. At this rate the bird would kill at least
nine hundred and sixty insects a day, in an eight hour working day!

Dr. Judd reported a Palm Warbler that ate from forty to sixty insects a
minute. In the four hours he was under observation he must have eaten
nine thousand, five hundred insects. Mr. Forbush says that he has seen
warblers eating from masses of small insects at such a rate that it was
impossible for him to count them.[137]

                       IDENTIFICATION OF WARBLERS

In order to identify warblers, most people need to group them in some
way. The following grouping of my own has helped me to recognize and
remember the more common species:

  I The Ground Warblers
        1 The Ovenbird
        2 The Water Thrushes
        3 The Worm-eating Warbler
        4 The Palm Warblers
  II Black and White Warblers
        1 The Black and White Creeping Warbler
        2 The Black-poll Warbler
  III Black, White, and Yellow Warblers
        1 The Myrtle or Yellow-rumped Warbler
        2 The Magnolia Warbler
  IV Black and Orange Warblers
        1 The Redstart
        2 The Blackburnian Warbler
  V Warblers With Yellow or Olive-green Predominating
        1 The Yellow Warbler
        2 The Pine Warbler
        3 The Maryland Yellow-throat
        4 The Hooded Warbler
        5 Wilson’s Warbler
        6 The Black-throated Green Warbler
        7 The Canadian Warbler
        8 The Yellow-breasted Chat
        9 The Yellow Palm Warbler
  VI Warblers With Blue or Blue and Yellow Predominating
        1 The Cerulean Warbler
        2 The Black-throated Blue Warbler
        3 The Blue-winged Warbler
        4 The Golden-winged Warbler
        5 The Parula Warbler
  VII Warblers With Reddish-brown Markings
        1 The Bay-breasted Warbler
        2 The Chestnut-sided Warbler

                     GROUP ONE—THE GROUND WARBLERS

                            1. THE OVEN-BIRD

Length: A little over 6 inches.

Male and Female: Olive-brown above; head with a golden-brown crown,
    bordered with two black lines that extend from bill to neck; under
    parts white; a brown streak at each side of the throat; breast and
    sides heavily streaked with black; no bars on wings, or patches on

Note: Mr. Forbush interprets the oven-bird’s note as “_chick_,′
    KERCHICK,′ KERCHICK,′ repeating the phrase an indefinite number of
    times.”[138] John Burroughs has rendered it as, “teacher, _teacher_,
    teacher, TEACHER, _TEACHER_.” The bird is frequently spoken of as
    the “Teacher-bird.”

Song: A “flight song” which Mr. Forbush describes as follows: “When I
    lingered in the woods at evening until the stars came out, I heard a
    burst of melody far above the treetops, and saw the little singer
    rising against the western sky, simulating the Skylark, and pouring
    forth its melody, not to the orb of day but to the slowly rising
    moon; then, when the melody came nearer, the exhausted singer fell
    from out the sky and shot swiftly downward, alighting at my very

Habitat: Woodlands, where the oven-bird spends much of its time on the

Range: North America. Breeds in the forests of Canada and the United
    States to Kansas, southern Missouri, Ohio Valley, Virginia, and in
    the mountains of Georgia and South Carolina; winters from central
    Florida to Colombia.

This shy forest-dweller is little seen except by the tireless haunter of
woods. I well remember my first quest for the owner of a voice that
seemed to proceed from every part of the small grove I was searching.
His ventriloquistic power led me on until I was about to give up in
weariness and discouragement, when suddenly I came upon this
golden-crowned warbler that had made the woods ring. He seemed very
small for so loud a vocalization.

Another day, quite by accident, I discovered his oven-shaped nest:

  “Arched and framed with last year’s oak-leaves,
  Roofed and walled against the raindrops.”[139]

Since that time I have had numerous views of oven-birds. One in
particular, seemed quite unafraid; and several times approached within a
few feet of where I was seated.

                         2. THE WATER-THRUSHES

Water-Thrushes: The Water-thrushes resemble the oven-bird in size and
    general appearance. Their crowns are dark instead of golden; the
    NORTHERN WATER-THRUSH has a _light_ line over the eye, and a bright
    yellow streaked breast; the LOUISIANA WATER-THRUSH a conspicuous
    _white_ line over the eye, buff sides, and white under parts.

[Illustration: OVEN-BIRD]

    Both birds, as their name implies, love the vicinity of forest
    brooks. Both walk instead of hop, and “_tip-up_” when they alight.
    They are wonderful songsters, but are not widely known.

Range: Eastern North America. The Northern Water-thrush breeds in
    east-central Canada, northwestern New York, northern New England,
    and in mountains south to West Virginia; winters in the West Indies
    and from the valley of Mexico to British Guiana.

    The Louisiana Water-thrush is found from the northern parts of the
    United States south to Texas, Georgia, and South Carolina; winters
    from Mexico to Colombia.

                       3. THE WORM-EATING WARBLER

Length: About 5½ inches.

Male and Female: Back, wings, and tail olive-green, without white
    markings; head with two narrow and two broad black stripes,
    alternating with three cream-colored stripes; under parts
    cream-colored, lighter on throat and belly.

Song: A weak trill.

Habitat: “The Worm-eating warbler seems to prefer dense undergrowth in
    swampy thickets and wet places, ... wooded hillsides and ravines,
    and dense undergrowths of woodland.... The nesting site is on the

Range: Eastern North America from southern Iowa, northern Illinois,
    western Pennsylvania, and the lower Hudson and Connecticut valleys,
    south to Missouri, Tennessee, Virginia, and the mountains of South


                     1. THE BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER

Length: About 5¼ inches.

Male: Black, streaked with white—_no yellow_; head with broad black and
    white stripes; body with narrow stripes; white stripe over eye,
    black patch back of eye; striped throat and sides, white belly; tail
    grayish black; outer tail-feathers with white patches on inner web;
    wings black, with two distinct white bars.

Female: Similar, but with gray cheeks and whiter under parts, fainter
    streaks, and brownish sides.

Song: A thin, unmusical _se-se′-se-se′-se-se′-se-se′_.

This Black-and-White Warbler is as easy to identify as a zebra, because
    of its conspicuous black and white stripes. As it is found on
    tree-trunks, it is sometimes confused with the brown creeper. Its
    bill, however, is not curved like the creeper’s, nor is its tail
    used as a prop. It resembles the nuthatch in its ability to
    _descend_ as well as _ascend_ tree-trunks.

These warblers, though they obtain their food from trees, nest on the
    ground in nests not unlike those of the oven-bird.

                       2. THE BLACK-POLL WARBLER

Length: About 5 inches.

Male: A black crown and white cheeks, giving the effect of a black cap
    pulled down over the eyes; throat and belly white; back and sides
    gray, streaked with black; two white wing-bars; two outer
    tail-feathers with white spot near tip.

Female: Olive-green above, streaked with black; breast and sides with
    yellowish wash.

Range: Widely distributed; common in the East during migration. Breeds
    in the forests of Alaska and north-central Canada, in Michigan,
    northern Maine, and the mountains of New Hampshire and Vermont.

Black-poll Warblers are similar in coloring to the black-and-white
warblers, but are duller and less striking in appearance. In the
breeding season, father, mother, and young differ in plumage, though a
practiced eye may see resemblances, but in the fall they don coats so
similar that they seem to have adopted a family costume.

The migration of black-poll warblers is interesting. Dr. Wells W. Cooke
says: “All black-poll warblers winter in South America. Those that are
to nest in Alaska strike straight across the Caribbean Sea to Florida
and go northwestward to the Mississippi River. Then the direction
changes and a course is laid almost due north to northern Minnesota, in
order to avoid the treeless plains of North Dakota. But when the forests
of the Saskatchewan are reached, the northwestern course is resumed,
and, with a slight verging toward the west, is held until the nesting
site in Alaska spruces is attained.”[141]


                         1. THE MYRTLE WARBLER
                         YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER

Length: A little over 5½ inches, one of the larger warblers.

Male: The grayish upper parts, white under parts, (both streaked with
    black), and the black cheeks of the Myrtle Warbler remind one of the
    Black and White Creeping Warbler. Its _four patches of yellow_,—on
    the _crown_, _rump_, and on _each side_ are distinctive. The wings
    and tail are brownish-gray; wings, with _two white bars_; tail with
    graduated patches of white _near end_ of outside feathers; white
    throat and belly.

Female: Browner above; breast less heavily streaked with black.

Notes: The notes and song of this warbler are described by Mr. Forbush
    as follows: “The Myrtle Warbler has a variety of notes, but the one
    usually uttered spring and fall is a soft chirp or _chup_, which, at
    a little distance, exactly resembles the sound produced by a large
    drop of water as it strikes the ground or leaf-mold. These sounds
    are so similar that after storms in the woods I have often found it
    difficult to distinguish the note of this warbler from the splash of
    the large drops that were still falling from the trees. The song is
    a rather weak warble, very sweet, and often of long duration.... It
    has quite as many variations as the song of any warbler that I now

Range: Breeds in the forest-belt of Canada and Alaska, south to
    Minnesota, Michigan, New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts,
    and the mountains of New York, winters from Kansas, New Jersey,
    southern New England to West Indies, Mexico, and Panama, and from
    central Oregon to southern California.

The Myrtle or Yellow-rumped Warbler is found in North America except in
the western United States. It is so abundant and so distinctly marked as
to be better known than many warblers. “Trim of form and graceful of
motion, when seeking its food it combines the methods of the wrens,
creepers, and flycatchers. This bird is so small and nimble that it
successfully attacks insects too minute to be prey for larger birds.
Flies are the largest item of food; in fact only a few flycatchers and
swallows eat as many flies as this bird.”[143]

The Myrtle Warbler is especially fond of bayberries and may be found,
even in winter, where these berries are to be obtained. New Jersey and
Cape Cod are favorite feeding places.

                        2. THE MAGNOLIA WARBLER

Length: About 5 inches.

Male: Smaller than the Myrtle Warbler, and at first glance, not unlike
    it in appearance, because each bird has a yellow rump, a striped
    breast, dark gray upper parts, and back and breast streaked with
    black. The head of the Magnolia Warbler, however, has _no yellow
    patch_, but a _broad white line over the eye_, black cheeks and
    forehead, and _yellow_ under parts, (instead of white), which are
    heavily streaked with black. The wings have _large white patches_
    instead of _bars_; the tail is black, with a broad white band
    extending _across_ the _middle_,—a distinguishing mark.

Female: Similar to male, but duller.

Song: “It is one of our full-voiced warblers, the song resembling the
    syllables wee-to, _wee-to, wee-a-tee or witchi, witchi, witchi, tit,
    witchi-tit, witchi-tit, witchi-tit_, the first four words deliberate
    and even, the last three hurried and higher pitched.... The song is
    louder than the yellow warbler’s.”[144]

Habitat: “Throughout the migration season, the Magnolia warbler is
    common throughout our orchards and shade trees, as well as
    woodlands.... In its nesting grounds, this warbler prefers
    coniferous growth, especially young spruces.”[144]

Range: Breeds from southern Mackenzie, Keewatin, northern Quebec, and
    Newfoundland to central Alberta, Saskatchewan, Minnesota, northern
    Michigan, and northern Massachusetts; in the mountains of West
    Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York; winters from southern
    Mexico to Panama.

Mr. C. F. Stone in “Birds of New York” says: “Every hemlock-clad gully
or hemlock woods where the trees are close and limbs intertwined afford
suitable haunts for this lively and emphatic singer.... Among the
smaller gullies 1 or 2 pairs may be found, and in the larger gullies it
is not unusual to locate 12 or 15 pairs during the nesting period. In
some of these situations the Magnolia does not seem to occur, perhaps
because it is so persecuted by red squirrels and cowbirds. The latter
seems to make a specialty of presenting this warbler with one or more of
its eggs, generally puncturing the eggs of the Magnolia before leaving
the nest.”[144]


                            1. THE REDSTART

Length: About 5½ inches.

Male: Body glossy black, with a white belly, orange patches at the sides
    of the body and under the wings; an orange band across the wings;
    middle tail-feathers black; other tail-feathers broadly tipped with
    black but largely orange, conspicuous in flight; bill with bristles.

Female: Gray and olive-green above, white underneath; yellow instead of
    orange on sides, wings, tail, and under tail.

Young Male: Like female till end of first breeding season.

Nest: A beautiful structure made of strips of bark, root-fibers, and
    plant-down, and placed in the fork of a tree. If built in a birch
    sapling and decorated with bits of birch bark, it seems a part of
    the tree.

Song: A cheerful trill, rather weak and unmusical.

Range: North America. Breeds from Oklahoma, Arkansas, and North Carolina
    northward; winters in the West Indies, central Mexico, and northern
    South America.

The Redstart is one of the most beautiful and conspicuous of the
warblers. Its fan-shaped, flame-colored tail tipped with black is its
most distinctive mark. It is in almost constant motion, fluttering
incessantly in pursuit of its insect prey. Mr. Forbush writes, “In all
its movements its wings are held in readiness for instant flight, and in
its sinuous twistings and turnings, risings and fallings, its colors
expand, contract, and glow amid the sylvan shades like a dancing

Like flycatchers, the redstart has bristles at the base of its bill,
which makes the capture of a great variety of insects an easy matter. It
has been named the “flycatcher of the inner treetops, but it is a
flycatcher of the bushtops as well.”[146]

                      2. THE BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER

Length: A little over 5 inches.

Male: Black crown, with bright orange patch in the center; irregular
    black patch extending from eye, bordered with orange; throat and
    breast orange, becoming yellowish on belly; back black, streaked
    with white; sides streaked with black; wings black, with white edges
    and a _large white patch_; tail black, _most of the feathers nearly
    all white on inner web_. Colors duller in the fall.

Female: Upper parts grayish-olive, streaked with white; orange parts
    paler, less white on wings and tail.

Song: A “thin” warbler-like trill.

Habitat: Treetops of coniferous forests preferably.

Range: Breeds from central Canada to northern United States, and in the
    Alleghany Mts. from Pennsylvania to Georgia; winters in Colombia and

This brilliant warbler flashes flame as do the oriole and the redstart,
and like them, always brings a thrill of pleasure. It remains with us so
short a time that its appearance is an event.

Mr. Forbush tells of going out at daybreak May 11, 1900, at Amesbury,
Mass., to observe the migrant warblers. He says: “As we walked through
the streets of the village, many male Blackburnian Warblers were seen
among the street trees. A little later we saw them in the orchards,
their brilliant orange breasts flashing in the sunlight. As we
approached the woods it was everywhere the same. The night had been very
cold, and other insect-eating birds were seeking benumbed insects on or
near the ground. There were four bright Redstarts flitting about on the
upturned sod of a newly plowed garden. These and other species of
Warblers were to be seen in every orchard, wood, and thicket. The
Blackburnian Warblers had come in during the night, and were busy
hunting for their breakfasts until 7 o’clock, when we went to ours. At 8
o’clock not a single Blackburnian was to be seen. I scoured the country
till nearly noon, finding all the other Warblers as at daybreak, but not
a Blackburnian could be found. They had done their share of the good
work and passed on. A later riser would have missed them.”[147]

Eaton says: “The Blackburnian warbler during the migration season
associates with the Magnolia, Bay-breasted, and Chestnut-sided warblers
among the blossoming fruit trees and the leaving shrubbery and shade
trees of our lawns and parks. During the nesting season, however, it is
almost entirely confined to mixed and evergreen forests, being
especially fond of hemlocks and spruces.... The old name of Hemlock
warbler is perfectly appropriate. The Blackburnian flutters about while
feeding almost as conspicuously as the Redstart and Magnolia, displaying
its brilliant colors and pied pattern very effectively.”[148]



Length: About 5 inches.

Male: Olive-green above, bright yellow below; _breast streaked with
    brown_; wings edged with yellow; tail dark brown, with yellow on
    inner web; _no black on head, throat, wings_, or _tail_; bill

Female: Similar; with fainter streaks on breast, or an unstreaked

Song: A sweet _chee-chee-chee-chee-chee′-a-wee?_

Habitat: Orchards, gardens, and shade trees, rather than woods.

Nest: A beautiful cup lined with felt. This bird’s nest has been
    recorded as a favorite depository for cowbirds’ eggs.

Range: North America. Breeds from northern Canadian and Alaskan
    tree-regions to southern Missouri and northern South Carolina;
    winters from Yucatan to Brazil and Peru.

The Yellow Warbler is one of the best known of its tribe. It is an
attractive, lovable little bird, a useful destroyer of small insects
that feed upon the leaves of trees, and a charming addition to any
orchard or garden, as it flits among the trees like a ray of sunshine.

It is frequently confused with the goldfinch; but careful observation of
markings, of flight, and of song will show decided differences. The
goldfinch has a black crown, wings, and tail, an unstreaked breast,
undulating flight, and a sustained song. This little olive and yellow
bird has no black in its plumage; it makes short flights, and sings a
simple strain. It is not a seed-eater, like the finches, but is

[Illustration: YELLOW WARBLER]

                          2. THE PINE WARBLER

Length: About 5½ inches.

Male: Upper parts olive-green with a grayish tinge; throat and breast
    yellow; sides streaked with gray; belly white; wings and tail
    brownish-gray; wings with two whitish bars; _outer tail-feathers
    tipped with white on inner web_.

Female: Similar to male, but browner above and duller underneath.

Notes: “Its alarm note is a sharp chirp, its other notes are few and

Song: “The song is one of the most soothing sounds of the pine-woods. It
    has in it the same dreamy drowsiness that characterizes the note of
    the Black-throated Green Warbler, but is otherwise entirely
    different in tone and quality, being composed of a series of short,
    soft, whistling notes, run together in a continuous trill. It
    resembles, in a way, the song of the Chipping Sparrow, except that
    it is softer and more musical.”[149]

Habitat: “Pine woods and groves; it seems to prefer the pitch pines, and
    is one of the few birds that habitually live and breed in woods of
    this character, like those of Cape Cod. It has been called the
    Pine-creeping Warbler, from its habit of creeping along the
    branches, and occasionally up and around the trunks of pines.”[149]

Range: Eastern North America. It is abundant in the South where pine
    forests are common. It is found in southern Canada, northern and
    eastern United States, in such pine-regions as Michigan and New

                     3. THE MARYLAND YELLOW-THROAT

Length: About 5¼ inches.

Male: Olive-green above, brightest on rump and tail; yellow underneath,
    with gray sides; _a broad band of black bordered at the back with
    gray extends across the face in the form of a mask_. The young males
    lack the conspicuous mask.

Female: Similar to male, but without a mask.

Note: A sharp call-note chick, frequently repeated.

Song: _Witch′-e-tee′-o, witch′-e-tee′-o._ Writers interpret the song in
    various ways. Mr. Forbush’s _sich′-a-wiggle, sich′-a-wiggle,
    sich′-a-wiggle_, is an excellent rendering. The song varies with
    individuals, but is phrased and accented similarly.

Habitat: Roadside thickets, especially near water.

Range: Eastern North America. It breeds from North Dakota eastward to
    southeastern Canada, and south to central Texas, the northern part
    of the Gulf States and Virginia; winters from North Carolina and
    Louisiana to Florida, the Bahamas, Cuba, Guatemala, and Costa Rica.

The Maryland Yellow-throat is a delightful summer visitor. Trim, dainty,
exquisitely colored, lithe, and full of song, he is a charming part of
the thickets of roadsides and streams.


                       The Maryland Yellow-Throat

  A host of warblers northward come in May,
  And linger with us only one brief day;
  You, yellow-throated songster, love to stay.

  We glimpse your dainty coat of olive-green,
  Your breast and throat of shimmering yellow sheen
  And mask of black, where ferns and bushes lean

  O’er sparkling streamlets, rimmed with many a reed,
  And hung with brilliant golden jewel-weed.
  Midst feathery spikes of meadow-sweet you speed.

  Your brooding mate you watch, as to and fro
  You flit; and while the summer breezes blow
  You sing your _Witch-i-tee′-o, witch-i-tee′-o_.

                         4. THE HOODED WARBLER

Length: About 5½ inches.

Male: Forehead, cheeks, breast, and belly yellow; _back_ of _crown_ and
    _throat black_, the two dark areas _united by a black line_; _mask
    yellow_; back and rump olive; wings and tail a dark grayish-olive;
    the _outer tail-feathers largely white_ on their _inner webs_.

Female: Similar to male, but without the black hood; dark edge to crown;
    breast faintly washed with black.

Song: E. H. Eaton in his “_Birds of New York_” writes: “The song of this
    warbler is one of the few which the author can hear with perfect
    distinctness and enjoy.” He adds that it is described by Langille as
    follows: “_che-reek, che-reek, che-reek, chi-de-ee_, the first three
    with a loud, bell-like ring, the rest much accelerated with a
    falling inflection.”

Habitat: Trees of deep woods.

Range: Eastern United States, west to the Plains, north and east to
    southern Michigan and Ontario, western and southeastern New York,
    and southern New England; in winter, West Indies, eastern Mexico,
    Central America, and Panama.

This warbler looks as though it had nearly divided a large hood,—had
slipped one half of it back on its head like a calash, and allowed the
other half to remain under its chin. It is easy to identify by its
appearance and its song, and its habit of living in the lower parts of

Eaton says: “The nest of the Hooded Warbler is usually placed in a low
sapling or bush from 1 to 3 feet from the ground. In my experience it is
the easiest of all the warbler nests to find. Wherever I have noticed a
Hooded warbler singing in a patch of woodland, I have been very
successful in locating the nest by placing my eye close to the ground
and looking through the shrubbery from below the cover of the
undergrowth. Then the nest will almost surely be seen if one is within a
few rods, appearing like a bunch of leaves a short distance above the

                          5. WILSON’S WARBLER

Length: About 5 inches.

Male: Olive-green above, except for a _black crown, outlined with yellow
    in front and at the sides of crown_; under parts yellow, except for
    a grayish tinge at the sides; wings and tail _without white bars_
    and _patches_.

Female: Similar to male, but without a clearly defined black cap.

Song: A loud, sweet trill, containing variations.

Habitat: Low thickets, usually at the edges of woods, rather than in

Range: Eastern North America. Breeds in the tree-regions of northern
    Canada south to southern Saskatchewan, northern Minnesota, central
    Ontario, New Hampshire, Maine, and Nova Scotia; winters in eastern
    Central America; migrates through the Alleghanies; practically
    unknown from Virginia to Louisiana.

This attractive little warbler with its black cap might easily be
confused with the goldfinch by a beginner in bird-study. The olive-green
back, wings, and tail differentiate it. Unlike the goldfinch, it is not
a resident, but a traveler to northern forests where it breeds. It
journeys enormous distances.

“It appears very irregularly, some years in great abundance and some
seasons not at all.”[150]


Length: About 5 inches.

Male: Olive-green above; dull black patch below eye, _encircled with a
    broad rim of yellow_; _throat and breast black_, becoming
    yellowish-white on the belly; sides streaked with black; wings with
    two whitish bars; _tail with outer feathers largely white_.

Female: Similar to male; black of throat and breast mottled with yellow,
    streaks on sides less conspicuous.

Song: An insect-like trill, _zee-zee? ze-ze-zee?_

Habitat: Coniferous woods preferably.

Range: North America, from central Canada to northern Ohio and Long
    Island and in the Alleghany Mts., to Georgia and South Carolina;
    winters from Mexico to Panama.

For three summers I heard the persistent buzzing of this little
Black-throat in the Maine woods before I was able to catch more than a
fleeting glimpse of him. He is very shy and elusive. An opportunity to
see this beautiful little jeweled bird at close range is an event to
bird-lovers. He is an industrious gleaner of small insects from dark
pine and spruce forests.

                        7. THE CANADIAN WARBLER

Length: About 5½ inches.

Male: Gray above without white wing-bars or spots on tail; crown with
    fine black spots; _eye-ring_, and _line from bill to eye-ring bright
    yellow_; under parts bright yellow; _short black streaks extending
    across the entire breast_; white under tail.

Female: Similar to male, with fainter streaks on breast.

Song: A rapid and clear warble, more easily recognized than that of some

Habitat: “The Canadian Warbler during the migration season is found
    about our door-yard shrubbery, and the thickets on the edges of
    streams and woodland.... In the nesting season we must seek for it
    in cooler gullies or in damp, cool woodlands of deciduous or mixed

Range: Eastern North America. Breeds from south-central Canada to
    central Minnesota, Michigan, New York, and Massachusetts, and along
    the Alleghanies to North Carolina and Tennessee; winters in Ecuador
    and Peru.

                      8. THE YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT

Length: About 7½ inches; the largest of the warblers.

Male and Female: Olive-green above; bright yellow throat and breast;
    belly white; _broad white streak extending from bill above eye;
    white crescent beneath eye; white streak at each side of throat_,
    separating the olive-green and yellow areas.

Song: A medley impossible to describe, full of chucks and gurgles—a
    strange mixture of sounds. As a singer, the chat is in a class by
    himself; he is very different from the other warblers.

Habitat: Thickets and bushy pastures.

Range: Eastern United States; winters from Vera Cruz to Panama.

The following statements regarding the Chat are taken from Eaton’s
“Birds of New York”:

“The Chat is not a bird of the dense woodland or of open situations, but
is confined to thick coverts of shrubs, vines, and young saplings,
preferring a denser covert than even the Chestnut-sided warbler and the
Catbird. It is rarely seen far from such situations....

“Though the Chat is so averse to being seen, he will sometimes be found
even within the limits of our villages and cities where suitable
thickets of considerable extent are found and his loud song is
frequently heard from village streets and sidewalks.”

                       9. THE YELLOW PALM WARBLER

Length: About 5½ inches.

Male and Female: _Crown chestnut; line over the eye and ring around the
    eye yellow_; upper parts olive-green, browner on the back; _under
    parts bright yellow, with streaks of brown on throat, breast, and
    sides_; wings sometimes edged with brown; tail edged with
    olive-green; outer tail-feathers with white spots on inner webs near

Song: Two songs, one “thinner” and more rapid than the other.

Habitat: Fields and roadsides; feeds chiefly on the ground and among low

Range: Atlantic Slope of North America. Breeds in southeastern Canada
    and Maine; winters from Louisiana to northern Florida; casually to
    North Carolina and Pennsylvania. The PALM WARBLER is the western
    species, an inhabitant of the Mississippi Valley and the region
    eastward. It is very common in Florida, where it may be discovered
    in company with yellow Palm Warblers.

This lively little warbler, with its nervous habit of tipping up its
tail incessantly like a spotted sandpiper, resembles its near relative
the yellow warbler in a few respects. The olive-green upper parts and
yellow breast streaked with brown are points of resemblances, but the
chestnut crown and yellow line over the eye are differences. Neither
yellow warblers nor yellow palm warblers are dwellers in the woods, but
prefer to live near the haunts of man. Yellow warblers are seen in trees
and bushes, while the palm warblers are found by roadsides, often on the
ground in the stubble of pastures, out in the open. While subdued in
color and therefore inconspicuous, they are readily identified by the
habit of moving their tails.


                        1. THE CERULEAN WARBLER

Length: About 4½ inches; one of the smaller warblers.

Male: Upper parts bright blue; head and back streaked with black; light
    streak above eye; white throat, breast, and belly, with a
    bluish-black line that extends across the breast and down each side;
    wings with two broad white bars; inner webs of all except the middle
    tail-feathers with small white patches near tips.

Female: Bluish-olive above, under parts pale yellow; light streak over
    eye; wings with white bars; tail-feathers with white tips.

Song: Mr. Stone describes the song of the Cerulean warbler as “an almost
    continuous ‘_zwee-zwee, zwee, wee-ee_’ during the nesting

Habitat: “They are numerous in the maple woods on the hillsides
    overlooking the swamp, as well as in the swamp itself,” writes Mr.

Range: Eastern North America. Breeds mainly from southeastern Nebraska,
    Minnesota, southern Michigan and Ontario, western New York,
    Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, south to Texas, Louisiana, and


Length: About 5¼ inches.

Male: Upper parts a _dull grayish-blue_, darker on the back, black
    bordering crown above the eye; _cheeks, throat_, and _upper breast
    black_; _belly white_; _sides black and white_; wings black, edged
    with blue, and with white next to body; _a white patch_ on wing;
    tail bluish-black, _outer feathers largely white_.

Female: Very different from male; olive-green above, yellowish-white
    underneath; light streak over eyes; _white patch_ near the base of
    the primary quills; tail bluish, with much less white than on males.

Song: “His song, though very versatile, is among the thinnest and most
    non-melodious of the family.”[152]

Habitat: “Black-throated blue warblers prefer clearings amidst hemlock
    woods or along hemlock-clad gully banks where there are dense
    underbrush, bushes, and stump sprouts bearing multitudes of large

Range: Eastern North America from Hudson Bay and Newfoundland south to
    the Northern States, and in the highlands and mountains to
    Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Maryland.

The Black-throated Blue Warbler, though not so brilliantly colored as
many members of the family, is one of the neatest and best-groomed of
all the warblers. As he flies from bough to bough or bush to bush he
displays to fine advantage the clear black and white coloration, the
white spots on the wings and tail flashing like the wings of a
butterfly. He carries his wings and tail partially spread somewhat in
the manner of the Redstart.... The male is not so nervously active as
many other warblers....

“This warbler’s nest often contains an egg of the Cowbird. The nests are
variously attached to slender scrubby bushes, 8 to 30 inches up, usually
very close to old trails or old wood roads.... A constant characteristic
of this warbler’s nest is the decoration of decayed, spongy pieces of
light colored wood fastened to the outside.”[152]

                       3. THE BLUE-WINGED WARBLER

Length: About 5 inches.

Male: Crown and under parts bright yellow; a black line through the eye;
    back olive-green, yellower at the rump; _wings bluish-gray_, edged
    with olive and white; _two broad yellowish-white wing-bars_; tail
    bluish-gray, with white patches of different sizes on outer

Female: Similar to male, but with less yellow on head,—on forehead and
    not on crown.

Song: “The song is insignificant, a wheezy performance of notes
    resembling the syllables ‘_swee-e-e-e-e, chee-chee-chee-chee_,’ the
    first inhaled, the second exhaled.”[152]

Habitat: “The Blue-winged warbler frequents swampy thickets but is
    sometimes found among the scrubby second growth of the hillsides and
    the undergrowth of dense woods.”[152]

Range: Breeds in eastern North America from southeastern Minnesota,
    southern Michigan, western New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts,
    southward to Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, and Delaware; winters
    from southern Mexico to Colombia.

“The Blue-winged Warbler is deliberate in its movements as compared with
other warblers, acting more like a vireo than a member of its family.

                             · · · · · · ·

The nesting site of this warbler is on the ground in a bunch of herbs or
at the foot of a small bush. The nest is surrounded by grass, weeds,
ferns, or vines, which screen it effectively from view.”[152]

                      4. THE GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER

Length: A little over 5 inches.

Male: _Crown bright yellow_; white line over eye, _broad black line
    extending through eye_; _black throat bordered with white_; wings
    bluish-gray, with a _large, bright yellow patch_; upper parts,
    bluish-gray; under parts, except throat, grayish-white; tail
    bluish-gray, with outer feathers nearly all white on their inner

Female: Similar to male, but duller; cheeks and throat _dark gray_
    instead of black.

Song: “Its song is a ‘lazy _zee-zee-zee_.’ It has also an insect-like
    call-note, and a sharp _chip_ alarm-note like that of the chipping
    sparrow.... The song when near at hand sounds like the syllables
    _zee-u-ee′, zee-u-ee′, zee-u-ee′_.”[153]

Habitat: The beautiful little Golden-winged Warbler may be found in
    deciduous forests, especially among elm and birch trees, and has a
    habit of seeking the ends of branches for its food.

Range: Eastern North America. Breeds from central Minnesota, southern
    Ontario, and Massachusetts, to southern Iowa, northern Illinois,
    Indiana, and New Jersey, and northern Georgia; winters from
    Guatemala to Colombia; very rare in Florida and southern Georgia,
    and west of the Mississippi.

                     5. THE NORTHERN PARULA WARBLER

Length: A little less than 5 inches.

Male: Grayish-blue above, with a _bright olive-yellow patch in the
    middle of the back_; _yellow throat and breast, with a dark bluish
    or reddish-brown band across the breast_; belly white; sides
    sometimes reddish-brown; two white wing-bars; tail gray, edged with
    blue, with white spots near tips of inner webs.

Female: Similar to male, except that the reddish-brown markings and band
    across the breast are less distinct or wanting.

Song: A “buzzing” song rather evenly accented.

Habitat: “During the migration season, the Parula Warbler may be found
    among the foliage of our shade trees and orchards, being most common
    about the time of the apple-blossoms. As soon as he reaches his
    summer home, however, he is practically confined to swamps ...
    preferring, during the nesting season evergreen trees, although
    occasionally found in mixed groves where deciduous trees
    predominate.”[154] He lives in localities where he can find the
    _Usnea_ moss, in which he loves to build his nest. Look for him
    along streams or near swamps where this moss hangs from the trees.

Range: From eastern Nebraska and Minnesota, central Ontario, Anticosti
    and Cape Breton Islands, south to Texas, Louisiana, Alabama,
    Virginia, and Maryland; winters probably in the Bahamas and from
    Vera Cruz to Nicaragua.

    The southern species or PARULA WARBLER, differs slightly from his
    northern relative; his throat is yellower and his breast-band is
    less distinct. He lives in the southeastern United States, and is
    common where there are cypresses hung with moss. He is very active;
    he reminds one of the kinglet and the chickadee as he hangs head
    downward from a spray, seeking the tiny insects that he likes to


                      1. THE BAY-BREASTED WARBLER

Length: A little over 5½ inches.

Male: _Forehead_ and _cheeks black_, giving the effect of a _black
    mask_; _crown, nape, throat, upper breast_, and _sides_ a beautiful
    chestnut-red; a patch of buff at each side of the neck; lower breast
    and belly buff; back brownish-gray, with black streaks; wings and
    tail brownish-gray; two broad white wing-bars; tail with white spots
    near tip of outer feathers.

Female: Upper parts grayish-brown, streaked with black; under parts
    buff, breast and sides washed with reddish-brown; crown brownish;
    two white wing-bars.

Song: “A monotonous, lisping song, with perhaps a few more musical,
    ringing notes.”[155]

Habitat: “The Bay-breasted warbler usually frequents the tops of trees
    during migration, being especially fond of chestnuts, oaks, and
    hickories just as the leaves are bursting. It is also found in
    orchards and about the shade trees of streets and parks as well as
    in the midst of woodlands.... It prefers the upper portions of trees
    except in cold or stormy weather when it descends and feeds among
    the underbrush.”[156] William Brewster says that they live in dense
    woods, especially among the pines and other cone-bearing trees.

Range: Eastern North America. Breeds in north-central and southern
    Canada, northern Maine, and mountains of New Hampshire; winters in
    Panama and Colombia; irregular on the Atlantic slope and south of
    Virginia. One of our less common warblers.

                     2. THE CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER

Length: About 5 inches.

Male: Crown _yellow_, bordered with black; back gray, streaked with
    black and yellow; _ear-patch and under parts white_; black line
    extending from bill meets _broad chestnut streak_ which runs down
    the side of the body; wings with two broad yellowish-white
    wing-bars; tail black, outer feathers with large white spots varying
    in size.

Female: Somewhat like male, but duller; the colors are less sharply

Song: In the spring a loud warble, not unlike that of the yellow
    warbler; in the summer, a weaker trill.[157]

Habitat: Thickets, bushy roadsides, edges of woods, open woodlands.

Range: Eastern North America from central Canada to eastern Nebraska,
    northern Ohio, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, and in
    the Alleghany Mts. to Tennessee and North Carolina.

The male Chestnut-sided Warbler is very easily identified; its sharp
contrasts in coloring make it conspicuous. While the bay-breasted
warbler also has chestnut sides, it differs in having the color extend
to the breast and throat, instead of bordering the white under parts.

The dainty little chestnut-sided warbler is rather commoner than some
species. Dr. F. H. Herrick in his book, “The Home Life of Wild Birds,”
tells of taming a female. She ate from his hand and allowed him to
stroke her as she sat on her nest.

                              THE THRUSHES
                        _Thrush Family—Turdidæ_

Six members of the Thrush Family are more or less common in the eastern
United States: the Robin, the Bluebird, the Wood Thrush, the Hermit
Thrush, the Olive-backed Thrush, and the Veery. The Gray-cheeked and
Bicknell’s thrushes are not so widely known. The Russet-backed Thrush is
the western representative of the Olive-back.

The Oven-bird, or Golden-crowned Thrush, and the Water-thrushes are not
thrushes at all, but warblers, though they resemble thrushes in having
brown backs and light spotted breasts, and in being dwellers of the
woods. The Brown Thrasher, sometimes wrongly called the Brown Thrush,
also has points of resemblance—a speckled breast and bright brown
back—but he is one of the Mimidæ or Mockingbird Family.

The breasts of young robins and the backs of baby bluebirds are spotted,
showing their family relationship. Both robins and bluebirds have voices
that possess a quality for which our thrushes are noted. I have heard
the English thrush, famed in poetry. I consider its song inferior in
quality of tone to those of our wood and hermit-thrushes, and veery; it
strongly resembles that of our thrasher.

The true thrushes of our woods have backs of leaf-brown, varying in hue
from bright russet to dull olive. Their breasts are white or buff,
streaked or spotted; their tails are short; their eyes, large and
lustrous. Their movements are quick, yet graceful. Their demeanor is
gentle, though I have seen them strongly aroused when nest or young was

[Illustration: WOOD THRUSH]

                            THE WOOD THRUSH

The Wood Thrush is the best known of these thrushes. It may be
identified by _its large size_ (a little over 8 inches); by its _bright
brown head_, dull brown back, wings, and tail; white under parts that
are _heavily spotted, especially on the breast and sides_; and by
distinct streaks below the eyes.

Note: Its call-note is a sharp _pit_; its song a series of sweet
    cadences beginning with the liquid syllables _ah-oh-ee_?

Song: Four phrases often constitute the song, between which a soft
    purring sound is frequently heard, if one is near the singer.

Habitat: Wood thrushes may be found in open groves, parks, and wooded
    pastures, on large estates, and along secluded roads. They are
    rarely found near farm-buildings, but occasionally live in gardens
    and orchards.

A pair of thrushes once nested in a tree on a slope just back of a house
where I chanced to be a guest. The mother-bird had begun her brooding,
when carpenters arrived to build some steps near her chosen home.
Frightened, she fled, and remained away for a time. Finally mother-love
overcame her fears and she returned. The workmen were asked to do her no
harm; they became interested in her, and she trustful of them. She let
them approach within a few feet of her nest. We saw the shy wood-bird,
serene and unafraid, raise her brood in the midst of noisy hammering,
with friendly companionship close at hand.

                        THE OLIVE-BACKED THRUSH

The Olive-backed Thrush is about an inch smaller than the wood thrush (7
inches), and is uniformly _olive-brown above_. Its _breast, throat,
cheeks_, and _eye-ring_ are _buff_; its _sides gray_. The breast, sides
of the throat, and cheeks are spotted with black.

Note: Its call-note is _puck_;

Song: its song pleasing, with a phrasing that reminds one of the hermit
    thrush, but it is louder and less deliberate, and lacks, also, the
    hermit’s liquid sweetness. The olive-back has a habit of singing
    from the pointed top of a tall spruce; near by, on a neighboring
    treetop, an olive-sided flycatcher may utter its _Peep here_, or a
    hermit may sing in the grove below.

Habitat: The olive-back lives in woods, rather than close to the haunts
    of man; it prefers to be near streams and swampy places, as does the
    western RUSSET-BACK THRUSH, a bird very similar in appearance and

Range: The olive-back breeds in Canada and northern United States, and
    winters from Mexico to South America.


Gray-Cheeked Thrush: “The Gray-cheeked Thrush is found in migration over
    all the Eastern States, but breeds farther north, beyond our limits.

Bicknell’s Thrush: “Bicknell’s Thrush, a closely related form, while
    having somewhat the same general range, breeds farther south and
    nests in the mountains of northern New York and New England. The
    species does not seem to be very abundant anywhere.”[158]

    Their resemblance to each other and to the olive-back makes them
    difficult to identify. The absence of buff from the head
    differentiates them from the latter species, which is a difference
    not readily observed except by experienced ornithologists.
    Bicknell’s thrush is smaller than the gray-cheeked thrush.

                               THE VEERY

The Veery or Wilson’s Thrush is slightly smaller than the wood thrush
(7½ inches), and is a _lighter and more uniform brown above_. It has a
whitish throat and belly, and _grayish sides_. The breast and sides of
the throat are a soft buff, with faint spots of brown. Its light brown
upper parts and its less conspicuous markings distinguish the veery from
other thrushes.

Note: Its call-note is a whistled _whee′-u_,—loud, clear, and uttered

Song: The song is inexpressibly beautiful,—like organ-chords, or those
    that fill the Baptistery of Pisa when the Italian guide blends tones
    for the delight of listeners. A veery’s song cannot be described;
    the _whee′-u_ may reveal the singer’s whereabouts, and aid in
    identification. This bird has brought me pleasure many times, for it
    forms one of the chorus that sing their matin- and even-songs in a
    spruce grove across the road from our cottage in Maine. Still other
    veeries chant with hermit thrushes in more distant woods.

    It recalls, also, memories of deep Adirondack woods near Seventh
    Lake, where we heard veeries and wood thrushes sing antiphonally at

Range: This thrush is abundant in the eastern United States during its
    migration, while on the way to its nesting place in our Northern
    States, to New England, and Canada. It winters in South America.

    It seems to bear a charmed life. It does no harm and receives none;
    it is a favorite wherever its voice is heard.

                           THE HERMIT THRUSH

The Hermit Thrush may be described in superlatives. Of the four commoner
thrushes, it comes earliest (in March or early April) on its way to its
haunts in northern woods, remains longest (till October or November),
and is considered by many to be the finest singer of a highly gifted

It is so very shy that it is rarely seen and yet, during migration time,
I once discovered a solitary hermit in a tree on a vacant lot only a few
blocks from the business center of Cleveland. Because we sit quietly for
hours at a time in the Maine woods, we have been vouchsafed many
glimpses of its olive-brown back, _its reddish-brown tail_ (the mark of
identification), and its rather thickly spotted white and brown breast.
We have noticed its habit of raising its tail as it alighted; we have
heard its call-note _chuck_.

Moore’s Rock, Castine, Maine, commands an enchanting view of Penobscot
Bay, of distant hills, and of spruce woods that are tenanted by veeries,
olive-backed, and hermit thrushes. There we make frequent pilgrimages,
to hear them sing at sunset.

Beneath glowing skies and in the silence, the hermit raises his
exquisitely modulated voice in a strain of ethereal beauty; pauses, then
in a higher key, repeats it; a third time, with still loftier elevation
of tone, he sings,—and sings again.

More than once at twilight, a white fog has moved in from the bay and
enveloped us as we listened. The voices of these thrushes, proceeding
from the sea of mist, have seemed more like those of spirits from
another world than of birds—unspeakably uplifting and full of


The great psychologist, William James, preached the doctrine that it was
immoral to have emotions that did not bear fruit in action,—a doctrine
that many educators and teachers are putting into practice nowadays.

Music, art, noble architecture, poetry, fine prose, the drama, and the
beauties of nature, all of which arouse the emotion of joy and minister
to our higher natures, were formerly sought as means of self-development
or culture—one of the great ends to be attained in life. Excessive
cultivation of one’s self is now regarded by broad-minded people as a
refined form of selfishness (often intellectual snobbishness), unless
with it there exists a sense of responsibility and an attempt to assist
in making possible by some form of activity a more nearly universal
sharing of these pure forms of pleasure.

The conservation of forests, the preservation of scenic wonders, of wild
flowers, of native animals and birds for the enjoyment of all, has
become the aim of a great movement throughout the country. It is well
known that the fine balance of nature is maintained by birds, and that
upon them depend in large measure the preservation of forests, parks,
gardens, orchards, and farms.

As they are so truly our benefactors and furnish us with so much genuine
enjoyment and absorbing interest, we are under obligation to repay their
services to us by some form of service to them, which will minister also
to the well-being of our communities.  The formation of Audubon
Societies, the spreading of knowledge by means of bird-books,
illustrated bird-lectures, and the invaluable bulletins easily
obtainable at the Government Printing Office, Washington; the erection
of bird-houses and baths, and of feeding-tables for the winter; the
furthering of wise legislation regarding bird-protection and the
supplying of bird-wardens in some localities to help carry out the laws;
intelligent and humane regulations to prevent the depredations of cats;
the creation, wherever possible, of bird-sanctuaries and preserves, and
the planting of trees and shrubs which will attract birds are a few of
the ways in which we may make practical our interest in birds and add to
the well-being of our land.

                                THE END


[1]Used with the permission of the Houghton, Mifflin Co., the authorized

[2]The above lists of Winter Residents and Visitors near New York City
    is taken from Dr. Frank M. Chapman’s pamphlet, “The Birds of the
    Vicinity of New York City,” a reprint from the “American Museum
    Journal” of the American Museum of Natural History. The lists and
    dates are used with the permission of Dr. R. C. Murphy, Acting
    Director of the American Museum of Natural History, and of D.
    Appleton & Co., Dr. Chapman’s authorized publishers.

[3]From “Notes on New England Birds,” by Henry D. Thoreau.

[4]Farmers’ Bulletin 513, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Bureau of
    Biological Survey.

[5]Farmers’ Bulletin 630, Biological Survey, U. S. Department of

[6]From “Birds of New England,” by Wilson Flagg.

[7]Farmers’ Bulletin 630, Biological Survey, U. S. Department of

[8]Farmers’ Bulletin 630, Biological Survey, U. S. Department of

[9]From “Birds of a Maryland Farm,” by Sylvester D. Judd—Bulletin No.
    17, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Division of Biological Survey.

[10]From W. L. McAtee; Farmers’ Bulletin 755, Biological Survey, U. S.
    Department of Agriculture.

[11]Farmers’ Bulletin 755, Biological Survey, U. S. Department of

[12]William Dutcher, Former President of the National Association of
    Audubon Societies; Educational Leaflet No. 18.

[13]From “Notes on New England Birds,” H. D. Thoreau, page 421.

[14]From Eaton’s “Birds of New York,” page 255.

[15]Educational Leaflet No. 35, National Association of Audubon

[16]Used with permission of the Houghton Mifflin Co., the authorized

[17]Farmers’ Bulletin 506, Biological Survey, U. S. Department of

[18]“Useful Birds and Their Protection, ” by E. H. Forbush.

[19]From “Notes on New England Birds,” H. D. Thoreau, page 278.

[20]From “The Relation of Sparrows to Agriculture,” by Sylvester D.
    Judd, Bulletin No. 15, Biological Survey.

[21]From “Useful Birds and Their Protection,” by E. H. Forbush.

[22]Bulletin No. 15, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Biological Survey.

[23]“Useful Birds and Their Protection,” E. H. Forbush, page 328.

[24]Bulletin No. 21, Bureau of Biological Survey, U.S. Department of

[25]From “Useful Birds and Their Protection,” by E. H. Forbush.

[26]From “Useful Birds and Their Protection,” by E. H. Forbush.

[27]“Useful Birds and Their Protection, ” by E. H. Forbush, page 210.

[28]Farmers’ Bulletin 630, Biological Survey, U. S. Department of

[29]Educational Leaflet No. 61, National Association of Audubon

[30]“Useful Birds and Their Protection,” E. H. Forbush, page 166.

[31]“Useful Birds and Their Protection,” by E. H. Forbush, pages 161,
    162, 163.

[32]“Useful Birds and Their Protection,” by E. H. Forbush, pages 161,
    162, 163.

[33]From Witmer Stone in Educational Leaflet No. 50, National
    Association of Audubon Societies.

[34]Farmers’ Bulletin 755, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Biological

[35]From Witmer Stone, in Educational Leaflet No. 50, National
    Association of Audubon Societies.

[36]From Eaton’s “Birds of New York.”

[37]From “Useful Birds and Their Protection,” by E. H. Forbush.

[38]Bulletin No. 37, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Biological Survey.

[39]From “Useful Birds and Their Protection,” by E. H. Forbush, pages
    245, 246, 252, 253.

[40]“Useful Birds and Their Protection,” E. H. Forbush, pages 259 & 260.

[41]From “Birds of Eastern North America,” by Frank M. Chapman.

[42]Educational Leaflet No. 59.

[43]Farmers’ Bulletin 513, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Bureau of
    Biological Survey.

[44]Educational Leaflet No. 59, National Association of Audubon

[45]From “Birds of Eastern North America,” by Frank M. Chapman.

[46]From “Useful Birds and Their Protection,” by E. H. Forbush, pp. 65
    and 17.

[47]From “Useful Birds and Their Protection,” by E. H. Forbush, page

[48]Farmers’ Bulletin 506, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Biological

[49]From “Under the Maples,” by John Burroughs, p. 55.

[50]Prof. D. Treadwell.

[51]Mr. Chas. W. Nash.

[52]Farmers’ Bulletin 630.

[53]From Olive Thorne Miller’s “First Book of Birds.”

[54]From “Birds of Village and Field,” by Florence Merriam.

[55]Used with permission of the Houghton Mifflin Co., the authorized

[56]Used with permission of the Houghton Mifflin Co., the authorized

[57]Farmers’ Bulletin 755, Biological Survey, U. S. Department of

[58]“Notes on New England Birds,” Thoreau, p. 311.

[59]Farmers’ Bulletin 630, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Biological

[60]Farmers’ Bulletin 630, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Biological

[61]From “Birds of Eastern North America,” by Frank M. Chapman.

[62]Farmers’ Bulletin 630, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Biological

[63]Farmers’ Bulletin 630, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Biological

[64]Farmers’ Bulletin 630, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Biological

[65]“Useful Birds and Their Protection,” by E. H. Forbush, page 320.

[66]From Educational Leaflet No. 3, National Association of Audubon

[67]Farmers’ Bulletin 755, Biological Survey, U. S. Department of

[68]Written by Coleridge about the European skylark, but applicable to
    our meadowlark.

[69]Farmers’ Bulletin 630 and 755, U. S. Department of Agriculture,
    Biological Survey.

[70]From “Birds of Eastern North America,” by Frank M. Chapman.

[71]From “Early Spring in Massachusetts,” by H. D. Thoreau, pages 160
    and 161.

[72]Farmers’ Bulletin 630, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Biological

[73]From “Useful Birds and Their Protection,” by E. H. Forbush, pages
    261 and 262.

[74]Farmers’ Bulletin 513, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Biological
    Survey, H. W. Henshaw.

[75]Bulletin No. 37, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Biological Survey.

[76]The Auk, IV, 194, 195, 1887. O. P. Hay.

[77]From “Birds of Eastern North America,” by Frank M. Chapman, used
    with permission of D. Appleton & Co.

[78]Farmers’ Bulletin 506, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Biological

[79]Farmers’ Bulletin 513, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Biological

[80]“Birds of a Maryland Farm,” by Sylvester D. Judd—Bulletin 17,
    Biological Survey.

[81]Farmers’ Bulletin 506, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Biological

[82]Bulletin No. 37, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Biological Survey.

[83]“Useful Birds and Their Protection,” E. H. Forbush, page 324.

[84]Farmers’ Bulletin 513, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Biological

[85]“Life Histories of North American Birds,”—Maj. Chas. Bendire.

[86]Educational Leaflet No. 19, National Association of Audubon

[87]From “The Home Life of Wild Birds,” by Francis H. Herrick. Used with
    the permission of the author, and of his publishers, G. P. Putnam &

[88]From “Useful Birds and their Protection,” by E. H. Forbush.

[89]From “Useful Birds and Their Protection,” by E. H. Forbush.

[90]Farmers’ Bulletin 630, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Biological

[91]Farmers’ Bulletin 630, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Biological

[92]Farmers’ Bulletin 630, U. S. Biological Survey, U. S. Dept. of

[93]Used with permission of the Houghton Mifflin Co., the authorized

[94]From “Useful Birds and Their Protection,” by E. H. Forbush, page

[95]Educational Leaflet No. 13, of the National Association of Audubon

[96]From “Useful Birds and Their Protection,” by E. H. Forbush, page

[97]“Useful Birds and Their Protection,” E. H. Forbush, page 343.

[98]Farmers’ Bulletin 755, Biological Survey, U. S. Dept. of

[99]Farmers’ Bulletin 755, Biological Survey, U. S. Dept. of

[100]Farmers’ Bulletin 630, Biological Survey.

[101]“Useful Birds and Their Protection,” E. H. Forbush, page 342.

[102]From “The Home Life of Wild Birds,” by Francis H. Herrick; used
    with the permission of the author and his publisher, the G. P.
    Putnam’s Sons.

[103]“Useful Birds and Their Protection,” by E. H. Forbush, p. 241.

[104]“Life Histories of North American Birds,” Maj. Chas. Bendire.

[105]Farmers’ Bulletin 506, Biological Survey, U. S. Dept. of

[106]From “Notes on New England Birds,” by H. D. Thoreau.

[107]From “Under The Maples,” by John Burroughs.

[108]Farmers’ Bulletin 630, Biological Survey, U. S. Dept. of

[109]Farmers’ Bulletin 513, Biological Survey, U. S. Dept. of

[110]Farmers’ Bulletin 513, Biological Survey, Dr. Henry W. Henshaw.

[111]From “Notes on New England Birds,” by Thoreau, page 246.

[112]Farmers’ Bulletin 630, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Biological

[113]Farmers’ Bulletin 513, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Biological

[114]From “Under The Maples,” by John Burroughs; page 42.

[115]From “Under the Maples,” by John Burroughs, page 66.

[116]From “Notes on New England Birds,” by H. D. Thoreau, p. 361.

[117]Farmers’ Bulletin 755, Biological Survey, U. S. Dept. of

[118]From “Under the Maples,” by John Burroughs, p. 67.

[119]From “Notes on New England Birds,” Thoreau, p. 361.

[120]From “Birds of New England,” by Wilson Flagg, used by special
    arrangement with the Page Co., Boston.

[121]Farmers’ Bulletin 513, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Biological

[122]From Farmers’ Bulletin 755, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Biological

[123]From “Under the Maples,” by John Burroughs, pages 87 & 88.

[124]Farmers’ Bulletin 755, Biological Survey, U. S. Dept. of

[125]From “Life Histories of North American Birds,” by Major Charles

[126]Farmers’ Bulletin 630, Biological Survey, U. S. Dept. of

[127]Biological Survey Bulletin, No. 326, “Birds of Porto Rico,” by
    Alex. Wetmore.

[128]From “Life Histories of North American Birds,” by Major Charles

[129]From “The Whole Year Round,” by Dallas Lore Sharp.

[130]From Wilson Flagg’s “Birds of New England,” used with permission of
    The Page Co., Boston.

[131]From “Useful Birds and Their Protection,” by E. H. Forbush, p. 205.

[132]From “Useful Birds and Their Protection,” by E. H. Forbush, p. 205.

[133]From “Under the Maples,” by John Burroughs, p. 99.

[134]From “Birds of Eastern North America,” by Frank M. Chapman.

[135]From “Useful Birds and Their Protection,” by E. H. Forbush, p. 208.

[136]From “Our Greatest Travelers,” by Wells W. Cooke, of the Biological

[137]From “Useful Birds and Their Protection,” by E. H. Forbush, pages
    185 and 186.

[138]From “Useful Birds and Their Protection,” by E. H. Forbush.

[139]From “The Oven-Bird,” by Frank Bolles.

[140]From Eaton’s “Birds of New York,” page 383.

[141]“Our Greatest Travelers,” by Wells W. Cooke, of the Biological

[142]“Useful Birds and Their Protection,” E. H. Forbush, page 202.

[143]Farmers’ Bulletin, Biological Survey, Henry W. Henshaw.

[144]From Eaton’s “Birds of New York,” pages 408, 409, 410.

[145]“Useful Birds and Their Protection,” by E. H. Forbush, pages 196
    and 198.

[146]“Useful Birds and Their Protection,” by E. H. Forbush, pages 196
    and 198.

[147]From “Useful Birds and Their Protection,” by E. H. Forbush, page

[148]From “Birds of New York,” page 421.

[149]From “Useful Birds and Their Protection,” E. H. Forbush.

[150]“Birds of New York,” Eaton.

[151]From Eaton’s “Birds of New York.”

[152]From Eaton’s “Birds of New York.”

[153]From Eaton’s “Birds of New York.”

[154]From Eaton’s “Birds of New York.”

[155]James P. Chapin.

[156]From Eaton’s “Birds of New York.”

[157]“Useful Birds and Their Protection,” by E. H. Forbush, page 193.

[158]Bulletin 280, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Biological Survey.


  Blackbird (Crow)                                                   114
  Blackbird (Red-winged)                                             118
  Blackbird (Rusty)                                                  120
  Blackbird (Yellow-headed)                                          120
  Bluebird                                                           102
  Blue Jay                                                             6
  Bobolink                                                           212
  Bobwhite                                                            38
  Bobwhite (Florida)                                                  38
  Brown Creeper                                                       78

  Canary (Wild)                                                      217
  Cardinal                                                            19
  Catbird                                                            220
  Cedar-bird                                                          47
  Charee                                                             161
  Chat (Yellow-breasted)                                             274
  Chebec                                                             234
  Cherry-bird                                                         47
  Chewink                                                            161
  Chickadee (Acadian)                                                 54
  Chickadee (Black-capped)                                            53
  Chickadee (Carolina)                                                53
  Chickadee (Florida)                                                 53
  Chippy (Winter)                                                     34
  Chuck-Will’s-Widow                                                 185
  Cowbird                                                            121
  Creeper (Brown)                                                     78
  Creeper (Black and White)                                          260
  Crossbill (American or Red)                                         14
  Crossbill (White-winged)                                            26
  Crow (American)                                                     14
  Crow (Fish)                                                         17
  Crow (Florida)                                                      17
  Cuckoo (Black-billed)                                              231
  Cuckoo (Yellow-billed)                                             231

  Dove (Mourning)                                                    141

  Finch (House)                                                      159
  Finch (Purple)                                                     161
  Flicker (Northern)                                                 127
  Flicker (Southern)                                                 128
  Flicker (Red-shafted)                                              128
  Flycatcher (Crested)                                               239
  Flycatcher (Least)                                                 234
  Flycatcher (Olive-sided)                                           240

  Gnatcatcher (Blue-gray)                                            246
  Goldfinch                                                          216
  Grackle (Boat-tailed)                                              117
  Grackle (Bronzed)                                                  116
  Grackle (Florida)                                                  117
  Grackle (Purple)                                                   114
  Grosbeak (Blue)                                                    209
  Grosbeak (Black-headed)                                            211
  Grosbeak (Cardinal)                                                 19
  Grosbeak (Evening)                                                 210
  Grosbeak (Pine)                                                     22
  Grosbeak (Rose-breasted)                                           207
  Grouse (Ruffed)                                                     44

  House Wren                                                         190
  Hummingbird                                                        192

  Indigo-bird                                                        196
  Indigo Bunting                                                     196

  Jay (Blue)                                                           6
  Jay (California)                                                    10
  Jay (Canada)                                                        11
  Jay (Florida)                                                        9
  Jay (Florida Blue)                                                   9
  Jay (Steller)                                                       10
  Junco (Carolina)                                                    28
  Junco (Slate-colored)                                               27

  Kingbird                                                           235
  Kingbird (Gray)                                                    237
  Kingfisher (Belted)                                                144
  Kinglet (Golden-crowned)                                            57
  Kinglet (Ruby-crowned)                                             245

  Lark (Field or Old Field)                                          123
  Lark (Horned)                                                       91
  Lark (Southern)                                                    124
  Lark (Western)                                                     124
  Linnet                                                             159

  Martin (Purple)                                                    175
  Meadowlark                                                         123
  Mockingbird                                                        227
  Mockingbird (Western)                                              228

  Nighthawk                                                          187
  Nightingale (Virginia)                                              19
  Nuthatch (Red-breasted)                                             77
  Nuthatch (White-breasted)                                           73

  Oriole (Baltimore)                                                 193
  Oriole (Orchard)                                                   202
  Oven-bird                                                          257

  Pewee (Wood)                                                       242
  Phœbe                                                              111
  Phœbe (Black)                                                      113
  Poor-will                                                          185

  Quail                                                               38
  Quail (California)                                                  38

  Raven (Northern)                                                    17
  Redbird                                                             19
  Redpoll                                                             37
  Redstart                                                           265
  Robin (American)                                                    96
  Robin (English)                                                     99
  Robin (Ground)                                                     161

  Sapsucker (Red-breasted)                                           139
  Sapsucker (Red-naped)                                              139
  Sapsucker (Williamson)                                             139
  Sapsucker (Yellow-bellied)                                         136
  Shrike (Loggerhead)                                                 84
  Shrike (Migrant)                                                    84
  Shrike (Northern)                                                   84
  Siskin (Pine)                                                       37
  Snowbird (Brown)                                                    30
  Snowbird (Gray)                                                     27
  Snowbird (Slate-colored)                                            27
  Snow Bunting                                                        30
  Snowflake                                                           30
  Sparrow (Chipping)                                                 151
  Sparrow (Field)                                                    147
  Sparrow (Fox)                                                      109
  Sparrow (Song)                                                     106
  Sparrow (Tree)                                                      34
  Sparrow (Vesper)                                                   149
  Sparrow (White-crowned)                                            156
  Sparrow (White-throated)                                           154
  Starling                                                            30
  Swallow (Bank)                                                     178
  Swallow (Barn)                                                     172
  Swallow (Cliff)                                                    177
  Swallow (Eave)                                                     177
  Swallow (Rough-winged)                                             179
  Swallow (Tree)                                                     169
  Swift (Chimney)                                                    180

  Tanager (Scarlet)                                                  204
  Tanager (Summer)                                                   205
  Tanager (Western)                                                  205
  Thrasher (Brown)                                                   224
  Thrush (Bicknell’s)                                                286
  Thrush (Brown)                                                     224
  Thrush (Golden-crowned)                                            257
  Thrush (Gray-cheeked)                                              286
  Thrush (Hermit)                                                    288
  Thrush (Olive-backed)                                              286
  Thrush (Russet-backed)                                             284
  Thrush (Water) (Louisiana)                                         259
  Thrush (Water) (Northern)                                          258
  Thrush (Wilson’s)                                                  287
  Thrush (Wood)                                                      285
  Titmouse (Black-capped)                                             53
  Titmouse (Tufted)                                                   51
  Tomtit                                                              51
  Towhee                                                             161
  Towhee (White-eyed)                                                161

  Veery                                                              287
  Vireo (Red-eyed)                                                   257
  Vireo (Warbling)                                                   250
  Vireo (White-eyed)                                                 251
  Vireo (Yellow-throated)                                            252

  Waxwing (Bohemian)                                                  50
  Waxwing (Cedar)                                                     47
  Woodpecker (Downy)                                                  65
  Woodpecker (Southern Downy)                                         66
  Woodpecker (Golden-winged)                                         127
  Woodpecker (Hairy)                                                  70
  Woodpecker (Northern Hairy)                                         70
  Woodpecker (Southern Hairy)                                         70
  Woodpecker (Red-bellied)                                           134
  Woodpecker (Red-headed)                                            131
  Wren (Carolina)                                                     60
  Wren (House)                                                       190
  Wren (Winter)                                                       63
      Bay-breasted                                                   281
      Black and White                                                260
      Blackburnian                                                   266
      Black-throated Blue                                            277
      Black-throated Green                                           273
      Black-poll                                                     260
      Blue-winged                                                    273
      Canadian                                                       274
      Cerulean                                                       276
      Chestnut-sided                                                 282
      Golden-winged                                                  279
      Hooded                                                         271
      Magnolia                                                       263
      Maryland Yellow-throat                                         270
      Myrtle                                                         262
      Oven-bird                                                      257
      Parula (Northern)                                              280
      Parula                                                         281
      Pine                                                           269
      Redstart                                                       265
      Water-thrush (Louisiana)                                       259
      Water-thrush (Northern)                                        258
      Wilson’s                                                       272
      Worm-eating                                                    259
      Yellow                                                         268
      Yellow-breasted Chat                                           274
      Yellow Palm                                                    275
      Yellow-rumped (Myrtle)                                         262

                          Transcriber’s Notes

--Retained publication information from the printed edition: this eBook
  is public-domain in the country of publication.

--Silently corrected a few palpable typos.

--In the text versions only, text in italics is delimited by

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