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Title: A History of North American Birds; Land Birds; Vol. 3 of 3
Author: Baird, Spencer Fullerton, Ridgway, Robert, Brewer, T. M. (Thomas Mayo)
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A History of North American Birds; Land Birds; Vol. 3 of 3" ***

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(Conurus carolinensis.)









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




  Family STRIGIDÆ. The Owls                                            4

  Family FALCONIDÆ. The Falcons                                      103

      Subfamily FALCONINÆ                                            106

  Family CATHARTIDÆ. The American Vultures                           335

  Family COLUMBIDÆ. The Pigeons                                      357

      Subfamily COLUMBINÆ                                            357

      Subfamily ZENAIDINÆ                                            374

  Family CRACIDÆ. The Curassows                                      397

      Subfamily PENELOPINÆ                                           397

  Family MELEAGRIDIDÆ. The Turkeys                                   402

  Family TETRAONIDÆ. The Grouse                                      414

  Family PERDICIDÆ. The Partridges                                   466

      Subfamily ORTYGINÆ                                             466


        I. Additions and Corrections                                 499

       II. Explanation of Terms used in describing
           the External Form of Birds                                524

      III. Glossary of Technical Terms                               535




  PLATES 57–64.



The group of birds usually known as the _Raptores_, or Rapacious Birds,
embraces three well-marked divisions, namely, the Owls, the Hawks,
and the Vultures. In former classifications they headed the Class of
Birds, being honored with this position in consequence of their powerful
organization, large size, and predatory habits. But it being now known
that in structure they are less perfectly organized than the _Passeres_
and _Strisores_, birds generally far more delicate in organization,
as well as smaller in size, they occupy a place in the more recent
arrangements nearly at the end of the Terrestrial forms.

The complete definition of the order _Raptores_, and of its
subdivisions, requires the enumeration of a great many characters; and
that their distinguishing features may be more easily recognized by
the student, I give first a brief diagnosis, including their simplest
characters, to be followed by a more detailed account hereafter.

COMMON CHARACTERS. Bill hooked, the upper mandible furnished at the base
with a soft skin, or “cere,” in which the nostrils are situated. Toes,
three before and one behind. _Raptores._

  =Strigidæ.= Eyes directed forwards, and surrounded by radiating
  feathers, which are bounded, except anteriorly, by a circle or rim of
  differently formed, stiffer feathers. Outer toe reversible. Claws much
  hooked and very sharp. Legs and toes usually feathered, or, at least,
  coated with bristles. _The Owls._

  =Falconidæ.= Eyes lateral, and not surrounded by radiating feathers.
  Outer toe not reversible (except in _Pandion_). Claws usually hooked
  and sharp, but variable. Head more or less completely feathered. _The

  =Cathartidæ.= Eyes lateral; whole head naked. Outer toe not
  reversible; claws slightly curved, blunt. _The Vultures._

The preceding characters, though purely artificial, may nevertheless
serve to distinguish the three families of _Raptores_ belonging to
the North American _Ornis_; a more scientific diagnosis, embracing
a sufficient number of osteological, and accompanying anatomical
characters, will be found further on.

The birds of prey—named _Accipitres_ by some authors, and _Raptores_
or _Rapaces_ by others, and very appropriately designated as the
_Ætomorphæ_ by Professor Huxley—form one of the most strongly
characterized and sharply limited of the higher divisions of the Class
of Birds. It is only recently, however, that their place in a systematic
classification and the proper number and relation of their subdivisions
have been properly understood. Professor Huxley’s views will probably
form the basis for a permanent classification, as they certainly point
the way to one eminently natural. In his important paper entitled
“On the Classification of Birds, and on the Taxonomic Value of the
Modifications of certain Cranial Bones observable in that Class,”[2]
this gentleman has dealt concisely upon the affinities of the order
_Raptores_, and the distinguishing features of its subdivisions. In the
following diagnoses the osteological characters are mainly borrowed
from Professor Huxley’s work referred to. Nitzsch’s “Pterylography”[3]
supplies such characters as are afforded by the plumage, most of which
confirm the arrangement based upon the osteological structure; while
important suggestions have been derived from McGillivray’s “History of
British Birds.”[4] The Monographs of the _Strigidæ_ and _Falconidæ_, by
Dr. J. J. Kaup,[5] contain much valuable information, and were they not
disfigured by a very eccentric system of arrangement they would approach
nearer to a natural classification of the subfamilies, genera, and
subgenera, than any arrangement of the lesser groups which I have yet

The species of this group are spread over the whole world, tropical
regions having the greatest variety of forms and number of species.
The _Strigidæ_ are cosmopolitan, most of the genera belonging to both
continents. The _Falconidæ_ are also found the world over, but each
continent has subfamilies peculiar to it. The _Cathartidæ_ are peculiar
to America, having analogous representatives in the Old World in the
subfamily _Vulturinæ_ belonging to the _Falconidæ_, The _Gypogeranidæ_
are found only in South Africa, where a single species, _Gypogeranus
serpentarius_ (GMEL.), sole representative of the family, is found.

As regards the comparative number of species of this order in the two
continents, the Old World is considerably ahead of the New World, which
might be expected from its far greater land area. 581 species are given
in Gray’s Hand List,[6] of which certainly not more than 500, probably
not more than 450, are valid species, the others ranking as geographical
races, or are synonymous with others; of this number about 350 nominal
species are accredited to the Old World. America, however, possesses
the greatest variety of forms, and the great bulk of the Old World
Raptorial fauna is made up chiefly by a large array of species of a few
genera which are represented in America by but one or two, or at most
half a dozen, species. The genera _Aquila_, _Spizætus_, _Accipiter_,
_Haliætus_, _Falco_, _Circus_, _Athene_, _Strix_, and _Buteo_, are
striking examples. As regards the number of peculiar forms, America is
considerably ahead.


CHAR. Eyes directed forward, and surrounded by a radiating system of
feathers, which is bounded, except anteriorly, by a ruff of stiff,
compactly webbed, differently formed, and somewhat recurved feathers;
loral feathers antrorse, long, and dense. Plumage very soft and lax,
of a fine downy texture, the feathers destitute of an after-shaft.
Oil-gland without the usual circlet of feathers. Outer webs of the
quills with the points of the fibres recurved. Feathers on the sides
of the forehead frequently elongated into ear-like tufts; tarsus
usually, and toes frequently, densely feathered. Ear-opening very
large, sometimes covered by a lappet. Œsophagus destitute of a dilated
crop; cœca large. Maxillo-palatines thick and spongy, and encroaching
upon the intervening valley; basipterygoid processes always present.
Outer toe reversible; posterior toe only about half as long as the
outer. Posterior margin of the sternum doubly indented; clavicle weak
and nearly cylindrical, about equal in length to the sternum. Anterior
process of the coracoid projected forward so as to meet the clavicle,
beneath the basal process of the scapula. Eggs variable in shape,
usually nearly spherical, always immaculate, pure white.

The Owls constitute a very natural and sharply limited family, and
though the species vary almost infinitely in the details of their
structure, they all seem to fall within the limits of a single

They have never yet been satisfactorily classified, and all the
arrangements which have been either proposed or adopted are refuted by
the facts developed upon a close study into the true relationship of
the many genera. The divisions of “Night Owls,” “Day Owls,” “Horned
Owls,” etc., are purely artificial. This family is much more homogeneous
than that of the _Falconidæ_, since none of the many genera which I
have examined seem to depart in their structure from the model of
a single subfamily, though a few of them are somewhat aberrant as
regards peculiarities in the detail of external form, or, less often,
to a slight extent, in their osteological characters, though I have
examined critically only the American and European species; and there
may be some Asiatic, African, or Australian genera which depart so far
from the normal standard of structure as to necessitate a modification
of this view. In the structure of the sternum there is scarcely the
least noticeable deviation in any genus[7] from the typical form. The
appreciable differences appear to be only of generic value, such as a
different proportionate length of the coracoid bones and the sternum,
and width of the sternum in proportion to its length, or the height
of its keel. The crania present a greater range of variation, and, if
closely studied, may afford a clew to a more natural arrangement than
the one which is here presented. The chief differences in the skulls of
different genera consist in the degree of pneumaticity of the bones,
in the form of the auricular bones, the comparative length and breadth
of the palatines, and very great contrasts in the contour. As a rule,
we find that those skulls which have the greatest pneumaticity (e.g.
_Strix_ and _Otus_) are most depressed anteriorly, have the orbital
septum thicker, the palatines longer and narrower, and a deeper
longitudinal median valley on the superior surface, and _vice versa_.

The following classification is based chiefly upon external characters;
but these are in most instances known to be accompanied by osteological
peculiarities, which point to nearly the same arrangement. It is
intended merely as an artificial table of the North American genera,
and may be subjected to considerable modification in its plan if exotic
genera are introduced.[8]

Genera and Subgenera.

  =A.= Inner toe equal to the middle in length; inner edge of middle
  claw pectinated. First quill longer than the third; all the quills
  with their inner webs entire, or without emargination. Tail
  emarginated. Feathers of the posterior face of the tarsus recurved, or
  pointed upwards.

          1. =Strix.= No ear-tufts; bill light-colored; eyes black;
          tarsus nearly twice as long as middle toe; toes scantily
          haired. Size medium. Ear-conch nearly as long as the height of
          the skull, with an anterior operculum for only a portion of
          its length; symmetrical.

  =B.= Inner toe decidedly or much shorter than the middle; inner edge
  of middle claw not pectinated. First quill shorter than the third; one
  to six outer quills with their inner webs emarginated. Tail rounded.
  Feathers of the posterior face of the tarsus not recurved but pointed

    I. Nostril open, oval, situated in the anterior edge of the cere,
    which is not inflated.

      _a._ Cere, on top, equal to, or exceeding, the chord of the
      culmen; much arched. Ear-conch nearly as long as the height of the
      skull, with the operculum extending its full length; asymmetrical.

          2. =Otus.= One or two outer quills with their inner webs
          emarginated. With or without ear-tufts. Bill blackish; iris
          yellow. Size medium.

            Ear-tufts well developed; only one quill emarginated …


            Ear-tufts rudimentary; two quills emarginated …


      _b._ Cere, on top, less than the chord of the culmen; gradually
      ascending basally, or level (not arched). Ear-conch nearly the
      height of the skull, with the operculum extending only a part of
      its full length, or wanting entirely.

        † Anterior edge of the ear-conch with an operculum; the two ears

          3. =Syrnium.= Five to six outer quills with their inner webs
          emarginated. Top of cere more than half the culmen. Without
          ear-tufts. Bill yellow; iris yellow or black. Size medium or

            Six quills emarginated; toes densely feathered, the terminal
            scutellæ concealed; iris yellow. Size very large …


            Five quills emarginated; toes scantly feathered, the
            terminal scutellæ exposed; iris black. Size medium …


          4. =Nyctale.= Two outer quills with inner webs emarginated.
          Top of cere less than half the culmen, level. Without
          ear-tufts. Bill yellow or blackish; iris yellow. Size small.

        †† Anterior edge of the ear-conch without an operculum. The two
        ears symmetrical. Tail slightly rounded, only about half as long
        as the wing.

          5. =Scops.= Two to five quills with inner webs emarginated;
          second to fifth longest. Bill weak, light-colored. Ear-conch
          elliptical, about one-third the height of the head, with
          a slightly elevated fringed anterior margin. Size small;
          ear-tufts usually well developed, sometimes rudimentary.

          6. =Bubo.= Two to four outer quills with inner webs
          emarginated; third to fourth longest. Bill robust, black.
          Ear-conch elliptical, simple, from one third to one half the
          height of the skull. Size large. Ear-tufts well developed or

            Ear-tufts well developed. Two to three outer quills with
            inner webs emarginated; lower tail-coverts not reaching end
            of the tail. Toes covered with short feathers, the claws
            exposed, and bill not concealed by the loral feathers …


            Ear-tufts rudimentary. Four outer quills with their inner
            webs emarginated; lower tail-coverts reaching end of the
            tail. Toes covered with long feathers, which hide the claws,
            and bill nearly concealed by the loral feathers …


        ††† Similar to the last, but the tail graduated, nearly equal to
        the wing.

          7. =Surnia.= Four outer quills with inner webs emarginated.
          Third quill longest. Bill strong, yellow; ear-conch simple,
          oval, less than the diameter of the eye. Size medium; no

    II. Nostril, a small circular opening into the surrounding inflated
    membrane of the cere. Ear-conch small, simple, oval, or nearly
    round, without an operculum.

        First quill shorter than the tenth.

          8. =Glaucidium.= Third to fourth quills longest; four
          emarginated on inner webs. Tarsus about equal to the middle
          toe, densely feathered. Tail much more than half the wing,
          rounded. Bill and iris yellow. Size very small.

          9. =Micrathene.= Fourth quill longest; four emarginated on
          inner webs. Tarsus a little longer than middle toe, scantily
          haired. Tail less than half the wing, even. Bill light
          (greenish ?); iris yellow. Size very small.

        First quill longer than sixth.

          10. =Speotyto.= Second to fourth quills longest; three
          emarginated on inner webs. Tarsus more than twice as long as
          middle toe, closely feathered in front to the toes, naked
          behind. Tail less than half the wing, slightly rounded. Bill
          yellowish; iris yellow. Size small.

In their distribution, the Owls, as a family, are cosmopolitan, and
most of the genera are found on both hemispheres. All the northern
genera (_Nyctea_, _Surnia_, _Nyctale_, and _Scotiaptex_), and the
majority of their species, are circumpolar. The genus _Glaucidium_ is
most largely developed within the tropics, and has numerous species
in both hemispheres. _Otus brachyotus_ and _Strix flammea_ are the
only two species which are found all over the world,—the former,
however, being apparently absent in Australia. _Gymnoglaux_, _Speotyto_,
_Micrathene_, and _Lophostrix_ are about the only well-characterized
genera peculiar to America. _Athene_, _Ketupa_, and _Phodilus_ are
peculiar to the Old World. The approximate number of known species
(see Gray’s Hand List of Birds, I, 1869) is about two hundred, of
which two, as stated, are cosmopolitan; six others (_Surnia ulula_,
_Nyctea scandiaca_, _Glaucidium passerinum_, _Syrnium cinereum_, _Otus
vulgaris_, and _Nyctale tengmalmi_) are found in both halves of the
Northern Hemisphere; of the remainder there are about an equal number
peculiar to America and the Old World.

As regards the distribution of the Owls in the Nearctic Realm, a
prominent feature is the number of the species (eighteen, not including
races) belonging to it, of which six (_Micrathene whitneyi_, _Nyctale
acadica_, _Syrnium nebulosum_, _S. occidentale_, _Scops asio_, and
_S. flammeola_) are found nowhere else. _Speotyto cunicularia_
and _Bubo virginianus_ are peculiarly American species found both
north and south of the equator, but in the two regions represented
by different geographical races. _Glaucidium ferrugineum_ and _G.
infuscatum_ (var. _gnoma_) are tropical species which overreach
the bounds of the Neotropical Realm,—the former extending into the
United States, the latter reaching to, and probably also within,
our borders. Of the eighteen North American species, about nine, or
one half (_Strix flammea_ var. _pratincola_, _Otus brachyotus_, _O.
vulgaris_ var. _wilsonianus_, _Syrnium cinereum_, _Nyctale acadica_,
_Bubo virginianus_, and _Scops asio_, with certainty, and _Nyctea
scandiaca_ var. _arctica_, and _Surnia ulula_ var. _hudsonia_, in
all probability), are found entirely across the continent. _Nyctale
tengmalmi_, var. _richardsoni_, and _Syrnium nebulosum_, appear to be
peculiar to the eastern portion,—the former to the northern regions,
the latter to the southern. _Athene cunicularia_ var. _hypugaea_,
_Micrathene whitneyi_, _Glaucidium passerinum_ var. _californicum_,
_Syrnium occidentale_, and _Scops flammeola_, are exclusively western,
all belonging to the southern portion of the Middle Province and Rocky
Mountain region, and the adjacent parts of Mexico, excepting the more
generally distributed _Speotyto cunicularia_, var. _hypogæa_, before
mentioned. Anomalies in regard to the distribution of some of the
species common to both continents, are the restriction of the American
representative of _Glaucidium passerinum_ to the western regions,[9]
and of _Strix flammea_ to the very southern and maritime portions of
the United States, the European representatives of both species being
generally distributed throughout that continent. On the other hand, the
northwest-coast race of our _Scops asio_ (_S. kennicotti_) seems to be
nearly identical with the Japanese _S. semitorques_ (Schlegel), which is
undoubtedly referrible to the same species.

As regards their plumage, the Owls differ most remarkably from the
Hawks in the fact that the sexes are invariably colored alike, while
from the nest to perfect maturity there are no well-marked progressive
stages distinguishing the different ages of a species. The nestling, or
downy, plumage, however, of many species, has the intricate pencilling
of the adult dress replaced by a simple transverse barring upon the
imperfect downy covering. The downy young of _Nyctea scandiaca_ is plain
sooty-brown, and that of _Strix flammea_ immaculate white.

In many species the adult dress is characterized by a mottling of
various shades of grayish mixed with ochraceous or fulvous, this
ornamented by a variable, often very intricate, pencilling of dusky, and
more or less mixed with white. As a consequence of the mixed or mottled
character of the markings, the plumage of the Owls is, as a rule,
difficult to describe.

In the variations of plumage, size, etc., with differences of habitat,
there is a wide range, the usually recognized laws[10] applying to most
of those species which are generally distributed and resident where
breeding. Of the eight species common to the Palæarctic and Nearctic
Realms, all but one (_Otus brachyotus_) are modified so as to form
representative geographical races on the two continents. In each of
these cases the American bird is much darker than the European, the
brown areas and markings being not only more extended, but deeper in
tint. The difference in this respect is so tangible that an experienced
ornithologist can instantly decide to which continent any specimen
belongs. Of the two cosmopolitan species one, _Otus brachyotus_, is
identical throughout; the other is modified into geographical races in
nearly every well-marked province of its habitat. Thus in the Palæarctic
Realm it is typical _Strix flammea_; in the Nearctic Realm it is var.
_pratincola_; while Tropical America has at least three well-marked
geographical races, the species being represented in Middle America
by the var. _guatemalæ_, in South America by var. _perlata_, and in
the West Indies by the var. _furcata_. The Old World has also numerous
representative races, of which we have, however, seen only two, namely,
var. _javanica_ (Gm.), of Java, India, and Eastern Africa, and var.
_delicatula_ (Gould) of Australia, both of which we unhesitatingly refer
to _S. flammea_.[11]

On the North American continent the only widely distributed species
which do not vary perceptibly with the region are _Otus brachyotus_ and
_O. vulgaris_ (var. _wilsonianus_). _Bubo virginianus_, _Scops asio_,
and _Syrnium nebulosum_ all bear the impress of special laws in the
several regions of their habitat. Starting with the Eastern Province,
and tracing either of these three species southward, we find it becoming
gradually smaller, the colors deeper and more rufous, and the toes
more scantily feathered. _Scops asio_ reaches its minimum of size and
maximum depth of color in Florida (var. _floridana_) and in Mexico (var.

Of the other two I have not seen Florida specimens, but examples of
both from other Southern States and the Lower Mississippi Valley region
are much more rufous, and—the _S. nebulosum_ especially—smaller, with
more naked toes. The latter species is darkest in Eastern Mexico (var.
_sartori_), and most rufescent, and smallest, in Guatemala (var.
_fulvescens_). In the middle region of the United States, _Scops asio_
(var. _maccalli_) and _Bubo virginianus_ (var. _arcticus_) are more
grayish and more delicately pencilled than from other portions. In the
northwest coast region they become larger and much more darkly colored,
assuming the clove-brown or sooty tints peculiar to the region. The var.
_kennicotti_ represents _S. asio_ in this region, and var. _pacificus_
the _B. virginianus_. The latter species also extends its range around
the Arctic Coast to Labrador, and forms a northern _littoral_ race, the
very opposite extreme in color from the nearly albinescent examples of
var. _arcticus_ found in the interior of Arctic America.

A very remarkable characteristic of the Owls is the fact that many
of the species exist in a sort of _dimorphic_ condition, or that two
plumages sufficiently unlike to be of specific importance in other
cases belong to one species. It was long thought that these two phases
represented two distinct species; afterwards it was maintained that
they depended on age, sex, or season, different authors or observers
entertaining various opinions on the subject; but it is now generally
believed that every individual retains through life the plumage which it
first acquires, and that young birds of both forms are often found in
the same nest, their parents being either both of one form, or both of
the other, or the two styles paired together.[12] The normal plumage,
in these instances, appears to be grayish, the pattern distinct, the
markings sharply defined, and the general appearance much like that
of species which do not have the other plumage. The other plumage is
a replacing of the grayish tints by a bright lateritious-rufous, the
pencillings being at the same time less well defined, and the pattern of
the smaller markings often changed. This condition seems to be somewhat
analogous to _melanism_ in certain _Falconidæ_, and appears to be more
common in the genera _Scops_ and _Glaucidium_ (in which it affects
mainly the tropical species), and occurs also in the European _Syrnium
aluco_. As studied with relation to our North American species, we find
it only in _Scops asio_ and _Glaucidium ferrugineum_. The latter, being
strictly tropical in its habitat, is similarly affected throughout
its range; but in the former we find that this condition depends much
upon the region. Thus neither Dr. Cooper nor I have ever seen a red
specimen from the Pacific coast, nor do I find any record of such an
occurrence. The normal gray plumage, however, is as common throughout
that region as in the Atlantic States. In the New England and Middle
States the red plumage seems to be more rare in most places than the
gray one, while toward the south the red predominates greatly. Of over
twenty specimens obtained in Southern Illinois (Mt. Carmel) in the
course of one winter, only one was of the gray plumage; and of the total
number of specimens seen and secured at other times during a series of
years, we can remember but one other gray one. As a parallel example
among mammals, Professor Baird suggests the case of the Red-bellied
Squirrels and Foxes of the Southern States, whose relationships to the
more grayish northern and western forms appear to be about the same as
in the present instance.


  _Strix_, SAVIGNY, 1809 (_nec_ LINN. 1735). (Type, _Strix flammea_,
  _Stridula_, SELLYS-LONGCH, 1842.
  _Eustrinx_, WEBB & BERTH. 1844.
  _Hybris_, NITZSCH.

[Illustration: =6885= ⅓

_Strix pratincola._]

GEN. CHAR. Size medium. No ear-tufts; facial ruff entirely continuous,
very conspicuous. Wing very long, the first or second quill longest,
and all without emargination. Tail short, emarginated. Bill elongated,
compressed, regularly curved; top of the cere nearly equal to the
culmen, straight, and somewhat depressed. Nostril open, oval, nearly
horizontal. Eyes very small. Tarsus nearly twice as long as the middle
toe, densely clothed with soft short feathers, those on the posterior
face inclined upwards; toes scantily bristled; claws extremely sharp and
long, the middle one with its inner edge pectinated. Ear-conch nearly as
long as the height of the head, with an anterior operculum, which does
not extend its full length; the two ears symmetrical?

The species of _Strix_ are distributed over the whole world, though
only one of them is cosmopolitan. This is the common Barn Owl (_S.
flammea_), the type of the genus, which is found in nearly every
portion of the world, though in different regions it has experienced
modifications which constitute geographical races. The other species, of
more restricted distribution, are peculiar to the tropical portions of
the Old World, chiefly Australia and South Africa.

Synopsis of the Races of S. flammea.

  =S. flammea.= Face varying from pure white to delicate claret-brown;
  facial circle varying from pure white, through ochraceous and rufous,
  to deep black. Upper parts with the feathers ochraceous-yellow
  basally; this overlaid, more or less continuously, by a grayish wash,
  usually finely mottled and speckled, with dusky and white. Primaries
  and tail barred transversely, more or less distinctly, with distant
  dusky bands, of variable number. Beneath, varying from pure snowy
  white to tawny rufous, immaculate or speckled. Wing, 10.70–13.50.

    Wing, 10.70–12.00; tail, 4.80–5.50; culmen, .75–.80; tarsus,
    2.05–2.15; middle toe, 1.25–1.30. Tail with four dark bands, and
    sometimes a trace of a fifth. Hab. Europe and Mediterranean region
    of Africa …

                                                     var. _flammea_.[13]

    Wing, 12.50–14.00; tail, 5.70–7.50; culmen, .90–1.00; tarsus,
    2.55–3.00. Tail with four dark bands, and sometimes a trace of a
    fifth. Colors lighter than in var. _flammea_. _Hab._ Southern North
    America and Mexico …

                                                      var. _pratincola_.

    Wing, 11.30–13.00; tail, 5.30–5.90; tarsus, 2.55–2.95. Colors of
    var. _flammea_, but more uniform above and more coarsely speckled
    below. _Hab._ Central America, from Panama to Guatemala …

                                                   var. _guatemalæ_.[14]

    Wing, 11.70–12.00; tail, 4.80–5.20; tarsus, 2.40–2.75. Tail more
    even, and lighter colored; the dark bars narrower, and more sharply
    defined. Colors generally paler, and more grayish. _Hab._ South
    America (Brazil, etc.) …

                                                     var. _perlata_.[15]

    Wing, 12.00–13.50; tail, 5.60–6.00; culmen, .85–.95; tarsus,
    2.70–2.85; middle toe, 1.45–1.60. Colors as in var. _perlata_,
    but secondaries and tail nearly white, in abrupt contrast to the
    adjacent parts; tail usually without bars. _Hab._ West Indies (Cuba
    and Jamaica, Mus. S. I.) …

                                                     var. _furcata_.[16]

    Wing, 11.00; tail, 5.00; culmen, about .85; tarsus, 2.05–2.45;
    middle toe, 1.30–1.40. Colors of var. _pratincola_, but less of the
    ochraceous, with a greater prevalence of the gray mottling. Tail
    with four dark bands _Hab._ Australia …

                                                  var. _delicatula_.[17]

    Wing, 11.00–11.70; tail, 5.10–5.40; culmen, .85–.90; tarsus,
    2.30–2.45; middle toe, 1.35–1.45. Same colors as var. _delicatula_.
    Tail with four dark bands (sometimes a trace of a fifth). _Hab._
    India and Eastern Africa …

                                                    var. _javanica_.[18]

Strix flammea, var. pratincola, BONAP.


  _Strix pratincola_, BONAP. List, 1838, p. 7.—DE KAY, Zoöl. N. Y. II,
  1844, 31, pl. xiii. f. 28.—GRAY, Gen. B., fol. sp. 2.—CASSIN, B.
  Cal. & Tex. 1854, p. 176.—NEWB. P. R. Rep. VI, IV, 1857, 76.—HEERM.
  do. VII, 1857, 34.—CASS. Birds N. Am. 1858, 47.—COUES, Prod. Orn.
  Ariz. (P. A. N. S. Philad. 1866), 13.—SCL. P. Z. S. 1859, 390
  (Oaxaca).—DRESSER, Ibis, 1865, 330 (Texas).—? BRYANT, Pr. Bost. Soc.
  1867, 65 (Bahamas). _Strix perlata_, GRAY, List Birds Brit. Mus. 1848,
  109 (not _S. perlata_ of LICHT. !).—IB. Hand List, I, 1869, 52.—KAUP,
  Monog. Strig. Pr. Zoöl. Soc. Lond. IV, 1859, 247. _Strix americana_,
  AUD. Synop. 1839, 24.—BREWER, Wilson’s Am. Orn. 1852, 687. _Strix
  flammea_, MAX. Reise Bras. II, 1820, 265.—WILS. Am. Orn. 1808, pl. l,
  f. 2.—JAMES, ed. Wilson’s Am. Orn. I, 1831, 111.—AUD. B. Am. 1831, pl.
  clxxi.—IB. Orn. Biog. II, 1831, 403.—SPIX, Av. Bras. I, 21.—VIG. Zoöl.
  Jour. III, 438.—IB. Zoöl. Beech. Voy. p. 16.—BONAP. Ann. N. Y. Lyc.
  II, 38.—IB. Isis, 1832, 1140; Consp. Av. p. 55.—GRAY, List Birds Brit.
  Mus. 1844, 54.—NUTT. Man. 1833, 139. _Ulula flammea_, JARDINE, ed.
  Wilson’s Am. Orn. II, 1832, 264. _Strix flammea_, var. _americana_,
  COUES, Key, 1872, 201.

CHAR. _Average plumage._ Ground-color of the upper parts bright
orange-ochraceous; this overlaid in cloudings, on nearly the whole
of the surface, with a delicate mottling of blackish and white; the
mottling continuous on the back and inner scapulars, and on the ends
of the primaries more faint, while along their edges it is more in the
form of fine dusky dots, thickly sprinkled. Each feather of the mottled
surface (excepting the secondaries and primaries) has a medial dash of
black, enclosing a roundish or cordate spot of white near the end of the
feather; on the secondaries and primaries, the mottling is condensed
into obsolete transverse bands, which are about four in number on the
former and five on the latter; primary coverts deeper orange-rufous
than the other portions, the mottling principally at their ends. Tail
orange-ochraceous, finely mottled—most densely terminally—with dusky,
fading into whitish at the tip, and crossed by about five distinct bands
of mottled dusky. Face white, tinged with wine-red; an ante-orbital spot
of dark claret-brown, this narrowly surrounding the eye; facial circle,
from forehead down to the ears (behind which it is white for an inch or
so) soft orange-ochraceous, similar to the ground-color of the upper
parts; the lower half (from ears across the throat) deeper ochraceous,
the tips of the feathers blackish, the latter sometimes predominating.
Lower parts snowy-white, but this more or less overlaid with a tinge
of fine orange-ochraceous, lighter than the tint of the upper parts;
and, excepting on the jugulum, anal region, and crissum, with numerous
minute but distinct specks of black; under surface of wings delicate
yellowish-white, the lining sparsely sprinkled with black dots; inner
webs of primaries with transverse bars of mottled dusky near their ends.

_Extreme plumages._ Darkest (No. 6,884, ♂, Tejon Valley, Cal.;
“R. S. W.” Dr. Heermann): There is no white whatever on the plumage, the
lower parts being continuous light ochraceous; the tibiæ have numerous
round spots of blackish. Lightest (No. 6,885, same locality): Face and
entire lower parts immaculate snowy-white; facial circle white, with the
tips of the feathers orange; the secondaries, primaries, and tail show
no bars, their surface being uniformly and finely mottled.

_Measurements_ (♂, 6,884, Tejon Valley, Cal.; Dr. Heermann). Wing,
13.00; tail, 5.70; culmen, .90; tarsus, 2.50; middle toe, 1.25.
Wing-formula, 2, 1–3. Among the very numerous specimens in the
collection, there is not one marked ♀. The extremes of a large series
are as follows: Wing, 12.50–14.00; tail, 5.70–7.50; culmen, .90–1.10;
tarsus, 2.55–3.00.

HAB. More southern portions of North America, especially near the
sea-coast, from the Middle States southward, and along the southern
border to California; whole of Mexico. In Central America appreciably
modified into var. _guatemalæ_. In South America replaced by var.
_perlata_, and in the West Indies by the quite different var. _furcata_.

Localities: Oaxaca (SCL. P. Z. S. 1859, 390); Texas (DRESSER, Ibis,
1865, 330); Arizona (COUES, P. A. N. S. 1866, 49); ? Bahamas (BRYANT,
Pr. Bost. Soc. 1867, 65). Kansas (SNOW, List of B. Kansas); Iowa (ALLEN,
Iowa Geol. Report, II, 424).

[Illustration: =6885= ½ NAT. SIZE.

_Strix pratincola._]

The variations of plumage noted above appear to be of a purely
individual nature, since they do not depend upon the locality; nor, as
far as we can learn, to any considerable extent, upon age or sex.

HABITS. On the Atlantic coast this bird very rarely occurs north of
Pennsylvania. It is given by Mr. Lawrence as very rare in the vicinity
of New York, and in three instances, at least, it has been detected in
New England. An individual is said, by Rev. J. H. Linsley, to have been
taken in 1843, in Stratford, Conn.; another was shot at Sachem’s Head in
the same State, October 28, 1865; and a third was killed in May, 1868,
near Springfield, Mass.

In the vicinity of Philadelphia the Barn Owl is not very rare, but is
more common in spring and autumn than in the summer. Its nests have been
found in hollow trees near marshy meadows. Southward it is more or less
common as far as South Carolina, where it becomes more abundant, and its
range then extends south and west as far as the Pacific. It is quite
plentiful in Texas and New Mexico, and is one of the most abundant birds
of California. It was not met with by Dr. Woodhouse in the expedition
to the Zuñi River, but this may be attributed to the desolate character
of the country through which he passed, as it is chiefly found about
habitations, and is never met with in wooded or wild regions.

[Illustration: _Strix flammea._]

Dr. Heermann and Dr. Gambel, who visited California before the present
increase in population, speak of its favorite resort as being in the
neighborhood of the Missions, and of its nesting under the tiled roofs
of the houses. The latter also refers to his finding numbers under
one roof, and states that they showed no fear when approached. The
propensity of the California bird to drink the sacred oil from the
consecrated lamps about the altars of the Missions was frequently
referred to by the priests, whenever any allusion was made to this Owl.
Dr. Gambel also found it about farm-houses, and occasionally in the
prairie valleys, where it obtains an abundance of food, such as mice and
other small animals.

Dr. Heermann, in a subsequent visit to the State, mentions it as being
a very common bird in all parts of California. They were once quite
numerous among the hollow trees in the vicinity of Sacramento, but have
gradually disappeared, as their old haunts were one by one destroyed
to make way for the gradual development and growth of that city. Dr.
Heermann found a large number in the winter, sheltered during the day
among the reeds of Suisun Valley. They were still abundant in the old
Catholic Missions, where they frequented the ruined walls and towers,
and constructed their nests in the crevices and nooks of those once
stately buildings, now falling to decay. These ruins were also a shelter
for innumerable bats, reptiles, and vermin, which formed an additional
attraction to the Owls.

Dr. Cooper speaks of finding this Owl abundant throughout Southern
California, especially near the coast, and Dr. Newberry frequently met
with it about San Francisco, San Diego, and Monterey, where it was
more common than any other species. He met with it on San Pablo Bay,
inhabiting holes in the perpendicular cliffs bordering the south shore.
It was also found in the Klamath Basin, but not in great numbers.

Mr. J. H. Clark found the Barn Owl nesting, in May, in holes burrowed
into the bluff banks of the Rio Frio, in Texas. These burrows were
nearly horizontal, with a considerable excavation near the back end,
where the eggs were deposited. These were three or four in number,
and of a dirty white. The parent bird allowed the eggs to be handled
without manifesting any concern. There was no lining or nest whatever.
Lieutenant Couch found them common on the Lower Rio Grande, but rare
near Monterey, Mexico. They were frequently met with living in the sides
of large deep wells.

Dr. Coues speaks of it as a common resident species in Arizona. It was
one of the most abundant Owls of the Territory, and was not unfrequently
to be observed at midday. On one occasion he found it preying upon
Blackbirds, in the middle of a small open reed swamp.

It is not uncommon in the vicinity of Washington, and after the partial
destruction of the Smithsonian Building by fire, for one or two years
a pair nested in the top of the tower. It is quite probable that the
comparative rarity of the species in the Eastern States is owing to
their thoughtless destruction, the result of a short-sighted and
mistaken prejudice that drives away one of our most useful birds, and
one which rarely does any mischief among domesticated birds, but is, on
the contrary, most destructive to rats, mice, and other mischievous and
injurious vermin.

Mr. Audubon mentions two of these birds which had been kept in
confinement in Charleston, S. C., where their cries in the night never
failed to attract others of the species. He regards them as altogether
crepuscular in habits, and states that when disturbed in broad daylight
they always fly in an irregular and bewildered manner. Mr. Audubon
also states that so far as his observations go, they feed entirely on
small quadrupeds, as he has never found the remains of any feathers or
portions of birds in their stomachs or about their nests. In confinement
it partakes freely of any kind of flesh.

The Cuban race (var. _furcata_), also found in other West India islands,
is hardly distinguishable from our own bird, and its habits may be
presumed to be essentially the same. Mr. Gosse found the breeding-place
of the Jamaica Owl at the bottom of a deep limestone pit, in the middle
of October; there was one young bird with several eggs. There was not
the least vestige of a nest; the bird reposed on a mass of half-digested
hair mingled with bones. At a little distance were three eggs, at
least six inches apart. On the 12th of the next month he found in the
same place the old bird sitting on four eggs, this time placed close
together. There was still no nest. The eggs were advanced towards
hatching, but in very different degrees, and an egg ready for deposition
was found in the oviduct of the old bird.

An egg of this Owl, taken in Louisiana by Dr. Trudeau, measured 1.69
inches in length by 1.38 in breadth. Another, obtained in New Mexico,
measures 1.69 by 1.25. Its color is a dirty yellowish-white, its shape
an oblong oval, hardly more pointed at the smaller than at the larger

An egg from Monterey, California, collected by Dr. Canfield, measures
1.70 inches in length by 1.25 in breadth, of an oblong-oval shape, and
nearly equally obtuse at either end. It is of a uniform bluish-white.
Another from the Rio Grande is of a soiled or yellowish white, and of
the same size and shape.


  _Otus_, CUV. Reg. An. 1799. (Type, _Strix otus_, LINN.)
  _Asio_, SWAINS. 1831 (_nec_ BRISSON, 1760).
  _Brachyotus_, GOULD, P. Z. S. 1837, 10. (Type, _Stryx brachyotus_.)
  _Ægolius_, KEYS. & Bl. 1840 (_nec_ KAUP, 1829).

CHAR. Size medium. Ear-tufts well developed or rudimentary; head small;
eyes small. Cere much arched, its length more than the chord of the
culmen. Bill weak, compressed. Only the first, or first and second,
outer primary with its inner web emarginated. Tail about half the
wing, rounded. Ear-conch very large, gill-like, about as long as the
height of the skull, with an anterior operculum, which extends its full
length, and bordered posteriorly by a raised membrane; the two ears

Species and Varieties.

  =A.= OTUS, Cuvier. Ear-tufts well developed; outer quill only with
  inner web emarginated.

    Colors blackish-brown and buffy-ochraceous,—the former predominating
    above, where mottled with whitish; the latter prevailing beneath,
    and variegated with stripes or bars of dusky. Tail, primaries, and
    secondaries, transversely barred (obsoletely in _O. stygius_).

      1. =O. vulgaris.= Ends of primaries normal, broad; toes feathered;
      face ochraceous.

        Dusky of the upper parts in form of longitudinal stripes,
        contrasting conspicuously with the paler ground-color. Beneath
        with ochraceous prevalent; the markings in form of longitudinal
        stripes, with scarcely any transverse bars. _Hab._ Europe and
        considerable part of the Old World …

                                                    var. _vulgaris_.[19]

        Dusky of the upper parts in form of confused mottling, not
        contrasting conspicuously with the paler ground-color. Beneath
        with the ochraceous overlaid by the whitish tips to the
        feathers; the markings in form of transverse bars, which are
        broader than the narrow medial streak. Wing, 11.50–12.00; tail,
        6.00–6.20; culmen, .65; tarsus, 1.20–1.25; middle toe, 1.15.
        Wing-formula, 2, 3–4–1. _Hab._ North America …

                                                     var. _wilsonianus_.

      2. =O. stygius.=[20] Ends of primaries narrow, that of the first
      almost falcate; toes entirely naked; face dusky, or with dusky

        Above blackish-brown, thinly relieved by an irregular sparse
        spotting of yellowish-white. Beneath with the markings in form
        of longitudinal stripes, which throw off occasional transverse
        arms toward the edge of the feathers. Wing, 13.00; tail, 6.80;
        culmen, .90; tarsus, 1.55; middle toe, 1.50. Wing-formula, 2,
        3–4, 1. _Hab._ South America.

  =B.= BRACHYOTUS, Gould (1837). Similar to _Otus_, but ear-tufts
  rudimentary, and the second quill as well as the first with the inner
  web emarginated.

    Colors ochraceous, or white, and clear dark brown, without shadings
    or middle tints. Beneath with narrow longitudinal dark stripes
    upon the whitish or ochraceous ground-color; crown and neck
    longitudinally striped with dark brown and ochraceous.

      3. =O. brachyotus.= Wings and tail nearly equally spotted and
      banded with ochraceous and dark brown. Tail with about six bands,
      the ochraceous terminal. Face dingy ochraceous, blackish around
      the eyes. Wing, about 11.00–13.00; tail, 5.75–6.10; culmen,
      .60–.65; tarsus, 1.75–1.80; middle toe, 1.20. _Hab._ Whole world
      (except Australia?).

Though this genus is cosmopolitan, the species are few in number; two
of them (_O. vulgaris_ and _O. brachyotus_) are common to both North
America and Europe, one of them (the latter) found also in nearly every
country in the world. Besides these, South Africa has a peculiar species
(_O. capensis_) while Tropical America alone possesses the _O. stygius_.

Otus vulgaris, var. wilsonianus, LESS.


  _? Strix peregrinator_ (_?_), BART. Trav. 1792, p. 285.—CASS. B. Cal.
  & Tex. 1854, 196. _Asio peregrinator_, STRICKL. Orn. Syn. I, 1855,
  207. _Otus wilsonianus_, LESS. Tr. Orn. 1831, 110.—GRAY, Gen. fol. sp.
  2, 1844.—IB. List Birds Brit. Mus. p. 105.—CASS. Birds Cal. & Tex.
  1854, 81.—IB. Birds N. Am. 1858, 53.—COOP. & SUCK. 1860, 155.—COUES,
  Prod. 1866, 14. _Otus americanus_, BONAP. List, 1838, p. 7.—IB. Consp.
  p. 50.—WEDERB. & TRISTR. Cont. Orn. 1849, p. 81.—KAUP, Monog. Strig.
  Cont. Orn. 1852, 113.—IB. Trans. Zoöl. Soc. IV, 1859, 233.—MAX. Cab.
  Jour. VI, 1858, 25.—GRAY, Hand List, I, 1869, No. 540, p. 50. _Strix
  otus_, WILS. Am. Orn. 1808, pl. li, f. 1.—RICH. & SW. F. B. A. II,
  72.—BONAP. Ann. N. Y. Lyc. II, 37.—IB. Isis, 1832, 1140.—AUD. Orn.
  Biog. IV, 572.—IB. Birds Am. pl. ccclxxxiii.—PEAB. Birds, Mass. 88.
  _Ulula otus_, JARD. ed. Wils. Am. Orn. I, 1831, 104.—BREWER, ed.
  Wils. Am. Orn. Synop. p. 687.—NUTT. Man. 130. _Otus vulgaris_ (not
  of Fleming!), JARDINE, ed. Wils. Am. Orn. 1832, II, 278.—AUD. Synop.
  1831, 28.—GIRAUD, Birds Long Island, p. 25. _Otus vulgaris_, var.
  _wilsonianus_ (RIDGWAY), COUES, Key, 1872, 204. _Bubo asio_, DE KAY,
  Zoöl. N. Y. II, 25, pl. xii, f. 25.

SP. CHAR. _Adult._ Upper surface transversely mottled with
blackish-brown and grayish-white, the former predominating, especially
on the dorsal region; feathers of the nape and wings (only), ochraceous
beneath the surface, lower scapulars with a few obsolete spots of white
on lower webs. Primary coverts dusky, with transverse series of dark
mottled grayish spots, these becoming somewhat ochraceous basally;
ground-color of the primaries grayish, this especially prevalent on the
inner quills; the basal third (or less) of all are ochraceous, this
decreasing in extent on inner feathers; the grayish tint is everywhere
finely mottled transversely with dusky, but the ochraceous is plain;
primaries crossed by a series of about seven quadrate blackish-brown
spots, these anteriorly about as wide as the intervening yellowish or
mottled grayish; the interval between the primary coverts to the first
of these spots is about .80 to 1.00 inch on the fourth quill,—the
spots on the inner and outer feathers approaching the coverts, or even
underlying them; the inner primaries—or, in fact, the general exposed
grayish surface—has much narrower bars of dusky. Ground-color of the
wings like the back, this growing paler on the outer feathers, and
becoming ochraceous basally; the tip approaching whitish; secondaries
crossed by nine or ten narrow bands of dusky.

Ear-tufts, with the lateral portion of each web, ochraceous; this
becoming white, somewhat variegated with black, toward the end
of the inner webs, on which the ochraceous is broadest; medial
portion clear, unvariegated black. Forehead and post-auricular disk
minutely speckled with blackish and white; facial circle continuous
brownish-black, becoming broken into a variegated collar across the
throat. “Eyebrows” and lores grayish-white; eye surrounded with
blackish, this broadest anteriorly above and below, the posterior half
being like the ear-coverts. Face plain ochraceous; chin and upper part
of the throat immaculate white. Ground-color below pale ochraceous,
the exposed surface of the feathers, however, white; breast with
broad longitudinal blotches of clear dark brown, these medial, on the
feathers; sides and flanks, each feather with a medial stripe, crossed
by as broad, or broader, transverse bars, of blackish-brown; abdomen,
tibial plumes, and legs plain ochraceous, becoming nearly white on the
lower part of tarsus and on the toes; tibial plumes with a few sagittate
marks of brownish; lower tail-coverts each having a medial sagittate
mark of dusky, this continuing along the shaft, forking toward the
base. Lining of the wing plain pale ochraceous; inner primary coverts
blackish-brown, forming a conspicuous spot.

[Illustration: =38256= ½ ½

_Otus wilsonianus._]

♂ (51,227, Carlisle, Penn.; S. F. Baird). Wing formula, 2, 3–1, 4, etc.
Wing, 11.50; tail, 6.20; culmen, .65; tarsus, 1.20; middle toe, 1.15.

♀ (2,362, Professor Baird’s collection, Carlisle, Penn.). Wing formula,
2, 3–4–1. Wing, 12.00; tail, 6.00; culmen, .65; tarsus, 1.25; middle
toe, 1.15.

_Young_ (49,568, Sacramento, Cal., June 21, 1867; Clarence King, Robert
Ridgway). Wings and tail as in the adult; other portions transversely
banded with blackish-brown and grayish-white, the latter prevailing
anteriorly; eyebrows and loral bristles entirely black; legs white.

HAB. Whole of temperate North America? Tobago? (JARDINE).

Localities: Tobago (JARDINE, Ann. Mag. 18, 116); Arizona (COUES,
P. A. N. S. 1866, 50).

The American Long-eared Owl is quite different in coloration from the
_Otus vulgaris_ of Europe. In the latter, ochraceous prevails over the
whole surface, even above, where the transverse dusky mottling does
not approach the uniformity that it does in the American bird; in the
European bird, each feather above has a conspicuous medial longitudinal
stripe of dark brownish: these markings are found everywhere except
on the rump and upper tail-coverts, where the ochraceous is deepest,
and transversely clouded with dusky mottling; in the American bird, no
longitudinal stripes are visible on the upper surface. The ochraceous
of the lower surface is, in the _vulgaris_, varied only (to any
considerable degree) by the sharply defined medial longitudinal stripes
to the feathers, the transverse bars being few and inconspicuous; in
_wilsonianus_, white overlies the ochraceous below, and the longitudinal
are less conspicuous than the transverse markings; the former on the
breast are broader than in _vulgaris_, in which, also, the ochraceous
at the bases of the primaries occupies a greater extent. Comparing
these very appreciable differences with the close resemblance of other
representative styles of the two continents (differences founded on
shade or depth of tints alone), we were almost inclined to recognize in
the American Long-eared Owl a specific value to these discrepancies.

[Illustration: _Otus vulgaris._]

The _Otus stygius_, Wagl., of South America and Mexico, is entirely
distinct, as will be seen from the foregoing synoptical table.

HABITS. This species appears to be one of the most numerous of the
Owls of North America, and to be pretty generally distributed. Its
strictly nocturnal habits have caused it to be temporarily overlooked in
localities where it is now known to be present and not rare. Dr. William
Gambel and Dr. Heermann both omit it from their lists of the birds of
California, though Dr. J. G. Cooper has since found it quite common. It
was once supposed not to breed farther south than New Jersey, but it
is now known to be resident in South Carolina and in Arizona, and is
probably distributed through all the intervening country. Donald Gunn
writes that to his knowledge this solitary bird hunts in the night, both
summer and winter, in the Red River region. It there takes possession of
the deserted nests of crows, and lays four white eggs. He found it as
far as the shores of Hudson’s Bay. Richardson states it to be plentiful
in the woods skirting the plains of the Saskatchewan, frequenting the
coast of the bay in the summer, and retiring into the interior in the
winter. He met with it as high as the 16th parallel of latitude, and
believed it to occur as far as the forests extend.

Dr. Cooper met with this species on the banks of the Columbia, east of
the Dalles. The region was desolate and barren, and several species
of Owls appeared to have been drawn there by the abundance of hares
and mice. Dr. Suckley also met with it on a branch of Milk River, in
Nebraska. It has likewise been taken in different parts of California,
in New Mexico, among the Rocky Mountains, in the valley of the Rio
Grande, at Fort Benton, and at Cape Florida, in the last-named place by
Mr. Würdemann.

Dr. Cooper found this Owl quite common near San Diego, and in March
observed them sitting in pairs in the evergreen oaks, apparently not
much troubled by the light. On the 27th of March he found a nest,
probably that of a Crow, built in a low evergreen oak, in which a female
Owl was sitting on five eggs, then partly hatched. The bird was quite
bold, flew round him, snapping her bill at him, and tried to draw him
away from the nest; the female imitating the cries of wounded birds with
remarkable accuracy, showing a power of voice not supposed to exist in
Owls, but more in the manner of a Parrot. He took one of the eggs, and
on the 23d of April, on revisiting the nest, he found that the others
had hatched. The egg measured 1.60 by 1.36 inches. Dr. Cooper also
states that he has found this Owl wandering into the barren treeless
deserts east of the Sierra Nevada, where it was frequently to be met
with in the autumn, hiding in the thickets along the streams. It also
resorts to caves, where any are to be found.

Dr. Kennerly met with this bird in the cañons west of the Aztec
Mountains, where they find good places for their nests, which
they build, in common with Crows and Hawks, among the precipitous
cliffs,—places unapproachable by the wolf and lynx.

On the Atlantic coast the Long-eared Owl occurs in more or less
abundance from Nova Scotia to Florida. It is found in the vicinity of
Halifax, according to Mr. Downes, and about Calais according to Mr.
Boardman, though not abundantly in either region. In Western Maine, and
in the rest of New England, it is more common. It has been known to
breed at least as far south as Maryland, Mr. W. M. McLean finding it in
Rockville. Mr. C. N. Holden, Jr., during his residence at Sherman, in
Wyoming Territory, met with a single specimen of this bird. A number of
Magpies were in the same bush, but did not seem either to molest or to
be afraid of it.

The food of this bird consists chiefly of small quadrupeds, insects,
and, to some extent, of small birds of various kinds. Audubon mentions
finding the stomach of one stuffed with feathers, hair, and bones.

The Long-eared Owl appears to nest for the most part in trees, and also
frequently to make use of the nests of other birds, such as Crows,
Hawks, or Herons. Occasionally, however, they construct nests for
themselves. Audubon speaks of finding such a one near the Juniata
River, in Pennsylvania. This was composed of green twigs with the
leaflets adhering, and lined with fresh grass and sheep’s wool, but
without feathers. Mr. Kennicott sent me from Illinois an egg of this
bird, that had been taken from a nest on the ground; and, according
to Richardson, in the fur regions it sometimes lays its eggs in that
manner, at other times in the deserted nests of other birds, on low
bushes. Mr. Hutchins speaks of its depositing them as early as April.
Richardson received one found in May; and another nest was observed, in
the same neighborhood, which contained three eggs on the 5th of July.
Wilson speaks of this Owl as having been abundant in his day in the
vicinity of Philadelphia, and of six or seven having been found in a
single tree. He also mentions it as there breeding among the branches of
tall trees, and in one particular instance as having taken possession
of the nest of a Qua Bird (_Nyctiardea gardeni_), where Wilson found it
sitting on four eggs, while one of the Herons had her own nest on the
same tree. Audubon states that it usually accommodates itself by making
use of the abandoned nests of other birds, whether these are built high
or low. It also makes use of the fissures of rocks, or builds on the

As this Owl is known to breed early in April, and as numerous instances
are given of their eggs being taken in July, it is probable they have
two broods in a season. Mr. J. S. Brandigee, of Berlin, Conn., found
a nest early in April, in a hemlock-tree, situated in a thick dark
evergreen woods. The nest was flat, made of coarse sticks, and contained
four fresh eggs when the parent was shot.

Mr. Ridgway found this Owl to be very abundant in the Sacramento Valley,
as well as throughout the Great Basin, in both regions inhabiting dense
willow copses near the streams. In the interior it generally lays its
eggs in the deserted nests of the Magpie.

The eggs of this Owl, when fresh, are of a brilliant white color, with a
slight pinkish tinge, which they preserve even after having been blown,
if kept from the light. They are of a rounded-oval shape, and obtuse
at either end. They vary considerably in size, measuring from 1.65 to
1.50 inches in length, and from 1.30 to 1.35 inches in breadth. Two
eggs, taken from the same nest by Rev. C. M. Jones, have the following
measurements: one 1.60 by 1.34 inches, the other 1.50 by 1.30 inches.

Otus (Brachyotus) brachyotus, STEPH.


  _Strix brachyotus_, GMEL. Syst. Nat. 289, 1789.—FORST. Phil. Trans.
  LXII, 384.—WILS. Am. Orn. pl. xxxiii, f. 3.—AUD. Birds Am. pl.
  ccccxxxii, 1831.—IB. Orn. Biog. V, 273.—RICH. & SWAINS. F. B. A. II,
  75.—BONAP. Ann. Lyc. N. Y. II, 37.—THOMPS. N. H. Vermont, p. 66.—PEAB.
  Birds Mass. p. 89. _Ulula brachyotus_, JAMES. (WILS.), Am. Orn. I,
  106, 1831.—NUTT. Man. 132. _Otus brachyotus_, (STEPH.) JARD. (WILS.),
  Am. Orn. II, 63, 1832.—PEALE, U. S. Expl. Exp. VIII, 75.—KAUP, Monog.
  Strig. Cont. Orn. 1852, 114.—IB. Tr. Zoöl. Soc. IV, 1859, 236.—HUDSON,
  P. Z. S. 1870, 799 (habits). _Asio brachyotus_, STRICKL. Orn. Syn. I,
  259, 1855. _Otus brachyotus americanus_, MAX. Cab. Jour. II, 1858, 27.
  _Brachyotus palustris_, BONAP. List. 1838, p. 7.—RIDGW. in COUES, Key,
  1872, 204. _Otus palustris_, (DARW.) DE KAY, Zoöl. N. Y. II, 28, pl.
  xii, f. 27, 1844. _Brachyotus palustris americanus_, BONAP. Consp. Av.
  p. 51, 1849. _Brachyotus cassini_, BREWER, Pr. Boston Soc. N. H.—NEWB.
  P. R. Rep’t, VI, IV, 76.—HEERM. do. VII, 34, 1857.—CASSIN (in BAIRD)
  Birds N. Am. 1858, 54.—COOP. & SUCKL. P. R. Rep’t, XII, ii, 155,
  1860.—COUES, P. A. N. S. (Prod. Orn. Ariz.) 1866, 14.—GRAY, Hand List,
  I, 51, 1869. _Brachyotus galopagoensis_, GOULD, P. Z. S. 1837, 10.
  _Otus galopagoensis_, DARW. Zool. Beag. pt. iii, p. 32, pl. iii.—GRAY,
  Gen. fol. sp. 3; List Birds Brit. Mus. 108.—BONAP. Consp. 51. _Asio
  galopagoensis_, STRICKL. Orn. Syn. I, 1855, 211.

SP. CHAR. _Adult._ Ground-color of the head, neck, back, scapulars,
rump, and lower parts, pale ochraceous; each feather (except on the
rump) with a medial longitudinal stripe of blackish-brown,—these
broadest on the scapulars; on the back, nape, occiput, and jugulum,
the two colors about equal; on the lower parts, the stripes grow
narrower posteriorly, those on the abdomen and sides being in the form
of narrow lines. The flanks, legs, anal region, and lower tail-coverts
are always perfectly immaculate; the legs most deeply ochraceous, the
lower tail-coverts nearly pure white. The rump has obsolete crescentic
marks of brownish. The wings are variegated with the general dusky and
ochraceous tints, but the markings are more irregular; the yellowish in
form of indentations or confluent spots, approaching the shafts from
the edge,—broadest on the outer webs. Secondaries crossed by about
five bands of ochraceous, the last terminal; primary coverts plain
blackish-brown, with one or two poorly defined transverse series of
ochraceous spots on the basal portion. Primaries ochraceous on the basal
two-thirds, the terminal portion clear dark brown, the tips (broadly)
pale brownish-yellowish, this becoming obsolete on the longest; the
dusky extends toward the bases, in three to five irregularly transverse
series of quadrate spots on the outer webs, leaving, however, a large
basal area of plain ochraceous,—this somewhat more whitish anteriorly.
The ground-color of the tail is ochraceous,—this becoming whitish
exteriorly and terminally,—crossed by five broad bands (about equalling
the ochraceous, but becoming narrower toward outer feathers) of
blackish-brown; on the middle feathers, the ochraceous spots enclose
smaller, central transverse spots of blackish; the terminal ochraceous
band is broadest.

Eyebrows, lores, chin, and throat soiled white, the loral bristles with
black shafts; face dingy ochraceous-white, feathers with darker shafts;
eye broadly encircled with black. Post-orbital circle minutely speckled
with pale ochraceous and blackish, except immediately behind the ear,
where for about an inch it is uniform dusky.

Lining of the wing immaculate delicate yellowish-white; terminal half of
under primary coverts clear blackish-brown; under surface of primaries
plain delicate ochraceous-white; ends, and one or two very broad
anterior bands, dusky.

♂ (906, Carlisle, Penn.). Wing-formula, 2–1, 3. Wing, 11.80; tail, 5.80;
culmen, .60; tarsus, 1.75; middle toe, 1.20.

[Illustration: =6888= ½ ½

_Otus brachyotus._]

[Illustration: =6883= ⅓

_Otus brachyotus._]

♀ (1,059, Dr. Elliot Coues’s collection, Washington, D. C.).
Wing-formula, 2–3–1–4. Wing, 13.00; tail, 6.10; culmen, .65; tarsus,
1.80; middle toe, 1.20.

HAB. Entire continent and adjacent islands of America; also Europe,
Asia, Africa, Polynesia, and Sandwich Islands.

Localities: Oaxaca (SCL. P. Z. S. 1859, 390); Cuba (CAB. Journ. III,
465; GUNDL. Rept. 1865, 225, west end); Arizona (COUES, P. A. N. S.
1866, 50); Brazil (PELZ. Orn. Bras. I, 10); Buenos Ayres (SCL. & SALV.
P. Z. S. 1868, 143); Chile (PHILIPPI, Mus. S. I.).

In view of the untangible nature of the differences between the American
and European Short-eared Owls (seldom at all appreciable, and when
appreciable not constant), we cannot admit a difference even of race
between them. In fact, this species seems to be the only one of the
Owls common to the two continents in which an American specimen cannot
be distinguished from the European. The average plumage of the American
representative is a shade or two darker than that of European examples;
but the lightest specimens I have seen are several from the Yukon region
in Alaska, and one from California (No. 6,888, Suisun Valley).

Not only am I unable to appreciate any tangible differences between
European and North American examples, but I fail to detect characters
of the least importance whereby these may be distinguished from South
American and Sandwich Island specimens (“_galopagoensis_, Gould,” and
“_sandwichensis_, Blox.”). Only two specimens, among a great many
from South America (Paraguay, Buenos Ayres, Brazil, etc.), are at all
distinguishable from Northern American. These two (Nos. 13,887 and
13,883, Chile) are somewhat darker than others, but not so dark as No.
16,029, ♀, from Fort Crook, California. A specimen from the Sandwich
Islands (No. 13,890) is nearly identical with these Chilean birds, the
only observable difference consisting in a more blackish forehead, and
in having just noticeable dark shaft-lines on the lower tail-coverts.

[Illustration: _Otus brachyotus._]

In the geographical variations of this species it is seen that the
average plumage of North American specimens is just appreciably darker
than that of European, while tropical specimens have a tendency to be
still darker. I know of no bird so widely distributed which varies
so little in the different parts of its habitat, unless it be the
_Cotyle riparia_, which, however, is not found so far to the south. The
difference, in this case, between the American and European birds, does
not correspond at all to that between the two easily distinguished races
of _Otus vulgaris_, _Nyctale tengmalmi_, _Surnia ulula_, and _Syrnium

A specimen from Porto Rico (No. 39,643) is somewhat remarkable on
account of the prevalence of the dusky of the upper parts, the unusually
few and narrow stripes of the same on the lower parts, the roundish
ochraceous spots on the wings, and in having the primaries barred to the
base. Should all other specimens from the same region agree in these
characters, they might form a diagnosable race. The plumage has an
abnormal appearance, however, and I much doubt whether others like it
will ever be taken.

HABITS. The Short-eared Owl appears to be distributed, in varying
frequency, throughout North America, more abundant in the Arctic regions
during the summer, and more frequently met with in the United States
during the winter months. Richardson met with it throughout the fur
countries as far to the north as the 67th parallel. Professor Holböll
gives it as a bird of Greenland, and it was met with in considerable
abundance by MacFarlane in the Anderson River district. Mr. Murray
mentions a specimen received from the wooded district between Hudson’s
Bay and Lake Winnipeg. Captain Blakiston met with it on the coast of
Hudson’s Bay, and Mr. Bernard Ross on the Mackenzie River.

Mr. Dresser speaks of it as common at times near San Antonio during the
winter months, keeping itself in the tall weeds and grass. It is given
by Dr. Gundlach as an occasional visitant of Cuba.

Dr. Newberry met with it throughout Oregon and California, and found
it especially common in the Klamath Basin. On the level meadow-like
prairies of the Upper Pitt River it was seen associating with the Marsh
Hawk in considerable numbers. It was generally concealed in the grass,
and rose as the party approached. He afterwards met with this bird on
the shores of Klamath Lake, and in the Des Chutes Basin, among grass
and sage-bushes, in those localities associated with the Burrowing Owl
(_A. hypogæa_). In Washington Territory it was found by Dr. Cooper on
the great Spokane Plain, where, as elsewhere, it was commonly found in
the long grass during the day. In fall and winter it appeared in large
numbers on the low prairies of the coast, but was not gregarious. Though
properly nocturnal, it was met with, hunting on cloudy days, flying low
over the meadows, in the manner of the Marsh Hawk. He did not meet with
it in summer in the Territory.

Dr. Heermann found it abundant in the Suisun and Napa valleys of
California, in equal numbers with the _Strix pratincola_. It sought
shelter during the day on the ground among the reeds, and, when startled
from its hiding-place, would fly but a few yards and alight again upon
the ground. It did not seem wild or shy. He afterwards met with the same
species on the desert between the Tejon Pass and the Mohave River, and
again saw it on the banks of the latter. Richardson gives it as a summer
visitant only in the fur countries, where it arrives as soon as the snow
disappears, and departs again in September. A female was killed May 20
with eggs nearly ready for exclusion. The bird was by no means rare,
and, as it frequently hunted for its prey in the daytime, was often
seen. Its principal haunts appeared to be dense thickets of young pines,
or dark and entangled willow-clumps, where it would sit on a low branch,
watching assiduously for mice. When disturbed, it would fly low for a
short distance, and then hide itself in a bush, from whence it was not
easily driven. Its nest was said to be on the ground, in a dry place,
and formed of withered grass. Hutchins is quoted as giving the number of
its eggs as ten or twelve, and describing them as round. The latter is
not correct, and seven appears to be their maximum number.

Mr. Downes speaks of it as very rare in Nova Scotia, but Elliott Cabot
gives it as breeding among the islands in the Bay of Fundy, off the
coast, where he found several nests. It was not met with by Professor
Verrill in Western Maine, but is found in other parts of the State. It
is not uncommon in Eastern Massachusetts, where specimens are frequently
killed and brought to market for sale, and where it also breeds in
favorable localities on the coast. Mr. William Brewster met with it on
Muskeget, near Nantucket, where it had been breeding, and where it was
evidently a resident, its plumage having become bleached by exposure
to the sun, and the reflected light of the white sand of that treeless
island. It is not so common in the interior, though Mr. Allen gives it
as resident, and rather common, near Springfield. Dr. Wood found it
breeding in Connecticut, within a few miles of Hartford.

Dr. Coues gives it as a resident species in South Carolina, and Mr.
Allen also mentions it, on the authority of Mr. Boardman, as quite
common among the marshes of Florida. Mr. Audubon also speaks of finding
it so plentiful in Florida that on one occasion he shot seven in a
single morning. They were to be found in the open prairies of that
country, rising from the tall grass in a hurried manner, and moving in
a zigzag manner, as if suddenly wakened from a sound sleep, and then
sailing to some distance in a direct course, and dropping among the
thickest herbage. Occasionally the Owl would enter a thicket of tangled
palmettoes, where with a cautious approach it could be taken alive. He
never found two of these birds close together, but always singly, at
distances of from twenty to a hundred yards; and when two or more were
started at once, they never flew towards each other.

Mr. Audubon met with a nest of this Owl on one of the mountain ridges
in the great pine forest of Pennsylvania, containing four eggs nearly
ready to be hatched. They were bluish-white, of an elongated form, and
measured 1.50 inches in length and 1.12 in breadth. The nest, made in
a slovenly manner with dry grasses, was under a low bush, and covered
over with tall grass, through which the bird had made a path. The parent
bird betrayed her presence by making a clicking noise with her bill as
he passed by; and he nearly put his hand on her before she would move,
and then she hopped away, and would not fly, returning to her nest as
soon as he left the spot. The pellets disgorged by the Owl, and found
near her nest, were found to consist of the bones of small quadrupeds
mixed with hair, and the wings of several kinds of coleopterous insects.

This bird was found breeding near the coast of New Jersey by Mr. Krider;
and at Hamilton, Canada, on the western shore of Lake Ontario; Mr.
McIlwraith speaks of its being more common than any other Owl.

A nest found by Mr. Cabot was in the midst of a dry peaty bog. It was
built on the ground, in a very slovenly manner, of small sticks and a
few feathers, and presented hardly any excavation. It contained four
eggs on the point of being hatched. A young bird the size of a Robin was
also found lying dead on a tussock of grass in another similar locality.

The notes of Mr. MacFarlane supply memoranda of twelve nests found by
him in the Anderson River country. They were all placed on the ground,
in various situations. One was in a small clump of dwarf willows, on the
ground, and composed of a few decayed leaves. Another nest was in a very
small hole, lined with a little hay and some decayed leaves. This was on
a barren plain of some extent, fifty miles east of Fort Anderson, and on
the edge of the wooded country. A third was in a clump of Labrador Tea,
and was similar to the preceding, except that the nest contained a few
feathers. This nest contained seven eggs,—the largest number found, and
only in this case. A fourth was in an artificial depression, evidently
scratched out by the parent bird. Feathers seem to have been noticed in
about half the nests, and in all cases to have been taken by the parent
from her own breast. Nearly all the nests were in depressions made for
the purpose.

Mr. Dall noticed the Short-eared Owl on the Yukon and at Nulato,
and Mr. Bannister observed it at St. Michael’s, where it was a not
unfrequent visitor. In his recent Notes on the Avi-fauna of the Aleutian
Islands, (Pr. Cal. Academy, 1873,) Dall informs us that it is resident
on Unalashka, and that it excavates a hole horizontally for its
nesting-place,—usually to a distance of about two feet, the farther end
a little the higher. The extremity is lined with dry grass and feathers.
As there are no trees in the island, the bird was often seen sitting
on the ground, near the mouth of its burrow, even in the daytime. Mr.
Ridgway found this bird in winter in California, but never met with
it at any season in the interior, where the _O. wilsonianus_ was so

The eggs of this Owl are of a uniform dull white color, which in
the unblown egg is said to have a bluish tinge; they are in form an
elliptical ovoid. The eggs obtained by Mr. Cabot measured 1.56 inches in
length and 1.25 in breadth. The smallest egg collected by Mr. MacFarlane
measured 1.50 by 1.22 inches. The largest taken by Mr. B. R. Ross, at
Fort Simpson, measures 1.60 by 1.30 inches; their average measurement is
1.57 by 1.28 inches. An egg of the European bird measures 1.55 by 1.30


  _Syrnium_, SAVIGNY, Nat. Hist. Egypt, I, 112; 1809. (Type, _Strix
      aluco_, L.)
  _Scotiaptex_, SWAINS., Classif. B. II, 1837, p. 216. (Type, _Strix
      cinerea_, GMEL.)
  _? Ciccaba_, WAGL. Isis, 1831. (Type, _Strix huhula_, DAUD.)
  _? Pulsatrix_, KAUP, 1849. (_Strix torquatus_, DAUD.)

GEN. CHAR. Size varying from medium to very large. No ear-tufts. Head
very large, the eyes comparatively small. Four to six outer primaries
with their inner webs sinuated. Tarsi and upper portion, or the whole
of the toes, densely clothed with hair-like feathers. Tail considerably
more than half as long as the wing, decidedly rounded. Ear-orifice very
high, but not so high as the skull, and furnished with an anterior
operculum, which does not usually extend along the full length; the two
ears asymmetrical. Bill yellow.

[Illustration: =4357= ⅓

_Syrnium nebulosum._]


  =Scotiaptex.= Six outer quills with their inner webs emarginated. Toes
  completely concealed by dense long hair-like feathers. Iris yellow.
  (Type, _S. cinereum_.)

  =Syrnium=, SWAINSON. Five outer quills with their inner webs
  emarginated. Toes not completely concealed by feathers; sometimes
  nearly naked; terminal scutellæ always (?) exposed. Iris blackish.
  (Type, _S. aluco_.)

The typical species of this genus are confined to the Northern
Hemisphere. It is yet doubtful whether the Tropical American species
usually referred to this genus really belong here. The genera _Ciccaba_,
Wagl., and _Pulsatrix_, Kaup, have been instituted to include most of
them; but whether these are generically or only subgenerically distinct
from the typical species of _Syrnium_ remains to be decided.

Our _S. nebulosum_ and _S. occidentale_ seem to be strictly congeneric
with the _S. aluca_, the type of the subgenus _Syrnium_, since they
agree in the minutest particulars in regard to their external form, and
other characters not specific.

[Illustration: =4337= ½ ½

_Syrnium nebulosum._]

Species and Varieties.

_a._ _Scotiaptex_, SWAINS.

    1. =S. cinereum.= Iris yellow; bill yellow. Dusky grayish-brown
    and grayish-white, the former prevailing above, the latter
    predominating beneath. The upper surface with mottlings of a
    transverse tendency; the lower surface with the markings in the
    form of ragged longitudinal stripes, which are transformed into
    transverse bars on the flanks, etc. Face grayish-white, with
    concentric rings of dusky. Wing, 16.00–18.00; tail, 11.00–12.50.

      Dark markings predominating. _Hab._ Northern portions of the
      Nearctic Realm …

                                                        var. _cinereum_.

      Light markings predominating. _Hab._ Northern portions of the
      Palæarctic Realm …

                                                      var. _lapponicum_.

_b._ _Syrnium_, SAV.

  COMMON CHARACTERS. Liver-brown or umber, variously spotted and barred
  with whitish or ochraceous. Bill yellow; iris brownish-black.

    2. =S. nebulosum.= Lower parts striped longitudinally. Head and neck
    with transverse bars.

      Colors reddish-umber and ochraceous-white. Face with obscure
      concentric rings of darker. Wing, 13.00–14.00; tail, 9.00–10.00.
      _Hab._ Eastern region of United States …

                                                       var. _nebulosum_.

      Colors blackish-sepia and clear white. Face without any darker
      concentric rings. Wing, 14.80; tail, 9.00. _Hab._ Eastern Mexico
      (Mirador) …

                                                    var. _sartorii_.[21]

      Colors tawny-brown and bright fulvous. Face without darker
      concentric rings (?). Wing, 12.50, 12.75; tail, 7.30, 8.50. _Hab._
      Guatemala …

                                                  var. _fulvescens_.[22]

    3. =S. occidentale.= Lower parts transversely barred. Head and
    neck with roundish spots. Wing, 12.00–13.10; tail, 9.00. _Hab._
    Southern California (Fort Tejon, XANTUS) and Arizona (Tucson, Nov.
    7, BENDIRE).

Syrnium (Scotiaptex) cinereum, AUDUBON.


  _Strix cinerea_, GMEL. Syst. Nat. p. 291, 1788.—LATH. Ind. Orn. p.
  58, 1790; Syn. I, 134; Supp. I, 45; Gen. Hist. I, 337.—VIEILL. Nouv.
  Dict. Hist. Nat. VII, 23, 1816; Enc. Méth. III, 1289; Ois. Am. Sept.
  I, 48.—RICH. & SWAINS. F. B. A. II, pl. xxxi, 1831.—BONAP. Ann.
  Lyc. N. Y. II, 436; Isis, 1832, p. 1140.—AUD. Birds Am. pl. cccli,
  1831; Orn. Biog. IV, 364.—NUTT. Man. p. 128.—TYZENHAUZ, Rev. Zoöl.
  1851, p. 571. _Syrnium cinereum_, AUD. Synop. p. 26, 1839.—CASS.
  Birds Cal. & Tex. p. 184, 1854; Birds N. Am. 1858, p. 56.—BREW.
  (WILS.) Am. Orn. p. 687.—DE KAY, Zoöl. N. Y. II, 26, pl. xiii, f. 29,
  1844.—STRICKL. Orn. Syn. I, 188, 1855.—NEWB. P. R. R. Rept. VI, IV,
  77, 1857.—COOP. & SUCK. P. R. R. Rept. XII, II, 156, 1860.—KAUP, Tr.
  Zoöl. Soc. IV, 1859, 256.—DALL & BANNISTER, Tr. Chicago Acad. I, 1869,
  173.—GRAY, Hand List, I, 48, 1869.—MAYNARD, Birds Eastern Mass., 1870,
  130.—_Scotiaptex cinerea_, SWAINS. Classif. Birds, II, 217, 1837.
  _Syrnium lapponicum_, var. _cinereum_, COUES, Key, 1872, 204. _Strix
  acclamator_, BART. Trans. 285, 1792.

SP. CHAR. _Adult._ Ground-color of the upper surface dark vandyke-brown,
but this relieved by a transverse mottling (on the edges of the
feathers) of white, the medial portions of the feathers being scarcely
variegated, causing an appearance of obsolete longitudinal dark
stripes, these most conspicuous on the scapulars and back. The anterior
portions above are more regularly barred transversely; the white bars
interrupted, however, by the brown medial stripe. On the rump and
upper tail-coverts the mottling is more profuse, causing a grayish
appearance. On the wing-coverts the outer webs are most variegated by
the white mottling. The alula and primary coverts have very obsolete
bands of paler; the secondaries are crossed by nine (last terminal, and
three concealed by coverts) bands of pale grayish-brown, inclining to
white at the borders of the spots; primaries crossed by nine transverse
series of quadrate spots of mottled pale brownish-gray on the outer
webs, those beyond the emargination obscure,—the terminal crescentic
bar distinct, however; upper secondaries and middle tail-feathers with
coarse transverse mottling, almost forming bars. Tail with about nine
paler bands, these merely marked off by parallel, nearly white bars,
enclosing a plain grayish-brown, sometimes slightly mottled space, just
perceptibly darker than the ground-color; basally the feathers become
profusely mottled, so that the bands are confused; the last band is
terminal. Beneath with the ground-color grayish-white, each feather of
the neck, breast, and abdomen with a broad, longitudinal ragged stripe
of dark brown, like the ground-color of the upper parts; sides, flanks,
crissum, and lower tail-coverts with regular transverse narrow bands;
legs with finer, more irregular, transverse bars of dusky. “Eyebrows,”
lores, and chin grayish-white, a dusky space at anterior angle of
the eye; face grayish-white, with distinct concentric semicircles of
blackish-brown; facial circle dark brown, becoming white across the
foreneck, where it is divided medially by a spot of brownish-black,
covering the throat.

♂ (32,306, Moose Factory, Hudson Bay Territory; J. McKenzie).
Wing-formula, 4=5, 3, 6–2, 7–8–9, 1. Wing, 16.00; tail, 11.00; culmen,
1.00; tarsus, 2.30; middle toe, 1.50.

♀ (54,358, Nulato, R. Am., April 11, 1868; W. H. Dall). Wing-formula,
4=5, 3, 6–2, 7–8–9, 1. Wing, 18.00; tail, 12.50; culmen, 1.00; tarsus,
2.20; middle toe, 1.70.

HAB. Arctic America (resident in Canada?). In winter extending into
northern borders of United States (Massachusetts, MAYNARD).

The relationship between the _Syrnium cinereum_ and the _S. lapponicum_
is exactly parallel to that between the _Otus vulgaris_, var.
_wilsonianus_, and var. _vulgaris_, _Surnia ulula_, var. _hudsonia_, and
the var. _ulula_, and _Nyctale tengmalmi_, var. _richardsoni_, and the
var. _tengmalmi_. In conformity to the general rule among the species
which belong to the two continents, the American race of the present
bird is very decidedly darker than the European one, which has the
whitish mottling much more prevalent, giving the plumage a lighter and
more grayish aspect. The white predominates on the outer webs of the
scapulars. On the head and neck the white equals the dusky in extent,
while on the lower parts it largely prevails. The longitudinal stripes
of the dorsal region are much more conspicuous in _lapponicum_ than in

[Illustration: _Syrnium cinereum._]

A specimen in the Schlütter collection, labelled as from “Nord-Europa,”
is not distinguishable from North American examples, and is so very
unlike the usual Lapland style that we doubt its being a European
specimen at all.

HABITS. The Great Gray or Cinereous Owl appears to be confined to the
more northern portions of North America. It is rarely met with in any
part of the United States, and only in winter, with the exception of
Washington Territory, where it is presumed to be a resident. It is also
said to be a resident in Canada, and to be found in the vicinity of
Montreal. Mr. Lawrence does not include this bird in his list of the
birds of New York, but Mr. Turnbull states that several have been taken
as far south as New Jersey. Throughout New England it is occasional in
the winter, but comparatively rare. Mr. Allen did not hear of any having
been taken near Springfield. On the coast of Massachusetts they are of
infrequent occurrence, and are held at high prices. A fine specimen
was shot in Lynn in the winter of 1872, and is now in the collection
of my nephew, W. S. Brewer. On the Pacific coast it is resident as far
south as the mouth of the Columbia, and is found in winter in Northern

Dr. Richardson met with this Owl in the fur regions, where it seemed to
be by no means rare. He mentions it as an inhabitant of all the wooded
districts which lie between Lake Superior and latitude 67° and 68°,
and between Hudson’s Bay and the Pacific. It was common on the borders
of Great Bear Lake, in which region, as well as in a higher parallel
of latitude, it pursues its prey during the summer months by daylight.
It was observed to keep constantly within the woods, and was not seen
to frequent the barren grounds, in the manner of the Snowy Owl, nor
was it so often met with in broad daylight as the Hawk Owl, apparently
preferring to hunt when the sun was low and the recesses of the woods
deeply shadowed, when the hares and other smaller quadrupeds, upon which
it chiefly feeds, were most abundant.

On the 23d of May, Dr. Richardson discovered a nest of this Owl, built
on the top of a lofty balsam-poplar, composed of sticks, with a lining
of feathers. It contained three young birds, covered with a whitish
down, to secure which it was necessary to cut down the tree. While this
was going on, the parent birds flew in circles around the tree, keeping
out of gun-shot, and apparently undisturbed by the light. The young
birds were kept alive for several weeks, but finally escaped. They had
the habit, when any one entered the room in which they were kept, of
throwing themselves back and making a loud snapping noise with their

In February, 1831, as Audubon was informed, a fine specimen of one
of these Owls was taken alive in Marblehead, Mass., having been seen
perched upon a woodpile early in the morning. It was obtained by Mr.
Ives, of Salem, by whom it was kept several months. It was fed on fish
and small birds, and ate its food readily. It would at times utter a
tremulous cry, not unlike that of the common Screech-Owl (_Scops asio_),
and manifested the greatest antipathy to cats and dogs.

Dr. Cooper found this bird near the mouth of the Columbia River, in a
brackish meadow partially covered with small spruce-trees, where they
sat concealed during the day, or made short flights from one to another.
Dr. Cooper procured a specimen there in June, and has no doubt that
the bird is resident and breeds in that neighborhood. He regards it as
somewhat diurnal in its habits, and states that it is especially active
toward sunset.

Dr. Newberry speaks of this Owl as one generally distributed over the
western part of the continent, he having met with it in the Sacramento
Valley, in the Cascade Mountains, in the Des Chutes Basin, and in
Oregon, on the Columbia River. Mr. Robert MacFarlane found it in great
abundance in the Anderson River region. On the 19th of July, as we
find in one of his memoranda, he met with a nest of this species near
Lockhart River, on the route to Fort Good Hope. The nest was on the top
of a pine-tree, twenty feet from the ground. It contained two eggs and
two young, both of which were dead. The nest was composed of sticks and
mosses, and was lined thinly with down. The female was sitting on the
nest, but left it at his approach, and flew to a tree at some distance,
where she was shot.

Mr. Donald Gunn writes that the Cinereous Owl is to be found both in
summer and in winter throughout all the country commonly known as the
Hudson Bay Territory. He states that it hunts by night, preys upon
rabbits and mice, and nests in tall poplar-trees, usually quite early in
the season.

A single specimen of this Owl was taken at Sitka by Bischoff, and
on the 20th of April Mr. Dall obtained a female that had been shot
at Takitesky, about twenty miles east of the Yukon, near Nulato. He
subsequently obtained several specimens in that region. Mr. Dall
describes it as very stupid, and easy to be caught by the hand during
the daytime. From its awkward motions its Indian name of _nūhl-tūhl_,
signifying “heavy walker,” is derived. So far as observed by Mr. Dall,
this Owl appeared to feed principally upon small birds, and he took no
less than thirteen crania and other remains of _Ægiothus linaria_ from
the crop of a single bird.

Specimens of this Owl have also been received by the Smithsonian
Institution, collected by Mr. Kennicott, from Fort Yukon and from
Nulato; from Mr. J. McKenzie, Moose Factory; from J. Lockhart, obtained
at Fort Resolution and at Fort Yukon; from J. Flett, at La Pierre
House; from B. R. Ross, at Big Island; and from Mr. S. Jones and Mr. J.
McDougall, at Fort Yukon. These were all taken between February 11 and
July 19.

One of the eggs of this Owl, referred to above in Mr. MacFarlane’s note,
is in my cabinet. It is small for the size of the bird, and is of a
dull soiled-white color, oblong in shape, and decidedly more pointed at
one end than at the other. It measures 2.25 inches in length by 1.78 in
breadth. The drawing of an egg of this species, made by Mr. Audubon from
a supposed specimen of an egg of this species, referred to in the “North
American Oölogy,” and which measured 2.44 by 2.00 inches, was probably a
sketch of the egg of the Snowy Owl.

Syrnium nebulosum, GRAY.


  _Strix nebulosa_, FORST. Phil. Trans. XXII, 386 & 424, 1772.—GMEL.
  Syst. Nat. p. 291, 1789.—LATH. Ind. Orn. p. 58, 1790; Syn. I, 133;
  Gen. Hist. I, 338.—DAUD. Tr. Orn. II, 191, 1800.—SHAW, Zoöl. VII,
  245, 1839; Nat. Misc. pl. xxv.—VIEILL. Ois. Am. Sept. pl. xvii, 1807;
  Nouv. Dict. Hist. Nat. VII, 32; Enc. Méth. III, 1292.—AUD. Birds Am.
  pl. xlvi, 1831; Orn. Biog. I, 242.—TEMM. Man. Orn. pt. i, p. 88; pt.
  iii, p. 47.—WERN. Atl. Ois. Eur.—MEYER, Taschenb. Deutsch Vogelk. III,
  21; Zusätze, p. 21.—WILS. Am. Orn. pl. xxxiii, f. 2, 1808.—RICH. &
  SWAINS. F. B. A. II, 81.—BONAP. Ann. Lyc. N. Y. II, 38; Isis, 1832,
  p. 1140.—JARD. (WILS.) Am. Orn. II, 57, 1832. _Ulula nebulosa_,
  STEPH. Zoöl. XIII, pl. ii, p. 60, 1815.—CUV. Reg. An. (ed. 2), I,
  342, 1829.—JAMES. (WILS.) Am. Orn. I, 107, 1831; IV, 280.—BONAPARTE,
  List, page 7, 1838; Conspectus Avium, p. 53.—GOULD, Birds Eur. pl.
  xlvi.—LESS. Man. Orn. I, 113, 1828; Tr. Orn. p. 108.—GRAY, Gen. B.
  fol. (ed. 2), p. 8, 1844.—DE KAY, Zoöl. N. Y. II, 29, pl. x, f. 21,
  1844. _Syrnium nebulosum_, GRAY, Gen. B. fol. sp. 9, 1844; List Birds
  Brit. Mus. p. 104.—CASS. Birds Cal. & Tex. p. 184, 1854; Birds N. Am.
  1858, 56.—GIRAUD, Birds Long Island, p. 24, 1844.—WOODH. in Sitgr.
  Rept. Expl. Zuñi & Colorad. p. 63, 1853.—BREW. (WILS.) Am. Orn. p.
  687, 1852.—KAUP, Monog. Strig. Cont. Orn. 1852, p. 121.—IB. Tr. Zoöl.
  Soc. IV, 256.—STRICKL. Orn. Syn. I, 189, 1855.—MAX. Cab. Jour. VI,
  1858, 28.—DRESSER, Ibis, 1865, 330 (Texas, resident).—COUES, Key,
  1872, 204.—GRAY, Hand List, I, 48, 1869.

SP. CHAR. _Adult._ Head, neck, breast, back, scapulars, and rump with
broad regular transverse bars of ochraceous-white and deep umber-brown,
the latter color always terminal; on the upper surface the brown
somewhat exceeds the whitish in width, but on the neck and breast the
white rather predominates. The lower third of the breast is somewhat
differently marked from the upper portion, the brown bars being
connected along the shaft of the feather, throwing the white into pairs
of spots on opposite webs. Each feather of the abdomen, sides, flanks,
and lower tail-coverts has a broad medial longitudinal stripe of brown
somewhat deeper in tint than the transverse bars on the upper parts; the
anal region is plain, more ochraceous, white; the legs have numerous,
but rather faint, transverse spots of brown. Ground-color of the
wings and tail brown, like the bars of the back; middle and secondary
wing-coverts with roundish transverse spots of nearly pure white on
lower webs; lesser coverts plain rich brown; secondaries crossed by
six bands of pale grayish-brown, passing into paler on the edge of
each feather,—the last is terminal, passing narrowly into whitish;
primary coverts with four bands of darker ochraceous-brown; primaries
with transverse series of quadrate pale-brown spots on the outer webs
(growing deeper in tint on inner quills), the last terminal; on the
longest are about eight. Tail like the wings, crossed with six or seven
sharply defined bands of pale brown, the last terminal.

Face grayish-white, with concentric semicircular bars of brown; eyebrows
and lores with black shafts; a narrow crescent of black against anterior
angle of the eye. Facial circle of blackish-brown and creamy-white bars,
the former prevailing along the anterior edge, the latter more distinct
posteriorly, and prevailing across the neck in front, where the brown
forms disconnected transverse spots.

♀ (752, Carlisle, Penn.). Wing-formula, 4–3, 5–2, 6; 1=9. Wing, 13.00;
tail, 9.00; culmen, 1.05; tarsus, 1.90; middle toe, 1.50.

♂. A little smaller. (No specimen marked ♂ in the collection.)

_Hab._ Eastern North America, west to the Missouri; Rio Grande region.

A female (?) from Calais, Me., (4,966; G. A. Boardman,) is somewhat
lighter-colored than the type, owing to the clearer white of the bars.
It measures, wing, 13.50; tail, 9.80.

A specimen (4,357, January) from Washington, D. C., is quite remarkable
for the very dark tints of plumage and the unusual prevalence of the
brown; this is of a more reddish cast than in all other specimens,
becoming somewhat blackish on the head and neck; anteriorly it prevails
so as to almost completely hide the pale bars of the back and nape.
The tail has no bars except three or four very obsolete ones near the
end; beneath, the ochraceous tinge is quite deep. The toes, except
their first joint, are perfectly naked; the middle one, however, has a
narrow strip of feathering running along the outer side as far as the
last joint. The darker shades of color, and more naked toes, seem to be
distinguishing features of southern examples.

[Illustration: _Syrnium nebulosum._]

HABITS. The Barred Owl has an extended range, having been met with
nearly throughout North America, from about latitude 50° to Texas.
Minnesota is the most western point to which, so far as I am aware,
it has been traced. It is more abundant in the Southern States than
elsewhere, and in the more northern portions of North America is
somewhat rare. Richardson did not encounter it in the more arctic
portion of the fur countries, nor has it, so far as I can learn, been
observed on the Pacific coast. It is said to be of accidental occurrence
in northern Europe.

In Louisiana, as Mr. Audubon states, it is more abundant than anywhere
else; and Dr. Woodhouse speaks of it as very common in the Indian
Territories, and also in Texas and New Mexico, especially in the
timbered lands bordering the streams and ponds of that region. In July,
1846, while in pursuit of shore birds in the island of Muskeget, near
Nantucket, in the middle of a bright day, I was surprised by meeting one
of these birds, which, uninvited, joined us in the hunt, and when shot
proved to be a fine male adult specimen.

The Barred Owl was found in great abundance in Florida by Mr. J. A.
Allen, the only species of Owl at all common, and where its ludicrous
notes were heard at night everywhere, and even occasionally in the
daytime. At night they not unfrequently startle the traveller by their
strange utterances from the trees directly over his head.

Mr. Dresser speaks of it as very abundant at all seasons of the year in
the wooded parts of Texas. He was not able to find its nest, but was
told by the hunters that they build in hollow trees, near the banks of
the rivers.

According to Mr. Downes, this Owl is common throughout Nova Scotia,
where it is resident, and never leaves its particular neighborhood.
It breeds in the woods throughout all parts of that colony, and was
observed by him to feed on hares, spruce and ruffed grouse, and other
birds. It is said to be a quite common event for this bird to make its
appearance at midnight about the camp-fires of the moose-hunter and
the lumberer, and to disturb their slumbers with its cries, as with a
demoniacal expression it peers into the glare of the embers. Distending
its throat and pushing its head forward, it gives utterance to unearthly
sounds that to the superstitious are quite appalling.

Mr. Wilson regarded this species as one of the most common of the Owls
in the lower parts of Pennsylvania, where it was particularly numerous
in winter, among the woods that border the extensive meadows of the
Schuylkill and the Delaware River. He frequently observed it flying
during the day, when it seemed to be able to see quite distinctly. He
met with more than forty of these birds in one spring, either flying
or sitting exposed in the daytime, and once discovered one of its
nests situated in the crotch of a white oak, among thick foliage, and
containing three young. It was rudely put together, made outwardly
of sticks, intermixed with dry grasses and leaves, and lined with
smaller twigs. He adds that this Owl screams in the day in the manner
of a Hawk. Nuttall characterizes their peculiar hooting as a loud
guttural call, which he expresses by _’koh-’koh-’ko-’ko-’ho_, or as
_’whah-’whah-’whah-’whah-aa_, heard occasionally both by day and by
night. It is a note of recognition, and may be easily imitated, and can
be used as a means to decoy the birds. Nuttall received a specimen that
had been shot in November, hovering, in the daytime, over a covey of

Mr. Audubon speaks of the peculiar hooting cries of this species as
strangely ludicrous in sound, and as suggestive of an affected burst of
laughter. He adds that he has frequently seen this nocturnal marauder
alight within a few yards of his camp-fire, exposing its whole body to
the glare of the light, and eying him in a very curious manner, and
with a noticeable liveliness and oddness of motion. In Louisiana, where
he found them more abundant than anywhere else, Mr. Audubon states
that, should the weather be lowering, and indicative of the approach of
rain, their cries are so multiplied during the day, and especially in
the evening, and they respond to each other in tones so strange, that
one might imagine some extraordinary _fête_ was about to take place
among them. At this time their gesticulations are said to be of a very
extraordinary nature.

The flight of this Owl is described as remarkably smooth, light,
noiseless, and capable of being greatly protracted. So very lightly
do they fly, that Mr. Audubon states he has frequently discovered one
passing over him, and only a few yards distant, by first seeing its
shadow on the ground, in the bright moonlight, when not the faintest
rustling of its wings could be heard.

This Owl has the reputation of being very destructive to poultry,
especially to half-grown chickens. In Louisiana they are said to nest in
March, laying their eggs about the middle of the month. Audubon states
that they nest in hollow trees on the dust of the decomposed wood, and
at other times take possession of the deserted nest of a crow, or of a
Red-tailed Hawk. In New England I think they construct their own nest.
Mr. William Street, of Easthampton, Mass., has twice found the nest of
this Owl. On one occasion it had young, unfledged. Upon returning to get
them, a few days later, they had disappeared, and as he conjectures, had
been removed by their parents. Another time he found a nest in a lofty
pine, and at a height of sixty feet. He saw and shot the old bird. He
has often found them hiding themselves by day in a thick hemlock. In
the winter of 1869, Mr. Street witnessed a singular contest between a
Barred Owl and a Goshawk over a Grouse which the latter had killed, but
of which the Owl contested the possession. The Hawk had decidedly the
advantage in the fight, when the contest was arrested by shooting the
Owl. He has noticed a pair of Barred Owls in his neighborhood for the
past four years, and has never known them to hoot from the time they
have reared their young to the 14th of February. They then begin about
an hour after dark, and their hooting continues to increase until about
the 8th of April, when they mate, at which time their hooting may be
heard both day and night. There is a very great difference observable
between the cries of the female and the utterances of the male. The
latter seldom hoots, and there is as much difference between his voice
and that of the female as between the crowing of a young bird and of the
old cock.

In two instances I have known well-developed eggs of this Owl taken from
the oviduct of the female in February. One of these cases occurred near
Niagara Falls in the spring of 1852. The other, in 1854, was noticed by
Professor William Hopkins, then of Auburn, N. Y., to whose kindness I
was indebted for the egg the parentage of which is so unquestionable.
It is purely white, almost globular, and, except in shape, hardly
distinguishable from the egg of the domestic Hen. It is 2.00 inches in
length, and 1.69 in breadth.

Syrnium occidentale, XANTUS.


  _Syrnium occidentale_, XANTUS, P. A. N. S. Philad. 1859, 193.—BAIRD,
  Birds N. Am. App. pl. lxvi.—COUES, Key, 1872, 204.

SP. CHAR. _Adult_ (♂, 17,200, Fort Tejon, California; J. Xantus. Type
of Xantus’s description). Above deep umber-brown, much as in _S.
nebulosum_. Whole head and neck with circular and cordate spots of
white, one near the end of each feather; on the scapulars and back,
rump, wings, and tail, they are rather sparse and more transverse, but
of very irregular form; they are most conspicuous on the scapulars and
larger wing-coverts. Secondaries crossed with about six bands of paler
brown, each spot growing white on the edge of the feather,—the last
band terminal; primaries with seven transverse series of pale brown,
or brownish-white, quadrate spots on outer webs, the last terminal;
these spots are almost clear white on the third, fourth, fifth, and
sixth quills. Tail with about eight very narrow, rather obsolete,
bands of pale brown, growing whiter and more distinct terminally,
the last forming a conspicuous terminal band. Ground-color of the
lower parts dull white, somewhat tinged with ochraceous laterally;
everywhere with numerous transverse spots and bars of brown like
the back,—this predominating anteriorly, the white forming spots on
opposite webs; on the lower tail-coverts the transverse spots or bars
are very sharply defined and regular, the brown rather exceeding the
white. Face, eyebrows, and lores soiled brownish-white, the former
with obscure concentric semicircles of darker brownish. Facial circle
blackish-brown, spotted posteriorly with white; across the neck in
front, it is more broken. Legs white, with sparse obsolete transverse
specks. Wing-formula, 4, 3, 5–6–2; 1=9. Wing, 13.10; tail, 9.00; culmen,
.85; tarsus, 2.10; middle toe, 1.30. Length, “18”; extent, “40.”

HAB. Southern Middle Province of United States (Fort Tejon, California,
XANTUS; and Tucson, Arizona, BENDIRE).

[Illustration: _Syrnium occidentale._]

HABITS. Nothing is on record concerning the habits of this bird.


  _Nyctale_, BREHM, 1828. (Type, _Strix tengmalmi_, GMEL.)

GEN. CHAR. Size small. Head very large, without ear-tufts. Eyes
moderate; iris yellow. Two outer primaries only with their inner webs
distinctly emarginated. Tarsi and toes densely, but closely, feathered.
Ear-conch very large, nearly as high as the skull, with an anterior
operculum; the two ears exceedingly asymmetrical, not only externally,
but in their osteological structure. Furcula not anchylosed posteriorly,
but joined by a membrane.

[Illustration: =12053= ½

_Nyctale acadica._]

Of this genus only three species are as yet known; two of these
belong to the Northern Hemisphere, one of them (_N. tengmalmi_) being
circumpolar, the other (_N. acadica_) peculiar to North America. The
habitat of the remaining species (_N. harrisi_) is unknown, but is
supposed to be South America. If it be really from that portion of the
New World, it was probably obtained in a mountainous region.

Species and Races.

  COMMON CHARACTERS. Above umber, or chocolate, brown, spotted with
  white (more or less uniform in the young); beneath white with
  longitudinal stripes of reddish-brown (adult), or ochraceous without
  markings (young).

    =A.= Nostril sunken, elongate-oval, obliquely vertical, opening
    laterally; cere not inflated. Tail considerably more than half the
    wing. Bill yellow.

      1. =N. tengmalmi.= Wing, 7.20; tail, 4.50; culmen, .60; tarsus,
      1.00; middle toe, .67 (average).

        Legs white, almost, or quite, unspotted; lower tail-coverts
        with narrow shaft-streaks of brown. (Light tints generally
        predominating.) _Hab._ Northern portions of Palæarctic Realm …

                                                   var. _tengmalmi_.[23]

        Legs ochraceous, thickly spotted with brown; lower tail-coverts
        with broad medial stripes of brown. (Dark tints generally
        predominating.) _Hab._ Northern portions of Nearctic Realm …

                                                     var. _richardsoni_.

    =B.= Nostril prominent, nearly circular, opening anteriorly; cere
    somewhat inflated. Tail scarcely more than half the wing. Bill

      2. =N. acadica.= Wing, 5.25 to 5.80; tail, 2.60 to 3.00; culmen,
      .50; tarsus, .80; middle toe, .60. _Juv._ Face dark brown;
      forehead and crown brown; occiput brown; eyebrows and sides of
      chin white; throat and breast umber-brown. (= “_albifrons_,” Shaw
      = “_kirtlandi_,” HOY.) _Hab._ Cold temperate portions of Nearctic

      3. =N. harrisi.=[24] Wing, 5.80; tail, 3.00; culmen, .50; tarsus,
      1.00; middle toe, .80. _Juv._ (?) Face and forehead and anterior
      half of crown and whole nape ochraceous; posterior half of crown
      and occiput black; eyebrows and sides of chin ochraceous; throat
      and breast ochraceous. A narrow belt of black spots in ruff across
      throat. _Hab._ South America?

Nyctale tengmalmi, var. richardsoni, BONAP.


  _Nyctale richardsoni_, BONAP. List. E. & N. A. Birds, p. 7, 1838;
  Consp. Av. p. 54, 1850.—GRAY, Gen. B. fol. sp. 2, 1844.—CASS. Birds
  Cal. & Tex. p. 185, 1854; Birds N. Am. 1858, p. 57.—KAUP, Monog.
  Strig. Cont. Orn. 1852, p. 105 (sub. _tengmalmi_).—IB. Tr. Zoöl. Soc.
  IV, 1859, 208.—STRICKL. Orn. Syn. I, 176, 1865.—MAYNARD, Birds Eastern
  Mass. 1870, 133.—GRAY, Hand List, I, 51, 1869. _Strix tengmalmi_,
  RICH. & SWAINS. F. B. A. II, 94, pl. xxxii, 1831.—AUD. Birds Am. pl.
  ccclxxx, 1831; Orn. Biog. IV, 599, 1831.—PEAB. Birds Mass. p. 91,
  1841. _Nyctale tengmalmi_, DALL & BANNISTER, Tr. Chicago Acad. I,
  1869, 273. _Nyctale tengmalmi_, var. _richardsoni_, RIDGWAY, Am. Nat.
  VI, May, 1872, 285.—COUES, Key, 1872, 206.

SP. CHAR. _Adult_ (♀, 3,886, Montreal, Canada, September, 1853; Broome).
Upper surface brownish-olive or umber-brown. Forehead and crown with
numerous elliptical (longitudinal) marks of white, feathers everywhere
with large partly concealed spots of the same; these spots are largest
on the neck and scapulars, on the latter of a roundish form, the outer
webs of those next the wing being almost wholly white, the edge only
brown; on the nape the spots form V-shaped marks, the spots themselves
being somewhat pointed; below this is a transverse, less distinct
collar, of more concealed spots; wing-coverts toward the edge of the
wing with a few large, nearly circular, white spots; secondaries with
two transverse series of smaller white spots, these crossing about the
middle, remote from the end and base; outer feathers of the alula with
two white spots along the margin; primary coverts plain; primaries
with four or five transverse series of white spots; tail with the same
number of narrow transverse spots, forming incontinuous bands, the spots
not touching the shaft,—the last spot not terminal. Facial circle much
darker brown than the crown, and speckled with irregular spots of white,
these either medial or upon only one web; across the throat the circle
becomes paler brown, without the white spotting. Eyebrows and face
grayish-white; lores and eyelids blackish. Lower parts white, becoming
pale ochraceous on the legs; sides of the breast, sides, flanks, and
lower tail-coverts with daubs of brown (slightly lighter and more
reddish than on the back), those of the breast somewhat transverse, but
posteriorly they are decidedly longitudinal; front of tarsus clouded
with brown. Wing-formula, 3, 4–2–5–6–7–1. Wing, 7.20; tail, 4.50;
culmen, .60; tarsus, 1.00; middle toe, .67.

A female from Alaska (49,802, Nulato, April 28, 1867; W. H. Dall) is
considerably darker than the specimen described above; the occiput
has numerous circular spots of white, and the tarsi are more thickly
spotted; no other differences, however, are appreciable. Two specimens
from Quebec (17,064 and 17,065; Wm. Cooper) are exactly similar to the
last, but the numerous white spots on the forehead are circular.

HAB. Arctic America; in winter south into northern border of United
States; Canada (DR. HALL); Wisconsin (DR. HOY); Oregon (J. K. TOWNSEND);
Massachusetts (MAYNARD).

The _Nyctale richardsoni_, though, without doubt, specifically the same
as the _N. tengmalmi_ of Europe, is, nevertheless, to be distinguished
from it. The colors of the European bird are very much paler; the legs
are white, scarcely variegated, instead of ochraceous, thickly spotted;
the lower tail-coverts have merely shaft-streaks of brown, instead of
broad stripes. Very perfect specimens from Europe enable me to make a
satisfactory comparison.

[Illustration: _Nyctale richardsoni._]

From an article by Mr. D. G. Elliot in Ibis (1872, p. 48), it would
appear that the young of _N. tengmalmi_ is very different from the
adult in being darker and without spots; a stripe from the eye over
the nostrils, and a patch under the eye at the base of bill, white. It
is probable, therefore, that the American race has a similar plumage,
which, however, has as yet escaped the honor of a name; more fortunate
than the young of _N. acadica_, which boasts a similar plumage. This
(_N. albifrons_) Mr. Elliot erroneously refers to the _N. tengmalmi_,
judging from specimens examined by him from the Alps, from Russia, and
from Norway. The most striking difference, judging from the description,
apart from that of size, appears to be in the whiter bill of the

HABITS. This race is an exclusively northern bird, peculiar to North
America, and rarely met with in the limits of the United States. A few
specimens only have been obtained in Massachusetts. Dr. Hoy mentions
it as a bird of Wisconsin, and on the Pacific Dr. Townsend met with it
as far south as Oregon, where it seems to be more abundant than on the
eastern coast.

Mr. Boardman thinks that this Owl is probably a resident in the vicinity
of Calais, where, however, it is not common. It was not taken by
Professor Verrill at Norway, Maine. Mr. J. A. Allen regards it as a very
rare winter visitant in Western Massachusetts, but obtained a specimen
near Springfield in December, 1859. In the same winter another was
shot near Boston, and one by Dr. Wood, near Hartford, Conn. Mr. Allen
subsequently records the capture of a specimen in Lynn, Mass., by Mr. J.
Southwick, in the winter of 1863, and mentions two other specimens, also
taken within the limits of the State. It is not mentioned by Dr. Cooper
as among the birds of California.

Specimens of this Owl were taken at Fort Simpson in May, and at Fort
Resolution by Mr. B. R. Ross, at Big Island by Mr. J. Reid, at Fort
Rae by Mr. L. Clarke, and at Fort Yukon by Mr. J. Lockhart and Mr. J.
McDougall, and at Selkirk Settlement, in February and March, by Mr.
Donald Gunn.

Mr. B. R. Ross states that though no specimens of this Owl were received
from north of Fort Simpson, yet he is quite certain that it ranges to
the Arctic Circle. He says it is a fierce bird, and creates great havoc
among the flocks of Linnets and other small birds. Its nest is built on
trees, and the eggs are three or four in number, of a pure white color
and nearly round shape. It sometimes seizes on the deserted hole of a
Woodpecker for a habitation.

Mr. Dall obtained a female specimen of this Owl at Nulato, April 28,
where it was not uncommon. It was often heard crying in the evenings,
almost like a human being, and was quite fearless. It could be readily
taken in the hand without its making any attempt to fly away, but it
had a habit of biting viciously. It was frequently seen in the daytime
sitting on trees. According to the Indians, it generally nests in holes
in dead trees, and lays six spherical white eggs. Richardson informs us
that it inhabits all the wooded country from Great Slave Lake to the
United States, and is very common on the banks of the Saskatchewan. It
was obtained in Canada by the Countess of Dalhousie, but at what season
the bird was met with is not stated; the Smithsonian Institution also
possesses specimens from the vicinity of Montreal. It probably does not
breed so far south as that place, or, if so, very rarely. Mr. Audubon
procured a specimen near Bangor, Maine, in September, the only one he
ever met with.

This Owl, according to Mr. Hutchins, builds a nest of grass half-way up
a pine-tree, and lays two eggs in the month of May.

A drawing, taken by Mr. Audubon from a specimen in an English cabinet,
represents a nearly spherical egg, the color of which is white with a
slight tinge of yellowish, and which measures 1.18 inches in length by
one inch in breadth.

The only authenticated eggs of this variety which have come under my
notice are three collected at Fort Simpson, May 4, 1861, by B. R. Ross.
One of these measures 1.28 by 1.06 inches.

Nyctale acadica, BONAP.


  _Strix acadica_, GMEL. Syst. Nat. p. 296, 1789.—DAUD. Tr. Orn.
  II, 206, 1800.—VIEILL. Ois. Am. Sept. I, 49, 1807.—AUD. Birds Am.
  pl. cxcix, 1831; Orn. Biog. V, 397.—RICH. & SWAINS. F. B. A. II,
  97, 1831.—BONAP. Ann. Lyc. N. Y. II, pp. 38, 436; Isis, 1832, p.
  1140.—JARD. (WILS.) Am. Orn. II, 66.—NAUM. Nat. Vög. Deutschl. (ed.
  Nov.) I, 434, pl. xliii, figs. 1 & 2.—PEAB. Birds Mass. p. 90.—NUTT.
  Man. p. 137, 1833. _Nyctale acadica_, BONAP. List, p. 7, 1838; Consp.
  Av. p. 44.—GRAY, Gen. B. fol. App. p. 3, 1844.—KAUP, Monog. Strig.
  Cont. Orn. 1852, p. 104.—IB. Tr. Zoöl. Soc. IV, 1859, 206.—STRICKL.
  Orn. Syn. I, 176, 1855.—NEWB. P. R. R. Rept. VI, 77, 1857.—CASS.
  Birds N. Am. 1858, 58.—COOP. & SUCK. P. R. R. Rept. XII, II, 156,
  1860.—COUES, Prod. B. Ariz. 14, 1866.—GRAY, Hand List, I, 1869,
  51.—LORD, Pr. R. A. I. IV, III (Brit. Columb.).—RIDGWAY, Am. Nat.
  VI, May, 1872, 285.—COUES, Key, 1872, 206.—GRAY, Hand List, I, 51,
  1869. _Scotophilus acadicus_, SWAINS. Classif. Birds II, 217, 1837.
  _Strix passerina_, PENN. Arct. Zoöl. p. 236, sp. 126, 1785.—FORST.
  Phil. Transl. LXII, 385.—WILS. Am. Orn. pl. xxxiv, f. 1, 1808. _Ulula
  passerina_, JAMES. (WILS.), Am. Orn. I, 159, 1831. _Strix acadiensis_,
  LATH. Ind. Orn. p. 65, 1790. _S. albifrons_, SHAW, Nat. Misc. V, pl.
  clxxi, 1794; Zoöl. VII, 238, 1809.—LATH. Orn. Supp. p. 14. _Bubo
  albifrons_, VIEILL. Ois. Am. Sept. I, 54, 1807. _Scops albifrons_,
  STEPH. Zoöl. XIII, II, 51. _Nyctale albifrons_, CASS. Birds Cal. &
  Tex. 187, 1854.—BONAP. Consp. Av. p. 54.—CASS. Birds N. Am. 1858,
  57.—GRAY, Hand List, I, 52, 1869. _Strix frontalis_, LICHT. Abh. Ak.
  Berl. 1838, 430. _Nyctale kirtlandi_, HOY, Proc. Ac. Nat. Sc. Phil.
  VI, 210, 1852. _S. phalænoides_, DAUD. Tr. Orn. II, 206, 1800.—LATH.
  Ind. Orn. Supp. p. 16, 1802; Syn. Supp. II, 66; Gen. Hist. I, 372,
  1828. _Athene phalænoides_, GRAY, Gen. B. fol. sp. 43, 1844. _Athene
  wilsoni_, BOIE, Isis, 1828, 315.

SP. CHAR. _Adult_ (♀, 120,044, Washington, D. C., Feb., 1859; C.
Drexler). Upper surface plain soft reddish-olive, almost exactly as in
_N. richardsoni_; forehead, anterior part of the crown, and the facial
circle, with each feather with a short medial line of white; feathers
of the neck white beneath the surface, forming a collar of blotches;
lower webs of scapulars white bordered with brown; wing-coverts with a
few rounded white spots; alula with the outer feathers broadly edged
with white. Primary coverts and secondaries perfectly plain; five
outer primaries with semi-rounded white spots on the outer webs, these
decreasing toward the ends of the feathers, leaving but about four
series well defined. Tail crossed with three widely separated narrow
bands of white, formed of spots not touching the shaft on either web;
the last band is terminal. “Eyebrow” and sides of the throat white;
lores with a blackish suffusion, this more concentrated around the eye;
face dirty white, feathers indistinctly edged with brownish, causing
an obsoletely streaked appearance; the facial circle in its extension
across the throat is converted into reddish-umber spots. Lower parts,
generally, silky-white, becoming fine ochraceous on the tibiæ and tarsi;
sides of the breast like the back, but of a more reddish or burnt-sienna
tint; sides and flanks with longitudinal daubs of the same; jugulum,
abdomen, lower tail-coverts, tarsi, and tibiæ, immaculate. Wing formula,
4–3=5–1=8. Wing, 5.40; tail, 2.80; culmen, .50; tarsus, .80; middle toe,

Seven specimens before me vary from, wing, 5.25 to 5.80; tail, 2.60 to
3.00 (♀). The largest specimen is 12,053 (♀, Fort Tejon, California; J.
Xantus). This differs from the specimen described in whiter face, more
conspicuous white streaks on forehead, smaller, less numerous, red spots
below, and in having a fourth white band on the tail; this, however, is
very inconspicuous. 32,301 (Moose Factory; J. McKenzie), 9,152 (Fort
Vancouver, February; Dr. J. G. Cooper), and 11,793 (Simiahmoo, October;
Dr. C. B. Kennedy) are exactly like the type. There are no authentic
males before me, though only two are marked as females; the extremes of
the series probably represent the sexual discrepancy in size.

_Young_ (♂, 12,814, Racine, Wisconsin, July, 1859; Dr. R. P. Hoy). Upper
surface continuous plain dark sepia-olive; face darker, approaching
fuliginous-vandyke,—perfectly uniform; around the edge of the forehead,
a few shaft-lines of white; scapulars with a concealed spot of pale
ochraceous on lower web; lower feathers of wing-coverts with a few
white spots; outer feather of the alula scalloped with white; primary
coverts perfectly plain; five outer primaries with white spots on outer
webs, these diminishing toward the end of the feathers, leaving only
two or three series well defined; tail darker than the wings, with
three narrow bands composed of white spots, these not touching the
shaft on either web. “Eyebrows” immaculate white; lores more dusky;
face and eyelids dark vandyke-brown; sides of the chin white. Throat
and whole breast like the back, but the latter paler medially, becoming
here more fulvous; rest of the lower parts plain fulvous-ochraceous,
growing gradually paler posteriorly,—immaculate. Lining of the wing
plain dull white; under surface of primaries with dusky prevailing, but
this crossed by bands of large whitish spots; the three outer feathers,
however, present a nearly uniformly dusky aspect, being varied only
basally. Wing formula, 3, 4–2=5 6–7, 1. Wing, 5.50; tail, 2.80; culmen,
.45; tarsus, .80; middle toe, .65.

HAB. North America generally. Cold temperate portions in the
breeding-season, migrating southward in winter. Mexico (Oaxaca, SCLATER,
P. Z. S. 1858, 295); California (DR. COOPER); Cantonment Burgwyn, New
Mexico (DR. ANDERSON); Washington Territory (DR. KENNERLY).

[Illustration: _Nyctale acadica._ Young.]

[Illustration: _Nyctale acadica._ Adult.]

A specimen (15,917, ♂, Dr. C. B. Kennerly, Camp Skagitt, September
29, 1859) from Washington Territory is exactly similar to the young
described above. No. 10,702 (Fort Burgwyn, New Mexico; Dr. Anderson)
is much like it, but the facial circle is quite conspicuous, the
feathers having medial white lines; the reddish-olive of the breast
and the fulvous of the belly are paler, also, than in the type. No.
12,866, United States, (Professor Baird’s collection, from Audubon,) is
perfectly similar to the last.

My reasons for considering the _N. albifrons_ as the young of _N.
acadica_ are the following (see American Naturalist, May, 1872):—

1st. All specimens examined (including Hoy’s type of _N. kirtlandi_)
are young birds, as is unmistakably apparent from the texture of their

2d. All specimens examined of the _N. acadica_ are adults. I have seen
no description of the young.

3d. The geographical distribution, the size and proportions, the pattern
of coloration (except that of the head and body, which in all Owls is
more or less different in the young and adult stages), and the shades
of colors on the general upper plumage, are the same in both. The white
“scalloping” on the outer web of the alula, the number of white spots on
the primaries, and the precise number and position of the white bars on
the tail, are features common to the two.

4th. The most extreme example of _albifrons_ has the facial circle
uniform brown, like the neck, has no spots on the forehead, and the face
is entirely uniform dark brown; but,

5th. Three out of the four specimens in the collection have the facial
circle composed of white and brown streaks (adult feathers), precisely
as in _acadica_, and the forehead similarly streaked (with adult
feathers). Two of them have new feathers appearing upon the sides of the
breast (beneath the brown patch), as well as upon the face; these new
feathers are, in the most minute respects, like the common (adult) dress
of _N. acadica_.

The above facts point conclusively to the identity of the _Nyctale
“albifrons”_ and _N. acadica_. This species is easily distinguishable
from the _N. tengmalmi_, which belongs to both continents, though
the North American and European specimens are readily separable, and
therefore should be recognized as geographical races.

Since the above was published in the American Naturalist for May, 1872,
Dr. J. W. Velie, of Chicago, writing under date of November 20, 1872,
furnishes the following proof of the identity of _N. “albifrons”_ and
_N. acadica_: “In 1868, I kept a fine specimen of “_Nyctale albifrons_”
until it moulted and became a fine specimen of _Nyctale acadica_. I had,
until the fire, all the notes about this interesting little species, and
photographs in the different stages of moulting.”

HABITS. The Little Acadian or Saw-Whet Owl, as this bird is more
generally denominated, appears to have a widespread distribution over
temperate North America. It is not known to be anywhere very abundant,
though its nocturnal and secluded habits tend to prevent any intimate
acquaintance either with its habits or its numbers in any particular
locality. It is rarely found in the daytime out of its hiding-places. It
was not met with by Richardson in the fur regions, yet it is generally
supposed to be a somewhat northern species, occurring only in winter
south of Pennsylvania, but for this impression there does not seem to be
any assignable reason or any confirmatory evidence. It has been said to
breed near Cleveland, Ohio, and its nest and eggs to have been secured.
The taking of Kirtland’s Owl, which is now known to be the immature bird
of this species, near that city, as well as in Racine, and at Hamilton,
Canada, is also suggestive that this Owl may breed in those localities.

Dr. Townsend is said to have found this Owl in Oregon, Dr. Gambel met
with it in California, Mr. Audubon has taken it both in Kentucky and
in Louisiana, Mr. Wilson met with it in New Jersey, Mr. McCulloch in
Nova Scotia, and Dr. Hoy in Wisconsin. Dr. Newberry met with this
bird in Oregon, but saw none in California. Dr. Suckley obtained it
at the Dalles, on the north side of the Columbia, in December. This
was several miles from the timbered region, and the bird was supposed
to be living in the basaltic cliffs of the vicinity. Dr. Cooper found
one at Vancouver in February. It was dead, and had apparently died of
starvation. Professor Snow speaks of it as rare in Kansas. Mr. Boardman
and Professor Verrill both give it as resident and as common in Maine.
It is rather occasional and rare in Eastern Massachusetts, and Mr. Allen
did not find it common near Springfield. On one occasion I found one of
these birds in April, at Nahant. It was apparently migrating, and had
sought shelter in the rocky cliffs of that peninsula. It was greatly
bewildered by the light, and was several times almost on the point of
being captured by hand.

This Owl is not unfrequently kept in confinement. It seems easily
reconciled to captivity, becomes quite tame, suffers itself to be
handled by strangers without resenting the familiarity, but is greatly
excited at the sight of mice or rats. Captain Bland had one of these
birds in captivity at Halifax, which he put into the same room with a
rat. The bird immediately attacked and killed the rat, but died soon
after of exhaustion.

The notes of this Owl, during the breeding-season, are said to resemble
the noise made by the filing of a saw, and it is known in certain
localities as the Saw-Whet. Mr. Audubon, on one occasion, hearing these
notes in a forest, and unaware of their source, imagined he was in the
vicinity of a saw-mill.

According to Mr. Audubon, this Owl breeds in hollow trees, or in the
deserted nests of other birds; and lays from four to six glossy-white
eggs, which are almost spherical. He states, also, that he found near
Natchez a nest in the broken stump of a small decayed tree not more than
four feet high. He also mentions the occasional occurrence of one of
these Owls in the midst of one of our crowded cities. One of them was
thus taken in Cincinnati, where it was found resting on the edge of a
child’s cradle. Mr. McCulloch, quoted by Audubon, gives an interesting
account of the notes and the ventriloquial powers of this bird. On one
occasion he heard what seemed to him to be the faint notes of a distant
bell. Upon approaching the place from which these sounds proceeded, they
appeared at one time to be in front of him, then behind him, now on his
right hand, now on his left, again at a great distance, and then close
behind him. At last he discovered the bird at the entrance of a small
hole in a birch-tree, where it was calling to its mate. As he stood
at the foot of the tree, in full sight of the bird, he observed the
singular power it possessed of altering its voice, making it seem near
or remote,—a faculty which he had never noticed in any other bird.

An egg given me by Mr. Rufus E. Winslow as one of this bird, and figured
in the North American Oölogy, was undoubtedly that of a Woodpecker.
It is of a crystalline whiteness, nearly spherical, and measures 1.13
inches in length by .87 of an inch in breadth.

A well-identified egg in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution,
taken by Mr. R. Christ at Nazareth, Penn., (No. 14,538, S. I.,) measures
.95 of an inch by .88. The two ends are exactly similar or symmetrical.
The egg is white, and is marked as having been collected April 25, 1867.


  _Scops_, SAVIGNY, 1809. (Type, _Strix scops_, L. = _Scops zorca_ (GM.)
  _Ephialitis_, KEYS. & BL. 1840, _nec_ SCHRANK, 1802.
  _Megascops_, KAUP, 1848. (Type, _Strix asio_, L.)

GEN. CHAR. Size small, the head provided with ear-tufts. Bill
light-colored; iris yellow. Three to four outer quills with inner webs
sinuated. Wings long (more than twice the length of the tail, which
is short and slightly rounded); second to fifth quills longest. Toes
naked, or only scantily feathered. Ear-conch small and simple. Plumage
exceedingly variegated, the colors different shades of brown, with
rufous, black, and white, in fine mottlings and pencillings; feathers
above and below usually with blackish shaft-streaks, those beneath
usually with five transverse bars; primaries spotted with whitish, and
outer webs of the lower row of scapulars the same edged terminally with
black. Tail obscurely banded.

[Illustration: ½

_Scops asio._]

The species of this genus are cosmopolitan, the greater number, however,
being found in tropical regions. All the American species differ from
_S. zorca_ of Europe in having the fourth and fifth quills longest,
instead of the second, and in having three to four, instead of only
two, of the outer quills with the inner web sinuated, as well as in
having the quills shorter, broader, and more bowed, and their under
surface more concave. They may, perhaps, be distinguished as a separate
subgenus (_Megascops_, Kaup). Of the American species all but _S. asio_
(including its several races) have the toes perfectly naked to their
very bases.

Species and Races.

  COMMON CHARACTERS. Plumage brown, gray, or rufous, and whitish,
  finely mottled above; lower parts transversely barred, and with dark
  shaft-streaks. Outer webs of lower scapulars light-colored (white
  or ochraceous) and without markings. Tail crossed by rather obscure
  mottled light and dark bars of nearly equal width. Outer webs of
  primaries with nearly equal bands of whitish and dusky.

    1. =S. asio.= Toes covered (more or less densely) with bristles,
    or hair-like feathers. Wing, 5.50–7.80; tail, 3.20–4.10; culmen,
    .50–.70; tarsus, 1.00–1.70; middle toe, .70–.80. Ear-tufts well
    developed; facial circle black.

      Colors smoky-brown and pale fulvous, with little or none of pure
      white. Outer webs of the scapulars pale ochraceous-fulvous. Wing,
      6.90–7.30; tail, 3.50–4.50. _Hab._ North Pacific region, from
      Western Idaho and Washington Territory, northward to Sitka …

                                                      var. _kennicotti_.

      Colors ashy-gray and pure white, with little or none of fulvous.
      Outer webs of the scapulars pure white. Varying to bright
      brick-red, or lateritious-rufous.

        Mottlings coarse, the blackish median streaks above not sharply
        defined, and the bars beneath heavy and distinct.

          Wing, 6.10–7.75; tail, 3.30–4.35. In the red plumage, white
          prevailing on the lower parts, where the red markings are not
          broken into transverse bars. _Hab._ United States; except the
          Southern Middle Province, the northwest region, and Florida …

                                                            var. _asio_.

          Wing, 5.50–6.00; tail, 2.75–3.10. In the red plumage, red
          prevailing on the lower parts, where the markings are much
          broken into transverse bars. _Hab._ Florida and Southern
          Georgia …

                                                      var. _floridanus_.

          Wing, 5.50–5.80; tail, 3.20–3.30. Gray plumage, like var.
          _asio_, but the mottling above much coarser, and the nape with
          a strongly indicated collar of rounded white spots in pairs,
          on opposite webs. Red plumage not seen. _Hab._ Eastern Mexico
          and Guatemala …

                                                       var. _enano_.[25]

        Mottlings fine, the blackish median streaks above very sharply
        defined and conspicuous; bars beneath delicate and indistinct.

          Wing, 6.20–6.50; tail, 3.35–3.50. _Hab._ Southern Middle
          Province, and Southern California; Cape St. Lucas …

                                                        var. _maccalli_.

    2. =S. flammeola.= Toes perfectly naked, the feathering of the
    tarsus terminating abruptly at the lower joint. Wing, 5.40; tail,
    2.80; culmen, .35; tarsus, .90; middle toe, .55. Ear-tufts short,
    or rudimentary. Facial circle rusty. Outer webs of the scapulars
    rusty-ochraceous, in striking contrast to the grayish of the wings
    and back. Other markings and colors much as in _asio_. _Hab._
    Mountain regions of Mexico and California, from Guatemala to Fort
    Crook, Northern California.

Scops asio, BONAP.


  _Noctua aurita minor_, CATESBY, Carol. I, 1754, 7, pl. vii. _Asio
  scops carolinensis_, BRISS. Orn. I, 1760, 497. _Strix asio_, LINN.
  Syst. Nat. 1758, 92.—GMEL. S. N. 1789, 287.—LATH. Ind. Orn. 1790,
  54.—IB. Syn. I, 123.—IB. Supp. I, 42; Gen. Hist. I, 314.—DAUD.
  Tr. Orn. II, 1800, 216.—SHAW, Zoöl. VII, 1809, 229.—TEMM. Pl.
  Col. 80.—WILS. Am. Orn. 1808, pl. xlii, f. 1.—JARD. (ed. WILS.)
  Orn. I, 1831, 307.—BONAP. Ann. N. Y. Lyc. II, 36.—IB. Isis, 1832,
  1139.—AUDUBON, Birds N. A. 1831, pl. xcvii.—IB. Orn. Biog. I,
  486.—BREWER (ed. WILS.) Orn. 1852, p. 687.—HOBS. Nat. 1855, 169. _Bubo
  asio_, VIEILL. Ois. Am., Sept., 1807, 53, pl. xxi.—GIRAUD, Birds Long
  Island, 1844, 28.—MAX. Cab. J. VI, 1858, 23. _Otus asio_, STEPHENS,
  Zoöl. XIII, pt. ii, 1815, 57. _Scops asio_, BONAP. List, 1838,
  6.—LESS. Tr. Orn. 107.—CASS. Birds Cal. & Tex. 1854, 179.—IB. Birds N.
  Am. 1858, 51.—KAUP, Monog. Strig. Cont. Orn. 1852, 112.—STRICKL. Orn.
  Syn. I, 1855, 199.—HEERM. P. R. Rept. II, 1855, 35.—COOP. & SUCKL.
  P. R. Rept. 155.—MAYNARD, Birds Eastern Mass., 1870, 131.—COUES, Key,
  1872, 202.—GRAY, Hand List, I, 1869, 46. _Ephialtes asio_, GRAY, Gen.
  B. fol. 1844, sp. 9.—IB. List Birds Brit. Mus. 1844, p. 96.—WOODH.
  1853, 62. _Strix nævia_, GMEL. S. N. 1789, 289.—LATH. Ind. Orn. 1790,
  p. 55.—IB. Syn. I, 126; Gen. Hist. I, 321.—DAUD. Tr. Orn. II, 1800,
  217.—SHAW, Zoöl. VII, 1809, 230.—WILS. Am. Orn. 1808, pl. xix, f. 1.
  _Asio nævia_, LESS. Man. Orn. I, 1828, 117. _Otus nævius_, CUV. Reg.
  An. (ed. 2), I, 1829, 341. _Surnia nævia_, JAMES. (ed. WILS.), Orn.,
  1831, I, 96 & 99.

_a._ _Normal plumage._

SP. CHAR. _Adult._ Ground-color above brownish-cinereous, palest on
the head, purest ashy on the wings, minutely mottled with fine zigzag
transverse bars of black, each feather with a medial ragged stripe
of the same along the shaft. Inner webs of ear-tufts, outer webs of
scapulars, and oval spots occupying most of the outer webs of the two or
three lower feathers of the middle and secondary wing-coverts, white,
forming (except on the first) conspicuous spots, those of the scapulars
bordered with black. Secondaries crossed with about seven regular paler
bands, each enclosing a more irregular dusky one; the ground-color,
however, is so mottled with grayish, and the pale bands with dusky,
that they are by no means sharply defined or conspicuous, though they
are very regular; alula and primary coverts more sharply barred with
cream-colored spots, those on the former nearly white; primaries with
broad quadrate spots of creamy-white on outer webs, these forming from
seven (♂) to eight (♀) transverse bands, the last of which is not
terminal. Tail more irregularly mottled than the wings, and crossed by
seven (♂) to eight (♀) narrow, obsolete, but continuous, pale bands.

Eyebrows white, the feathers bordered with dusky (most broadly so in
♂); cheeks, ear-coverts, and lower throat dull white, with transverse
bars of blackish (most numerous in the ♂); chin immaculate; upper eyelid
dark brown; facial circle black; neck and jugulum like the cheeks, but
more strongly barred, and with blackish along the shaft. Ground-color
of the lower parts white, each feather with a medial stripe of black,
this throwing off distinct bars to the edge of the feather; the medial
black is largest on sides of the breast, where it expands into very
large conspicuous spots, having a slight rusty exterior suffusion; the
abdomen medially, the anal region, and the lower tail-coverts, are
almost unvaried white. Tibiæ and tarsi in the male dull white, much
barred transversely with blackish; in the female, pale ochraceous, more
sparsely barred with dark brownish. Lining of the wing creamy-white,
varied only along the edge; light bars on under surface of primaries
very obsolete.

♂ (16,027, Fort Crook, North California; John Feilner). Wing, 6.70;
tail, 3.80; culmen, .61; tarsus, 1.35; middle toe, .72; ear-tufts, 1.00;
wing-formula, 3=4, 5–2, 6, 1=9. “Length, 9.50; extent, 23.75.”

♀ (18,299, Hellgate, Montana; Jno. Pearsall). Wing, 7.80; tail, 4.10;
culmen, .70; tarsus, 1.70; middle toe, .80; ear-tufts, 1.00.

_Young_ ♂ (No. 29,738, Wood’s Hole, Mass., July 25, 1863; S. F. Baird.
“Parent gray”). Secondaries, primaries, and tail, as in the adult,
gray plumage; but the latter more mottled, the bands confused. Rest of
the plumage everywhere grayish-white, with numerous transverse bars of
dusky-brown; eyebrows and lores scarcely variegated dull white; facial
circle obsolete.

♀ (41,891, Philadelphia, Penn.; J. Krider). Whole head, neck, back,
rump, and entire lower parts transversely barred with dark brown and
grayish-white, the bands of the former on the upper parts rather
exceeding the white in width, but on the lower surface much narrower;
scapulars with large transverse spots of white on the outer webs. Wings
and tail as in the adult. Facial disk conspicuous. (More advanced in age
than the preceding.)

_b._ _Rufescent plumage._

_Adult._ General pattern of the preceding; but the grayish tints
replaced by lateritious-rufous, very fine and bright, with a slight
vinaceous cast: this is uniform, and shows no trace of the transverse
dark mottling; there are, however, black shaft-lines to the feathers
(these most conspicuous on the head above, and scapulars, and narrower
and more sharply defined than in the gray plumage). The inner webs
of the ear-tufts, outer webs of scapulars, and lower secondary and
middle wing-coverts, are white, as in the gray plumage; those of the
scapulars are also bordered with black. The secondaries, primaries,
and tail are less bright rufous than the other portions, the markings
as in the gray plumage, only the tints being different. The upper
eyelid, and, in fact, all round the eye, fine light rufous; cheeks and
ear-coverts paler, scarcely variegated; black facial circle rather
narrower than in the gray plumage. Lower parts without the transverse
bars of the gray plumage, but in their place an irregular clouding of
fine light red, like the back; the lower parts medially (very broadly)
immaculate snowy-white; most of the feathers having the red spotting
show black shaft-stripes, but the pectoral spots are not near so large
or conspicuous as in the gray bird. Tibiæ fine pale ochraceous-rufous;
tarsi the same posteriorly, in front white with cuneate specks of
rufous; lower tail-coverts each with a medial transversely cordate spot
of dilute rufous, the shaft black. Lining of the wing with numerous
rufous spots.

♂ (12,045, Washington, D. C., January). Wing, 6.30; tail, 3.00.

♀ (22,512, Maryland; R. G. Campbell). Wing, 6.70; tail, 3.50.

_Young_ (29,792, Peoria, Illinois; Ferd. Bischoff). Wings and tail as in
adult; markings on head and body as in the young gray bird, but white
bars more reddish, and dark ones more brown.

HAB. Temperate North America, from the South Atlantic States to Oregon,
and from the northern United States to Texas. Replaced in the southern
Middle Province and Southern California by var. _maccalli_, in Florida
by var. _floridana_, and on the northwestern coast region by var.

Localities: (?) Cuba (CABANIS, Journ. III, 465).

The above stages of plumage have caused ornithologists a great deal of
perplexity; and it is only very recently that they have become correctly
understood. Even yet many persist in regarding the red plumage as being
that of the young bird.

[Illustration: _Scops asio._]

That these two very different plumages are entirely independent of
age, sex, or season, and that they are purely individual, there can
be no doubt; since in one nest there may often be found both red and
gray young ones, while their parents may be either both red or both
gray, the male red and the female gray, or _vice versa_. Occasionally
specimens (such as No. 39,093, ♂, Neosho Falls, Kansas, April 13; parent
of five eggs, and captured on the nest with a gray male) are exactly
intermediate between these two plumages, it being difficult to decide
which predominates; the combination is not only of the tints, but of the
markings, of the two stages.

HABITS. The habit of all the varieties of _Scops asio_ in their
different localities will be found after their zoölogical description.

Scops asio, var. floridana, RIDGWAY.

  _Scops asio_, ALLEN, Bull. Mus. Comp. Zoöl. and other citations from

CHAR. Similar to var. _asio_, but much smaller, and the colors deeper.
The gray stage very similar to that of var. _asio_, but the red phase
very appreciably different, in there being a greater amount of rufous
on the lower parts, the breast being nearly uniformly colored, and the
rufous broken elsewhere into transverse broad bars, connected along the
shaft. Wing, 5.50–6.00; tail, 2.75–3.10.

HAB. Florida and Lower Georgia.

This extreme southern form is much smaller than the more northern ones,
being about the same in size as the var. _enano_ (see p. 1374) of Middle
America, and the _S. atricapilla_, Temm., of Tropical America generally.
The colors, as may be expected, are also darker and richer.

In the collection of the Smithsonian Institution there are both red
and gray birds from Florida; a red one (No. 5,857, Indian River; Dr.
A. W. Wall) measures, wing, 5.50; tail, 2.70; culmen, .55; tarsus, 1.05;
middle toe, .65; ear-tufts, .70. The colors are much darker than those
of typical _asio_. The rufous of the neck, all around, shows obsolete
darker transverse bars; the black border to the white scapular spots
is restricted to the tip, as in the gray plumage; the inner webs of
the ear-tufts are scarcely paler than the outer; the neck and face are
deeper rufous, while the rufous of the lower parts is more general, and
more in transverse rays; tibiæ and tarsi plain rufous; the middle of the
abdomen and the anal region only are pure white.

Scops asio, var. maccalli, CASS.


  _Scops maccalli_, CASS. Birds Cal. & Tex. p. 180, 1850; Birds N. Am.
  1858, 52.—STRICKL. Orn. Syn. I, 200, 1865.—COUES, Prod. Orn. Ariz., p.
  13, 1869.—SCL. & SALV. P. Z. S., 1868, 57 (= _trichopsis_, WAGL. Isis,
  1832, 276! see remarks below).—BAIRD, Mex. Bound. II, 4, pl. i.—Gray,
  Hand List, I, 47, 1869. _Scops asio_, var. _maccalli_ (RIDGWAY) COUES,
  Key, 1872, 203. _Ephialtes choliba_ (not of Vieillot!), LAWR. Ann.
  N. Y. Lyc. VI, 1853, p. 4.

CHAR. _Adult_ (9,147, Camp 118, New Mexico, February 10, 1854; Kennerly
and Möllhausen). Above cinereous, the ashy appearance being caused by
a minute transverse mottling of blackish and pale ashy, on a deeper
ash ground; each feather with a distinct medial stripe of black, these
broadest on the forehead; outer webs of only a few scapulars white,
these not bordered with black; outer webs of two or three lower middle
and secondary coverts white. Secondaries with about seven transverse,
mottled pale bands; primaries with about eight transverse series of
white spots; tail with about eight narrow pale bands.

Ear-coverts, cheeks, throat, neck, and jugulum finely and uniformly
barred transversely with dusky and grayish-white; the facial circle
interrupted across the throat, where in its place is a series of
longitudinal black dashes.

Lower parts grayish-white, with numerous, very narrow transverse bars
of dusky, rather more distant from each other than those of the neck,
etc.; each feather with a medial narrow stripe of black, those on the
breast forming conspicuous spots; tibiæ and tarsi dull soiled white,
with numerous spots of dark brown; lower tail-coverts immaculate.
Wing-formula, 3=4–2, 5, 6, 7, 8–1–9. Wing, 6.50; tail, 3.30; culmen,
.55; tarsus, 1.15; middle toe, .70; ear-tufts, .85.

(A specimen from California (Stockton, E. S. Holden), kindly sent by
Mr. Lawrence for examination, differs from the preceding in rather more
brown ground-color above; the black shaft-streaks more obscure. In other
respects as regards plumage it is the same, and is typical _maccalli_.
The size is less, it measuring, wing, 6.20; tail, 3.10.)

_Young_ (first full, but incomplete plumage; 16,932, Cape St. Lucas,
Lower California). Secondaries, primaries, and tail as in the gray
adult. Rest of the plumage transversely barred with grayish-white and
dusky, the latter predominating on the upper parts; eyebrows and lores
white; rings finely transversely mottled with white, this forming spots
on the lower feathers; tibiæ and tarsi with numerous transverse dusky
bars. Wing, 5.40; tail, 2.65; tarsi, 1.00; middle toe, .63. No. 16,933
(same locality, etc.) is similar, but smaller, measuring, 5.00, 2.00,
1.00, and .60.

HAB. Southern Middle Province of United States; Lower and Southern

Localities. (?) Oaxaca (SCL. 1858, 296); (?) Guatemala (SCL. Ibis, I,
220); (?) Texas (DRESSER, Ibis, 1856, 330).

While the _Scops maccalli_ is without doubt to be distinguished from
_S. asio_, its being specifically distinct is not a matter of so much
certainty; with a simple statement of the differences between the two,
I shall leave the value of these differences to the appreciation of
each one, according to his own fancy. The species is represented in the
collection by but four specimens, two adult and two young. I have not
seen the red plumage as described by Cassin.

The characters of this race, as given in the diagnosis, appear to be
really constant; and there is not a specimen in the series of those from
the west which may not readily be referred to one or the other.

The gray adult _maccalli_ differs from that of _asio_ in the much
finer mottling of the general plumage; the medial black stripes of the
feathers above being more sharply defined, and more distinct from the
transverse zigzags. Below, the transverse dark bars are much finer, and
nearer together. The face, neck, and jugulum more finely and uniformly
barred. The white scapular spots have not the black border seen in
_asio_. The size is smaller.

The young of _maccalli_ differs from that of _asio_ in much finer bars
above, the dusky rather prevailing; below, also, the bars are finer and
nearer together.

It is not necessary to compare this bird with any other than the _S.
asio_, since it is not at all related to _choliba_, or any other
southern species.

_Scops maccalli_ is entirely distinct from the _S. trichopsis_, Wagler,
notwithstanding the statement in the Ibis, for April, 1872 (p. 6),
that “the name” is “really synonymous with _S. trichopsis_ of Wagler,
the bird being quite distinct from _S. asio_, as has been pointed out
elsewhere.” (P. Z. S. 1868, p. 57.)

Scops asio, var. kennicotti, ELLIOT.


  _Scops kennicotti_, ELLIOT, Pr. Ac. Nat. Sc. Phil. 1867, p. 69;
  Illust. Am. Birds, pl. xi.—BAIRD, Trans. Chicago Acad. Sc. I, II, 311,
  pl. xxvii, 1869.—DALL & BANNISTER, Tr. Chic. Ac. I, 1869, 273.—GRAY,
  Hand List, I, 47, 1869.—ELLIOT, Illust. Birds Am. I, XXVII.—FINSCH,
  Abh. Nat. III, 28.—_Scops asio_, var. _kennicotti_, (RIDGWAY) COUES,
  Key, 1872, 203. _? Scops asio_, COOP. & SUCK. P. R. R. Rept. XII, II,
  155, 1860 (all citations from northwest coast).

SP. CHAR. _Adult_ (♂, 59,847, Sitka, Alaska, March, 1866; Ferd.
Bischoff. Elliott’s type). Above umber-brown, with a reddish cast;
feathers confusedly mottled transversely with dusky, and showing rounded
spots of rufous, most conspicuous on the nape; each feather with a
conspicuous medial broad ragged stripe of black, these stripes most
conspicuous on the forehead and scapulars; outer webs of scapulars
light rufous, bordered terminally with black. Wings of a more grayish
cast than the back, but similarly variegated; lower feathers of the
middle and secondary wing-coverts, each with a large oval pale rufous
spot, covering most of the lower web. Secondaries crossed by six narrow
obscure bands of pale rufous; primaries with seven somewhat rounded,
quadrate spots of the same on the outer webs, forming as many transverse
series; each light spot with a central dusky mottling. Tail more finely
and confusedly mottled than the wings; the bands, though present, are so
obsolete as to be scarcely traceable, and so irregular or badly defined
as to be of uncertain number. The ear-tufts are black and rusty, the
former along the shafts, and in transverse spots; on the outer webs the
black predominates, on the inner the rusty.

The lores and basal half of the frontal bristles are white, the terminal
half abruptly black; eyebrows about equally blackish and paler, the
former bordering the feathers; eye surrounded by dark snuff-brown;
cheeks and ear-coverts pale rusty, transversely barred with deeper
rusty; facial circle not well defined, black. Chin and lores only white.

Ground-color of the lower parts dilute-rusty, becoming white on the
flanks; each feather of the throat, jugulum, breast, sides, and flanks
with a broad medial stripe of black, this throwing off very narrow,
rather distant, bars to the edge; the spaces between these bars are
alternately paler and deeper dilute-rusty; the black marks are broadest
on the sides of the breast, where they have an external deep rusty
suffusion; the abdomen medially, and the anal region, are scarcely
maculate rusty-white; the lower tail-coverts have each a central cuneate
longitudinal stripe of black. Tibiæ, tarsi, and lining of the wing,
plain deep rusty. Wing-formula, 3=4, 5–2, 6–1=9. Wing, 7.40; tail, 4.00;
culmen, .65; tarsus, 1.50; middle toe, .80.

No. 59,068 (Idaho; Dr. Whitehead) is considerably darker than the type,
the ground-color above approaching to snuff-brown; it differs, however,
in no other respect, as regards coloration; the size, however (as would
be expected), is considerably smaller, measuring as follows: Wing, 6.80;
tail, 3.50; culmen, .60; tarsus, 1.20; middle toe, .80. Wing-formula the
same as in type.

HAB. Northwestern coast of North America, from Columbia River,
northward; Idaho (Dr. Whitehead).

No. 4,530 (Washington Territory; Dr. Geo. Suckley) is just intermediate
in all respects between typical _kennicotti_ and _asio_, being
referrible to either with equal propriety, though perhaps inclining most
to the former.

This well-marked form is, according to recognized laws, properly to be
regarded as only an extremely dark northwestern form of _Scops asio_.
There is no deviation from the specific pattern of coloration, the
difference being merely in the tints; while in this it corresponds in
every way with other species as modified in the northwest coast region;
the somewhat greater size, too, merely results from its more northern

The only characters which we find in _kennicotti_ which cannot be
recognized in _asio_ are the smaller, more quadrate, and more rufous
spots on the primaries, and more obsolete bands on the tail; but this is
merely the consequence of the greater extension of the brown markings,
thus necessarily contrasting the lighter spots. In these respects only
does the Washington Territory specimen differ from the two typical
examples before us, having the larger, more whitish, spots on primaries,
and more distinct tail-bands, of _asio_.

[Illustration: _Scops asio_, var. _kennicotti_.]

The _Scops kennicotti_ must, however, be recognized as a well-marked
geographical race, and, not taking into consideration any natural laws
which influence changes in species, it would be very proper to recognize
the validity of the present bird. If, however, the rule of which we
speak will apply to others, as indeed it does to a majority of the
birds of the region inhabited by the _Scops kennicotti_, the extreme
conditions of some species of which are even more widely different than
in the present instance, and which have been referred to their lighter
representatives in consequence of the applicability of this law, we
cannot possibly do otherwise with it.

In general appearance, size, and proportions, as well as in pattern and
tints of coloration, except in their details, there is a wonderfully
close resemblance in this race of _S. asio_ to the _S. semitorques_,
Schlegel, of Japan. Indeed, it is probable that the latter is also a
mere geographical form of the same species. The only tangible points of
difference are that in _semitorques_ the jugulum is distinctly white
centrally, there is a quite well-defined lighter nuchal band, with a
more indistinct occipital one above it, and the pencillings on the
lower parts are more delicate. The size and proportions are essentially
the same; the shades of color are identical, while the markings differ
only in minute detail, their pattern being essentially the same. In
_kennicotti_ the light nuchal collars are indicated, though they do not
approach the distinctness shown by them in _semitorques_. Should they
be considered as races of one species (_S. asio_), their differential
characters may be expressed as follows:—

  Var. _semitorques_.[26] A well-defined nuchal collar, of mottled pale
  ochraceous; jugulum immaculate white centrally. Feathers of the lower
  parts with their transverse pencillings growing fainter towards the
  middle line, which is unvariegated white, from the central jugular
  spot to the anal region. Wing, 6.60–7.10; tail, 3.60–3.70; culmen,
  .60; tarsus, 1.25–1.40; middle toe, .80–.90. (Two specimens.) _Hab._

  Var. _kennicotti_. No well-defined nuchal band; jugulum closely
  barred centrally; feathers of the lower parts with their transverse
  pencillings not growing fainter toward the middle line, which
  is unvariegated white only on the abdominal portion; the medial
  black streaks to the feathers of the lower surface much broader,
  and transverse pencillings rather coarser. Wing, 6.90–7.30; tail,
  3.50–4.50; culmen, .60–.65; tarsus, 1.35–1.45; middle toe, .80–.90.
  (Three specimens.) _Hab._ North Pacific coast of North America from
  Sitka to Washington Territory, and Western Idaho.

The zoölogical characters of the different varieties of the _Scops asio_
having been thus indicated, we proceed to consider the species as a
whole, and to point out the more important features of its habits and

HABITS. The common Mottled Owl has an extended distribution throughout
the temperate portion of North America. It is also the most numerous of
this family wherever found. It does not appear to have been detected
in any part of the Arctic regions. Although given on the authority of
Fabricius as a bird of Greenland, it is not retained in the list of
Reinhardt. It was not met with by Richardson, nor is any reference made
to it in any of the Arctic notes furnished by Mr. MacFarlane or others.
It is quite common throughout New England, as well as in the Central,
the Western, and some of the Southern States. Mr. Boardman gives it as
resident, but not very common, near Calais, where it breeds. It is found
near Hamilton, Canada, according to McIlwraith, but it is not common,
although Dr. Hall found it quite numerous in the vicinity of Montreal.
Mr. Downes does not mention its occurrence in Nova Scotia. It was found
breeding by Dr. Lincecum, at Long Point, Texas. It occurs in California,
and as _Scops kennicotti_ as far to the northwest as Sitka.

The Mottled Owl is nocturnal in its habits, never appearing abroad in
the daylight except when driven out by the attacks of hostile birds that
have discovered it in its retreat. Its eyes cannot endure the light,
and it experiences great inconvenience from such an exposure. During
the day it hides in hollow trees, in dark recesses in the forests, or
in dark corners of barns, and comes out from its retreat just before
dark. During the night it utters a very peculiar wailing cry, not unlike
the half-whining, half-barking complaints of a young puppy, alternating
from high to low, intermingled with deep guttural trills. These cries,
which are sometimes prolonged until after midnight, usually elicit
an answer from its mate or companions, and would seem to be uttered
as a call soliciting a reply from some lost associate. When kept in
confinement the Mottled Owl soon becomes familiarized to its new mode
of life, and rarely attempts to injure its captors, though it will at
first snap its bill in a threatening manner and manifest considerable
irritation on being approached or handled. In the daytime they keep
secluded, appear sleepy or stupid, with half-closed eyes, but, as night
approaches, become quite lively and eager for their food. They utter
their nocturnal cries in confinement, the doleful sounds of which are in
singular contrast with the lively and excited air of the birds as they
utter them. Their flight is noiseless and gliding, and they move in a
manner so nearly silent as to be hardly perceptible. They are excellent
mousers, and swallow their food whole, ejecting the indigestible parts,
such as hair, bones, feathers, etc.

Wilson caught an adult bird, and kept it in confinement some time. At
first it was restless and attempted to escape, beating against the glass
of the window repeatedly, and several times with so much violence as
to stun itself. In a few days it was reconciled to its situation, and
became quite tame and familiar, and in the evening was very lively,
sprightly, and active.

The food of the Screech-Owl is chiefly small quadrupeds, insects, and
occasionally, when they have young, small birds. They destroy a vast
number of mice, beetles, and vermin, and are of great service to the
agriculturist, although their services are not appreciated, and they are
everywhere persecuted and hunted down without mercy or justice.

The nest of this species is usually constructed in hollow trees or
stumps, most frequently in orchards in the vicinity of farm-houses, and
not more than six or seven feet from the ground. Mr. Audubon states,
however, that he has sometimes found them at the height of thirty or
forty. To show the provident habits of this Owl in procuring for its
young a great superabundance of food, Mr. Nuttall mentions finding in
the hollow stump of an apple-tree, which contained a single brood of
these young Owls, several Bluebirds, Blackbirds, and Song-Sparrows.

Dr. Cooper, on the other hand, relates an instance where one of these
Owls resided as an inmate in a dove-cot, where it was not known to do
any injury to its inmates.

The Screech-Owl can hardly be said to construct any nest, but lines the
hollow in which it rears its young with a few loose leaves, dry grasses,
and feathers. The eggs are usually five or six in number; they are pure
white, and nearly round. Their average measurement is 1.38 inches in
length by 1.19 in breadth.

In regard to the distinctive peculiarities of var. _maccalli_, we are
in possession of but little information. Its habits probably do not
essentially vary from those of the common _Scops asio_, which it so
closely resembles in other respects, and of which it is to be regarded
as a geographical race. It was first taken by Mr. E. S. Holden, near
Sacramento, and described by Mr. Lawrence as the _Ephialtes choliba_
of Vieillot. It has since been found in other parts of California,
in Northern Mexico, Arizona, and on the Rio Grande. It was obtained
in Tamaulipas—where it is evidently rather common—by the late Dr.
Berlandier, who had also procured its eggs. A single specimen of this
Owl was obtained by Mr. A. Schott in Texas, and Mr. Dresser also
obtained two small Owls which he doubtfully refers to this variety,—one
near San Antonio, and the other in Bandera County. Lieutenant Bendire
writes that it is quite common in the vicinity of Tucson, Arizona,
though Dr. Coues did not meet with it. Dr. Kennerly observed it on
Bill Williams Fork, in New Mexico. It was there found living in the
large _Cereus giganteus_ so common in that region, where it occupied
the deserted holes of various kinds of Woodpeckers. It rarely made its
appearance during the day, and then only to show its head from the hole,
ready at any moment to disappear at the approach of danger. On one
occasion it was observed among some very thick bushes near the water.
It does not appear to have been met with by Dr. Cooper in California,
where he refers all the Owls of this genus to the common _asio_. A
single individual, referred doubtfully to this bird, was taken by
Mr. Skinner in Guatemala. The eggs of this bird, taken in Tamaulipas
by Dr. Berlandier, are of nearly globular shape, of a clear, almost
crystal-white color, and measure 1.13 inches in length by 0.93 of an
inch in breadth. As compared with the eggs of _Scops asio_ they are much
smaller, their relative capacity being only as five to eight.

The eggs of the var. _asio_ vary greatly in size according to their
locality. Those taken in Florida are so much smaller than those from
Massachusetts as almost to be suggestive of specific differences. An egg
from Hudson, Mass., taken by Mr. Jillson in April, 1870, measures 1.50
by 1.30 inches, while one from Monticello, Fla., taken by Mr. Samuel
Pasco, measures 1.30 by 1.15 inches. Mr. T. H. Jackson, of Westchester,
Penn., informs me that he has found a nest of this Owl containing six
fresh eggs, on the 5th of April.

Scops flammeola, LICHT.


  _Scops flammeola_, LICHT. Mus. Berol. Nomenclat. p. 7, 1854.—KAUP,
  Trans. Zoöl. Soc. IV, 226.—SCHLEGEL, Mus. de Pays-Bas, _Oti_, p.
  27.—SCLAT. Proc. Zoöl. Soc. 1858, 96.—SCL. & SALV. P. Z. S. 1868,
  57; Exot. Orn. VII, 99, pl. l, July, 1868.—GRAY, Hand List, I, 47,
  1869.—ELLIOT, Illust. Birds Am. I, pl. xxviii.—COUES, Key, 1872, 203.

SP. CHAR. _Adult_ (42,159, Orizaba Mountains, “rare,” February 3, 1865;
Professor F. Sumichrast). Ground-color above pale cinereous, this
overlaid on the top of the head, nape, and back by a brownish-olive
shade, the ash showing pure only on the borders of the crown and on
the wing-coverts and scapulars; the whole upper surface transversely
mottled with white and blackish, the latter in the form of fine zigzag
lines and a splash along the shaft, this expanding transversely near
the end of the feather; the white is in the form of larger transverse
spots, these largest across the nape. Outer webs of the scapulars fine
light orange-rufous (becoming white beneath the surface), bordered
terminally with black. Coverts along the lower edge of the wing spotted
with pale rufous; outer webs of the several lower feathers of the middle
and secondary wing-coverts with a large conspicuous spot of white.
Secondaries crossed by four well-defined narrow pale ochraceous bands;
primary coverts transversely spotted with the same; primaries with about
five transverse series of very large white spots on the outer webs,
the spots approaching ochraceous next the shaft and towards the end of
the feather. Tail profusely mottled like the back, and crossed with
about five ragged, badly defined pale bands, the last of which is not
terminal. Ear-tufts inconspicuous.

Eyebrow white, feathers bordered with blackish; eye encircled with rusty
rufous; lores strongly tinged with the same; cheeks, ear-coverts, neck,
and jugulum with numerous transverse dusky bars upon a grayish-white
ground. Facial circle rusty-rufous spotted with black; throat with a
tinge of rufous; chin white.

[Illustration: _Scops flammeola._]

Lower parts, in general, white; each feather with a black shaft-stripe,
this throwing off bars in pairs, across the feather; the medial stripes
are very broad, forming longitudinal spots on the breast, and have here
an external rufous suffusion; lower tail-coverts very sparsely marked.
Tibiæ and tarsi white, with very sparse transverse dusky spots. Lining
of the wing plain yellowish-white; bars on under surface of primaries
very obsolete, except basally. Wing-formula, 3=4; 5, 2–6; 1=8. Wing,
5.40; tail, 2.45; culmen, .35; tarsus, .87; middle toe, .55.

_Young_ (first full, but imperfect plumage: ♂, 24,172, Fort Crook,
North California, August 23, 1860; John Feilner). Wings and tail as in
the adult (last pale band of latter apparently terminal). Whole head
and body with numerous, about equal, transverse bands of dusky and
grayish-white; the two colors about equal, but on lower parts both are
much wider and more distinct than above the white gradually increasing
posteriorly. Breast and outer webs of scapulars with a rusty tinge, the
latter scarcely variegated. Eyebrow white, feathers bordered with dusky;
eye-circle and ear-coverts bright rusty-rufous; lores much tinged with
the same. No facial circle. Wing, 5.50; tail, 2.70.

HAB. Guatemala and central Mexico, northward (along Sierra Nevada) to
Fort Crook; California (breeding).

HABITS. This is essentially a Mexican and Central American species,
occurring among the mountains of Mexico and thence to Guatemala. One
individual, however, the only one as yet recorded as taken in the United
States, was obtained at Fort Crook by Captain John Feilner, and is now
in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution. This was a young bird,
evidently raised in that locality, and apparently showing that the
species breeds in that vicinity. It has been taken also at Orizaba, in
the State of Vera Cruz, Mexico. Nothing is known as to any peculiarities
of habit. These are not probably different from those of the _asio_.


GEN. CHAR. Size varying from medium to very large; head with or without
ear-tufts. Bill black; iris yellow. Two to four outer quills with their
inner webs emarginated. Third or fourth quill longest. Bill very robust,
the lower mandible nearly truncated and with a deep notch near the
end; cere gradually ascending basally (not arched) or nearly straight,
not equal to the culmen. Tail short, a little more than half the wing,
slightly rounded. Ear-conch small, simple, without operculum; the two
ears symmetrical.


  =Bubo.= Two to three outer quills with their inner webs emarginated.
  Ear-tufts well developed; loral feathers not hiding the bill, and the
  claws and terminal scutellæ of the toes exposed. Lower tail-coverts
  not reaching the end of the tail. (Type, _B. maximus_.)

  =Nyctea.= Four outer quills with their inner webs emarginated.
  Ear-tufts rudimentary; loral feathers hiding the bill, and claws and
  entire toes concealed by long hair-like feathers. Lower tail-coverts
  reaching to end of the tail. (Type, _N. scandiaca_.)

The species of this genus are mostly of very large size, two of them
(_B. maximus_ and _N. scandiaca_) being the largest birds of the family.
They are nearly cosmopolitan, and are most numerous in the Eastern


  _Bubo_, DUMÉRIL, 1806. (Type, _Strix bubo_, LINN. = _B. maximus_,
  _Rhinostrix_, KAUP, 1849. (Type, _Strix mexicana_, GMEL. = _B.
      mexicanus_, RIDGW.)
  _Rhinoptynx_, KAUP, and _Rhenoptynx_, KAUP, 1857. (Same type.)

Species and Races.

  1. =B. virginianus.= Lower parts transversely barred with black, and
  without longitudinal stripes. Above without longitudinal stripes on
  the anterior portions.

    _a._ A conspicuous patch of white on the jugulum; lining of the
    wing immaculate, or only faintly barred. Wing, 14.00–16.00; tail,
    8.00–10.00; culmen, 1.10–1.20; tarsus, 2.00–2.20; middle toe,

      Rufous tints of the plumage prevailing; face dingy rufous. _Hab._
      Atlantic Province of North America …

                                                     var. _virginianus_.

      Lighter tints of the plumage prevailing; face dirty or fulvous
      white. All the colors lighter. _Hab._ Western Province of United
      States, and interior regions of British America. Upper Mississippi
      Valley in winter (Wisconsin, Hoy; Pekin, Illinois, Museum,
      Cambridge) …

                                                        var. _arcticus_.

      Dusky tints of the plumage prevailing; face dull grayish, barred
      with dusky. All the colors darker, chiefly brownish-black and
      grayish-white, with little or no rufous. _Hab._ Littoral regions
      of northern North America, from Oregon northward, and around the
      northern coast to Labrador …

                                                       var. _pacificus_.

    _b._ No conspicuous patch of white on the jugulum, which, with the
    lining of the wing, is distinctly barred with blackish. Wing, 12.00;
    tail, 7.50; culmen, 1.00; tarsus, 2.10; middle toe, 1.85.

      Colors much as in var. _virginianus_, but more densely barred
      beneath, the dark bars narrower and closer together. _Hab._ South
      America …

                                                var. _magellanicus_.[27]

  2. =B. mexicanus.=[28] Lower parts longitudinally striped with black,
  and without transverse bars. Above with longitudinal stripes on the
  anterior portions. Wing, 11.20–12.00; tail, 6.00–6.50; culmen, .90;
  tarsus, 2.00; middle toe, 1.95. _Hab._ Middle and South America


  _Nyctea_, STEPHENS, Cont. Shaw’s Zoöl. XIII, 62, 1826. (Type _Strix
  nyctea_, LINN. _N. Scandiaca_, LINN.).

Species and Races.

  1. =N. scandiaca.= _Adult._ Color pure white, more or less barred
  transversely with clear dusky, or brownish-black. _Male_ sometimes
  almost pure white. _Downy young_, sooty slate-color. Wing,
  16.00–18.00; tail, 9.00–10.00.

    Dusky bars sparse, narrow, umber-brown. _Hab._ Northern parts of
    Palæarctic Realm …

                                                   var. _scandiaca_.[29]

    Dusky bars more numerous, broader, and clear brownish-black. _Hab._
    Northern parts of Nearctic Realm …

                                                         var. _arctica_.

Bubo virginianus, var. virginianus, BONAP.


  _Asio bubo virginianus_, BRISS. Orn. I, 484, 17, 1760. _Strix
  virginiana_, GMEL. Syst. Nat. I, 287, 1788.—LATH. Ind. Orn. p. 52;
  Syn. I, 119; Supp. I, 40; Gen. Hist. I, 304.—DAUD. Tr. Orn. II, 210,
  pl. xiii.—WILS. Am. Orn. pl. l, f. 1.—BONAP. Ann. Lyc. N. Y. II, 37
  and 435; Isis, 1832, p. 1139.—AUD. Birds Am. pl. lxi, 1831; Orn. Biog.
  I, 313.—THOMPS. Nat. Hist. Vermont, pl. lxv.—PEAB. Birds Mass. p. 87.
  _Bubo virginianus_, BONAP. List, p. 6, 1838; Consp. Av. p. 48.—JARD.
  (WILS.) Am. Orn. II, p. 257.—DE KAY, Zoöl. N. Y. II, 24, pl. x, f.
  2.—NUTT. Man. Orn. p. 124.—MAX. Cab. Jour. 1853, VI, 23.—KAUP, Tr.
  Zoöl. Soc. IV, 1859, 241.—COUES, Key, 1872, 202. _Bubo virginianus
  atlanticus_, CASSIN, Birds of Cal. & Tex. I, 178, 1854.—Birds N. Am.
  1858, 49 (under _B. virginianus_). _Otus virginianus_, STEPH. Zoöl.
  XIII, ii, 57, 1836. _Ulula virginiana_, JAMES. (WILS.), Am. Orn. I,
  100, 1831. _Strix virginiana_, α, LATH. Gen. Hist. I, 306, 1821.
  _Strix bubo_, δ, LATH. Ind. Orn. p. 52, 1790.—SHAW, Zoöl. VII, 215.
  _Strix maximus_, BART. Trav. Carol. p. 285, 1792. _Bubo ludovicianus_,
  DAUD. Tr. Orn. II, 210, 1800. _Bubo pinicola_, VIEILL. Ois. Am. Sept.
  pl. xix, 1807; Enc. Méth. p. 1282.

[Illustration: =6886= ½ ½

_Bubo virginianus._]

SP. CHAR. _Adult_ ♂ (12,057, Philadelphia; C. Drexler). Bases of all
the feathers yellowish-rufous, this partially exposed on the head above
and nape, along the scapulars, on the rump, and sides of the breast.
On the upper surface this is overlaid by a rather coarse transverse
mottling of brownish-black upon a white ground, the former rather
predominating, particularly on the head and neck, where it forms
broad ragged longitudinal stripes (almost obliterating the transverse
bars), becoming prevalent, or blended, anteriorly. The lower feathers
of the scapulars, and some of the lower feathers of the middle and
secondary wing-coverts, with inconspicuous transverse spots of white.
On the secondaries the mottling is finer, giving a grayish aspect,
and crossed with eight sharply defined, but inconspicuous, bands
of mottled dusky; primary coverts with the ground-color very dark,
and crossed with three or four bands of plain blackish, the last
terminal, though fainter than the rest; ground-color of the primaries
more yellowish, the mottling more delicate; they are crossed by nine
transverse series of quadrate dusky spots. The ground-color of the
tail is pale ochraceous (transversely mottled with dusky), becoming
white at the tip, crossed by seven bands of mottled blackish, these
about equalling the light bands in width; on the middle feathers the
bands are broken and confused, running obliquely, or, in places,
longitudinally. Outer webs of ear-tufts pure black; inner webs almost
wholly ochraceous; eyebrows and lores white, the feathers with black
shafts; face dingy rufous; eye very narrowly encircled with whitish; a
crescent of black bordering the upper eyelid, and confluent with the
black of the ear-tufts. Facial circle continuous black, except across
the foreneck; chin, throat, and jugulum pure immaculate white, to the
roots of the feathers. Beneath, white prevails, but the yellowish-rufous
is prevalent on the sides of the breast, and shows as the base color
wherever the feathers are disarranged. The sides of the breast, sides,
and flanks have numerous sharply defined narrow transverse bars of
brownish-black; anteriorly these are finer and more ragged, becoming
coalesced so as to form conspicuous, somewhat longitudinal, black spots.
On the lower tail-coverts the bars are distant, though not less sharply
defined. The abdomen medially is scarcely maculate white. Legs and toes
plain ochraceous-white.

[Illustration: =6886= ⅓

_Bubo virginianus._]

Wing-formula, 2, 3–4–1, 5. Wing, 14.50; tail, 8.20; culmen, 1.10;
tarsus, 2.00; middle toe, 2.00.

♀ (12,065, Maryland; R. J. Pollard). General appearance same as the
male. Black blotches on head above and nape less conspicuous, the
surface being mottled like the back, etc.; primary coverts with three
well-defined narrow pure black bands; primaries with only six bands,
these broader than in the male; secondaries with only five bands; tail
with but six dark bands, these very much narrower than the light ones.
Tibiæ and tarsi with sparse transverse bars of dusky. Wing-formula, 3,
2, 4–1=5. Wing, 16.00; tail, 9.00; culmen, 1.20; tarsus, 2.20; middle
toe, 2.10.

_Young._ Wings and tail as in adult. Downy plumage of head and body
ochraceous, with detached, rather distant, transverse bars of dusky.
(12,062, Washington, D. C., May 20, 1859; C. Drexler.)

HAB. Eastern North America, south of Labrador; west to the Missouri;
south through Atlantic region of Mexico to Costa Rica; Jamaica (GOSSE).

Localities: (?) Oaxaca (SCL. 1859, 390; possibly var. _arcticus_);
Guatemala (SCL. Ibis, I. 222); Jamaica (GOSSE, 23); Texas (DRESSER,
Ibis, 1865, 330, breeds); Costa Rica (LAWR. IX, 132).

Specimens from the regions indicated vary but little, the only two
possessing differences of any note being one (58,747,[30] ♂) from
Southern Illinois, and one (33,218, San Jose; J. Carmiol) from Costa
Rica. The first differs from all those from the eastern United States
in much deeper and darker shades of color, the rufous predominant
below, the legs and crissum being of quite a deep shade of this color;
the transverse bars beneath are also very broad and pure black. This
specimen is more like Audubon’s figure than any other, and may possibly
represent the peculiar style of the Lower Mississippi region. The Costa
Rica bird is remarkable for the predominance of the rufous on all
parts of the plumage; the legs, however, are whitish, as in specimens
from the Atlantic coast of the United States. These specimens cannot,
however, be considered as anything else than merely local styles of the
_virginianus_, var. _virginianus_.

Bubo virginianus, var. arcticus, SWAINS.


  _? Strix wapacuthu_, GMEL. Syst. Nat. 1789, p. 290. _Strix (Bubo)
  arctica_, SWAINS. F. B. A. II, 1831, 86. _Heliaptex arcticus_,
  SWAINS. Classif. Birds, I, 1837, 328; IB. II, 217. _Bubo virginianus
  arcticus_, CASS. Birds N. Am. 1858, 50 (_B. virginianus_).—BLAKISTON,
  Ibis, III, 1861, 320. _Bubo virginianus_, var. _arcticus_, COUES, Key,
  1872, 202. _Bubo subarcticus_, HOY, P. A. N. S. VI, 1852, 211. _Bubo
  virginianus pacificus_, CASS. Birds Cal. & Tex. 1854, and Birds N.
  Am. 1858 (_B. virginianus_, in part only). _Bubo magellanicus_, CASS.
  Birds Cal. & Tex. 1854, 178 (not _B. magellanicus_ of LESSON!). _Bubo
  virginianus_, HEERM. 34.—KENNERLY, 20.—COUES, Prod. (P. A. N. S. 1866,
  13).—BLAKISTON, Ibis, III, 1861, 320. _? Wapacuthu Owl_, PENNANT,
  Arctic Zoöl. 231.—LATH. Syn. Supp. I, 49.

CHAR. Pattern of coloration precisely like that of var. _virginianus_,
but the general aspect much lighter and more grayish, caused by a
greater prevalence of the lighter tints, and contraction of dark
pencillings. The ochraceous much lighter and less rufous. Face soiled
white, instead of deep dingy rufous.

♂ (No. 21,581, Camp Kootenay, Washington Territory, August 2, 1860).
Wing, 14.00; tail, 8.60; culmen, 1.10; tarsus, 2.00. Tail and primaries
each with the dark bands nine in number; legs and feet immaculate white.
Wing-formula, 3, 2=4–5–1.

♀ (No. 10,574, Fort Tejon, California). Wing, 14.70; tail, 9.50; culmen,
1.10; tarsus, 2.10; middle toe, 2.00. Tail and primaries each with seven
dark bands; legs transversely barred with dusky. Wing-formula, 3, 4,
2–5–1, 6.

HAB. Western region of North America, from the interior Arctic districts
to the table-lands of Mexico. Wisconsin (HOY); Northern Illinois (Pekin,
Mus. Cambridge); Lower California; ? Orizaba, Mexico.

Localities: (?) Orizaba (SCL. P. Z. S. 1860, 253); Arizona (COUES,
P. A. N. S. 1866, 49).

The above description covers the average characters of a light grayish
race of the _B. virginianus_, which represents the other styles in the
whole of the western and interior regions of the continent. Farther
northward, in the interior of the fur countries, the plumage becomes
lighter still, some Arctic specimens being almost as white as the
_Nyctea scandiaca_. The _B. arcticus_ of Swainson was founded upon a
specimen of this kind, and it is our strong opinion that the Wapecuthu
Owl of Pennant (_Strix wapecuthu_, Gmel.) was nothing else than a
similar individual, which had accidentally lost the ear-tufts, since
there is no other discrepancy in the original description. The failure
to mention ear-tufts, too, may have been merely a neglect on the part of
the describer.

Bubo virginianus, var. pacificus, CASS.

  _Bubo virginianus pacificus_, CASSIN, Birds N. Am. 1858, 49. _Bubo
  virginianus_, var. _pacificus_, COUES, Key, 1872, 202. _Bubo
  virginianus_, COOP. & SUCKLEY, P. R. Rept. XII, II, 1860, 154.—LORD,
  Pr. R. A. S. IV, III (British Columbia). ? DALL & BANNISTER, Tr.
  Chicago Ac. I, 1869, 272 (Alaska).—? FINSCH, Abh. Nat. III, 26

SP. CHAR. The opposite extreme from var. _arcticus_. The black shades
predominating and the white mottling replaced by pale grayish; the form
of the mottling above is less regularly transverse, being oblique or
longitudinal, and more in blotches than in the other styles. The primary
coverts are plain black; the primaries are mottled gray and plain black.
On the tail the mottling is very dark, the lighter markings on the
middle feathers being thrown into longitudinal splashes. Beneath, the
black bars are nearly as wide as the white, fully double their width
in var. _arcticus_. The legs are always thickly barred. The lining of
the wings is heavily barred with black. Face dull grayish, barred with
dusky; ear-tufts almost wholly black.

♂ (45,842, Sitka, Alaska, November, 1866; Ferd. Bischoff). Wing-formula,
3, 2=4–5–1, 6. Wing, 14.00; tail, 8.00; culmen, 1.10; tarsus, 2.05;
middle toe, .95.

Face with obscure bars of black; ochraceous of the bases of the feathers
is distinct. There are seven black spots on the primaries, eight on the
tail; on the latter exceeding the paler in width.

♀ (27,075, Yukon River, mouth Porcupine, April 16, 1861; R. Kennicott).
Wing-formula, 3, 2=4–5–1, 6. Wing, 16.00; tail, 9.80; culmen, 1.15;
tarsus, 2.00. Eight black spots on primaries, seven on tail.

HAB. Pacific coast north of the Columbia; Labrador. A northern littoral

A specimen from Labrador (34,958, Fort Niscopec, H. Connolly) is an
extreme example of this well-marked variety. In this the rufous is
entirely absent, the plumage consisting wholly of brownish-black and
white, the former predominating; the jugulum and the abdomen medially
are conspicuously snowy-white; the black bars beneath are broad, and
towards the end of each feather they become coalesced into a prevalent
mottling, forming a spotted appearance.

Another (11,792, Simiahmoo, Dr. C. B. Kennerly) from Washington
Territory has the black even more prevalent than in the last, being
almost continuously uniform on the scapulars and lesser wing-coverts;
beneath the black bars are much suffused. In this specimen the rufous
tinge is present, as it is in all except the Labrador skin.

HABITS. The Great Horned Owl has an extended distribution throughout at
least the whole of North America from ocean to ocean, and from Central
America to the Arctic regions. Throughout this widely extended area it
is everywhere more or less abundant, except where it has been driven out
by the increase of population. In this wide distribution the species
naturally assumes varying forms and exhibits considerable diversities of
coloring. These are provided with distinctive names to mark the races,
but should all be regarded as belonging to one species, as they do not
present any distinctive variation in habit.

Sir John Richardson speaks of it as not uncommon in the Arctic regions.
It is abundant in Canada, and throughout all parts of the United States.
Dr. Gambel met with it also in large numbers in the wooded regions of
Upper California. Dr. Heermann found it very common around Sacramento in
1849, but afterwards, owing to the increase in population, it had become
comparatively rare. Dr. Woodhouse met with it in the Indian Territory,
though not abundantly. Lieutenant Couch obtained specimens in Mexico,
and Mr. Schott in Texas.

[Illustration: _Bubo virginianus._]

In the regions northwest of the Yukon River, Mr. Robert Kennicott
found a pair of these birds breeding on the 10th of April. The female
was procured, and proved to be of a dark plumage. The nest, formed
of dry spruce branches retaining their leaves, was placed near the
top of a large green spruce, in thick woods. It was large, measuring
three or four feet across at base. The eggs were placed in a shallow
depression, which was lined with a few feathers. Two more eggs were
found in the ovary of the female,—one broken, the other not larger than
a musket-ball. The eggs were frozen on their way to the fort. Mr. Ross
states that he found this Owl very abundant around Great Slave Lake,
but that it became less common as they proceeded farther north. It was
remarkably plentiful in the marshes around Fort Resolution. Its food
consisted of shrews and _Arvicolæ_, which are very abundant there. It is
very tame and easily approached, and the Chipewyan Indians are said to
eat with great relish the flesh, which is generally fat.

Mr. Gunn writes that this Owl is found over all the woody regions of the
Hudson Bay Territory. In the summer it visits the shores of the bay, but
retires to some distance inland on the approach of winter. It hunts in
the dark, preying on rabbits, mice, muskrats, partridges, and any other
fowls that it can find. With its bill it breaks the bones of hares into
small pieces, which its stomach is able to digest. They pair in March,
the only time at which they seem to enjoy each other’s society. The nest
is usually made of twigs in the fork of some large poplar, where the
female lays from three to six pale-white eggs. It is easily approached
in clear sunny weather, but sees very well when the sky is clouded. It
is not mentioned by Mr. MacFarlane as found near Anderson River. Mr.
Dall caught alive several young birds not fully fledged, June 18, on the
Yukon River, below the fort. He also met with it at Nulato, where it was
not common, but was more plentiful farther up the river.

Mr. Salvin found this species in August at Duenas and at San Geronimo,
in Guatemala. At Duenas it was said to be resident, and is so probably
throughout the whole country. It was not uncommon, and its favorite
locality was one of the hillsides near that village, well covered with
low trees and shrubs, and with here and there a rocky precipice. They
were frequently to be met with on afternoons, and at all hours of the
night they made their proximity known by their deep cry.

Dr. Kennerly found it in Texas in the cañon of Devil River, and he
adds that it seemed to live indifferently among the trees and the high
and precipitous cliffs. It was found throughout Texas and New Mexico,
wherever there are either large trees or deep cañons that afforded
a hiding-place during the day. Attracted by the camp-fires of Dr.
Kennerly’s party, this Owl would occasionally sweep around their heads
for a while, and then disappear in the darkness, to resume its dismal
notes. Sometimes, frightened by the reverberating report of a gun, they
would creep among the rocks, attempting to conceal themselves, and be
thus taken alive.

Though frequently kept in captivity, the Great Horned Owl, even when
taken young, is fierce and untamable, resenting all attempts at
familiarity. It has no affection for its mate, this being especially
true of the female. Mr. Downes mentions an instance within his
knowledge, in which a female of this species, in confinement, killed
and ate the male. Excepting during the brief period of mating, they are
never seen in pairs.

Its flight is rapid and graceful, and more like that of an eagle
than one of this family. It sails easily and in large circles. It is
nocturnal in its habits, and is very rarely seen abroad in the day, and
then only in cloudy weather or late in the afternoon. When detected in
its hiding-place by the Jay, Crow, or King-bird, and driven forth by
their annoyances, it labors under great disadvantages, and flies at
random in a hesitating flight, until twilight enables it to retaliate
upon its tormentors. The hooting and nocturnal cries of the Great Horned
Owl are a remarkable feature in its habits. These are chiefly during
its breeding-season, especially the peculiar loud and vociferous cries
known as its hooting. At times it will utter a single shriek, sounding
like the yell of some unearthly being, while again it barks incessantly
like a dog, and the resemblance is so natural as to provoke a rejoinder
from its canine prototype. Occasionally it utters sounds resembling
the half-choking cries of a person nearly strangled, and, attracted
by the watchfire of a camp, fly over it, shrieking a cry resembling
_waugh-hōō_. It is not surprising that with all these combinations and
variations of unearthly cries these birds should have been held in awe
by the aborigines, their cries being sufficiently fearful to startle
even the least timid.

It is one of the most destructive of the depredators upon the
poultry-yard, far surpassing in this respect any of our Hawks. All its
mischief is done at night, when it is almost impossible to detect and
punish it. Whole plantations are often thus stripped in a single season.

The mating of this bird appears to have little or no reference to the
season. A pair has been known to select a site for their nest, and begin
to construct a new one, or seize upon that of a Red-tailed Hawk, and
repair it, in September or October, keeping in its vicinity through the
winter, and making their presence known by their continued hooting.
Mr. Jillson found a female sitting on two eggs in February, in Hudson,
Mass.; and Mr. William Street, of Easthampton, in the spring of 1869,
found one of their nests on the 3d of March, the eggs in which had
been incubated at least a week. If one nest is broken up, the pair
immediately seek another, and make a renewed attempt to raise a brood.
They rarely go more than a mile from their usual abode, and then only
for food. Mr. Street’s observations have led him to conclude that they
mate about February 20, and deposit their eggs from the 25th to the
28th. They cease to hoot in the vicinity of their nest from the time of
their mating until their young have left them in June. On the 19th of
March, 1872, Mr. Street found two of their eggs containing young nearly
ready to hatch.

Mr. Street’s observations satisfied him that the period of incubation of
this Owl is about three weeks. When they have young and are hard pressed
for food, they hunt by day as well as by night, and at this time they
hoot a good deal. The young are ready to leave their nest about six
weeks after hatching. At this time their feathers are nearly all grown,
except their head-feathers, which have hardly started. In the spring of
1872 Mr. Street found a young bird that had fallen from its nest. Though
very small it was untamable, and not to be softened by any attentions.
Its savage disposition seemed to increase with age. It readily devoured
all kinds of animal food, and was especially fond of fish and snakes. It
was remarkable for its cowardice, being always ridiculously fearful of
the smallest dog, the near approach of one always causing extravagant
manifestations of alarm. He was therefore led to conclude that it does
not prey upon quadrupeds larger than a hare, that it rarely is able to
seize small birds, and that reptiles and fish form no inconsiderable
portion of its food. The young Owl in question assumed its full plumage
in November, when less than eight months old. It was of full size in all
respects except in the length of its claws, which were hardly half the
usual size.

Mr. T. H. Jackson, of West Chester, Penn., has met with fresh eggs of
this Owl, February 13, 22, and 28, and has found young birds in their
nests from the 2d of March to the 28th.

Mr. Audubon states that while the Great Horned Owl usually nests in
large hollows of decayed trees, he has twice found the eggs in the
fissures of rocks. In all these cases, little preparation had been made
previous to the laying of the eggs, the bed consisting of only a few
grasses and feathers. Wilson, who found them breeding in the swamps of
New Jersey, states that the nest was generally constructed in the fork
of a tall tree, but sometimes in a smaller tree. They begin to build
towards the close of winter, and, even in the Arctic regions, Sir John
Richardson speaks of their hatching their eggs as early as March. The
shape of the egg is very nearly exactly spherical, and its color is a
dull white with a slightly yellowish tinge. An egg formerly in the old
Peale’s Museum of Philadelphia, taken in New Jersey by Alexander Wilson
the ornithologist, and bearing his autograph upon its shell, measures
2.31 inches in length by 2.00 in breadth. Another, obtained in the
vicinity of Salem, Mass., measures 2.25 inches in length by 1.88 in
breadth. In the latter instance the nest was constructed on a tall and
inaccessible tree in a somewhat exposed locality. The female was shot on
the nest, and, as she fell, she clutched one of the eggs in a convulsive
grasp, and brought it in her claws to the ground. An egg obtained in
Tamaulipas, Mexico, on the Rio Grande, by Dr. Berlandier, measures 2.18
inches in length by 1.81 in breadth.

An egg from Wisconsin, taken by Mr. B. F. Goss, may be considered as
about the average in size and color. It is nearly spherical, of a clear
bluish-white, and measures 2.30 by 2.00 inches.

[Illustration: =38256= ⅓

_Otus wilsonianus._]

Nyctea scandiaca, var. arctica, GRAY.


  _Strix arctica_, BARTRAM, Trav. in Carolina, 1792, p. 285.
  _Strix nyctea_, (not of LINN.!) VIEILL. Ois. Am. Sept. 1807, pl.
  xviii.—SWAINS. & RICH. F. B. A. II, 1831, 88.—BONAP. Ann. N. Y. Lyc.
  II, 36.—WILS. Am. Orn. pl. xxxii, f. 1.—AUD. Birds Am. pl. cxxi.—IB.
  Orn. Biog. II, 135.—THOMPS. Nat. Hist. Vermont, p. 64.—PEAB. Birds
  Mass. III, 84. _Surnia nyctea_ (EDMONDST.), JAMES. (ed. WILS.),
  Am. Orn. I, 1831, 92.—NUTT. Man. p. 116.—KAUP, Tr. Zoöl. Soc. IV,
  1859, 214. _Syrnia nyctea_ (THOMPS.), JARDINE’S (ed. WILS.) Am.
  Orn. II, 1832, 46. _Nyctea nivea_, (GRAY) CASS. Birds Cal. & Tex.
  1854, 100.—IB. Birds N. Am. 1858, 63.—NEWTON, P. Z. S. 1861, 394
  (eggs).—DRESSER, Ibis, 1865, 330 (Texas!).—DALL & BANNISTER, Tr.
  Chicago Acad. I, II, 1869, 273 (Alaska).—COUES, Key, 1872, 205.
  _Nyctea candida_, (LATH.) BONAP. List, 1838, 6.

SP. CHAR. _Adult._ Ground-color entirely snow-white, this marked
with transverse bars of clear dusky, of varying amount in different

♂ (No. 12,059, Washington, D. C., December 4, 1858; C. Drexler). Across
the top of the head, and interspersed over the wings and scapulars,
are small transversely cordate spots of clear brownish-black, these
inclining to the form of regular transverse bars on the scapulars; there
is but one on each feather. The secondaries have mottled bars of more
dilute dusky; the primaries have spots of black at their ends; the tail
has a single series of irregular dusky spots crossing it near the end.
Abdomen, sides, and flanks with transverse crescentic bars of clear
brownish-black. Wing, 16.50; tail, 9.00; culmen, 1.00; tarsus, 1.90;
middle toe, 1.30. Wing-formula, 3, 2=4–5, 1.

♀ (No. 12,058, Washington, D. C., December 4, 1858). Head above and
nape with each feather blackish centrally, producing a conspicuously
spotted appearance. Rest of the plumage with regular, sharply defined
transverse bars of clear brownish-black; those of the upper surface
more crescentic, those on the lower tail-coverts narrower and more
distant. Tail crossed by five bands, composed of detached transverse
spots. Only the face, foreneck, middle of the breast, and feet, are
immaculate; everywhere else, excepting on the crissum, the dusky and
white are in nearly equal amount. Wing, 18.00; tail, 9.80; culmen, 1.10.
Wing-formula, 3=4, 2–1=5.

_Young_ (No. 36,434, Arctic America, August, 1863; MacFarlane). Only
partially feathered. Wings and tail as in the adult female described,
but the blackish bars rather broader. Down covering the head and body
dark brownish or sooty slate, becoming paler on the legs.

HAB. Northern portions of the Nearctic Realm. Breeding in the arctic
and subarctic regions, and migrating in winter to the verge of the
tropics. Bermuda (JARDINE); South Carolina (BARTRAM and AUDUBON); Texas

Localities: Texas, San Antonio (DRESSER, Ibis, 1865, 330).

The Snowy Owls of North America, though varying greatly among
themselves, seem to be considerably darker, both in the extremes and
average conditions of plumage, than European examples. Not only are the
dusky bars darker, but they are usually broader, and more extended over
the general surface.

HABITS. This is an exclusively northern species, and is chiefly confined
to the Arctic Circle and the adjacent portions of the temperate zone.
It is met with in the United States only in midwinter, and is much more
abundant in some years than in others. Individual specimens have been
occasionally noticed as far south as South Carolina, but very rarely. It
has also been observed in Kentucky, Ohio, the Bermuda Islands, and in
nearly every part of the United States.

[Illustration: _Nyctea scandiaca._]

In the Arctic regions of North America and in Greenland it is quite
abundant, and has been observed as far to the north as Arctic voyagers
have yet reached. Professor Reinhardt states that it is much more
numerous in the northern than in the southern part of Greenland. Sir
John Richardson, who, during seven years’ residence in the Arctic
regions, enjoyed unusual opportunities for studying the habits of this
Owl, says that it hunts its prey in the daytime. It is generally found
on the Barren Grounds, but is always so wary as to be approached with
difficulty. In the wooded districts it is less cautious.

Mr. Downes states that this Owl is very abundant in Nova Scotia in
winter, and that it is known to breed in the neighboring province of
Newfoundland. In some years it appears to traverse the country in large
flocks. In the winter of 1861–62, he adds, these birds made their
appearance in Canada in large numbers.

Mr. Boardman states that they are present in winter in the vicinity of
Calais, but that they are not common. A pair was noticed in the spring
of 1862 as late as the last of May, and, in Mr. Boardman’s opinion,
were breeding in that neighborhood. In the western part of Maine Mr.
Verrill found it also rather rare, and met with it only in winter. He
states that it differs greatly in disposition from the Great Horned
Owl, being naturally very gentle, and becoming very readily quite tame
in confinement, differing very much in this respect from most large

It makes its appearance in Massachusetts about the middle or last of
November, and in some seasons is quite common, though never present
in very large numbers. It is bold, but rather wary; coming into
thick groves of trees in close proximity to cities, which indeed it
frequently enters, but keeping a sharp lookout, and never suffering a
near approach. It hunts by daylight, and appears to distinguish objects
without difficulty. Its flight is noiseless, graceful, easy, and at
times quite rapid. In some seasons it appears to wander over the whole
of the United States east of the Rocky Mountains, Dr. Heermann having
obtained a specimen of it near San Antonio, Texas, in the winter of

It is more abundant, in winter, near the coast, than in the interior,
and in the latter keeps in the neighborhood of rivers and streams,
watching by the open places for opportunities to catch fish. Mr. Audubon
describes it as very expert and cunning in fishing, crouching on the
edges of air-holes in the ice, and instantly seizing any fish that
may come to the surface. It also feeds on hares, squirrels, rats, and
other small animals. It watches the traps set for animals, especially
muskrats, and devours them when caught. In the stomach of one Mr.
Audubon found the whole of a large house-rat. Its own flesh, Mr. Audubon
affirms, is fine and delicate, and furnishes very good eating. It is
described as a very silent bird, and Mr. Audubon has never known it to
utter a note or to make any sound.

Richardson states that a few remain in the Arctic regions even in
midwinter, but usually in the more sheltered districts, whither it has
followed the Ptarmigan, on which it feeds. When seen on the Barren
Grounds, it was generally squatting on the earth, and, if disturbed,
alighted again after a short flight. In the more wooded districts it is
said to be bolder, and is even known to watch the Grouse-shooters, and
to share in their spoils, skimming from its perch on a high tree, and
carrying off the bird before the sportsman can get near it.

Mr. MacFarlane writes from Fort Anderson that he did not find this
species abundant in that quarter, and that its eggs were unknown to him.
Mr. B. R. Ross speaks of this Owl as widely distributed, but not common.
He found it a winter resident, and has repeatedly seen it at that season
near Fort Resolution, and it has been shot in February at Fort Norman.
It is very destructive to the snares set by the Indians, eating the
hares and breaking the snares, in which they are sometimes caught. The
Indians are said to attract these birds near enough to be shot at, by
tying a mouse or a piece of hare’s skin to a line, and letting it drag
behind them.

Mr. Donald Gunn writes that the Snowy Owl is merely a visitor in the
districts to the west of Lake Winnepeg, but is a constant inhabitant
of the country surrounding Hudson Bay. There they hatch their young,
from three to five in number, making their nests in the forks of some
tall poplar-tree. They lay their eggs very early in the spring, and have
hatched their young before other birds begin to nest. This account of
their breeding differs from all other statements I have seen, and, if
correct, is probably exceptional.

Although a bird of great vigilance, seldom permitting the hunter to
get within range of shot, and equally careful in keeping at a distance
from its foe in its flight, it is, Mr. Gunn states, readily deceived
and decoyed within easy range by tying a bundle of dark rags to a piece
of stout twine, and letting this drag from the end of the hunter’s
snow-shoe. The hungry Owl pounces upon the bait, and the hunter turns
and shoots it. These birds are sometimes quite fat, and are much prized
for food by the Indians. At times they migrate from the more northern
regions to the more inland districts. An instance of this took place
in the winter of 1855–56. These birds made their appearance about the
Red River Settlement in October, and before the latter end of December
became very numerous, especially on the plains, where they were to be
seen flying at any time of the day. In March all left that vicinity and
disappeared. A few pass the summer near Lake Winnepeg, as occasional
birds are seen there in the spring and fall. These migrations are
supposed to be caused by unusual snow-falls and the scarcity of the
animals on which they feed.

Mr. Dall found them rather rare in the valley of the Lower Yukon, and he
has noticed them occasionally flying over the ice in the winter season.

Mr. Hutchins, in his manuscript observations on the birds of Hudson Bay
Territory, speaking of this Owl as the _Wapacuthu_, states that it makes
its nest in the moss on the dry ground, and lays from five to ten eggs
in May. Professor Alfred Newton (Proc. Zoöl. Soc. 1861, p. 395) thinks
there can be no doubt he refers to this Owl. Richardson states, as the
result of his own inquiries, that it breeds on the ground, which the
observations of Mr. Hearne confirm. Professor Lilljeborg (Naumannia,
1854, p. 78) found, June 3, 1843, on the Dovrefjeld, a nest of this
species which contained seven eggs. It was placed on a little shelf, on
the top of a bare mountain, far from the forest, and easy of access.
Professor Nilsson was informed, on good authority, that in East Fiarmark
the Snowy Owl is said by the Lapps to lay from eight to ten eggs in a
little depression of the bare ground on the high mountains. Mr. John
Wolley received similar information, and was told that the old birds
sometimes attack persons that approach their nests. The 16th to the
24th of May is said to be the time when they usually breed. I received
in 1860 an egg of this Owl from Herr Möschler. It had been taken near
Okkak, a missionary station of the Moravians, in Labrador, and collected
by the Esquimaux. The accounts given by these collectors confirm the
statement that this bird always breeds on the ground in open places, and
frequently lays quite a large number of eggs. This specimen measures
2.50 inches in length and 1.88 in breadth. It is oblong-oval in shape,
equally rounded at either end, and of a dull soiled white. The egg is
much discolored, apparently by its contact with the ground.

Mr. H. S. Hawkins (Ibis, 1870, p. 298) gives an account of the nest
and eggs of this species, derived from a correspondent at one of the
Moravian missionary stations on the coast of Labrador. The nest is said
to consist of only a few feathers, and to be placed generally on a ledge
of rocks where there is a slight hollow, sufficient to prevent the eggs
from rolling out, but sometimes on the ground. The usual number of eggs
is eight; these are not all laid and brooded at one time, but the first
two are often hatched by the time the last is laid, so that you may find
in one nest young birds, fresh eggs, and others more or less incubated.

Herr von Heuglin, in his Notes on the birds of Novaja Zemlia (Ibis,
1872, p. 61), mentions meeting with this Owl in Seal’s Bay, on Matthew’s
Strait, in the Sea of Kara, where he found three nests with two young
birds covered with down. The nest was formed of a shallow depression
in the turf, without any lining. The food of the Snowy Owl, in Novaja
Zemlia, during the summer time, consisted exclusively of a species of
_Myodes_, which were very numerous. The down of the young is plain
brownish-gray. They were easily tamed, and their comical gestures and
vivacity are said to have been very amusing.

Captain C. F. Hall, the celebrated Arctic voyager, during one of his
expeditions found a nest and four eggs of this species on the bare
ground. These were packed up in an old moccasin, and sent, without
emptying, to the Smithsonian Institution, where, after an interval of
several months, they were successfully emptied, and are now among the
choice treasures of the national museum.


  _Surnia_, DUMÉRIL, Zoöl. Anal. 1806, 34. (Type, _Strix ulula_, LINN.)

GEN. CHAR. Size medium; form elongated, and general aspect hawk-like. No
ear-tufts. Four outer quills with their inner webs sinuated, the third
longest; tail nearly as long as the wing, graduated. Ear-conch small,
simple, oval. Bill strong, yellow; eyes small, the iris yellow. Tarsi
and toes thickly covered with soft dense feathers; tarsus shorter than
the middle toe. Plumage much more compact, and less downy, and remiges
and rectrices stiffer and straighter than in other Owls.

The single species of this genus belongs exclusively to the cold
temperate and arctic zones of the Northern Hemisphere, and is
circumpolar. Though somewhat hawk-like in its appearance, it is
nevertheless a true Owl, and possesses no affinities of structure with
the Hawks, any more than other species of _Strigidæ_.

Species and Races.

  =S. ulula.= Above dark vandyke-brown, the head above dotted with
  white, and the scapulars spotted with the same. Beneath transversely
  barred with vandyke-brown and white, the bars regular, continuous, and
  sharply defined. Head and neck with two lateral, and one posterior
  medial, stripes of brownish-black, the space between them with white
  prevailing. Bill and iris yellow. Wing, about 9.00; tail, 6.80–7.00.

    White spotting prevailing. _Hab._ Palæarctic Realm …

                                                       var. _ulula_.[31]

    Brown spotting prevailing. _Hab._ Nearctic Realm …

                                                        var. _hudsonia_.

Surnia ulula, var. hudsonia (GMELIN).


  _Strix freti hudsonis_, BRISS. Orn. I, 520, 1760. _Strix hudsonia_,
  GMEL. Syst. Nat. p. 295, 1789.—WILS. Am. Orn. pl. l, f. 6, 1808.—SHAW,
  Zoöl. VII, 274, 1809.—VIEILL. Ois. Am. Sept. I, 50. _Surnia hudsonia_,
  JAMES. (WILS.) Am. Orn. I, 90, 1831. _Surnia ulula_, var. _hudsonica_,
  (RIDGWAY) COUES, Key, 1872, 205. _Strix canadensis_, BRISS. Orn.
  I, 518, pl. xxxvii, f. 2, 1789.—SHAW, Zoöl. VII, 273, 1809. _Strix
  funerea_ (not of LINNÆUS!), RICH. & SWAINS. F. B. A. II, 92,
  1831.—AUD. Birds Am. pl. ccclxxviii, 1831; Orn. Biog. IV. 550.—BONAP.
  Ann. Lyc. N. York, II, 35.—BREWER (WILS.), Am. Orn. p. 686.—THOMPS.
  Hist. Vermont, p. 64.—PEAB. Birds Mass. III, 83. _Surnia ulula_ (not
  _ulula_ of LINN.!), CASS. Birds Calif. & Tex. p. 191, 1854.—Birds
  N. Am. 1858, 64.—GRAY, Hand List, I, 39, 1869.—BLACKIST. Ibis, III,
  320.—LORD, Pr. R. A. I. IV, III (Brit. Columb.).—KAUP, Tr. Zoöl.
  Soc. IV, 1859, 214.—DALL & BANNISTER, Tr. Chicago Acad. I, II,
  274.—MAYNARD, Birds Eastern Mass., 1870, 133.

SP. CHAR. _Adult._ Above rich dark vandyke-brown, darker anteriorly,
less intense and more grayish on tail. A narrow streak of brownish-black
originating over the middle of eye, and extending backward above the
upper edge of the ear-coverts, where it forms an elbow passing downward
in a broad stripe over the ends of the ear-coverts; confluent with
this, at about the middle of the vertical stripe, is another of similar
tint, which passes more broadly down the side of the nape; between
the last stripes (those of opposite sides) is another or medial one
of less pure black, extending from the occiput down the nape. Every
feather of the forehead, crown, and occiput with a central ovate dot
of white; those anterior more circular, on the occiput less numerous
and more linear. Between the lateral and posterior nuchal stripes the
white prevails, the brown forming irregular terminal and transverse or
medial spots; these grow more linear toward the back. Interscapulars
plain; posterior scapulars variegated with partially concealed large
transverse spots of white, the lower feathers with nearly the whole
outer webs white, their confluence causing a conspicuous elongated patch
above the wing. Rump with sparse, irregular, but generally transverse,
spots of white; upper tail-coverts with broader, more regular bars
of the same, these about equal to the brown in width. Lower feathers
of the middle and secondary wing-coverts each with an ovoid spot of
white on the outer web; secondaries crossed by about three transverse
series of longitudinally ovoid white spots (situated on the edge of the
feather), and very narrowly tipped with the same; primary coverts with
one or two less continuous transverse series of spots, these found only
on the outer feathers; primaries with about seven transverse series
of white spots, these obsolete except on the five outer feathers, on
which those anterior to the emargination are most conspicuous; all the
primaries are very narrowly bordered with white at the ends. Tail with
seven or eight very narrow bands of white, those on the middle feathers
purely so, becoming obsolete exteriorly; the last is terminal. Eyebrows,
lores, and face grayish-white, the grayish appearance caused by the
blackish shafts of the feathers; that of the face continues (contracting
considerably) across the lower part of the throat, separating a large
space of dark brown, which covers nearly the whole throat, from an
indistinct collar of the same extending across the jugulum,—this collar
uniting the lower ends of the auricular and cervical dusky bands, the
space between which is nearly clear white. Ground-color of the lower
parts white, but everywhere with numerous very regular transverse bars
of deep brown, of a tint more reddish than the back, the brown bars
rather more than half as wide as the white ones; across the upper part
of the breast (beneath the dark gular collar) the white invades very
much and reduces the brown, forming a broad lighter belt across the
jugulum; below this the brown bars increase in width, their aggregation
tending somewhat to a suffusion, giving the white jugular belt better
definition. On the legs and toes the bars are narrower, more distant,
and less regular.

The whole lining of the wing is barred just like the sides. The dark
brown prevails on the under surface of the primaries, etc.; the former
having transverse, irregular, elliptical spots of white, these touching
neither the shaft nor the edge: on the longest quill are seven of these
spots; on all they are anterior to the emargination.

♂ (49,808, Nulato, Alaska, April 21, 1867; W. H. Dall). Wing-formula,
3, 4–2–5–6–1. Wing, 9.00; tail, 7.00; culmen, .70; tarsus (of another
specimen; wanting in the present), .90; middle toe, .82.

♀ (49,807, Nulato, April 20; W. H. Dall). Wing-formula, 3, 4–2–5–6–7=1.
Wing, 9.00; tail, 6.80; culmen, .70; middle toe, .80.

HAB. Arctic America, south in winter into northern United States;
Wisconsin (DR. HOY); Massachusetts (DR. BREWER; MAYNARD); Dakota and
Montana (Mus. S. I.).

The Hawk Owl of North America is to be distinguished from that of
Europe and Siberia by the same characters which distinguish the
American Sparrow Owl from the European, namely, much darker shade of
the brown and its greater prevalence. Three perfect specimens of the
Old World bird (a pair from Lapland, and a specimen from Kamtschatka,
Petropawloosk, W. H. Dall) agree in prevalence of the white over the
head above, the confluence of the spots on the scapulars forming a
larger, more conspicuous patch, and very broad and almost immaculate
jugular belt; the brown bars beneath are very much narrower than in the
American bird, and the tint is not different from that of the back. The
legs and toes are scarcely variegated. While acknowledging the identity
of the two representative forms, the differences are such as to entitle
them to separation as races.

HABITS. The American form of the Hawk Owl inhabits the northern portions
of both continents, and is common in the Arctic portions. On the
Atlantic coast of this continent it has been found as far south as
Philadelphia and the State of New Jersey, but its presence south of
latitude 45° is probably only occasional and rather rare. The European
form, according to Mr. Dresser, has not been known to exist in the
British Islands, but several instances are quoted of the occurrence
of the American form in Great Britain. One was taken off the coast of
Cornwall in March, 1830; another was shot near Yatton, in Somersetshire,
on a sunny afternoon in August, 1847; a third had previously been taken
at Maryhill, near Glasgow, in December, 1863. On the Pacific coast
it has not been taken farther south than Alaska, though it is quite
probable it may yet be found to be an occasional visitant in Washington
Territory and Oregon, and even the northern portions of California. It
remains all the winter in high northern latitudes, and the instances of
its having been taken even in Massachusetts, so far as is now known, are
not many. Wilson only met with two specimens. Audubon and Nuttall never
met with one of these birds alive.

[Illustration: _Surnia ulula._]

Mr. Downes states that the Hawk Owl is very abundant in Nova Scotia
in the winter time in some years, but may not be seen again for four
or five seasons. It is common in Newfoundland, where it breeds in
the Caribou districts. Mr. Downes often kept living specimens in
confinement, which had been taken on board the Cunard steamers off the

Mr. Boardman gives this species as resident, though rare, in the
neighborhood of Calais, being occasionally found there in the
breeding-season. In Oxford County, Maine, Professor A. E. Verrill says
it is a common autumnal and winter visitant, and that it is quite
abundant from the first of November to the middle of March, but not
found there in the summer. Mr. Allen has never met with it in Western
Massachusetts. Near Boston, in some seasons, it is not uncommon, though
never occurring with any frequency, and only singly. It is found
throughout the State, and is probably more common late in November than
at any other time; several having been taken in Westfield, and also
in Berkshire County, among the Green Mountains. I am not aware that
any have been taken farther south than Philadelphia, near which city
Mr. Edward Harris obtained one specimen, while another was shot at
Haddington in 1866. Mr. McIlwraith calls it a rare winter visitant near
Hamilton, Canada.

Richardson states that it is a common species throughout the fur
countries from Hudson Bay to the Pacific, where it is killed by the
hunters more frequently than any other, which may be attributed to
its boldness and to its diurnal habits. During the summer season it
feeds principally upon mice and insects, but in the regions in which
it is found in winter, where the snow is very deep, and where this
food is not procurable, it must depend on the Ptarmigan, and, indeed,
is found a constant attendant upon the flocks of these birds in their
spring migrations. When the hunters are shooting Grouse, it is said to
be occasionally attracted by the report of the gun, and is often bold
enough, when a bird has been killed, to pounce down upon it, although it
is unable, from its inferior size, to carry it off. It is also said to
occasionally hover round the fires made by the Indians at night.

To this account of its habits Richardson adds that it builds its nest
on a tree, of sticks, grass, and feathers, and lays two white eggs. In
regard to the number of eggs, he is now known to be inaccurate. Mr.
MacFarlane met with this bird in considerable numbers in the region
of Anderson River, where he found several nests, and all of which he
made any record were built in pine-trees at considerable height from
the ground. One nest is said to have been on the top of a pine about
twenty feet in height, and was composed of small sticks and twigs,
lined with moss. Both parents were obtained. This nest contained two
young birds—one of which was about ten days old, the other about three
weeks—and an addled egg. This nest was found on the 20th of June,
showing that the bird began to incubate early in May.

Another nest, taken on the 28th of April, was found to contain six
eggs. It was built in the top crotch of a tall pine, was composed of
dry sticks, and lined with hay and a few feathers. A third nest also
contained six eggs, and was lined with green mosses and deer’s hair. One
nest contained as many as seven eggs, and all but one had as many as
six. Mr. MacFarlane speaks of it as a winter resident.

Mr. B. R. Ross states that he found this bird throughout the Great Slave
Lake district, but not plentiful. It winters in even the northernmost
parts of the wooded country. It is said to build its nest not only on
trees, but also on cliffs, and to lay as early as the last of March or
the first of April. He states that the eggs are usually four in number,
and describes them as of a dead white, of an oblong-oval shape, and as
measuring 1.39 inches by 1.21. He received three eggs with the parent
bird, taken at Lapierre’s House, and another parent, with nest and four
eggs, from Salt River.

Mr. Dall found this the most common species of Owl about Nulato. Many
of both sexes were obtained, and on the 16th of April he took from the
ovary of a female an egg ready for laying. On the 5th of May Mr. Dall
obtained six eggs which were laid on the top of an old birch stump, and
fifteen feet from the ground. There was no nest other than that the
rotten wood was somewhat hollowed out, and the eggs laid directly upon
it. As he was climbing to the nest, the male bird which had been sitting
on the nest attacked Mr. Dall, and knocked off his cap. The female did
not appear.

Mr. Donald Gunn states that these Owls hunt in the daytime, and feed
chiefly upon mice; and Mr. Dall seldom found anything but mice in their
crops, and adds that it is very fond of flying, towards dusk, from the
top of one tall spruce to another, apparently swinging or balancing
itself, calling to its mate at intervals, while chasing or being chased
by it.

Captain Drummond states, in “Contributions to Ornithology” (p. 37), that
he noticed a bird of this species, on the wing, within a few yards of
him, in the Bermudas.

Mr. Dresser, who had ample opportunities of observing the Hawk Owl in
New Brunswick, where he found it by no means uncommon, describes it
as a true day Owl. It was often seen by him hawking after prey in the
strongest sunshine, or seated quietly blinking on the top of an old
blasted tree, apparently undisturbed by the glare of the sun. In its
general appearance, and particularly in its flight, it appeared to him
to have considerable affinity to the Sparrow Hawk. In New Brunswick
it affected the open plains or so-called blueberry barrens, where the
open country is covered with low bushes and an occasional scathed tree.
It would sit on one of these trees for hours in an upright hawk-like
position, occasionally hunting over the ground, like the Kestrel of
Europe, in search of small field-mice. It showed but little fear, and
could be easily approached within gun-shot. When shot at and missed,
it would take a short flight and return to its former perch. On one
occasion Mr. Dresser, firing at one with a rifle, cut the branch close
under the bird, which returned almost immediately to another branch, was
a second time missed, and finally fell under a third shot.

Its note is said to be a shrill cry, similar to the call of the European
Kestrel, and generally uttered on the wing. The stomach was generally
found filled with small field-mice, and rarely contained any remains
of small birds. They appeared to hunt after food chiefly early in the
forenoon and in the evening. During the day they rested on some elevated
perch. In the night they retired to rest like other diurnal _Raptores_.

An egg of this Owl, taken from the oviduct of its parent by Mr. B. R.
Ross, April 16, at Fort Simpson, measures 1.50 inches in length by 1.20
in breadth. It is of oval shape, and of a dull-white color. Another
egg measures 1.62 by 1.30 inches, is of a rounded oval, equally obtuse
at either end, and of a yellowish-white color. It was taken by Mr.
MacFarlane at Fort Anderson.


  _Glaucidium_, BOIE, Isis, 1826, 970. _Microptynx_, KAUP. (Type, _Strix
      passerina_, LINN.)
  _Microglaux_, KAUP. (Type, _Strix havanense_, KAUP, = _G. siju_
      (D’ORB.) CAB.)
  ? _Taenioptynx_, KAUP. (Type, _Noctua brodiei_, BURT.)

GEN. CHAR. Size very small; head rather small; bill and feet very strong
and robust; no ear-tufts; tail long, about three fourths as long as the
wing, rounded. Nostrils circular, opening in the middle of the inflated
cere-membrane (except in _G. siju_). Tarsus about equal to the middle
toe, densely feathered; toes haired. Four outer quills with their inner
webs emarginated; third to fourth longest. Ear-conch very small, simple,
rounded. Bill yellowish (except in _G. phalænoides_?); iris yellow.

The genus is most largely developed within the tropical regions, only
one species (_G. passerinum_) belonging to the cold temperate zone, and
this is found on both continents. They are the most robustly organized
of all Owls, and, for their size, are very predatory, as in the next
genus (_Micrathene_), though themselves hardly larger than a Sparrow,
they frequently feed upon small birds, and, no doubt, often destroy the
passerine species of nearly their own size. Like the most of the group
to which this genus belongs, they are diurnal in their habits, and fly
about during the brightest sunshine. They inhabit chiefly dense forests,
and for this reason, are less well known than the more easily accessible

[Illustration: =36874=

_Glaucidium californicum._]

The following synopsis includes only the North American and Mexican
species of _Glaucidium_. In tropical America are several others very
distinct from those here given.

Species and Races.

  COMMON CHARACTERS. Above brown, varying from nearly gray to bright
  ferruginous, in some species this color interrupted by a more or
  less distinct whitish nuchal collar, with an adjacent blackish spot
  (sometimes concealed) on each side of the neck. Tail with narrow
  bands. Beneath white, the sides striped with brown or blackish. Throat
  and jugulum white, with a dusky collar between. Crown speckled or
  streaked with lighter; wings more or less spotted with the same.

    =A.= Markings on the crown circular, or dot-like.

      1. =G. passerinum.= Tail with six to eight narrow white bands.
      Upper parts varying from brownish-gray to chocolate-brown.
      Ground-color of the lower parts pure white.

        Tail, and stripes on sides, not darker than the back; tail-bands
        six, and continuous; toes rather thickly feathered. _Hab._
        Europe …

                                                  var. _passerinum_.[32]

        Tail, and stripes on sides, much darker than the back;
        tail-bands 7 (♂)–8 (♀), not continuous; toes only scantily
        haired. Wing, 3.50–4.00; tail, 2.50–2.80; culmen, .43–.48;
        tarsus, .60; middle toe, .55. _Hab._ Western Province of North
        America. Table-lands of Mexico …

                                                    var. _californicum_.

    =B.= Markings on the crown longitudinal and linear.

      2. =G. infuscatum.= Tail dark brown, crossed by six to seven
      non-continuous bands of white, narrower than the dark ones. Above
      varying from grayish-brown to reddish-umber and sepia. Beneath
      white, the stripes on the sides grayish-brown or dark brown, like
      the back.

        Above dark sepia, or blackish-brown. Tail brownish-black or deep
        black. Wing, 3.70–3.90; tail, 2.50–2.90; culmen, .45; tarsus,
        .65–.80; middle toe, .65–.70. _Hab._ Eastern South America …

                                                  var. _infuscatum_.[33]

        Above grayish, or reddish-umber. Tail clear dark brown, or

          Wing, 3.60–3.90; tail, 2.35–2.75; culmen, .45–.50; tarsus,
          .65–.80; middle toe, .60–.70. _Hab._ Middle America, from the
          Rio Grande (probably in Texas) to Panama …

                                                       var. _gnoma_.[34]

      3. =G. ferrugineum.= Tail crossed by seven to nine continuous
      bands of dark brown and bright rufous, of nearly equal width.
      Above varying from grayish-brown to bright ferruginous; beneath
      varying from pure white to pale rufous, the stripes on the sides
      like the back. Wing, 3.70–4.15; tail, 2.20–2.90; culmen, .45–.50;
      tarsus, .70–.80; middle toe, .70–.75. _Hab._ Tropical America,
      from southern border of United States to Southern Brazil.

Glaucidium passerinum, var. californicum (SCLATER).


  _Glaucidium californicum_, SCLATER, Proc. Zoöl. Soc. Lond. 1857, p.
  4. _Glaucidium passerinum_, var. _californicum_ (RIDGWAY) COUES,
  Key, 1872, 206. _Strix passerinoides_ (not of TEMMINCK!), AUD. Orn.
  Biog. V, 271, 1831. _Glaucidium infuscatum_ (not of TEMM.!), CASS.
  Birds of Cal. & Tex. p. 189, 1854.—NEWB. P. R. R. Rept. VI, IV, 77,
  1857. _Glaucidium gnoma_ (not of WAGLER!), CASS. Birds N. Am. 1858,
  62.—HEERM. P. R. R. Rept. VII, 31, 1857.—COOP. & SUCK. P. R. R. Rept.
  XII, II, 158, 1860.—COUES, Prod. Orn. Ariz. p. 14, 1866.—CAB. Jour.
  1862, 336.—LORD. Int. Obs. 1865, 409 (habits).—GRAY, Hand List, I, 42,
  1869.—CAB. Ueb. Berl. Mus. 1869, 207.

SP. CHAR. _Adult_ (♂, 12,054, Puget Sound, Washington Territory; Dr.
C. B. Kennerly). Above, including the auriculars, umber-brown, with a
faint reddish cast; this tinge most apparent in a sharply defined band
across the throat. The continuity of the brown above is interrupted by a
scarcely observable collar round the nape of concealed whitish; this is
discernible only laterally, where there is also an inconspicuous black
space. Whole head above, and neck behind, with numerous small circular
spots of reddish-white; back, scapulars, and wings more sparsely and
more minutely marked with the same; the two or three lower feathers
of the secondary coverts have each a terminal, somewhat oval, larger
spot of pure white. Secondaries crossed by three (exposed) bands of
pure white, and narrowly tipped with the same; the bands formed by
semicircular spots on the outer webs. Primaries almost plain, but
showing faintly defined obsolete bands,—the third, fourth, and fifth
with two or three conspicuous white spots on outer webs, beyond their
emargination; primary coverts perfectly plain. Tail considerably darker
than the wings, and purer umber; crossed with seven narrow bands of
pure white, the last of which is terminal and not well defined,—these
bands are formed by transverse spots, not touching the shaft on either
web. Lores, sides of the forehead, sides of the throat (beneath the
cheeks and ear-coverts), and lower parts in general, pure white; the
ante-orbital white continuing back over the eye to its middle, but not
beyond it. Lateral portion of the neck and breast (confluent with the
gular belt), and sides, umber, like the back, but more numerously,
though more obsoletely, speckled, the spots rather larger and more
longitudinal on the sides. Breast, abdomen, anal region, and lower
tail-coverts with narrow longitudinal stripes of nearly pure black.
Jugulum immaculate. Tarsi mottled on the outside with brown. Lining
of the wing white; a transverse patch of blackish across the ends of
the under primary coverts, formed by the terminal deltoid spot of each
feather; a blackish stripe, formed of blended streaks (parallel with the
edge of the wing), running from the bend to the primary coverts. Under
surface of primaries dusky, with transverse spots of white anterior to
the emargination; these white spots on the longest quill are eight in
number. Axillars plain white.

Wing, 3.60; tail, 2.60; culmen, .45; tarsus, .60; middle toe, .55.
Wing-formula, 4, 3, 5–2, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 1.

♀ (36,874, Fort Whipple, near Prescott, Arizona, October 11, 1864; Dr.
Coues). In general appearance scarcely different from the male. Upper
surface more ashy, the specks of whitish less numerous, being confined
chiefly to the head; those on the scapulars, however, are large, though
very sparse. The middle wing-coverts have each a conspicuous roundish
white spot near the end of the outer web; the secondary coverts are
similarly marked, forming a band across the wing. The primaries and tail
are as in the male, except that the latter has eight, instead of seven,
white bands. The brown of the gular band extends upward over the throat
to the recurved feathers of the chin; the white dots in the brown of the
sides are considerably larger and (though very irregular) more circular
than in the male; the stripes on the abdomen, etc., are rather broader
and less deeply black than in the male. Wing, 4.00; tail, 2.80; culmen,
.48. (Wing-formula as in male.)

HAB. Pacific Province of North America, from Vancouver Island southward;
Arizona (Fort Whipple); Colorado (El Paso Co., AIKEN); Table-lands of
Mexico (Coll., G. N. LAWRENCE). Perhaps whole of the Western Province,
from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific.

One specimen in the collection (59,069) differs from those described
in much darker colors. The original label is lost, but it was probably
received from the northwest coast, as the darker, more reddish colors
bear about the same relation to the paler gray tints of the southern
birds that the dark northwest coast style of _Scops asio_ (var.
_kennicotti_) does to the true _asio_. The stripes beneath are nearly
pure black, the general tint above being a reddish sepia-brown. Wing,
3.65; tail, 2.70.

The _Glaucidium californicum_ requires comparison only with the _G.
passerinum_ of Europe, to which it is quite closely related, though
easily distinguishable by the characters pointed out in the diagnoses;
it is not at all like _gnoma_, nor indeed any other American species,
with which it has been confounded by nearly all ornithologists, even by
Cabanis, in his excellent paper above cited.

[Illustration: _Glaucidium californicum._]

I have seen only one Mexican specimen of this species, which is one in
Mr. Lawrence’s collection; the locality is not given, but it is probably
from the higher regions of the interior. It differs in no respect,
except in size, from North American examples; it measures, wing, 3.40;
tail, 2.60.

HABITS. This species, one of the smallest of our North American Owls,
was first obtained on the Columbia River by Dr. Townsend, near Fort
Vancouver; and subsequently, Dr. Merideth Gairdner procured several
others from the same locality, which were sent to the Edinburgh Museum.
Dr. Townsend’s specimen was said to have been taken on the wing at

Dr. Cooper met with a single specimen in Washington Territory early in
November, 1854. He observed it among a flock of Sparrows, that did not
seem at all disturbed by its presence. At first he mistook it for one of
these birds. Its stomach was found to contain only insects.

Dr. Suckley obtained two specimens at Puget Sound, where he found it
moderately abundant. It seemed to be diurnal in its habits, gliding
about in shady situations in pursuit of its prey. He saw one about
midday in a shady alder-swamp near Nisqually. It flitted noiselessly
past him several times, alighting near by, on a low branch, as if to
examine the intruder.

Near a small lake in the neighborhood of Fort Steilacoom, Dr. Suckley
frequently heard the voice of a diminutive Owl, which he supposed to
come from one of these birds, as this is the only small species of the
family he ever saw in that neighborhood. The notes were subdued and
clear, like the soft, low notes of a flute.

Dr. Newberry procured specimens of the Pigmy Owl on the Cascade
Mountains, in Oregon, where, however, it was not common. It occurs
also in California, as he saw several individuals in San Francisco
that had been obtained in that State, but he did not meet with any in
the Sacramento Valley. It was apparently confined to wooded districts,
which is probably the reason why it is not more frequent in the open
country of California. He adds that it flies about with great freedom
and activity by day, pursuing the small birds upon which it subsists,
apparently as little incommoded by the light as they are. It is,
however, doubtful whether it subsists, to any large extent, on small
birds. So far as observed it appears to feed almost exclusively on
insects, although the Owl taken by Townsend is said to have had the
entire body of a _Regulus_ in its stomach.

Dr. Cooper speaks of this Owl as not uncommon in the middle part of
California, though he did not meet with it in the southern part of the
State. It is probable that it is occasional in Southern California, as
it has been found in Mexico, where however, it is undoubtedly rare, as
Mr. Ridgway informs me that only a single specimen of this Owl, among a
hundred others from Mexico, has ever been seen by him.

Dr. Heermann met with this beautiful little species among the
mountainous districts of the mining regions of California, where it
was by no means rare. It was, however, seldom captured by him, and
he regarded its flying by night as the reason; but this view is not
corroborated by the observations of others. In 1852 he procured three
specimens on the borders of the Calaveras River, others were taken on
the Cosumnes River, and Mr. J. G. Bell, of New York, met with it on the
American River, thus demonstrating its wide and general distribution
throughout the State.

Mr. John K. Lord met with a pair on Vancouver Island. He characterizes
the bird as of shy and solitary habits, always hiding among the thick
foliage of the oak or pine, except when feeding. Early one spring,
while collecting specimens of the smaller migrant birds, he was favored
with unusual opportunities for watching their habits. The pair had made
their home in the hollow of an oak-tree that stood in an open patch of
gravelly ground near a small lake. The remains of an Indian lodge which
was close to the place enabled Mr. Lord to watch closely the habits
of this interesting pair. In the first morning twilight the Owls were
up and in motion, hungry after a whole night’s fasting. Their flight
was short, quick, and jerking, similar to that of the Sparrow Hawk,
but wholly unlike the muffled, noiseless flap of the Night Owls. Their
food was found to be entirely insectivorous, chiefly grasshoppers and
field-crickets, with an occasional beetle or butterfly. When in pursuit
of food, they perch on a small branch near the ground, and sit bolt
upright in an indolent drowsy manner until their quick eye detects an
insect, when they suddenly pounce upon it, hold it down with their
small but powerful claws, and with their sharp beaks tear it to pieces.
Only the soft abdominal parts are thus eaten. As soon as their hunger
is satiated they return to the tree, cuddling close together, and doze
away the greater part of the day. In the evening twilight the Owls again
come out of their hole and take erratic flights around their abode,
chasing each other up and down the plain, and performing all kinds of
inexplicable manœuvres. Occasionally they settle on the ground, but
never long at a time.

Mr. Lord never observed them to capture an insect while on the wing, and
a very small quantity of food seemed to supply their wants. As soon as
it became dark they retired to their nest, and there apparently passed
the night.

To this account Mr. Lord adds, that early in May two small eggs were
laid, white in color, round and very rough on their surface, a large
knot-hole in the branch of the tree having been selected as the
nesting-place. Nothing of any kind was used as a lining, the eggs being
deposited on the bare wood. The length of time occupied in incubation
Mr. Lord was not able to ascertain in consequence of the shortness of
his stay.

Glaucidium ferrugineum, KAUP.


  _Strix ferruginea_, MAX. Reis. Bras. I, 105, 1820; Trav. Bras. p. 88;
  Beitr. III, 234.—TEMM. Pl. Col. 199.—LATH. Gen. Hist. I, 373. _Noctua
  f._, STEPH. Zoöl. XIII, pt. ii, p. 69.—LESS. Man. Orn. I, 111; Tr.
  Orn. 104.—CUV. Règ. An. (ed. 2), I, 346.—TSCHUDI, Av. Consp. Wiegm.
  Archiv. 1844, 267; Faun. Per. pp. 19, 117. _Surnia f._, BONAP. Oss.
  Cuv. Règ. An. p. 56; Isis, 1833, 1053. _Athene f._, GRAY, Gen. B. fol.
  sp. 17; List B. Brit. Mus. p. 92.—BONAP. Consp. Av. p. 38.—STRICKL.
  Orn. Syn. I, 162, 1855. _Glaucidium f._, KAUP, Mon. Strig. Cont. Orn.
  1852, 104.—BURM. Thier. Bras. II, 141, 146.—CABAN. Ueb. Berl. Mus.
  1869, 206.—COUES, Am. Nat. VI, 370 (Arizona).—IB. Key, 1872, 206. _?
  Athene nana_ (KING), GRAY, Gen. 1844, pl. xii (normal plumage).

_a._ _Normal plumage._

SP. CHAR. _Adult_ (♂, 23,792, Mazatlan, Mexico; J. Xantus). Upper
surface umber-brown, more ashy anteriorly, posteriorly more brownish.
Head above with a few narrow longitudinal lines of yellowish-white,
anteriorly and laterally; a quite distinct collar of whitish spots
across the nape, the black lateral spaces rather obsolete; scapulars
with a few conspicuous oval spots of pure white; two lower feathers of
secondary coverts each with a similar spot on outer web. Secondaries
darker brown, crossed with five bands of dull rufous, the last not
terminal; outer webs of primaries with semicircular pale spots along
the margin, these nearly white beyond the sinuation of the feathers,
anteriorly brownish. Tail bright rufous, crossed with about seven
distinct bands of dark brown, these hardly equalling the rufous in
width, which is also terminal. Longitudinal stripes of the sides of the
same soft grayish-brown tint as the head; tarsi sparsely speckled with
the same on outer side. Wing-formula, 4, 5, 3–6–7, 2, 8; first shortest.
Wing, 3.70; tail, 2.20; culmen, .45; tarsus, .70; middle toe, .70.

_b._ _Rufescent plumage._

_Adult._ Upper surface continuously deep lateritious-rufous, all
the lighter markings almost obliterated. Bars on the tail scarcely
traceable. Black cervical transverse space conspicuous. Sides of the
breast and stripes of the sides duller rufous than the tint above; white
of ground-color with yellowish tinge; legs pale rufous, deepest on outer
side, immaculate. Gular collar blackish.

♂ (43,055, La Palma, Costa Rica, January 27, 1866; José Zeledon).
Wing-formula, 4=5, 3–6–2; first shortest. Wing, 3.80; tail, 2.40.

♀ (33,216, San José, Costa Rica; J. Carmiol). Wing-formula, 4, 3=5–6, 2;
first shortest. Wing, 4.15; tail, 2.90; tarsus, .80; middle toe, .75.

HAB. Whole of eastern South America, and Middle America (both coasts)
north into southern border of United States (Arizona, BENDIRE; probably
entire southern border).

The numerous specimens examined come from the Rio Grande of Texas
(across the whole breadth of Middle America) to Paraguay, everywhere the
same species, those from the extremes of its range showing scarcely any

A specimen of the ferruginous plumage, in the collection of the
Philadelphia Academy, is remarkable for the great intensity and
uniformity of the rufous; the entire plumage, in fact, being of this
color, a fine light tint of which replaces the white below. There is no
trace of bars on either wings or tail.

In the very large series before me I find in individuals every possible
shade between the two extremes described. Over fifty specimens have come
under my notice.

HABITS. This little Owl claims a place in our fauna on the strength of
several specimens taken in Southern Arizona by Captain Bendire. It is a
southern bird, found throughout the whole of Mexico, and ranges thence
though the whole of South America, except the Pacific coast, as far
south as Southern Brazil. In Mexico it is as abundant on the Pacific as
on the eastern coast, and is by far the most common Owl of its genus
found in that country.

Mr. E. C. Taylor states that he found this bird pretty common in
Trinidad, where it is said to fly about in the daytime, apparently
indifferent to the blazing tropical sun, and is much smaller than any
other species of Owl he met with.


  _Micrathene_, COUES, P. A. N. S. Philad. 1866, 57. (Type, _Athene
  whitneyi_, COOPER.)

GEN. CHAR. Size very small (the smallest Owl known); head small, and
without ear-tufts. Bill and feet weak. Tail short, less than half the
wing, even. Nostril small, circular, opening in the middle of the much
inflated ceral membrane. Tarsus a little longer than the middle toe,
naked, scantily haired, as are also the toes. Four outer quills with
their inner webs sinuated; fourth longest. Ear-conch very small, simple,
roundish. Bill pale greenish; iris yellow.

[Illustration: ½

_Micrathene whitneyi._]

This well-marked genus is represented by a single species, found in
the Colorado region of the United States, and in Western Mexico. It
is the smallest of all known Owls, and has the general aspect of a
_Glaucidium_. From the fact that feathers of birds were found in its
stomach, we may reasonably infer that it is of exceedingly rapacious
habits, like the species of that genus.


  =M. whitneyi.= Above grayish olive-brown, sprinkled with small, rather
  obscure, spots of pale rusty, and interrupted by a whitish nuchal
  collar; outer webs of the lower series of scapulars pure white. Wings
  spotted with white and pale fawn-color; tail grayish-brown, crossed
  by five to six narrow interrupted bands of pale fawn-color. Eyebrows
  and lores pure white; a cravat of the same on the chin. Beneath white,
  marked with large, rather longitudinal, ragged blotches of pale
  rusty, mottled with dusky. Bill pale greenish; iris yellow. Length,
  5.50–6.25; extent of wings, 14.25–15.25 (measurements of freshly
  killed specimens). Wing, 4.00–4.40; tail, 1.90–2.30. _Hab._ Fort
  Mohave, California (April), and Socorro Island, west coast of Mexico.

Micrathene whitneyi, COUES.


  _Athene whitneyi_, COOPER, Proc. Cal. Acad. Sc. 1861, p. 118.
  _Micrathene whitneyi_, COUES, Pr. Ac. Nat. Sc. Philad. 1866,
  15.—ELLIOT, Illust. Am. B. I, xxix.—GRAYSON (LAWRENCE), Ann. N. Y.
  Lyc.—COUES, Key, 1872, 207.

SP. CHAR. _Adult_ (♂, 208, J. G. Cooper, Fort Mohave, California,
April 26, 1861). Above umber-brown (less pure and uniform than in
_Glaucidium_), each feather with an irregular, transversely elliptical
spot of pale rufous, these largest on the forehead, bordering the
white eyebrows; the feathers everywhere minutely mottled transversely
with darker, this being most noticeable where bordering the yellowish
spots. Scapulars with their outer webs almost wholly white. Wings with
the ground-color a little darker than the back; lesser coverts with
numerous spots of light rufous, there being two on each feather, one
concealed; middle and secondary coverts with a very large oval spot of
pure white terminating the outer webs, the white spot on the latter
preceded by a pale rufous one. Secondaries with five (exposed) bands
of pale ochraceous (the last terminal), these passing into white on
the edge; primary coverts with three large ochraceous spots; primaries
with about six (including the terminal) conspicuous spots of the same,
those anterior to the emargination, on the third, fourth, and fifth
quills, almost white. Tail like the wings, but more uniform; crossed by
six irregular narrow bands of pale ochraceous, the last, or terminal,
of which is not well defined; these do not touch the shaft, and on the
inner webs they are pure white. Lores and eyebrows, cheeks, lining of
the wings, and ground-color of the lower parts, white; ear-coverts and
sub-orbital space like the crown, but more rusty; lateral lower parts
much washed with plumbeous, this especially prevalent on the flanks.
Behind the sharply defined white of the cheeks is a black transverse
wash. Throat, jugulum, breast, and abdomen, with each feather having a
medial longitudinal ragged-edged blotch of pale rufous, these blotches
most clearly defined on the abdomen, more confused anteriorly; anal
region and tibiæ almost immaculate; tibiæ with numerous transverse
narrow blackish bars, on a pale ochraceous ground. Lining of the
wing faintly spotted at the bend, and on the primary coverts, the
terminal half of which is plain dusky; under surface of primaries
blackish, with obscure transverse paler spots,—those anterior to
the emargination almost white; those beyond darker, the last being
scarcely distinguishable; on the longest quill eight can be detected.
Wing-formula, 4, 3=5–2, 6, 7, 8, 9–1. Length, “6.25”; extent, “15.25”;
wing, 4.40; tail, 2.30; culmen, .35; tarsus, .80; middle toe, .60.

A male from Socorro Island (49,678, Colonel A. J. Grayson) is less adult
than the preceding. The upper plumage is more brownish and more mottled;
the rufous spots, though deeper and larger, are less sharply defined;
the spots on the primaries are all ochraceous; the bands on the tail are
broader, though of the same number. Beneath the longitudinal blotches
do not appear, but the rusty rufous covers nearly the whole surface,
leaving the medial portion only white, and this not well defined; the
rusty shows ragged minute transverse bars of blackish. The whitish
collar round the nape is also better defined than in the type. Wing,
4.20; tail, 2.10. Wing-formula, 4, 3=5–6, 2–7, 8, 9, 10, 1. Length,
5.20; extent, 14.25.

Another specimen, 50,765, from the same locality, also apparently
immature, is just like the preceding in plumage. It measures, wing,
4.00; tail, 1.90.

[Illustration: _Micrathene whitneyi._]

HABITS. The type specimen of this diminutive species was shot at Fort
Mohave, in the Colorado Valley, latitude 35°, April 26, 1861, and two
others have since been taken on the Socorro Islands, off the western
coast of Mexico, by Colonel Grayson. It is smaller even than the little
California Pygmy Owl, and is therefore the smallest known to inhabit
North America. It resembles that species in its colors, but is thought
by Dr. Cooper to be more similar to the burrowing Owls in its generic
characters. It was found in a dense thicket, on a very windy morning,
and where it may have taken only a temporary refuge, after having been
blown down from some of the caverns in the barren mountains surrounding
the valley. In its stomach were found the remains of insects and the
feathers of small birds. Several specimens of this Owl were taken in
Arizona by Captain Bendire, one of which is now in the collection of the
Boston Society of Natural History. Captain Bendire also found one of
their nests, with two fully fledged young ones, in a hole of a mesquite


  _Speotyto_, “GLOGER, 1842.” (Type, _Strix cunicularia_, MOL.)
  “_Pholeoptynx_, KAUP, 1848.” (Same type.)

GEN. CHAR. Size small; head small, and without ear-tufts. Bill
moderately strong, pale yellowish. Tarsi more than twice as long as the
middle toe, feathered in front, naked behind; toes scantily haired.
Tail short, less than half the wing, nearly even, or very slightly
rounded. Three outer quills with their inner webs emarginated; second
to fourth longest. Ear-conch very small, simple, roundish. Diurnal and

[Illustration: =5896= ½ ½

_Speotyto hypogæa._]

This genus is peculiar to America, where it is distributed over the
whole of the southern and the western half of the northern continent, as
well as in some of the West India Islands. There appears to be but one
well-characterized species,[35] this one modified into representative
races in the several geographical provinces over which it ranges. The
species is terrestrial, inhabiting the abandoned burrows of Armadillos
and Rodents. It is diurnal, possessing as much freedom of sight,
hearing, and motion in the brightest sunlight, as any species of the

Species and Races.

  =S. cunicularia.= Colors umber-brown and ochraceous-white, the former
  predominating above, the latter prevailing below. Upper parts spotted
  with whitish; lower parts transversely barred with brown on the breast
  and sides, and sometimes on the abdomen. A white gular patch, and
  jugular collar, with a brown band between them. Legs, crissum, anal
  and femoral regions, always immaculate.

    =A.= Primaries with broad regular bars of ochraceous-white on both
    webs; primary coverts with large spots of the same.

      Brown markings of the lower parts irregularly transverse, and
      ragged. White spots on the upper parts nearly equal in extent to
      the brown.

        Wing, 6.15–6.40; tail, 2.90–3.60; culmen, .58–.62; tarsus,
        1.50–1.80; middle toe, .65. _Hab._ Peru …

                                                   var. _grallaria_.[36]

      Brown markings on the lower parts regularly transverse, and not
      ragged. White spots on the upper parts much less than the brown in

        Wing, 7.00–7.50; tail, 3.30–4.00; culmen, .70; tarsus,
        1.70–1.85; middle toe, .85. Outer tail-feathers and inner webs
        of primaries with the white much greater in amount than the
        brown (sometimes continuous along outer webs of the latter).
        _Hab._ Southern South America (Chile, Buenos Ayres, Paraguay,
        etc.) …

                                                 var. _cunicularia_.[37]

        Wing, 6.40–7.00; tail, 3.00–3.30; culmen, .50–.60; tarsus,
        1.50–1.70; middle toe, .80. Outer tail-feathers and inner webs
        of the primaries with the white less in extent than the brown
        (never continuous along outer webs of the primaries). _Hab._
        Middle America, and Western Province of North America …

                                                         var. _hypogæa_.

    =B.= Primaries without broad or regular bars of whitish on either
    web; primary coverts plain brown.

      Brown markings on the lower parts regularly transverse, and equal
      in extent to the white. White spots on the upper parts very small,
      reduced to mere specks on the dorsal region.

        Wing, 6.40; tail, 3.40; culmen, .60; tarsus, 1.82; middle toe,
        .85. Outer tail-feathers and inner webs of the primaries with
        the light (ochraceous) bars only about one fourth as wide as the
        brown (disappearing on the inner quills). _Hab._ Guadeloupe …

                                              var. _guadeloupensis_.[38]

Spheotyto cunicularia, var. hypogæa, BONAP.


  _Strix hypogæa_, BONAP. Am. Orn. I, 72, 1825. _Athene hypogæa_, BONAP.
  Consp. Av. p. 39, 1850.—WOODH. (SITGR.) Expl. Zuñi and Colorado, p.
  62, 1853.—CASS. Birds N. Am. 1858, 59.—NEWB. P. R. R. Rept. VI, 77,
  1857.—COOP. & SUCK. P. R. R. Rept. XII, ii, 157, 1860.—GRAY, Hand
  List, I, 52, 1869. _Speotyto cunicularia_, var. _hypogæa_, (RIDGWAY)
  COUES, Key, 1872, 207. _Strix cunicularia_ (not of MOLINA!), AUD.
  B. Am. pl. ccccxxxii, 1831; Orn. Biog. V, 264; Synop. p. 22.—NUTT.
  Man. Orn. p. 118, 1844.—BONAP. Am. Orn. p. 68, pl. vii, f. 2, 1825;
  Ann. Lyc. N. Y. II, 36.—JAMES. (WILS.), Am. Orn. IV, 30.—SAY, Long’s
  Exp. Rocky Mts., II, 36, 200. _Ulula cunicularia_, JARD. (WILS.) Am.
  Orn. III, 325, 1832. _Athene cunicularia_, BONAP. List, p. 6; Consp.
  Av. p. 38. STRICKL. Orn. Syn. I, 160, 1855.—CASSIN, Birds N. Am.
  1858, 60.—COOP. & SUCK. P. R. R. Rept. XII, II, 157, 1860.—CANFIELD,
  Am. Nat. 1869, 583 (habits). _Strix californica_, AUD. B. Am. pl.
  ccccxxxii, 1831. _Athene socialis_, GAMB. Pr. Acad. Nat. Sc. Phil.
  III, 47, 1846.

SP. CHAR. _Adult._ Above earth-brown, the whole surface covered with
numerous spots of dull white,—those on the scapulars roundish, and in
pairs (on both webs); of similar form, but larger and more sparse, on
the wings. Anteriorly they become more longitudinal (nearly linear),
and medial; on the rump and upper tail-coverts, they are nearly
obsolete. Secondaries crossed by four distinct bands of dull white,
the last terminal; primaries with five to six transverse series of
semi-rounded spots of ochraceous-white on their outer webs; primary
coverts with about three transverse series of whitish spots. Tail
with five to six bands of dull white, or pale ochraceous (the last
terminal), composed of transverse oval spots, those on the middle pair
of feathers not touching either the shaft or the edge. Ear-coverts
uniform brown, becoming gradually paler beneath the eye and on the
cheeks; eyebrows, a transverse chin-patch,—covering the whole chin
and jaw and reaching back beneath the auriculars, and another across
the jugulum, immaculate cottony-white; shafts of the loral bristles
blackish; a broad, well-defined collar across the throat, between the
white malar and jugular bands, deep brown, mixed with paler spots.

Beneath white with a faint ochraceous tinge, especially on the legs; the
breast, abdomen, and sides with transverse spots of brown, this often
predominating on the breast; legs, anal region, and crissum, immaculate.
Whole lining of the wing immaculate creamy-white, the primary coverts,
however, with large terminal spots of dusky; under surface of the
primaries grayish-brown, deeper terminally, and with large, transversely
ovate spots of ochraceous-white (about five in number on the longest
quill), and growing larger basally.

♂. Wing, 6.40–7.00; tail, 3.00–3.30; culmen, .55–.60; tarsus, 1.50–1.70;
middle toe, .80. (Smallest, No. 5,183, Fort Pierre, Nebraska; largest,
No. 6,881, Sacramento, California.)

♀. Wing, 6.50–6.80; tail, 3.15–3.30; culmen, .51–.55; tarsus, 1.50–1.60;
middle toe, .80. (Smallest, No. 45,020, Laredo, Texas; largest, No.
3,971, San José, Lower California.)

_Juv._ Upper surface earth-brown, as in the adult, but entirely uniform,
except the wings and tail; upper tail-coverts, and a large oval patch
on the wing (covering the middle coverts and the posterior half of
the lesser-covert region), plain isabella-white; the anterior portion
of the lesser-covert region darker brown than the back. Gular region
well-defined pure white; jugular collar conspicuous and unspotted. Whole
lower parts immaculate isabella-white.

HAB. Western Province of United States, from the Plains to the Pacific,
and from the Rio Grande to Cape St. Lucas; Mexico.

Localities: Xalapa (SCL. 1857, 290); Texas (DRESSER, Ibis, 1865, 330;

Specimens never vary in the pattern of coloration, and but little in
the relative amount of the brown and white spotting; the shade of the
brown and the depth of the ochraceous tinge vary considerably, however,
in different individuals,—but irrespective of locality,—the brown
being paler and the white purer in summer than in fall and winter,
after the new dress is freshly assumed. The brown on the breast varies
considerably in quantity, being sometimes nearly uniform, thereby
abruptly contrasting with the white jugular band, and again frequently
with the brown hardly greater in amount than the white, the two colors
being in regular bars, as on the sides and flanks.

There is certainly but one species, or even race, of Burrowing Owl in
North America. This is represented in the Smithsonian collection by
over fifty specimens, including examples from all parts of its range.
Upon a close inspection of all the specimens in this extensive series,
I was very much surprised to find so little variation; indeed, all the
specimens are so much alike that a detailed description of the colors of
one would answer for almost any individual. The shade of color varies
mainly according to the age of the feathers, those newly acquired having
a darkness of tint and a softness of texture not seen in those more worn
(as in midsummer dress), which have a bleached or faded appearance. I
fail entirely to detect the different styles of plumage which Mr. Cassin
has described, and his diagnoses of two supposed species will not at all
hold good when applied to specimens from either of the two regions which
they were considered to characterize.

Examining critically the large series at my command, I find that the
principal discrepancy among individuals is the amount of feathering on
the tarsus; this extending to the toes was supposed to characterize the
_A. cunicularia_ of North America the habitat of which was considered
as restricted in North America to the west of the Rocky Mountains (see
Cassin, Birds of North America, as cited above); the nearly naked tarsus
was believed to be characteristic of the _A. hypogæa_, as restricted,
and the habitat assigned to this was “from the Mississippi River to the
Rocky Mountains.” Now, dividing the series under examination into two
sets, according to this feature, we have, first, _cunicularia_ from
the following localities: from the Rio Grande, all specimens but one;
Tongue River, Montana; and Petaluma, Santa Clara, and San Francisco,
California. Next, _hypogæa_ represents the following localities,
besides places within the range ascribed to it: Utah; Lower California,
including Cape St. Lucas, all specimens; San Diego, California, several
specimens; Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Sacramento, and Fort Tejon,
California; and Tamaulipas, Mexico.

Though we have but one species or form in North America, the South
American bird is different: this is the true _cunicularia_ of Molina,
and though not specifically distinct from our bird, is nevertheless an
easily recognized geographical race. It is larger, the wing measuring
from 7.00 to 7.50, instead of 6.40 to 7.00; the brown of the plumage
is appreciably darker than that of most specimens of _hypogæa_, but
less extended; on the outer web of the primaries the white spots are
larger,—sometimes confluent along the edge,—and on their inner webs the
white largely prevails, the dusky bars appearing only towards the ends;
the outer tail-feather is almost wholly white, instead of having brown
bars, broader than the white ones. Of the var. _cunicularia_ there are
eight specimens in the collection (chiefly from Paraguay, Buenos Ayres,
and Chile), while numerous others, in various collections, have been
examined besides. All the American forms of this subgenus seem clearly
referrible to one species, as being at the most but geographical races.

HABITS. The Burrowing Owl of North America inhabits the country between
the Pacific coast and the Mississippi River, especially in the lower
plains in Nebraska and in Kansas, as well as in particular districts
in Utah, Arkansas, New Mexico, the Indian Territory, Texas, Arizona,
California, and Mexico. They are usually very abundant, congregating
together in large communities, and differing from most members of their
family by living and breeding in burrows in the ground. Their habits are
peculiar and interesting.

[Illustration: _Speotyto hypogæa._]

Thomas Say, during Colonel Long’s expedition to the Rocky Mountains, was
the first of American naturalists to meet with this bird. He encountered
it in our trans-Mississippian Territories, where he described it
as residing exclusively in the villages of the prairie-dog, whose
excavations are so commodious as to make it unnecessary for the bird to
dig for itself, which it is able to do when occasion requires. These
villages are very numerous, and variable in their extent, sometimes
covering only a few acres, and at others spreading over the surface of
the country for miles together. They are composed of slightly elevated
mounds, having the form of a truncated cone, about two feet in width at
base, and seldom rising as high as eighteen inches above the surface.
The entrance is at the top or on the side. From the entrance the passage
descends vertically one or two feet, and thence it continues obliquely
downward until it terminates in the snug apartment where these animals
enjoy their winter’s sleep, and where they and the Owls are common, but
unfriendly, occupants.

Mr. Dresser noticed this bird at all seasons, in the prairie country of
Texas. They were rather common near the Rio Leon and Medina, and in one
place he found they had taken possession of some deserted rat-holes.
He obtained several specimens near San Antonio and at Eagle Pass. In
the latter place he found them quite common on the sand plains near the
town. The stomachs of those he shot were found to contain coleopterous
insects and field-mice.

Dr. Newberry states that he found this species in Northern California,
in several places between San Francisco and Fort Reading, and again at
the Klamath Basin, though less frequently at the northward than in the
Sacramento Valley. There they occupied the burrows made by the Beechey’s
and the Douglass’s Spermophile. He usually saw them standing at the
entrance to these burrows, often permitting him to approach within
gun-shot, and before taking to flight twisting their heads about and
bowing with many ludicrous gestures, apparently in order to aid their
imperfect sight, and to get a better view of the intruder. When shot
at or otherwise alarmed, they fly with an irregular jerking motion,
dropping down much like a Woodcock.

Dr. Suckley obtained a specimen near Fort Benton, on the Upper Missouri,
in Dakotah, and Dr. Cooper procured others thirty-five miles west of
Fort Kearney, in Nebraska, in August. He saw them in great numbers on
the plains of Nebraska, and did not observe any difference in habits
between them and the birds of California.

This species was found in Texas, near Fort Davis, and also at El Paso,
by Mr. J. H. Clark. It was taken in Tamaulipas, Mexico, by Lieutenant
Couch. Mr. Clark remarks that they were seen by him only in the
prairie-dog towns, and were found in conjunction with the rattlesnake,
and accuses them of feeding upon the young of the prairie-dog; but
this ungrateful requital of the hospitality given them in the burrows
of this marmot is discredited by Dr. Kennerly and others, who regard
the apparent harmony in which the two dwell together as altogether
incompatible with this habit.

This species is also found on our Pacific coast, west of the Rocky
Mountains, as far north as British Columbia. Mr. Lord met with it
along the entire course of the boundary-line. It was not by any means
plentiful, but pairs of them were occasionally seen. While in camp
at the Dalles he dug out several squirrel-holes. In one he found
two eggs of this species, the female bird, a racer-snake, and a
female ground-squirrel (_Spermophilus douglassi_). The Owl he found
to be strictly of diurnal habits, feeding principally on crickets,
grasshoppers, large beetles, and larvæ. He thinks it never captures
small animals or birds, and regards it as a peaceful and harmless bird.

Dr. Kennerly met with this species near Los Angeles, California. At any
hour of the day they might be seen seated upon the mounds erected around
the holes of the marmot, or else with head protruding from its orifice,
disappearing immediately when approached. When molested, they commence
bowing and chattering in a somewhat ludicrous manner at the intruder, or
fly swiftly away, keeping near the earth and alighting suddenly in the
vicinity of a burrow to renew these amusing motions. He found it very
abundant in the valley of the San Gabriel River, where it associated
with the large ground-squirrel of that region.

Dr. Heermann, who found them common on the extensive open prairies,
speaks of its sight as very clear by day, and adds that it will not
allow the hunter on foot to approach within shooting distance; but
that, if approached on a horse or a mule, it may be easily shot. The
nests he found were formed of a few straws carelessly thrown together
at the bottom of its tortuous burrow, which is from six to eight feet
in length. The eggs were usually four in number, and are described as
nearly spherical, and as pure white.

Dr. Townsend states that this Owl resorts to the forsaken burrows of
marmots and badgers, but never lives on terms of intimacy with either.
The nest he describes as of fine grass, and placed at the extremity of
the hole. The eggs are uniformly four in number, pale white, and about
the size of those of the common House Pigeon.

Dr. Gambel, who observed this bird in California, states that he has
occasionally found it in solitary burrows, and also that it often makes
use of the holes dug by the _Spermophilus beecheyi_. They occasionally
dig their own burrows, and live in scattered companies of four or
five. Dr. Gambel also states that the bird is a resident of California
throughout the year.

Mr. Darwin, in the Zoölogy of the Beagle, met with the var.
_cunicularia_ in crossing the pampas of South America. In Banda
Oriental, he says, it is its own workman, and excavates its burrows
on any level spot of sandy soil; but in the pampas, or wherever the
Bizcacha is found, it uses those made by that animal. It usually preys
on mice and reptiles. Lieutenant Gilliss gives a similar account of it,
from observations made in Chile.

Mr. Nathaniel H. Bishop met with _cunicularia_ on the banks of the river
San Juan, in Banda Oriental, where a few pairs were seen, devouring
mice and insects. After crossing the river Las Vacas, and coming upon
a sandy waste covered with scattered trees and low bushes, he again
encountered it. Upon the pampas of the Argentine Republic they were
found in great numbers, from a few miles west of Rosario to the vicinity
of San Luis, where the pampas end. On these immense plains of grass
it lives in company with the Bizcacha (_Lagostomus trichodactylus_),
dwelling with it in perfect harmony, and during the day, while the
animal is sleeping, a pair of Owls stand a few inches within the main
entrance of the burrow, and at the first sound, be it near or distant,
leave their station and remain outside the hole, or upon the mound
that forms the roof of their domicile. At the approach of man, both
birds, with their irides dilated, mount above him in the air, and keep
up an alarm-note until he passes. Then they quietly settle down in the
grass, or return to their former place. On the pampas Mr. Bishop did
not observe them taking their prey during the daytime, but as soon as
the sun had set, the Bizcacha and Owls both leave their holes in search
of food, the young of the former playing about the birds as they alight
near them. They do not associate in companies, there being but one pair
to a hole. Each couple keep separate from their neighbors, and at night
do not stray from their homes.

It is both diurnal and nocturnal, and feeds at all hours. Outside the
town of San Juan, which lies upon the eastern base of the Andes, Mr.
Bishop had a fine opportunity to watch their habits in a locality
differing entirely from the pampas. The country around San Juan is a
dreary desert, covered with low thorn-trees, and over this waste a few
Owls are found, principally near the town itself, in the vicinity of the
pastures that are cultivated by irrigation. They mate in September and
October. “One evening,” Mr. Bishop writes, “I was attracted by a strange
sound that I supposed proceeded from a frog, but it proved to be the
love-note of a little _Athene cunicularia_, and which was answered by
its mate. It alighted upon a post, and commenced turning around upon it,
with throat dilated, and emitting a guttural sound. These antics were
continued for more than a minute, it occasionally bowing its head in a
mysterious manner. The female soon after joined it, and they flew away.
Each night it perched upon a tall flagstaff and uttered its love-note.
Close by the house was a lagoon, the borders of which were swampy, and
over this a pair often hovered in search of food. I watched one that
kept on the wing for nearly two hours, some fifty feet from the ground,
and during that time did not change its position in any other way than
by rising or falling a few feet. A boy brought me a female with five
eggs, that had been taken from a burrow five feet from the mouth. The
bird was very fierce, and fought me with her wings and beak, uttering
all the while a long shrill note, resembling a file drawn across the
teeth of a saw. I supplied her with eleven full-grown mice, which she
devoured during the first thirty-six hours of her confinement. It is
said to place a small nest of feathers at the end of the hole, in which
are deposited five white eggs.”

The eggs of the var. _cunicularia_ are of a rounded-oval shape, more
obtuse at one end than at the other, measure 1.30 inches in length by
1.05 in breadth, and are of a uniform white color, with a slightly
bluish tinge.

[Illustration: =6885= ½ NAT. SIZE.

_Strix pratincola._ (See page 10.)]

The egg of the _A. hypogæa_ is of a rounded-oval shape, equally obtuse
at either end, and averages 1.35 inches in length by 1.13 in breadth,
and is of a uniform clear white color. This description is taken from an
egg obtained by Mr. E. S. Holden near Stockton in California. Captain
Bendire writes that he has found as many as nine, and once even ten,
eggs in the nest of the North American species.


The crania of the Owls present many features of interest, which may
serve a good purpose in the definition of the sections and the genera,
and to which attention has been occasionally called in the preceding
pages. The tendency to asymmetry is especially marked in some species,
and the better to illustrate this and other features we append several
plates, in which the corresponding views are placed side by side.[39]
The figures and accompanying lettering tell their own story, without any
necessity of a labored description.

R. R.

[Illustration: _Syrnium aluco_ (copied from KAUP).]

[Illustration: _Athene noctua_ (from KAUP).]

[Illustration: _Nyctale richardsoni._]


  7449. Strix pratincola. Natural size.
  4886. Otus wilsonianus. Natural size.
  7272. Scotiaptex cinereum. Two thirds.
  7899. Nyctale richardsoni. Natural size.
   414. Scops asio. Natural size.
   773. Bubo virginianus. Two thirds.
   628. Nyctea nivea. Two thirds.
  7897. Surnia ulula. Natural size.
   428. Glaucidium ferrugineum. Natural size.
   437. Spheotyto hypogæa. Natural size.]


  7449. Strix pratincola. Natural size.
  4886. Otus wilsonianus. Natural size.
  7272. Scotiaptex cinereum. Two thirds.
  7899. Nyctale richardsoni. Natural size.
   414. Scops asio. Natural size.
   773. Bubo virginianus. Two thirds.
   628. Nyctea nivea. Two thirds.
  7897. Surnia ulula. Natural size.
   428. Glaucidium ferrugineum. Natural size.
   437. Spheotyto hypogæa. Natural size.]


  7449. Strix pratincola. Natural size.
  4886. Otus wilsonianus. Natural size.
  7272. Scotiaptex cinereum. Two thirds.
  7899. Nyctale richardsoni. Natural size.
   414. Scops asio. Natural size.
   773. Bubo virginianus. Two thirds.
   628. Nyctea nivea. Two thirds.
  7897. Surnia ulula. Natural size.
   428. Glaucidium ferrugineum. Natural size.
   437. Spheotyto hypogæa. Natural size.]


  7449. Strix pratincola.
  4886. Otus wilsonianus.
  7272. Scotiaptex cinereum.
  7899. Nyctale richardsoni.
   414. Scops asio.
   773. Bubo virginianus.
   628. Nyctea nivea.
  7897. Surnia ulula.
   428. Glaucidium ferrugineum.
   437. Spheotyto hypogæa.

(All natural size.)]


  12088. Nyctea nivea. (Ear copied from Swainson, F. B. A)
    504. Scotiaptex cinereum.
  49808. Surnia ulula. (Ear copied from Swainson.)
      A. Brachyotus “cassinii.” (Left ear and nostril, from fresh


CHAR. Eyes directed laterally, and eyelids provided with lashes. Toes
invariably naked, and tarsus usually naked and scutellate (feathered
only in _Aquila_ and _Archibuteo_). Outer toe not reversible (except in
_Pandion_). Head never with ear-tufts, and never wholly naked (except in
the _Vulturinæ_, of the Old World).

The above characters are about the only readily observable points in the
external anatomy in which the _Falconidæ_ differ strikingly from the
_Strigidæ_ and _Cathartidæ_, and may serve to distinguish the birds of
this family from those of the two others. The osteological characters,
however, as expressed on page 1328, are more decided and important in
a taxonomic point of view, and serve to separate the Hawk family as a
well-defined group.

In the following treatment of the North American _Falconidæ_, I confine
that part relating to the systematic arrangement strictly to the species
embraced within the province of our work, for the reason that in a
forthcoming monograph of all the American species I hope to present a
systematic classification based upon the species of the whole world.
All preliminary details regarding the general characteristics and
distinctive peculiarities of the family, as well as all discussions and
generalizations upon the subject, will therefore be omitted here.

The following synopsis of the North American genera is intended as an
artificial arrangement which may enable the student to identify, by
simple and readily understood characters, the forms belonging to this


  =A.= Nasal bones almost completely ossified, the nostril being a small
  orifice, with a conspicuous central bony tubercle; its form nearly or
  quite circular, or linear and oblique (in Polyborus), with its upper
  end the posterior one …


        1. =Falco.= Nostril circular. Commissure with a prominent tooth
        and notch; lower mandible abruptly truncated and notched.
        Primaries stiff and hard, and more or less pointed, the first to
        the second longest, and the outer one or two with their inner
        webs cut, the angular emargination being near the end of the
        quill. Middle toe much more than half as long as the tarsus;
        claws strongly curved, very acute.

        2. =Polyborus.= Nostril linear, oblique, the upper end the
        posterior one; commissure without prominent tooth nor notch;
        lower mandible not distinctly truncated or notched. Primaries
        soft, obtuse, the third longest, and the outer four or five with
        their inner webs cut, the shallow sinuation being toward the
        middle of the quill. Middle toe less than half the tarsus; claws
        weakly curved, very obtuse. Face and cheeks naked, and scantily

  =B.= Nasal bones very incompletely ossified, the nostril being a
  large, more or less oval, opening, of oblique direction, its lower end
  being invariably the posterior one; without a bony tubercle, and never
  perfectly circular. (_Accipitrinæ._)

    _a._ Sides of the head densely feathered close up to the eyelids.

        3. =Pandion.= Outer toe reversible; claws contracted and
        rounded on their under surface, and not graduated in size.[41]
        Wing long, third quill longest; outer four with inner webs
        emarginated. Tail rather short, rounded.

        4. =Nauclerus.= Outer toe not reversible; claws not contracted
        or rounded on under side, and graduated in size. Wing long,
        third quill longest; outer two with inner webs sinuated. Tail
        excessively lengthened and forked, the lateral pair of feathers
        more than twice as long as the middle pair.

    _b._ Sides of the head with a more scantily feathered orbital space,
    with a projecting superciliary “shield” covered with a naked skin.

      * A well-developed membrane, or “web,” between the outer and
      middle toes at the base.

      † Tarsus about equal to the middle toe.

      § Claws short and robust; two outer quills with their inner webs

        5. =Ictinia.= Commissure irregularly toothed and notched; front
        of tarsus with transverse scutellæ. Tail emarginated; third
        quill longest.

        6. =Elanus.= Commissure without irregularities; front of tarsus
        with minute roundish scales. Tail double-rounded; second quill

      §§ Claws long and slender; five outer quills with inner webs cut.

        7. =Rostrhamus.= End of bill bent downward, with a long pendent
        hook; inner edge of middle claw slightly pectinated, or
        serrated. Tail emarginated; third or fourth quill longest.

      †† Tarsus very much longer than the middle toe.

      ¶ Front of tarsus unfeathered, and, with the posterior face,
      covered with a continuous series of broad transverse scutellæ.

      α. Form very long and slender, the head small, the tail and legs
      long and claws excessively acute; bill weak, compressed, very
      high through the base, the culmen greatly ascending basally, and
      the cere much arched; commissure usually with a very prominent

        8. =Circus.= Face surrounded by a “ruff” of stiffened,
        differently formed feathers, as in the Owls. Tarsus more than
        twice as long as the middle toe. Wing very long, hardly concave
        beneath; third to fourth quill longest; outer four with inner
        webs sinuated.

        9. =Nisus.= Face not surrounded by a ruff. Tarsus less than
        twice as long as the middle toe. Wing short, very concave
        beneath, the outer quill much bowed; third to fifth quills
        longest; outer five with inner webs sinuated.

      β. Form short and heavy, the head larger, the tail shorter, the
      legs more robust. Bill stronger, less compressed, lower through
      the base, the upper outline less ascending basally, and the cere
      less arched. Commissure variable.

        10. =Antenor.= Form heavy, the wings and tail moderately long,
        and feet very robust; bill rather elongated, the commissural
        lobe prominent, and the base of the culmen somewhat depressed.
        Fourth quill longest; outer five with inner webs cut. Lores
        naked, and almost destitute of bristles.

        11. =Onychotes.= Outstretched feet reaching beyond end of tail;
        tibial plumes short, close, not reaching below the joint. Wing
        short, rounded, very concave beneath, the fourth quill longest;
        outer five with inner webs sinuated. Tail short, but little
        more than half the wing, slightly rounded. Claws very long, and
        extremely acute.

        12. =Asturina.= Bill and feet as in _Antenor_; lores densely
        bristled; wing short, rounded, concave beneath, the third to
        fourth quills longest; outer four with their inner webs cut.

        13. =Buteo.= Form of _Antenor_, but primaries longer and more
        pointed, the fourth usually longest, and the outer three or
        four with inner webs cut. Bill and feet as in _Asturina_. Tail
        moderate, or rather short, nearly even, or slightly rounded.

      ¶¶ Front of the tarsus densely feathered down to the base of the

        14. =Archibuteo.= Feathering of the tarsus interrupted behind by
        a bare strip along the full length; middle toe less than half as
        long as the tarsus. Nostril broadly oval, obliquely horizontal;
        bill weak, the upper outline of the cere much ascending basally.
        Feathers of the nape normal, blended. Third to fourth quills
        longest; outer four or five with inner webs cut.

        15. =Aquila.= Feathering of the tarsus uninterrupted behind;
        middle toe more than half as long as the tarsus. Nostril
        narrowly oval, obliquely vertical; bill strong, the upper
        outline of the cere nearly parallel with the lower. Feathers of
        the nape lanceolate, distinct. Fourth quill longest; five to six
        with inner webs cut.

      ** No trace of membrane between outer and middle toes.

        16. =Haliætus.= Tarsus feathered in front one third, or more, of
        the way down; the naked portion with an imperfectly continuous
        frontal, and less well defined posterior, series of transverse
        plates, and covered elsewhere with roundish granular scales.
        Feathers of the neck, all round, lanceolate, distinct. Bill very
        large, the chord of the culmen more than twice as long as the
        cere on top; nostril oval, obliquely vertical. Third to fifth
        quills longest; outer six with inner webs cut. Tail rounded or
        cuneate, sometimes consisting of fourteen feathers.

The foregoing diagnoses embrace merely the more conspicuous external
characters whereby the genera may be most readily distinguished by
the student. The following table presents additional accompanying
characters afforded by the osteological and anatomical structure, of
more importance in defining with precision the several groups embraced
in our fauna.

  =A.= Scapular process of the coracoid produced forward so as to meet
  the clavicle[42] (HUXLEY). Nasal bones almost completely ossified,
  the nostril being a small, usually circular opening, with a raised
  or “rimmed” margin, and conspicuous, usually central, bony tubercle.
  Inferior surface of the supermaxillary bone with a prominent median
  angular ridge. Superciliary process of the lachrymal consisting of a
  single piece. (_Falconinæ._[43])

  =B.= Scapular process of the coracoid not produced forward so as
  to meet the clavicle (HUXLEY). Nasal bones incompletely ossified,
  the nostrils being very large, and without bony rim or tubercle.
  Inferior surface of the supramaxillary bone without a median ridge.
  Superciliary process of the lachrymal variable. (_Accipitrinæ._)

    _a._ Superciliary process of the lachrymal composed of a single,
    excessively abbreviated piece;[44] posterior margin of the sternum
    with a pair of indentations, and without foramina. (_Pandion_ and

    _b._ Superciliary process of the lachrymal double, or composed
    of two pieces, joined by a cartilaginous “hinge,” and reaching
    nearly across the orbit. Posterior margin of the sternum without
    indentations, and usually with a pair of foramina. (All except
    _Pandion_ and _Nauclerus_.)

      † Septum of the orbits and nostrils incompletely ossified (the
      former always and the latter usually) and with foramina; posterior
      margin of the sternum most produced backwards laterally, and
      incompletely ossified, there being usually a pair of foramina.
      Intestinal canal short, broad, with the duodenum simple, forming a
      single loop (MCGILLVRAY). A well-developed “web” between the outer
      and middle toes. (All but _Haliætus_.)

      †† Septum of the orbits and nostrils completely ossified, and
      without any trace of foramina; posterior margin of the sternum
      produced medially into a convex lobe, and without any trace of
      foramina. Intestinal canal extremely elongated, attenuated, with
      the duodenum arranged in several convolutions (MCGILLVRAY). No
      trace of a web between outer and middle toes. (_Haliætus._)



GEN. CHAR. Bill strong, its breadth at the base equalling or exceeding
its height; upper outline of cere on a level with, or rather lower
than, the base of the culmen; gonys much arched, the chord of the arch
equalling about half that of the culmen. Near the tip of the upper
mandible is a prominent tooth on the commissure, and near the end of the
lower mandible, which is truncated, is a deep notch corresponding; the
end of the upper mandible is compressed, giving the situation of the
tooth an inflated appearance when viewed from above. Nostrils circular,
with a conspicuous central tubercle. Orbital region bare; projecting
superciliary shield conspicuous, arched, but not very prominent. Tail
shorter than wing, the feathers hard and stiff. Primaries very strong,
elongated, tapering rapidly toward their points; only the first or first
and second with their inner webs emarginated, the cutting being angular,
and near the end of the quill. Tarsus never with a single series of
transverse scutellæ either in front or behind; middle toe very long.

[Illustration: =13077=, ♀. ½]


  One primary only with inner web emarginated; first to second longest;
  first longer than fourth.

    Tarsus longer than middle toe, and feathered far below the knee;
    first quill shorter than third. Coloration of the sexes alike; old
    and young slightly different in pattern and tints. Size large …


    Tarsus not longer than middle toe, and scarcely feathered below the
    knee; first quill equal to or longer than the third. Coloration of
    the sexes alike; old and young very different in pattern and tints.
    Size, very small to large …


  Two primaries with inner webs emarginated; second to third longest;
  first shorter than fourth.

    Basal joint of toes without transverse scutellæ; tarsus about equal
    to middle toe.

      Coloration of the sexes in adult plumage very different in tints;
      in the young alike, the young ♂ resembling the adult ♀. Size
      small …


    Basal joint of toes with transverse scutellæ; tarsus longer than
    middle toe.

      Coloration of the sexes very different, in pattern and tints, at
      all ages; old and young alike. Scutellæ of the toes and tarsus
      interrupted at the digito-tarsal joint; tarsus much longer than
      middle toe. Bill small, the cere on top less than one fourth the
      culmen. Size small …


      Coloration of the sexes alike at all ages; old and young slightly
      different in pattern and tints. Scutellæ of tarsus and toes
      uninterrupted from “knees” to claws; tarsus but little longer
      than middle toe. Bill large, the cere on top about one third the
      culmen. Size medium; form very slender …



  _Hierofalco_, CUVIER, 1817. (Type, _Falco gyrfalco_, LINN.)
  _Jerafalco_, BOIE, 1822; KAUP, 1851. (Same type.)
  _Gennaia_, KAUP, 1847. (Type, _Falco jugger_, GRAY.)

Species and Races.

  =1.= =F. gyrfalco.= Wing, 13.00–17.00; tail, 8.50–11.50; culmen,
  .85–1.05; tarsus, 2.10–3.00; middle toe, 1.80–2.25.[45] Ground-color
  varying from entirely pure white to wholly dusky, but generally bluish
  (in adult) or grayish-brown (in young) above, and white beneath.
  _Adult._ All the markings transverse.[46] No lighter nuchal band.
  _Young._ Markings of the lower surface longitudinal, the upper parts
  without transverse bars (except on the tail[47]).

    _a._ Lower parts with white predominating, or wholly white.

      Lower tail-coverts never with markings. No tinge of blue anywhere
      on the plumage, the ground-color of which is entirely pure white
      at all ages.

          1. _Adult._ Upper parts, excepting head and neck, with
          transverse crescentic bars of dark plumbeous; lower parts
          immaculate, or else without well-defined markings. _Young._
          Upper parts with longitudinal stripes of dark plumbeous; lower
          parts usually conspicuously striped. _Hab._ Greenland (in the
          breeding-season); in winter, occasionally wandering into the
          northern portions of Europe and North America …

                                                       var. _candicans_.

      Lower tail-coverts always with markings. A tinge of ashy-blue more
      or less prevalent above. Young dusky above.

        Head and neck above abruptly lighter than the back. Young plain
        grayish-brown above, with conspicuous whitish borders to the

          2. _Adult._ Upper parts white, passing into bluish
          posteriorly; everywhere (except on head and neck) with sharply
          defined, transverse (not crescentic, but continuous) bars of
          dark plumbeous. Abdomen and flanks with transverse spots of
          the same. _Young_ without irregular light mottling to the
          plumage above, and with broad longitudinal stripes beneath.
          _Hab._ Iceland and Southern Greenland, in the breeding-season;
          in winter, south into Northeastern United States, and Northern
          Europe …

                                                      var. _islandicus_.

        Head and neck above abruptly darker than the back. Young (of
        var. _sacer_) variegated grayish-brown above, without light
        borders to the feathers.

          3. _Adult._ Top of the head streaked with whitish; back with
          sharply defined, continuous, narrow transverse bars, of
          creamy-white. _Hab._ Interior regions of Continental Arctic
          America (Slave Lake, Yukon, and McKenzie River district) …

                                                           var. _sacer_.

          4. _Adult._ Top of head not streaked with whitish; back
          without sharply defined bars of the same. _Hab._ Continental
          Arctic Europe (Scandinavia) and Siberia. Migrating south, in
          winter, to Bengal (Hardwicke) …

                                                    var. _gyrfalco_.[48]

    _b._ Lower parts with dusky predominating, or wholly dusky.

          5. _Adult._ Almost entirely dusky, without well-defined
          markings anywhere. _Hab._ Littoral regions of the Hudson Bay
          Territory and Labrador …

                                                       var. _labradora_.

  =2.= =F. lanarius.= Wing, 11.50–16.00; tail, 6.60–9.50; culmen,
  .70–1.00; tarsus, 1.90–2.40; middle toe, 1.65–2.00. Ground-color
  varying from pale grayish-plumbeous to dark sepia-brown; beneath
  white, with sparse markings, these coalesced into a broken patch on
  the flanks. _Adult._ Above obscurely barred transversely with pale
  ashy and brownish-dusky, the former prevailing posteriorly, the latter
  anteriorly; a lighter nuchal band. Spots on the sides and flanks
  transverse. _Young._ Above brown, varying from grayish-drab to dark
  sepia, the feathers usually bordered with paler (rusty in youngest
  individuals); markings beneath all longitudinal.

    _a._ Outer webs of tail-feathers with large well-defined light
    spots; outer webs of the primaries sometimes with light spots on the
    basal portion; secondaries without distinct spots on the outer webs.
    Lower tail-coverts immaculate.

      Wing, 13.65–16.00; tail, 8.40–9.50; culmen, .85–1.00; tarsus,
      1.95–2.15; middle toe, 1.85–1.95. Top of the head white, with
      narrow streaks of dark brown. _Hab._ Central and Eastern Europe,
      Western Asia, and adjoining portions of Africa …

                                                    var. _lanarius_.[49]

    _b._ Outer webs of tail-feathers without distinct light spots, or
    without any at all; outer webs of primaries with no trace of spots;
    secondaries with light spots on outer webs. Lower tail-coverts
    sparsely spotted.

      Wing, 12.00–14.25; tail, 7.60–9.00; culmen, .75–.90; tarsus,
      2.15–2.40; middle toe, 1.70–2.00. Top of head brown, with narrow
      black streaks. _Adult._ Above with obscure transverse spots of
      bluish. _Young._ Above with feathers bordered with rusty …

                                                       var. _polyagrus_.

      Wing, 11.50; tail, 6.60; culmen, .70; tarsus, 1.90; middle toe,
      1.65. Above uniform dark brown, with a faint plumbeous cast, the
      feathers without trace of light or rusty edges; outer web of
      tail-feathers without trace of light spots. _Hab._ Mexico …

                                                   var. _mexicanus_.[50]

      Wing, 13.60–14.30; tail, 8.25–9.00; culmen, .80–.87; tarsus,
      1.85–1.90; middle toe, 1.85–1.90. Colors similar to the last;
      entire auriculars white; mustache narrow and conspicuous. _Hab._
      Southern Asia …

                                                      var. _jugger_.[51]

The only point of difference in the external anatomy between the Lanner
Falcons and Gerfalcons consists in the different degree of feathering on
the upper part of the tarsus; this is much denser and extends farther
down and more around the posterior face in the Gerfalcons, but they,
being inhabitants of a very northern latitude, need this protection
against the rigor of the climate. These slight specific differences
are illustrated by the figures on page 1430. The same difference is
observable in many birds whose habitat extends through a great range of
latitude, as, for instance, the _Pediocætes phasianellus_, the northern
race of which has the feathers covering the base of the toes so long as
to reach beyond the claws and nearly conceal them, while in the southern
form (var. _columbianus_) the toes are almost completely naked.

My determination of the number and character of the geographical races
of _F. gyrfalco_ is the result of a very careful critical examination of
over sixty specimens, aided by the important conclusions of Mr. Hancock
(Annals and Magazine of Natural History, 2d ser., XIII, 110; London,
1834), Schlegel (_Falcones_, Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle des Pays-Bas,
1862), Pelzeln (Uebersicht der Geier und Falken der Kaiserlichen
ornithologischen Sammlung, April, 1863), and Alfred Newton (History of
British Birds, revised ed., part 1, June, 1871, pp. 36–52, and Proc.
Acad. Nat. Sc. Philadelphia, July, 1871, pp. 94, 95), in their important
papers bearing upon this subject, which, though they each express the
peculiar individual views of the writer, together clear up pretty
satisfactorily the problem of the number, character, and habitats of the
several races, as well as the different phases of variation to which
each is subject.

[Illustration: =43139=, ♀. ½

_Falco sacer._]

[Illustration: =43139=, ♀. ¼]

[Illustration: =5482=, ♀. ½

_Falco polyagrus._]

[Illustration: =43139=, ♀. ½]

[Illustration: =5482=, ♀. ½]

In studying the _F. lanarius_, I have experienced most discouraging
difficulties from the want of sufficient series of the Old World races,
and from the unsatisfactory character of most descriptions and figures
of them, besides being much perplexed by the confusion of their synonymy
by different authors. In consequence of this, my diagnoses of the four
races of which alone I have seen examples may be very unsatisfactory as
regards the characters by which they may be most readily distinguished.
Having seen the adult of only a single one of these four races, I am
therefore compelled to base my differential characters upon the immature

In addition to the four races of _F. lanarius_ characterized above,
there are several geographical forms belonging to the Old World, chiefly
intertropical Asia and Africa. These are the var. _babylonicus_, Scl.
and Irby, (Gray’s Hand List, I, p. 20, No. 173,) of Southeastern
Europe and Western Asia; var. _barbarus_, L. (Gray’s Hand List, p. 20,
No. 174), of Northern Africa; and var. _tanypterus_, Licht. (Gray’s
Hand List, No. 175), of both the preceding regions, which Mr. Gurney
writes me “is simply the intertropical race of _F. lanarius_, from
which it only differs in being of a darker shade throughout.” The _F.
saker_, Schleg. (Gray’s Hand List, No. 176), seems, to judge from the
descriptions and figures which I have seen, to be also merely a form of
the same species, but I have seen no specimens of it.

Falco (Hierofalco) gyrfalco, LINN.

Var. =candicans=, GMELIN.


  _Accipiter falco freti hudsonis_, BRIS. Orn. I, 356, 1763. _A.
  gyrfalco_, BRISS. Orn. I, 370, pl. xxx, f. 2, 1763. _Falco
  rusticolus_, FABR. Faun. Grœn. p. 55, 1780.—LATH. Syn. Supp. I, 15,
  1781. _F. candicans_, GMEL. Syst. Nat. p. 275, 1788.—DAUD. Tr. Orn.
  II, 101, 1800.—BENICK, Isis, 1824, 882.—SCHLEG. Krit. Ubers. p. 1,
  1844.—BONAP. Rev. Zool. 1850, 484; Consp. Av. p. 33.—CASSIN, Proc.
  Ac. Nat. Sc. Phil. 1855, 278; Birds N. Am. 1858, 13.—STRICKL. Orn.
  Syn. I, 77, 1855.—BLASIUS, Cab. Jour. 1862, 43 (thinks all boreal
  ones same in Europe and America).—ELLIOT, Birds N. Am. pl. xii.
  _Hierofalco candicans_, CUV. Reg. An. ed. 1, I, 312, 1817; ed. 2, I,
  323, 1829.—LESS. Man. Orn. I, 80, 1828; Tr. Orn. p. 97, pl. xvi, p.
  2.—GRAY, Hand List I, 18, 1869. _Falco islandicus_, LATH. Ind. Orn. p.
  32, 1790; Syn. I, 71, A, B; Gen. Hist. I, 72, A, 1821.—STEPH. Zool.
  XIII, pt. ii, p. 39, 1826.—GOULD, B. Eur. pl. xix.—AUD. Birds Am.
  1831, pl. ccclxvi. _F. buteo_ β, LATH. Ind. Orn. p. 24, 1790; Gen.
  Hist. I, 80, A. _F. lagopus_, β, LATH. Ind. Orn. p. 19, 1790; Syn.
  Supp. I, 36; Gen. Hist. I, 68, A. _F. grœnlandicus_, DAUD. Tr. Orn.
  II, 157, 1800. _Hierofalco grœnlandicus_, BREHM. Voy. Deutsch, I, 16,
  1831. _F. gyrfalco_, BONAP. List, p. 4, 1838.

SP. CHAR. _Adult_ (♀, 18,577, Greenland; Univ. Zool. Mus. Copenhagen).
Ground-color entirely pure white; whole upper surface (posterior to the
nape) with transverse crescentic bars of dark plumbeous-brown, generally
about two on each feather, the first concealed by the feather which
overlaps. Primaries crossed at regular intervals with quadrate spots
of the same tint, these becoming fused toward ends of quills, forming
a terminal dusky space of two or three inches in extent; tips of all
the quills narrowly white; the black bars do not extend quite to the
primary coverts, and decrease both in extent and regularity toward the
base. Middle tail-feathers crossed with seven or eight imperfect bars
of dusky, the shafts of the feathers blackish; rest of tail immaculate,
the shafts pure white. Nape with a very few fine shaft-streaks of dusky.
Whole lower surface of body and wing utterly immaculate. Wing-formula,
2–3–1. Wing, 16.50; tail, 9.00; culmen, 1.05; tarsus, 2.10–1.35; middle
toe, 2.20; inner, 1.50; outer, 1.50; posterior, 1.00.

(No. 56,152, ♀, Greenland; Schlüter Collection.) Head above, occiput,
nape, and upper half of ear-coverts, with sparse shaft-streaks of
black, these most numerous on the latter region; primaries barred to
the coverts. Tail entirely crossed by eleven plumbeous bars. Bars above
clearer plumbeous. The snowy-white beneath is relieved by a few minute
variable flecks of dusky upon the lower part of the abdomen, becoming
larger as they approach the sides. Wing-formula, 2–3–1. Wing, 16.70;
tail, 9.30.

_Juv. transition stage?_ (♂ 56,047, “Hoher Norden”; Schlüter
Collection). Markings above quite different from those of the two
preceding; each feather has a large central longitudinal sagittate spot
of dusky, leaving only the borders (of the exposed portion) white; on
the primaries the dusky is almost confined to the terminal portion;
the rump and upper tail-coverts have each feathers with a medial
longitudinal stripe of dusky. The tail is immaculate, but the shafts of
the middle feathers are dusky. The neck, breast, abdomen, and sides have
numerous cuneate marks of dusky, one near the end of each feather. The
lining of the wing, even, has a few narrow streaks. Wing, 14.75; tail,

No. 56,049 (♀, Greenland, Schl. Coll.) is similar in pattern
of markings, but above the dusky is more extended, forming the
predominating color; the rump, etc., has broad sagittate spots instead
of narrow stripes; the primaries are barred to the coverts; the tail is
crossed by about ten continuous bands of dusky. Beneath the lanceolate
spots or streaks cover the whole surface, except the anal region, lower
tail-coverts, and throat. On the lining of the wing the streaks are less
sparse than in the preceding, though they are by no means numerous.
Wing, 15.75; tail, 9.50.

[Illustration: _Falco candicans._]

_Juv. first plumage_ (♀, 56,053, Greenland; Schlüter Coll.). All the
markings are longitudinal, instead of directly the reverse. The upper
parts have longitudinal tear-shaped stripes, a medial one on each
feather; they are sparse, however, on the wings; the rump has narrow
shaft-lines of dusky. The tail and upper coverts are immaculate, but
the shafts of all the feathers are nearly pure black. The bars on the
primaries are found only immediately next the dusky terminal space. The
streaks beneath are not very numerous, and are found only on the breast,
upper part of abdomen, and on the sides; the nape and sides of the neck
are, however, thickly streaked.

(No. 17,966, ♀, Moose Factory, Hudson Bay Territory.) In character of
markings resembling the last, but the stripes are fainter and narrower;
they are also less numerous. On the under parts they are wanting.
Unfortunately, the tail of this specimen, which is the only North
American one in the collection, is missing.

In all specimens the anal region and lower tail-coverts are immaculate.

HAB. Greenland, and continent of North America, north of Hudson
Bay (breeding in latter region). Of irregular occurrence in winter
throughout the circumpolar regions; Ural Mountains (EVERSMAN); Behring’s


National Museum, 7; Boston Society, 2; Philadelphia Academy, 3; New York
Museum, 6; collection of R. Ridgway, 1. Total, 19.


 |Sex.|   Wing.   |   Tail.   | Culmen. | Tarsus. |Middle Toe.|Specimens.|
 | ♂  |14.40–14.75| 9.70–00.00| .90–0.00|2.15–2.45|  1.95–2.00|    3     |
 | ♀  |15.75–16.25|10.00–11.00| .98–1.00|2.20–2.50|  2.05–2.15|    6     |

Var. islandicus, SABINE.


  _Accipiter falco islandicus_, BRISS. Orn. I, 336, 1763. _Falco
  islandicus_, SAB. Linn. Trans. XII, 528, 1818.—TEMM. Man. Orn. pt.
  x; 17, pt. iii, p. 9; Tab. Meth. p. 2, 1836.—FABER, Prod. Island.
  Orn. 1822, p. 2; Isis, 1827, 62.—RICH. & SWAINS. F. B. A. II, 27,
  1831.—HOY, Mag. Nat. Hist. Ser. 1, VI, 107.—HANCOCK, Ann. Nat. Hist.
  II, 247; Rev. Zoöl. 1839, 123.—BONAP. Consp. Av. p. 24.—STRICKL.
  Orn. Syn. I, 77, 1855.—CASSIN, Birds N. Am. 1858, 13. _Hierofalco
  islandicus_, GRAY, Gen. B. p. 3 (ed. 2, p. 4), 1844; Hand List, I, 18,
  1869. _Falco candicans islandicus_, SCHLEG. Krit. übers, p. 1, 1844.
  _Falco lanarius_, FABER, Isis, 1827, 68. _Falco gyrfalco_, KEYSERLING
  & BLASIUS, Wirbelth. Eur. p. 135, 1840.

SP. CHAR. _Adult_ (♂, Iceland; No. 12, Coll. Geo. N. Lawrence).
Ground-color of the plumage dull white, gradually becoming somewhat
bluish posteriorly, this color especially noticeable on the tail. Whole
upper parts crossed with broad transverse bands of dark plumbeous,
these bands continuous, and more than twice as wide as the pale ones,
except on the upper tail-coverts and tail, where the bands of the two
colors are more regularly defined and about equal; in addition to the
transverse bands, the feathers anteriorly have narrow borders of white.
Tail with the dark bands twelve in number; the terminal pale band
is purer white than the others. The dusky plumbeous prevails on the
primaries, and is unvariegated beyond the middle portion; the anterior
half, however, is marked with quadrate ragged spots, of a slightly
yellowish-white; all are margined terminally with purer white. Each
feather of the head and neck with a narrow medial streak of dusky, but
the general aspect abruptly lighter than the back; the streaks are more
condensed along the upper and terminal portion of the ear-coverts.
Jugulum and breast with a medial narrow streak on each feather; abdomen
with more elliptical streaks; sides with circular and cordate spots, and
flanks and tibiæ with transverse spots; lower tail-coverts with narrow
shaft-streaks of dusky. Lining of the wing with sparse narrow streaks of
dusky; under surface of primaries with white prevailing, this, however,
crossed by narrow bars of dusky, these numbering about sixteen on the
longest. Wing-formula, 2–3–1. Wing, 14.60; tail, 7.80; culmen, 1.00;
tarsus, 2.30; middle toe, 2.00.

_Juv._ (No. 20,344, Iceland). Ground-color of head, neck, and lower
parts, white. Upper surface grayish umber-brown, becoming paler and more
grayish on the tail; each feather above sharply bordered (both webs, all
round) with dull white, producing a somewhat squamate appearance; in
places, a few obsolete hidden spots of yellowish-white. Tail ashy-drab
(feathers somewhat paler along edges), crossed with about eleven
transverse series of spots of ochraceous or creamy white; these very
obsolete on middle feathers, and sharply defined only on inner webs;
the last is terminal. Primaries plain brown, somewhat darker than the
back, and becoming insensibly darker terminally; skirted with white,
and somewhat mottled or irregularly spotted toward their bases with
yellowish-white. Head and neck, each feather, with a medial streak
of dusky, but white the prevailing aspect; these streaks condensed
and somewhat suffused along upper border of ear-coverts, and from the
lores along cheeks, forming an obsolete “mustache”; every feather
beneath (including lining of wings) with a medial broad stripe of
clear plumbeous vandyke-brown, the shaft pure black; under surface of
primaries with transverse spaces of white, these numbering thirteen on
the longest. Wing-formula, 2–3, 1. Wing, 15.00; tail, 9.20.

HAB. Iceland and Southern Greenland. Northeastern North America in
winter, straggling accidentally south to the New England States; Rhode
Island (Museum, Cambridge); Norway, Maine “not uncommon” (VERRILL);
Massachusetts (PEABODY & JILLSON); Long Island (CAB., G. N. LAWRENCE).

[Illustration: _Falco islandicus._]

No. 56,050, Greenland (Schlüter Collection), is moulting, and assuming
the adult dress; the adult and young stages above described being nearly
equally combined. No. 56,055, from Greenland, differs from the other
young individuals which I have seen in being considerably darker. The
feathers of the upper surface are not bordered with whitish, but are
merely paler on their edges, along which are specks of yellowish. On the
head and neck the dark streaks predominate, while the stripes below are
very broad. It approaches quite nearly toward the young of var. _sacer_.

The only specimen of this race which I have seen from Continental North
America, is a young individual, obtained during the winter of 1864–65,
near Providence, R. I., taken by Mr. Newton Dexter, and now in the
Cambridge Museum, where I had the pleasure of seeing it.


National Museum, 5; Boston Society, 3; Philadelphia Academy, 9; Coll.
G. N. Lawrence, 2; Museum Comp. Zoöl., 1; New York Museum, 5. Total, 25.


 |Sex.|   Wing.   |   Tail.   | Culmen. | Tarsus. |Middle Toe.|Specimens.|
 | ♂  |14.35–14.75| 8.80–10.00| .91–1.00|2.20–3.00|  1.95–2.15|    9     |
 | ♀  |16.25–16.50|10.00–11.50|1.00–1.05|2.30–2.70|  2.00–2.25|   10     |

Var. sacer, FORSTER.


  _Falco sacer_, FORSTER, Phil. Trans. LXII, 1772, 383 and 423.—COUES,
  Birds of New England, 1868, 6.—BAIRD, Trans. Chicago Acad. Sc. I, ii,
  271. _? Falco cinereus_, GMEL. Syst. Nat. p. 267, 1789.

SP. CHAR. _Adult_ (♂, 51,689, Yukon, mouth of Porcupine River;
Strachan Jones). Whole upper surface with numerous transverse bands
of brownish-plumbeous and ashy-white. Anteriorly the light bars are
about half the width of the dark ones; posteriorly they gradually
increase, the bands of the two colors being about of equal width on the
upper tail-coverts and tail; with the increase of the lighter bars,
they become more ashy, and, correspondingly, the darker ones are more
plumbeous; on the rump there is but little contrast between the bands
of the two, causing a prevalent bluish cast. The bands are everywhere
continuous, the light ones being interrupted only by the black shaft;
there are generally on the anterior portions about three light bars on
each feather, the last always terminal. Tail tipped with white, and
crossed with equal continuous bands of hoary-plumbeous and ashy-white;
the latter eleven in number, and finely sprinkled with deeper ash.
Primaries brownish-plumbeous, plain past the middle portion, but on the
anterior half with quadrate spots of creamy white on the outer web.
Head above brownish-plumbeous, this prevailing; but along the median
line the feathers are edged with buffy white; forehead dull white, this
continuing back in a streaked superciliary stripe to the occiput; cheeks
very thinly marked with fine streaks of dusky, this prevailing along
the upper border of the ear-coverts; a deeper dusky suffusion beneath
the anterior angle of the eye. Lower surface pure white; chin and
throat, only, immaculate; jugulum with very sparse, narrow longitudinal
streaks of blackish; sides with scattered cordate or nearly circular
spots, these larger and transverse on the flanks and tibiæ; abdomen
with scattered minute elliptical spots; lower tail-coverts with minute
irregular sagittate or transverse spots of dusky. Under surface of
the wing white; each feather of the lining with a medial tear-shaped
streak of dusky; primaries crossed with narrow bars of dusky, fifteen in
number on the longest. Wing-formula, 2–3–4–1–5. Wing, 13.50; tail, 8.60;
culmen, .90; tarsus, 2.15; middle toe, 1.87.

♀ (43,139, Fort Anderson, May 24, 1864, “♀ and two eggs”; R.
MacFarlane). Generally similar to the male. Head above conspicuously
streaked, but the dusky prevailing. Above the transverse bands are less
regular and continuous, anteriorly the plumbeous largely prevailing;
posterior portions, however, as in the male, but on the rump the bands
are more distinct. Beneath, the markings are more numerous, larger, and
broader; those on the jugulum linear; those of the abdomen medially
elliptical; laterally they are transversely cordate, and on the flanks
in form of broad transverse spots, or broad bars; on the tibiæ and lower
tail-coverts they form regular transverse bars,—on the latter, quite
distant. Wing-formula, 2–3–4, 1. Wing, 15.50; tail, 9.50; tarsus, 2.15
and .80; middle toe, 1.95.

_Juv._ (♂, 55,400, Alaska, Nulato, February 10, 1868; W. H. Dall).
Above plumbeous-umber, precisely as in young of _islandicus_, but on
the rump having a decided ashy cast. No white edges to the feathers,
as in _islandicus_, but, instead, numerous irregular transverse spots
or obsolete ragged bars of cream-color or pale ochraceous-buff; the
whole upper surface is quite thickly variegated with these irregular
markings. Tail crossed with thirteen narrow bands of creamy-white, these
so thickly mottled with dusky on the outer webs as to be obscure, but on
inner webs they are regular and sharply defined; the last is terminal.
Primaries plain dusky, skirted obscurely with paler, and marked toward
bases with obsolete mottled spots of cream-color. Head streaked with
dusky and creamy-white, the former predominating on upper surface,
along upper edge of ear-coverts, and across the cheeks, on the latter
forming a mustache; the white prevails over the ear-coverts in a broad
supra-oral stripe, and on the forehead and lores. Beneath, soft dull
white; chin and upper part of throat, only, immaculate; each feather
with a broad medial stripe of clear dark plumbeous-brown, on the flanks
and tibiæ prevailing, the whitish assuming the form of roundish spots;
lining of the wing similarly marked; prevailing aspect of under surface
of primaries white, crossed with narrow bars of ashy, fifteen in number
on the longest. Wing-formula, 2, 3–1=4. Wing, 14.00; tail, 8.40.

HAB. Interior regions of Arctic America; Anderson River, McKenzie,
Yukon, and Severn River regions. Breeding abundantly in the former
district, whence numerous specimens of skins and eggs have been received
by the Smithsonian Institution.

In the young specimen described, there are one or two new feathers
appearing on the rump and upper tail-coverts, precisely as in the blue
plumage, and proving conclusively their relationship. The species is as
different from the Iceland bird in the young stage as in the mature.
The most readily apparent differences are, lack of sharp white edges of
feathers above, and in their stead numerous ragged transverse spots of
yellowish; dark aspect of head above, etc.

Specimens vary considerably in the shades of color and distribution of
the markings, but the types of the above descriptions are the lightest
of the series. The darkest example is No. 43,144½ (“♀ and eggs”),
Fort Anderson, May 22, 1864. In this the whole head and neck (except
underneath) are continuous blackish-plumbeous, only the middle of the
auriculars being faintly streaked; the back is nearly plain dusky, and
even on the wings the bars are very obscure and much reduced in width.
The rump is plain ashy-blue, the darker bars being nearly obsolete.
The longitudinal markings on the pectoral region are enlarged into
conspicuous stripes, while on the sides and flanks the transverse bars
form heavy spots. The transverse bars on the tibiæ are ashy-blue; those
on the crissum clear plumbeous, and regularly transverse. Wing, 15.75;
tail, 9.30. Upon comparing this specimen with the figures of a pair of
var. _gyrfalco_, by Wolf, in Newton’s Oötheca Wolleyana, I can discover
no difference at all; thus it would seem that our bird occasionally
closely approaches in tints and markings this race of Continental
Europe, of which I have seen only one immature example, and no adults.

I cannot agree with Mr. Newton in considering the Gerfalcons of the
interior of Arctic America as identical with the Iceland form, though
that distinguished ornithologist considers them so in his paper in the
Proceedings of the Philadelphia Academy for July, 1871, basing his
conclusion upon the specimens from which the above descriptions were
taken, which had been sent over to England for comparison. I have never
yet seen a specimen of _islandicus_ which could not be distinguished,
by the characters given in my synopsis, from these examples, while they
can be separated from that race by the characters which Mr. Newton
himself gives, in his diagnostic table in the paper above cited, for
distinguishing the adults of _islandicus_ and _gyrfalco_.

The var. _sacer_ is evidently separable from both _islandicus_ and
_gyrfalco_, and about as much related to one as to the other; combining
the size and proportions of the former with the colors of the latter,
while in the wide amount of individual variation of plumage its lighter
extreme approaches one, while its darkest phase approximates as closely
to the average plumage of the other.


National Museum, 6.


 |Sex.|   Wing.   |   Tail.   | Culmen. | Tarsus. |Middle Toe.|Specimens.|
 | ♂  |13.35–14.25|  8.50–9.00|  .86–.93|2.15–2.40|  1.80–1.95|    3     |
 | ♀  |15.50–16.00|10.00–10.50| 1.00–.00|2.35–2.55|  2.00–2.15|    3     |

Var. labradora, AUDUBON.


  _Falco labradora_, AUD. B. Am. pl. cxcvi, 1831.

SP. CHAR. _Adult_ (♀ breeding plumage? 30,375, Rigolet, Labrador;
Mr. Conolly). Ground-color of the plumage uniform, very deep, clear,
dark plumbeous-brown, continuously uniform above; larger scapulars,
secondaries, secondary coverts, and primaries more dilute along edges,
however, the tint palest and broadest terminally. Tail perfectly
uniform, except at the end; the tip being narrowly whitish, and
about half an inch anterior to this, a transverse series of hidden
irregular transverse creamy-white spots. The head (except beneath)
is unvariegated. Beneath, the dark tint inclines more to blackish
clove-brown, more dilute on the tibiæ; feathers edged laterally with
white, this prevailing on the throat, but everywhere else far less than
the dusky in amount; on the tibiæ and lower tail-coverts the white is
in the form of irregular spots. Anal region unvariegated; lining of the
wing with circular spots of white along the outer webs of the feathers.
Under surface of primaries with plumbeous prevalent, but this crossed
with mottlings of whitish, forming transverse bars; but terminally and
basally they become confused or lost. Wing-formula, 2, 3–1, 4. Wing,
16.20; tail, 9.50; tarsus, 2.00–.90; middle toe, 2.05; inner, 1.50;
outer, 1.50; posterior, .90.

HAB. Labrador; south and westward in winter, and shores of Hudson Bay.

Nos. 17,063 (♀, Quebec, W. Cooper) and 34,960 (♀, Fort Nescopec,
Labrador) differ from the preceding in having ten small narrow
transverse spots of reddish-white on the tail-feathers, forming as many
indistinct bands; these spots touch neither the shaft nor the edge of
the feather, and are almost concealed, unless the tail is spread; on
the latter specimen they are very obsolete, the subterminal one only
being distinct, as in the specimen selected for description. The upper
tail-coverts also show faintly indicated spots, and the former specimen
has the wing-coverts with very narrow irregular spots on the edge of the
feathers. In this specimen there is also one feather in the scapulars
which has broader white edges; it also has the white below about equal
to the black in amount; the anal region, however, in all, is unvaried
blackish, and the transverse oblique bands on the lower tail-coverts are
a constant feature.

No. 41,185 (♀, Fort Nescopec, Labrador; H. Conolly) is the darkest of
all. In this the blackish plumbeous-brown is uniform over the whole
surface; even the throat is unvariegated. Abdomen with a few of the
feathers edged with white, and sides with a few small circular spots
of the same; lower tail-coverts transversely spotted with white; tibiæ
scarcely variegated, showing only narrow indistinct whitish edges.
Mottling on inner webs of primaries reduced so as to be scarcely
visible. Tail with the usual number (two) of irregular whitish bars,—one
terminal, the other near the end.


National Museum, 2; Boston Society, 1. Total, 3.


 |Sex.|   Wing.   |   Tail.   | Culmen. | Tarsus. |Middle Toe.|Specimens.|
 | ♂  |14.50–00.00| 9.00–00.00| .90–0.00|2.12–0.00|  1.90–0.00|    1     |
 | ♀  |15.50–15.75| 9.50–10.00|1.00–1.05|2.00–2.35|  2.00–2.10|    2     |

HABITS. In treating of the general habits of the Gerfalcons of North
America it will not be necessary, nor will it be possible, to give the
distinctive peculiarities belonging to the several forms in which these
Falcons occur. Whether, on account of their variations of plumage, we
consider them as races or as specifically distinct, does not affect
their history in this respect. There is no good reason for presuming
that they have any very noticeable variations as to any of their habits,
although certain writers claim for some of them certain well-marked
peculiarities of character.

In the matter of geographical distribution they are all, for the most
part, rarely seen, even in midwinter, south of the 50th parallel of
north latitude, and are found in the summer as far north as the Arctic
Ocean. The Gerfalcon of the McKenzie River region, occurring from the
Slave Lake to Anderson River and the Yukon, is the form elsewhere
given as the _F. sacer_. Along our eastern coast region occurs another
form, the _F. labradora_, which is the bird met with in Labrador, and
described by Mr. Audubon. The _F. candicans_ or _grœnlandicus_ is a form
peculiar to Greenland, visiting also, in the winter, the Hudson’s Bay
region; while the _F. islandicus_, a well-known European form, occurs in
Greenland also, and occasionally farther south.

Holböll, in his account of the birds of Greenland (Isis, 1845), appears
to recognize but one species of Gerfalcon as occurring there, to which
he gives the name of _islandicus_. This is, he states, the most abundant
Falcon in Greenland, and is equally common in the northern and in
the southern parts. Their great variations in color he regarded as
indicative of differences in ages to only a very limited extent, and as
in no respect specific. These differences in color were found among both
nestlings and breeding birds, white and dark birds being found together
in both circumstances. The white birds were more numerous in Northern
Greenland, and the dark ones oftener seen in the southern portion.

He found the young birds moulting throughout the winter. On the 4th of
January, 1840, he shot a young female that showed signs of moulting
about the head and neck, with a striped white appearance from the
sprouting feathers. The ovaries were quite well developed, and it was
evident that the birds of this species breed in the first season after
their birth. Holböll adds that they breed in January, that their eggs
are of nearly the same color as those of the Ptarmigan, but are twice as
large. They nest usually in inaccessible cliffs. They prey chiefly upon
water-fowl and Ptarmigans, and usually build near “bird rocks,” from
which they obtain the young without much trouble. He mentions having
once seen one with a young _Larus tridactylus_ in each foot, and another
with two _Tringa maritima_ carried in the same manner. Its rapidity
of flight Holböll did not regard as very great. He had for years kept
pigeons, and only lost two young birds, which were seized when at rest.
Almost every day, especially in October and November, these Falcons
would chase the old Pigeons unsuccessfully, and were often shot when
they followed them too near the house. They were not particularly shy,
and were occasionally decoyed and killed by throwing a dead bird towards

During the summer they are most numerous along the bays, especially
where there are “bird-rocks” near. In September they go southerly along
the coast, and also in October and November. At this time they are
not rare, and approach the houses of the Danes, near which they are
often seen fighting with the Ravens. Their spring migrations are not so
regular as they are in the autumn, or perhaps at this time they do not
approach the houses so frequently. When they are near the settlements,
it is noticed that in the morning they fly towards the south, and in the
evening towards the north.

Richardson speaks of the Gerfalcon as a constant resident in the Hudson
Bay territory, where it is known as the Speckled Partridge-Hawk, and
also as the Winterer. Its southern limit he could not give, but he
never met with it south of 52°. He traced it northward to the coast of
the Arctic Sea, and probably to the most northern Georgian islands.
He cites Captain Sabine as authority for its occurring as far north
as latitude 74° on the west coast of Greenland. Richardson often met
with it during his journeys over the Barren Grounds, where its habitual
prey was the Ptarmigan, and where it also destroyed Plover, Ducks, and
Geese. He relates that in the middle of June, 1821, a pair of these
birds attacked him as he was climbing to the vicinity of their nest,
which was built on a lofty precipice on the borders of Point Lake, in
latitude 65° 30′. The bird flew in circles, uttering loud and harsh
screams, stooping alternately with such velocity that their motions
through the air produced a loud rushing noise. They struck their claws
within an inch or two of his head. Keeping the barrel of his gun close
to his cheek, and suddenly elevating its muzzle when they were in the
act of striking, he found that they invariably rose above the obstacle
with the rapidity of thought, showing equal power of motion. They bore
considerable resemblance to the Snowy Owl, but their flight was much
more rapid.

Mr. MacFarlane, in the memoranda of his collections in the neighborhood
of Anderson River and Fort Anderson, furnishes notes of eighteen
nests of the Gerfalcon obtained by him in that region. With only two
exceptions, these were placed near the tops of pines, or other trees, at
distances from the ground varying from ten to twenty-five feet. In some
instances the nest was placed on the very top of the tree, in others on
a lower limb against the trunk. They were composed of twigs and small
branches, and lined with mosses, hay, deer’s hair, feathers, and other
substances. The parents were always very much excited whenever their
nests were approached, making a great noise, and not unfrequently their
loud screams drew attention to nests that would otherwise have escaped
notice. In one instance a nest had been built on a ledge of rocks thirty
miles northwest of Fort Anderson. It was composed of a few withered
twigs, and lined with mosses and hay. It was found on the 27th of May,
and contained two eggs nearly fresh, and two in a state of greater
development. One nest, placed on a broad branch of a tree, near the
trunk, was of considerable size. Another nest was on the ground, on the
side of a steep and high hill. The earliest date of finding these nests
is given as the 10th of May. The eggs then found were fresh. The ground
at that time was still thickly covered with snow, and the weather was
very cold. In a nest found five days later the eggs contained partially
developed embryos. In nearly every instance the eggs seem to have been
in different stages of development in the same nest. In some, young
birds were in the same nest with eggs only partially developed, and in
another an egg perfectly fresh was in the same nest with others nearly
ready to hatch. A nest found July 3 contained young about two days old;
another, on May 27, had eggs with large embryos; and one, on June 25,
had young nearly ready to fly.

Mr. Donald Gunn claims that this Falcon is the only Hawk that is
resident in the Arctic regions throughout the year. It is known to the
Indians by the name of Pepunesu, and this name is applied to it because
it passes the winter with them. It is a very powerful bird, and commits
great havoc among the Partridges, so much so that in former times the
Hudson Bay Company gave a reward of a quart of rum to every hunter who
brought in the head of one of these Falcons. All the other Hawks are
only summer visitors.

Mr. Bannister was informed by the residents of St. Michaels that a Hawk,
presumed to be this species, is not unfrequent there, though he did not
happen to meet with it. On his voyage home, on the 21st of October,
1866, when off the coast of Kamtschatka, north of Behring’s Island, one
alighted in the rigging of the ship, and continued with them for several

Although very rare in any part of the United States, occasional
individuals have been taken in different localities, and in one instance
a pair was known to breed for several successive seasons in Vermont.
This information I have from Mr. Clarence King, who, when a lad at
school in the town of Dummerston, observed a pair nesting among some
high cliffs, and informed me of the fact at the time of the occurrence.
One of these birds is recorded by Mr. Lawrence as having been taken on
Long Island in the winter of 1856.

Mr. Boardman gives it as occurring near Calais in winter, but very rare.
Professor Verrill found them not uncommon in Oxford County, Me., where
they were frequently seen during winter, flying about the extensive
meadows near Norway; but they were very shy and watchful, and it was
hardly possible to procure a specimen. It is very unusual in Eastern
Massachusetts, and only very rarely and occasionally have specimens been
taken. Mr. Jillson obtained a specimen, in 1840, at Seekonk. One was
shot, in 1864, near Providence, R. I., by Mr. Newton Dexter.

Mr. Audubon relates that, August 6, 1833, his son, John W. Audubon,
found a nest of this Falcon among some rocky cliffs near Bras d’Or,
Labrador, containing four young birds ready to fly, two of which
were procured. The nest was placed among the rocks, about fifty feet
from their summit and more than a hundred from their base. It was
inaccessible, but, having been examined from above, was seen to be
empty. It was composed of sticks, sea-weeds, and mosses, was about two
feet in diameter, and was almost flat. Its edges were strewed with the
remains of their food, and beneath the nest was an accumulation of the
wings of Ptarmigans, Mormons, Uriæ, etc., mingled with large pellets of
fur, bones, and various substances.

Their flight is spoken of as similar to that of the Peregrine Falcon,
but more elevated, majestic, and rapid. Their cries were also like those
of that Falcon, being very loud, shrill, and piercing. Occasionally this
bird was seen to alight on one of the high stakes placed on the shore.
There it would stand, in the position of a Tern, for a few moments, and
then would pounce upon a Puffin, as the latter bird was standing at the
entrance of its burrow, unaware of the approach of its enemy. The weight
of the Puffin seemed to form no impediment to the Hawk in its flight.

The European Gerfalcons are said to seldom appear south of the 52d
parallel of latitude, or north of 74°. They are nowhere numerous, and
were formerly much sought for, and purchased, at immense prices, for
purposes of falconry. Great differences were supposed to exist in regard
to the habits and other peculiarities of the several races. The Iceland
Falcons commanded the highest prices, and were regarded as a species
quite distinct from the _F. gyrfalco_. The former was much the more
valuable, both as more rare, and as a bird of higher courage and of a
more rapid and bolder flight, and a bird that could, on that account, be
“flown” successfully at larger game.

The Gerfalcons, in Europe, build on the rocky coasts of Norway and
Iceland, and are said to defend their young with great courage and
determination. They are comparatively rare in the British Islands,
especially the more southern portions. Even in the Orkneys it is only an
occasional visitor.

All the eggs of the several forms of Gerfalcon that I have seen present
common characteristics, and do not differ from each other more than
eggs known to belong to the same species of Hawk are frequently found
to vary. One from Greenland, presumed to belong to the _candicans_,
measures 2.37 inches in length by 1.71 in breadth. The predominant color
of its markings is a deep reddish-brown, very generally and nearly
equally diffused over its surface, concealing the ground-color, which is
lighter and of a yellowish-brown shade.

An egg of the _islandicus_, from Iceland, has the same measurements, but
is so slightly yet uniformly marked with light yellowish-brown as to
seem to be of one color only,—a light brown, shaded with yellow.

An egg from Norway, of the form _gyrfalco_, is 2.42 inches in length,
1.71 in breadth, has a ground-color of a dirty yellowish-white, and is
marked with spots, dottings, and confluent blotches of yellowish-brown,
more so about the larger end.

The series of eggs of _Falco sacer_ in the Smithsonian Collection
exhibits the following range of variation in size, color, and markings:
length, from 2.30 to 2.45 inches; breadth, 1.60 to 1.90 inches;
ground-color usually a light reddish-ochre, varying to pinkish on the
one hand, and to rufous on the other. They are usually sprinkled all
over with small spots, which are sometimes not distinguishable from
the ground-color when this is very deep, and again larger and quite

An egg of the variety _candicans_, from Greenland (No. 2,606, S. I.),
measures 2.25 inches by 1.80. In color and in markings it is like the
average eggs of variety _sacer_, namely, pale rufous, sprinkled over
with a slightly deeper shade.

Falco lanarius.

Var. =polyagrus=, CASSIN.


  _Falco polyagrus_, CASSIN, B. Cal. & Tex. 1853, 88.—IB. P. A. N. S.
  1855, 277; B. N. Am. 1858, 12.—HEERM. Pacific R. Rep’t, II, 1855,
  31.—KENNERLY, P. R. R. III, 1856, 19.—COOP. & SUCKL. P. R. R. XII,
  1860, 143.—COUES, P. A. N. S. 1866, 7.—STRICKL. Orn. Syn. I, 1855,
  85.—DRESSER, Ibis, 1865, 323.—GRAY, Hand List, I, 1869, 20. _Falco
  lanarius_, var. _mexicanus_, RIDGWAY in COUES’ Key, 1872.

SP. CHAR. _Adult_ (♂, No. 59,063, Wahsatch Mountains, Utah, May 23,
1868; parent of eggs; L. E. Ricksecker). Above cinereous-drab, becoming
gradually paler and more bluish posteriorly, barred, indistinctly,
everywhere with a more dusky tint, the shafts of all the feathers
blackish; anteriorly the darker shade predominates, while posteriorly
the bluish prevails; on the anterior portions the light bars are much
restricted in width, and of a more ochraceous tint. Tail plain, very
pale ashy-drab, narrowly tipped with reddish-white, this changing to
pale rusty on the middle pair; the concealed portion of the feathers
outside the shaft show obsolete, or faint traces of, darker bars, which
on the middle pair are apparently about eleven in number. On the inner
webs the paler bars become broader than the darker ones, and incline
to ochraceous in tint, the lateral feather being edged externally with
this color. Primaries plain ashy-drab, with a hoary tinge, growing
insensibly darker terminally, and with a slightly paler apical margin.
Head and neck above, dark umber-brown, with conspicuous shaft-streaks
of black. Lores, a broad superciliary stripe (somewhat interrupted
above the eyes), white, finely and sparsely streaked, the two stripes
confluent across the occiput; a broad heavy “mustache” from the lores
and rictus downward and obliquely backwards, across the maxilla, and a
wider postocular stripe, like the crown. Beneath continuous white, with
a faint ochraceous tinge on the abdomen and crissum; abdomen and sides
of the breast with a few scattered, small, ovate spots of vandyke-brown;
sides transversely spotted with vandyke-brown, the spots coalesced into
a broken patch on the flanks; outside of the tibiæ with transverse spots
of the same. Axillars plain, clear vandyke-brown, with a few nearly
obsolete rusty specks near their ends; lining of the wing clear white,
the feathers with central spaces of dusky-brown, which toward the edge
become aggregated into a longitudinal patch; inner webs of the primaries
with broad transverse spots of white, which reach nearly to the shaft;
they are about thirteen in number on the longest quill. Feet yellow;
base of the bill tinged with the same. Wing-formula, 2, 3–1, 4. Wing,
12.00; tail, 7.50; tarsus, 1.90; middle toe, 1.70; outer, 1.22; inner,
1.12; posterior, .77.

♀ (not _adult?_ 18,258, Fort Buchanan, New Mexico; Dr. Irwin). Above
continuous umber-drab, growing gradually lighter posteriorly, the tail
being pale drab; no transverse bars (except a few concealed obsolete
ones on back and secondaries), but all the feathers faintly bordered
with paler rusty-brown, these edgings being on upper tail-coverts almost
white. Tail tipped with creamy-white, and with many transverse spots or
broad bars of the same on inner webs, outer feather irregularly skirted
with the same, and all decidedly paler than the ground-color along
their edges. Head as in the male, but forehead white, and superciliary
stripe more continuous. Breast and abdomen with longitudinal lanceolate
or cuneate streaks of dark vandyke-brown; patch of same on flanks
more continuous than in the male; axillars unvariegated clear dark
vandyke-brown; longest primary with eleven transverse spots of white;
posterior outer face of tibiæ with sagittate spots of dark brown.
Wing-formula, 2, 3–1, 4. Wing, 14.25; tail, 8.00; tarsus, 2.10; middle
toe, 2.00.

_Juv._ (♂, 32,207, South Fork of the Platte River, July 19, 1838; C. S.
McCarthy). Above darker umber than the last, each feather distinctly
bordered terminally with rusty-ochraceous. Beneath with a deeper
cream-colored tinge, streaks blacker; flank-patch more conspicuous and
uniform; axillars unvariegated dusky. Wing-formula, 2, 3–1=4. Wing,
13.25; tail, 7.25.

HAB. Western division of North America, eastward to Illinois; Oregon to
Lower California, and Texas. Localities: Texas, San Antonio and Eagle
Pass (DRESSER); Arizona (COUES).

The different stages of plumage are in this by no means so well defined
as in other species, there being nearly the same general appearance in
all. There is, also, very little variation in different specimens of
the same age. No. 8,504, (♀, Dalles, Oregon; Dr. George Suckley) has
the black markings on the sides of the breast more circular, and the
vandyke-black of the axillars with a few circular white spots on the
edges of the feathers. Wing, 14.50; tail, 8.40. Nos. 17,204 (♀, San
José, Lower California; John Xantus, January, 1860) and 18,258 (♂ ? Fort
Buchanan, N. M.) have the upper surface almost perfectly continuous
grayish-drab, the first absolutely unvariegated by markings, though the
feathers fade a little on edges. Beneath, the white is very pure; the
streaks are numerous, sharply defined and longitudinal. Wing, 13.25;
tail, 7.50 (17,204).

The American Lanner Falcon is so very closely related to the Lanners
of Europe and Asia (var. _lanarius_ and var. _jugger_) that it is very
difficult to indicate the differences which separate them. The two Old
World forms above named are more unlike each other than they are from
the two American races; the var. _jugger_ differing from _mexicanus_
apparently only in larger size; and the var. _lanarius_, more like
_polyagrus_ than it is like either _jugger_ or _mexicanus_, differs
from _polyagrus_ mainly in the greater amount of white on the plumage,
this imparting a lighter aspect to the pileum, and causing a greater
development of the light spots on the outer webs of the primaries and

[Illustration: _Falco polyagrus._]

The var. _polyagrus_, compared with var. _lanarius_, is much darker,
having, at all ages, the crown uniformly brown, with darker streaks,
instead of having these streaks upon a white ground. The “mustache” is
more distinct in the American bird, while in the European the bands on
the tail are much more distinct, and the spots forming them are on the
outer webs, as well as on the inner, instead of on the latter alone; the
dark bars between the light spots are in the American bird much narrower
and more numerous, and in the young the light ones come to the edge of
the web, instead of being enclosed within the dark color. Two very young
birds (i.e. in first perfect plumage) appear almost identical until
closely examined, the chief differences being a lighter tint to the
crown in the European, and heavier dark stripes on the breast, besides
the peculiar character of the tail-spots, which are always distinctive.
In shades of color, there is not the slightest difference.

I have seen no specimen of any of the Old World forms in the plumage
corresponding to that transversely barred above, described here as the
adult, though figures of the adult _lanarius_ indicate a very similar
plumage. The series of the latter race at my command is unfortunately
limited to a very few immature specimens. One marked “ad.” (56,051,
Hungary; Schlüter Coll.) measures as follows: Wing, 14.50; tail, 8.00;
culmen, .83; tarsus, 1.90; middle toe, 1.80. Its colors are as described
in the synopsis (p. 1429) for the young bird.

The var. _mexicanus_ and var. _jugger_, which are both much darker, and
more uniform in the coloring of the upper parts, than var. _polyagrus_,
are more nearly alike; in fact, the only tangible difference that I
can find between a specimen of the former in the Museum of the Boston
Society of Natural History (No. 1,438, ♂, Juv. Lafr. Collection;
“Mexico”) and two examples of the latter in the New York Museum,
consist in the larger size of the var. _jugger_ (see synopsis),
besides its whiter cheeks and more isolated and distinct “mustache.”
A direct comparison of these two races may show other tangible points
of distinction, or, on the contrary, may show even these slight
distinguishing features to be inconstant. The former result is, however,
most reasonably to be expected.


National Museum, 9; Boston Society, 2; Philadelphia Academy, 4; Museum
Comp. Zoöl. 1; G. N. Lawrence, 2; R. Ridgway, 5. Total, 23.


 |Sex.|   Wing.   |   Tail.   | Culmen. | Tarsus. |Middle Toe.|Specimens.|
 | ♂  |12.00–00.00|  7.60–0.00|  .00–.75| .00–2.15|   .00–1.70|    6     |
 | ♀  |13.25–14.25|  8.00–9.00|  .85–.90|2.05–2.40|  1.85–2.00|   12     |

HABITS. This is an exclusively western species, occurring from the
valley of the Mississippi to the Pacific coast. Specimens have been
obtained as far east as Illinois. Several others have been taken on the
Upper Missouri and the Yellowstone Rivers, in Nebraska, at Fort Thorne,
New Mexico, and on the Little Colorado River. A specimen was shot by
Dr. Heermann on the Farallones, on the California coast; but Dr. Cooper
thinks it rarely visits the coast border, though he several times saw,
near San Diego, a bird which he supposed to belong to this species. At
Martinez, in December, 1863, he succeeded in shooting one as it flew
from its perch at the approach of the wagon in which he was riding.

It is said to extend its migrations in summer to the Upper Columbia,
avoiding the densely forest-clad regions. Dr. Heermann saw a young
unfledged individual at San Francisco, from which it may be inferred
that a few may breed within the State.

The first individual of this species was taken by Dr. Townsend during
his trip across the continent, in 1834. It was obtained among the
mountainous regions of Oregon, near the sources of the Platte River.
Mr. Cassin states that Dr. Heermann procured several specimens in the
Sacramento Valley.

Mr. Cassin remarks that this species, except in its greatly superior
size and strength, bears a very close resemblance to the well-known
Jugger Falcon of India, a bird much used for the purposes of falconry.

Dr. Kennerly, who procured a single specimen of this species while his
party was encamped on the Little Colorado, found it busily engaged in
seeking its prey among the bushes that grew along the river-bank. It was
shy, and was procured with difficulty.

Dr. Suckley speaks of this Hawk as not at all rare in Oregon. He
procured a specimen of it at Fort Dalles, in the beginning of the winter
of 1854–55, which had been killed in the act of carrying off a barn-yard
fowl of about its own weight, and which it had just seized near the
door of a dwelling-house,—an act demonstrative of a union of courage,
ferocity, and strength inferior to none of its congeners.

Dr. Cooper characterizes this as one of the shyest of Hawks, as it is
also one of the swiftest, flying with rapid flappings of the wings. It
seems to prefer the borders of prairies, where it catches hares, quails,
and even larger game.

Mr. Ridgway informs me that this Hawk was seen by him in Southern
Illinois, near Mt. Carmel, September 27, 1871. It had been obtained once
before within the limits of Illinois, but in the northwestern part of
the State, at Rock Island, by I. Dickenson Sergeant, of Philadelphia,
and presented by him to the Academy of Natural Science.

Its nest and eggs were taken in Utah by Mr. Ricksecker. I have no notes
in regard to the former. A finely marked specimen of one of the eggs
procured by him is in my cabinet. It measures 2.15 inches in length
by 1.65 in breadth. It is of a somewhat less rounded-oval shape than
are the eggs of the _anatum_. The ground-color is a rich cream, with
a slightly pinkish tinge, and is beautifully marked with blotches of
various sizes, shapes, and shades of a red-brown tinged with chestnut,
and with occasional shadings of purplish. These are confluent about one
end, which in the specimen before me chances to be the smaller one. It
very closely resembles the eggs of the European _F. lanarius_.

An egg in the Smithsonian Collection (15,596), taken at Gilmer, Wyoming
Territory, May 13, 1870, by Mr. H. R. Durkee, has a ground-color of
pinkish-white, varying in two eggs to diluted vinaceous, thickly spotted
and minutely freckled with a single shade of a purplish-rufous. In shape
they are nearly elliptical, the smaller end being scarcely more pointed
than the larger. They measure 2.27 by 1.60 to 1.65 inches. The nest was
built on the edge of a cliff. Its eggs were also taken by Dr. Hayden
while with Captain Raynolds, at Gros Vent Fork, June 8, 1860.


  _Falco_, MŒHRING, 1752. (Type, _Falco peregrinus_, GM. = _F.
      communis_, GM.)
  _Rhynchodon_, NITZSCH, 1840. (In part only.)
  _Euhierax_, WEBB. & BERTH., 1844. (Type, _Falco_—?)
  _Icthierax_, KAUP, 1844. (Type, _Falco frontalis_, DAUD.)

[Illustration: =51293=, ♂. ¼

_F. aurantius._]

[Illustration: =52814=, ♀.

_F. rufigularis_ (nat. size).]

[Illustration: =51293=, ♂. ½

_F. aurantius._]

[Illustration: =51293=, ♂. NAT. SIZE.

_F. aurantius._]

[Illustration: =52814=, ♀.

_F. rufigularis_ (nat. size).]

The following synopsis of the three American species of this subgenus
may serve to distinguish them from each other, though only two of
them (_F. aurantius_ and _F. rufigularis_) are very closely related.
The comparative characters of the several geographical races of the
other one (_F. communis_), which is cosmopolitan in its habitat, being
included under the head of that species, may explain the reasons why
they are separated from each other.

Species and Races.

  =A.= First and second quills equal and longest; first with inner web
  emarginated, second with inner web slightly sinuated. Young with
  longitudinal stripes on the lower parts. Adult and young stages very

    1. =F. communis.= Wing, 11.50–14.30; tail, 7.00–8.50; culmen,
    .72–.95; tarsus, 1.65–2.20; middle toe, 1.80–2.30.[52] Second
    quill longest; first shorter than, equal to, or longer than third.
    _Adult._ Above plumbeous, darker anteriorly, lighter and more bluish
    posteriorly; anteriorly plain, posteriorly with darker transverse
    bars, these growing more sharply defined towards the tail. Beneath
    ochraceous-white, varying in tint from nearly pure white to deep
    ochraceous, those portions posterior to the jugulum transversely
    barred, more or less, with blackish or dark plumbeous; anterior
    lower parts (from the breast forward) without transverse bars.
    _Young._ No transverse bars on the body, above or below. Above
    blackish-brown, varying to black, the feathers usually bordered
    terminally with ochraceous or rusty; forehead usually more or less
    washed with the same. Beneath ochraceous, varying in shade; the
    whole surface with longitudinal stripes of blackish. Inner webs of
    tail-feathers and primaries with numerous transverse elliptical
    spots of ochraceous. _Hab._ Cosmopolitan.

      _a._ Young dark brown above, the feathers bordered with rusty or
      whitish. Beneath white or ochraceous, with narrow longitudinal
      stripes of dusky. Inner webs of tail-feathers with transverse

        Auriculars white, cutting off the black of the cheeks with a
        prominent “mustache.”

          Beneath pure white, the breast and middle of the abdomen
          without markings. Wing, 12.75; tail, 7.30; culmen, .80;
          tarsus, 2.00; middle toe, 1.80. _Hab._ Eastern Asia …

                                                 var. _orientalist_.[53]

          Beneath pale ochraceous, the breast always with longitudinal
          dashes, or elliptical spots, of dusky; middle of abdomen
          barred. Wing, 11.50–14.30; tail, 7.00–8.50; culmen, .72–.95;
          tarsus, 1.65–2.20; middle toe, 1.80–2.30. _Hab._ Europe …

                                                    var. _communis_.[54]

          Beneath varying from deep ochraceous to nearly pure white,
          the breast never with distinct longitudinal or other spots,
          usually with none at all. Middle of abdomen barred, or not.
          Wing, 11.30–14.75; tail, 6.00–9.00; culmen, .75–1.00; tarsus,
          1.60–2.10; middle toe, 1.75–2.20. _Hab._ America (entire
          continent) …

                                                          var. _anatum_.

        Auriculars black, nearly, or quite, as far down as the lower end
        of the “mustache.”

          Beneath varying from deep ochraceous to white, the breast
          streaked or not. Lower parts more uniformly and heavily
          barred than in the other races. _Young_ with narrower streaks
          beneath. Wing, 11.15–12.60; tail, 6.11–8.00; culmen, .81–.90;
          tarsus, 1.60–2.05; middle toe, 1.75–2.15. _Hab_. Australia …

                                                 var. _melanogenys_.[55]

      _b._ Young unvariegated brownish-black above. Beneath
      brownish-black, faintly streaked with white, or nearly
      unvariegated. Inner webs of tail-feathers without transverse bars.

          Wing, 14.90–15.09; tail, 8.50; culmen, .95–1.00; tarsus,
          2.10; middle toe, 2.15–2.21. _Hab._ Northwest coast of North
          America, from Oregon to Sitka …

                                                          var. _pealei_.

  =B.= Second quill longest; first with inner web emarginated, the
  second with inner web not sinuated. Young without longitudinal stripes
  on lower parts. Adult and young stages hardly appreciably different.

    Above plumbeous or black; beneath black from the jugulum to the
    tibiæ, with transverse bars of white, ochraceous, or rufous; throat
    and jugulum white, white and rufous, or wholly ochraceous, with a
    semicircular outline posteriorly; tibiæ, anal region, and crissum
    uniform deep rufous, or spotted with black on an ochraceous or a
    white and rufous ground. _Adult._ Plumbeous above, the feathers
    darker centrally, and with obscure darker bars posteriorly; jugulum
    immaculate. _Young._ Black above, the feathers bordered terminally
    with rusty, or else dark plumbeous without transverse bars; jugulum
    with longitudinal streaks.

      2. =F aurantius.=[56] Wing, 9.50–12.00; tail, 5.40–6.25; culmen,
      .96; tarsus, 1.50–1.60; middle toe, 1.75–2.10. Second quill
      longest; first longer than third. Crissum ochraceous, or white and
      rufous, with large transverse spots of black; upper tail-coverts
      sharply barred with pure white or pale ash. _Adult._ Above
      plumbeous-black, the feathers conspicuously bordered with
      plumbeous-blue. Throat and jugulum immaculate; white centrally and
      anteriorly, deep rufous laterally and posteriorly. Tibiæ plain
      rufous. _Young._ Above uniform dull black, the feathers sometimes
      bordered inconspicuously with rusty. Throat and jugulum varying
      from white to ochraceous or rufous (this always deepest laterally
      and posteriorly). Tibiæ sometimes thickly spotted transversely
      with black. _Hab._ Tropical America, north to Southern Mexico.

      3. =F. rufigularis.=[57] Wing, 7.20–9.00 (♂, wing, 7.70; tail,
      3.95–5.50; culmen, .45–.58; tarsus, 1.20–1.55; middle toe,
      1.15–1.40). Second quill longest; first longer than third. Crissum
      uniform deep reddish-rufous, rarely barred with white and dusky.
      Upper tail-coverts obsoletely barred with plumbeous.

      _Adult._ Above plumbeous-black, the feathers lightening into
      plumbeous-blue on the edges and ends, and showing obscure bars
      on the posterior portions. Throat and jugulum ochraceous-white,
      the ochraceous tinge deepest posteriorly and without any streaks.
      _Young._ Above plumbeous-black, without lighter obscure bars, or
      with a brownish cast, and with faint rusty edges to the feathers.
      Throat and jugulum deep soft ochraceous, deepest laterally, the
      posterior portion usually with a few longitudinal streaks of
      dusky. _Hab._ Tropical America, north to Middle Mexico.

Falco communis, GMEL.

Var. =anatum=, BONAP.


  _? Accipiter falco maculatus_, Briss. Orn. I, 329. _? Falco nævius_,
  GMEL. S. N. 1789, 271. _Falco communis_ ζ, and _F. communis_ η, LATH.
  Ind. Orn. p. 31. _Falco communis_, COUES, Key, 1872, 213, f. 141.
  _Falco peregrinus_, ORD. Wils. Am. Orn. 1808, pl. lxvi.—SAB. L. Trans.
  XII, 529.—RICH. Parry’s 2d Voy. App. 342.—IB. F. B. A. II, 1831,
  23.—BONAP. N. Y. Lyc. II, 27.—IB. Isis, 1832, 1136; Consp. 1850, 23,
  No. 4.—KING, Voy. Beag. I, 1839, 532.—JAMES. Wils. Am. Orn. 677,
  Synop. 1852, 683.—WEDDERB. Jard. Contr. to Orn. 1849, 81.—WOODH.
  Sitgr. Zuñi, 1853, 60.—GIRAUD, B. Long Island, 1844, 14.—PEALE, U. S.
  Ex. Ex. 1848, 66.—GRAY, List B. Brit. Mus. 1841, 51. _Falco anatum_,
  BONAP. Eur. & N. Am. B. 1838, 4.—IB. Rev. Zoöl. 1850, 484.—BRIDG.
  Proc. Zoöl. Soc. pl. xi, 109.—IB. Ann. N. H. XIII, 499.—GOSSE, B. Jam.
  1847, 16.—CASS. B. Cal. & Tex. 1854, 86.—IB. Birds N. Am. 1858, 7.—DE
  KAY, Zoöl. N. Y. II, 13, pl. iii, f. 8.—NUTT. Man. 1833, 53.—PEAB. B.
  Mass. 1841, 83.—STRICKL. Orn. Syn. I, 1855, 83.—BLAKIST. Ibis, III,
  1861, 315.—MARCH, Pr. Ac. N. S. 1863, 304. _Falco nigriceps_, CASS.
  B. Cal. & Tex. I, 1853, 87.—IB. Birds N. Am. 1858, 8.—STRICKL. Orn.
  Syn. I, 85.—COOP. & SUCKL. P. R. R. Rep’t, VII, ii, 1860, 142.—GRAY,
  Hand List, I, 1869, 19, No. 166.—SHARPE, Ann. & Mag. N. H. _Falco
  orientalis_, (GM.) GRAY, Hand List, I, 1869, 19, No. 165 (in part). _?
  Falco cassini_, SHARPE, Ann. & Mag. N. H.

SP. CHAR. _Adult_ (♂, 43,134, Fort Resolution, Brit. N. Am., June;
J. Lockhart). Upper parts dark bluish-plumbeous, approaching black
anteriorly, but on rump and upper tail-coverts becoming fine bluish
plumbeous-ash. On the head and neck the continuous plumbeous-black
covers all the former except the chin and throat, and the back portion
of the latter; an invasion or indentation of the white of lower parts
up behind the ear-coverts separating that of the cheeks from the
posterior black, throwing the former into a prominent angular patch;
forehead and lores grayish. All the feathers above (posterior to the
nape) with transverse bars of plumbeous-black, these most sharply
defined posteriorly, where the plumbeous is lightest. Tail black, more
plumbeous basally, very faintly paler at the tip, and showing ten
or eleven transverse narrow bands of plumbeous, these most distinct
anteriorly; the bars are clearest on inner webs. Alula, primary and
secondary coverts, secondaries and primaries, uniform plumbeous-black,
narrowly whitish on terminal margin, most observable on secondaries and
inner primaries. Lower parts white, tinged with delicate cream-color,
this deepest on the abdomen; sides and tibiæ tinged with bluish.
Chin, throat, and jugulum immaculate; the breast, however, with faint
longitudinal shaft-streaks of black; sides, flanks, and tibiæ distinctly
barred transversely with black, about four bars being on each feather;
on the lower tail-coverts they are narrower and more distant; on
the abdomen the markings are in the form of circular spots; anal
region barred transversely. Lining of the wing (including all the
under coverts) white tinged with blue, and barred like the sides;
under surface of primaries slaty, with elliptical spots or bars of
creamy-white on inner webs, twelve on the longest. Wing-formula, 2–1–3.
Wing, 12.25; tail, 6.00; tarsus, 1.60; middle toe, 1.85; outer, 1.40;
inner, 1.20; posterior, .80; culmen, .80.

♀ (13,077, Liberty Co., Georgia; Professor J. L. Leconte). Like the
male, but ochraceous tinge beneath deeper; no ashy wash; bands on
the tail more sharply defined, about ten dark ones being indicated;
outer surface of primaries and secondaries with bands apparent;
tail distinctly tipped with ochraceous-white. Inner web of longest
primary with thirteen, more reddish, transverse spots. White of neck
extending obliquely upward and forward toward the eye, giving the
black cheek-patch more prominence. Markings beneath as in the male.
Wing-formula the same. Wing, 14.50; tail, 7.00; tarsus, 1.95; middle
toe, 2.10; culmen, .95.

_Juv._ (♂, 53,193, Truckee River, Nevada, July 24, 1867; R. Ridgway:
first plumage). Above plumbeous-black, tail more slaty. Every feather
broadly bordered terminally with dull cinnamon; these crescentic bars
becoming gradually broader posteriorly, narrower and more obsolete on
the head above. Tail distinctly tipped with pale cinnamon, the inner
webs of feathers with obsolete transverse spots of the same, these
touching neither the edge nor the shaft; scarcely apparent indications
of corresponding spots on outer webs. Region round the eye, and broad
“mustache” across the cheeks, pure black, the latter more conspicuous
than in the older stages, being cut off posteriorly by the extension of
the cream-color of the neck nearly to the eye. A broad stripe of pale
ochraceous running from above the ear-coverts back to the occiput, where
the two of opposite sides nearly meet. Lower parts purplish cream-color,
or rosy ochraceous-white, deepest posteriorly; jugulum, breast, sides,
flanks, and tibiæ with longitudinal stripes of plumbeous-black, these
broadest on flanks and abdomen, and somewhat sagittate on the tibiæ;
lower tail-coverts with distant transverse bars. Lining of the wing
like the sides, but the markings more transverse; inner web of longest
primary with nine transverse purplish-ochre spots. Wing-formula, 2–1, 3.
Wing, 12.50; tail, 7.00. Length, 16.50; expanse, 39.25. Weight, 1½ lbs.
Basal half of bill pale bluish-white, cere rather darker; terminal half
(rather abruptly) slate-color, the tip deepening into black; iris very
dark vivid vandyke-brown; naked orbital space pale bluish-white, with a
slight greenish tint; tarsi and toes lemon-yellow, with a slight green
cast; claws jet-black.

HAB. Entire continent of America, and neighboring islands.

Localities: Guatemala (SCL. Ibis I, 219); Veragua (SALV. P. Z. S. 1867,
158); Sta. Cruz (NEWTON, Ibis, I, 63); Trinidad (TAYLOR, Ibis, 1864,
80); Bahamas (BRYANT, Pr. Bost. Soc. 1859, VII); Cuba (CAB. Journ.
II, lxxxiii); (GUNDL. Repert. 1865, 225); Jamaica, (GOSSE, B. Jam.
16; MARCH, Pr. Ac. N. S. 1863, 304, et Mus. S. I.); Tierra del Fuego
(SHARPE, Ann. & Mag. N. H.; “_F. cassini_, SHARPE”).

The young plumage above described corresponds exactly with that of
young _peregrinus_ from Europe, a comparison of the specimen above
described with one of the same age from Germany (54,064, Schlüter Col.)
showing no differences that can be expressed. Many American specimens in
this plumage (as 19,397, Fort Simpson) show a wash of whitish over the
forehead and anterior part of the crown; having before us but the one
specimen, we cannot say whether or not this is ever seen in the European
bird. Specimens more advanced in season—perhaps in second year—are
colored as follows: The black above is more brownish, the feathers
margined with pale brown,—these margins broader, and approaching to
white, on the upper tail-coverts; the tail shows the ochraceous bars
only on inner webs. The supraoral stripe of the youngest plumage is also
quite apparent.

A still younger one from the same locality (No. 37,397) has the upper
plumage similar to the last, the pale edges to the feathers, however,
more distinct; tail with conspicuous spots. White beneath clearer, and
invading the dusky of the head above as far back as the middle of the
crown; the supraoral stripe is distinct, scarcely interrupted across the

In the adult plumage the principal variation is in the extent and
disposition of the bars beneath. In most individuals they are regularly
transverse only laterally and posteriorly, those on the belly being
somewhat broken into more irregular cordate spots, though always
transverse; in no American specimen, however, are they as continuously
transverse as in a male (No. 18,804) from Europe, which, however, in
this respect, we think, forms an exception to most European examples,
at least to those in the Smithsonian Collection. All variations in
the form, thickness, and continuity of the markings below, and in the
distinctness of the bars above, are individual.

Very old males (as 49,790, Fort Yukon; 27,188, Moose Factory (type of
Elliott’s figure of _F. peregrinus_, in Birds of America); and 42,997,
Spanishtown, Jamaica) lack almost entirely the reddish tinge beneath,
and have the lateral and posterior portions strongly tinged with blue;
the latter feature is especially noticeable in the specimen from
Jamaica, in which also the bars are almost utterly wanting medially.
Immature birds from this island also lack to a great degree the
ochraceous tinge, leaving the whitish everywhere purer.

A female adult European bird differs from the average of North American
examples in the conspicuous longitudinal streaks on the jugulum; but in
a male these are hardly more distinct than in 13,077, ♀, Liberty Co.,
Georgia; 11,983, “United States”; 35,456, Peel’s River; 35,449, ♀, and
35,445, ♀, Fort Yukon, Alaska; 35,452, La Pierre’s Hous., H. B. Ter.;
35,459 ♂, Fort Anderson; and 28,099 ♀, Hartford, Conn. In none of these,
however, are they so numerous and conspicuous as in a European female
from the Schlüter Collection, which, however, differs in these respects
only from North American specimens.

A somewhat melanistic individual (in second year? 32,735, Chicago,
Ill.; Robert Kennicott) differs as follows: Above continuously pure
black; upper tail-coverts and longer scapulars bordered terminally
with rusty-whitish. Tail distinctly tipped with white; the inner webs
of feathers with eight elliptical transverse bars of pale ochraceous,
and indications of corresponding spots of the same on outer webs,
forming as many inconspicuous bands. Beneath ochraceous-white; the neck,
breast, and abdomen thickly marked with broad longitudinal stripes
of clear black,—those on the jugulum cuneate, and on the breast and
abdomen broadly sagittate; the tibiæ with numerous cordate spots, and
sides marked more transversely; lower tail-coverts with narrow distant
transverse bars. On the chin and throat only, the whitish is immaculate,
on the other portions being somewhat exceeded in amount by the black.
Inner web of longest primary with seven transverse elliptical bars of
cream-color. Wing, 12.20; tail, 9.40.

Whether the North American and European Peregrine Falcons are or are not
distinct has been a question undecided up to the present day; almost
every ornithologist having his own peculiar views upon the relationship
of the different forms which have been from time to time characterized.
The most favorably received opinion, however, seems to be that there
are two species on the American continent, and that one of these, the
northern one, is identical with the European bird. Both these views
I hold to be entirely erroneous; for after examining and comparing
critically a series of more than one hundred specimens of these birds,
from every portion of America (except eastern South America), including
nearly all the West India Islands, as well as numbers of localities
throughout continental North and South America, I find that, with
the exception of the melanistic littoral race of the northwest coast
(var. _pealei_), they all fall under one race, which, though itself
exceedingly variable, yet possesses characters whereby it may always be
distinguished from the Peregrine of all portions of the Old World.

There is such a great amount of variability, in size, colors, and
markings, that the _F. nigriceps_, Cassin, must be entirely ignored
as being based upon specimens not distinguishable in any respect from
typical _anatum_. Judging from the characters assigned to the _F.
cassini_ by its describer (who evidently had a very small series of
American specimens at his command), the latter name must also most
probably fall into the list of synonymes of _anatum_.

Slight as are the characters which separate the Peregrines of the
New and Old World, i.e. the immaculate jugulum of the former and the
streaked one of the latter, they are yet sufficiently constant to
warrant their separation as geographical races of one species; along
with which the _F. melanogenys_, Gould (Australia), _F. minor_, Bonap.
(South Africa), _F. orientalis_, Gmel. (E. Asia), and _F. calidus_,
Lath. (Southern India and East Indies), must also rank as simple
geographical races of the same species. Whether the _F. calidus_ is
tenable, I am unable to state, for I have not seen it; but the others
appear to be all sufficiently differentiated. The _F. radama_, Verreaux
(Gray’s Hand List, p. 19, No. 170), Mr. Gurney writes me, is the young
female of var. _minor_. Whether the _F. peregrinator_, Sundevall (Gray’s
Hand List, No. 169), is another of the regional forms of _F. communis_,
or a distinct species, I am not able at present to say, not having
specimens accessible to me for examination.

Mr. Cassin’s type of “_nigriceps_” (13,856, ♂, July), from Chile, is
before me, and upon comparison with adult males from Arctic America
presents no tangible differences beyond its smaller size; the wing
is a little more than half an inch, and the middle toe less than the
eighth of an inch, shorter than in the smallest of the North American
series,—a discrepancy slight indeed, and of little value as the sole
specific character; the plumage being almost precisely similar to that
of the specimen selected for the type of the description at the head of
this article. In order to show the little consequence to be attached
to the small size of the individual just mentioned, I would state that
there is before me a young bird, received from the National Museum of
Chile, and obtained in the vicinity of Santiago, which is precisely
similar in plumage to the Nevada specimen described, and in size is even
considerably larger, though it is but just to say that it is a female;
the wing measures 13.25, instead of 12.50, and the middle toe, 2.00,
instead of 1.85. No. 37,336, Tres Marias Islands, Western Mexico,—a
young male in second year,—has the wing just the same length as in
the smallest North American example, while in plumage it is precisely
similar to 26,785, of the same age, from Jamaica. No. 4,367, from
Puget’s Sound, Washington Territory,—also a young male,—has the wing of
the same length as in the largest northern specimen, while the plumage
is as usual.

Two adult females from Connecticut (Nos. 28,099 and 32,507, Talcott Mt.)
are remarkable for their very deep colors, in which they differ from all
other North American examples which I have seen, and answer in every
particular to the description of _F. cassini_, Sharpe, above cited.
The upper surface is plumbeous-black, becoming deep black anteriorly,
the head without a single light feather in the black portions; the
plumbeous bars are distinct only on the rump, upper tail-coverts, and
tail, and are just perceptible on the secondaries. The lower parts are
of a very deep reddish-ochraceous, deepest on the breast and abdomen,
where it approaches a cinnamon tint,—the markings, however, as in other
examples. They measure, wing, 14.75; tail, 7.50; culmen, 1.05–1.15;
tarsus, 2.00; middle toe, 2.30. They were obtained from the nest, and
kept in confinement three years, when they were sacrificed to science.
The unusual size of the bill of these specimens (see measurements) is
undoubtedly due to the influence of confinement, or the result of a
modified mode of feeding. The specimens were presented by Dr. S. S.
Moses, of Hartford.

An adult male (No. 8,501) from Shoal-water Bay, Washington Territory,
is exactly of the size of the male described. In this specimen there
is not the slightest creamy tinge beneath, while the blue tinge on the
lower parts laterally and posteriorly is very strong. No. 52,818, an
adult female from Mazatlan, Western Mexico, has the wing three quarters
of an inch shorter than in the largest of four northern females,
and of the same length as in the smallest; there is nothing unusual
about its plumage, except that the bars beneath are sparse, and the
ochraceous tinge quite deep. No. 27,057, Fort Good Hope, H. B. T., is,
however, exactly similar, in these respects, and the wing is but half
an inch longer. In No. 47,588, ♂, from the Farallones Islands, near San
Francisco, California, the wing is the same length as in the average of
northern and eastern specimens, while the streaks on the jugulum are
nearly as conspicuous as in a male from Europe.

In conclusion, I would say that the sole distinguishing character
between the Peregrines from America and those from Europe, that can be
relied on, appears to be found in the markings on the breast in the
adult plumage; in all the specimens and figures of var. _communis_ that
I have seen, the breast has the longitudinal dashes very conspicuous;
while, as a general rule, in _anatum_ these markings are entirely
absent, though sometimes present, and occasionally nearly as distinct as
in European examples. Therefore, if this conspicuous streaking of the
breast is found in all European specimens, the American bird is entitled
to separation as a variety; but if the breast is ever immaculate in
European examples, then _anatum_ must sink into a pure synonyme of
_communis_. The var. _melanogenys_ is distinguished from both _communis_
and _anatum_ by the black auriculars, or by a greater amount of black
on the side of the neck, and by more numerous and narrower bars on
the under surface. In the former feature examples of _anatum_ from
the southern extremity of South America approach quite closely to the
Australian form, as might be expected from the relative geographical
position of the two regions. The var. _minor_ is merely the smaller
intertropical race of the Old World, perhaps better characterized
than the tropical American form named _F. nigriceps_ by Cassin, the
characters of which are so unimportant, and withal so inconstant, as to
forbid our recognizing it as a race of the same rank with the others.


National Museum, 45; Boston Society, 4; Philadelphia Academy, 22; Museum
Comp. Zoöl. 5; New York Museum, 3; G. N. Lawrence, 6; R. Ridgway, 3.
Total, 88.


 |Sex.|   Wing.   |   Tail.   | Culmen. | Tarsus. |Middle Toe.|Specimens.|
 | ♂  |11.30–13.00|  6.00–7.50| .75–0.80|1.60–1.90|  1.78–2.05|   29     |
 | ♀  |13.00–14.75|  7.30–9.00| .85–1.00|1.95–2.10|  1.95–2.20|   28     |

Var. pealei, RIDGWAY.


  _? ? Accipiter falco niger_, BRISS. Orn. I, 337. _? ? Falco niger_,
  GMEL. S. N. 1789, 270. _Falco polyagrus_, CASS. B. Cal. & Tex. pl. xvi
  (dark figure).

SP. CHAR. In colors almost exactly similar to _F. gyrfalco_, var.
_labradora_. Above continuous dark vandyke-brown, approaching
brownish-black on the head, which is variegated only on the gular
region, and inclining to grayish-brown on the tail; the whole surface
entirely free from spots or markings of any kind. Beneath similar in
color to the upper parts, but the feathers edged with whitish, this
rather predominating on the throat; flanks and tibiæ with roundish white
spots; lower tail-coverts with broad transverse bars of white. Lining
of the wing with feathers narrowly tipped with white; inner webs of
primaries with narrow, transverse elliptical spots of cream-color; inner
webs of tail-feathers with badly defined, irregular, similar spots, or
else with these wanting, the whole web being plain dusky-brown.

No. 12,022 (♀, Oregon; T. R. Peale). Wing, 15.00; tail, 8.50; culmen,
.95; tarsus, 2.10; middle toe, 2.15. (Figured by Cassin as _F.
polyagrus_, in Birds of California and Texas, pl. xvi.)

No. 45,814 (♀, Sitka, Alaska, May, 1866; F. Bischoff). Wing, 14.90;
tail, 8.50; tarsus, 2.10; middle toe, 2.20. The two similar in color,
but in the latter the white streaks on the lower parts a little broader,
and the middle of the auriculars slightly streaked.

HAB. Northwest coast of North America, from Oregon to Sitka.

This curious race of _Falco communis_ is a good illustration of the
climatic peculiarity of the northwest coast region, to which I have
often referred before; the same melanistic tendency being apparent in
birds of other species from the same region, as an example of which I
may mention the Black Merlin (_Falco æsalon_, var. _suckleyi_), which is
a perfect miniature of the present bird.

HABITS. The Great-footed Hawk of North America is very closely allied
to the well-known Peregrine Falcon of Europe, and so closely resembles
it that by many writers, even at the present day, it is regarded as
identical with it. Without doubt, the habits of the two races are very
nearly the same, though the peculiarities of the North American bird are
not so well known as are those of the European. In its distribution it
is somewhat erratic, for the most part confined to the rocky sea-coast,
the river-banks, and the high ground of the northeastern parts of
America. It is known to breed in a few isolated rocky crags in various
parts of the country, even as far to the south as Pennsylvania, and it
occurs probably both as migrant and resident in several of the West
India Islands, in Central and in South America. A single specimen was
taken by Dr. Woodhouse in the Creek country of the Indian Territory. Two
individuals are reported by Von Pelzeln as having been taken in Brazil.
The Newtons met with it in St. Croix. Mr. Gosse found it in Jamaica, and
Dr. Gundlach gives it as a bird of Cuba. Jardine states it to be a bird
of Bermuda, and also that it has been taken in the Straits of Magellan.
A single specimen was taken at Dueñas, Guatemala, in February, by Mr.

On the Pacific coast this Falcon has been traced as far south as the
limit of the land. Dr. Cooper met with only two pairs, in March, 1854,
frequenting a high wooded cliff at Shoal-water Bay. Dr. Suckley procured
a single specimen from Steilacoom. Dr. Cooper states that the habits
of these corresponded with those described for the _F. anatum_ and _F.
peregrinus_, and that, like these Falcons, it is a terror to all land
animals weaker than itself. It is said to breed on the rocky cliffs of
the Pacific.

An individual of this bird was taken by Colonel Grayson at the Tres
Marias Islands. When shot, it was endeavoring to capture a Sparrow-hawk,
indicating its indifference as to the game it pursues. He adds that
this bird attacks with vigor everything it sees, from the size of a
Mallard Duck down, and is the terror of all small birds. Its range must
be very great, as it often ventures far out to sea. On his passage from
Mazatlan to San Francisco, in 1858, on the bark Carlota, one of these
Falcons came on board more than a hundred miles off the coast of Lower
California, and took up its quarters on the main-top yard, where it
remained two days, during which time it captured several Dusky Petrels.
It would dart headlong upon these unsuspecting birds, seldom missing
its aim. It would then return to its resting-place and partly devour
its prize. At other times it dropped its victims into the sea in wanton
sport. Finally, as if tired of this kind of game, it made several wide
circles around the ship, ascended to a considerable height, and departed
in the direction of the Mexican shore.

This Falcon is found along the Atlantic coast from Maine to the extreme
northern portion, breeding on the high rocky cliffs of Grand Menan and
in various favorable situations thence northward. A few breed on Mount
Tom, near the Connecticut River in Massachusetts, on Talcott Mountain in
Connecticut, in Pennsylvania, and near Harper’s Ferry, in Maryland.

Mr. Boardman has several times taken their eggs from the cliffs of Grand
Menan, where they breed in April, or early in May. In one instance he
found the nest in close proximity to that of a pair of Ravens, the two
families being apparently on terms of amity or mutual tolerance.

For several years two or more pairs of these birds have been known to
breed regularly on Mount Tom, near Northampton. The nests were placed
on the edges of precipitous rocks very early in the spring, the young
having been fully grown by the last of June. Their young and their eggs
have been taken year after year, yet at the last accounts they still
continued to nest in that locality. Dr. W. Wood has also found this
species breeding on Talcott Mountain, near Hartford. Four young were
found, nearly fledged, June 1. In one instance four eggs were taken
from a nest on Mount Tom, by Mr. C. W. Bennett, as early as April 19.
This was in 1864. Several times since he has taken their eggs from the
same eyrie, though the Hawks have at times deserted it and sought other
retreats. In one year a pair was twice robbed, and, as is supposed,
made a third nest, and had unfledged young as late as August. Mr. Allen
states that these Hawks repair to Mount Tom very early in the spring,
and carefully watch and defend their eyrie, manifesting even more alarm
at this early period, when it is approached, than they evince later,
when it contains eggs or young. Mr. Bennett speaks of the nest as a mere
apology for one.

This Hawk formerly nested on a high cliff near the house of Professor
S. S. Haldeman, Columbia, Penn., who several times procured young birds
which had fallen from the nest. The birds remained about this cliff
ten or eleven months of the year, only disappearing during the coldest
weather, and returning with the first favorable change. They bred
early in spring, the young leaving the nest perhaps in May. Professor
Haldeman was of the opinion that but a single pair remained, the young
disappearing in the course of the season.

Sir John Richardson, in his Arctic expedition in 1845, while descending
the Mackenzie River, latitude 65°, noticed what he presumed to be a nest
of this species, placed on the cliff of a sandstone rock. This Falcon
was rare on that river.

Mr. MacFarlane found this species not uncommon on the banks of Lockhart
and Anderson Rivers, in the Arctic regions. In one instance he mentions
finding a nest on a cliff thirty feet from the ground. There were four
eggs lying on a ledge of the shale of which the cliff was composed.
Both parents were present, and kept up a continued screaming, though at
too great a distance for him to shoot either. He adds that this bird is
by no means scarce on Lockhart River, and he was informed that it also
nests along the ramparts and other steep banks of the Upper Anderson,
though he has not been able to learn that it has been found north of
Fort Anderson. In another instance the nest was on a ledge of clayey
mud,—the eggs, in fact, lying on the bare ground, and nothing resembling
a nest to be seen. A third nest was found on a ledge of crumbling
shale, along the banks of the Anderson River, near the outlet of the
Lockhart. This Hawk, he remarks, so far as he was able to observe,
constructs no nest whatever. At least, on the Anderson River, where he
found it tolerably abundant, it was found to invariably lay its eggs on
a ledge of rock or shale, without making use of any accessory lining or
protection, always availing itself of the most inaccessible ledges. He
was of the opinion that they do not breed to the northward of the 68th
parallel. They were also to be found nesting in occasional pairs along
the lime and sandstone banks of the Mackenzie, where early in August,
for several successive years, he noticed the young of the season fully
fledged, though still attended by the parent birds.

In subsequent notes, Mr. MacFarlane repeats his observations that this
species constructs no nest, merely laying its eggs on a ledge of shale
or other rock. Both parents were invariably seen about the spot. In some
instances the eggs found were much larger than in others.

Mr. Dall mentions shooting a pair near Nuk´koh, on the Yukon River, that
had a nest on a dead spruce. The young, on the 1st of June, were nearly
ready to fly. It was not a common species, but was found from Nulato to
Sitka and Kodiak.

In regard to general characteristics of this Falcon, they do not
apparently differ in any essential respects from those of the
better-known _Falco communis_ of the Old World. It flies with immense
rapidity, rarely sails in the manner of other Hawks, and then only for
brief periods and when disappointed in some attempt upon its prey.
In such cases, Mr. Audubon states, it merely rises in a broad spiral
circuit, in order to reconnoitre a space below. It then flies swiftly
off in quest of plunder. These flights are made in the manner of the
Wild Pigeon. When it perceives its object, it increases the flappings of
its wings, and pursues its victim with a surprising rapidity. It turns,
and winds, and follows every change of motion of the object of pursuit
with instantaneous quickness. Occasionally it seizes a bird too heavy to
be managed, and if this be over the water it drops it, if the distance
to land be too great, and flies off in pursuit of another. Mr. Audubon
has known one of this species to come at the report of a gun, and carry
off a Teal not thirty steps distant from the sportsman who had killed
it. This daring conduct is a characteristic trait.

This bird is noted for its predatory attacks upon water-fowl, but it
does not confine itself to such prey. In the interior, Richardson states
that it preys upon the Wild Pigeon, and upon smaller birds. In one
instance Audubon has known one to follow a tame Pigeon to its house,
entering it at one hole and instantly flying out at the other. The same
writer states that he has seen this bird feeding on dead fish that had
floated to the banks of the Mississippi. Occasionally it alights on the
dead branch of a tree in the neighborhood of marshy ground, and watches,
apparently surveying, piece by piece, every portion of the territory. As
soon as it perceives a suitable victim, it darts upon it like an arrow.
While feeding, it is said to be very cleanly, tearing the flesh, after
removing the feathers, into small pieces, and swallowing them one by

The European species, as is well known, was once largely trained for the
chase, and even to this day is occasionally used for this purpose; its
docility in confinement, and its wonderful powers of flight, rendering
it an efficient assistant to the huntsman. We have no reason to doubt
that our own bird might be made equally serviceable.

Excepting during the breeding-season, it is a solitary bird. It mates
early in February, and even earlier in the winter. Early in the fall
the families separate, and each bird seems to keep to itself until the
period of reproduction returns.

In confinement, birds of this family become quite tame, can be trained
to habits of wonderful docility and obedience, and evince even an
affection for the one who cares for their wants.

This species appears to nest almost exclusively on cliffs, and rarely,
if ever, to make any nests in other situations. In a few rare and
exceptional cases this Falcon has been known to construct a nest in
trees. Mr. Ord speaks of its thus nesting among the cedar swamps of New
Jersey; but this fact has been discredited, and there has been no recent
evidence of its thus breeding in that State. Mr. Dall found its nest in
a tree in Alaska, but makes no mention of its peculiarities.

The eggs of this species are of a rounded-oval shape, and range from
2.00 to 2.22 inches in length, and from 1.60 to 1.90 in width. Five
eggs, from Anderson River, have an average size of 2.09 by 1.65 inches.
An egg from Mount Tom, Mass., is larger than any other I have seen,
measuring 2.22 inches in length by 1.70 in breadth, and differs in the
brighter coloring and a larger proportion of red in its markings. The
ground is a deep cream-color, but is rarely visible, being generally
so entirely overlaid by markings as nowhere to appear. In many the
ground-color appears to have a reddish tinge, probably due to the brown
markings which so nearly conceal it. In others, nothing appears but a
deep coating of dark ferruginous or chocolate-brown, not homogeneous,
but of varying depth of coloring, and here and there deepening into
almost blackness. In one egg, from Anderson River, the cream-colored
ground is very apparent, and only sparingly marked with blotches of a
light brown, with a shading of bronze. An egg from the cabinet of Mr.
Dickinson, of Springfield, taken on Mount Tom, Massachusetts, is boldly
blotched with markings of a bright chestnut-brown, varying greatly in
its shadings.

_Subgenus_ ÆSALON, KAUP.

  _Æsalon_, KAUP, 1829. (Type, _Falco æsalon_, GMELIN, = _F.
      lithofalco_, GM.)
  _Hypotriorchis_, AUCT. _nec_ BOIE, 1826, the type of which is _Falco
      subbuteo_, LINN.
  _Dendrofalco_, GRAY, 1840. (Type, _F. æsalon_, GMEL.)

This subgenus contains, apparently, but the single species _F.
lithofalco_, which is found nearly throughout the Northern Hemisphere,
and in different climatic regions is modified into geographical races.
Of these, North America possesses three, and Europe one; they may be
distinguished as follows:—

Species and Races.

  =F. lithofalco.= Second and third quills longest; first usually
  shorter than, occasionally equal to, or rarely longer than, the
  fourth. _Adult female, and young of both sexes._ Above brownish,
  varying from pale earth-brown, or umber, to nearly black, plain, or
  with obscure transverse spotting of lighter; tail with five to eight
  lighter bands, which, however, are sometimes obsolete, except the
  terminal one. Beneath ochraceous-white, longitudinally striped with
  brown or dusky over the whole surface. _Adult male_ (except in var.
  _suckleyi_ and _richardsoni_?). Above plumbeous-blue, with darker
  shaft-streaks; tail with more or less distinct bands of black, and
  paler tip. Beneath much as in the female and young, but stripes
  usually narrower and more reddish. Wing, 7.20–9.00; tail, 4.90–6.30;
  culmen, .45–.60; tarsus, 1.30–1.60; middle toe, 1.15–1.51.

    _a._ Adult male plumbeous-blue above; sexes very unlike in adult
    dress. Female and young without transverse spotting on upper parts.

      _Adult male._ Tail deep plumbeous, tipped with ash, with six
      transverse series of dusky spots (which do not touch the shaft
      nor edge of the feathers) anterior to the subterminal zone, the
      black of which extends forward along the edge of the feather.
      Inner web of the longest primary with ten transverse spots of
      white. Streaks on the cheeks enlarged and blended, forming a
      conspicuous “mustache.” Pectoral markings linear black. The
      ochraceous wash deepest across the nape and breast, and along
      the sides, and very pale on the tibiæ. _Adult female._ Above
      brownish-plumbeous, the feathers becoming paler toward their
      margins, and with conspicuous black shaft-streaks. Tail with eight
      (three concealed) narrow bands of pale fulvous-ashy; longest
      primary with ten light spots on inner web. Outer webs of primaries
      with a few spots of ochraceous. _Young._ Similar to the ♀ _adult_,
      but with a more rusty cast to the plumage, and with more or less
      distinct transverse spots of paler on the upper parts. Wing,
      7.60–9.00; tail, 5.10–6.30; culmen, .45–.55; tarsus, 1.35–1.47;
      middle toe, 1.15–1.35. _Hab._ Europe …

                                                  var. _lithofalco_.[58]

      _Adult male._ Tail light ash, tipped with white, and crossed by
      three or four nearly continuous narrow bands of black (extending
      over both webs, and crossing the shaft), anterior to the broad
      subterminal zone, the black of which does not run forward along
      the edge of the feathers. Inner web of longest primary with seven
      to nine transverse spots of white. Streaks on the cheeks sparse
      and fine, not condensed into a “mustache.” Pectoral markings broad
      clear brown. Ochraceous wash weak across the nape and breast,
      and along sides, and very deep on the tibiæ. _Adult female._
      Above plumbeous-umber, without rusty margins to the feathers,
      and without conspicuous black shaft-streaks. Tail with only five
      (one concealed) narrow bands of pale ochraceous; outer webs of
      primaries without ochraceous spots; inner web of outer primary
      with eight spots of white. _Young._ Like the adult female, but
      darker. Wing, 7.90–8.25; tail, 5.15–5.25; tarsus, 1.00; middle
      toe, 1.25. _Hab._ Entire continent of North America; West Indies …

                                                     var. _columbarius_.

    _b._ Adult male not bluish? sexes similar? upper parts with lighter
    transverse spots.

      _Adult._ Above light grayish-umber, or earth-brown, with more or
      less distinct lighter transverse spots; secondaries crossed by
      three bands of ochraceous spots, and outer webs of inner primaries
      usually with spots of the same. Tail invariably with six complete
      and continuous narrow bands of dull white. Beneath white, with
      broad longitudinal markings of light brown, these finer and
      hair-like on the tibiæ and cheeks, where they are sparse and
      scattered, not forming a “mustache.” Top of the head much lighter
      than the back. _Young._ Similar, but much tinged with rusty
      above, all the white portions inclining to pale ochraceous. Wing,
      7.70–9.00; tail, 5.00–6.30; culmen, .50–.60; tarsus, 1.40–1.65;
      middle toe, 1.20–1.51. Second and third quills longest; first
      equal to fourth, slightly shorter, or sometimes slightly longer.
      _Hab._ Interior plains of North America, between the Mississippi
      River and the Rocky Mountains, from the Arctic regions to Texas …

                                                 var. (?) _richardsoni_.

    _c._ Adult male not bluish? sexes similar? upper parts without
    transverse spots, and tail without lighter bands, except at the tip.

      Above plain brownish-black; the tail narrowly tipped with whitish,
      but without other markings; inner webs of the primaries without
      lighter spots. Beneath pale ochraceous broadly striped with
      sooty-black. Wing, 7.35–8.50; tail, 5.25–5.75; culmen, .50–.55;
      tarsus, 1.30–1.62; middle toe, 1.25–1.35. _Hab._ Northwest coast
      region from Oregon to Sitka …

                                                        var. _suckleyi_.

Falco (Æsalon) lithofalco (GMELIN).

=Var. columbarius=, LINNÆUS.


  _Falco columbarius_, LINN. Syst. Nat. 1766, p. 128.—GMEL. Syst.
  Nat. 1789, p. 281.—LATH. Ind. Orn. I, 44, 1790; Syn. I, 101, sp.
  86; Supp. I, 27, 1802; Gen. Hist. I, 278, 1821.—DAUD. Tr. Orn. II,
  83, 1800.—SHAW. Zoöl. VII, 188, 1812.—WILS. Am. Orn. pl. xv, fig.
  3, 1808.—JARD. (WILS.) Am. Orn. I, p. 254, 1808.—JAMES. (WILS.)
  Am. Orn. I, 61.—BREW. (WILS.) Am. Orn. I, 683, 1852.—RICH. Faun.
  Bor. Am. II, 35, 1831.—AUD. Syn. B. A. p. 16, 1839; Orn. Biog. I,
  466.—BONAP. Ann. Lyc. N. Y. II, 28; Isis, 1832, p. 1136; Eur. & N.
  Am. B. p. 4, 1838.—NUTT. Man. I, 60, 1833.—CUV. Règ. An. (ed. 2), I,
  322, 1829.—LESS. Tr. Orn. p. 92, 1831.—FORST. Phil. Trans. LXII, 382,
  1772.—SWAINS. Classif. B. II, p. 212, 1837.—JARD. Ann. Nat. Hist.
  XVIII, 118.—GOSSE, B. Jam. p. 17, 1847.—SAGRA, Hist. Nat. Cuba Ois. p.
  23.—WEDDERB. Jard. Cont. Orn. 1849, p. 81.—HURDIS, Jard. Cont. Orn.
  1850, p. 6.—DE KAY, Zoöl. N. Y. II, 15, pl. iv, f. 9, 1844.—GIRAUD, B.
  Long Isl. p. 17.—BLACKIST. Ibis, III, 315. _Tinnunculus columbarius_,
  VIEILL. Ois. Am. Sept. I, pl. xi, 1807; Nouv. Dict. Hist. Nat. XII,
  104, 1819; Enc. Méth. III, 1236, 1823. _Hypotriorchis columbarius_,
  GRAY, List B. B. Mus. p. 55, 1844; Gen. B. fol. sp. 11, 1844.—CASS.
  B. Calif. & Tex. p. 90, 1854.—WOODH. (Sitg.) Exp. Zuñi & Colorad.
  p. 60, 1853.—HEERM. P. R. R. Rept. II, 31, 1855.—NEWB. P. R. Rept.
  VI, 74, 1857.—CASS. B. N. Am. p. 9, 1858.—COOPER & SUCK. P. R. R.
  Rept. XII, 1860, 142.—COUES, Pr. A. N. S. Phil. 1866, 6.—BREWER,
  Oölogy, 12. _Lithofalco columbarius_, BONAP. Consp. Av. p. 26, 1850.
  _Æsalon columbarius_, KAUP, Monog. Falc. Cont. Orn. p. 54, 1850.—GRAY,
  Hand List, I, 21, 1869. _Falco obscurus_, GMEL. Syst. Nat. p. 281,
  1789.—LATH. Ind. Orn. p. 44, 1790; Syn. Supp. I, 38, 1802; Gen. Hist.
  I, 272, 1821.—DAUD. Tr. Orn. II, p. 123, 1800. _Falco intermixtus_,
  DAUD. Tr. Orn. II, p. 141, 1800.—LATH. Gen. Hist. I, 136, 1821. _F.
  temerarius_, AUD. B. Am. pls. lxxv, xcii, 1831; Orn. Biog. I, 380,
  1831. _F. auduboni_, BLACKW. Res. Zoöl. 1840. _Accipiter palumbarius_,
  CATESB. Carol. I, pl. iii, 1754.

SP. CHAR. _Adult male._ Above cinereous, varying in shade, but generally
of a slaty-bluish cast; each feather with a distinct shaft-streak of
black, these lines most conspicuous on the head above. Tail with a
very broad subterminal band of black, about one inch in width; there
are indications of three other bands, their continuity and distinction
varying with the individual, but generally quite conspicuous, and each
about half the width of the terminal one; the subterminal black band
is succeeded by a terminal one of white, of about three-sixteenths of
an inch in width, sometimes broader; on the lateral feathers the black
bands are always conspicuous, being in form of transverse oblong spots,
crossing the shaft, but less extended on the outer web, which is often
immaculate except at the end, the broad terminal band always extending
to the edge of the feather. Primaries dusky-black, margined terminally
more or less distinctly with whitish (sometimes fading on the edge
only); on the inner web is a series of about eight transverse oval
spots of white, and generally corresponding to these are indications of
bluish-ashy spots on the outer web. Beneath white, this purest on the
throat, which is immaculate: there is generally a more or less strong
tinge of fulvous beneath, this always prevalent on the tibiæ, and on a
distinct collar extending round the nape, interrupting the blue above;
the tibiæ frequently incline to ochraceous-rufous. Lateral portions of
the head with fine streaks of dusky, these thickest on upper edge of
the ear-coverts, leaving a distinct whitish superciliary streak, those
of opposite sides meeting on the forehead. Breast, upper part of the
abdomen, sides, and flanks, with longitudinal stripes of umber, each
with a shaft-streak of black; on the flanks their shape is modified,
here taking the form of spots running in chain-like series; tibiæ with
narrower and darker streaks; lower tail-coverts with narrow central
streaks like those on the tibiæ. Frequently there is a strong bluish
shade on flanks and lower tail-coverts, sometimes replacing the brown
of the spots on the former, and clouding in a similar form the latter.
Length, 11.00; extent, 23.75; wing, 7.75.

_Adult female._ Pattern of coloration as in the male, but the colors
different. The blue above replaced by dark umber-brown with a plumbeous
cast, and showing more or less distinct darker shaft-lines; these on
the head above very broad, giving a streaked appearance; white spots
on inner webs of primaries more ochraceous than in the male. Tail dark
plumbeous-brown, shading into blackish toward end, with five rather
narrow ochraceous or soiled white bars, the first of which is concealed
by the upper coverts, the last terminal. White beneath, less tinged
with reddish than in the male, the tibiæ not different from the other
portions; markings beneath as in the male.

_Juv._ Above plumbeous-brown, tinged with fulvous on head, and more
or less washed with the same on the rump; frequently the feathers
of the back, rump, scapulars, and wings pass into a reddish tinge
at the edge; this color is, however, always prevalent on the head,
which is conspicuously streaked with dusky. Tail plumbeous-dusky,
darker terminally, with five regular light bars, those toward the base
ashy, as they approach the end becoming more ochraceous; these bars
are more continuous and regular than in the adult female, and are
even conspicuous on the middle feathers. Primaries dusky, passing on
edge (terminally) into lighter; spots on the inner webs broader than
in the female, and pinkish-ochre; outer webs with less conspicuous
corresponding spots of the same. Beneath soft ochraceous; spots as in
adult female, but less sharply defined; tibiæ not darker than abdomen.

HAB. Entire continent of North America, south to Venezuela and Ecuador;
West India Islands.

Localities: Ecuador (high regions in winter, SCL. P. Z. S. 1858, 451);
Cuba (CAB. Jour. II, lxxxiii, Gundlach, Sept. 1865, 225); Tobago (JARD.
Ann. Mag. 116); S. Texas (DRESSER, Ibis, 1865, 323, breeding?); W.
Arizona (COUES, Pr. A. N. S. 1866, 42); Costa Rica (LAWR. IX, 134);
Venezuela (SCL. & SALV. 1869, 252).


National Museum, 42; Boston Society, 11; Philadelphia Academy, 10;
Museum Comp. Zoöl., 7; New York Museum, 3; G. N. Lawrence, 2; R.
Ridgway, 4. Total, 79.


 |Sex.|   Wing.   |   Tail.   | Culmen. | Tarsus. |Middle Toe.|Specimens.|
 | ♂  |  7.20–7.90|  4.90–5.50|  .48–.50|1.30–1.40|  1.15–1.25|   34     |
 | ♀  |  8.00–8.55|  5.50–6.00|  .55–.60|1.55–1.60|  1.35–0.00|   32     |

The plumage of the adult male, which is not as often seen as that of
the younger stages and adult female, is represented in the Smithsonian
Collection by fifteen specimens, from various parts of North America.
Of these, an example from Jamaica exhibits the purest shades of color,
though agreeing closely with some specimens from the interior of the
United States; the cinereous above being very fine, and of a light
bluish cast. The upper tail-coverts are tipped with white; the tail is
a quarter of an inch longer than in any North American specimen, one
half-inch longer than the average; the wing, however, is about the same.

A specimen from Santa Clara, California (4,475, Dr. J. G. Cooper), like
most of those from the Pacific coast, has the cinereous very dark above,
while beneath the ochraceous is everywhere prevalent; the flanks are
strongly tinged with blue; the black bars of the tail are much broken
and irregular. A specimen from Jamaica (24,309, Spanish Town; W. T.
March), however, is even darker than this one, the stripes beneath being
almost pure black; on the tail black prevails, although the bands are
very regular. Nos. 27,061, Fort Good Hope, British America, 43,136, Fort
Yukon, Alaska, and 51,305, Mazatlan, Mexico, have the streaks beneath
narrow and linear; the ochraceous confined to the tibiæ, which are of a
deep shade of this color.

[Illustration: _Falco columbarius._]

A specimen from Nicaragua (No. 40,957, Chinandega) is like North
American examples, but the reddish tinge beneath is scarcely
discernible, and confined to the tibiæ, which are but faintly
ochraceous; the markings beneath are broad and deep umber, the black
shaft-streak distinct.

In the adult female there is as little variation as in the male in
plumage, the shade of brown above varying slightly, also the yellowish
tinge beneath; the bars on the tail differ in continuity and tint in
various specimens, although they are always five in number,—the first
concealed by the coverts, the last terminal. In 19,382, Fort Simpson,
British America, and 2,706, Yukon, R. Am. (probably very old birds), the
light bars are continuous and pale dull ashy.

The young vary about the same as adults. Nos. 19,381, Big Island,
Great Slave Lake; 5,483, Petaluma, California; and 3,760, Racine,
Wisconsin,—are young males moulting, scattered feathers appearing on the
upper parts indicating the future blue plumage.

Var. suckleyi, RIDGWAY.


SP. CHAR. A miniature of _F. peregrinus_, var. _pealei_. Above, uniform
fuliginous-black, the secondaries and tail-feathers very narrowly but
sharply tipped with white, and the primaries passing into whitish
on their terminal margin; nuchal region with concealed spotting of
pale rusty or dingy whitish. Beneath, longitudinally striped with
fuliginous-black, or dark sooty-brown, and pale ochraceous; the former
predominating on the breast, the latter prevailing on the throat and
anal region. Sides and flanks nearly uniform dusky, with roundish white
spots on both webs; lower tail-coverts with a broad sagittate spot of
dusky on each feather. Lining of the wing fuliginous-dusky, with sparse,
small roundish spots of white. Inner webs of primaries plain dusky,
without spots, or else with them only faintly indicated. Tail plain
dusky-black, narrowly tipped with white, and without any bands, or else
with them only faintly indicated.

_Male_ (No. 4,477, Shoalwater Bay, Washington Territory; J. G. Cooper).
Wing, 7.35; tail, 5.25; culmen, .50; tarsus, 1.30; middle toe, 1.25.

_Female_ (No. 5,832, Fort Steilacoom, Washington Territory, September,
1856; Dr. George Suckley). Wing, 8.50; tail, 5.70; culmen, .55; tarsus,
1.62; middle toe, 1.35.

HAB. Coast region of Northern California, Oregon, and Washington
Territory (probably northward to Alaska). Puget Sound, Steilacoom,
Yreka, California (Oct.), and Shoalwater Bay (_National Museum_).

The plumage of this race is the chief point wherein it differs from the
other forms of the species; and in its peculiarities we find just what
should be expected from the Oregon region, merely representing as it
does the melanistic condition so frequently observable in birds from the
northwest coast.

The upper parts are unicolored, being continuous blackish-plumbeous
from head to tail. The tail is tipped with white, but the bars are very
faintly indicated, being in No. 4,499 altogether wanting, while in
21,333 they can scarcely be discovered, and only four are indicated;
in the others there is the usual number, but they are very obsolete.
In No. 4,499, the most extreme example, the spots on the inner webs of
the primaries are also wanting; the sides of the head are very thickly
streaked, the black predominating, leaving the superciliary stripe
ill-defined; the throat is streaked, and the other dark markings beneath
are so exaggerated that they cover all portions, and give the prevailing
color; the under tail-coverts have broad central cordate black spots.

Another specimen from this region (4,476, Puget Sound) is similar, but
the spots on primaries are conspicuous, as in examples of the typical
style; indeed, except in the most extreme cases, these spots will always
be found indicated, leading us to the unavoidable conclusion that the
specimens in question represent merely the fuliginous condition of
the common species; not the condition of _melanism_, but the peculiar
darkened plumage characteristic of many birds of the northwest coast,
the habitat of the present bird; it should then be considered as rather
a geographical race, co-equal to the _Falco gyrfalco_, var. _labradora_,
_F. peregrinus_, var. _pealei_, and other forms, and not confounded with
the individual condition of _melanism_, as seen in certain species of


National Museum, 6.


 |Sex.|   Wing.   |   Tail.   | Culmen. | Tarsus. |Middle Toe.|Specimens.|
 | ♂  |  7.35–7.70|  5.25–5.60|  .48–.50|1.30–1.45|  1.20–0.00|    3     |
 | ♀  |  8.25–8.50|  5.70–5.80|  .55–.60|1.50–1.60|  1.35–1.40|    3     |

Second quill longest; first quill equal to, a little shorter than, or a
little longer than, the fourth.

Var. richardsoni, RIDGWAY.


  _Falco æsalon_, RICH. & SWAINS. F. B. A. II, pl. xxv, 1831.—NUTT.
  Man. Orn. II, 558.—COUES, P. A. N. S. Philad. 1866, p. 42 (in text).
  _Falco_ (_Hypotriorchis_) _richardsoni_, RIDGWAY, P. A. N. S. Philad.
  Dec. 1870, 145. _Falco richardsoni_, COUES, Key, 1872, p. 214.

SP. CHAR. Adult male like the female and young? The known stages of
plumage more like the adult female and young of var. _lithofalco_ (_F.
æsalon_, AUCT.) than like var. _columbarius_.

_Adult male_ (Smithsonian, No. 5,171, mouth of the Vermilion River, near
the Missouri, October 25, 1856; Lieutenant Warren, Dr. Hayden). Upper
plumage dull earth-brown, each feather grayish-umber centrally, and
with a conspicuous black shaft-line. Head above approaching ashy-white
anteriorly, the black shaft-streaks being very conspicuous. Secondaries,
primary coverts, and primaries margined terminally with dull white; the
primary coverts with two transverse series of pale ochraceous spots;
outer webs of primaries with spots of the same, corresponding with those
on the inner webs. Upper tail-coverts tipped, and spotted beneath the
surface, with white. Tail clear drab, much lighter than the primaries,
but growing darker terminally, having basally a slightly ashy cast;
crossed with six sharply defined, perfectly continuous bands (the last
terminal) of ashy-white. Head, frontally, laterally, and beneath,—a
collar around the nape (interrupting the brown above),—and the entire
lower parts, white, somewhat ochraceous, this most perceptible on the
tibiæ; cheeks and ear-coverts with sparse, fine hair-like streaks of
black; nuchal collar, jugulum, breast, abdomen, sides, and flanks with
a medial linear stripe of clear ochre-brown on each feather; these
stripes broadest on the flanks; each stripe with a conspicuously black
shaft-streak; tibiæ and lower tail-coverts with fine shaft-streaks of
brown, like the broader stripes of the other portions. Chin and throat,
only, immaculate. Lining of the wing spotted with ochraceous-white
and brown, in about equal amount, the former in spots approaching the
shaft. Inner webs of primaries with transverse broad bars of pale
ochraceous,—eight on the longest. Wing-formula, 2, 3–4, 1. Wing, 7.70;
tail, 5.00; culmen, .50; tarsus, 1.30; middle toe, 1.25; outer, .85;
inner, .70; posterior, .50.

_Adult female_ (58,983, Berthoud’s Pass, Rocky Mountains, Colorado
Territory; Dr. F. V. Hayden, James Stevenson). Differing in coloration
from the male only in the points of detail. Ground-color of the upper
parts clear grayish-drab, the feathers with conspicuously black shafts;
all the feathers with pairs of rather indistinct rounded ochraceous
spots, these most conspicuous on the wings and scapulars. Secondaries
crossed with three bands of deeper, more reddish ochraceous. Bands
of the tail pure white. In other respects exactly as in the male.
Wing-formula, 3, 2–4–1. Wing, 9.00; tail, 6.10; culmen, .55; tarsus,
1.40; middle toe, 1.51.

_Young male_ (40,516, Fort Rice, Dacotah, July 20, 1865; Brig.-Gen.
Alfred Sully, U. S. A., S. M. Rothammer). Differing from the adult
only in minute details. Upper surface with the rusty borders of the
feathers more washed over the general surface; the rusty-ochraceous
forms the ground-color of the head,—paler anteriorly, where the black
shaft-streaks are very conspicuous; spots on the primary coverts and
primaries deep reddish-ochraceous; tail-bands broader than in the adult,
and more reddish; the terminal one twice as broad as the rest (.40 of
an inch), and almost cream-color in tint. Beneath pale ochraceous, this
deepest on the breast and sides; markings as in the adult, but anal
region and lower tail-coverts immaculate; the shaft-streaks on the
tibiæ, also, scarcely discernible. Wing, 7.00; tail, 4.60.

HAB. Interior regions of North America, between the Mississippi Valley
and the Rocky Mountains, from Texas to the Arctic regions.


National Museum, 10; Museum Comp. Zoöl., 2; R. Ridgway, 3. Total, 15.


 |Sex.|   Wing.   |   Tail.   | Culmen. | Tarsus. |Middle Toe.|Specimens.|
 | ♂  |  7.75–8.60|  5.70–6.00|  .50–.60|1.42–1.55|  1.20–1.30|    8     |
 | ♀  |  8.50–9.00|  6.00–6.30|  .55–.58|1.55–1.65|  1.35–1.40|    7     |

Since originally describing this bird, I have seen additional examples,
and still consider it as an easily recognized race, not at all difficult
to distinguish from _columbarius_. Now, however, I incline strongly
to the theory that it represents merely the light form of the central
prairie regions, of the common species; since its characters seem to
be so analogous to those of the races of _Buteo borealis_ and _Bubo
virginianus_ of the same country. It is doubtful whether some very
light-colored adult males, supposed to belong to _columbarius_, as
restricted, should not in reality be referred to this race, as the adult
plumage of the male. But having seen no adult males from the region
inhabited by the present bird obtained in the breeding-season, I am
still in doubt whether the present form ever assumes the blue plumage.

As regards the climatic or regional modifications experienced by the
_Falco lithofalco_ on the American continent, the following summary
of facts expresses my present views upon the subject. First: examples
identical in all respects, or at least presenting no variations beyond
those of an individual character, may be found from very widely
separated localities; but the theory of explanation is, that individuals
of one race may become scattered during their migrations, or wander off
from their breeding-places. Second: the Atlantic region, the region of
the plains, and the region of the northwest coast, have each a peculiar
race, characterized by features which are also distinctive of races
of other birds of the same region, namely, very dark—the dark tints
intensified, and their area extended—in the northwest coast region; very
light—the light markings extended and multiplied—in the middle region;
and intermediate in the Atlantic region.

HABITS. The distribution of the well-known Pigeon Hawk is very nearly
coextensive with the whole of North America. It is found in the
breeding-season as far to the north as Fort Anderson, on the Anderson
and McKenzie rivers, ranging even to the Arctic coast. Specimens were
taken by Mr. Ross at Lapierre House and at Fort Good Hope. Several
specimens were taken by Mr. Dall at Nulato, where, he states, it is
found all the year round. They were also taken by Bischoff at Kodiak.
During the breeding-season it is found as far south as Nova Scotia, New
Brunswick, and the northern portions of Maine, and probably Vermont and
New York. It is abundant on the Pacific coast.

In the winter months it is to be met with throughout the more temperate
portions of North America, in Mexico, Central America, and Northern
South America. Dr. Woodhouse mentions finding this species very abundant
especially among the wooded banks of watercourses throughout Texas, New
Mexico, and the Indian Territory.

Mr. March states that this Hawk is a permanent resident in the island
of Jamaica, more frequently found among the hills than on the plains,
and has been known to breed there. It is a visitant of Cuba. Dr. Cooper
thinks they are not very common in Washington Territory, though, as they
are found there throughout the summer, they undoubtedly breed there. In
August, 1855, Dr. Cooper shot one of a small family of young that had
but recently left their nest. They migrate southward in winter, and are
abundant in California in October and November.

Dr. Suckley found them abundant about Fort Steilacoom early in August.
Near Puget Sound this species is thought to breed in the recesses of
the Cascade Mountains, only coming down upon the open plains late in
the summer. Dr. Newberry found it paired and nesting about the Klamath
Lakes, and states that it also occupies all the region south of the
Columbia, in Oregon. Mr. Dresser states that he found this Falcon common
about Bexar and the adjoining counties during the entire year, and that
they occasionally breed near the Medina River. I have been unable to
find any satisfactory evidence that this Hawk ever breeds in any part
of Massachusetts, or anywhere south of the 44th parallel in the Eastern
States, except, perhaps, in mountainous regions.

This Hawk is remarkable for its rapid flight, and its courage and its
enterprise in attacking birds as large as or even larger than itself,
though generally it only preys upon smaller birds, such as Grakles,
Red-winged Blackbirds, Robins, and Pigeons. Dr. Cooper states that
having been attracted by an unusual screaming of some bird close to the
house, he was surprised to find that one of these Hawks had just seized
upon a Flicker, a bird as large as itself, the weight of which had
brought it to the ground, and which it continued to hold in its claws
even after it had been mortally wounded. Dr. Heermann once found one
of these birds just preparing to feed on a large and plump California

In Tamaulipas, Mexico, where Lieutenant Couch found it quite common,
he speaks of it as being very quiet, flying but little, and generally
watching for its quarry from the limb of a dry tree. Mr. Audubon makes
no mention of any peculiarities of habits. Mr. Nuttall was evidently
unfamiliar with it, stating it to be unknown in New England, and a
resident of the Southern States only.

In Nova Scotia, Mr. Downes speaks of it as common, breeding in all the
wooded parts of the country. It is said to be not troublesome to the
farmer, but to feed upon the smaller birds. He mentions that once, on
his voyage to Boston, one of these birds flew aboard and allowed itself
to be captured, and was kept alive and fed readily, but soon after

Mr. B. R. Ross, in his notes on the birds and nests obtained by him
in the country about Fort Resolution, Lapierre House, and Good Hope,
mentions this bird as the most common of the true Falcons in that
district, where it ranges to the Arctic coast. Its nest is said to be
composed of sticks, grass, and moss, and to be built generally in a
thick tree, at no great elevation. The eggs, he adds, are from five
to seven in number, 1.60 inches in length by 1.20 in breadth. Their
ground-color he describes as a light reddish-buff, clouded with deep
chocolate and reddish-brown blotches, more thickly spread at the larger
end of the egg, where the under tint is almost entirely concealed by
them. This description is given from three eggs procured with their
parent at Fort Resolution.

From Mr. MacFarlane’s notes, made from his observations in the Anderson
River country, we gather that one nest was found on the ledge of a cliff
of shaly mud on the banks of the Anderson River; another nest was on a
pine-tree, eight or nine feet from the ground, and composed of a few dry
willow-twigs and some half-decayed hay, etc. It was within two hundred
yards of the river-bank. A third nest was in the midst of a small bushy
branch of a pine-tree, and was ten feet from the ground. It was composed
of coarse hay, lined with some of a finer quality, but was far from
being well arranged. Mr. MacFarlane was confident that it had never been
used before by a Crow or by any other bird. The oviduct of the female
contained an egg ready to be laid. It was colored like the others, but
the shell was still soft, and adhered to the fingers on being touched.
In another instance the eggs were found on a ledge of shale in a cliff
on the bank, without anything under them in the way of lining. He adds
that they are even more abundant along the banks of the McKenzie than on
the Anderson River.

Mr. MacFarlane narrates that on the 25th of May an Indian in his employ
found a nest placed in the midst of a pine branch, six feet from the
ground, loosely made of a few dry sticks and a small quantity of coarse
hay. It then contained two eggs. Both parents were seen, but when fired
at were missed. On the 31st he revisited the nest, which still contained
only two eggs, and again missed the birds. He again went to the nest,
several days after, to secure the parents, and was much surprised to
find that the eggs were gone. His first supposition was that some other
person had taken them, but, after looking carefully about, he perceived
both birds at a short distance; and this caused him to institute a
search, which soon resulted in his finding that the eggs had been
removed by them to the face of a muddy bank at least forty yards distant
from the original nest. A few decayed leaves had been placed under them,
but nothing else in the way of protection. A third egg had been added
since his previous examination. These facts Mr. MacFarlane carefully
investigated, and vouches for their entire accuracy.

Another nest, containing four eggs, was on the ledge of a shaly cliff,
and was composed of a very few decayed leaves placed under the eggs.

Mr. R. Kennicott found a nest, June 2, 1860, in which incubation had
already commenced. It was about a foot in diameter, was built against
the trunk of a poplar, and its base was composed of sticks, the upper
parts consisting of mosses and fragments of bark.

Mr. Audubon mentions finding three nests of this bird in Labrador,
in each of which there were five eggs. These nests were placed on
the top branches of the low firs peculiar to that country, composed
of sticks, and slightly lined with moss and a few feathers. He
describes the eggs as 1.75 inches long, and 1.25 broad, with a dull
yellowish-brown ground-color, thickly clouded with irregular blotches
of dark reddish-brown. One was found in the beginning of July, just
ready to hatch. The young are at first covered with a yellowish down.
The old birds are said to evince great concern respecting their eggs
or young, remaining about them and manifesting all the tokens of anger
and vexation of the most courageous species. A nest of this Hawk (S. I.
7,127) was taken at St. Stephen, N. B., by Mr. W. F. Hall; and another
(S. I. 15,546) in the Wahsatch Mountains, by Mr. Ricksecker. The latter
possibly belonged to the var. _richardsoni_.

The nest of this bird found in Jamaica by Mr. March was constructed
on a lofty tree, screened by thick foliage, and was a mere platform
of sticks and grass, matted with soft materials, such as leaves and
grasses. It contained four eggs, described as “round-oval or spherical”
in shape, measuring “1.38 by 1.13 inches, of a dull clayish-white,
marked with sepia and burnt umber, confluent dashes and splashes,
irregularly distributed, principally about the middle and the larger
end.” Four others, taken from a nest in the St. Johns Mountains, were
oblong-oval, about the same size and nearly covered with chocolate and
umber blotches. Mr. March thinks they belong to different species.

Mr. Hutchins, in his notes on the birds of Hudson’s Bay, states that
this species nests on rocks or in hollow trees; that the nest consists
of sticks and grass, lined with feathers; and describes the eggs as
white, thinly marked with red spots. In the oviduct of a Hawk which Dr.
Richardson gives as _Falco æsalon_, were found “several full-sized white
eggs, clouded at one end by a few bronze-colored spots.” A nest was
found by Mr. Cheney at Grand Menan, from which he shot what he presumed
to be the parent bird of this species. Its four eggs agreed with the
descriptions given by Hutchins and Richardson much more nearly than
with the eggs of this species. The eggs found by Mr. Cheney may have
been very small eggs of _A. cooperi_, in which case the presence of the
_columbarius_ on the nest cannot be so easily explained.

Three eggs, two from Anderson River and one from Great Slave Lake, range
from 1.53 to 1.60 inches in length, and from 1.20 to 1.22 in breadth,
their average measurements being 1.56 by 1.21. They have a ground-color
of a rich reddish-cream, very generally covered with blotches and finer
markings of reddish-brown, deepening in places almost into blackness,
and varying greatly in the depth of its shading, with a few lines of
black. In one the red-brown is largely replaced by very fine markings of
a yellowish sepia-brown, so generally diffused as to conceal the ground
and give to it the appearance of a light buff. Mr. Ridgway, after a
careful analysis of the varying markings and sizes of twenty-one eggs,
has kindly given the following:—

“Extremes of twenty-one eggs (mainly from Forts Yukon, Anderson,
Resolution, and MacKenzie rivers): largest (10,687, Yukon, June),
1.75 × 1.28; smallest (8,808, Anderson River, June), 1.55 × 1.20. The
ground-color varies from creamy-white to deep purplish-rufous, there
being one egg (4,090, Great Slave Lake, June 6, 1860) entirely and
uniformly of the latter color; the lightest egg (normally marked, 2,663,
Saskatchewan) is creamy-white, thickly sprinkled with dilute and deep
shades of sepia-brown, thickly on large end, and sparsely, as well as
more finely, on the smaller end. The markings vary in color from dilute
indian-red to blackish-chestnut.

“_H. richardsoni_ is larger than _columbarius_, and probably has a
larger egg. There are no eggs such as Richardson describes in the series
of _columbarius_ in the Smithsonian Collection.”

The var. _richardsoni_ was recognized by Richardson as distinct from
the more common _columbarius_; and a single specimen, killed at Carlton
House, and submitted to Swainson, was pronounced by him, beyond doubt,
identical with the common Merlin of Europe. Other specimens have since
been procured, and are now in the Smithsonian Collection. They are
recognized by Mr. Ridgway as identical with Richardson’s bird, but
quite distinct from the _Æsalon_ of authors. He has named the species
in honor of its first discoverer. Of its history and habits little is
known. A single pair were seen by Richardson in the neighborhood of
Carlton House, in May, 1827, and the female was shot. In the oviduct
there were several full-sized white eggs, clouded at one end with a few
bronze-colored spots. Another specimen, probably also a female, was shot
at the Sault St. Marie, between Lakes Huron and Superior, but this was
not preserved.

Mr. Hutchins, in his notes on the Hudson’s Bay birds, states that
the Pigeon Hawk “makes its nest on the rocks and in hollow trees, of
sticks and grass, lined with feathers, laying from two to four white
eggs, thinly marked with red spots.” As Hutchins has been found to be
generally quite accurate in his statements, and as this description does
not at all apply either to the nest or the eggs of the _columbarius_,
it is quite possible that he may have mistaken this species for the
Pigeon Hawk, and that this description of eggs and nests belongs not to
_columbarius_, but to _richardsoni_.



  =F. femoralis.= Wing, 9.30–11.60; tail, 6.30–8.80; culmen, .60–.80;
  tarsus, 1.62–2.00; middle toe, 1.35–1.70. Second and third quills
  longest; first equal to or shorter than fourth. _Adult_ (sexes
  similar). Above uniform plumbeous, the secondaries broadly tipped
  with whitish. Tail darker terminally, crossed by about eight narrow,
  continuous bands of white, and tipped with the same. A broad
  postocular stripe, middle area of the auriculars, and entire throat
  and jugulum, white, unvariegated; the latter with a semicircular
  outline posteriorly, and the former changing to orange-rufous on the
  occiput, where the stripes of the two sides are confluent. Sides
  entirely uniform blackish (confluent on the middle of the abdomen),
  with narrow bars of white; posterior lower parts immaculate light
  ochraceous. _Young_ similar, but the jugulum with longitudinal stripes
  of blackish. _Hab._ Whole of Tropical America, exclusive of the West
  Indies, north to the southern border of the United States.


  =42076=, ♀. ½
  =42076=, ♀. ¼
  =42076=, ♀.]

Falco (Rhynchofalco) femoralis, TEMMINCK.


  _Falco femoralis_, TEMM. Pl. Col. 121, 343, 1824.—SPIX, Av. Braz. I,
  18 (quot. Pl. Cl. 121), 1824.—VIG. Zoöl. Journ. I, 339.—STEPH. Zoöl.
  XIII, pt. 2, p. 39, 1826.—LESS. Man. Orn. I, 79, 1828; Tr. Orn. p. 89,
  1831.—CUV. Reg. An. (ed. 2), I, 322, 1817.—SWAINS. Classif. B. II,
  212, 1837.—NORDM. Erm. Reis. um die Erde, Atl. p. 16.—BRIDG. Proc.
  Zoöl. Soc. pt. 11, p. 109; Ann. Nat. Hist. XIII, 499.—D’ORB. Voy. Am.
  Merid. Av. p. 116, 1835.—TSCHUDI, Consp. Av. Wieg. Arch. 1844, p.
  266; Faun. Per. p. 108, 1844.—CASS. Proc. Ac. Nat. Sc. Philad. 1855,
  p. 178.—STRICKL. Orn. Syn. I, 88, 1855. BREWER, Oölogy, 1857, 14, pl.
  iii, f. 22. _Hypotriorchis femoralis_, GRAY, Gen. B. fol. sp. 13,
  1844; List B. Brit. Mus. p. 56, 1844.—HARTL. Syst. Ind. Azar. p. 3,
  1847.—CASS. B. N. Am. p. 11, 1858.—COUES, Pr. Ac. Nat. Sc. Phil. 7,
  1866.—GRAY, Hand List, I, 21, 1869. _Falco fuscocœrulescens_, VIEILL.
  Nouv. Dict. Hist. Nat. XI, 90, 1819. _Falco cyanescens_, VIEILL.
  Enc. Méth. III, 1234 (No. 40, Azara, juv. teste, Hartl.). _Falco
  thoracicus_, LICHT. Verz. Doubl. p. 62, 1823.

SP. CHAR. _Adult_ (sexes similar). Above uniform plumbeous, secondaries
broadly whitish at ends; tail with continuous narrow bands of white. A
postocular, broad stripe (changing to reddish on nape, where the two of
opposite sides are confluent), middle area of auriculars, and entire
throat and jugulum, white, unvariegated. Sides entirely uniform blackish
(confluent on middle of abdomen), with narrow bars of white; posterior
lower parts light ochraceous, immaculate. ♂. Wing, 9.90; tail, 6.70;
tarsus, 1.62; middle toe, 1.45. ♀. Wing, 11.30; tail, 7.80; tarsus,
1.70; middle toe, 1.55.

_Young._ Similar to the adult, but with broad longitudinal stripes of
blackish on the breast.

_Adult male_ (No. 30,896, Mirador, E. Mexico; Dr. C. Sartorius). Above
brownish-slate, becoming gradually darker anteriorly, the head above
being pure dark plumbeous; on the rump and upper tail-coverts the tint
inclines to fine cinereous. Secondaries passing very conspicuously into
white terminally; primaries plumbeous-dusky, their inner webs with
(the longest with twelve) very regular, narrow, transverse bars of
white (the outer web plain). Lining of the wing white (becoming more
ochraceous toward the edge); under coverts barred and serrated with
dusky, the white, however, predominating. Tail black, basally with a
perceptible plumbeous cast; crossed with eight narrow, transverse bands
of white,—the first two of which are concealed by the coverts, the last
terminal and about .27 of an inch in width; the rest are narrower,
diminishing in width as they approach the base. Upper tail-coverts
bordered terminally with ashy-white, the longer with one or two
transverse bars of the same. Forehead (narrowly) white, this extending
down across the lores to the angle of the mouth; a broad, conspicuous
supraoral stripe, originating above the middle of the eye, and running
back above the ear-coverts to the occiput (where the two of opposite
sides are confluent), white, more fulvous-orange on the occiput; a
broad dark plumbeous stripe running from the posterior angle of the
eye back over upper edge of ear-coverts, and continuing (broadly) down
the side of the neck; another, but much smaller one, of similar color,
starting at lower border of bare suborbital space, passing downward
across the cheeks, forming a “mustache,” leaving the middle area of the
ear-coverts, the chin, throat, and whole breast, white, the pectoral
portion defined with a semicircular outline posteriorly. Broad area
covering the sides of the breast, sides, and flanks (meeting rather
narrowly across the upper part of the abdomen), black, with narrow,
rather indistinct, transverse bars of white. Femorals, tibiæ, abdomen,
anal region, and lower tail-coverts fine ochraceous-rufous, palest
posteriorly, the whole region immaculate. Wing-formula, 3, 2–4–1, 5.
Wing, 9.90; tail, 6.70; tarsus, 1.62; middle toe, 1.45.

_Adult_ ♀ (42,076. Mirador; Sartorius). Similar to the male in almost
every respect. Plumbeous above rather darker and more uniform, although
the difference is scarcely perceptible. Secondaries more broadly tipped
with white, and upper tail-coverts more conspicuously barred with the
same. White bars of the black areas beneath scarcely observable. Tail
with eight white bars, as in the male longest primary with fourteen
white bars on inner web of longest. Wing-formula, 3, 2–4–5=1. Wing,
11.30; tail, 7.80; tarsus, 1.70; middle toe, 1.55.

_Juv. a_ (_intermediate stage_). ♂ (37,334, Mazatlan, W. Mexico; Col.
A. J. Grayson). Plumbeous above darker and more brownish, uniform from
rump to head, the former strongly tinged with rusty, this bordering
the feathers. Tail darker and more brownish; white bars ten in number,
instead of eight, narrower, and tinged with brownish; longest primary
with thirteen bars of white on inner web. Lining of the wing black,
leaving only a broad ochraceous stripe along the edge; feathers of
the black portion with small circular white spots along their edges.
Breast strongly tinged with ochraceous, and with large longitudinal
blotches of black of cuneate form, and so crowded as to give almost the
predominating color; the black patches lack entirely the white bars.
Wing-formula, 3=2–4–1–5. Wing, 10.00; tail, 7.20.

♀ (55,019, Mazatlan, Grayson). Similar to the last, but lacking the
rusty tinge on the rump; tail with eight white bars, as in the adult;
pectoral stripes narrower and less numerous than in the preceding, and
white bars distinguishable on the black areas. Wing-formula, 3, 2–4–1–5.
Wing, 11.30; tail, 8.20.

_b_ (_first plumage_). ♂ (45,693 and 49,508, Buenos Ayres, Conchitas;
William H. Hudson). Similar to immature male (37,334). Above dull
umber-drab, darker on the head; feathers of back, scapular, rump, and
wings fading on edges; rump much tinged with rusty, this bordering the
feathers. Tail with nine very obsolete, narrow, dull white bars, these
not touching the edge of the feather on either web. Longest primary with
ten transverse white bars on inner web. Beneath pale ochraceous, almost
as deep anteriorly as posteriorly; dark areas restricted to a large
patch on each side, and dull dark brown (very similar to the wings),
instead of black, and scarcely varied; breast and upper part of abdomen
(between the blackish lateral patches) with large longitudinal cuneate
blotches of the same. “Winter visitor.”

HAB. Whole of South America; northward through Central America and
Mexico, across the Rio Grande, into Texas and New Mexico.

Localities: Guatemala (SCL. Ibis, I, 219); Cathagena (CASSIN, Pr. An.
N. S. 1860, 132); La Plata (BURM. Reise, 437); Mexiana (SCL. & SALV.
1867, 590); Brazil (PELZ. O. Bras. I, 4); Buenos Ayres (SCL. & SALV.
1868, 143); Chile (PHILIPPI); W. Peru (SCL. & SALV. 1858, 570; 1869,
155); Venezuela (SCL. & SALV. 1869, 252).

A specimen from Paraguay (58,738, ♂ ? Capt. T. J. Page, U. S. N.)
has the slaty above lighter than in the Mirador male, approaching to
ash. The white bars on the black side-patches are very numerous and
regular; the white of the forehead is more sharply defined, and the deep
rufescent-ochre of the posterior portion of the postocular stripe is
even deeper than that of the tibiæ, etc.; the breast has a few narrow
blackish streaks. The bars on wings and tail, however, are as in Mexican
examples. This specimen probably denotes greater age than any other in
the series.

Another specimen (29,809, ♀, Mirador), perhaps very young, is rather
different from the others in the coloration of the lower parts; the
rufous of the posterior portions is very deep, and the anterior light
places are much tinged with ochraceous, the supraloral stripe being
tinged throughout with the same; across the breast is a series of small
tear-shaped spots of black, forming an imperfect band; there are,
however, no other differences.

Nos. 29,520 (♀, Chile, Berlin Museum) and 29,521 (♂, Venezuela) differ
from the rest only in a deeper tinge of ochraceous anteriorly beneath,
the occipital stripes being very red.

No. 18,497 (♂, from the Rio Pecos, Texas) is in the plumage described
as that of the young male, having the rusty tinge on rump, and more
numerous bands on tail; the breast is almost as deeply ochraceous as the
tibiæ, and the broad black patches of the sides scarcely meet across the
abdomen, being there broken into streaks.

[Illustration: _Falco femoralis._]

A female, nearly adult, from Buenos Ayres (45,692, Conchitas; W. H.
Hudson), has the feathers of the upper parts faintly edged with white;
the rump and upper tail-coverts conspicuously barred with the same.
The head above is decidedly more bluish than in northern examples,
each feather with a shaft-line of black. The tail has only seven white
bars,—these, however, very sharply defined, and very pure white; the
longest primary has eleven white bars. The lower plumage is similar to
that of the immature male from the Rio Pecos, Texas (No. 18,497). This
specimen has the second and third quills equal.


National Museum, 14; Boston Society, 5; Philadelphia Academy, 2; New
York Museum, 1; G. N. Lawrence, 1; R. Ridgway, 2. Total, 25.


 |Sex.|   Wing.   |   Tail.   | Culmen. | Tarsus. |Middle Toe.|Specimens.|
 | ♂  | 9.20–10.70|  6.30–8.00|  .60–.68|1.70–1.85|  1.35–1.50|   12     |
 | ♀  |11.00–11.60|  7.80–8.80|  .71–.80|1.80–2.00|  1.55–1.70|    9     |

HABITS. Only two specimens of this Hawk have been taken within the
limits of the United States. One was obtained by Dr. Heermann on the
vast plains of New Mexico, near the United States boundary-line. It
appeared to be flying over the prairies in search of small birds and
mice, at times hovering in the manner of the common Sparrow Hawk
(_Tinnunculus sparverius_). It appears to be resident throughout a large
part of Mexico, and in Central and South America. The other is from the
Rio Pecos of Texas, collected by Dr. W. W. Anderson.

Mr. Darwin, in his Zoölogy of the Voyage of the Beagle, mentions
obtaining one specimen in a small valley on the plains of Patagonia, at
Port Desire, in latitude 47° 44′ south. M. D’Orbigny supposed latitude
34° to be the extreme southern limit of the species. Lieutenant Gilliss
brought specimens from Chile.

Mr. Darwin states that the _F. femoralis_ nests in low bushes, this
corresponding with the observations of Mr. Bishop. He found the
female sitting on her eggs in the beginning of January. According to
M. D’Orbigny, it prefers a dry, open country with scattered bushes,
which Mr. Darwin confirms. Mr. Bishop informs me that he met with this
Hawk in the greatest abundance upon those vast plains of South America
known as the Pampas, in which no trees except the ombû are found, and
that it there nests exclusively on the tops of low bushes, hardly
more than a foot or two from the ground. The bird was not at all shy,
like most Hawks, but was easily approached so nearly as to be readily

Mr. Bridges states, in the Proceedings of the London Zoölogical Society
(1843, p. 109), that the _H. femoralis_ is trained in some parts of
South America for the pursuit of smaller gallinaceous birds, and that
it is highly esteemed by the Chilian falconers. It very soon becomes
quite docile, and will even follow its master within a few weeks of its

I am indebted to Mr. N. H. Bishop for specimens of the eggs of this
Hawk obtained by him on the Pampas. The nest contained but two, and was
built on the top of a low bush or stunted tree, hardly two feet from the
ground. It was constructed, with some pains and elaboration, of withered
grasses and dry leaves.

The eggs measure, one 1.81 inches in length by 1.69 in breadth, the
other 1.78 by 1.63. This does not materially vary from the measurement
given by Darwin. The ground-color of the egg is white. This, however,
is so thickly and so generally studded with fine brown markings, that
the white ground to the eye has a rusty appearance, and its real
hue is hardly distinguishable. Over the entire surface of the egg
is distributed an infinite number of fine dottings, of a color most
nearly approaching a raw terra-sienna brown. Over this again are larger
blotches, lines, and splashes of a handsome shade of vandyke-brown. In
one egg these larger markings are much more frequent than in the other.
The latter is chiefly marked with the finer rusty dottings, and has a
more dingy appearance.


  _Tinnunculus_, VIEILL. 1807. (Type, _Falco tinnunculus_, LINN.
  _Tinnunculus alaudarius_, GMEL.)
  _? Tichornis_, KAUP, 1844. (Type, _Falco cenchris_, NAUM.)
  _Pœcilornis_, KAUP, 1844. (Type, _Falco sparverius_, LINN.)

The characters of this subgenus have been sufficiently defined in the
diagnosis on page 1427, so that it will be necessary for me only to add
a few less important ones.


  =53198=, ♀.
  =53198=, ♀. ½
  =53198=, ♀.
  =53198=, ♀. ½

_Tinnunculus sparverius._]

The subgenus _Tinnunculus_ is one which is well characterized by
peculiarities of manners and habits as well as by features of structure.
The species are the most arboreal of the Falcons, and their curious
habit of poising in a fixed position as they hover over some object of
food which they are watching is probably peculiar to them, and has been
remarked of the Old World as well as of the American species. In their
structure they are the most aberrant members of the subfamily belonging
to the Northern Hemisphere and in their weak bill and feet, lengthened
tarsi, obtusely tipped quills, more rounded wings, and more lengthened
tail, exhibit a decided step toward _Hieracidea_, an Australian genus
which is almost exactly intermediate in all the characters of its
external structure between the true Falcons and the South American genus
_Milvago_, of the Polyborine group.

The subgenus is most largely developed in the Old World, where are found
about a dozen nominal species, of which perhaps one half must be reduced
to the rank of geographical races. America possesses three species,
two of which are restricted to the West India islands, while the other
extends over the entire continent.

There is no reason whatever for separating the American species from
those of the Old World, and the subgenus _Pœcilornis_, established upon
these by Kaup, is not tenable.

Since the publication of my first paper upon the American forms of
_Tinnunculus_,[59] a large amount of additional material has fallen
under my observation; the total number of examples critically examined
and compared together amounting to over three hundred and fifty skins of
which I have kept a record, besides many others which have come casually
to my notice. This abundant material merely confirms the views I first
expressed, in the paper alluded to, regarding the number and definition
of the forms; their comparative relation to each other being the only
respect in which I have reason to modify my arrangement.

In my first paper on the American _Tinnunculi_, three distinct
species were recognized; one (_sparverius_) belonging to the whole
of Continental America and the Lesser Antilles, one (_leucophrys_,
Ridgway) to Cuba and Hayti, and one (_sparveroides_, Vig.) peculiar
to Cuba. The first is one modified in different climatic regions into
several geographical races, as follows: Var. _sparverius_, L., North
and Middle America, exclusive of the gulf and Caribbean coast region;
var. _isabellinus_, Swains., the eastern coast region of Tropical
America, from Guiana to Florida; var. _dominicensis_, Gmel. (Lesser
Antilles); var. _australis_, Ridgw. (South America in general); and
var. _cinnamominus_, Swains. (Chile and Western Brazil). That each of
these races is well characterized, the evidence of a series abundantly
sufficient to determine this point enables me to assert without reserve;
for I find in each instance that the characters diagnosed in my synopsis
hold good as well with a large series as with a few specimens.

The following synopsis, essentially the same as that before published,
may, to most persons, explain satisfactorily my reasons for recognizing
so many races of _T. sparverius_,—a proceeding which, I am sorry to
say, does not meet with favor with all ornithologists.[60] Though
there are at the present time three well-characterized or permanently
differentiated species of _Tinnunculus_ on the American continent,
yet it is, to my mind, certain that these have all descended from a
common ancestral stock, for evidence in proof of this is found in many
specimens which I consider at least strongly “suggestive” of this fact;
some specimens of var. _isabellinus_ from Florida having blue feathers
interspersed over the rump, thereby showing an approximation toward the
uniformly blue upper surface of the adult male of _T. sparveroides_ of
the neighboring island of Cuba; while in the latter bird the embryonic
plumage of the male is very similar to the permanent condition of the
male of _sparverius_.

Synopsis of the American Species.

  =A.= Back always entirely rufous (with or without black bars.) Lower
  parts white, or only tinged with ochraceous; front and auriculars
  distinctly whitish.

    _a._ Inner webs of primaries barred entirely across, with white and
    dusky; “mustache” across the cheeks conspicuous; no conspicuous
    superciliary stripe of white.

      1. =T. sparverius.=[61] Crown bluish, with or without a patch
      of rufous. ♂. Wings and upper part of head slaty, or ashy-blue;
      scapulars, back, rump, and tail reddish-rufous; primaries, basal
      half of the secondaries, and a broad subterminal zone across the
      tail, black. ♀. The bluish, except that of the head, replaced by
      rufous, which is everywhere barred with blackish, and of a less
      reddish cast. _Hab._ Entire continent of America, also Lesser
      Antilles, north to St. Thomas.

    _b._ Inner webs of primaries white, merely serrated along the
    shaft with dusky; “mustache” obsolete or wanting; a conspicuous
    superciliary stripe of white.

      2. =T. leucophrys.=[62] Similar to _sparverius_, except as
      characterized above. _Hab._ Cuba and Hayti.

  =B.= Back rufous only in the ♀. Lower parts deep ferruginous-rufous;
  front and auriculars dusky.

      3. =T. sparveroides.=[63] ♂. Above, except the tail, entirely dark
      plumbeous, with a blackish nuchal collar; primaries and edges
      and subterminal portion of tail-feathers, black. Beneath deep
      rufous (like the back of _sparverius_ and _leucophrys_), with a
      wash of plumbeous across the jugulum; throat grayish-white. Inner
      webs of primaries slaty, with transverse cloudings of darker. ♀.
      Differing from that of the above species in dark rufous lower
      parts and dusky, mottled inner webs of primaries. Second and third
      quills longest; first shorter than or equal to fourth. _Hab._ Cuba

The distinguishing characters of _F. sparverius_ having been given in
the foregoing synopsis, I will here consider this species in regard
to the modifications it experiences in the different regions of its
geographical distribution.

The whole of continental America, from the Arctic regions to almost the
extreme of South America, and from ocean to ocean, is inhabited, so far
as known, by but this one species of _Tinnunculus_. But in different
portions of this vast extent of territory the species experiences
modifications under the influence of certain climatic and other local
conditions, which are here characterized as geographical races; these,
let me say, present their distinctive characteristics with great
uniformity and constancy, although the differences from the typical
or restricted _sparverius_ are not very great. The _F. sparverius_ as
restricted, or what is more properly termed var. _sparverius_, inhabits
the whole of North and Middle America (both coasts included, except
those of the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea), south to the Isthmus of
Panama. Throughout this whole region it is everywhere nearly the same
bird. This variety appears to represent the species in its greatest
purity, being a sort of central form from which the others radiate.
The most typical examples of the var. _sparverius_ are the specimens
in the large series from the elevated regions or plateau of Mexico and
Guatemala. In these the rufous of the crown is most extended (in none is
it at all restricted), and the ashy portions are of the finest or bluest
and lightest tint.

All specimens, of quite a large series, from the peninsula of Lower
California, are considerably smaller than any others, the smallest
(1,693 ♂ ad. San José; J. Xantus) measuring, wing, 6.50; tail, 4.20,
and tarsus, 1.30; the dwarfed size of these, however, is their only
distinguishing feature. Two specimens (50,199, ♂, Cape Florida, and
10,345, ♀, Indian Key) from Florida differ from others in the unusual
development of the bill, which toward the end is more suddenly curved,
and the point considerably lengthened; these specimens have, also, only
a tinge of rufous on the crown, thus showing a proximity to the var.
_isabellinus_. The large bill, however, is no more than would be looked
for in specimens from that region.

Along the Gulf border of the United States, and the Caribbean and North
Atlantic coasts of South America (probably the whole Atlantic coast of
tropical and subtropical America), the true _sparverius_ is changed into
what Swainson has called “_Falco isabellinus_,” which differs from the
former only in having the cinereous of the crown and wings considerably
darker (as well as less bluish), approaching plumbeous; the rufous of
the crown is totally absent, or only present in faint touches; the lower
parts are of a deeper ochraceous, and the black spots on the breast and
sides sparse.

Allied to the last in tints of coloration, and apparently a direct
offshoot from it, is the _dominicensis_ of Gmelin (based upon
description by Brisson), which inhabits the Lesser Antilles, from
Trinidad northward to Porto Rico. Although I consider this (var.
_dominicensis_) as a modified form of the var. _isabellinus_, yet it is
the one of all the varieties referrible to _sparverius_ which deviates
most widely from the typical or original style. The characters of this
are, tints those of var. _isabellinus_, but, in addition, the tail has
numerous more or less complete black bands, while those of the back and
scapulars are very broad and numerous; also, the crown has a decided
rufous patch; the bill, too, is larger than in any other American member
of the genus. A style of considerable uniformity spreads over the whole
of South America, including both coasts, from Bogota to the Parana,
excepting the northeastern coast region, before mentioned as inhabited
by the var. _isabellinus_. It differs from all the other styles, except
the _cinnamominus_ of Chile, in having the lower parts continuously dull
white, any ochraceous tinge being scarcely perceptible; there is seldom
a trace of rufous on the crown, which has the light bluish tint seen
in var. _sparverius_, and the black zone of the tail is scarcely more
than half as wide as in the northern races. In size, also, it somewhat
exceeds the others. Swainson named this “_Falco gracilis_”; but the _F._
(_Tinnunculus_) _gracilis_ of Lesson being a different species, and the
name as applied to it of prior date, I have bestowed upon the present
bird the name var. _australis_.

In Chile and Brazil (Western ?) we find a form resembling the last in
some respects, but differing in points of almost specific value. It
differs from all the other American members of the genus in having
the tail continuously rufous to the extreme tip, the black zone being
considerably narrower than the terminal rufous, the lateral tail-feather
immaculate rufous, etc. The grayish of the head is much darker and more
slaty than in the var. _australis_. This is, without doubt, the _Falco
cinnamominus_ of Swainson, the specimens in the collection corresponding
exactly with the description by that author.

The rufous patch on the crown must not be too much considered, as it
is of all characters perhaps the most treacherous, though its presence
or absence is in a measure characteristic of the several varieties.
Neither does the exact number of spots on the lateral tail-feather
prove sufficiently constant to serve as a character in which the least
reliance can be placed, though Swainson attaches considerable value to
it. I have found that, besides varying almost with the individual, in
some specimens the feathers of opposite sides did not correspond.

About two hundred and fifty specimens form the basis of the following

  =A.= Tail tipped with white; outer tail-feathers (one or more)

    _a._ ♂. Head above, and wings, fine bluish-ash; usually one
    tail-feather only (the outer) variegated.

      1. Vertex with a conspicuous patch of rufous. ♂. Black zone of the
      tail 1.00 in width; breast strongly tinged with ochraceous; spots
      of black on the breast or sides circular. ♀. Above fulvous-rufous,
      the whole breast and sides with longitudinal dashes of a lighter
      tint of the same. _Hab._ Continent of North America north of
      Panama (except Caribbean and Gulf coast) …

                                                      var. _sparverius_.

      2. Vertex with only a trace of rufous, or none at all. ♂. Black
      zone of tail only .60 in width; breast nearly pure white;
      spots of black usually only on the sides, elliptical. ♀. Above
      vinaceous-rufous; longitudinal markings beneath deeper brown.
      _Hab._ Continent of South America (except North Atlantic and
      Caribbean coast) …

                                                   var. _australis_.[64]

    _b._ ♂. Head above, and wings, dark bluish-plumbeous; several outer
    tail-feathers variegated.

      3. Vertex without any rufous. ♂. Anterior portions beneath deep
      ochraceous, without spots. Tail without indication of bars
      anterior to the subterminal one; black bars above confined to
      larger scapulars. ♀. Above ferruginous, with the black bars
      broader and blacker than in either of the preceding. _Hab._ Gulf,
      Caribbean, and Atlantic coasts of tropical continental America
      (Florida to Cayenne) …

                                                     var. _isabellinus_.

      4. Vertex with a patch of rufous. ♂. Black spots beneath numerous,
      large and circular. Tail with more or less complete black bars
      anterior to the subterminal band, sometimes regularly barred
      to the base; black bars above covering entire rufous surface.
      ♀. Similar to that of _isabellinus_, but markings beneath more
      numerous, and pure black instead of brown. _Hab._ Lesser Antilles,
      north to St. Thomas …

                                                var. _dominicensis_.[65]

  =B.= Tail tipped with deep rufous; outer tail-feather unvariegated.

      5. Head above dark slaty-plumbeous, without any rufous. ♂. Tail
      continuous rufous to the extreme tip, the subterminal black
      band narrower than the terminal rufous one, and not continuous;
      the outer feather entirely rufous, without any black. In other
      respects much like var. _australis_. (♀ not seen.) _Hab._ Chile
      and Western Brazil …

                                                var. _cinnamominus_.[66]

Falco (Tinnunculus) sparverius, LINN.

Var. =sparverius=, LINNÆUS.


  _Accipiter_ (_Æsalon_) _carolinensis_, BRISS. Orn. I, 385, 1760.
  _Accipiter minor_, CATESB. Carol. I, 5, 1754. _Falco sparverius_,
  LINN. Syst. Nat. p. 128, 1766.—PENN, Arct. Zoöl. pp. 211, 212.—GMEL.
  Syst. Nat. p. 284.—LATH. Ind. Orn. p. 42; Synop. I, 110, sp. 94;
  Gen. Hist. I, 290.—DAUD. Tr. Orn. II, 142, pl. xii.—SHAW, Zoöl. VII,
  pl. xxvi.—WILS. Am. Orn. pl. xvi, f. 1, pl. xxxii, f. 2.—JAMES.
  (WILS.) Am. Orn. I, 56, 60.—LESS. Tr. Orn. p. 95.—BENN. gard. Zoöl.
  Soc. II, 121.—STEPH. XIII, ii, 38.—CUV. Reg. Anim. (ed. 2), I,
  322.—JARD. (WILS.) Am. Orn. I, 262; II, 51.—RICH. & SWAINS. F. B. A.
  pl. xxiv.—WAGL. Isis, 1831, 517.—BONAP. Ann. Lyc. N. Y. II, 27; Isis,
  1832, 1136.—VIEILL. Enc. Méth. III, 1234 (in part).—AUD. Birds Am.
  pl. cxlii; Orn. Biog. II, 246, pl. cxlii.—BREW. (WILS.) Synop. p.
  684; Am. Oölogy, p. 16, pl. xi, figs. 13 and 15 _a_.—DE KAY, Zoöl.
  N. Y. II, 16, pl. vii. f. 16.—PEAB. Birds Mass. III, 69.—NUTT. Man.
  I, 58. _Tinnunculus sparverius_, VIEILL. Ois. Am. Sept. pls. xii,
  xiii.—BRIDG. Proc. Zoöl. Soc. pt. xi, 109.—GRAY, Gen. B. fol. sp.
  10; List Brit. B. Mus. p. 60.—WOODH. Sitgr. Exp. Zuñi & Colorad. p.
  60.—CASS. Proc. Ac. Nat. Sc. Phil. 1855, 278.—Birds Cal. & Tex. p. 92;
  Birds N. Am. 1858, 13.—RIDGW. P. A. N. S. 1870, 148.—STRICKL. Orn.
  Syn. I, 99, 1855. _Cerchneis sparverius_, BONAP. List Eur. & N. Am.
  B. p. 5, 1838. _Pœcilornis sparverius_, KAUP, Monog. Falc. Cont. Orn.
  1850, 53. _Tinnunculus phalœna_, LESSON, Mam. et d’Ois. 1847, 178 (San
  Blas & Acapulco).

SP. CHAR. _Adult male_ (12,025, Washington, D. C.; W. Wallace).
Forehead, lateral and posterior, regions of the vertex, occiput, and
wings, bluish-ash. Vertex, nape, scapulars, interscapulars, rump, upper
tail-coverts, and tail, fine cinnamon-rufous; scapulars and back barred
with black, the bars broadest and most conspicuous posteriorly. Tail
tipped with white, and with a broad sharply defined subterminal zone
of black, about one inch in width; lateral feather, with outer web and
terminal half of inner, ashy-white, the latter with one or two distinct
transverse spots anterior to the subterminal one. Wing-coverts with more
or less conspicuous cordate spots of black, rather sparsely distributed;
basal two-thirds of secondaries and whole of primaries deep black; the
latter whitish around the terminal margin and with nine transverse bands
of white on inner web of longest (second), the white rather exceeding
the black, the points of which do not reach the edge of the feather;
lining of the wing white with conspicuous cordate spots of black. Front
and superciliary region more hoary than the forehead, almost approaching
white. Whole lateral region of the head, with chin, throat, and lower
parts, white; the neck, breast, and sides, however, with a deep tinge
of ochraceous, the tint hardly approaching the depth of color seen on
the nape. On the head there are (considering both sides) seven black
spots; the first originating in front of the bare anteorbital space
(leaving the lores white), and extending in a stripe downward across the
maxillæ, forming a conspicuous “mustache”; the second crosses the tips
of the ear-coverts, in form of an oblong transverse spot; the third is
smaller, situated as far behind the last as this, and is posterior to
the “mustache,” crossing the side of the neck; the last is an odd nuchal
spot separating the ash of the occiput from the rufous of the nape.
Breast and sides with circular or cordate spots of pure black; these
varying in size, but generally larger on the sides. Other lower parts
immaculate. Wing-formula, 2=3–4, 1. Wing, 7.10; tail, 4.50; tarsus,
1.32; middle toe, .98; culmen, .45.

_Adult female_ (10,751, Fort Bridger, Utah; C. Drexler). Blue above
confined to the head, which shows the rufous patch as in the male;
entire upper parts rufous, lighter and less purplish than in the male,
everywhere barred with black. Tail with twelve sharply defined narrow
bars of black; the subterminal broadest, and about three eighths of an
inch in width. Longest primary with eleven transverse spaces of pale
rufous, nearly twice as wide as the dusky ones, which scarcely touch the
edge. Beneath yellowish-white, paler than in the male, breast and sides
with rusty longitudinal spots. Head as in the male. Wing, 7.60; tail,
5.20; tarsus, 1.50; middle toe, .90; bill, .50. Wing-formula, 2=3–4–1.

_Young male_ (5,581, Medicine Bow Creek, Nebraska, August 7, 1856;
W. S. Wood). Exactly like the adult male, but with the rufous darker,
approaching to chestnut; spots beneath inclining to a tear-shaped form,
and, though more numerous, are not so well defined as in the adult; also
rufescent tinge beneath more general; blue of the wings with scarcely
any spots; white terminal band of tail tinged with rufous. Sometimes the
two or three outer feathers are clouded with ash, and possess indication
of bars, formed of irregular black spots.

_Young female_ (40,520, Fort Rice, Dacota; S. M. Rothhammer). Generally
like the adult, but with rufous above darker, approaching ferruginous;
the bars everywhere broader, and purer black; rufous vertical patch
streaked centrally with black; spots beneath larger, darker, approaching
reddish umber.

HAB. Continental North America (only), across to both coasts, and from
Arctic regions to Isthmus of Panama; not in West Indies.

This form ranges over the whole of continental North America, from
Panama northward into the British Provinces, and from the Atlantic
to the Pacific. Throughout the whole of this extensive area the
bird exhibits very little variation, in fact, none not of an almost
individual character, consisting mainly in the varying amount of
ashy-white and black on the lateral tail-feather, and also, to a
less extent, in the depth of the ochraceous tint on the breast, and
the abundance and size of the black spots on the sides or flanks. In
the Gulf region of the United States it passes gradually into var.
_isabellinus_ through intermediate specimens. We have seen Florida skins
(kindly lent to us by Mr. J. A. Allen) from Miami (♂, January 29, 1872),
Cedar Keys (♂, February 28, 1871), and Florida Keys (♂, February 14,
1871). Of these, only the first (No. 14,491) deviates noticeably from
the typical style; it inclines toward var. _isabellinus_ in sparsity
of black spots on flanks and restricted rufous on the crown, but in
the pure light ash of the crown and wings, and faint ochraceous of the
breast, it resembles more the var. _sparverius_. Wing, 6.50; tail, 4.70.
The two other specimens measure as follows: No. 14,487, Florida Keys,
wing, 6.90; tail, 5.00. No. 14,492, Cedar Keys, wing, 6.90; tail, 5.00.
The former is peculiar in having some of the upper tail-coverts either
partly or entirely ashy.

Mexican specimens represent the race in the greatest purity or
exaggeration of its characteristic features, in pure and light
bluish-ash of wings and crown, greatest extent of rufous on crown, etc.
California specimens often exhibit what I have not noticed in eastern
examples, though possibly occurring in them; that is, in adult males the
cere and feet are of a deep orange-red—almost vermilion color.


National Museum, 104; Boston Society, 26; Philadelphia Academy, 7; Mus.
Comp. Zoöl., 66; New York Museum, 7; Cab. G. N. Lawrence, 4; Cab. R.
Ridgway, 4. Total, 218.


 |Sex.|   Wing.   |   Tail.   | Culmen. | Tarsus. |Middle Toe.|Specimens.|
 | ♂  |  6.50–8.00|  4.50–5.70|  .50–.00|1.25–1.55|   .95–0.00|  117     |
 | ♀  |  6.80–8.40|  4.90–5.80|  .55–.55|1.40–1.45|   .90–1.00|   95     |

Var. isabellinus, SWAINSON.

  _Falco isabellinus_, SWAINSON, An. Menag. p. 281, 1838. _Tinnunculus
  sparverius_, var. _isabellinus_, RIDGWAY, P. A. N. S. Phil. Dec. 1870,
  p. 149. _Tinnunculus dominicensis_ (not of GMEL.!), STRICKL. Orn. Syn.
  1, 100, 1855 (in part only).

SP. CHAR. _Adult male_ (3,841, Prairie Mer Rouge, La., June, 1853;
“J. F.”). Much like var. _sparverius_, but considerably darker in
colors; plumbeous, crown dark with no rufous on vertex, nor darker
shaft-lines. Rufous above more purplish-castaneous; cinereous of wings
much darker; neck, jugulum, breast, and sides deep soft ochraceous,
spots very few, and restricted to the sides. Wing, 7.00; tail, 4.70;
tarsus, 1.25; middle toe, .90; culmen, .50. Wing-formula, 2, 3–4, 1.

_Adult female_ (58,339, Jacksonville, Fla., June 10, 1869; C. J.
Maynard). Differing from the female of var. _sparverius_ in much darker
colors, the rufous inclining to castaneous; bars broader, more sharply
defined, pure black. Head above pure dark plumbeous, conspicuously
different from the fine light ash of var. _sparverius_; vertex with
touches only of rufous; markings beneath narrower, and nearly pure
black, upon a deeper ochraceous ground. Wing, 7.20; tail, 4.50; tarsus,
1.20; middle toe, .83; culmen, .42. Primaries, 2, 3–1, 4.

HAB. North Atlantic and Caribbean coasts of South America, from Demerara
northward, along the Gulf coast of Mexico and United States, through
Texas and Louisiana to Florida.

This form, though quite different in its extreme condition from true
_sparverius_, gradually grades into it. Few, if any, other specimens
possess in so exaggerated a degree all the distinctive characters of
those described, though all from the regions indicated agree in having
darker colors and less rufous on the crown than specimens from the
interior of North and Middle America.

A series of six adult male Sparrow Hawks from Florida, kindly loaned me
for examination by Mr. J. A. Allen, includes three typical examples of
this littoral race of subtropical continental America. They all agree
in very deep dark colors, entire absence or merely slight indication of
rufous on the vertex, and deeply ochraceous breast, with few markings.
No. 14,499 (Miami, Fla., June 19, 1871) is remarkable for lacking
entirely the black spots on wings and flanks, and bars on the back
or longer scapulars; the three outer tail-feathers are almost wholly
ashy-white, with about five transverse spots of black; the terminal
white band is strongly tinged with ash; there is no trace of rufous on
the crown. Wing, 6.80; tail, 4.80.

In the unspotted wings and sides and unbarred scapulars there is a
resemblance in this specimen to _F. leucophrys_; which, however, has the
ash very much lighter, the black “mustache” obsolete or wanting, the
lower breast pure white instead of deep ochraceous; the under surface
of the primaries plain white, with shallow dusky serrations along the
shaft, instead of being heavily barred with dusky; always has a patch
of rufous on the crown, a conspicuous frontal and superciliary stripe
of white, and an entirely differently marked tail. In its much barred
tail it also resembles the var. _dominicensis_ to a slight extent; but
the latter has the middle feathers also barred, and always has the
scapulars, generally the entire dorsal region, heavily barred with
black, and the wings, breast, and sides heavily spotted; the bill is
larger, and there is always more or less rufous on the crown. The other
two specimens are more like the average; they both have a mere trace
of rufous on the crown, conspicuous bars on the scapulars, and spots
on the wings. No. 5,188 (Hibernia, Fla., February 3, 1869) has only a
few black specks on the flanks; the outer tail-feather ashy-white, with
seven transverse black spots across inner web. Wing, 6.80; tail, 4.80.
No. 5,373 (Hawkinsville, Fla., March 12, 1869) is similar, but has the
flanks distinctly spotted with black, and the outer tail-feather with
inner web plain pale rufous, with only the subterminal large black spot.
Wing, 6.80; tail, 4.80.

A series of ten specimens (five males and five females) from Florida,
kindly sent me for examination by Mr. C. J. Maynard, contains nothing
but var. _sparverius_, with a few individuals inclining slightly toward
var. _isabellinus_. The extreme are measurements of the series as
follows: ♂. Wing, 6.60–6.90; tail, 4.50–4.70. ♀. Wing, 6.90–7.50;
tail, 4.80–5.10. Four out of the five males have the deeply ochraceous
unspotted breast of var. _isabellinus_, but all have more or less
rufous on the crown, while the ash is of that light shade seen in var.
_sparverius_. No. 476 has the upper tail-coverts mixed with feathers
which are either wholly or partially ash, while the light bands of the
outer tail-feathers are much tinged with the same; the scapulars are
almost wholly fine ash, like the wings, and with heavy black bars. The
females likewise all incline toward var. _isabellinus_, all having the
dark bars above equal to or broader than the rufous ones. No. 6,441
is transversely spotted on the flanks with heavy black bars, and is
scarcely distinguishable from females of var. _dominicensis_.

An adult male labelled as coming from Cuba, but probably from the
southeastern United States, in the collection of the Boston Society,
is so deeply colored as to strongly resemble the young male of _T.
sparveroides_. There is not a trace of rufous on the crown, which
is dark plumbeous; the lower parts are entirely deep rufous, except
the throat, inclining more to ochraceous on the tibiæ and crissum;
the whole lower surface entirely free from spots of any kind. The
tail is very uniformly marked, being wholly rufous, except the usual
narrow terminal band, or the outer web of lateral feathers, which
are white,—the latter with a few indications of black spots near the
shaft,—and the usual subterminal zone of black, which is very regular
and continuous. Though in these respects so closely resembling the
young ♂ of _T. sparveroides_, it may be distinguished from it by the
sharp definition of the black markings on the side of the head and
on the wing-coverts, and of the black bars on the inner webs of the
primaries. We have every reason to doubt whether this specimen was
actually collected in Cuba, since so many of the specimens in the
Lafresnaye Collection are incorrectly labelled as regards locality.

A young ♂ from Georgia, in the same collection, is somewhat similar, but
differs in the following respects. The rufous beneath is confined to the
breast, sides, and abdomen, but is as deep (i.e. only a shade or two
lighter than that on the back); the two outer pairs of tail-feathers are
mostly ashy-white, with large spots of black.


National Museum, 4; Boston Society, 2; Mus. Comp. Zoöl., 3; Philadelphia
Academy, 4; New York Museum, 2; G. N. Lawrence, 4. Total, 19.


 |Sex.|   Wing.   |   Tail.   | Culmen. | Tarsus. |Middle Toe.|Specimens.|
 | ♂  |  7.00–7.70|  4.86–5.50|  .50–.00|1.30–1.50|    .90–.00|   11     |
 | ♀  |  7.20–7.70|  5.00–5.30|  .45–.50|1.35–1.40|    .85–.00|    5     |

HABITS. The common Sparrow Hawk of America has an extended distribution
throughout the greater portion of North America, although it was not
observed by Mr. MacFarlane, nor by any other collectors in the higher
Arctic regions, nor was it met with by Mr. Dall in Alaska. Mr. Kennicott
found it nesting at Fort Resolution (lat. 62°), on Great Slave Lake, and
Mr. Clark at Fort Rae. These are the highest points to which we have any
knowledge of its having been traced.

[Illustration: _Tinnunculus sparverius._]

Sir John Richardson speaks of it as abundant on the banks of the
Saskatchewan, in the neighborhood of Carlton House. It probably breeds
throughout North America, from Hudson’s Bay to Mexico, and from Maine
to California, though it is rare in a large portion of the New England
States. It is, however, quite abundant in the vicinity of Calais,
Me., in New Brunswick, and in Nova Scotia, though less abundant about
Halifax. It has not been taken, or if so only very rarely, in Eastern
Massachusetts, though it has been known to breed in Williamstown and
Amherst, in the western part of the State. It is equally rare in Rhode
Island and in Connecticut. Dr. Woods, of East Hartford, knew of a pair
which entered a dove-cot in that place, destroyed its inmates, and
laid four eggs. They committed so many depredations on the neighbors’
chickens that they were shot.

Mr. Ridgway found this species exceedingly abundant in all portions of
the West. In the cañons of the East Humboldt Mountains it was observed
to have nests in holes on the faces of the limestone cliffs.

The Sparrow Hawk is a bird of irregular flight, now momentarily hovering
over a particular spot, suspending itself in the air, and then shooting
off in another direction. At other times it may be seen perched on
the top of a dead tree, or on a projecting branch, sitting there in
an almost perpendicular position for an hour or more at a time. It
frequently jerks its tail, and appears to be reconnoitring the ground
below for small birds, mice, or lizards, on which it chiefly preys. When
it alights, it closes its long wings so suddenly that, according to
Wilson, they seem to disappear. It often approaches the farm-house early
in the morning, skulking about the barnyard in pursuit of mice, and
occasionally of young chickens. Frequently it plunges into a thicket,
as if at random, but always with an object in view, and with a sure and
fatal aim.

Wilson once observed one of this species perched on the highest top of
a large poplar, and, just as he was about to take aim, it swept down
with the rapidity of an arrow into a thicket of briers, where he shot
it, and found a small Field Sparrow quivering in its grasp. It is said
to be fond of watching along hedge-rows and in orchards, where small
birds usually resort. When grasshoppers are plentiful, they form the
principal part of its food. The young are fed with the usual food of the
parents,—mice, small birds, grasshoppers, etc. It also feeds upon small
snakes, but rarely, if ever, touches anything that it has not itself
killed, and has been known to reject its prey when, after having been
killed, it proved to be in unsuitable condition for food.

Mr. Audubon states that the flight of this species is never protracted.
It seldom flies far at a time; a few hundred yards are all the distance
it usually goes before alighting. It rarely sails long on the wing at
a time; a half-hour is its utmost extent. In pursuing a bird, it flies
with great rapidity, but never with the speed of the Sharp-shinned and
other Hawks. Its cry is so similar to that of the Kestrel of Europe that
it might be readily mistaken for it but for its stronger intonation. At
times it gives out these notes as it perches, but they are principally
uttered while on the wing. Mr. Audubon has heard them imitate the
feeble cries of their offspring, when these have left the nest and are
following their parents.

The young birds, when they first appear, are covered with a white down.
They grow with great rapidity, and are soon able to leave their nest,
and are well provided for by their parents until they are able to take
care of themselves. They feed at first on grasshoppers and crickets.

At Denysville, Me., these Hawks were observed to attack the Cliff
Swallows, while sitting on their eggs, deliberately tearing open their
covered nests, and seizing their occupants for their prey.

In winter, these birds, for the most part, desert the Northern and
Middle States, but are resident south of Virginia. They can be readily
tamed, especially when reared from the nest. Mr Audubon raised a young
Hawk of this species, which continued to keep about the house, and
even to fly to it for shelter when attacked by some of its wilder
kindred, and never failed to return at night to roost on its favorite
window-shutter. It was finally killed by an enraged hen, whose chickens
it attempted to seize.

This Hawk constructs no nest, but makes use of hollow trees, the
deserted hole of a Woodpecker, or even an old Crow’s nest. Its eggs
are usually as many as five in number, and Mr. Audubon once even met
with seven in a single nest. The ground of the eggs is usually a dark
cream-color or a light buff. In their markings they vary considerably.
Five from a nest in Maryland were covered throughout the entire surface
with small blotches and dottings of a light brown, at times confluent,
and, except in a single instance, not more frequent at the larger end
than the smaller. The contents of a nest obtained by Mr. Audubon on the
Yellowstone River had a ground-color of a light buff, nearly unspotted,
except at the larger end, with only a few large blotches and splashes of
a deep chocolate. In others, interspersed with the light-brown markings
are a few of a much deeper shade. In some, the eggs are covered with
fine markings of buff, nearly uniform in size and color; and others
again are marked with lines and bolder dashes of brown, of a distinctly
reddish shade, over their entire surface, and often so thickly as nearly
to conceal the ground. The eggs are nearly spherical. The average length
is 1.38 inches by a breadth of 1.13. They are subject to variation in
size, but are uniform as to shape. They range in length from 1.48 to
1.32 inches, and in breadth from 1.08 to 1.20 inches.

The eggs of _Tinnunculus sparveroides_, from Cuba, and of var.
_cinnamominus_ from Chile, differ in size and markings from those of
North American birds. Their ground-color is much whiter, is freer
from markings which have hardly any tinge of rufous, but are more of
a yellowish-brown. The Cuban egg measures 1.28 by 1.08 inches; the
Chilian, 1.25 by 1.08.


  _Polyborus_, VIEILL. 1816. (Type, _Falco brasiliensis_, GMELIN. _P.
      tharus_, MOLINA.)
  _Caracara_, CUVIER, 1817. (Same type.)

GEN. CHAR. General aspect somewhat vulturine, but bearing and manners
almost gallinaceous. Neck and legs very long. Bill very high and much
compressed, the commissure very straight and regular, and nearly
parallel with the superior outline; cere very narrow, its anterior
outline vertical and straight. Nostril very small, linear, obliquely
vertical, its upper end being the posterior one; situated in the upper
anterior corner of the cere. Lateral and under portions of the head
naked and scantily haired, the skin bright-colored (reddish or yellow
in life). Occipital feathers elongated. Wings and tail long, the
latter rounded; five outer quills with inner webs sinuated; third to
the fourth longest; first shorter than the sixth, sometimes shorter
than the seventh. Feet almost gallinaceous, the tarsus nearly twice as
long as the middle toe, but stout; outer toe longer than the inner;
posterior toe much the shortest; claws long, but slender, weakly curved,
and obtuse. Tarsus with a frontal series of large transverse scutellæ,
the lower fourth to sixth forming a single row, the others disposed in
two parallel series of alternating plates; the other parts covered by
smaller hexagonal scales.


  =37871=, ♀. NAT. SIZE.
  =37871=, ♀. ¼
  =37871=, ♀. ¼
  =37871=, ♀. ¼

_Wing and tail._

_Polyborus auduboni._]

This well-marked genus contains but a single species, the _P. tharus_,
Mol., which extends its range over the whole of tropical and subtropical
America, exclusive of some of the West India Islands. North and south
of the Isthmus it is modified into geographical races, the southern of
which is var. _tharus_, Mol., and the northern var. _auduboni_, Cass.

The closely related genera _Phalcobænas_, _Milvago_, _Ibycter_, and
_Daptrius_ are peculiar to South America and the southern portion of
Middle America, most of them being represented by two or more species.
They all form a well-marked and peculiarly American group, for which I
shall retain Schlegel’s term _Polybori_.

Their habits are quite different in many respects from those of other
_Falconidæ_, for they combine in many respects the habits of the
gallinaceous birds and those of the Vultures. They are terrestrial,
running and walking gracefully, with the exception of the species of
_Ibycter_ and _Daptrius_, which are more arboreal than the others, and
are said also to feed chiefly upon insects, instead of carrion.

Species and Races.

  =P. tharus.= Wing, 14.50–17.70; tail, 10.00–11.00; culmen, 1.20–1.48;
  tarsus, 3.20–4.20; middle toe, 1.75–2.30.

    _Adult._ Forehead, crown, occiput, back, rump, abdomen, sides, and
    tibiæ, and terminal zone of the tail, dull black. Neck, breast,
    tail-coverts, and tail, dingy whitish. Interscapulars, breast, and
    tail with transverse dusky bars.

  _Young._ Blackish areas replaced by dull brown; region of the
  transverse bars marked, instead, with longitudinal stripes.

    _Adult._ Whole body, with middle wing-coverts, variegated with
    transverse bars of black and white; tail-coverts barred. Terminal
    zone of the tail about 2.00 wide. _Young._ Longitudinal stripes over
    the whole head and body, except throat, cheeks, and tail-coverts;
    tail-coverts transversely barred. _Hab._ South America …

                                                      var. _tharus_.[67]

    _Adult._ Transverse bars confined to the breast and interscapulars;
    rest of body continuous black; tail-coverts without bars;
    wing-coverts unvariegated. Terminal zone of tail about 2.50
    wide. _Young._ Longitudinal stripes confined to the breast and
    interscapulars; rest of the body continuous brown. Tail-coverts
    without bars. _Hab._ Middle America, and southern border of United
    States, from Florida to Cape St. Lucas …

                                                        var. _auduboni_.

Polyborus tharus, var. auduboni, CASSIN.


  _Polyborus auduboni_, CASSIN, Proc. Acad. Nat. Sc. Philad. 1865,
  p. 2. _Polyborus vulgaris_ (“VIEILL.”), AUD. Orn. Biog. II, 350,
  1834 (not of VIEILLOT!). _Polyborus brasiliensis_ (“GMEL.”), AUD.
  Birds Am. Oct. ed. I, 21, 1840 (not of GMELIN!). _Polyborus tharus_
  (“MOL.”) CASSIN, Birds of Cal. & Tex. I, 113; 1854 (not of MOLINA!);
  BREWER, Oölogy, 1857, p. 58, pl. xi, figs. 18 & 19; BAIRD, Birds N.
  Am. 1858, p. 45.—HEERM. P. R. R. Rept. VII, 31, 1857.—COUES, Prod.
  Orn. Ariz. p. 13, 1866.—OWEN, Ibis, III, 67.—GURNEY, Cat. Rapt. B.
  1864, 17.—DRESSER, Ibis, 1865, 329 (Texas).

SP. CHAR. _Adult male_ (12,016, Texas; Capt. McCall). Forehead, crown,
occiput, and nape, wings, scapulars, rump, belly, thighs, and anal
region continuous deep dull black; chin, neck, jugulum, breast, and
tail-coverts (upper and lower), soiled white. Breast with numerous
cordate spots of black, these growing larger posteriorly, and running
in transverse series; back with transverse bars of white, which become
narrower and less distinct posteriorly. Basal two-thirds of tail white,
crossed by thirteen or fourteen narrow transverse bands of black, which
become narrower and more faint basally; outer web of lateral feather
almost entirely black; broad terminal band of the tail uniform black
(2.40 inches in width); third, fourth, fifth, and sixth primaries
grayish just beyond the coverts, this portion with three or four
transverse bars of white. Middle portion of primaries beneath, faintly
barred with white and ashy; the barred portion extending obliquely
across. Third quill longest, fourth a little shorter, second shorter
than fifth; first 3.60 inches shorter than longest. Wing, 16.70; tail,
9.60; tarsus, 3.40; middle toe, 2.10.

_Adult female._ Plumage similar; white more brownish; abdomen with
indication of bars. Wing, 15.50; tail, 8.70; tarsus, 3.30; middle toe,

_Young_ (42,130, ♀, Mirador, Mexico; Dr. C. Sartorius). Black of adult
replaced by dingy dark brown, this darkest in the hood; white and dusky
regions gradually blended, the feathers of the breast being whitish,
edged (longitudinally) with brown. No trace of the transverse bars,
except on the tail, which is like that of the adult.

HAB. Middle America north of Darien; southern border of United States
from Florida to Lower California; Cuba.

Localities: Guatemala (SCL. Ibis, I, 214); Cuba (CAB. Journ. II, lxxix;
GUNDL. Rept. 1865, 221, resident); ? Trinidad (TAYLOR, Ibis, 1864, 79);
Texas (DRESSER, Ibis, 1865, 329, breeds); Arizona (COUES); Costa Rica
(LAWR. IX, 132); Yucatan (LAWR. 16, 207.)


National Museum, 16; Boston Society, 2; Philadelphia Academy, 4; Museum
Comp. Zoöl., 1; R. Ridgway, 2. Total, 25.


 |Sex.|   Wing.   |   Tail.   | Culmen. | Tarsus. |Middle Toe.|Specimens.|
 | ♂  |14.60–16.50| 9.00–10.00|1.20–1.48|3.20–3.60|  1.90–2.00|    6     |
 | ♀  |14.75–16.00| 8.80–10.00|1.20–1.45|3.55–3.75|  2.00–2.10|    8     |

[Illustration: _Polyborus tharus_, var. _auduboni_.]

HABITS. The Caracara Eagle, as this bird is called, though it seems to
possess, to a large degree, the characteristics of a Vulture, and hardly
any of the true aquiline nature, is found in all the extreme southern
portions of the country, in Florida, Texas, Southern Arizona, and
California. Audubon met with it abundantly in Florida in the winter of
1831. Mr. Boardman has seen it quite common at Enterprise, associating
with the Vultures. Dr. Woodhouse, while encamped on the Rio Saltado,
near San Antonio, in Texas, frequently saw the Caracaras, and always
in company with the Vultures, which he says they greatly resemble in
their habits, excepting that they were much more shy. He could, however,
readily approach them when on horseback. Mr. Dresser also frequently
encountered it in Texas in the vicinity of San Antonio, and speaks of
it as abundant from the Rio Grande to the Guadaloupe, but never noticed
any farther east. In Arizona, Dr. Coues says, it is not a rare bird in
the southern and western portions of that Territory. Lieutenant Couch
likewise describes them as exceedingly abundant from the Rio Grande
to the Sierra Madre. He speaks of killing a male bird on the nest,
which was in a low tree and composed of sticks. He adds that this bird
destroys the Texas field-rats (_Sigmodon berlandieri_) in large numbers.

Dr. Heermann met with this species on the Colorado River, near Fort
Yuma, in company with the _Cathartes aura_. He found it so shy that it
was impossible to procure a specimen. He found it along the Gila River,
and again met with it in Texas wherever there were settlements. At San
Antonio, wherever there were slaughter-houses, he met with them in great
numbers, twenty or thirty being often seen at a time.

Grayson gives the _Caracara_ as quite abundant in the Tres Marias.
Although it subsists mainly on dead animals and other offal, it is said
to sometimes capture young birds, lizards, snakes, and land-crabs. It
generally carries its prey in its beak; but Colonel Grayson states
that he has seen it also bear off its food in its claws, as Hawks do.
It walks with facility on the ground, and was often met with in the
thick woods, walking about in search of snakes. Mr. Xantus found it
nesting at Cape San Lucas, placing its nest on the top of the _Cereus
giganteus_. It occurs also in the West Indies, especially in the island
of Cuba, where it is known to breed. Eggs were obtained and identified
by the late Dr. Berlandier, of Matamoras, in Northern Mexico, on the Rio
Grande, in considerable numbers.

Mr. Salvin (Ibis, I, 214) says the _Caracara_ is universal in its
distribution in Central America, appearing equally abundant everywhere.
At Duenas it was a constant resident, breeding on the surrounding
hills. Its food seemed to consist largely of the ticks that infested
the animals. In Honduras Mr. G. C. Taylor found them very common, quite
tame, and easily shot. They feed on carrion and offal, were often seen
scratching among the half-dry cow-dung, and are “a very low caste bird.”
Mr. E. C. Taylor (Ibis, VI, 79) frequently saw this bird on the shores
of the Orinoco. It was very tame, and generally allowed a near approach,
and when disturbed did not fly far. He did not meet with it in Trinidad.

On the Rio Grande the popular name of this species is _Totache_, while
in Chile the _P. tharus_ is called _Traro_, but its more common name
throughout South America is _Carrancha_.

According to Audubon, the flight of this bird is at great heights,
is more graceful than that of the Vulture, and consists of alternate
flapping and sailing. It often sails in large circles, gliding in a very
elegant manner, now and then diving downwards and then rising again.

These birds feed on frogs, insects, worms, young alligators, carrion,
and various other forms of animal food. Mr. Audubon states that he has
seen them walk about in the water in search of food, catching frogs,
young alligators, etc. It is harmless and inoffensive, and in the
destruction of vermin renders valuable services. It builds a coarse,
flat nest, composed of flags, reeds, and grass, usually on the tops of
trees, but occasionally, according to Darwin, on a low cliff, or even on
a bush.

Mr. R. Owen, who found this bird breeding near San Geronimo, Guatemala,
April 2 (Ibis, 1861, p. 67), states that the nest was built on the very
crown of a high tree in the plain. It was made of small branches twisted
together, and had a slight lining of coarse grass. It was shallow, and
formed a mass of considerable size. The eggs were four in number, and
are described as measuring 2.15 inches by 1.60, having a light red
ground-color, and spotted and blotched all over with several shades of a
darker red.

Dr. Heermann found the nest of this species on the Medina River. It
was built in an oak, and constructed of coarse twigs and lined with
leaves and roots. It was quite recently finished, and contained no
eggs. Mr. Dresser states that it breeds all over the country about San
Antonio, building a large bulky nest of sticks, lined with small roots
and grass, generally placed in a low mesquite or oak tree, and laying
three or four roundish eggs, similar to those of the Honey Buzzard of
Europe. He found several nests in April and through May, and was told
by the _rancheros_ that its eggs are found as late as June. The nests
found in the collection of Dr. Berlandier, of Matamoras, were coarse
flat structures, composed of flags, reeds, and grass. The nests, though
usually built on the tops of trees, are occasionally found, according
to Darwin, on a low cliff, or even on a bush. The number of the eggs
is rarely, if ever, more than three or four. Four eggs, taken by Dr.
Berlandier near the Rio Grande, exhibit a maximum length of 2.44 inches;
least length, 2.25; average, 2.41. The diameter of the smallest egg
is 1.75 inches; that of the largest, 1.88; average, 1.81. These eggs
not only present the great and unusual variation in their length of
nearly eight per cent, but very striking and anomalous deviations from
uniformity are also noticeable in their ground-color and markings. The
ground-color varies from a nearly pure white to a very deep russet or
tan-color, and the markings, though all of sepia-brown, differ greatly
in their shades. In some, the ground-color is nearly pure white with
a slight pinkish tinge, nearly unspotted at the smaller end, and only
marked by a few light blotches of a sepia-brown. These markings increase
both in size and frequency, and become of a deeper shade, as they are
nearer the larger end, until they become almost black, and around this
extremity they form a large confluent ring of blotches and dashes of
a dark sepia. Others have a ground-color of light russet, or rather
white with a very slight wash of russet, and are marked over the entire
surface, in about equal proportion, with irregular lines and broad
dashes of dark sepia. Again, in others the ground is of the deepest
russet or tan-color, and is marked with deep blotches of a dark sepia,
almost black. The eggs are much more oblong than those of most birds
of prey, and in this respect also show their relation to the Vultures,
rather than to the Hawks or Eagles. They are pyriform, the smaller end
tapers quite abruptly, and varies much more, in its proportions, from
the larger extremity, than the eggs of most true Hawks.

Lieutenant Gilliss found the South American race exceedingly numerous
throughout Central and Southern Chile. It was constantly met with along
the roads, and wherever there was a chance of obtaining a particle of
flesh or offal. At the annual slaughtering of cattle they congregate by
hundreds, and remain without the corral, awaiting their share of the
rejected parts. It was so tame, from not being molested, that it could
be taken with the lasso, but when thus captured, it fights desperately,
and no amount of attention or kindness can reconcile it to the loss of

Throughout South America it is one of the most abundant species, its
geographical range extending even to Cape Horn. Mr. Darwin found the
_Polyborus_ nowhere so common as on the grassy savannas of the La Plata,
and says that it is also found on the most desert plains of Patagonia,
even to the rocky and barren shores of the Pacific.


  _Pandion_, SAVIGN. 1809. (Type, _Falco Haliætus_, LINN.)
  _Triorchis_, LEACH, 1816. (Same type.)
  _Balbusardus_, FLEMING, 1828. (Same type.)

GEN. CHAR. Bill inflated, the cere depressed below the arched culmen;
end of bill much developed, forming a strong, pendent hook. Anterior
edge of nostril touching edge of the cere. Whole of tarsus and toes
(except terminal joint) covered with rough, somewhat imbricated,
projecting scales. Outer toe versatile; all the claws of equal length.
In their shape, also, they are peculiar; they contract in thickness to
their lower side, where they are much narrower than on top, as well
as perfectly smooth and rounded; the middle claw has the usual sharp
lateral ridge, but it is not very distinct. All the toes perfectly free.
Tibiæ not plumed, but covered compactly with short feathers, these
reaching down the front of the tarsus below the knee, and terminating in
an angle. Primary coverts hard, stiff, and acuminate, almost as much so
as the quills themselves; third quill longest; first longer than fifth;
second, third, and fourth sinuated on outer webs; outer three deeply
emarginated, the fourth sinuated, on inner webs.

Of this remarkable genus, there appears to be but a single species,
which is almost completely cosmopolitan in its habitat. As in the case
of the Peregrine Falcon and Barn Owl, different geographical regions
have each a peculiar race, modified by some climatic or local influence.
These races, however, are not well marked, and are consequently only
definable with great difficulty.

Species and Races.

  =P. haliætus.= Wing, 15.20–21.50; tail, 7.00–11.11; culmen, 1.20–1.40;
  tarsus, 2.00–2.15; middle toe, 1.60–2.00. Second or third quills
  longest. Above clear dark grayish-brown, inclining to brownish-black,
  plain, or variegated with white. Tail brownish-gray (the inner webs
  almost entirely white), narrowly tipped with white, and crossed by
  about six or seven nearly equal bands of dusky-black. Head, neck, and
  entire lower parts, snowy-white; the breast with or without brown
  spots or wash. A dusky stripe on side of head (from lores across the
  ear-coverts), and top of head more or less spotted, or streaked, with
  the same. _Adult._ Upper parts plain. _Young._ Feathers of the upper
  parts bordered terminally with white. Sexes alike (?).

    Wing, 17.00–20.50; tail, 7.00–10.00; culmen, 1.20–1.45; tarsus,
    1.95–3.15; middle toe, 1.50–1.90. Second or third quills longest (in
    eighteen specimens from Europe and Asia). First longer than fifth.
    Breast always (?) spotted with brownish, or uniformly so; top of
    head with the black streaks usually predominating. Tail with six
    to seven narrow black bands, continuous across both webs. _Hab._
    Northern Hemisphere of the Old World …

                                                    var. _haliætus_.[68]

    Wing, 17.50–21.50; tail, 8.70–10.50; culmen, 1.25–1.40; tarsus,
    2.00–2.40; middle toe, 1.70–2.00. Second and third quill longest.
    Breast often entirely without spots; top of head and nape usually
    with dark streaks predominating. Tail with six to seven narrow black
    bands, continuous across both webs. _Hab._ Northern Hemisphere of
    the New World …

                                                  var. “_carolinensis_.”

    Wing, 17.50–19.50; tail, 9.00–10.00; culmen, 1.25–1.40; tarsus,
    2.10; middle toe, 1.70–1.95. Third quill longest, but second
    just perceptibly shorter (eight specimens, including Gould’s
    types). Breast with the markings sometimes (in two out of the
    eight examples) reduced to sparse shaft-streaks, but never (?)
    entirely immaculate. Top of the head with the white streaks usually
    predominating, sometimes (in three out of the eight specimens)
    immaculate white (the occiput, however, always with a few streaks).
    Tail with six to seven white bands on the inner webs, which
    (according to Kaup) do not touch the shaft. _Hab._ Australia …

                                             var. “_leucocephalus_.”[69]

Pandion haliætus, var. carolinensis (GMEL.).


  _Falco carolinensis_, GMEL. Syst. Nat. p. 263, 1789.—DAUD. Tr. Orn.
  II, 69, 1800. _Pandion carolinensis_, BONAP. List, pt. iii, 1838;
  Consp. Av. p. 16.—STRICKL. Orn. Syn. I, 64, 1855.—AUD. Birds Am. pl.
  lxxxi, 1831.—CASS. Birds Cal. & Tex. p. 112, 1854.—BREWER, Oölogy,
  1857, p. 53, pl. iii, fig. 33, 34.—NEWB. P. R. R. Rept. VI, iv,
  75, 1857.—HEERM. VII, 21, 1857.—DE KAY, Zoöl. N. Y. II, 8, pl. vi,
  fig. 18.—CASS. Birds N. Am. 1858, p. 44.—COOP. & SUCK. P. R. R.
  Rept. XII, ii, 153, 1860.—COUES, Prod. Orn. Ariz. 1866, p. 13.—GRAY,
  Hand List, I, 15, 1869.—MAX. Cab. Journ. VI, 1858, 11.—LORD, Pr.
  R. A. I. IV, 1864, 110 (Brit. Columb.; nesting).—FOWLER, Am. Nat.
  II, 1868, 192 (habits). _Falco cayennensis_, GMEL. Syst. Nat. p.
  263, 1789.—DAUD. Tr. Orn. II, p. 69, 1800. _Falco americanus_, GMEL.
  Syst. Nat. p. 257.—LATH. Index Orn. p. 13, 1790; Syn. I, 35, 1781;
  Gen. Hist. I, 238, 1821.—DAUD. Tr. Orn. II, 50.—SHAW, Zoöl. VII, 88.
  _Aquila americana_, VIEILL. Ois. Am. Sept. I, pl. iv, 1807. _Pandion
  americanus_, VIEILL. Gal. Ois. pl. ii, 1825.—VIG. Zoöl. Journ. I,
  336.—SWAINS. Classif. B. II, 207, 1837. _Aquila piscatrix_, VIEILL.
  Ois. Am. Sept. I, pl. iv, 1807. _Accipiter piscatorius_, CATESBY,
  Carolina, I, pl. ii, 1754. _A. falco piscator antillarum_, BRISS. Orn.
  I, 361, 1760. _A. falco piscator carolinensis_, BRISS. Orn. I, 362.
  _Pandion haliætus_, RICH. Faun. Bor. Am. II, 20, 1831.—JARD. (WILS.)
  Am. Orn. II, 103, 1832.—JAMES. (WILS.) Am. Orn. I, 38, 1831.—AUD.
  Orn. Biog. I, 415, 1831.—GRAY, List B. Brit. Mus. p. 22, 1844. _?
  Pandion fasciatus_, BREHM, Allgem. deutsch. Zeitung, II, 1856, 66 (St.

SP. CHAR. _Adult male_ (17.227, San José, Lower California, December
15, 1859; J. Xantus). Upper surface dark vandyke-brown, with a faint
purplish cast; quills black. Every feather with a conspicuous, sharply
defined terminal crescent of pure white. Tail brownish-drab, narrowly
tipped with white, and crossed with seven (one concealed) regular
bands of dusky; inner webs almost wholly white, the black bands
sharply defined and continuous; shafts entirely white. Ground-color
of the head, neck, and entire lower parts, pure white; a broad stripe
from the eye back across upper edge of the ear-coverts to the occiput
brownish-black; white head also sparsely streaked with blackish, these
streaks suffusing and predominating medially; nape faintly tinged with
ochraceous, and sparsely streaked. Breast with large cordate spots of
brown, fainter than that of the back, a medial spot on each feather,
the shaft black; rest of lower parts immaculate. Lining of the wing
white, strongly tinged with ochraceous; the brown of the outer surface
encroaching broadly over the edge. Under primary-coverts with broad
transverse spots or bars; under surface of primaries grayish-white
anterior to the emargination irregularly mottled with grayish; axillars
immaculate. Wing-formula, 2=3, 4–1, 5. Wing, 20.00; tail, 8.80;
culmen, 1.35; tarsus, 2.15–1.10; middle toe, 1.90; outer, 1.75; inner,
1.40; posterior, 1.15; posterior outer and inner claws of equal
length, each measuring 1.20 (chord); middle, 1.15. “Iris yellow; feet

_Adult female_ (290, S. F. Baird’s Collection, Carlisle, Pa., April
17, 1841). Dark brown of the upper surface entirely uniform, there
being none of the sharply defined white crescents so conspicuous in
the male.[70] Tail brown to its tip, the dusky bands obscure, except
on inner webs. On the top of the head, the dusky is more confined to a
medial stripe. Pectoral spots smaller, less conspicuous. Under surface
of primaries more mottled with grayish. Wing-formula, 3, 2–4–1, 5. Wing,
20.50; tail, 9.15; culmen, 1.35; tarsus, 2.15; middle toe, 1.70.


  =12013=, ♂. ½
  =12013=, ♂. ½
  =17227=, ♂. ¼

_Pandion carolinensis._]

HAB. Whole of North America, south to Panama; N. Brazil; Trinidad, Cuba,
and other West India Islands.

Localities: Belize (SCL. Ibis, I, 215); Cuba (CAB. Journ. II, lxxx,
nests; GUNDL. Repert. Sept. 1865, 1, 222); Bahamas (BRYANT, Pr. Bost.
Soc. VII, 1859); Panama (LAWR. VIII, 63); Trinidad (TAYLOR, Ibis, 1866,
79); Arizona (COUES, Pr. A. N. S. 1866, 49); N. Brazil (PELZ. Orn. Bras.
I, 4).

In eight out of twelve North American adult specimens, there is but the
slightest amount of spotting on the breast; in two of these (4,366,
Puget Sound, and 12,014, Oregon), none whatever; in 17,228 (♂, Cape St.
Lucas), 2,512 (♂ S. F. B. Carlisle, Pa.), 34,065 (♀, Realejo, Central
America), and 5,837 (Fort Steilacoom), there is just a trace of these

The specimens described are those having the breast most distinctly
spotted. Specimens vary, in length of wing, from 17.50 to 20.50. There
appears to be no sexual difference in size.

The distinctness or identity of the European and North American Ospreys
can only be determined by the comparison of a very large series; this we
have not been able to do, and although it is our belief that they should
not be separated, the impressions received from a close inspection of
the specimens before us (twenty-seven American and eighteen European)
seem to indicate the propriety of distinguishing them as races.

The male of the pair described appears to be perfectly identical, in all
respects except size, with a very perfect, finely mounted European male;
indeed, the only discrepancy is in the size, the wing of the European
bird being only nineteen inches, instead of twenty inches as in the
American. The female, however, differs from European females in having
the brown on the breast in the form of detached faint spots, instead of
a continuous grayish-brown wash, more or less continuous.

The types of our descriptions are the only specimens of the American
series which show even an approach to the amount of spotting on the
breast constant in birds from Europe.

The American bird, as indicated by the series before us, would seem to
be rather the larger; for the European specimens measure uniformly about
an inch less than the American in length of the wing.

In all the American specimens, of both sexes, the shafts of the
tail-feathers are continuously white, while in the European they are
clear white only at the roots or for the basal half.

While, in consideration of the above facts, I am for the present
compelled to recognize the American _Pandion_ under the distinctive name
of _carolinensis_, I may say, that, if any European birds occur with the
breast immaculate,—no matter what the proportion of specimens,—I shall
at once waive all claims to distinctness for the American bird.


National Museum, 7; Philadelphia Academy, 3; New York Museum, 1
(Brazil); Boston Society, 6; Museum Cambridge, 9; Cab. G. N. Lawrence,
1; Coll. R. Ridgway, 1. Total, 28.


 |Sex.|   Wing.   |   Tail.   | Culmen. | Tarsus. |Middle Toe.|Specimens.|
 | ♂  |19.00–20.50|10.00–10.50|1.35–0.00|2.25–2.40|  1.80–1.85|    5     |
 | ♀  |18.75–19.00|  8.80–9.50|1.25–1.35|2.00–2.25|  1.70–1.80|    4     |

Second and third quills longest; first shorter or longer than fifth.

HABITS. The Fish Hawk of North America, whether we regard it as a
race or a distinct species from that of the Old World fauna, is found
throughout the continent, from the fur regions around Hudson’s Bay
to Central America. According to Mr. Hill, it is seen occasionally
in Jamaica, and, as I learn by letter from Dr. Gundlach, is also
occasionally met with in the island of Cuba; but it is not known to
breed in either place. Dr. Woodhouse, in his report of the expedition
to the Zuñi River, speaks of this Hawk as common along the coasts of
Texas and California. Dr. Heermann mentions it as common on the borders
of all the large rivers of California in summer; and Dr. Gambel also
refers to it as abundant along the coast of that State, and on its rocky
islands, in which latter localities it breeds. I am not aware that it
has ever been found farther south than Texas, on the eastern coast. On
the Pacific coast it appears to have a more extended distribution both
north and south, but nowhere to be so abundant as on certain parts of
the Atlantic coast.

[Illustration: _Pandion haliætus_ (European specimen).]

Mr. Bischoff obtained this species about Sitka, where he found it
breeding, and took its eggs; and Mr. Dall procured several specimens
near Nulato in May, 1867, and in 1868. They were not uncommon,
frequenting the small streams, and were summer visitors, returning to
the same nest each season. Colonel Grayson found it breeding as far
south as the islands of the Tres Marias, in latitude 31° 30′ north.
The nest was on the top of a giant cactus. Mr. Xantus describes it as
breeding on the ground at Cape St. Lucas.

In the interior it was met with by Richardson, but its migrations do
not appear to reach the extreme northern limits of the continent. That
observing naturalist saw nothing of this bird when he was coasting
along the shores of the Arctic Sea, nor did Mr. Hearne find it on the
barren grounds north of Fort Churchill. Its eggs were collected on the
Mackenzie River by Mr. Ross, and on the Yukon by Messrs. Lockhart,
Sibbiston, McDougal, and Jones. At Fort Yukon, Mr. Lockhart found it
nesting on a high tree (S. I. 15,676).

On the Atlantic coast it is found from Labrador to Florida, with the
exception of a portion of Massachusetts around Boston, where it does not
breed, and where it is very rarely met with. It is most abundant from
Long Island to the Chesapeake, and throughout this long extent of coast
is very numerous, often breeding in large communities, to the number of
several hundred pairs. Away from the coast it is much less frequent, but
is occasionally met with on the banks of the larger rivers and lakes,
and in such instances usually in solitary pairs. Dr. Hayden found it
nesting in the Wind River Mountains on the top of a large cottonwood

Mr. Allen reports this species as abundant everywhere in Florida, and
as especially so around the lakes of the Upper St. Johns, where it
commences nesting in January. At Lake Monroe he counted six nests from a
single point of view. It is said by fishermen to occur on the coast of
Labrador, but it is not cited as found there by Mr. Audubon, nor is it
so given by Dr. Coues. It is, however, very common on the coast of Nova
Scotia, breeding in the vicinity of most of the harbors. It is given by
Mr. Boardman as common near Calais, where it arrives about the 10th of
April, and remains until the middle of September. It is found along the
whole coast more or less abundantly, especially near the heads of the
numerous estuaries.

In Central America it is cited by Salvin as occurring abundantly on both
the coast regions, and is particularly common about Belize, where it is
believed to breed. It is said by Mr. Newton to be found on the island of
St. Croix at all times except during the breeding-season. It was also
occasionally seen at Trinidad by Mr. E. C. Taylor.

The Fish Hawk appears to subsist wholly on the fish which it takes
by its own active exertions, plunging for them in the open deep, or
catching them in the shallows of rivers where the depth does not permit
a plunge. Its abundance is measured somewhat by its supply of food; and
in some parts of the country it is hardly found, in others it appears in
solitary pairs, and again in a few districts it is quite gregarious.

The American Fish Hawk is migratory in its habits, leaving our coasts
early in the fall of the year, and returning soon after the close of the
winter. Sir John Richardson states that the time of its arrival in the
fur regions is as early as April, and on the coast it has been noticed
in the middle of March. It breeds on the coast of Nova Scotia late in
June, on that of Maine earlier in the same month, in New Jersey and
Maryland in May, and still earlier in California.

It is said to arrive on the New Jersey coast with great regularity
about the 21st of March, and to be rarely seen there after the 22d
of September. It not unfrequently finds, on its first arrival, the
ponds, bays, and estuaries ice-bound, and experiences some difficulty
in procuring food. Yet I can find no instance on record where our Fish
Hawk has been known to molest any other bird or land-animal, to feed on
them, though their swiftness of flight, and their strength of wing and
claws, would seem to render such attacks quite easy. On their arrival
the Fish Hawks are said to combine, and to wage a determined war upon
the White-headed Eagles, often succeeding by their numbers and courage
in driving them temporarily from their haunts. But they never attack
them singly.

The Fish Hawk nests almost invariably on the tops of trees, and this
habit has been noticed in all parts of the country. It is not without
exceptions, but these are quite rare. William H. Edwards, Esq., found
one of their nests constructed near West Point, New York, on a high
cliff overhanging the Hudson River. The trees on which their nests are
built are not unfrequently killed by their excrement or the saline
character of their food and the materials of their nest. The bird is
bold and confiding, often constructing its nest near a frequented path,
or even upon a highway. Near the eastern extremity of the Wiscasset
(Me.) bridge, and directly upon the stage-road, a nest of this Hawk was
occupied several years. It was upon the top of a low pine-tree, was
readily accessible, the tree being easily climbed, and was so near the
road that, in passing, the young birds could frequently be heard in
their nest, uttering their usual cries for food.

The nests are usually composed externally of large sticks, often
piled to the height of five feet, with a diameter of three. In a nest
described by Wilson, he found, intermixed with a mass of sticks,
corn-stalks, sea-weed, wet turf, mullein-stalks, etc., the whole lined
with dry sea-grass (_Zostera marina_), and large enough to fill a cart
and be no inconsiderable load for a horse.

When the nest of this Hawk is visited, especially if it contain young,
the male bird will frequently make violent, and sometimes dangerous,
attacks upon the intruder. In one instance, in Maine, the talons of
one of these Hawks penetrated through a thick cloth cap, and laid bare
the scalp of a lad who had climbed to its nest, and very nearly hurled
him to the ground. A correspondent quoted by Wilson narrates a nearly
similar instance of courageous and desperate defence of the young. They
are very devoted in their attentions to their mates, and supply them
with food while on the nest. Wilson relates a touching instance of this
devotion, where a female that had lost one leg, and was unable to fish
for herself, was abundantly supplied by her mate.

In some localities the Fish Hawk nests in large communities, as many as
three hundred pairs having been observed nesting on one small island.
When a new nest is to be constructed, the whole community has been known
to take part in its completion. They are remarkably tolerant towards
smaller birds, and permit the Purple Grakle (_Quiscalus purpureus_) to
construct its nests in the interstices of their own. Wilson observed no
less than four of these nests thus clustered in a single Fish Hawk’s
nest, with a fifth on an adjoining branch.

The eggs of the Fish-Hawk are usually three in number, often only two,
and more rarely four. They are subject to great variations as to their
ground-color, the number, shade, and distribution of the blotches of
secondary coloring with which they are marked, and also as to their size
and shape. Their ground-color is most frequently a creamy-white, with a
very perceptible tinge of red. This varies, however, from an almost pure
shade of cream, without any admixture, to so deep a shade of red that
white ceases to be noticeable. Their markings are combinations of an
almost endless variation of shades of umber-brown, a light claret-brown,
an intermingling of both these shades, with occasional intermixtures of
purplish-brown. They vary in length from 2.56 to 2.24 inches, and in
breadth from 1.88 to 1.69 inches. It would be impossible to describe
with any degree of preciseness the innumerable variations in size,
shape, ground-color, or shades of markings, these eggs present. They
all have a certain nameless phase of resemblance, and may be readily
distinguished from any other eggs except those of their kindred. There
are, however, certain shades of wine-colored markings in the eggs of the
Fish Hawk of Europe, and also in that of Australia, that I have never
noticed in any eggs of the American bird; but that this peculiarity is
universal I am not able to say. The smallest egg of the _carolinensis_
measures 2.31 by 1.62 inches; the largest, 2.56 by 1.88.

The European egg is smaller than the American, is often, but not always,
more spherical, and is less pointed at the smaller end. Among its
varieties is one which is quite common, and is very different from any I
have ever observed among at least five hundred specimens of the American
which I have examined.

An Osprey’s egg in my collection, taken near Aarhuus, in Denmark, by
Rev. H. B. Tristram, of Castle Eden, England, measures only 2.12 inches
in length,—shorter by a fourth of an inch than the smallest American,—in
breadth 1.62 inches; its ground-color is a rich cream, with a slight
tinge of claret, and it is marked over its whole surface with large
blotches of a beautifully deep shade of chocolate.

In their habits the European and the American birds seem to present
other decided differences. The American is a very social bird, often
living in large communities during the breeding-season. The European is
found almost invariably in solitary pairs, and frequents fresh water
almost exclusively. The American, though found also on large rivers and
lakes, is much the most abundant on the sea-shore. The European bird
rarely builds on trees, the American almost always. The latter rarely
resorts to rocky cliffs to breed, the European almost uniformly do so.
There is no instance on record of the American species attacking smaller
birds or inferior land animals with intent to feed on them. The European
species is said to prey on Ducks and other wild-fowl.


  _Nauclerus_, VIG. 1825. (Type, _Falco furcatus_, LINN.; _F.
      forficatus_, LINN.)
  _Elanoides_, GRAY, 1848. (Same type.)

GEN. CHAR. Form swallow-like, the tail excessively lengthened and
forked, and the wings extremely long. Bill rather small, and narrow;
commissure faintly sinuated; upper outline of the lower mandible very
convex, the depth of the mandible at the base being only about half
that through the middle; gonys drooping terminally, nearly straight.
Side of the head densely feathered close up to the eyelids. Nostril
ovoid, obliquely vertical. Feet small, but robust; tarsus about equal
to middle toe, covered with large, very irregular scales; toes with
transverse scutellæ to their base; claws short, but strongly curved;
grooved beneath, their edges sharp. Second or third quill longest; first
shorter than, equal to, or longer than, the fourth; two outer primaries
with inner webs sinuated. Tail with the outer pair of feathers more than
twice as long as the middle pair.

The genus contains but a single species, the N. FORFICATUS, which is
peculiarly American, belonging to the tropical and subtropical portions
on both sides of the equator. The species is noted for the elegance of
its form and the beauty of its plumage, as well as for the unsurpassed
easy gracefulness of its flight. It has no near relatives in the Old
World, though the widely distributed genus _Milvus_ represents it in
some respects, while the singular genus _Chelictinia_, of Africa,
resembles it more closely, but is much more intimately related to
_Ictinia_ and _Elanus_.


  =52994=, ♂. ½
  =52994=, ♂. ½
  =52994=, ♂. ¼ ¼

_Nauclerus forficatus._]


  =N. forficatus.= Head, neck, entire lower surface, and band across
  the rump, immaculate snowy-white; upper surface plain polished
  blackish, with varying lights of dark purplish-bronze (on the back
  and shoulders) and bluish-slaty, with a green reflection in some
  lights. _Young_, with dusky shaft-streaks on the head and neck,
  and the feathers of the upper parts margined with white. Wing,
  15.40–17.70; tail, 12.50–14.50; culmen, .70–.80; tarsus, 1.00–1.30;
  middle toe, 1.15–1.20. _Hab._ The whole of tropical, subtropical, and
  warm-temperate America. Accidental in England.

Nauclerus forficatus, (LINN.) RIDGWAY.


  _Accipiter cauda furcata_, CATESBY, Carolina, I, pl. iv, 1754.
  _Falco forficatus_, LINN. Syst. Nat. I, 89, 1758. _Falco furcatus_,
  LINN. Syst. Nat. p. 129, 1766.—PENN. Arct. Zoöl. p. 210, No. 108,
  pl. x.—GMEL. Syst. Nat. p. 262. _Nauclerus forficatus_, RIDGWAY,
  P. A. N. S. Phil. Dec. 1870, 144.—DAUD. Tr. Orn. II, 152.—SHAW,
  Nat. Misc. pl. cciv; Zoöl. VII, 107.—WILS. Am. Orn. pl. li, f. 3,
  1808.—AUD. Birds Am. pl. 72, 1831; Orn. Biog. I, 368; V, 371.—BONAP.
  Ann. Lyc. N. Y. II, 31; Isis, 1832, 1138. _Milvus furcatus_, VIEILL.
  Ois. Am. Sept. pl. x, 1807. _Elanoides furcatus_, GRAY, List B. Brit.
  Mus. p. 44, 1844.—STRICKL. Orn. Syn. I, 141, 1855.—OWEN, Ibis, II,
  1860, 240 (habits). _Nauclerus furcatus_, VIG. Zoöl. Journ. II, 387;
  Isis, 1830, p. 1043.—LESS. Man. Orn. I, 101; Tr. Orn. p. 73.—SWAINS.
  Classif. B. I, 312; II, 210, 1837.—BONAP. List, p. 4; Cat. Ucc. Eur.
  p. 20; Consp. Av. p. 21.—GOULD, B. Eur. pl. xxx.—AUD. Synop. p. 14,
  1839.—RICH. Schomb. Reis. Brit. Guian. p. 735.—DE KAY, Zoöl. N. Y. II,
  p. 12, pl. vii, f. 15.—GRAY, Gen. B. fol. sp. 1, pl. ix, f. 9; Gen. &
  Subgen. Brit. Mus. p. 6.—BREW. (WILS.) Synop. Am. Orn. p. 685.—WOODH.
  Sitgr. Exp. Zuñi & Colorado, p. 60.—KAUP, Monog. Falconidæ, Cont. Orn.
  1850, p. 57.—BREWER, Oölogy, I, 1857, 38.—CASS. Birds N. Am. 1858,
  36.—COUES, Prod. Orn. Ariz. 1866, p. 12.—DRESSER, Ibis, 1865, 525
  (Texas, nesting).—GRAY, Hand List, I, 27, 1869. _Elanus furcatus_,
  VIG. Zoöl. Journ. I, 340.—STEPH. Zoöl. XIII, pl. ii, p. 49.—CUV. Règ.
  An. (ed. 2), I, p. 334.—JAMES. (WILS.) Am. Orn. I, 75.—JARD. (WILS.)
  Am. Orn. II, 275.—JARD. Orn. Eur. p. 29.—NUTT. Man. p. 94. _Accipiter
  milvus carolinensis_, BRISS. Orn. I, 418, 1760. _Elanoides yetapa_,
  VIEILL. Enc. Méth. III, 1205, 1823.

SP. CHAR. _Adult_, _male_ and _female_. Whole head and neck, lining of
wings, broad band across the rump, and entire lower parts, pure white.
Interscapulars and lesser wing-coverts, rich, dark, soft, bronzed
purplish-black. Rest of upper parts, including lower part of rump,
upper tail-coverts, and tail, more metallic slaty-black, feathers
somewhat greenish basally, more bluish terminally, with a peculiar,
soft milky appearance, and with very smooth compact surface. Tertials
almost entirely white, black only at tips. White on under side of wing
occupying all the coverts, and the basal half of the secondaries.
Wing, 15.40–17.70; tail, 12.50–14.50; tarsus, 1.00–1.30; middle toe,

_Younger._ Similar, but with the beautiful soft purplish-bronzed
black of shoulders and back less conspicuously different from the
more metallic tints of other upper parts. _Young_ (youngest? 18,457,
Cantonment Burgwyn, New Mexico). The black above less slaty, with
a brownish cast, and with a quite decided gloss of bottle-green;
secondaries, primary coverts, primaries, and tail-feathers finely
margined terminally with white. Feathers of the head and neck with fine
shaft-lines of black.

HAB. Whole of South and Middle America, and southern United States;
very rarely northward on Atlantic coast to Pennsylvania; along the
Mississippi Valley to Minnesota and Wisconsin; breeding in Iowa (Sioux
City) and Illinois; exceedingly abundant in August in southern portion
of the latter State; Cuba; accidental in England.

Localities: Guatemala (SCL. Ibis. I, 217); Cuba (CAB. Journ. II,
lxxxiii); Brazil (CAB. Journ. V, 41); Panama (LAWR. VII, 1861, 289); N.
Texas (DRESSER, Ibis, 1865, 325, common, breeding); Veragua (SALV. 1867,
158); Costa Rica (LAWR. IX, 134); Minnesota (thirty miles north of Mille
Lac, lat. 47°; TRIPPE, Birds of Minn., Pr. Essex Inst. VI, 1871, p.

A pair marked as from England (56,099, ♀, and 56,100, ♂, “_in England
geschossen_”; Schlüter Collection) are smaller than the average of
American skins, the female measuring, wing, 15.50; tail, 13.00. The
colors of this female, however, are as in American examples. The male
has the plumage somewhat different from anything we have seen in the
small series of American specimens. The whole upper parts are a polished
violaceous slaty-black, this covering the back and lesser wing-coverts,
as well as other upper parts. Were a large series of American specimens
examined, individuals might perhaps be found corresponding in all
respects with the pair in question.


National Museum, 9; Philadelphia Academy, 3; New York Museum, 4
(Brazil); Boston Society, 1; Cambridge Museum, 2; Cab. G. N. Lawrence,
3; Coll. R. Ridgway, 1. Total, 23.

[Illustration: _Nauclerus forficatus._]

HABITS. The Swallow-tailed Hawk has an extended distribution in the
eastern portion of North America. It is irregularly distributed; in
a large part of the country it occurs only occasionally and in small
numbers, and is probably nowhere abundant except in the southwestern
Gulf States, or along the rivers and inland waters. On the Atlantic
coast it has been traced, according to Mr. Lawrence, as far north as
New York City. According to Mr. Nuttall, individuals have been seen
on the Mississippi as far as St. Anthony’s Falls, in latitude 44°.
It is found more or less common along the tributaries of the Ohio
and Mississippi, where it is essentially a prairie bird, and breeds
in Southern Wisconsin, in Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas, and throughout
Illinois. It has been taken in Cuba, and occasionally also in Jamaica.
It is found in Central America, and in South America to Northern Brazil,
Buenos Ayres, and, according to Vieillot, to Peru. It nests in South
Carolina and in all the States that border on the Gulf of Mexico,
frequenting the banks of rivers, but is not found near the seaboard.

Mr. Thure Kumlien noticed a pair of these Hawks in the neighborhood of
Fort Atkinson, Wis., in the summer of 1854, and had no doubt they were
breeding, though he was not able to find their nest.

Mr. Osbert Salvin, in a letter from San Geronimo, in the Vera Paz (Ibis,
1860, p. 195), states that he has positive information that this Hawk
breeds in the mountains about Coban, his chief collector having found a
nest there with young the previous year. Specimens had been before that
received by Mr. Sclater, forwarded by Mr. Skinner, from the neighborhood
of Cajabon, Guatemala. It was said to be more numerous at Belize.

Mr. Dresser informs us that he was so fortunate as to find this graceful
bird very abundant in some parts of Texas, and he had a good opportunity
of observing and admiring it in its true home. It was occasional about
San Antonio de Bexar, where it was usually seen late in July before
heavy rains. Near the Rio Grande or in Texas he did not see it at all.
At Peach Creek and near Gonzales he found it not unfrequent; and on
the Colorado, Brazos, and Trinity Rivers it was one of the most common
birds. It only remains there during the summer months, arriving early
in April, and breeding later than the other birds of prey. On the 26th
of May he found them very abundant on a creek near the Colorado, but
none had commenced breeding. They were preparing their nests; and, from
the number he saw about one large grove, he judged that they breed in
society. On his wounding one of them, the rest came flying over his head
in the manner of Seagulls, uttering harsh cries; and he counted forty or
fifty over him at one time. He was informed that these Kites build high
up in oak, sycamore, or cottonwood trees, sometimes quite far from the

Mr. Dresser describes this bird as exhibiting a singularly pleasing
appearance on the wing, gliding in large circles, without apparent
effort, in very rapid flight. The tail is widely spread, and when
sailing in circles the wings are almost motionless. One was noticed
as it was hunting after grasshoppers. It went over the ground as
carefully as a well-trained pointer, every now and then stooping to
pick up a grasshopper, the feet and bill seeming to touch the insect
simultaneously. They were very fond of wasp grubs, and would carry a
nest to a high perch, hold it in one claw, and sit there picking out the
grubs. Their stomachs were found to contain beetles and grasshoppers.

Dr. Woodhouse speaks of this Hawk as common in Texas, and also in the
country of the Creek and Cherokee nations. He confirms the accounts
which have been received of its fondness for the neighborhood of
streams, and adds that along the Arkansas and its tributaries it was
very abundant.

Mr. Ridgway states that this Hawk arrives in Richland County, Ill., in
May, and lives during the summer on the small prairies, feeding there
upon small snakes, particularly the little green snake (_Leptophis
æstivus_) and the different species of _Eutænia_. It builds its
nest there among the oak or hickory trees which border the streams
intersecting the prairies. Towards the latter part of summer it becomes
very abundant on the prairies, being attracted by the abundance of
food, which at that season consists very largely of insects, especially
_Neuroptera_. It is most abundant in August, and in bright weather
dozens of them may be seen at a time sailing round in pursuit of

Mr. Audubon speaks of the movements of this bird in flight as
astonishingly rapid, the deep curves they describe, their sudden
doublings and crossings, and the extreme ease with which they seem
to cleave the air, never failing to excite admiration. In the States
of Louisiana and Mississippi, where, he adds, these birds are very
abundant, they arrive in large companies in the beginning of April, and
utter a sharp and plaintive note. They all come from the westward; and
he has counted upwards of a hundred, in the space of an hour, passing
over him in an easterly direction. They feed on the wing, and their
principal food is said to be grasshoppers, caterpillars, small snakes,
lizards, and frogs. They sweep over the fields, and seem to alight for
a moment to secure a snake or some other object. They also frequent the
creeks, to pick up water-snakes basking on the floating logs.

On the ground their movements are said to be awkward in the extreme.
When wounded, they rarely strike with their talons, or offer serious
resistance. They never attack other birds or quadrupeds to prey upon

This Hawk is a great wanderer, and a number of instances are on record
of its having been taken in Europe. One of these was in Scotland, in
1772; another in England, in 1805.

Mr. R. Owen (Ibis, 1860, p. 241), while travelling from Coban to San
Geronimo, in Guatemala, among the mountains, came suddenly upon a large
flock of two or three hundred of these Hawks, which were pursuing and
preying upon a swarm of bees. At times they passed within four or five
yards of him. Every now and then the neck was observed to be bent slowly
and gracefully, bringing the head quite under the body. At the same time
the foot, with the talons contracted as if grasping some object, would
be brought forward to meet the beak. The beak was then seen to open and
to close again, and then the head was again raised and the foot thrown
back. This movement was repeatedly observed, and it was quite clear to
him that the birds were preying upon the bees.

This Hawk constructs its nest on tall trees, usually overhanging or
near running water. The nest is like that of the Crow in its general
appearance. It is constructed externally of dry twigs and sticks,
intermixed with which are great quantities of the long Spanish moss
peculiar to the Southern States, and lined with dry grasses, leaves, and
feathers. One found by Dr. C. Kollock, of Cheraw, S. C., in May, 1855,
containing young, was on a large tree, not near the trunk, but on one of
the projecting branches, and difficult of approach.

The eggs are described by Mr. Audubon as from four to six in number,
of a greenish-white color, with a few irregular blotches of dark brown
at the larger end. The drawing of an egg, obtained by Dr. Trudeau
in Louisiana, and which was made by that gentleman, is very nearly
spheroidal, and its measurements are, length 1.75 inches, breadth 1.56.
It corresponds with Mr. Audubon’s description of the egg of this Hawk.

An egg in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution, taken in Iowa
by Mr. Krider, does not correspond very well with the description and
figure mentioned. It measures 1.80 in length by 1.40 in breadth; its
form is very regularly oval, both ends being of nearly the same shape.
The ground-color is a creamy white, one end (the smaller) splashed
with large confluent blotches of ferruginous, and the remainder of the
surface more sparsely spotted with the same; these rusty blotches are
relieved by smaller, sparser spots of very dark brown.

Dr. Cooper, in a letter dated Sioux City, May 21, 1860, mentions finding
the nest of this Hawk in a high tree in Northwestern Iowa, latitude 41°
30′. The bird had not begun to lay.


  _Elanus_, SAV. 1809. (Type, _Falco melanopterus_, DAUDIN.)
  _Milans_, BOIE, 1822.

GEN. CHAR. Bill rather small and narrow, the tip normal; commissure
moderately sinuated; upper outline of lower mandible greatly arched,
the height at base less than half that through middle; gonys almost
straight, declining downward toward tip. Nostril roundish, in middle
of cere. Tarsus and toes (except terminal joint) covered with small
roundish scales; under surface of claws just perceptibly flattened;
sharp lateral ridge on middle claw very prominent; a very slight
membrane between outer and middle toes. Second quill longest, third very
slightly shorter; first just exceeding fourth; second and third with
outer webs slightly sinuated; inner web of first emarginated, of second
sinuated. Tail peculiar, emarginated, but the lateral feather much
shorter than the middle, the one next to it being the longest.


  =5895.= ½
  =5895.= ½
  =5895.= ¼

_Elanus leucurus._]

The species of this well-marked genus are confined to the tropical and
subtropical portions of the world, and appear to be only two in number,
of which one is cosmopolitan, and the other peculiar to the Old World.

Species and Races.

  COMMON CHARACTERS. Above pearly ash, becoming white or whitish on the
  head and tail, with a large black patch covering the lesser-covert
  region. Lower surface continuous pure white; a black spot on front of,
  and partly around, the eye.

    1. =E. leucurus.= A large black patch on the lining of the wing, in
    the region of the primary coverts. First quill very much shorter
    than the third; second quill longest.

      Black patch on lining of the wing restricted to the primary
      coverts; lesser coverts, on outer surface, not conspicuously
      bordered anteriorly with white.

        Above deep bluish-ash, with the inner webs of the secondaries
        appreciably paler, sometimes abruptly white. Wing, 11.60–12.65;
        tail, 6.80–7.80; culmen, .65–.80; tarsus, 1.20–1.50; middle toe,
        .94–1.20. _Hab._ Tropical and subtropical America …

                                                        var. _leucurus_.

        Above pale ash, with the inner webs of the secondaries
        hardly, or not at all, appreciably paler than the outer.
        Wing, 11.00–12.50; tail, 6.20–7.00; culmen, .70–.77; tarsus,
        1.10–1.66; middle toe, 1.05–1.08. _Hab._ Western Australia …

                                                   var. _axillaris_.[71]

      Black patch on the lining of the wing extending over the whole of
      the lesser coverts; lesser coverts, on the outside, conspicuously
      bordered anteriorly with white.

        Similar to var. _axillaris_, except as above. Wing, 11.75–12.30;
        tail, 6.30–7.00; culmen, .75–.80; tarsus, 1.10–1.40; middle toe,
        1.15–1.25. _Hab._ Southern Australia …

                                                    var. _scriptus_.[72]

    2. =E. cæruleus.= No black on lining of the wing. First quill
    usually longer than the third, never very much shorter; second
    longest. Colors darker than in _E. leucurus_.

      Wing, 12.00; tail, 6.10; culmen, .75; tarsus, 1.25; middle toe,
      1.20. No ashy tinge on side of breast. _Hab._ Southern Europe and
      North Africa …

                                                    var. _cæruleus_.[73]

      Wing, 9.50–10.70; tail, 5.40–5.75; culmen, .65–.70; tarsus,
      1.05–1.10; middle toe, 1.00–1.10. Sides of the breast strongly
      tinged with ashy. _Hab._ Southern Africa and India …

                                                       var. _minor_.[74]

Elanus leucurus (VIEILLOT).


  _Milvus leucurus_, VIEILL. Nouv. Dict. Hist. Nat. XX, 556, 1816; Enc.
  Méth. III, 1205, 1823. _Elanoides leucurus_, VIEILL. Enc. Méth. III,
  1205, 1823. _Elanus leucurus_, BONAP. Eur. & N. Am. Birds, p. 4, 1838;
  Consp. Av. p. 22, 1850.—GRAY, Gen. B. fol. sp. 4, 1844; List B. Brit.
  Mus. p. 46, 1844.—RICH. SCHOMB. Reis. Brit. Guiana, p. 735.—CASS. B.
  Cal. & Tex. p. 106, 1854; Birds N. Am. 1858, 37.—KAUP, Monog. Falc.
  Cont. Orn. 1850, p. 60.—HEERM. P. R. R. Rept. VII, 31, 1857.—COOP. &
  SUCK. P. R. R. Rept. XII, ii, 149, 1860.—COUES, Prod. Orn. Ariz. p.
  12, 1866.—STRICKL. Orn. Syn. I, 138, 1855.—GRAY, Hand List, I, 28,
  1869. _Falco melanopterus_, BONAP. Journ. Ac. Phil. V, 28; Ann. Lyc.
  N. Y. II, 31; Isis, 1832, p. 1137. _Milvus dispar_, LESS. Man. Orn.
  I, 99, 1828. _Falco dispar_, BONAP. Am. Orn. pl. xi, f. 1, 1825; Ann.
  Lyc. N. Y. II, 435.—AUD. Am. B. pls. cccli, ccclvii; Orn. Biog. IV,
  367, 1831.—TEMM. pl. cl. 319 (_Juv._).—JAMES. (WILS.) Am. Orn. IV. 13,
  1831. _Elanus dispar_, CUV. Reg. An. (ed. 2), I, 334, 1829.—LESS. Tr.
  Orn. p. 72, 1831.—JARD. (WILS.) Am. Orn. III, 378, 1832.—BRIDG. Proc.
  Zoöl. Soc. pt. ii, p. 109; Ann. Nat. Hist. XIII, 500.—AUD. Syn. B. p.
  13, 1831.—BREW. (WILS.) Synop. p. 685, 1852.—NUTT. Man. p. 93, 1833.
  _E. leucurus_, BREWER, Oölogy.

SP. CHAR. _Adult._ Upper surface, including occiput, nape,
interscapulars, scapulars, rump, upper tail-coverts, and wings
(except lesser and middle coverts), soft, delicate, rather light
bluish-cinereous, becoming gradually white on anterior portion of the
head above. Rest of the head, with the tail, lining of the wing, and
entire lower parts, pure white, sometimes with a very faint tinge of
pale pearl-blue, laterally beneath; two middle tail-feathers ashy, but
much lighter than the rump; shafts of tail-feathers black, except toward
ends. Bristly loral feathers (forming ante-orbital spot, extending
narrowly above the eye), a very large patch on the shoulder, covering
lesser and middle wing-coverts, and large quadrate spot on under side
of wing (on first row of primary coverts), deep black. Under side of
primaries deep cinereous (darker than outer surface); under surface of
secondaries nearly white. Second quill longest; third scarcely shorter
(sometimes equal, or even longest); first longer than fourth. Tail
slightly emarginated, the longest feather (next to outer) being about
.50 longer than the middle, and .60 (or more) longer than the lateral,
which is shortest.

_Male._ Wing, 12.50; tail, 7.10; tarsus, 1.20; middle toe, 1.15.

_Female._ Wing, 12.80; tail, 7.10; tarsus, 1.45; middle toe, 1.35.

Specimens not perfectly adult have the primary coverts, secondaries, and
inner primaries, slightly tipped with white.

Still younger individuals have these white tips broader, the tail more
ashy, and the upper parts with numerous feathers dull brown, tipped
narrowly with white; the breast with sparse longitudinal touches of

_Young_ (♀, 48,826, Santiago, Chile, May, 1866; Dr. Philippi). Occiput
and nape thickly marked with broad streaks of dusky, tinged with rusty;
scapulars umber-brown, tipped with rusty; all the feathers of wings
narrowly tipped with white; tail-feathers with a subterminal irregular
bar of dark ashy; breast tinged with rufous, and with badly defined
cuneate spots of deeper rusty. Wing, 12.25; tail, 7.50. (Perhaps not the
youngest stage.)

HAB. Tropical and warm temperate America (except the West Indies), from
Chile and Buenos Ayres to Florida, South Carolina, Southern Illinois,
and California; winter resident in latter State.

Localities: Xalapa (SCL. 1857, 201); Guatemala (SCL. Ibis, I, 220);
Brazil (PELZ. Orn. Bras. I, 6); Buenos Ayres (SCL. & SALV. 1869, 160);
Venezuela (SCL. & SALV. 1869, 252).

Specimens are from Santa Clara, California, Fort Arbuckle, Mirador and
Orizaba, Mexico, Chile, and Buenos Ayres; from all points the same bird.

This species presents a very close resemblance to the _E. melanopterus_
of Europe, and the most evident specific difference can only be detected
by raising the wing, the under side of which is quite different in the
two, there being in the European bird no trace whatever of the black
patch so conspicuous in the American species. The primaries, also, on
both webs are lighter ash, while the ash of the upper parts in general
is darker than in _leucurus_ and invades more the head above, the
forehead merely approaching white. The tail is more deeply emarginated,
and the proportions of the primaries are quite different, the second
being much longer than the third, and the first nearly as long as the
second, far exceeding the third, instead of being about equal to the
fourth. In the _melanopterus_, too, the black borders the eye all round,
extending back in a short streak from the posterior angle, instead
of being restricted to the anterior region and upper eyelid, as in

A specimen of “_E. axillaris_” from Australia (13,844, T. R. Peale)
appears, except upon close examination, to be absolutely identical
in all the minutiæ of coloration, and in the wing-formula, with _E.
leucurus_; and differs only very slightly in the measurements of bill
and feet, having these proportionally larger, as will be seen from the
table. Another (32,577, H. Mactier Warfield) has the upper parts so pale
as to be nearly white.

A young specimen of _E. axillaris_ differs from that of _E. leucurus_ as
follows: the occiput, nape, and dorsal region are stained or overlaid by
dull ashy-rufous, instead of dark brownish-ashy; more blackish on the
head. No other differences are appreciable.

A very characteristic distinction between _leucurus_ and _axillaris_
is seen in the coloration of the inner webs of the secondaries: in the
former, they are abruptly lighter than the outer webs, often pure white,
in very striking contrast to the deep ash of the outer surface; in the
latter, both webs are of about the same shade of ash, which is much
paler than in the other race. Occasional specimens of _leucurus_ occur,
however, in which there is little difference in tint between the two


National Museum, 10; Philadelphia Academy, 2; New York Museum, 2; Boston
Society, 4; Cambridge Museum, 2; Cab. G. N. Lawrence, 2; Coll. R.
Ridgway, 2. Total, 24.


 |Sex.|   Wing.   |   Tail.   | Culmen. | Tarsus. |Middle Toe.|Specimens.|
 | ♂  |11.80–12.50|  7.30–7.60|  .66–.80|1.30–1.50|  1.00–1.15|    8     |
 | ♀  |11.60–12.65|  7.20–7.80|  .70–.72|1.25–1.40|  1.10–1.20|    8     |

HABITS. The Black-shouldered Hawk is a southern, western, and South
American species. On the Pacific it is found to occupy a much more
northern range of locality than in the eastern States, where it is not
found above South Carolina and Southern Illinois. Specimens have been
taken near San Francisco in midwinter.

Several individuals of this species, precisely identical with others
from the United States, were taken by Lieutenant Gilliss, in the
astronomical expedition to Chile. Its range in South America does
not appear to be confined, as was supposed, to the western coast,
as specimens are recorded by Von Pelzeln as having been obtained by
Natterer in Brazil, at Ytarare, Irisanga, and San Joaquin, on the Rio
Branco, in August, February, and January. These were taken on the
heights. They are also found in the countries of Mexico and Central

[Illustration: _Elanus leucurus._]

This species has been met with in South Carolina, Georgia, Florida,
Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, and probably occurs also
in New Mexico and Arizona. Dr. Gambel describes them as very abundant
in California, where they are said to be familiar in their habits, and
breed in clumps of oaks, in the immediate vicinity of habitations. Dr.
Heermann also speaks of them as common in that State. But neither of
these naturalists appears to have met with their nests or eggs. It is
not mentioned either as a bird of Cuba or Jamaica by Mr. Lembeye, Dr.
Gundlach, Mr. Gosse, or Mr. March.

Dr. Cooper speaks of this bird as a beautiful and harmless species,
quite abundant in the middle districts of California, remaining in
large numbers, during winter, among the extensive tulé marshes of the
Sacramento and other valleys. He did not meet with any during winter at
Fort Mohave, nor do they seem to have been collected by any one in the
dry interior of that State, nor in the southern part of California. He
has met with them as far north as Baulines Bay, and near Monterey, but
always about streams or marshes. Their food consisted entirely of mice,
gophers, small birds, and snakes, and they were not known to attack the
inmates of the poultry-yard.

Bonaparte, who first introduced the species into our fauna, received his
specimen from East Florida. The late Dr. Ravenel obtained one living
near Charleston, S. C., which he kept several days without being able to
induce it to eat. Mr. Audubon received another, taken forty miles west
of Charleston by Mr. Francis Lee. This gentleman, as quoted by Audubon,
mentioned its sailing very beautifully, and quite high in the air, over
a wet meadow, in pursuit of snipe. It would poise itself in the manner
of the common Sparrow Hawk, and, suddenly closing its wings, plunge
towards its prey with great velocity, making a peculiar sound with its
wings as it passed through the air. Its cries on being wounded resembled
those of the Mississippi Kite. It was so shy that Mr. Lee was only able
to approach it on horseback.

Audubon states that Mr. Ward, his assistant, found this species breeding
on the Santee River early in the month of March. Their nests were
said to be placed on low trees near the margin of the river, and to
be not unlike those of the common Crow, but without the substantial
lining of its nests. Mr. Ward also mentioned seeing them flying over
the cane-brakes, in pursuit of large insects, in the manner of the
Mississippi Kite, and finding the birds very shy.

In Southern Illinois it has been known to occur as far north as Mount
Carmel, where Mr. Ridgway saw a pair in July, flying about among the
dead trees bordering a lagoon near the Wabash River.

Mr. Audubon, in his visit to Texas, saw several of these birds flying at
a small elevation over the large marshes, and coursing in search of its
prey in the manner of the common Marsh Harrier.

Dr. Heermann found the extensive marshes of Suisun, Napa, and Sacramento
Valleys the favorite resorts of these birds, especially during the
winter, and there they seemed to find a plentiful supply of insects and
mice. They ranged over their feeding-grounds in small flocks from a
single pair up to six or seven. He fell in with an isolated couple in
the mountains between Elizabeth Lake and Williamson’s Pass, hovering
over a small freshwater marsh. In July and August the young were quite
abundant, from which Dr. Heermann inferred that it does not migrate for
the purposes of incubation. Dr. Gambel, who procured his specimens at
the Mission of St. John, near Monterey, describes it as flying low and
circling over the plains in the manner of a _Circus_, and as feeding
on the small birds. It was easy of approach when perched on trees, and
uttered a loud shrill cry when wounded, and fought viciously.

Lieutenant Gilliss, who found them in Chile, describes the nest as
composed of small sticks, and states that the number of the eggs is from
four to six, and that they are of a dirty yellowish-white with brownish
spots. The common name of this Hawk in Chile is _Bailarin_ (from the
verb _bailar_, to dance or balance), from the graceful and easy manner
in which it seems almost to float upward or to sink in the air.

An egg of this species, in the collection of the Boston Society of
Natural History, measures 1.64 inches in length by 1.48 in breadth. In
shape it is very nearly spherical, and equally obtuse at either end. The
ground-color, though nowhere very distinctly apparent, appears to be of
a dull white, strongly tinged with a reddish hue. Distributed over the
entire egg are broad deep flashes of a dark mahogany-brown, intermingled
with others of a similar color, but lighter in shading. These cover the
egg more or less completely, in the greater portion of its surface. This
egg was taken near Fort Arbuckle, Indian Territory, May 9, 1861, by
J. H. Clark, Esq., and sent to the Smithsonian Institution.


  _Ictinia_, VIEILL. 1816. (Type, _Falco mississippiensis_, WILSON.)
  _Nertus_, BOIE, 1826. (Type, _Falco plumbea_, GMELIN.)
  _Pœcilopteryx_, KAUP, 1844. (Same type.)

[Illustration: ♂ =1485=, R. R. ½

_Ictinia mississippiensis._]

[Illustration: ♂ =1486=, R. R. ¼

_Ictinia mississippiensis._]


  =32974=, ♀. ½
  =32974=, ♀. ½
  =32974=, ♀. ¼

_I. plumbea._]

GEN. CHAR. Form falcon-like; the neck short, wings long, and pointed,
the primaries and rectrices strong and stiff, and the organization
robust. Bill short and deep, the commissure irregularly toothed, and
notched; gonys very convex, ascending terminally; cere narrow; nostril
very small, nearly circular; feet small, but robust; tarsus about equal
to middle toe, with a distinct frontal series of broad transverse
scutellæ; claws rather short, but strongly curved, slightly grooved
beneath, their edges sharp. Third quill longest; first of variable
proportion with the rest. Tail moderate, the feathers wide, broader
terminally, and emarginated.

This genus is peculiar to America, the two most closely related genera
being _Elanus_ on the one hand and _Harpagus_ on the other. Its species
belong to the tropical and subtropical regions, one of them (_I.
plumbea_) generally distributed throughout the intertropical portions,
the other (_I. mississippiensis_) peculiar to Mexico and the southern
United States.

In their habits, they are very aerial, like the genus _Nauclerus_,
sailing for the greater time in broad circles overhead, occasionally
performing graceful evolutions as they gyrate about. Like _Nauclerus_,
they are also partially gregarious, and, like it, feed chiefly on
insects and small reptiles, which they eat while flying.


  COMMON CHARACTERS. _Adult._ Uniform plumbeous, becoming lighter
  (whitish) on the head, and darker (blackish) on the primaries and
  tail. Inner webs of primaries with more or less rufous. _Young._
  Beneath whitish, striped longitudinally with brownish; above much
  variegated: tail with several narrow whitish bands.

    1. =I. mississippiensis.= _Adult._ Wings lighter than the tail, the
    secondaries hoary whitish; inner webs of primaries with only obscure
    spots of rufous, the outer webs with a very obscure stripe of the
    same. Tail wholly black. _Young._ Stripes beneath reddish-umber;
    lower tail-coverts with longitudinal shaft-streaks of the same.
    Second to third quills longest; first shorter than seventh and
    longer than sixth. Wing, 10.60–12.30; tail, 6.00–7.00; culmen,
    .60–.65; tarsus, 1.30–1.55; middle toe, 1.00–1.10. _Hab._ Prairies
    and savannas of the southern United States and Northern Mexico, from
    Wisconsin and Georgia to Mirador.

    2. =I. plumbea.=[75] _Adult._ Wing concolor with the tail, the
    secondaries black; inner webs of the primaries almost wholly
    rufous; outer webs with only a trace of rufous. Tail with about
    three bands of pure white, formed by transverse spots on the inner
    webs. _Young._ Stripes beneath brownish-black; lower tail-coverts
    transversely spotted with the same; upper parts darker. Third quill
    longest; first shorter or longer than the seventh. Tail more nearly
    square. Wing, 10.50–12.20; tail, 5.60–6.80; culmen, .62–.70; tarsus,
    1.15–1.50; middle toe, 1.00–1.05. _Hab._ Tropical America, from
    Paraguay to Southern Mexico.

Ictinia mississippiensis (WILSON).


  _Falco mississippiensis_, WILS. Am. Orn. pl. 25, f. 1, 1808.—LATH.
  Gen. Hist. I, 275.—JAMES. (WILS.) Am. Orn. I, 72, 1831. _Nertus
  mississippiensis_, BOIE, Isis, 1828, 314. _Milvus mississippiensis_,
  CUV. Règ. An. (ed. 2), I, 335, 1829. _Ictinia mississippiensis_, GRAY,
  Gen. B. fol. sp. 2; List B. Brit. Mus. p. 48, 1844; Gen. & Sub-Gen.
  Brit. Mus. p. 6, 1855.—CASS. B. Cal. & Tex. p. 106, 1854.—KAUP,
  Ueb. Falk. Mus. Senck. p. 258, 1845; Monog. Falc. Cont. Orn. 1850,
  p. 57.—STRICKL. Orn. Syn. I, 140, 1855.—BREWER, Oölogy, I, 1857,
  41.—COUES, Prod. Orn. Ariz. p. 13, 1866.—DRESSER, Ibis, 1865, 327
  (Texas).—GRAY, Hand List, I, 28, 1869. _Falco plumbeus_, AUD. Orn.
  Biog. II, 108, pl. cxvii; V, p. 374, 1831. _Ictinia plumbea_, BONAP.
  Eur. & N. Am. B. p. 4, 1838; Ann. N. Y. Lyc. II, 30; Isis, 1832, p.
  1137.—JARD. (WILS.) Am. Orn. I, 368, pl. 25, f. 1, 1832.—BREW. (WILS.)
  Synop. 685, 1852.—AUD. Synop. B. Am. p. 14, 1839.—WOODH. (Sitgr.) Exp.
  Zuñi & Colorad. p. 61, 1853.—NUTT. Man. 92, 1833.

SP. CHAR. _Adult male_ (No. 1,486, Coll. R. Ridgway, Richland Co.,
Ill., August 19, 1871). Head, neck, secondaries, and entire lower parts
plumbeous-ash, becoming, by a gradual transition, lighter on the head
and secondaries, where the shade is pale cinereous; the head anteriorly,
and the tips of the secondaries, being silvery-white. Lores and eyelids
black. Rest of the plumage dark plumbeous, approaching plumbeous-black
on the lesser wing-coverts, primaries, and upper tail-coverts, the tail
being nearly pure black. Primaries with an indistinct narrow concealed
stripe of chestnut-rufous on the outer webs, and larger spots of the
same on the inner webs; feathers of the head, neck, and lower parts
abruptly pure white beneath the surface, this showing in partially
exposed spots on the pectoral region and crissum. Scapulars also with
large concealed white spots. Shafts of primaries and tail-feathers black
on both sides. Wing-formula, 3, 2–4–5–6, 1. First primary angularly,
the second concavely, emarginated. Tail emarginated, lateral feather
longest; depth of fork, .40. Wing, 11.75; tail, 6.80; culmen, .63;
tarsus, 1.20; middle toe, 1.15.

_Adult female_ (No. 1,487, Coll. Ridgway, Richland Co., Ill., August 19,
1871). Similar to the male, but head and secondaries decidedly darker,
hardly approaching light ash; scarcely any trace of rufous on the
primaries, none at all on outer webs; shafts of tail-feathers white on
under side. Wing, 11.80; tail, 7.25. Bill, cere, eyelids, and interior
of mouth, deep black; iris deep lake-red; rictus orange-red; tarsi and
toes pinkish orange-red; lower part of tarsus and large scutellæ of toes
dusky. (Notes from fresh specimens, the ones above described.)

_Immature male_ (transition plumage; 1,488, Coll. Ridgway, Richland Co.,
Ill., August 21, 1871.) Similar to the adult female, but the white spots
on basal portion of pectoral and crissal feathers distinctly exposed;
secondaries not lighter than rest of the wing. Tail-feathers with
angular white spots extending quite across the inner webs, producing
three distinct transverse bands when viewed from below. Inner web of
outer primary mostly white anterior to the emargination. Wing, 10.50;
tail, 6.25. Color of bill, etc., as in the adult, but interior of mouth
whitish, and the iris less pure carmine.

_Immature female_ (Coll. Philadelphia Academy, Red Fork of the Arkansas,
1850; Dr. Woodhouse). Similar to the last. Wing, 11.10; tail, 6.31.

_Young female_ (first plumage; Coll. Philadelphia Academy, North
Fork Canadian River, September 19, 1851; Dr. Woodhouse). Head, neck,
and lower parts white, with a yellowish tinge; this most perceptible
on the tibiæ. Each feather with a medial longitudinal ovate spot of
blackish-brown; more reddish on the lower parts. The chin, throat, and
a broad superciliary stripe, are immaculate white. Lower tail-coverts
each with a medial acuminate spot of rusty, the shaft black. Upper
parts brownish-black; wing-coverts, scapulars, and interscapulars,
feathers of the rump, and the upper tail-coverts, narrowly bordered
with ochraceous-white, and with concealed quadrate spots of the same;
primary coverts, secondaries, and primaries sharply bordered terminally
with pure white. Tail black (faintly whitish at the tip), with three
(exposed) obscure bands of a more slaty tint; this changing to white on
the inner webs, in the form of angular spots forming the bands. Lining
of the wing pale ochraceous, transversely spotted with rusty rufous;
under primary-coverts with transverse spots of white. Wing, 11.90; tail,

HAB. Central Mexico and Southern United States; common as far north as
Georgia (accidental in Pennsylvania, VINCENT BARNARD), on the Atlantic
coast, and Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin, in the Mississippi Valley.
Exceedingly abundant summer bird on the prairies of Southern Illinois.

Localities: Coban (SALVIN, Ibis, III, 1861, 355); E. and N. Texas
(DRESSER, Ibis, 1865, 327); Chester Co., Pa. (breeds; BARNARD.)


National Museum, 6; Philadelphia Academy, 4; New York Museum, 1;
Cambridge Museum, 1; Cab. G. N. Lawrence, 1; R. Ridgway, 3. Total, 16.


 |Sex.|   Wing.   |   Tail.   | Culmen. | Tarsus. |Middle Toe.|Specimens.|
 | ♂  |10.60–11.85|  6.00–6.80|  .60–.65|1.35–1.55|  1.00–1.10|    6     |
 | ♀  |11.30–12.30|  6.50–7.00|  .60–.65|1.30–1.40|  1.00–1.05|    5     |

HABITS. This Hawk appears to be confined to the extreme southern and
southwestern portion of the Gulf States. It is not known to occur
farther north than South Carolina on the Atlantic, though on the
Mississippi it has been traced much farther north. It is most abundant
about the Mississippi. It was first discovered by Wilson near Natchez,
where he found it quite abundant. Mr. Say afterwards observed it far
up the Mississippi, at one of Major Long’s cantonments. On Captain
Sitgreave’s expedition to the Zuñi and Colorado Rivers, it was found
to be exceedingly abundant in Eastern Texas, as well as in the Indian
Territory, more particularly on the Arkansas River and its tributaries.

Dresser states that he found this Hawk by no means an unfrequent bird
in Texas, and generally in the same localities with the _Nauclerus
forficatus_. It was not very common near San Antonio, but was
occasionally found, and even breeds there, as he procured both the old
and the young birds during the summer. In travelling eastward in the
month of May, he first noticed them near the Rio Colorado, and was told
by the negroes on one of the plantations that they were then nesting. On
the 20th of May he shot a female on the banks of that river, from which
he extracted a fully formed egg. It was almost round, and rather large
for the size of the bird. Eastward from the Colorado he also saw this
Hawk quite often.

[Illustration: _Ictinia mississippiensis._]

Though the species, no doubt, occurs in Mexico, Mr. Sclater states
that all the Mexican _Ictiniæ_ which he has seen, collected by Sallè,
Boucard, and others, have belonged to _I. plumbea_ (Ibis, 1860, p. 104).
A single specimen from Coban, Central America, was obtained by Mr.
Salvin, but _I. plumbea_ was by far the most common species of _Ictinia_
in Vera Paz.

This species was first discovered within the territory of the United
States by Wilson, in his visit to Natchez. He had noticed the bird
sailing about in easy circles, and at a considerable height in the air,
generally in company with the Turkey Buzzards, whose manner of flight
it almost exactly imitated, so much so as to make it appear either a
miniature of that species, or like one of them at a great distance, both
being observed to soar at great heights previous to a storm. Wilson
conjectures that this apparent similarity of manner of flight may be
attributable to their pursuit of their respective kinds of food,—the
Buzzard on the lookout for carrion, and the birds of the present species
in search of those large beetles that are known to fly in the higher
regions of the air, and which, in the three individuals dissected by
him, were the only substances found in their stomachs. For several
miles, as he passed near Bayou Manahak, the trees were swarming with
a kind of _Cicada_, or locust, that made a deafening noise. He there
observed a number of these birds sweeping about among the trees in the
manner of Swallows, evidently in pursuit of the insects, which proved
indeed, on dissection, to be their principal food.

One of these Hawks was slightly wounded by Wilson, and though disabled
and precipitated from a great height exhibited evidence of great
strength and an almost unconquerable spirit. As he approached to pick
it up, the bird instantly gave battle, striking rapidly with its claws,
wheeling round and round, and defending itself with great vigilance
and dexterity, while its dark red eye sparkled with rage. His captor
wished to preserve it alive, but, notwithstanding all his precautions in
seizing it, the Hawk struck one of its claws into his hand with great
force, and this could only be disengaged by Wilson’s dividing the sinew
of the heel with a pen-knife. As long as the bird afterwards lived with
Wilson, it seemed to watch every movement, erecting the feathers of the
back of its head, and eying him with a savage fierceness. Wilson was
much struck with its great strength, its extent of wing, its energy of
character, and its ease and rapidity of flight.

Audubon regards this species as remarkable for its devotion to its
young, and narrates that in one instance he saw the female bird lift up
and attempt to carry out of his reach one of her fledglings. She carried
it in her claws the distance of thirty yards or more.

He also describes their flight as graceful, vigorous, and protracted.
At times the bird seems to float in the air as if motionless, or sails
in broad and regular circles, then, suddenly closing its wings, is
seen to slide along to some distance, and then renews its curves. At
other times it sweeps in long undulations with the swiftness of an
arrow, passing within touching distance of a branch on which it seeks an
insect. Sometimes it is said to fly in hurried zigzags, and at others to
turn over and over in the manner of a Tumbler Pigeon. Audubon has often
observed it make a dash at the Turkey Buzzard, and give it chase, as if
in sport, and so annoy this bird as to drive it to a distance. It feeds
on the wing with great ease and dexterity. It rarely, if ever, alights
on the earth; and, when wounded, its movements on the ground are very
awkward. It is never known to attack birds or quadrupeds of any kind,
though it will pursue and annoy foxes and Crows, and drive them to seek
shelter from its attacks. The Mississippi Kite is said to be by no means
a shy bird, and may be easily approached when alight, yet it usually
perches so high that it is not always easy to shoot it.

In Southern Illinois, Mr. Ridgway found this Kite to be a very abundant
summer bird on the prairies. There it is found from May till near
the end of September, and always associated with the Swallowtail
(_Nauclerus forficatus_.) It breeds in the timber which borders the
streams intersecting the prairies; but it is not until the hottest
weather of July and August that it becomes very abundant, at this
time feeding chiefly upon the large insects which swarm among the
rank prairie herbage. Its particular food is a very large species of
_Cicada_, though grasshoppers, and occasionally small snakes (as the
species of _Eutænia_, _Leptophis æstivus_, etc.), also form part of its
food. Its prey is captured by sweeping over the object and picking it
up in passing over, both the bill and feet being used in grasping it;
the food is eaten as the bird sails, in broad circles, overhead. Mr.
Ridgway describes the flight of this Kite as powerful and graceful in
the extreme, and accompanied by beautiful and unusual evolutions.

According to Mr. Audubon, the nest of this species is always placed in
the upper branches of the tallest trees. It resembles a dilapidated
Crow’s nest, and is constructed of sticks slightly put together, Spanish
moss, strips of pine bark, and dry leaves. The eggs are three in number,
nearly globular, and are described by Mr. Audubon as of a light greenish
tint, blotched thickly over with deep chocolate-brown and black; but the
eggs thus described are those of some totally different species.

The same writer mentions that a pair of these Hawks, whose nest was
visited by a negro sailor, manifested the greatest displeasure, and
continued flying with remarkable velocity close to the man’s head,
screaming, and displaying the utmost rage.

The description given by Mr. Audubon of the egg of this species, and
also that in my North American Oölogy, of the drawing of an egg said to
be of this bird, taken in Louisiana by Dr. Trudeau, do not correspond
with an egg in the cabinet of the Boston Society of Natural History,
formerly in that of the late Dr. Henry Bryant. This egg measures 1.50
inches in length by 1.32 in breadth, is very nearly globular, but is
also much more rounded at one end, and tapering at the other. It is
entirely unspotted and of a uniform chalky whiteness, with an underlying
tinge of a bluish green. It was found by Mr. C. S. McCarthy in the
Indian Territory, on the north fork of the Canadian River, June 25,
1861. The nest was made of a few sticks, and was in the fork of a
horizontal branch, fifteen feet from the ground. There were two eggs in
the nest.

It was also found breeding by Mr. J. H. Clark at Trout Creek, Indian
Territory, June 21, and by Dr. E. Palmer at the Kiowa Agency (S. I.


  _Rostrhamus_, LESS. 1831. (Type, _Falco hamatus_, ILLIG.)

GEN. CHAR. Wings and tail large, the latter emarginated. Bill very
narrow, the upper mandible much elongated and bent, the tip forming
a strong pendent hook; lower mandible drooping terminally, the gonys
straight; the upper edge arched, to correspond with the concavity of
the regular commissure. Nostril elongate-oval, horizontal. Tarsus
short, about equal to middle toe, with a continuous frontal series of
transverse scutellæ; claws extremely long and sharp, but weakly curved;
inner edge of the middle claw slightly pectinated. Third to fourth
quills longest; outer five with inner webs sinuated.


  =53081=, ♀. ¼
  =53081=, ♀. ½
  =53081=, ♀. ½

_Rostrhamus sociabilis._]

The species of this genus are two in number, and are peculiar to the
tropical portions of America, one of them being confined to the Amazon
region, the other extending to Florida in one direction and Buenos
Ayres on the other. Their nearest allies are the species _Circus_ and
_Elanus_, like them inhabiting marshy localities, where their food is
found, which consists, in large part, of small mollusca.

Species and Races.

  COMMON CHARACTERS. _Adult._ Prevailing color plumbeous-black, or
  bluish-plumbeous; the tail and primaries black. Entirely concolored,
  or with white tail-coverts. Cere and feet orange-red. _Young._ Spotted
  with blackish-brown and ochraceous, the former prevailing above, the
  latter beneath.

    1. =R. sociabilis.= Tail-coverts, with terminal and basal zones
    of the tail, white; that of the tail more or less shaded with
    grayish-brown. _Adult._ Uniform blackish-plumbeous, darker on the
    head, quills, and tail. _Hab._ South America, West Indies, and

      Plumbeous of a glaucous cast, the head dark plumbeous, and
      the wing-coverts lighter, inclining to grayish-brown. Wing,
      13.25–15.50; tail, 6.75–8.25; bill, .85–1.04; tarsus, 1.70–2.40;
      middle toe, 1.40–1.55. (2 sp. P. A. N. S.) _Hab._ Florida and West
      Indies …

                                                        var. _plumbeus_.

      Plumbeous of a blackish cast, the head deep black, and the
      wing-coverts not lighter, and not inclining to brownish. Wing,
      12.90–14.00; tail, 7.60–7.80; bill, .90–1.25; tarsus, 1.50–1.80;
      middle toe, 1.45–1.65. _Hab._ South America …

                                                  var. _sociabilis_.[76]

    2. =R. hamatus.=[77] Tail-coverts, with end and base of the tail,
    slaty-black. _Adult._ Uniform bluish-plumbeous, darker on the
    head, wings, and tail. Tail uniform black, or with two narrow,
    interrupted, white bands across the middle portion (♂, Brazil, B. S.
    Coll.). Wing, 11.00–12.00; tail, 5.00–7.00; bill, 1.02–1.07; tarsus,
    1.75–1.90; middle toe, 1.45. _Hab._ Amazon region of South America.

Rostrhamus sociabilis, var. plumbeus, RIDGWAY.


  _Rostrhamus sociabilis_, VIEILL. D’ORB. Hist. Nat. Cuba, av. p.
  15.—CASS. Birds N. Am. 1858, 38.—MAYNARD, Birds Florida, Prospectus,

SP. CHAR. _Adult male_ (No. 61,187, Everglades, Florida; C. J. Maynard).
Prevailing color plumbeous, becoming black on the secondaries,
primaries, and tail, somewhat brownish-ashy on the wing-coverts, and
with a glaucous cast on the neck, the head becoming nearly black
anteriorly. Tail-coverts (the longer of the upper and all of the lower)
and base of the tail pure white, this occupying more than the basal half
of the outer feather, and changing into grayish-brown next the black;
tail with a terminal band of grayish-brown, about .75 wide. Inner webs
of primaries marbled, anterior to their emargination, with grayish and
white. Tibiæ tinged with rusty fulvous. Wing-formula, 4, 3, 5–2–6–7, 1.
Wing, 14.01; tail, 7.25; culmen, .95; tarsus, 1.90; middle toe, 1.55;
hind claw, 1.10, the toe, .90. Bill deep black; cere and naked lore
bright orange-red; feet deep orange-red.

_Young female_ (Cuba; Dr. Gundlach, Coll. G. N. Lawrence). Prevailing
color above brownish-black, with a glaucous cast on the dorsal region;
tail deep black, with a faint greenish-bronze reflection, with white
and grayish base and tip, as in the adult. Each feather of the upper
parts rather broadly tipped with ochraceous-rufous; crown, occiput, and
auriculars streaked longitudinally with the same. Prevailing color of
the head and lower parts deep ochraceous, on the head forming a broad
superciliary stripe from the forehead back to the occiput; throat and
cheeks streaked longitudinally with dusky; crissum immaculate; other
lower parts, including lining of the wing, thickly covered with large
transverse spots of brownish-black. Upper tail-coverts white, with a
blackish shaft-line; tail with the basal third white anteriorly and
brownish-ashy next the black, and with a terminal band, about 1.00
wide, of brownish-ashy, passing into white at the tip. Under surface of
primaries cream-color anterior to the emargination, towards the ends
grayish, with transverse spots of dusky. Wing-formula, 4, 3=5–2–6–7, 1.
Wing, 13.90; tail, 8.25; tarsus, 1.90; middle toe, 1.55.

An older specimen in young plumage (11,755, Florida) differs as follows:
The colors generally are lighter, the ochraceous being more prevalent
and lighter in tint; the throat is immaculate, and the markings beneath
more longitudinal. The secondaries and primaries are broadly tipped with
ochraceous. Wing, 14.00; tail, 7.20; tarsus, 1.95; middle toe, 1.50.

HAB. West Indies and Southern Florida.


National Museum, 3; Coll. C. J. Maynard, 7; Philadelphia Academy, 2;
Museum Comp. Zoöl., 3; Coll. R. Ridgway, 1. Total, 16.

HABITS. The Black Kite is a Central and South American species, well
known in that section, but having no other claim to be regarded as
a bird of North America than its presence in a restricted portion
of Florida, where it is, in the extreme southern section, not very
uncommon, and where it is also known to breed. It was first taken in
that peninsula by Mr. Edward Harris, and subsequently by Dr. Heermann.
It was supposed by Mr. Harris to breed in Florida, from his meeting with
young birds; and this supposition has been confirmed by Mr. Maynard, who
has since found them nesting, and procured their eggs.

Mr. Salvin met with what he presumed to be this species in Central
America, ascribing the immense flights of Hawks seen by him in the month
of March, in the Pacific Coast region, migrating in a northwesterly
direction, to this Kite. The bird was well known to the Spaniards under
the name of _Asacuani_,—a term that has become proverbial for a person
who is constantly wandering from place to place. Mr. Leyland obtained
a single specimen of the _Rostrhamus_ near the Lake of Peten. In the
spring of 1870, Mr. Maynard met with several individuals of this species
among the Florida everglades. He first observed one on February 18,
but was not able to secure it. Visiting the same spot ten days later,
with Mr. Henshaw, three birds of this species were shot, and the nest
of one was discovered. It was at that time only partly completed, was
small, flat, and composed of sticks somewhat carelessly arranged. It was
built upon the top of some tall saw-grass, by which it was supported.
This grass was so luxuriant and thick that it bore Mr. Maynard up as he
sought to reach the nest, which did not contain any eggs. On the 24th
of March, Mr. Maynard discovered another nest of this species. It was
built in a bush of the _Magnolia glauca_, and was about four feet from
the water. It contained one egg. It was about one foot in diameter, was
quite flat, and was composed of sticks carelessly arranged, and lined
with a few dry heads of the saw-grass. The female was shot, and found to
contain an egg nearly ready for exclusion, but as yet unspotted. Other
eggs were subsequently procured through the aid of Seminole Indians, by
whom this Hawk is called _So-for-funi-kar_.

[Illustration: _Rostrhamus sociabilis_ (young).]

The usual number of eggs laid by this Kite is supposed to be two, as
in three instances no more were found, and this was said to be their
complement by the Indians. It also appeared to be somewhat irregular in
the time of depositing its eggs.

This Hawk is described as very sociable in its habits, unlike, in
this respect, most other birds of prey. Six or eight specimens were
frequently seen flying together, at one time, over the marshes, or
sitting in company on the same bush. In their flight they resemble the
common Marsh Hawk, are very unsuspicious, and may be quite readily
approached. The dissection of the specimens showed that this bird feeds
largely on a species of freshwater shell (_Pomus depressa_ of Say).

The egg of this species taken in Florida by Mr. Maynard is of a rounded
oval shape, equally obtuse at either end, and measures 1.70 inches
in length by 1.45 in breadth. The ground-color is a dingy white,
irregularly, and in some parts profusely, blotched with groups of
markings of a yellowish brown, shading from a light olive-brown to a
much duller color, almost to a black hue. These markings in the specimen
seen are not grouped around either end, but form a confluent belt around
the central portions of the egg. The following description is given by
Mr. Maynard of the other specimens taken by him.

_Egg No. 1._ Ground-color bluish-white, spotted and blotched everywhere
with brown and umber. Dimensions, 1.72 × 1.45. _No. 2._ Ground-color
same as No. 1. Two large irregular blotches of dark brown and umber
on the larger end, with smaller confluent blotches and streaks of the
same, covering nearly the entire surface of that end; smaller end much
more sparsely spotted with the same. Dimensions, 1.76 × 1.40. _No. 3._
Ground-color dirty brown. The entire egg, except the small end, covered
with a washing of dark brown, which forms dark irregular blotches at
various points, as if the egg had been painted and then taken in the
fingers before drying. Dimensions, 1.55 × 1.55.


  _Circus_, LACÉP. 1800, 1801. (Type, _Falco æruginosus_, LINN.)
  _Pygargus_, KOCH, 1816. (Same type.)
  _Strigiceps_, BONAP. 1831. (Type, _Falco cyaneus_, LINN.)
  _Glaucopteryx_, KAUP, 1844. (Type, _Falco cineraceus_, MONT.)
  _Spilocircus_, KAUP, 1847. (Type, _Circus jardini_, GOULD.)
  _Pterocircus_, KAUP, 1851. (Same type.)
  _Spizacircus_ and _Spiziacircus_, KAUP, 1844 and 1851. (Type, _Circus
      macropterus_, VIEILL.)


  =1042=, ♀. ½

_Circus hudsonius._]

GEN. CHAR. Form very slender, the wings and tail very long, the head
small, bill weak, and feet slender. Face surrounded by a ruff of stiff,
compact feathers, as in the Owls (nearly obsolete in some species). Bill
weak, much compressed; the upper outline of the cere greatly ascending
basally, and arched posteriorly, the commissure with a faint lobe;
nostril oval, horizontal. Loral bristles fine and elongated, curving
upwards, their ends reaching above the top of the cere. Superciliary
shield small, but prominent. Tarsus more than twice the middle toe,
slender, and with perfect frontal and posterior continuous series of
regular transverse scutellæ; toes slender, the outer longer than the
inner; claws strongly curved, very acute. Wings very long, the third or
fourth quills longest; first shorter than the sixth; outer three to five
with inner webs sinuated. Tail very long, about two thirds the wing;

The relationships of this well-marked genus are, to _Accipiter_ on the
one hand, and _Elanus_ on the other; nearest the former, though it is
not very intimately allied to either. I cannot admit the subgenera
proposed by various authors (see synonomy above), as I consider
the characters upon which they are based to be merely of specific
importance, scarcely two species being exactly alike in the minute
details of their form.

The species are quite numerous, numbering about twenty, of which only
about four (including the climatic sub-species, or geographical races)
are American. North America possesses but one (_C. hudsonius_, Linn.),
and this, with the _C. cinereus_, Vieill., of South America, I consider
to be a geographical race of _C. cyaneus_ of Europe.

The birds of this genus frequent open, generally marshy, localities,
where they course over the meadows, moors, or marshes, with a steady,
gliding flight, seldom flapping, in pursuit of their food, which
consists mainly of mice, small birds, and reptiles. Their assault upon
the latter is sudden and determined, like the “Swift Hawks,” or the
species of _Accipiter_.

In the following synopsis, I include only the three forms of _C.
cyaneus_, giving the characters of the European race along with those of
the two American ones.

Species and Races.

  =C. cyaneus.= Wing, 12.50–16.00; tail, 9.00–10.70; culmen, .60–.80;
  tarsus, 2.42–3.25; middle toe, 1.10–1.55. Third to fourth quills
  longest; first shorter than sixth or seventh; outer four with inner
  webs sinuated. _Adult male._[78] Above pearly-ash, with a bluish cast
  in some parts; breast similar; beneath white, with or without rufous
  markings. _Adult female._ Above brown, variegated with ochraceous
  on the scapulars and wing-coverts; beneath yellowish-white or pale
  ochraceous, with a few longitudinal stripes of brown. _Young_ (of both
  sexes). Like the adult female, but darker brown above, the spotting
  deeper ochraceous, or rufous; beneath pale rufous, the stripes less

    Tail and secondaries without a subterminal band of dusky; lower
    parts without any markings.

      Wing, 12.50–15.00; tail, 9.00–10.70; culmen, .60–.75; tarsus,
      2.70–2.85; middle toe, 1.10–1.35. _Hab._ Europe …

                                                     var. _cyaneus_.[79]

    Tail and secondaries with a subterminal band of dusky; lower parts
    with rufous markings.

      Wing, 12.90–16.00; tail, 9.00–10.50; culmen, .65–.75; tarsus,
      2.90–3.25; middle toe, 1.20–1.55. Lower parts with scattered
      irregular specks, or small cordate spots, of reddish-rufous.
      _Hab._ North and Middle America …

                                                       var. _hudsonius_.

      Wing, 12.40–14.50; tail, 8.50–10.50; culmen, .62–.81; tarsus,
      2.42–3.00; middle toe, 1.20–1.50. Lower parts with numerous
      regular transverse bars of reddish-rufous _Hab._ South America …

                                                    var. _cinereus_.[80]

Circus cyaneus, var. hudsonius (LINN.).


  _Falco hudsonius_, LINN. Syst. Nat. p. 128, 1766.—GMEL. Syst. Nat. p.
  277, 1789.—LATH. Syn. I, 91, sp. 76, 1781; Gen. Hist. I, p. 97, sp.
  C. 1821.—DAUD. Tr. Orn. II, 173, 1800.—SHAW, Zoöl. VII, 165, 1809.
  _Circus hudsonius_, VIEILL. Ois. Am. Sept. pl. ix, 1807.—CASS. B.
  Cal. & Tex. p. 108, 1854; Birds N. Am. 1858, p. 38.—HEERM. P. R. R.
  Rep’t, II, 33, 1855.—KENNERLY, P. R. R. Rep’t, III, 19, 1856.—NEWB.
  P. R. R. Rep’t, VI, 74, 1857.—COOP. & SUCK. P. R. R. Rep’t, XII, ii,
  150, 1860.—STRICKL. Orn. Syn. I, 150, 1855.—COUES, Prod. B. Ariz.
  13, 1866.—BLAKIST. Ibis, 1861, 319.—LORD, Pr. R. A. I. IV, 1864, 110
  (Brit. Coll.). _Circus cyaneus hudsonius_, SCHLEG. Mus. Pays-Bas,
  _Circi_, 2, 1862. _Circus cyaneus_, var. _hudsonius_, (RIDGWAY) COUES,
  Key, 1872, 210.—GRAY, Hand List, I, 37, 1869. _Strigiceps hudsonius_,
  BONAP. Consp. Av. p. 35, 1850. _Falco spadicens_, GMEL. Syst. Nat.
  p. 273, 1789.—FORST. Phil. Trans. LXII, 383, 1772. _Falco buffoni_,
  GMEL. Syst. Nat. p. 277, 1789.—LATH. Gen. Hist. I, 98, D, 1821. _Falco
  uliginosus_, GMEL. Syst. Nat. p. 278, 1789.—LATH. Ind. Orn. p. 40,
  179; Syn. I, 90, 1781; Gen. Hist. I, 271, 1821.—DAUD. Tr. Orn. II,
  173, 1800.—WILS. Am. Orn. pl. li, f. 2, 1808.—SAB. App. Frankl. Exp.
  p. 671. _Circus uliginosus_, VIEILL. Ois. Am. Sept. I, 37, 1807.—DE
  KAY, Zoöl. N. Y. II, 20, pl. iii, figs. 5, 6, 1844.—JAMES. (WILS.)
  Am. Orn. I, 88, 1831.—MAX. Cab. Journ. VI, 1858, 20. _Strigiceps
  uliginosus_, BONAP. Eur. & N. Am. B. p. 5, 1838.—KAUP, Monog. Falc.
  Cont. Orn. 1850, p. 58. _Falco cyaneus_ & β. LATH. Ind. Orn. p. 40,
  1790; Syn. I, 91, 7 sp. 6 A.—SHAW, Zoöl. VII, 164, 1809. _Falco
  cyaneus_, AUD. B. Am. pl. ccclvi, 1831.—JAMES. (WILS.) Am. Orn. IV,
  21, 1831.—BONAP. Am. Orn. pl. 12; Ann. Lyc. N. Y. II, 33; Isis, 1832,
  p. 1538.—PEAB. B. Mass. p. 82, 1841. _Circus cyaneus_, BONAP. Ann.
  Lyc. N. Y. p. 33.—JARD. (WILS.) Am. Orn. II, 391.—RICH.

_Measurements._—♂. Wing, 12.50–13.25; tail, 9.00–9.30; culmen, .60–.70;
tarsus, 2.75–2.90; middle toe, 1.10–1.25. Specimens, 8. ♀. Wing,
13.50–15.00; tail, 9.50–10.70; culmen, .75; tarsus, 2.70–2.85; middle
toe, 1.25–1.35. Specimens, 4.

_Observations._—The adult female of _cyaneus_ is distinguishable from
that of _hudsonius_ by lighter colors and less distinct ochraceous
blotches on the shoulders. & SWAINS. Faun. Bor. Am. pl. xxix, 1831.—AUD.
Synop. p. 19, 1839.—BREW. (WILS.) N. Am. Orn. Syn. 685, 1852.—PEAB.
U. S. Expl. Exp. p. 63, 1848.—WOODH. in Sitgr. Rep’t, Exp. Zuñi &
Colorad. p. 61, 1853.—NUTT. Man. Orn. U. S. & Can. p. 109, 1833.—GIRAUD.
B. Long Isl’d, p. 21, 1844.—GRAY, List B. Brit. Mus. p. 78, 1844.

SP. CHAR. _Adult male_ (10,764, Washington, D. C., December). Head,
neck, breast, and upper parts light cinereous, palest anteriorly where
it is uninterruptedly continuous; occiput somewhat darker, with a
transverse series of longitudinal dashes of white, somewhat tinged
with reddish. Back, scapulars, and terminal third of secondaries, with
a dusky wash, the latter fading at tips; five outer primaries nearly
black, somewhat hoary on outer webs beyond their emargination; lesser
wing-coverts faintly mottled with paler, or with obsolete dusky spots.
Upper tail-coverts immaculate pure white. Tail bluish-cinereous, mottled
with white toward base; crossed near the end with a distinct band of
black, and with about five narrower, very obscurely indicated ones
anterior to this; tip beyond the subterminal zone fading terminally
into whitish. Whole under side of wing (except terminal third or
more of primaries) pure white; immaculate, excepting a few scattered
transverse dusky spots on larger coverts. Rest of under parts pure white
everywhere, with rather sparse transverse cordate spots of rufous. Wing,
14.00; tail, 9.20; tarsus, 2.80; middle toe, 1.30. Third and fourth
quills equal, and longest; second intermediate between fifth and sixth;
first 5.81 inches shorter than longest.

Another specimen differs as follows: The fine cinereous above is
replaced by a darker and more brownish shade of the same, the head
and breast much tinged with rusty. Tail much darker, the last black
band twice as broad and near the tip; other bands more numerous (seven
instead of five), and although still very obscure on middle feathers are
better defined than in the one described; inner webs of tail-feathers
(especially the outer ones) tinged with cream-color; white of lower
parts tinged with rufous; the deep rufous transverse bars on the breast
and sides broader, larger, and more numerous than in No. 16,764;
abdomen and tibiæ with numerous smaller cordate spots of rufous; lower
tail-coverts with large cordate spots of the same, and a deep stain of
paler rufous; lining of wings more variegated. Wing, 14.10; tail, 9.00;
tarsus, 2.90; middle toe, 1.30.

_Adult female_ (16,758, Hudson’s Bay Territory; Captain Blakiston).
Umber-brown above; feathers of the head and neck edged laterally with
pale rufous; lores, and superciliary and suborbital stripes dull
yellowish-white, leaving a dusky stripe between them, running back from
the posterior angle of the eye. Lesser wing-coverts spattered with pale
rufous, this irregularly bordering and indenting the feathers; feathers
of the rump bordered with dull ferruginous. Tail deep umber, faintly
fading at the tip, and crossed by six or seven very regular, sharply
defined, but obscure, bands of blackish; the alternating light bars
become paler and more rufous toward the edge of the tail, the lateral
feathers being almost wholly pale cream-color or ochraceous, darker
terminally; this tint is more or less prevalent on the inner webs of
nearly all the feathers. Ear-coverts dull dark rufous, obsoletely
streaked with dark brown; the feathers of the facial disk are fine
pale cream-color, each with a middle stripe of dark brown; throat and
chin immaculate dirty-white, like the supraorbital and suborbital
stripes. Beneath dull white, with numerous broad longitudinal stripes
of umber-brown; these broadest on the breast, growing gradually smaller
posteriorly. Under surface of primaries dull white, crossed at wide
intervals with dark-brown irregular bars, of which there are five
(besides the terminal dark space) on the longest quill.

_Juv._ (♀, 15,585, Bridger’s Pass, Rocky Mountains, August; W. S.
Wood). Upper parts very dark rich clove-brown, approaching sepia-black;
feathers of the head bordered with deep ferruginous, and lesser
wing-coverts much spotted with the same, the edges of the feathers being
broadly of this color; secondaries and inner primaries fading terminally
into whitish; upper tail-coverts tinged with delicate cream-color
(immaculate). Tail with four very broad bands of black, the intervening
spaces being dark umber on the two middle feathers, on the others fine
cinnamon-ochre; the tip also (broadly) of this color. Ear-coverts
uniform rich dark snuff-brown, feathers of a satiny texture; feathers
of facial disk the same centrally, edged with fine deep rufous. Entire
lower parts deep reddish-ochraceous or fulvous-rufous, growing gradually
paler posteriorly; immaculate, with the exception of a few faint
longitudinal stripes on the breast and sides. Under side of wing as in
the last, but much tinged with rufous.

HAB. Entire continent of North America, south to Panama; Cuba, and

Localities: Oaxaca (SCL. 1859, 390); Orizaba (SCL. 1857, 211);
Guatemala, winter (SCL. Ibis, I, 221); Cuba (CAB. Journ. II, lxxxiii;
GUNDLACH, Repert. 1865, 222, winter); City of Mexico (SCL. 1864, 178);
E. Texas (DRESSER, Ibis, 1865, 328, resident); W. Arizona (COUES);
Bahamas (BRYANT, Pr. Bost. Soc. 1867, 65); Costa Rica (LAWR. IX, 134).


National Museum, 53; Museum Comp. Zoöl., 24; Boston Society, 8;
Philadelphia Academy, 10; Cab. of G. N. Lawrence, 5; R. Ridgway, 6.
Total, 106.


 |Sex.|   Wing.   |   Tail.   | Culmen. | Tarsus. |Middle Toe.|Specimens.|
 | ♂  |12.90–13.85|  9.90–9.80|  .60–.65|2.85–2.90|  1.20–0.00|   34     |
 | ♀  |13.00–16.00| 8.80–10.50|  .70–.75|2.85–3.25|  1.22–1.55|   32     |

HABITS. The Marsh Hawk is one of the most widely distributed birds of
North America, breeding from the fur regions around Hudson’s Bay to
Texas, and from Nova Scotia to Oregon and California. It is abundant
everywhere, excepting in the southeastern portion of the United States.
Sir John Richardson speaks of it as so common on the plains of the
Saskatchewan that seldom less than five or six are in sight at a time
(in latitude 55°). Mr. Townsend found it on the plains of the Columbia
River and on the prairies bordering on the Missouri. The Vincennes
Exploring Expedition obtained specimens in Oregon. Dr. Gambel and Dr.
Heermann found it abundant in California. Dr. Suckley’s party obtained
specimens in Minnesota; Captain Beckwith’s, in Utah; Captain Pope,
Lieutenant Whipple, and Dr. Henry, in New Mexico; and Lieutenant Couch,
in Tamaulipas, Mexico. Dr. Woodhouse met with it abundantly from the
Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean, throughout the summer, showing
conclusively that it breeds in those different sections of country. De
la Sagra, Lembeye, and Dr. Gundlach, all give it as a bird of Cuba, but
not as breeding there.

Dall records it as very rare on the Yukon, and an occasional summer
visitor only at St. Michael’s, where an individual was killed as late
as November. Donald Gunn states that it makes its appearance in the
fur countries about the opening of the rivers, and departs about the
beginning of November. It preys upon small birds and mice, is very slow
on the wing, flies very low, and in a manner very different from all
other kinds of Hawks.

In Nova Scotia it is very abundant, and is very destructive of young
game. Mr. Downes regards it as an indiscriminating feeder upon fish,
snakes, and even worms. He took two green snakes from the stomach of one
of them.

[Illustration: _Circus hudsonius_ (male and female).]

Mr. Dresser found them abundant throughout the whole country east of
the Rio Nueces at all seasons of the year. They were more abundant in
full blue plumage than elsewhere. Near San Antonio he met with them on
the prairies, where they feed on the small green lizards which abound
there, and which they are very expert in catching. Dr. Coues mentions
them as very abundant in Arizona. Dr. Kennerly met with them on both
sides of the Rio Grande wherever there was a marsh of any extent. Flying
near the surface, just above the weeds and canes, they round their
untiring circles hour after hour, darting after small birds as they rise
from cover. Pressed by hunger, they will attack even wild Ducks. Dr.
Kennerly also observed them equally abundant in the same localities in
New Mexico. Dr. Newberry mentions finding this Hawk abundant beyond all
parallel on the plains of Upper Pitt River. He saw several hundred in a
single day’s march.

In Washington Territory both Dr. Suckley and Dr. Cooper found this Hawk
abundant throughout the open districts, and especially so in winter. Dr.
Cooper found it no less common in California, and among several hundreds
saw but two birds in the blue plumage. Near Fort Laramie he found it no
less common, but there, at least one half were in the blue plumage. From
this he infers that the older birds seek the far interior in preference
to the seaboard.

Mr. Allen mentions it as common in winter about the savannas in Florida,
and Mr. Salvin states that it is a migratory species in Guatemala. It
occurred in the Pacific Coast Region, and examples were also received
from Vera Paz.

In evidence of the nomadic character of the Marsh Hawk it may be
mentioned that specimens asserted to be of this species are in the
Leyden Museum that were received from the Philippines and from

In Wilson’s time this Hawk was quite numerous in the marshes of New
Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, where it swept over the low grounds,
sailing near the earth, in search of a kind of mouse very common in
such situations, and was there very generally known as the Mouse Hawk.
It is also said to be very serviceable in the Southern rice-fields in
interrupting the devastations made by the swarms of Bobolinks. As it
sails low and swiftly over the fields, it keeps the flocks in perpetual
fluctuation, and greatly interrupts their depredations. Wilson states
that one Marsh Hawk was considered by the planters equal to several
negroes for alarming the Rice-birds. Audubon, however, controverts this
statement, and quotes Dr. Bachman to the effect that no Marsh Hawks are
seen in the rice-fields until after the Bobolinks are gone. Dr. Coues,
on the other hand, gives this Hawk as resident throughout the year in
South Carolina.

According to Audubon, the Marsh Hawk rarely pursues birds on the wing,
nor does it often carry its prey to any distance before it alights and
devours it. While engaged in feeding, it may be readily approached,
surprised, and shot. When wounded, it endeavors to make off by long
leaps; and when overtaken, it throws itself on the back and fights
furiously. In winter its notes while on the wing are sharp, and are said
to resemble the syllables _pee-pee-pee_. The love-notes are similar to
those of the _columbarius_.

Mr. Audubon has found this Hawk nesting not only in lowlands near
the sea-shore, but also in the barrens of Kentucky and on the
cleared table-lands of the Alleghanies, and once in the high covered
pine-barrens of Florida.

After having paired, the Marsh Hawks invariably keep together, and labor
conjointly in the construction of the nest, in sitting upon the eggs,
and in feeding the young. Their nests are variously constructed as to
materials, usually chiefly of hay somewhat clumsily wrought together
into the form of a nest, but never very nicely interwoven; occasionally,
in more northern localities, they are lined with feathers, in some cases
with pine-needles and small twigs.

Richardson states that all the nests of this Hawk observed by him
were built on the ground by the side of small lakes, of moss, grass,
feathers, and hair, and contained from three to five eggs, of a
bluish-white color, and unspotted. The latter measured 1.75 inches in
length, and were an inch across where widest. The position and manner of
constructing the nest correspond with my own experience, but the size of
the eggs does not. The nests have been invariably on the ground, near
water, built of dry grass, and lined with softer materials.

Mr. Audubon gives a very minute account of a nest which he found on
Galveston Island, Texas. It was about a hundred yards from a pond, on
a ridge just raised above the marsh, and was made of dry grass; the
internal diameter was eight, and the external twelve inches, with the
depth of two and a half. No feathers were found. This absence of a warm
lining in Texas really proves nothing. A warm lining may be required in
latitude 65° north, and the same necessity not found in one of 29°. A
nest observed in Concord, Mass., by Dr. H. R Storer, was on the edge of
a pond, and was warmly lined with feathers and fine grasses. Many other
instances might be named.

The eggs found in the Galveston nest were four in number, smooth,
considerably rounded or broadly elliptical, bluish-white, 1.75 inches
in length, and 1.25 in breadth. Another nest, found under a low bush
on the Alleghanies, was constructed in a similar manner, but was more
bulky; the bed being four inches above the earth, and the egg slightly
sprinkled with small marks of pale reddish-brown.

The prevalent impression that the eggs of this Hawk are generally
unspotted, so far as I am aware, is not correct. All that I have ever
seen, except the eggs above referred to from Texas, and a few others,
have been more or less marked with light-brown blotches. These markings
are not always very distinct, but, as far as my present experience goes,
they are to be found, if carefully sought. In 1856 I received from Dr.
Dixon, of Damariscotta, a nest with six eggs of a Hawk of this species.
The female had been shot as she flew from the nest. With a single
exception, all the eggs were very distinctly blotched and spotted. In
shape they were of a rather oblong-oval, rounded at both ends, the
smaller end well defined. They varied in length from 2.00 to 1.87
inches, and in breadth from 1.44 to 1.38 inches. Their ground-color was
a dirty bluish-white, which in one was nearly unspotted, the markings so
faint as to be hardly perceptible, and only upon a close inspection. In
all the others, spots and blotches of a light shade of purplish-brown
occured, in a greater or less degree, over their entire surface. In two,
the blotches were large and well marked; in the others, less strongly
traced, but quite distinct.

The nest was found in a tract of low land, covered with clumps of sedge,
on one of which it had been constructed. It is described as about the
size of a peck basket, circular, and composed entirely of small dry
sticks, “finished off or topped out with small bunches of pine boughs.”
There was very little depth to the nest, or not enough to cover the
eggs from view in taking a sight across it. “No feathers were found in
or about it. It was simply made of small dry sticks, about six inches
thick, with about one inch of pine boughs for finishing off the nest.”
The eggs were found about the 20th of May. They contained young at least
two weeks advanced, showing that the bird began to lay in the latter
part of April, and to sit upon her eggs early in the following month.

It will be thus seen that the eggs of this Hawk vary greatly in size and
shape, and in the presence or absence of marking, varying in length from
1.75 to 2.00 inches, and in breadth from 1.25 to 1.50, and in shape from
an almost globular egg to an elongated oval. Some are wholly spotless,
and others are very strongly and generally blotched with well-defined

This Hawk was found breeding in the Humboldt Valley by Mr. C. S.
M‘Carthy, on the Yellowstone by Mr. Hayden, at Fort Benton by Lieutenant
Mullan, at Fort Resolution by Mr. Kennicott, at Fort Rae and at Fort
Simpson by Mr. Ross, at La Pierre House by Lockhart, and on the Lower
Anderson by Mr. MacFarlane.


  _Accipiter_, BRISS. 1760. (Type, _Falco nisus_, LINN.)
  _Nisus_, CUV. 1799. (Same type.)
  _Astur_, LACÉP. 1801. (Type, _Falco palumbarius_, LINN.)
  _Dædalion_, SAVIG. 1809. (Same type.)
  _Dædalium_, AGASS. (Same type.)
  _Sparvius_, VIEILL. 1816. (Same type.)
  _Jerax_, LEACH, 1816. (Same type.)
  _Aster_, SWAINS. 1837. (Same type.)
  _Micronisus_, GRAY, 1840. (Type, _Falco gabar_, DAUD.)
  _Phabotypus_, GLOG. 1842. (Same type.)
  _Hieraspiza_, 1844, _Jeraspiza_, 1851, and _Teraspiza_, 1867, KAUP.
      (Type, _Falco tinus_, LATHAM.)
  _Hieracospiza_, AGAS. (Same type.)
  _Nisastur_, BLAS. 1844. (Same type.)
  _Urospiza_, 1845, _Urospizia_, 1848, and _Uraspiza_, 1867, KAUP.
      (Type, _Sparvius cirrhocephalus_, VIEILL.)
  _Leucospiza_, KAUP, 1851. (Type, _Falco novæ-hollandiæ_, GMEL.)
  _Cooperastur_, BONAP. 1854. (Type, _Accipiter cooperi_, BONAP.)
  _Erythrospiza_, KAUP, 1867. (Type, _A. trinotatus_ TEMM.? not of
      BONAP. 1830!)

GEN. CHAR. Form slender, the tail long, the wings short and rounded,
the feet slender, the head small, and bill rather weak. Bill nearly as
high through the base as the length of the chord of the culmen, its
upper outline greatly ascending basally; commissure with a prominent
festoon. Superciliary shield very prominent. Nostril broadly ovate,
obliquely horizontal. Tarsus longer than the middle toe, the frontal
and posterior series of regular transverse scutellæ very distinct,
and continuous, sometimes fused into a continuous plate (as in the
_Turdinæ_!). Outer toe longer than the inner; claws strongly curved,
very acute. Wing short, much rounded, very concave beneath; third to
fifth quills longest; first usually shortest, never longer than the
sixth; outer three to five with inner webs cut (usually sinuated). Tail
long, nearly equal to wing, usually rounded, sometimes even, more rarely
graduated (_Astur macrourus_) or emarginated (some species of subgenus


  Less than one third of the upper portion of the tarsus feathered in
  front, the feathering widely separated behind; frontal transverse
  scutellæ of the tarsus and toes uninterrupted in the neighborhood of
  the digito-tarsal joint, but continuous from knees to claws. Tarsal
  scutellæ sometimes fused into a continuous plate …


  More than one third (about one half) of the upper portion of the
  tarsus feathered in front, the feathering scarcely separated behind;
  frontal transverse scutellæ of the tarsus and toes interrupted in the
  region of the digito-tarsal joint, where replaced by irregular small
  scales. Tarsal scutellæ never fused …


The species of this genus are exceedingly numerous, about fifty-seven
being the number of nominal “species” recognized at the present date.
Among so many species, there is, of course, a great range of variation
in the details of form, so that many generic and subgeneric names have
been proposed and adopted to cover the several groups of species which
agree in certain peculiarities of external structure. That too many
genera and subgenera have been recognized is my final conclusion, after
critically examining and comparing forty of the fifty-seven species of
Gray’s catalogue (Hand List of Birds, I, 1869, pp. 29–35). The variation
of almost every character ranges between great extremes; but when all
the species are compared, it is found that, taking each character
separately, they do not all correspond, and cross and re-cross each
other in the series in such a manner that it is almost impossible to
arrange the species into well-defined groups. From this genus I exclude
_Lophospiza_, Kaup (type, _L. trivirgatus_); _Asturina_, Vieill. (type,
_A. nitida_); _Rupornis_, Kaup (type, _R. magnirostris_); _Buteola_,
Dubus (= _Buteo_, type, _B. brachyura_, Vieill.); included by Gray under
_Astur_, as subgenera, and _Tachyspiza_, Kaup (type, _T. soloensis_);
and _Scelospiza_, Kaup (type, _S. francesii_); which are given by
Gray as subgenera of _Micronisus_, Gray (type, _Accipiter gabar_),
the species of the typical subgenus of which, as arranged in Gray’s
Hand List, I refer to _Nisus_. All these excluded names I consider as
representing distinct genera.

The species of this genus are noted for their very predatory
disposition, exceeding the Falcons in their daring, and in the quickness
of their assault upon their prey, which consists chiefly of small birds.


  _Accipiter_, BRISSON, 1760.[81]
  _Nisus_, CUVIER, 1799. (Type, _Falco nisus_, LINN.; _A. fringillarius_
      (RAY), KAUP.)
  _Jerax_, LEACH, 1816. (Same type.)
  _Cooperastur_, BONAP. 1854. (Type, _Accipiter cooperi_, BONAP.)
  _Hieraspiza_, 1844, _Jeraspiza_, 1851, and _Teraspiza_, 1867, KAUP.
      (Type, _Falco tinus_, LATH.)
  _Hieracospiza_, AGASS. (Same type.)
  _Urospiza_, 1845, _Urospizia_, 1848, and _Uraspiza_, 1867, KAUP.
      (Type, _Sparvius cirrhocephalus_, VIEILL.)
  _Erythrospiza_, KAUP, 1867. (Type, _A. trinotatus_ (TEMM.?))
  _Micronisus_, GRAY, 1840. (Type, _Falco gabar_, DAUD.)
  _Nisastur_, BLAS. 1844. (Same type.)

[Illustration: =10759=, ♂. NAT. SIZE

_Nisus fuscus._]


  =26588=, ♀. ½
  =26588=, ♀. ½

_Nisus cooperi._]

The species of this subgenus are generally of small size and slender
form; but with a graceful and apparently delicate structure they combine
remarkable strength and unsurpassed daring. They differ from the species
of _Astur_ mainly in less robust organization. The species are very
numerous, and most plentiful within the tropical regions. The Old World
possesses about thirty, and America about fifteen, nominal species.
Several South American species are intimately related to the two North
American ones, and may prove to be only climatic races of the same
species; thus, _erythrocnemis_, Gray (Hand List, p. 32, No. 305) may
be the intertropical form of _fuscus_, and _chilensis_, Ph. and Landb.
(Hand List, No. 314), that of _cooperi_. But the material at my command
is too meagre to decide this.

[Illustration: =26588=, ♀. ¼

_Nisus cooperi._]

[Illustration: =26588=, ♀. ¼

_Nisus cooperi._]

[Illustration: =10759=, ♂. ½

_Nisus fuscus._]

In consequence of the insufficient material for working up the South
American species, I shall omit them all from the following synopsis of
the North American species and races.[82]

Species and Races.

  COMMON CHARACTERS. _Adult._ Above bluish slate-color; the tail with
  obscure bands of darker, and narrowly tipped with white. Beneath
  transversely barred with white and pinkish-rufous; the anal region
  and crissum immaculate white. _Young._ Above grayish umber-brown, the
  feathers bordered more or less distinctly with rusty; scapulars with
  large white spots, mostly concealed; tail-bands more distinct than in
  the adult. Beneath white, longitudinally striped with dusky-brown.

    1. =N. fuscus.= Middle toe shorter than the bare portion of the
    tarsus, in front; tarsal scutellæ fused into a continuous plate in
    the adult male. Tail nearly even. Top of head concolor with the
    back; tail merely fading into whitish at the tip. Concealed white
    spots of the scapulars very large and conspicuous. Wing, 6.45–8.80;
    tail, 5.70–8.20; culmen, .40–.60; tarsus, 1.85–2.25; middle toe,
    1.10–1.55. _Hab._ Whole of North America and Mexico.

    2. =N. cooperi.= Middle toe longer than the bare portion of the
    tarsus, in front; tarsal scutellæ never fused. Tail much rounded.
    Top of the head much darker than the back; tail distinctly tipped
    with white; concealed white spots of the scapulars very small, or
    obsolete. Wing, 8.50–11.00; tail, 7.50–10.50; culmen, .60–.80;
    tarsus, 2.10–2.75; middle toe, 1.30–1.85. _Hab._ Whole of North
    America and Mexico.

      _Adult._ Rufous markings beneath, in form of detached bars, not
      exceeding the white ones in width; dark slate of the pileum
      and nape abruptly contrasted with the bluish-plumbeous of the
      back; upper tail-coverts narrowly tipped with white; scapulars
      with concealed spots of white. _Young._ White beneath pure;
      tibiæ with narrow longitudinal spots of brown. Wing, 9.00–11.00;
      tail, 8.00–9.80; culmen, .65–.80; tarsus, 2.45–2.75; middle
      toe, 1.55–1.85. _Hab._ Eastern region of North America; Eastern
      Mexico …

                                                         var. _cooperi_.

      _Adult._ Rufous markings beneath, in form of broader bars,
      connected along the shaft, almost uniform on the breast; black of
      the pileum and nape fading gradually into the dusky plumbeous of
      the back; upper tail-coverts not tipped with white, and scapulars
      without concealed spots of the same. _Young._ White beneath
      strongly tinged with ochraceous; tibiæ with broad transverse spots
      of brown. Wing, 8.50–10.60; tail, 7.50–10.50; culmen, .60–.75;
      tarsus, 2.10–2.75; middle toe, 1.30–1.75. _Hab._ Western region of
      North America; Western Mexico …

                                                       var. _mexicanus_.

Nisus fuscus (GMEL.) KAUP.


  _Falco fuscus_, GMEL. Syst. Nat. p. 283, 1789.—LATH. Ind. Orn. p. 43,
  1790; Syn. I, 98, 1781; Gen. Hist. I, 283, 1821.—MILL. Cim. Phys.
  pl. xviii, 1796.—DAUD. Tr. Orn. II, 86, 1800.—SHAW, Zoöl. VII, 161,
  1809.—AUD. B. Am. pl. ccclxxiii, 1821; Orn. Biog. IV. 522, 1831.—BREW.
  (WILS.) Am. Orn. 685, 1852.—PEAB. B. Mass. III, 78, 1841.—THOMP. Nat.
  Hist. Verm. p. 61, 1842.—NUTT. Man. 87, 1833. _Accipiter fuscus_,
  BONAP. Eur. & N. Am. B. p. 5, 1838; Consp. Av. 32, 1850.—GRAY, List
  B. Brit. Mus. 38, 1844; Gen. B. fol. sp. 4, 1844.—CASS. B. Cal. &
  Tex. 95, 1854; Proc. Ac. Nat. Sc. Phil. 1855, 279; Birds N. Am.
  1858, 18.—STRICKL. Orn. Syn. I, 108, 1855.—WOODH. Sitgr. Exp. Zuñi
  & Colorad. p. 61, 1853.—COOPER & SUCKLEY, P. R. R. Rep’t, VII,
  ii, 146, 1860.—HEERM. Williamson’s Rep. 33.—NEWB. Williamson’s
  Rep. 74.—COUES, Pr. Ac. Nat. Sc. Phil. Jan. 1866, p. 7.—BLAKIST.
  Ibis, III, 1861, 317 (fresh eggs).—GRAY, Hand List, I, 32, 1869.
  _Astur fuscus_, DE KAY, N. Y. Zoöl. II, 17, pl. ii, fig. 2 (juv.
  ♂), 1844.—GIRAUD, B. Long Isl’d, p. 19, 1844. _Nisus fuscus_, KAUP,
  Monog. Falc. Cont. Orn. 1850, p. 64. _Falco dubius_, GMEL. Syst.
  Nat. 1789, p. 281.—LATH. Ind. Orn. p. 43, 1790; Syn. Supp. I, 37,
  1802; Gen. Hist. I, 279, 1821.—DAUD. Tr. Orn. 1800, II, 122. _Falco
  velox_, WILS. Am. Orn. pl. xlv, f. 1, 1808.—BONAP. An. Lyc. N. Y. II,
  29, 1433; Isis, 1832, p. 1137. _Accipiter velox_, BEECH. Voy. Zoöl.
  p. 15. _Astur velox_, JAMES. (WILS.) Am. Orn. I, 68, 1831. _Falco
  pennsylvanicus_, WILS. Am. Orn. pl. xlvi, fig. 1, 1808.—LATH. Gen.
  Hist. I, 280, 1820.—TEMM. Pl. Col. 67. _Accipiter pennsylvanicus_,
  VIG. Zoöl. Journ. I, 338.—STEPH. Zoöl. XIII, ii, 32, 1815.—RICH.
  Faun. Bor.-Am. II, 44, 1831.—JARD. (WILS.) Am. Orn. II, pp. 210, 215,
  1832.—SWAINS. Classif. B. II, 215, 1837. _Astur pennsylvanicus_, LESS.
  Man. Orn. I, 92.—_James._ (_Wils._) Am. Orn. I, 70, 1831. _Nisus
  pennsylvanicus_, CUV. Règ. An. (ed. 2), I, 334, 1829.—LESS. Tr. Orn.
  p. 59, 1831. _Falco columbarius_, var., SHAW. Zoöl. VII, 189, 1809.
  _Accipiter ardosiacus_, VIEILL. Enc. Méth. III, 1274, 1823. _Accipiter
  fringilloides_ (not of VIGORS!), JARD. (WILS.) Am. Orn. II, 215, 1832.
  _? Nisus pacificus_, LESSON, Man. et d’Oiseaux, 1847, 177 (Acapulco to
  California. Square tail). _Accipiter fuscus_, BREWER, Oölogy, 1857,
  18, pl. III, f. 23, 29; pl. V, f. 54.

SP. CHAR. _Adult male_ (11,990, District of Columbia; A. J. Falls).
Above deep plumbeous, this covering head above, nape, back, scapulars,
wings, rump, and upper tail-coverts; uniform throughout, scarcely
perceptibly darker anteriorly. Primaries and tail somewhat lighter
and more brownish; the latter crossed by four sharply defined bands
of brownish-black, the last of which is subterminal, and broader than
the rest, the first concealed by the upper coverts; tip passing very
narrowly (or scarcely perceptibly) into whitish terminally. Occipital
feathers snowy-white beneath the surface; entirely concealed, however.
Scapulars, also, with concealed very large roundish spots of pure
white. Under side of primaries pale slate, becoming white toward bases,
crossed by quadrate spots of blackish, of which there are seven (besides
the terminal dark space) on the longest. Lores, cheeks, ear-coverts,
chin, throat, and lower parts in general, pure white; chin, throat, and
cheeks with fine, rather sparse, blackish shaft-streaks; ear-coverts
with a pale rufous wash. Jugulum, breast, abdomen, sides, flanks, and
tibiæ with numerous transverse broad bars of delicate vinaceous-rufous,
the bars medially somewhat transversely cordate, and rather narrower
than the white bars; laterally, the pinkish-rufous prevails, the bars
being connected broadly along the shafts; tibiæ with rufous bars much
exceeding the white ones in width; the whole maculate region with the
shaft of each feather finely blackish. Anal region scarcely varied;
lower tail-coverts immaculate, pure white. Lining of the wing white,
with rather sparse cordate, or cuneate, small blackish spots; axillars
barred about equally with pinkish-rufous and white. Wing, 6.60; tail,
5.70; tarsus, 1.78; middle toe, 1.20. Fifth quill longest; fourth but
little shorter; third equal to sixth; second slightly shorter than
seventh. Tail perfectly square.

_Adult female_ (19,116, Powder River; Captain W. F. Raynolds, U. S. A.).
Scarcely different from the male. Above rather paler slaty; the darker
shaft-streaks rather more distinct than in the male, although they
are not conspicuous. Beneath with the rufous bars rather broader, the
dark shaft-streaks less distinct; tibiæ about equally barred with
pinkish-rufous and white. Wing, 7.70; tail, 6.90; tarsus, 2.10; middle
toe, 1.40. Fourth and fifth quills equal and longest; third equal to
sixth; second equal to seventh; first three inches shorter than longest.

_Young male_ (41,890, Philadelphia; J. Krider.) Above umber-brown;
feathers of the head above edged laterally with dull light ferruginous;
those of the back, rump, the upper tail-coverts, scapulars, and
wing-coverts bordered with the same; scapulars and rump showing large,
partially exposed, roundish spots of pure white. Tail as in adult. Sides
of the head and neck strongly streaked, a broad lighter supraoral stripe
apparent. Beneath white, with a slight ochraceous tinge; cheeks, throat,
and jugulum with fine narrow streaks of dusky-brown; breast, sides,
and abdomen with broader longitudinal stripes of clear umber (less
slaty than the back), each with a darker shaft-line; on the flanks the
stripes are more oval; tibiæ more dingy, markings fainter and somewhat
transverse; anal region and lower tail-coverts immaculate white.

_Young female_ (12,023, Fort Tejon, California; J. Xantus). Similar
in general appearance to the young male. Markings beneath broader,
and slightly sagittate in form, becoming more transverse on the
flanks; paler and more reddish than in the young male; tibiæ with
brownish-rufous prevailing, this in form of broad transverse spots.

HAB. Entire continent of North America, south to Panama; Bahamas (but
not West Indies, where replaced by _A. fringilloides_, Vig.).

Localities: Oaxaca (SCL. 1858, 295); Central America (SCL. Ibis, I,
218); Bahamas (BRYANT, Pr. Bost. Soc. VII, 1859); City of Mexico (SCL.
1864, 178); Texas, San Antonio (DRESSER, Ibis, 1866, 324); Western
Arizona (COUES); Mosquito Coast (SCL. & SALV. 1867, 280); Costa Rica
(LAWR. IX, 134).


National Museum, 51; Philadelphia Academy, 14; New York Museum, 7;
Boston Society, 5; Museum, Cambridge, 9; Cab. G. N. Lawrence, 1; Coll.
R. Ridgway, 4; Museum W. S. Brewer, 1. Total, 92.


 |Sex.|   Wing.   |   Tail.   | Culmen. | Tarsus. |Middle Toe.|Specimens.|
 | ♂  |  6.45–7.00|  5.70–5.90|  .40–.00|1.85–1.95|  1.10–1.20|   30     |
 | ♀  |  7.50–8.80|  6.90–8.20|  .50–.60|2.20–2.25|  1.45–1.55|   40     |

Specimens from different regions vary but little in size. The largest
are 4,198, ♀, San Francisco, Cal., winter, 16,957, ♀, Hudson’s Bay
Territory, and 55,016, ♀, Mazatlan, Mexico, in which the wing ranges
from 8.40 to 8.50, the tail 7.00. The smallest females are 45,826,
Sitka, Alaska, and 11,791, Simiahmoo, W. T., in which the wing measures
about 7.80. A female (32,499) from Orizaba, Mexico, one (8,513) from
Fort Yuma, Cal., and one (17,210) from San Nicholas, Lower California,
have the wing 8.00, which is about the average. The largest males are
54,336, Nulato, Alaska, 58,137, Kodiak, Alaska, 27,067, Yukon, mouth
of Porcupine, and 55,017, Mazatlan, Mexico, in which the wing measures
7.00, the tail 5.60. The smallest males are 5,990, Orange, N. J.,
8,514, Shoalwater Bay, W. T., 21,338, Siskiyou Co., Cal., 37,428,
Orizaba, Mexico, and 5,584, Bridger’s Pass, Utah; in this series the
wing measures 6.50–6.70, the tail 5.40–5.60. A specimen from Costa
Rica measures: wing 6.70, tail 5.35. Thus the variation in size will
be seen to be an individual difference, rather than characteristic of
any region. Some immature specimens from the northwest coast of North
America (as 45,828, ♂, Sitka, Rus. Am., 5,845, ♂, Fort Steilacoom,
W. T., 11,791, Simiahmoo, Puget Sound, and 8,514, Shoalwater Bay,
W. T.) are much darker than others, the brown above inclining to
blackish-sepia; no other differences, however, are observable. An adult
from the Yukon (54,337, ♀) has the rufous bars beneath remarkably faint,
although well defined; another (19,384, ♀, Fort Resolution), in immature
plumage, has the longitudinal markings beneath so faint that they are
scarcely discernible, and the plumage generally has a very worn and
faded appearance. A male in fine plumage (10,759, Fort Bridger, Utah)
has the delicate reddish-rufous beneath so extended as to prevail, and
with scarcely any variegation on the sides and tibiæ; the bars on the
tail, also, are quite obsolete.

HABITS. This species is one of the most common Hawks of North America,
and its geographical range covers the entire continent, from Hudson’s
Bay to Mexico. Sir John Richardson mentions its having been met with
as far to the north as latitude 51°. Drs. Gambel and Heermann, and
others, speak of it as abundant throughout California. Audubon found it
very plentiful as far north as the southern shore of the Gulf of St.
Lawrence. It has been obtained in New Mexico by Mr. McCall, in Mexico
by Mr. Pease, in Washington Territory by Dr. Cooper and Dr. Suckley,
in Alaska by Mr. Dall, at Fort Resolution by Mr. Kennicott, at Fort
Simpson by Mr. B. R. Ross, etc. Messrs. Sclater and Salvin give it
as a rare visitant of Guatemala. It has been ascertained to breed in
Massachusetts, New Jersey, Wisconsin, California, and Pennsylvania, and
it probably does so not only in the intervening States and Territories,
but also in all, not excepting the most southern, Florida, where its
nest was found by Mr. Wurdemann.

[Illustration: _Nisus fuscus._]

Dr. Woodhouse, who frequently observed this bird skimming over the
prairies while in search of its prey, states that its flight is so
peculiar that there is no difficulty in recognizing it, when taken in
connection with its form, short wings, and long tail, being very swift
and irregular in its movements, first high in the air, then close to the
ground, suddenly disappearing among the grass when it has seized the
object of which it was in pursuit.

Mr. Dresser met with this Hawk in Texas, but nowhere south or west of
San Antonio, where it remains through the breeding-season, nesting in
the dense cedar-thickets.

Mr. Audubon regarded it as the very miniature of the Goshawk, in its
irregular, swift, vigorous, varied, and yet often undecided, manner of
flight, and on occasion greatly protracted. When in search of its prey,
it is said to pass over the country, now at a moderate height, now close
over the land, and with a surprising swiftness. It advances by sudden
dashes, and pounces upon the object of its pursuit so suddenly as to
render hopeless any attempt to escape. It has frequently been known
to seize and kill a bird so large that it was unable to carry it, and
had to drop to the ground with it. In one instance Mr. Audubon saw it
strike a Brown Thrush, which it had darted into a thicket of briers to
seize, emerging at the opposite side. As Mr. Audubon ran up, the Hawk
attempted twice to rise with its prey, but was unable to carry it off,
and relinquished it. The Thrush was quite dead, and had evidently been
killed instantly.

Mr. Downes, of Halifax, who speaks of this Hawk as common in Nova
Scotia, breeding all over that province, adds that it does not molest
the poultry-yards, being too weak to attack large prey. But this is not
universally the case. They are frequently destructive both to dove-cots
and to the younger inhabitants of the poultry-yard. Mr. Nuttall narrates
that in the thinly settled parts of Alabama and Georgia it seemed to
abound, and was very destructive to young chickens, a single one having
been known to come regularly every day until it had carried off twenty
or thirty. He was eyewitness to one of its acts of robbery, where, at
noonday and in the near presence of the farmer, the Hawk descended and
carried off one of the chickens. In another instance the same writer
mentions that one of these Hawks, descending with blind eagerness upon
its prey, broke through the glass of the greenhouse at the Cambridge
Botanic Garden, fearlessly passed through a second glass partition, and
was only brought up by a third, when it was caught, though very little

At times this Hawk is seen to fly high, in a desultory manner, with
quick but irregular movements of the wings, now moving in short and
unequal circles, pausing to examine the objects below, and then again
descending rapidly and following a course only a few feet from the
ground, carefully examining each patch of small bushes in search of
small birds.

Besides the smaller birds, young chickens, and pigeons, this Hawk has
been known to occasionally feed on small reptiles and insects, as also
upon the smaller quadrupeds.

Mr. Audubon speaks of having met with three nests of this species,
and all in different situations. One was in a hole in a rock on the
banks of the Ohio River; another was in the hollow of a broken branch,
near Louisville, Ky., and the third in the forks of a low oak, near
Henderson, Ky. In the first case, the nest was slight, and simply
constructed of a few sticks and some grasses, carelessly interwoven, and
about two feet from the entrance of the hole. In the second instance
there was no nest whatever, but in the third the birds were engaged
in the construction of an elaborate nest. The number of the eggs was
four in one instance, and five in another. He describes them as almost
equally rounded at both ends; their ground-color white, with a livid
tinge, but scarcely discernible amid the numerous markings and blotches
of reddish-chocolate with which they were irregularly covered. In
a nest which was large and elaborately constructed of sticks, and
contained five eggs, found by Dr. H. R. Storer in Concord, Mass.,
there was a single egg which nearly corresponds with this description.
It is, however, the only one among many specimens that at all agrees
with it. This specimen is a little more than usually elongate, and its
ground-color, which is a purplish-white, is nearly concealed by its
blotches of various shades of sepia-brown. In every other instance the
egg is very nearly spherical, the ground-color white, and beautifully
marked with large confluent blotches of sepia, varying in depth from
quite a light to a very dark shade. In one, these confluent markings
form a broad belt around the centre of the egg. In others, they are
chiefly distributed about the larger end. The contrast between the white
ground and the dark confluent dashes of brown is very striking. Except
in size, the eggs of this bird bear a marked resemblance to those of the
Sparrow Hawk of Europe. In a few instances, the brown markings have an
intermixture of red and purple. The egg measures 1.35 by 1.15 inches.

In nearly every instance the nest of this Hawk has been constructed in
trees. It is usually large in proportion to the size of the bird, and
its materials are somewhat elaborately put together; it is composed
chiefly of large sticks and twigs, and the whole platform is covered
with a thin lining of dry leaves, mosses, grass, etc. Mr. John Krider,
of Philadelphia, found a nest in New Jersey, in the vicinity of that
city, which was built on the edge of a high rock.

Mr. Robert Kennicott met with the nest of this species at Fort
Resolution. It was composed entirely of small dry spruce twigs, with the
exception of a half-dozen small flat bits of the scaly outer bark of the
spruce, laid in the bottom, and forming a sort of lining. No feathers or
other softer materials were used. The nest was shallow and broad. The
base was about eighteen inches in diameter, and was about eight feet
from the ground. It was in a small spruce in a thick wood and on high
ground. When disturbed, the female flew off a short distance; but on Mr.
Kennicott’s hiding himself returned and flew near the nest, continually
uttering a harsh rapid note. Near the nest were marks indicating the
place where the male passed the nights perched on a dry stick near the

Mr. B. R. Ross observed these birds nesting thickly along the cliffs of
the Upper Slave River. They were more rare northward of Fort Simpson
than _F. columbarius_.

Mr. William Street, of Easthampton, informs me that he has found this
Hawk nesting on Mount Tom, where he has known of six of their nests in
one season. In the spring of 1872 he found three nests, on the 24th
and 25th of May. They contained two eggs each. One of these, on the
27th contained three eggs, of which he took one; on the 3d of June two
more eggs had been laid. Two of these were taken, after which the birds
deserted the nest and resorted to an old squirrel’s nest, where they had
four more eggs, depositing one every third day. They arrive at Mount Tom
about the 1st of May. Their nests are made entirely of sticks, larger on
the outside, and smaller within. They usually build in a hemlock-tree,
selecting a thick clump. They are very noisy when they are at work
building their nest, and often betray their presence by their cries.
The younger the pair the more noisy they are. This Hawk appears to live
nearly altogether on small birds. Mr. Street mentions having found ten
or twelve skeletons in a single nest of this species.

Nisus cooperi (BONAP.).

=Var. cooperi=, BONAP.


  _Falco cooperi_, BONAP. Am. Orn. pl. x, fig. 1, 1825; Ann. Lyc. N. Y.
  II, 433; Isis, 1832, 1137.—JAMES. (WILS.) Am. Orn. IV, 1831, 3.—PEAB.
  B. Mass. III, 78. _Accipiter cooperi_, GRAY, List B. Brit. Mus. 38,
  1844; Gen. B. fol. sp. 6.—CASS. Birds Cal. & Tex. p. 96, 1854; Birds
  N. Am. 1858, 16.—SCLAT. Pr. Z. S. 1859, 389 (difference from _A.
  pileatus_, MAX.).—HEERM. P. R. R. Rep’t, VII, 31, 1857.—COOP. & SUCKL.
  P. R. R. Rep’t, XII, ii, 145, 1860.—COUES, Prod. Orn. Ariz. p. 7,
  1866.—DRESSER, Ibis, 1865, 323 (Texas).—BLAKIST. Ibis, III, 1861,
  317.—SCL. & SALV. Ex. Orn. I, 1869, 170.—GRAY, Hand List, I, 32, 1869.
  _Astur cooperi_, JARD. (WILS.) Am. Orn. III, 363, 1832.—BONAP. List,
  p. 5; Rev. Zool. 1850, 489; Consp. Av. 31.—DE KAY, Zoöl. N. Y. II, 18,
  pl. iv, p. 5.—NEWB. P. R. R. Rep’t, VI, iv, 74, 1857.—MAX. Cab. Journ.
  VI, 1858, 13. _Falco stanleyi_, AUD. B. Am. pls. xxxvi, cxli; Orn.
  Biog. I, 186. _Accipiter pileatus_ (not of MAX.!), STRICKL. Orn. Syn.
  I, 109, 1855. _Accipiter cooperi_, BREWER, Oölogy, 1857, 20, pl. v, f.

SP. CHAR. _Adult male_ (No. 10,086). Forehead, crown, and occiput
blackish-plumbeous; the latter snowy-white beneath the surface; rest of
upper parts slaty-plumbeous, the nape abruptly lighter than the occiput;
feathers of the nape, back, scapulars, and rump with darker shaft-lines;
scapulars with concealed cordate and circular spots of white; upper
tail-coverts sharply tipped with white. Tail more brownish than the
rump, sharply tipped with pure white, and crossed with three broad,
sharply defined bands of black, the first of which is concealed, the
last much broadest; that portion of the shaft between the two exposed
black bands white. Lores grayish; cheeks and throat white, with fine,
hair-like shaft-streaks of blackish; ear-coverts and sides of neck
more ashy, and more faintly streaked. Ground-color beneath pure white;
but with detached transverse bars of rich vinaceous-rufous, crossing
the jugulum, breast, sides, flanks, abdomen, and tibiæ; the white
bars everywhere (except on sides of the breast) rather exceeding the
rufous in width; all the feathers (except tibial plumes) with distinct
black shaft-lines; lower tail-coverts immaculate, pure white. Lining
of the wing white, with numerous cordate spots of rufous; coverts
with transverse blackish bars; under side of primaries silvery-white,
purest basally (tips dusky), crossed with quadrate bars of dusky, of
which there are six (the first only indicated) upon the longest quill
(fourth). Wing, 9.20; tail, 7.80; tarsus, 2.35; middle toe, 1.60. Fourth
quill longest; third shorter than fifth; second intermediate between
sixth and seventh; first, 2.80 shorter than longest; graduation of tail,

_Adult female_ (26,588, Washington, D. C.; Elliott Coues). Similar to
the male. Forehead tinged with brownish; upper plumage much less bluish.
Neck and ear-coverts uniformly rufous, with black shaft-streaks, there
being no ashy wash as in the male. Tail decidedly less bluish than in
the male, crossed with four bands, three of which are exposed. The
rufous bars beneath less vinaceous than in the male, but of about the
same amount, rather predominating on the tibiæ. Wing, 10.70; tail, 9.00;
tarsus, 2.45; middle toe, 1.80. Fourth and fifth quills longest and
equal; third longer than sixth; second intermediate between sixth and
seventh; first three inches shorter than longest.

_Young male_ (55,498, Fort Macon, N. C., February; Dr. Coues). Above
grayish-umber; feathers of forehead, crown, and nape faintly edged
laterally with pale rusty; occiput unvaried blackish, feathers white
beneath the surface. Wing-coverts, scapulars, and interscapulars
narrowly bordered with pale yellowish-umber; rump and upper tail-coverts
bordered with rusty. Tail paler umber than the back, narrowly tipped
with white, and crossed by four bands of brownish-black, the first of
which is only partially concealed. Scapulars and upper tail-coverts
showing much concealed white, in form of roundish spots, on both webs.
Beneath clear white, without any yellowish tinge; throat with a medial
and lateral series of clear dark-brown streaks; jugulum, breast, sides,
flanks, and abdomen with numerous stripes of clear sepia, each showing a
darker shaft-streak; tibiæ with longitudinal streaks of paler and more
rusty brown; lower tail-coverts immaculate.

_Young female_ (6,876 “Sacramento Valley, Cal.”; Dr. Heermann—probably
from Pennsylvania). Similar to young male; more varied, however. The
black middle streaks of feathers of head above narrower, causing more
conspicuous streaks; white spots of scapular region considerably
exposed; longitudinal stripe beneath narrower and more sparse.

HAB. North America in general, but rare in the western division; Eastern
Mexico. Not found in West Indies, where replaced by _A. gundlachi_,

Localities: Southeastern Texas (DRESSER, Ibis, 1865, 323, breeds);
Arizona (_Coues_, Prod. 1866, 43); Costa Rica (LAWR. IX, 134).


National Museum, 12; Philadelphia Academy, 16; New York Museum, 3;
Boston Society, 2; Cambridge Museum, 1; Cab. G. N. Lawrence, 7; Coll. R.
Ridgway, 4; Museum, W. S. Brewer, 1. Total, 46.


 |Sex.|   Wing.   |   Tail.   | Culmen. | Tarsus. |Middle Toe.|Specimens.|
 | ♂  |  9.00–9.30|  8.00–8.50|  .65–.00|2.45–2.65|  1.55–1.60|    7     |
 | ♀  |10.20–11.00|  9.00–9.80|  .75–.80|2.60–2.75|  1.65–1.85|   12     |

Var. mexicanus, SWAINSON.


  _Accipiter mexicanus_, SWAINS. F. Bor.-Am. II, 1831, 45.—JARD.
  (ed. WILS.) Am. Orn. II, 1832, 215.—BONAP. Consp. 32 (under _A.
  fuscus_).—CASS. B. Cal. & Tex. 96.—IB. P. A. N. S. 1855, 279; Birds
  N. Am. 1858, 17.—COOP. & SUCKL. P. R. R. Rep’t, VII, ii, 1860,
  146.—COUES, P. A. N. S. Philad. 1866, 18.—GRAY, Hand List, I, 1869,

_Adult male_ (12,024, Fort Tejon, Cal.; J. Xantus). Forehead, crown, and
occiput plumbeous-black, feathers of the latter with basal two-thirds
snowy-white, partially exposed. Upper plumage deep plumbeous, darkest
anteriorly, the back being scarcely lighter than the nape; rump
fine bluish-plumbeous. No concealed white on the upper parts. Tail
brownish-plumbeous, narrowly tipped with pure white, and with four
sharply defined broad bands of black,—the first of which is faintest,
and concealed by the coverts, the last broadest; shafts of tail-feathers
deep brown throughout. Primaries and secondaries much darker than the
tail, more bluish; less so, however, than the scapulars. Lores whitish,
quite in contrast with the black of the forehead; cheeks and ear-coverts
dark ashy, slightly washed with reddish, and with obscure darker
streaks; chin and throat white, with sparse hair-like shaft-streaks of
black. Breast, abdomen, sides, flanks, and tibiæ fine vinaceous-rufous;
feathers (except on tibiæ) with fine hair-like shaft-streaks of black
(much narrower than in _cooperi_); breast, abdomen, sides, and flanks
with pairs of transverse ovoid white spots, not touching the shaft;
on the abdomen the white and rufous bars are of about equal width; on
the tibiæ the rufous is deepest, and exceeds the white; anal region
barred with rufous, more faintly than the abdomen; lower tail-coverts
snowy-white. Sides of the neck deep reddish-ashy, this washing the
whole side of the breast. Lining of the wing reddish-white, with
numerous crowded, cordate, somewhat blended spots of rufous; larger
coverts transversely spotted with blackish; under side of primaries
silvery-white (blackish for about the terminal inch), crossed with
quadrate spots of blackish, of which there are about seven on the
longest quill (fourth); the basal ones are, however, so much broken,
that the number varies in different individuals.

_Young male_ (Fort Tejon, California). Forehead, crown, occiput, and
nape deep rusty-rufous; feathers with broad longitudinal streaks of pure
black. Rest of upper parts deep umber, darkest on the back; feathers
of back and rump, the upper tail-coverts, scapulars, and wing-coverts,
broadly bordered with rusty; scapulars with concealed white spots.
Tail ashy-umber, tipped (more broadly than in adult) with ashy-white,
crossed by four broad bands of brownish-black; the last (or subterminal)
of which is broadest, the first concealed by the coverts. Secondaries
and primaries similar in color to the tail, but darker; the first
showing five obsolete darker bands, and tipped (rather broadly) with
pale cinnamon-rufous. Ear-coverts and cheeks fulvous-white, thickly
streaked with dark brown. Lower parts white, washed with ochraceous on
jugulum and breast; each feather with a central longitudinal lanceolate
stripe of clear umber, the shaft of each black; these streaks are very
narrow on the throat, broadest on the breast and flanks. Tibiæ with
transversely ovate spots, and transverse bars of reddish-umber; lower
tail-coverts with narrow shaft-streaks of darker brown. Lining of wing
with cordate and ovate spots of dark brown.

_Young female_ (42,136, Orizaba, Mexico; M. Botteri). Similar to the
young male; feathers of back, etc., less broadly margined with rusty.
Ochraceous wash on lower parts more decided; stripes beneath broader
and less lanceolate; on the sides broadly ovate, and on the flanks in
form of broad transverse bars; tibiæ more thickly spotted transversely;
lower tail-coverts immaculate. Wing, 9.00; tail, 7.80; tarsus, 2.25;
middle toe, 2.50. Fourth quill longest; third shorter than fifth;
second intermediate between sixth and seventh; first, 2.90 shorter than
longest. Graduation of tail, .90.

HAB. Western region of North America; Mexico.


National Museum, 22; Boston Society, 2; Museum, Cambridge, 2; Cab. G. N.
Lawrence, 2; Philadelphia Academy, 2; Coll. R. Ridgway, 2. Total, 32.


 |Sex.|   Wing.   |   Tail.   | Culmen. | Tarsus. |Middle Toe.|Specimens.|
 | ♂  |  8.50–9.85|  7.50–9.20|  .60–.70|2.10–2.75|  1.30–1.65|   24     |
 | ♀  |10.20–10.60| 9.30–10.50|  .70–.75|2.65–2.75|  1.65–1.75|    4     |

HABITS. This common Hawk appears to have a very general distribution
over the United States, from South Carolina to New Brunswick, on the
Atlantic; from Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, in the interior, to the
Saskatchewan, and from Southern California to Washington Territory, on
the Pacific. Mr. Boardman mentions it as found near Calais, but rare.
Mr. Verrill cites it as occurring in Western Maine, but not common.
I have received its eggs from South Carolina, where it is resident
throughout the year. Mr. Dresser met with it not uncommon near San
Antonio, and found it breeding on the Altascosa and Medina Rivers. Dr.
Coues says it is generally distributed throughout the Territory of
Arizona. Dr. Newberry found it common about San Francisco, and extending
north of the Columbia River. Mr. A. Schott obtained a specimen on the
Colorado River in Southern California, and Dr. Gambel and Dr. A. L.
Heermann speak of it as common throughout that State, while Dr. Cooper
and Dr. Suckley mention it as frequent both in Oregon and in Washington
Territory. A single specimen was taken by Mr. Salvin in Guatemala. Dr.
Cooper states that this Hawk is often killed about the farm-yards of
Washington Territory, where it seizes on chickens before the very eyes
of the owner, darting down like lightning, and disappearing again before
he can see what has caused the disturbance. It is said to be a constant
resident, and to breed within the Territory.

[Illustration: _Nisus cooperi._]

Mr. Audubon describes the flight of this Hawk as rapid, protracted, and
even, and as performed at a short distance from the ground, or over the
forest. It is said to move along in a silent gliding manner, and with
a swiftness even superior to that of the Wild Pigeon, rarely deviating
from a straight course except to seize its prey, and seldom mounting
in the air in circles. It is very bold and daring, Mr. Audubon having
known one to attack and kill a cock much larger and heavier than itself.
It frequently attacks and kills the common Ruffed Grouse. It breeds in
especial abundance in the Middle States, and particularly along the
banks of the Potomac River. I have received reliable information of its
nesting in Vermont, Massachusetts, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Maryland,
Virginia, and South Carolina, and probably nearly all of the States. Mr.
Gosse did not meet with it in Jamaica.

Mr. Audubon states that he found its nest usually placed in the forks of
the branch of an oak-tree, towards its extremity. In general appearance
it resembles that of the common Crow, being composed externally of
numerous crooked sticks, and having a slight lining of grasses and
a few feathers. The eggs he describes as three or four in number,
almost globular, large for the size of the bird, of a dull white color,
granulated and rough to the touch.

Dr. Hoy, in a communication to the Boston Natural History Society,
mentions finding four nests of this Hawk in a single season, and his
careful observations of the habits of the parent birds enabled him to
ascertain that in each instance the birds began to sit constantly upon
their nest as soon as a single egg had been deposited, and that, as a
consequence, the eggs having been deposited at varying intervals, each
one was found in a different stage of incubation from the other. In not
a single instance did he visit a nest without finding the parent bird
occupying it.

These nests were all composed of sticks, rudely lined with strips of
bark and a few bunches of _Usnea barbata_. The nests were quite shallow
and small for a Hawk. Most of the eggs were sparingly sprinkled with
umber-brown. One set of these eggs was blotched with bluish-green,
which soon faded out. While the nests were being molested, the parent
Hawk would fly from tree to tree, uttering, in rapid succession,

Dr. Hoy states that the male of this species, during the nesting-season,
may frequently be seen flying high in the air, sporting, vaulting, and
turning somersaults on the wing, which habit has given to it the name
of Tumbler-Hawk. No Hawk is harder to shoot, and none commits greater
havoc among barn-yard fowls than this species. He has seen one strike a
large hen while she was flying wildly for safety, and kill her on the
spot, though it was obliged to abandon the game, as it proved too heavy
to carry off.

I have specimens of its eggs from South Carolina, obtained by the
young sons of Rev. M. A. Curtis, of Society Hill. Mr. Curtis, Sen.,
furnished me with the following description of its nest: “The nest of
the Cooper’s Hawk was built in the triple fork of a tall black gum
(_Nyssa multiflora_), near the top of the tree, which stood in a swamp.
It was formed of a layer of small sticks, ⅓ to ½ inch in diameter. Its
external diameter varied from 1½ to 2 feet. This layer was ⅞ of an inch
in thickness, with only a slight depression in the centre, hardly enough
to keep the eggs from rolling out. A few thin pieces of pine bark formed
the bed for the eggs.”

Another nest, obtained in Randolph, Vt., by Charles S. Paine, Esq.,
is thus described by him: “The nest was built of hemlock twigs, and
lined with small, thin pieces of hemlock bark, such as hang loosely on
the tree. The Hawk, when the nest was approached, did not whistle, as
some others of that family do, but uttered a cry of _ge! ge! ge! ge!_
This was repeated several times, with great rapidity, by both male and

The average size of the eggs of this bird is 1.56 by 1.94 inches. The
color is usually a uniform dull white, but is occasionally tinged with
as light bluish shade. They are nearly spherical, though not more so
than the eggs of several species, and are equal at either end. Their
surface is slightly granulated. The number of the eggs varies from three
to four, though occasionally there are five in a nest.

The maximum length of the egg of this species is 2.00 inches, the
minimum 1.85; the maximum breadth 1.60, the minimum 1.50 inches. In
occasional instances I have known the eggs of this species more or less
distinctly marked, especially about the larger end, with blotches of a
light yellowish-brown. Those most distinctly marked in this manner were
taken and identified by Mr. Paine.

A nest of this Hawk, found by Dr. J. W. Velie, was built on a
poplar-tree, about forty feet from the ground, and was composed of
sticks and lined with moss and leaves. There was a small cleared space
of three or four rods in extent, in the middle of which the tree stood,
and about a quarter of a mile from the main channel of the Mississippi
River, on Rock Island.

The Cooper Hawk was found on Mount Tom by Mr. William Street, nesting
for the most part in pine or hemlock trees, usually choosing one in
a thick clump. They begin to lay about the first of May, usually
depositing four eggs. They are very shy, and it is almost impossible to
get within shot of them, even when they have young. They rarely molest
the poultry-yard, but seem to live chiefly on small birds and animals.
They leave their nest at once whenever it is approached, and will not
return until the intruder has gone.

The var. _mexicanus_, originally described by Mr. Swainson from Mexican
specimens obtained near Real del Monte, has been ascertained to cross
our boundaries, and is found in all the territory between the Rocky
Mountains and the Pacific, as far north as Washington Territory. Dr.
Cooper has never met with this Hawk, but supposes its general habits,
and especially those regulating its migrations, closely resemble those
of _A. cooperi_, to which the bird itself, in all but size, is so
similar. Dr. Coues speaks of it as a common resident species in Arizona.
He states that he has seen young birds of this species, reared by the
hand from the nest, become so thoroughly domesticated as to come to
their master on being whistled for, and perch on his shoulder, or follow
him when shooting small birds for their food. They were allowed their
entire liberty. Their ordinary note was a shrill and harsh scream. A
low, plaintive, lisping whistle was indicative of hunger.

Dr. Suckley, who met with this bird on Puget Sound, where a specimen was
shot on a salt marsh, states that, while soaring about, it resembled in
its motions the common Marsh Hawk, or Hen Harrier (_Circus hudsonius_).


  _Astur_, LACÉP. 1800. (Type, _Falco palumbarius_, LINN.)
  _Dædalion_, SAVIG. 1809. _Dædalium_, AGASS.
  _Sparvius_, VIEILL. 1816.
  _Aster_, SWAINS. 1837.
  _Leucospiza_, KAUP, 1844. (Type, _Falco novæ-hollandiæ_, GMEL.)

The characters of this subgenus have been sufficiently indicated on
page 221, so that it is unnecessary to repeat them here. The species of
_Astur_ are far less numerous than those of _Nisus_, only about six,
including geographical races, being known. They are found in nearly all
parts of the world, except tropical America, the Sandwich Islands, and
the East Indies.


  =58982=, ♀. ½
  =58982=, ♀. ½

_Astur atricapillus._]

Species and Races.

  =A. palumbarius.= Wing, 12.00–14.50; tail, 9.50–12.75; culmen,
  .80–1.00; tarsus, 2.70–3.15; middle toe, 1.70–2.20. Fourth quill
  longest; first shortest. _Adult._ Above, continuously uniform
  slate-color, or brown; the tail with several more or less distinct
  broad bands of darker, and narrowly tipped with white. Beneath white,
  with transverse lines or bars of the same color as the upper surface.
  Top of the head blackish; a streaked whitish superciliary stripe.
  _Young._ Above much variegated with brown and pale ochraceous; bands
  on the tail more sharply defined. Beneath pale ochraceous, with
  longitudinal stripes of dark brown.

    _Adult._ Above umber-brown, without conspicuously darker
    shaft-streaks; top of the head dull dusky. Markings on the lower
    parts in the form of sharply defined, broad, detached, crescentic
    bars, and of an umber tint; throat barred. Tail with five broad,
    well-defined bands of blackish. Wing, 12.25–14.25; tail, 9.40–11.10;
    culmen, .80–.95; tarsus, 2.80–3.15; middle toe, 1.80–2.20. _Hab._
    Northern portions of the Old World …

                                                 var. _palumbarius_.[83]

    _Adult._ Above bluish slate-color, with conspicuous darker
    shaft-streaks; top of the head deep black; markings on the lower
    parts in the form of irregularly defined, narrow, zigzag bars, or
    fine lines, of a bluish-slaty tint; throat not barred. Tail with
    only about four indistinct bands of blackish. Wing, 12.00–14.70;
    tail, 9.50–12.75; culmen, .80–1.00; tarsus, 2.70–3.20; middle toe,
    1.70–2.00. _Hab._ Northern portions of North America …

                                                    var. _atricapillus_.

Astur palumbarius, var. atricapillus (WILS.).


  _Falco atricapillus_, WILS. Am. Orn. 1808, pl. lii, f. 3.—BONAP.
  Nouv. Giorn. Pisa, XXV, pt. ii, p. 55. _Astur atricapillus_, BONAP.
  Os. Cuv. Règ. An. p. 33.—IB. List, 1838, 5; Consp. 31.—WILS. Am. Orn.
  II, 284.—KAUP, Monog. Falc. Jardine’s Contr. Orn. 1850, 66.—DE KAY,
  Zoöl. N. Y. II, 19, pl. ii, fig. 4 (ad.), f. 5 (♂ juv.).—NUTT. Man.
  85.—STRICKL. Orn. Syn. I, 118.—NEWB. P. R. Rep. VI, iv, 74.—COOP.
  & SUCK. P. R. Rep. XII, ii, 144.—LORD, Pr. R. A. I. IV, 1860,
  110.—BLAKISTON, Ibis, III, 1861, 316.—GRAY, Hand List, I, 1869,
  29.—BREWER, Oölogy, 1857, 17. _Falco palumbarius_, SAB. Frankl. Exp.
  670.—BONAP. Ann. N. Y. Lyc. II, 28.—AUD. Edinb. J. Nat. Geog. Sc.
  III, 145.—IB. B. Am. pl. cxli; Orn. Biog. II, 241.—GIRAUD, B. Long
  Isl’d, 18.—PEAB. B. Mass. III, 77. _Astur palumbarius_, SW. & RICH.
  F. B. A. II, pl. xxvi.—JAMES. WILS. Am. Orn. I, 63.—AUD. Syn. B. Am.
  18.—BREWER, WILS. Am. Orn. 685, pl. i, fig. 5.—GRAY, List B. Brit.
  Mus. 63.

SP. CHAR. _Adult male_ (44,940, Boston, Mass.; E. A. Samuels). Above
continuous bluish-slate, shafts of the feather inconspicuously black;
tail darker and less bluish, tipped with white (about .25 of an inch
wide) and crossed by five broad, faintly defined bars of blackish,
these most distinct on inner webs (the first concealed by the upper
coverts, the second partially so; the last, or subterminal one, which
is about twice as broad as the rest, measuring about one inch in
width). Primaries darker than the tail (but not approaching black).
Forehead, crown, occiput, and ear-coverts pure plumbeous-black; feathers
snowy-white beneath the surface, much exposed on the occiput; a broad
conspicuous supraoral stripe originating above the posterior angle of
the eye, running back over the ear-coverts to the occiput, pure white,
with fine streaks of black; lores and cheeks grayish-white. Lower
parts white; the whole surface (except throat and lower tail-coverts)
covered with numerous narrow transverse bars of slate; on the breast
these are much broken and irregular, forming fine transverse zigzags;
posteriorly they are more regular, and about .10 of an inch wide, the
white a very little more. Chin, throat, and cheeks without transverse
bars, but with very sharp shaft-lines of black; breast, sides, and
abdomen, a medial longitudinal broad streak of slate on each feather,
the shaft black; on the tibiæ, where the transverse bars are narrower
and more regular, the shaft-streaks are also finer; anal region finely
barred; lower tail-coverts immaculate pure white. Lining of the wing
barred more coarsely and irregularly than the breast; under surface of
primaries with white prevailing, this growing more silvery toward the
ends; longest (fourth) with six oblique transverse patches of slate,
the outlines of which are much broken. Wing-formula, 4, 5, 3–6–2; 1=10.
Wing, 13.00; tail, 9.50; tarsus, 3.70, naked portion, 1.35; middle toe,
2.00; inner, 1.21; outer, 1.37; posterior, 1.00.

No. 8,508 (Fort Steilacoom, Puget Sound, Washington Territory; Dr.
Suckley. Var. _striatulus_, Ridgway). Similar to No. 44,940, but the
upper surface more bluish, the shafts of the feathers more conspicuously
black; the dorsal feathers nearly black around their borders. Tail-bands
nearly obsolete. Lower parts with the ground-color fine bluish-ash,
sprinkled transversely with innumerable zigzag dots of white, these
gradually increasing in width posteriorly, where they take the form
of irregular transverse bars; crissum sparsely and coarsely sprinkled
with slaty. Each feather of the lower parts with a very sharply defined
narrow shaft-stripe of deep black, these contrasting conspicuously with
the bluish, finely marked ground-color. Under surface of primaries
uniform slaty to their bases, the usual white spots being almost
obsolete. Wing-formula, 4–5, 3–6–2–7–8–9, 1. Wing, 12.50; tail, 9.10;
tarsus, 2.60, the naked portion, 1.40; middle toe, 1.75.

_Adult female_ (12,239, Brooklyn, N. Y.; J. Ackhurst). Almost precisely
similar to the male. Slate above less bluish; bands on tail more
distinct, five dark ones (about .75 of an inch in width) across
the brownish-slate; obscure light bands indicated on outer webs of
primaries, corresponding with those on inner webs; lores more grayish
than in male; bars beneath more regular; longitudinal streaks blacker
and more sharply defined. Wing, 14.25; tail, 11.25; tarsus, 1.60–1.20;
middle toe, 1.95; inner, 1.40; outer, 1.45; posterior, 1.30.

No. 59,892, (Colorado; F. V. Hayden, var. _striatulus_, Ridgway).
Similar to male No. 8,508, described above, but differing as follows:
interscapulars uniform with the rest of the upper surface; tail-bands
appreciable, much broader than in ♀, No. 12,239, the subterminal one
being 1.61, the rest 1.10, wide, instead of 1.10 and .70. The longest
upper tail-coverts with narrow white tips; white spots on inner webs of
primaries more distinct. Black shaft-streaks on lower surface broader
and more conspicuous. Wing-formula, 4, 3, 5–6–2–7, 1=10. Wing, 14.70;
tail, 11.50; tarsus, 2.50; the naked portion, 1.10; middle toe, 2.00.

_Young male_ (second year, No. 26,920, Nova Scotia, June; W. G. Winton).
Plumage very much variegated. Head above, nape, and anterior portion
of the back, ochraceous-white, each feather with a central stripe of
brownish-black, these becoming more tear-shaped on the nape. Scapulars,
back, wing-coverts, rump, and upper tail-coverts umber-brown; the
feathers with lighter edges, and with large, more or less concealed
spots of white,—these are largest on the scapulars, where they occupy
the basal and middle thirds of the feathers, a band of brown narrower
than the subterminal one separating the two areas; upper tail-coverts
similarly marked, but white edges broader, forming conspicuous terminal
crescentic bars. Tail cinereous-umber, with five conspicuous bands of
blackish-brown, the last of which is subterminal, and broader than
the rest; tip of tail like the pale bands; the bands are most sharply
defined on the inner webs, being followed along the edges by the white
of the edge, which, frequently extending along the margin of the black,
crosses to the shaft, and is sometimes even apparent on the outer web;
the lateral feather has the inner web almost entirely white, this,
however, more or less finely mottled with grayish, the mottling becoming
more dense toward the end of the feather; the bands also cross more
obliquely than on the middle feathers. Secondaries grayish-brown, with
five indistinct, but quite apparent, dark bands; primaries marked as in
the adult, but are much lighter. Beneath pure white, all the feathers,
including lower tail-coverts, with sharp, central, longitudinal streaks
of clear dark-brown, the shafts of the feathers black; on the sides
and tibiæ these streaks are expanded into a more acuminate, elliptical
form; the crissum only is immaculate, although the throat is only very
sparsely streaked; on the ear-coverts the streaks are very fine and
numerous, but uniformly distributed.

No. 18,404 (west of Fort Benton, on the Missouri, May 16, 1864; Captain
Jas. A. Mullan, var. _striatulus_). Similar to No. 26,920, but colors
much darker. Upper parts with dark brown prevailing, the pale borders to
the feathers very narrow, and the basal very restricted and concealed;
upper tail-coverts deep ashy-umber, tipped narrowly with white, and with
large subterminal, transversely cordate, and other anterior bars of
dusky. Tail ashy-brown, much darker than in No. 26,920, with five broad,
sharply defined bands of blackish, without any distinct light bordering
bar. White of the lower parts entirely destitute of any yellowish tinge,
the stripes much broader than in No. 26,920, and deep brownish-black,
the shafts not perceptibly darker; tibiæ with transverse bars of dusky;
lower tail-coverts with transverse spots of the same. Wing, 12.25; tail,

_Young female_ (second year, No. 26,921, Nova Scotia; W. G. Winton).
Head above, nape, rump, and upper tail-coverts, with a deep ochraceous
tinge; the characters of markings, however, as in the male. Bands on the
tail more sharply defined, the narrow white bar separating the black
from the grayish bands more continuous and conspicuous; lateral feathers
more mottled; grayish tip of tail passing terminally into white. Beneath
with a faint ochraceous wash, this most apparent on the lining of the
wings and tibiæ; streaks as in the male, but rather more numerous, the
throat being thickly streaked.

No. 11,740 (Puget Sound, October 26, 1858; Dr. C. B. Kennerly. Var.
_striatulus_). Similar to No. 18,404, but more uniformly blackish above;
tip of tail more distinctly whitish; stripes beneath broader and deeper
black, becoming broader and more tear-shaped posteriorly, some of the
markings on the flanks being cordate, or even transverse. Wing-formula,
4, 5, 3–6, 2–7–8–9–10=1. Wing, 13.00; tail, 10.80; tarsus, 2.80; middle
toe, 1.80.

_Young female_ (first year, No. 49,662, Calais, Me.; G. A. Boardman).
Differs from the female in the second year (No. 26,921) as follows: On
the wings and upper tail-coverts the yellowish-white spots are less
concealed, or, in fact, this forms the ground-color; secondary coverts
ochraceous-white, with two very distant transverse spots of dark brown,
rather narrower than the white spaces; tips of feathers broadly white;
secondaries grayish-brown, tipped with white, more mottled with the
same toward bases, and crossed by five bands of dark brown, the first
two of which are concealed by the coverts, the last quite a distance
from the end of the feathers; upper tail-coverts white, mottled on
inner webs with brown, each with two transverse broad bars, and a
subterminal cordate spot of dark brown, the last not touching the edge
of the feather, and the anterior bars both concealed by the overlaying
feather. Tail grayish-brown, tipped with white, and with six bands
of blackish-brown; these bordered with white as in the older stage.
Markings beneath as in the older stage, but those on the sides more
cordate. Wing-formula, 4, 5, 3–6–7–2–8–9, 1, 10. Wing, 14.00; tail,

In regard to the form indicated in the above descriptions as “var.
_striatulus_, Ridgway,” I am as yet undecided whether to recognize it
as a geographical race, or to merely consider the two adult plumages as
representing different ages of the same form. Certain it is that there
is a decided difference in the young plumage, between the birds of this
species from the eastern portion of North America and those from the
western regions; these differences consisting in the very much darker
colors of the western individuals, as shown by the above descriptions.
My first impression in regard to the adult dress, after making the
first critical examination of the series at my command, was, that the
coarsely mottled specimens were confined to the east, and that those
finely mottled beneath were peculiar to the west; and this view I am not
yet prepared to yield. I have never seen an adult bird from any western
locality which agrees with the eastern ones described above; all partake
of the same characters as those described, in being finely and faintly
mottled beneath, with sharp black shaft-streaks, producing the effect
of a nearly uniform bluish ground, the black streaks in conspicuous
contrast, the tail-bands nearly obsolete, etc. But occasional, not
to say frequent, individuals obtained in the eastern States, which
agree in these respects with the western style, rather disfavor the
view that these differences are regional, unless we consider that
these troublesome individuals, being, of course, winter migrants, have
strayed eastward from the countries where they were bred. The Colorado
female described above exhibits a rather suspicious feature in having a
single feather, on the lower parts, which is coarsely barred, as in the
eastern style, while all the rest are finely waved and marbled as in
the western. If this would suggest that the differences supposed to be
climatic or geographical are in reality only dependent on age, it would
also indicate that the finely mottled individuals are the older ones.

If future investigations should substantiate this suggestion as to the
existence of an eastern and a western race of Goshawk in North America,
they would be distinguished by the following characters:—

  Var. =atricapillus=. _Adult._ Markings of the lower surface coarse and
  ragged; feathers of the pectoral region with broad medial longitudinal
  streaks of the same slaty tint as the transverse bars, and with only
  the shafts black. Tail-bands distinct. _Young._ Pale ochraceous
  markings prevailing in extent over the darker (clear grayish-umber)
  spotting. Stripes beneath narrow, clear brownish; those on the flanks
  linear. Wing, 12.25–14.25; tail, 10.00–12.75; culmen, .80–1.00;
  tarsus, 2.90–3.15; middle toe, 1.70–1.95. _Hab._ Eastern region of
  North America.

  Var. =striatulus=. _Adult._ Markings of the lower parts fine and
  delicate, and so dense as to present the appearance of a nearly
  uniform bluish-ashy surface; feathers of the pectoral region without
  the medial stripes of slaty, but with broad shaft-streaks of deep
  black, contrasting very conspicuously with the finely mottled general
  surface. Tail-bands obsolete. _Young._ Darker (brownish-black)
  markings prevailing in extent over the lighter (nearly clear white)
  ones. Stripes beneath broad, brownish-black; those on the flanks
  cordate and transverse. Wing, 12.00–13.60; tail, 9.50–12.20; culmen,
  .85–1.00; tarsus, 2.70–3.15; middle toe, 1.70–.185. _Hab._ Western
  region of North America.


Var. _atricapillus_.

National Museum, 8; Philadelphia Academy, 7; New York Museum, 3; Boston
Society, 2; G. N. Lawrence, 4; W. S. Brewer, 2; Museum, Cambridge, 2; R.
Ridgway, 2. Total, 30.


 |Sex.|   Wing.   |   Tail.   | Culmen. | Tarsus. |Middle Toe.|Specimens.|
 | ♂  |12.25–13.00|10.00–10.50|  .80–.85|2.90–3.05|  1.70–1.80|    5     |
 | ♀  |14.00–14.25|11.50–12.75| .90–1.00|2.90–3.15|  1.80–1.95|    7     |

Var. _striatulus_.

National Museum, 9; R. Ridgway, 1; Museum, Cambridge, 1
(Massachusetts!). Total, 11.


 |Sex.|   Wing.   |   Tail.   | Culmen. | Tarsus. |Middle Toe.|Specimens.|
 | ♂  |12.00–13.25| 9.50–10.00|  .85–.90|2.70–3.00|  1.70–1.80|    8     |
 | ♀  |13.50–13.60|11.80–12.20| .90–1.00|3.00–3.15|  1.85–0.00|    2     |

[Illustration: _Astur atricapillus._]

HABITS. The dreaded Blue Hen Hawk, as our Goshawk is usually called in
New England, is a bird of somewhat irregular occurrence south of the
44th parallel. It occurs in the vicinity of Boston from November to
March, but is never very common. In other parts of the State it is at
times not uncommon at this season. It is common throughout Nova Scotia,
New Brunswick, and Northern Maine, and may undoubtedly be found breeding
in the northern portions of New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York. In the
summer of 1872, Mr. George Baxter, of Danville, Vt., procured a nest
containing three young birds, which were sent to the New York Central
Park. Mr. Downes speaks of it as “far too common” in the vicinity of
Halifax, where it is very destructive to Ducks, Pigeons, and poultry.
Mr. Boardman gives it as common near Calais, where it breeds, and where
he has taken its eggs. Mr. Verrill mentions it as resident in Western
Maine, where it is one of the most common Hawks. Mr. Allen found it
usually rare near Springfield, but remarkably common during the winter
of 1859–60. He afterwards mentions that since then, and for the last ten
winters, he has known them to be quite common during several seasons.
Mr. C. J. Maynard is confident that this species occasionally breed
in Massachusetts. He once observed a pair at a locality in Weston,
until the latter part of May. It was found breeding in Iowa by Mr.
S. N. Marston. Mr. Victor Brooke records in the Ibis, 1870, p. 538, the
occurrence, in Ireland, of an example of this species. It was shot in
the Galtee Mountains, in February, 1870. The bird was a mature female,
with the ovary somewhat enlarged. The stomach contained the remains of a

On the Pacific coast it is comparatively rare in California, though much
more abundant farther north, in Oregon and in Washington Territory.
Dr. Cooper noticed several in the dense spruce forests of Washington
Territory, and regarded it as a special frequenter of dark woods, where
other Hawks are rarely seen. Dr. Suckley also obtained several specimens
of this bird both at Fort Dalles and at Fort Steilacoom.

Sir John Richardson met with this Hawk and procured several specimens in
the Arctic regions, and Captain Blakiston also met with it in the valley
of the Saskatchewan. He states that it ranges throughout the interior
from Hudson’s Bay to the Rocky Mountains and Mackenzie River. He found
it breeding on the Saskatchewan, and one of his specimens was shot on
its nest. The Goshawk was obtained at Sitka by Bischoff; and a pair was
taken by Mr. Dall, April 24, 1867, within a few miles of Nulato Fort,
on the Yukon River. The nest was on a large poplar, thirty feet above
the ground, and made of small sticks. No eggs had been laid, but several
nearly mature were found in the ovary of the female. The nest was on a
small island in a thick grove of poplars, a situation which this species
seemed to prefer. Mr. Dall adds that this was the most common Hawk in
the valley of the Yukon, where it feeds largely on the White Ptarmigan
(_Lagopus albus_), tearing off the skin and feathers, and eating only
the flesh. Mr. Dall received skins from the Kuskoquim River, where it
was said to be a resident species.

Dr. Suckley speaks of this Hawk as bold, swift, and strong, never
hesitating to sweep into a poultry-yard, catch up a chicken, and make
off with it almost in a breath. Its manner of seizing its prey was by a
horizontal approach for a short distance, elevated but a few feet from
the ground, a sudden downward sweep, and then, without stopping its
flight, making its way to a neighboring tree with the struggling victim
securely fastened in its talons. For strength, intrepidity, and fury,
Dr. Suckley adds, it cannot be surpassed. It seems to display great
cunning, seizing very opportune moments for its attacks. In one instance
it was several days before he was able to have one of these birds
killed, although men were constantly on the watch for it. So adroit
was it in seizing opportunities to make its attacks, that it regularly
visited the poultry-yard three times a day, and yet always contrived to
escape unmolested. He found these birds much more plentiful during some
months than at other times, and attributed it to their breeding in the
retired recesses of the mountains, remaining there until their young
were well able to fly, and then all descending to the open plains, where
they obtain a more abundant supply of food.

Mr. Audubon states that in Maine the Goshawk was said to prey upon
hares, the Canada and Ruffed Grouse, and upon Wild Ducks. They were so
daring as to come to the very door of the farm-house, and carry off
their prey with such rapidity as to baffle all endeavors to shoot them.
Mr. Audubon found this Hawk preying upon the Wild Ducks in Canoe Creek,
near Henderson, Ky., during a severe winter; as the banks were steep and
high, he had them at a disadvantage, and secured a large number of them.
They caught the Mallards with great ease, and, after killing them, tore
off the feathers with great deliberation and neatness, eating only the
flesh of the breast.

The flight of this bird he describes as both rapid and protracted,
sweeping along with such speed as to enable it to seize its prey with
only a slight deviation from its course, and making great use of its
long tail in regulating both the direction and the rapidity of its
course. It generally flies high, with a constant beat of the wings,
rarely moving in large circles in the manner of other Hawks. It is
described as a restless bird, vigilant and industrious, and seldom
alighting except to devour its prey. When perching, it keeps itself more
upright than most other Hawks.

Audubon narrates that he once observed one of these birds give chase
to a large flock of the Purple Grakles, then crossing the Ohio River.
The Hawk came upon them with the swiftness of an arrow; the Blackbirds,
in their fright, rushing together in a compact mass. On overtaking
them, it seized first one, and then another and another, giving each a
death-squeeze, and then dropping it into the water. In this manner it
procured five before the poor birds could reach the shelter of a wood;
and then, giving up the chase, swept over the waters, picking up the
fruits of its industry, and carrying each bird singly to the shore.

Mr. Audubon, who observed these Hawks in the Great Pine Forest of
Pennsylvania, and on the banks of the Niagara River, near the Falls,
describes a nest as placed on the branches of a tree, and near the
trunk. It was of great size, and resembled that of a Crow in the manner
of its construction, but was much flatter. It was made of withered twigs
and coarse grass, with a lining of fibrous strips of plants resembling
hemp. Another, found by Mr. Audubon in the month of April, contained
three eggs ready to be hatched. In another the number was four.

Mr. Dall states that the eggs are usually four in number, of a
greenish-white color, and were usually all laid by the first of
May. An egg of this bird, obtained by Mr. Dall at Nulato, April 27,
1858, measures 2.28 inches in length and 1.90 in breadth. It is of a
rounded-oval shape, and is of a uniform dead-white color, with hardly
a tinge of green. Another, obtained by Mr. Charles Pease near the
head-waters of the Unalakleet River, measures 2.32 by 1.80 inches, and
the ground-color is more distinctly greenish-white. A few small spots of
a bronze-brown are scattered in isolated marking irregularly over the
egg. Lieutenant Bendire writes that he has found the eggs of this Hawk
in Montana; that their number in a set is usually two, and an unspotted


  _Asturina_, VIEILL. 1816. (Type, _Falco nitidus_, LATHAM.)

GEN. CHAR. Somewhat similar to _Astur_, but of much heavier and more
robust build; tarsi longer and stouter, tail shorter and less rounded,
wings longer, etc. Bill more elongated than in _Astur_, the cere
longer, and the festoon on the commissure more developed; nostril
oval, horizontal. Wings rather short, but less concave beneath than
in _Astur_; third to fourth quill longest; first shorter than eighth
or ninth; four outer quills with their inner webs sinuated. Tail
considerably shorter than the wing, slightly emarginated, the lateral
pair of feathers longest. Feet large and robust, when outstretched
reaching almost to the end of the tail; tarsi very robust compared to
the toes, about one and a half times as long as the middle toe, the
frontal and posterior rows of transverse scutellæ very distinct and
regular; outer toe longer than inner; claws strong, well curved, but not
very acute. Sexes alike in color; old and young plumages very different.


  =34002=, ♀. ½
  =34002=, ♀. ¼
  =34002=, ♀. ½

_Asturina plagiata._]

This genus is peculiar to tropical America, and contains but a single
species, the _A. nitida_, with its two climatic races, _nitida_ of South
America and _plagiata_ of Middle America. The species of _Rupornis_,
Kaup (_R. magnirostris_ and _R. leucorrhoa_), have been associated with
the species of the present genus, but they are very distinct. The genera
(or, more properly, subgenera) most nearly related to _Asturina_ are
_Leucoptrinis_, Kaup, of tropical America, and _Kaupifalco_, Bonap.,
of Western Africa. The former differs mainly in more or less rounded,
instead of emarginated, tail, and in having the old and young plumages
similar; the latter in having the posterior face of the tarsus without a
well-defined row of transverse scutellæ.

Species and Races.

  =A. nitida.= Wing, 9.80–11.50; tail, 6.70–8.00; culmen, .80–1.00;
  tarsus, 2.50–2.90; middle toe, 1.40–1.75. _Adult._ Above clear
  ash, paler on the head and darker on the rump; the general surface
  with more or less appreciable transverse bars, or indications of
  bars, of a paler shade, and with darker shafts. Upper tail-coverts
  immaculate white. Tail deep black, fading into pale grayish-brown
  at the end, narrowly tipped with white, and crossed by two to three
  white bands. Lower parts, including the tibiæ, axillars, and throat,
  regularly barred with deep ash and white, the two colors about
  equal in extent; chin and crissum immaculate white. _Young._ Above
  blackish-brown, variegated with pinkish-ochraceous. Tail umber, tipped
  with pinkish-brown or dull whitish, and crossed by six to seven narrow
  bands of black. Beneath white, sometimes tinged with ochraceous; the
  breast, abdomen, and sides with longitudinal tear-shaped spots of

    _Adult._ Upper surface distinctly barred, the lighter bars
    predominating; the top of the head as distinctly barred as the lower
    parts. _Young._ Tibiæ immaculate white or pale ochraceous. Culmen,
    .80–.90. _Hab._ South America, from S. E. Brazil and W. Ecuador, to
    Panama …

                                                      var. _nitida_.[84]

    _Adult._ Upper surface only obsoletely barred, or almost uniform;
    the top of the head without any bars. _Young._ Tibiæ transversely
    barred with dusky. Culmen, .75–.80. _Hab._ Middle America, north to
    the southern border of the United States; straying northward in the
    Mississippi Valley, to Southern Illinois …

                                                        var. _plagiata_.

Asturina nitida, var. plagiata (SCHLEG.).


  _Asturina nitida_, CASS. Birds N. Am. 1858, 35.—SCL. & SALV. Ibis,
  1859, 217.—SALV. Ibis, 1861, 68.—SCL. P. Z. S. 1857, pp. 201, 227;
  1859, pp. 368, 389; 1864, 178.—LAWR. Ann. N. Y. Lyc. IX, 133.—OWEN,
  Ibis, III, 1868 (egg white). _Asturina cinerea_, CASS. P. A. N. S.
  1855, 283 (not of VIEILL.!). _Asturina plagiata_, SCHLEG. Mus.
  Pays-Bas. _Asturinæ_, p. 1.—SCL. & SALV. P. Z. S. 1868, 173; 1869,
  130.—GRAY, Hand List, I, 30, 1869.—RIDGW. Am. Nat. VI, July, 1872,
  430; VII, April, 1873, 203; (Southern Illinois, August).

SP. CHAR. _Adult male_ (51,343, Mazatlan, Mexico; Ferd. Bischoff.
“Length, 16.00; extent, 38.00”). Above deep, rather dark cinereous,
becoming paler and finer on the head above, where the feathers have the
shafts (finely) black; wings with obsolete lighter bars; rump almost
black. Upper tail-coverts immaculate pure white. Tail pure black, tipped
with pale grayish-brown (this passing terminally into white); about
1½ inches from the tip is a continuous band of white, half an inch in
width; and a little over an inch anterior to this is another narrower
and less perfect one. Primaries approaching black at ends; the tips
broadly edged with dull white, as also the ends of secondaries. Head
uniform fine delicate ashy, becoming white on chin and throat, and
approaching the same on the forehead; shafts of feathers on head above,
and neck, black; neck with obsolete paler transverse bars, these most
distinct on jugulum; the breast, abdomen, sides, flanks, axillars, and
tibiæ are regularly barred transversely with cinereous and pure white,
the bars of each about equal, the white, however, gradually increasing,
and the ashy bars narrowing posteriorly, the tibiæ being finely barred;
lower tail-coverts immaculate pure white. Lining of the wing white,
with very sparse, faint, transverse zigzag bars next the axillars and
on larger coverts; under surface of primaries white anterior to their
emargination, beyond which they are more silvery, leaving about an inch
of the terminal portion black, the end of each, however, ashy; outer
two quills crossed by narrow bars of ashy, the rest with indications of
the same, near the shaft. Fourth quill longest; third scarcely shorter;
second shorter than fifth; first intermediate between eighth and ninth.
Wing, 10.50; tail, 7.00; tarsus, 2.60; middle toe, 1.50.

_Adult female_ (34,002, Mazatlan, June; Colonel Grayson). Cinereous
above darker, the fasciæ of the wings hardly observable; front and
throat scarcely whitish; rump almost pure black; second tail-band much
broken and restricted. Ashy prevailing on the jugulum; ashy bars beneath
rather broader. Wings, 11.00; tail, 7.50; tarsus, 2.80; middle toe,

_Young male_ (35,060, Rio de Coahuyana, W. Mexico, October; J. Xantus).
Above, from bill to upper tail-coverts, dark bistre-brown, almost black;
feathers of the head and neck edged laterally with pinkish-ochraceous,
or sulphuret of manganese color; scapulars with nearly whole outer
webs of this color, they being blackish only along edges and at ends;
middle wing-coverts spotted with the same. Secondaries and primaries
faintly tipped with whitish; secondaries with indications of darker
bands, and outer webs of primaries with still more obscure ones; upper
tail-coverts white, with sagittate specks of black, one or two on each.
Tail umber-brown (considerably lighter than the wings), tipped with
pinkish-ash (this passing terminally into dull white), and crossed
with six or seven bands of black (these becoming gradually, but very
considerably, narrower toward the base). Beneath white, with vinaceous
tinge (this deepest laterally); breast, abdomen, and sides with large
tear-shaped or cuneate spots of black; tibiæ with numerous transverse
bars of the same.

_Young female._ Similar to last, but the brown lighter, and more
approaching umber.

HAB. Middle America (from coast to coast), from Costa Rica and Guatemala
to southern border of United States. Arizona, breeding (BENDIRE).
Southern Illinois (Richland Co.) June (RIDGWAY).


National Museum, 13; Philadelphia Academy, 3; Boston Society, 5; Cab.
G. N. Lawrence, 1; R. Ridgway, 2. Total, 24.


 |Sex.|   Wing.   |   Tail.   | Culmen. | Tarsus. |Middle Toe.|Specimens.|
 | ♂  | 9.80–11.50|  7.20–7.80|  .85–.95|2.50–2.70|  1.55–1.70|    7     |
 | ♀  | 9.50–11.30|  6.70–8.00| .80–1.00|2.75–2.70|  1.40–1.75|    4     |
 | ⚪? |10.00–11.70|  6.80–8.00|  .90–.95|2.65–2.80|  1.50–1.65|    4     |

HABITS. This is a Mexican and Central American Hawk, which occasionally
crosses the borders of the United States, having been seen by Mr.
Ridgway in Southern Illinois, and found breeding, by Captain Bendire,
in Arizona, near Tucson. It has been found in the State of New Leon,
one of the most northern provinces of Mexico, by Lieutenant Couch, who
has, however, supplied no notes as to any peculiarities in its habits.
It was said to breed in the tops of lofty trees, and to have eggs of a
greenish-white, resembling those of _Astur atricapillus_. In Central
America it is said by Salvin to be abundant in the hot country on both
coast regions of the Republic of Guatemala, but it is not found in the
temperate regions. Its food consists of lizards, and its flesh is in
consequence very rank.

[Illustration: _Asturina plagiata._]

Mr. Robert Ridgway has met with this Hawk as far to the north as
Southern Illinois. It was seen and twice shot at on the 19th of August,
1871, on Fox Prairie, in Richland County. Mr. Ridgway came across it
while hunting Swallow-tail and Mississippi Kites. The bird, while being
annoyed by these Hawks, was well seen, and there cannot be the slightest
doubt as to its identity.

Mr. Robert Owen found this Hawk, known in Guatemala by the local name of
_Gavilan_, a common name for the whole race of birds of prey, breeding
at San Geronimo, April 3, 1860. The nests are usually found in the
high trees which are scattered over the plain, and not unfrequently
within a few yards of the Indian ranchos. Two eggs seemed to be the
complement laid by one bird. These eggs are described by Mr. Owen as all
white, without any natural coloring. The inner coating of the shell is
sea-green, seeming to confirm the apparently close connection between
the genera of _Astur_ and _Asturina_.

Mr. G. C. Taylor met what he presumed to be this Hawk in great abundance
at Comayagua, Honduras, in January. He saw a pair making their nest on
the top of a lofty cotton-tree.

Captain Bendire found this species not uncommon and breeding in the
vicinity of Tucson, in Arizona. He found two nests, one of which was
taken June 6, the other a few days later. They were very slightly built
of sticks and strips of bark, and placed in low trees on the banks of
Reledo Creek. The nest contained two eggs. These are of a rounded oval
shape, are quite tapering at one end and rounded at the other. They are
of a uniform bluish-white color and unspotted, and measure 2.00 inches
in length by 1.60 inches in breadth.


  _Antenor_, RIDGWAY. (Type, _Falco harrisi_, AUD.)
  _Craxirex_, AUTHORS, not of GOULD.[85]


  =42559=, ♀. ¼
  =42559=, ♀. ½
  =42559=, ♀. ½

_Parabuteo harrisi._]

GEN. CHAR. Similar to _Asturina_, but form heavier, the bill and wings
more elongated, the tail slightly rounded, and the lores almost naked.
Bill very much as in _Asturina_, but more elongated, the top of the
cere longer in proportion to the culmen, and the commissural lobe
more anterior; the upper and lower outlines more nearly parallel.
Nostril oval, horizontal, with an exposed cartilaginous tubercle. Lores
nearly naked, with scant bristles. Wing long (much as in _Buteo_); the
fourth or fifth quill longest, and the first shorter than the eighth
to the tenth; outer four with inner webs sinuated. Tail long, more
than two thirds the wing; even or slightly rounded. Feet robust, when
outstretched reaching nearly to the end of the tail; tarsus nearly
twice the length of the middle, very robust, the frontal and posterior
rows of scutellæ very distinct; outer toe longer than the inner; claws
strong, well curved, and acute. Sexes alike; young and old plumages very

This genus includes a single species, the _P. unicinctus_, with its
two climatic races, _unicinctus_ of South America and _harrisi_ of
Middle America. It is most nearly related to the genus _Urubitinga_,
of tropical America, the species of which are sluggish and almost
Caracara-like in their habits, though they are hardly more so than our
own _Buteones_. The genus _Craxirex_ of Gould having been founded upon
_Buteo galapagoensis_, a species strictly congeneric with _B. borealis_,
it is necessary that a new generic name should be instituted for the
present species, since it so well merits separation to that rank. I
accordingly propose the name given at the head of this chapter.

Species and Races.

  =P. unicinctus.= Wing, 11.65–14.60; tail, 9.00–11.00; culmen,
  .82–1.10; tarsus, 2.78–3.75; middle toe, 1.52–2.00. _Adult._ General
  color brownish-black or blackish-brown, uniform, or slightly
  variegated by light spotting; the lesser wing-coverts and tibiæ deep
  rufous, or chestnut. Tail black; the end and base white, as are
  also the tail-coverts. _Young._ Plumage greatly variegated. Above
  blackish-brown, the feathers edged with rusty; head and neck streaked
  with pale ochraceous. Lower parts pale ochraceous or yellowish-white,
  the breast and abdomen with longitudinal ovoid spots of blackish;
  tibiæ with transverse bars of dark rusty; lower tail-coverts with
  black shaft-streaks. Lesser wing-covert region only washed with
  rufous. Tail grayish-brown, whitish at the tip, and crossed by narrow
  bands of dusky.

    _Adult_ with the blackish much broken up by lighter spotting. Wing,
    11.65–14.60; tail, 9.00–10.50; culmen, .82–1.02; tarsus, 2.78–3.40;
    middle toe, 1.52–1.85. _Hab._ South America …

                                                  var. _unicinctus_.[86]

    _Adult_ with the blackish continuous and uniform. Wing, 12.35–14.50;
    tail, 9.80–11.00; culmen, .90–1.10; tarsus, 3.15–3.75; middle toe,
    1.65–2.00. _Hab._ Middle America, north into southern border of
    United States …

                                                         var. _harrisi_.

Parabuteo unicinctus, var. harrisi (RIDGWAY).


  _Falco harrisi_, AUD. B. Am. pl. cccxcii, 1831.—IB. Orn. Biog. V,
  30. _Buteo harrisi_, AUD. Synop. 1839, 5.—BONAP. List, 3.—DE KAY,
  Zoöl. N. Y. II, 11.—_Craxirex unicinctus_, var. _harrisi_, RIDGWAY,
  P. A. N. S. Philad. Dec. 1870, p. 142. _Buteo unicinctus_, var.
  _harrisi_, COUES, Key, 1872, 215. “_Craxirex unicinctus_, TEMM.”
  CASS. Birds N. Am. 1858, 46.—DRESSER, Ibis, 1865, 329 (Texas).—COUES,
  P. A. N. S. 1866, 13 (Arizona).

SP. CHAR. _Adult male_ (17,230, Cape St. Lucas, Lower California; J.
Xantus). General plumage uniform sooty-black, purest on the tail,
somewhat tinged with chestnut on the rump. Lesser wing-coverts and
lateral half of each web of middle coverts, also the tibiæ, rich
deep chestnut, perfectly uniform. Upper and lower tail-coverts, and
broad basal and terminal zones of tail, pure white, the anterior band
concealed (except on outer feathers) by the upper coverts, and about
twice the width of the last, which is about 1 inch wide. Tail-coverts
with a few irregular narrow shaft-streaks of blackish. Lining of wing
deep chestnut, like the shoulders; each greater covert with a black
shaft-streak; primaries beneath plain black. Wing, 14.50; tail, 10.00;
tarsus, 3.25; middle toe, 2.00. Fourth and fifth quills longest and
equal; third considerably shorter; second intermediate between sixth and
seventh; first 3.40 shorter than longest.

_Adult female_ (42,559, Iztlan, Mexico; Colonel Grayson). Generally
similar to the male; the black, however, less pure and more brownish,
the chestnut more extended, the whole rump being of this color, the last
feathers merely being blackish in the middle. White of tail-coverts
without blackish streaks. Wing, 14.60; tail, 10.30; tarsus, 3.25; middle
toe, 1.95.

_Immature male_ (second year, 50,763, Tepic, Mexico; Colonel Grayson).
Upper parts similar to adult, but less uniform; the nape and back with
feathers edged with rusty; sides of head and neck very much streaked.
Breast and abdomen light ochraceous, with large longitudinal oval spots
of black; tibiæ light ochraceous, with rather distant transverse bars
of dark rusty-brown; lower tail-coverts ochraceous-white, with black
shaft-lines. Rufous on the wings more extended and more broken; none
on the rump. Terminal band of tail narrower and less sharply defined
than in adult; inner webs of primaries with basal two-thirds white,
irregularly mottled with dusky. “Iris chestnut-brown; cere, chin, and
space round the eyes yellow.”

_Immature female_ (second year, 15,260, Fort Buchanan, New Mexico; Dr.
Irwin). Black spots beneath larger and more irregularly defined; tibiæ
strongly barred with dark rufous; posterior edge of basal band of tail
much broken.

HAB. Middle, or northern tropical, America, from the Isthmus of Panama
northward into the southern United States; Mississippi (AUDUBON); Texas
(Mus. S. I.; DRESSER); Arizona (COUES).

Localities: Guatemala (SCL. Ibis, I, 216).


National Museum, 13; Philadelphia Academy, 3; Cab. G. N. Lawrence, 2;
Coll. R. Ridgway, 1. Total, 19.


 |Sex.|   Wing.   |   Tail.   | Culmen. | Tarsus. |Middle Toe.|Specimens.|
 | ♂  |12.35–13.75| 9.80–10.20|  .90–.95|3.15–3.20|  1.65–1.70|    8     |
 | ♀  |14.25–14.50|10.80–11.00|1.08–1.10|3.40–3.75|  1.90–2.00|    6     |

HABITS. This Hawk has a very limited range within the United States,
and Mr. Audubon, who was the first to meet with it there, obtained only
a single specimen from Louisiana. Supposing it to be an undescribed
species, he named it in honor of his friend, Mr. Edward Harris.

[Illustration: _Parabuteo harrisi._]

This species is occasionally found in the lower portions of the States
of Mississippi and Louisiana, but becomes much more abundant in the
southwestern sections of the latter State, and in Texas is common,
especially about the mouth of the Rio Grande. In one variety or the
other it is frequently met with throughout Mexico, and Central America,
and is also said to be an occasional visitant of Cuba and Jamaica.

Mr. Dresser found this Hawk common throughout Texas to the Colorado
River, beyond which he noticed but few. It was the only Hawk he noticed
at Matamoras in the summer. He describes it as a heavy, sluggish bird,
seldom seen on the wing, and subsisting, so far as he could see,
entirely on carrion. All along the road from Brownsville to San Antonio,
he noticed it either perched on some tree by the roadside, or busy, in
company with Vultures and Caracaras, regaling on some offensive carrion.
He found it breeding in the neighborhood of San Antonio, Medina, and
Altascosa Rivers, having eggs in the month of May. A nest found on the
4th of May, near the Medina River, was built of sticks, very slightly
lined, and was placed in a low hackberry-tree. The eggs were four
in number, and described as white, with a faint bluish tinge, very
sparingly spotted and blotched with red.

Other writers also agree in representing this Hawk as heavy and
sluggish in habit, and as frequenting streams of water, and its food as
consisting chiefly of the reptiles and smaller animals which frequent
the banks of rivers and creeks. It builds its nests on low trees,
in the immediate vicinity of its hunting-ground, and often over the
water, constructing them of coarse flags and water-plants. The nests
are usually not very large for the birds, are flattened or with very
slight depressions, and the materials are very loosely put together.
The eggs are from three to five in number, usually white and unspotted,
occasionally with more or less of a yellowish or tawny tinge. In some
instances they are faintly marked with light dashes or stains of a
yellowish-brown, and, more rarely, are also marked with small blotches
of sepia-brown, and with smaller dottings of purplish-drab. Their
average measurement is, length 2.13, breadth 1.69 inches.

Our knowledge of the eggs of these Hawks is derived from the collection
of the late Dr. Berlandier, of Matamoras, in the Province of Tamaulipas,
Mexico. In the cabinet of that gentleman were several varieties, now in
the possession of the Smithsonian Institution, and presented to it by
Lieutenant Couch.

[Illustration: _Onychotes gruberi, Type,_ (=41703.= _California._)]

[Illustration: =41703= ¼ ½

_Onychotes gruberi._]


  _Onychotes_, RIDGWAY, P. A. N. S. Philad. Dec. 1870, 142. (Type, _O.
  gruberi_, nov. sp.)

GEN. CHAR. Bill short, the tip remarkably short and obtuse, and only
gradually bent; cere on top about equal to the culmen, very broad
basally in its transverse diameter, and ascending, in its lateral
outline, on a line with the culmen; commissure only faintly lobed.
Nostril nearly circular, with a conspicuous (but not central or bony)
tubercle; cere densely bristled below the nostril, almost to its
anterior edge; orbital region finely bristled. Tarsus very long and
slender, nearly twice the length of the middle toe; toes moderate, the
outer one decidedly longer than the inner; claws very long, strong, and
sharp, and curved in about one quarter the circumference of a circle.
Tibial feathers short and close, the plumes scarcely reaching below the
joint. Feathers of the forehead, gular region, sides, and tibiæ, with
white filamentous attachments to the end of the shafts. Wing very short,
much rounded, and very concave beneath; fourth quill longest; first
shorter than ninth; four primaries emarginated, and one sinuated, on
inner webs; five sinuated on outer webs. Tail about two thirds as long
as wing, rounded. Outstretched feet reaching beyond end of tail.

This genus has no very near relatives among the American _Falconidæ_,
nor, indeed, among those of other portions of the world. It is, perhaps,
most closely related to the genus _Rupornis_, of South America, from
which, however, it is very distinct. It is represented by a single
species, the type of which, supposed to have come from California, still
remains unique.

The elongated legs, reaching considerably beyond the rather short tail,
the close thigh-plumes, the long and extremely acute claws (somewhat
like those of _Rostrhamus_), with the short, rounded, and very concave
wing, are its most striking peculiarities. Besides these distinguishing
features, the short, thick bill, very deep through the base, and the
filamentous attachments to the shafts of the feathers of certain parts
of the body, are also very characteristic. The latter feature may
possibly be a mark of immaturity, but I have seen nothing like it in
other _Raptores_, and it seems to be more analogous to the nuptial
ornaments seen in the Cormorants (_Phalocrocoracidæ_).


  =O. gruberi.= Wing, 10.10; tail, 6.50; culmen, about .80; tarsus,
  2.70; middle toe, 1.45; posterior claw, 1.00, its digit .80.
  _Immature_ (?). Uniform grayish-umber, tinged with dull rufous on the
  neck; lining of the wing and tibiæ dull grayish-cinnamon. Primaries
  inclining to black, and showing just discernible, obscure hoary bars
  on their basal half. Tail brownish-gray, with a hoary cast nearer the
  shaft (not paler at the tip), and crossed with nine or ten narrow
  bars of dusky, these becoming hardly distinguishable basally and
  terminally. Inner webs of the primaries plain white anterior to their
  emargination. Head laterally and beneath obsoletely streaked with
  whitish. _Hab._ “California.”

Onychotes gruberi, RIDGWAY.


  _Onychotes gruberi_, RIDGWAY, Pr. Ac. Nat. Sc. Phil. Dec. 1870, p.

[Illustration: _Onychotes gruberi._]

SP. CHAR. _Immature?_ (41,703, “California”; F. Gruber). Outstretched
feet reaching beyond tail. General plumage dull dark-bistre, with a
grayish-umber cast in some lights, darkest on the head above and back;
the posterior lower parts paler and more reddish; throat and neck much
tinged with pale rusty (this obsoletely bordering the feathers, which
here have fine whitish filaments attached to the shafts); primaries
uniform black. Tail like the rump, but with a more hoary tinge (not
paler at the tip), and crossed with seven or eight very narrow obscure
bars of darker, the last of which is distant an inch or more from the
end. Lining of wing dark bistre, much tinged with rusty, this prevalent
toward the edge; under surface of primaries white anterior to their
emargination, beyond which they are ashy, approaching black at ends;
ashy portion with distant, very obsolete, dusky bars, but the cheeks and
throat streaked obsoletely with this color. No distinct white anywhere
about the head or neck. Wing, 10.00; tail, 5.80; tarsus, 2.70; middle
toe, 1.40; inner, .90; outer, 1.10; posterior, .80; hind claw, 1.00
(chord); inner claw, .91; on front of tarsus, twelve exposed large
transverse scutellæ; only 1.70 of the tarsus exposed.

The type of this species still remains unique. It was sent to the
Smithsonian Institution by Mr. Gruber, who labelled it as having been
obtained in California. Nothing is known of its habits.


  _Buteo_, CUV. 1799. (Type, _Falco buteo_, LINN. = _Buteo vulgaris_,
  _Craxirex_, GOULD, 1838. (Type, _Buteo galapagoensis_, GOULD.)
  _Pæcilopternis_, KAUP, 1847. (Type, _Falco borealis_, GM.)
  _Tachytriorchis_, KAUP, 1844. (Type, _Falco pterocles_, TEMM.)

GEN. CHAR. Form robust and heavy, the wings long, and rather pointed,
the tail moderate and rounded, the bill and feet strong. Bill
intermediate between that of _Astur_ and that of _Parabuteo_. Wing long
and rather pointed, the third to fifth quill longest, the first shorter
than eighth; three to four with inner webs emarginated. Tail moderate,
slightly rounded.


  =1750=, ♀. ½
  =1750=, ♀.
  =10571=, ♀. ½
  =10571=, ♀. ¼

_Buteo borealis_ (1750; 10571).]

[Illustration: =52763=, ♂. ½

_Buteo zonocercus_ (52763).]

[Illustration: =58505=, ♀. ¼

_Buteo swainsoni_ (58505).]

The species of this genus are very numerous, especially within the
tropics, and are found all over the world, except in Australia. About
thirty nominal species are known, of which about fifteen distinct
species, not including geographical races, belong to America. A single
species, _B. solitarius_ (_Pandion solitarius_, Peale), (Gray’s Hand
List, I, 15, No. 136,) belongs to the Sandwich Islands. The genus seems
to be wanting in the Australian and East Indian regions.

The following species and races belong to the North American fauna.

Species and Races.

  =A.= Three outer primaries with their inner webs cut or emarginated.

      1. =B. pennsylvanicus.= Wing, 9.85–11.40; tail, 6.30–8.00; culmen,
      .70–.80; tarsus, 2.15–2.80; middle toe, 1.20–1.40. Third to
      fourth quill longest; first shorter than seventh. _Adult._ Tail
      dull black, paler at the tip, crossed by two to four bands of
      dilute umber, or brownish-white, varying in width, but the last
      always broadest. Upper tail-coverts tipped and barred with white.
      Lower parts dull rufous-brown, nearly unbroken on the breast, but
      posteriorly much variegated with roundish transverse spots of
      white, forming broad transverse bars, interrupted by the dusky
      shaft. Upper parts dark umber, darker on the back. _Young._ Tail
      dull grayish-umber, growing darker terminally, narrowly tipped
      with whitish, and crossed by about six narrow and indistinct bands
      of dusky; these gradually becoming obsolete basally, the last much
      broader. Lower parts white, or light ochraceous, with longitudinal
      spots of dark brown or blackish on the sides of the breast and
      abdomen, and roundish or transversely cordate ones on the sides,
      flanks, and tibiæ. A conspicuous “mustache” on the cheeks, from
      the rictus down. Upper parts much as in the adult. _Hab._ Eastern
      North America, and Middle America, south to Bogota and Caraccas.

      2. =B. swainsoni.= Wing, 12.00–17.00; tail, 6.50–9.00; culmen,
      .80–.95; tarsus, 2.95–2.70; middle toe, 1.50–1.70. Third to
      fourth (usually third) quills longest; first usually longer than
      seventh. _Adult._ Tail dark grayish-brown, sometimes with a hoary
      cast, crossed by five to seven, or more, narrow bands of dusky,
      usually very obscure, and becoming obsolete basally. Colors of
      other portions extremely variable; the upper parts, however,
      continuous, unvariegated, dark brown, or blackish; the lower
      parts sometimes also entirely dusky, except the tail-coverts,
      which are always (?) barred with white. _Normal plumage._ A dark
      area covering the jugulum and breast, dull rufous in the ♂, and
      dark grayish-brown in the ♀. Other lower parts whitish, sometimes
      pure, and nearly immaculate, but usually more or less tinged with
      ochraceous and rufous, and transversely barred with various shades
      of brown. _Young._ Tail hoary brownish-gray, crossed by numerous,
      very indistinct, narrow bands of darker, and faintly tipped with
      whitish. Ground-color of the head, neck, and lower parts, light
      ochraceous, or cream-color (sometimes nearly white), the anterior
      upper parts with large longitudinally ovate spots of black; these
      assuming the form of streaks on the head and neck. Sides of the
      breast with an aggregation of larger spots of the same, and sides
      with sparser hastate or deltoid spots. Upper parts purplish-black,
      more or less variegated with ochraceous; the relative proportion
      of the two colors varying with the individual.

        Wing, 14.40–17.00; tail, 8.00–9.50; culmen, .80–.95; tarsus,
        2.30–2.70; middle toe, 1.50–1.70. Weight 1½–3½ lbs. _Hab._
        Western Province of North America, from the Mississippi Valley,
        and the region of the Great Lakes (Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, to
        Arkansas, also Canada and Massachusetts) to the Pacific …

                                                       var. _swainsoni_.

        Wing, 12.00–15.30; tail, 6.50–9.00; culmen, .85–.90; tarsus,
        1.95–2.60; middle toe, 1.50–1.60. Colors similar, but the young
        paler than that of var. _swainsoni_. Adult unknown. _Hab._
        Middle and South America, and southern border of the western
        United States, from New Mexico to Buenos Ayres (two specimens,
        Costa Rica, and Buenos Ayres, Mus. S. I.) …

                                                       var. _oxypterus_.

  =B.= Four outer primaries with their inner webs cut.

    _a._ Form light, the legs slender; tail of adult without a
    subterminal band of black more distinct than the others.

      3. =B. zonocercus.= Wing, 15.50–17.40; tail, 8.50–10.75; culmen,
      .90; tarsus, 2.50–2.80; middle toe, 1.60–1.85. Entirely deep
      black, with more or less concealed pure white spotting. _Adult._
      Tail carbonaceous-black, with three very broad zones, of pure
      white on inner webs and ash on the outer webs. _Young._ Tail dark
      brown, the inner webs more or less, sometimes entirely, white,
      crossed by numerous oblique bands of black. _Hab._ Mexico (chiefly
      western?) and adjacent southwestern portions of the United States
      (Arizona, COUES; Southern California, San Diego, COOPER).

      4. =B. lineatus.= Wing, 11.25–14.25; tail, 8.00–10.00; culmen,
      .75–.90; tarsus, 2.70–3.25; middle toe, 1.30–1.50. Fourth to
      fifth quill longest; first shorter than seventh. Outer webs of
      the primaries with quadrate spots of whitish; lesser wing-coverts
      dark rufous; lower parts rufous more or less barred with whitish,
      or whitish spotted longitudinally with dusky. _Adult._ Head,
      neck, lesser wing-coverts, and lower parts deep rufous, the lower
      parts more or less barred posteriorly with whitish. Primaries and
      tail black; the former with quadrate spots of pure white on the
      outer webs, and the latter crossed by six narrow bands of pure
      white, and tipped with the same. _Young._ Head, neck, and lower
      parts whitish, usually more or less tinged with ochraceous, and
      with longitudinal markings of dusky. Primaries and tail dusky;
      the former mostly ochraceous anterior to the sinuation of their
      outer webs, the latter crossed by numerous narrow bands of pale
      grayish-brown, these becoming paler and more ochraceous toward the
      base. Lesser wing-coverts more or less tinged with dark rufous.

        _Adult._ Lower parts light rufous barred with white. _Young._
        White prevailing on the lower parts. _Hab._ Eastern Province of
        the United States …

                                                        var. _lineatus_.

        _Adult._ Lower parts deep dark rufous, almost free from bars,
        except posteriorly. _Young._ Dark spotting on the lower parts
        predominating. _Hab._ Pacific Province, and southern Western
        Province, of the United States …

                                                         var. _elegans_.

    _b._ Form robust and heavy, the tarsus stout; tail of the adult with
    a subterminal band of black broader than the other.

      5. =B. borealis.= Wing, 13.25–17.75; tail, 8.50–11.30; culmen,
      .90–1.15; tarsus, 2.70–3.40; middle toe, 1.60–1.95. Weight,
      2½ to 4 lbs. Third to fifth quill longest; first shorter than
      seventh and shorter than tenth. Colors extremely variable, ranging
      from entirely pure white beneath, through various shades of
      ochraceous and rusty, and greater or less amount of darker spots
      and bars, to an entirely uniform brownish-black. _Adult._ Tail
      deep rufous, generally paler at the tip; with or without black
      bars. _Young._ Tail grayish-brown, crossed by nine or ten bands of
      black, much narrower than the gray ones. Lower parts always with
      white predominating.

        Tibiæ and lower tail-coverts without transverse bars, at any
        age. Lower parts with white always predominating. Tail never
        with more than one bar of black.

          Feathers of the head and neck edged laterally with rufous;
          scapulars and wing-coverts much variegated with whitish; upper
          tail-coverts white, barred with rufous. Throat with blended
          streaks of blackish, this usually predominating; tibiæ and
          lower tail-coverts plain yellowish-white. _Hab._ Eastern
          Province of North America, to the Missouri plains …

                                                        var. _borealis_.

          Similar, but colors much paler, the lower parts entirely pure
          white, with little or no spotting on the abdomen. Tail usually
          destitute of the black subterminal band. _Hab._ Plains, from
          Texas to Minnesota …

                                                         var. _krideri_.

          Similar to the last, but lower parts strongly tinged with
          rufous on the tibiæ, and upper parts much darker. Tail
          always destitute of the subterminal black band. _Young_ not
          distinguishable from that of var. _calurus_. _Hab._ Cape St.
          Lucas …

                                                       var. _lucasanus_.

          Whole head, neck (except the throat), and upper parts,
          continuously uniform unvariegated brownish-black; that of
          the neck meeting narrowly across the lower part of the
          throat, leaving the whole throat almost immaculate white.
          Posterior lower parts fine, deep pinkish-ochraceous; tibiæ
          deep reddish-ochraceous; upper tail-coverts plain rufous.
          _Hab._ Central America (from Tres Marias, Western Mexico, to
          Costa Rica and Veragua) …

                                                   var. _costaricensis_.

        Tibiæ and lower tail-coverts always with distinct transverse
        bars. Tail often with more or less complete transverse bars of
        black to the base. Lower parts with an excess of ochraceous and
        darker markings, frequently wholly blackish.

          Varying, from individuals distinguishable from the darker
          examples of var. _borealis_ only by the presence of bars on
          the tibiæ and crissum, through others with various degrees
          of rufous tinge and dusky spotting and barring beneath, to a
          perfectly melanistic condition, in which the bird is almost
          uniformly black, and the tail with continuous, regular bars of
          black to the base. _Hab._ Western Province of North America,
          from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific …

                                                         var. _calurus_.

      6. =B. harlani.= Wing, 15.00–16.20; tail, 8.80–10.50; culmen,
      1.00; tarsus, 2.75–2.90; middle toe, 1.50–1.70. Lateral toes
      nearly equal; tibial plumes much developed, reaching below
      the bases of the toes. Entirely brownish-black (except the
      tail), the concealed bases of the feathers snowy-white. _Adult._
      Tail confusedly mottled with dusky and white, upon a grayish
      ground; sometimes more or less tinged with rufous. _Young._ Tail
      grayish-brown, with nine very regular, sharply defined bands of
      brownish-black, about equal in width to the gray ones. Lower parts
      wholly dusky. _Hab._ Southwestern United States, east of the Rocky
      Mountains, from Kansas to Texas.

      7. =B. cooperi.= Wing, 15.75; tail, 9.10; culmen, 1.10; tarsus,
      3.25; middle toe, 1.70. _Adult._ Head, neck, and beneath, pure
      white, the head above and nape streaked with dusky; lining of the
      wing white, with a large black patch. Above nearly uniform dusky,
      the primaries plumbeous. Tail longitudinally mottled with light
      rufous, cinereous, and dusky; the former prevailing. _Hab._ Santa
      Clara County, California.

Buteo pennsylvanicus (WILS.).


  _Falco pennsylvanicus_, WILS. Am. Orn. VI, 92, pl. liv, f. 1,
  1812.—LATH. Gen. Hist. I, 263, 1821.—AUD. B. Am. pl. xci, 1831;
  Orn. Biog. I, 461, 1831.—BONAP. Ann. Lyc. N. Y. II, 29, 434; Isis,
  p. 1137, 1832.—NUTT. Man. I, 105, 1833.—TEMM. Pl. Col. 67, 1836.
  _Buteo pennsylvanicus_, BONAP. Ois. Cuv. Règ. An. p. 35, 1830; Eur.
  & N. Am. B. p. 3, 1838; Consp. Av. p. 19, 1850.—AUD. Syn. p. 7,
  1839.—BREW. (WILS). Am. Orn. Syn. p. 648, 1852.—GRAY, Gen. sp. 8,
  1844; List B. Brit. Mus. p. 16, 1844.—CASS. B. Cal. & Tex. Syn. p.
  100, 1854.—STRICKL. Orn. Syn. I, 32, 1855.—DE KAY, Zoöl. N. Y. II, 11,
  pl. v, fig. 11, 1844.—CASS. Birds N. Am. 29, 1858.—GRAY, Hand List,
  B. 7, 1869.—DRESSER, Ibis, 1865, 325 (Texas). _Astur pennsylvanicus_,
  CUV. Règ. An. (ed. 2), I, 332, 1829.—JAMES. (WILS.) Orn. I, 65.
  _Falco latissimus_, WILS. Am. Orn. (last ed.) VI, 92, pl. liv, f.
  1, 1812. _A. ? latissimus_, JARD. (WILS.) Am. Orn. II, 294. _Falco
  wilsoni_, BONAP. Obs. Wils. Nouv. Journ. Ac. Sc. N. Y. III, 348.
  _Pœcilopternis wilsoni_, KAUP, Mon. Fal. Cont. Orn. p. 75, 1850.
  _Sparvius platypterus_, VIEILL. Enc. Méth. III, 1273 (quot. Wils. pl.
  liv, fig. 1), 1823.

SP. CHAR. _Adult._ Upper surface dark umber-brown, the feathers
gradually paler toward edges; on the back, the feathers more uniformly
dusky, causing a prevalent blackish appearance. Rump and upper
tail-coverts blackish vandyke-brown; the latter tipped with pure white,
and with a concealed bar of same, about the middle of each feather. Tail
dull black, with an obscure terminal band of dull brown, this fading
terminally into whitish; across the middle of the tail a broad band of
dull light umber (in some individuals approaching dull white) about ¾
of an inch in width; about as far anterior to the main band as this
is from the tip is another much narrower and more obscure band of the
same color, crossing just beyond the ends of the coverts, or concealed
by them. Primaries uniform brownish-black, fading on terminal edge
into pale brown. Head above, and broad but inconspicuous “mustache,”
running from beneath the lore downward across the cheek, dull black;
the crown posteriorly, with the occiput and nape, having the dull black
much broken, caused by the lateral streaks of dull rufous on all the
feathers; this dull rufous tint prevails on the rest of the head and
neck, as well as the breast, leaving the lores and chin and lateral
portion of frontlet alone whitish; throat streaked with blackish.
Beneath dull brownish-rufous; that of the breast almost unvaried;
medially, however, are roundish spots of white on opposite webs, but
these are not confluent; posteriorly these spots become gradually more
numerous and more transverse, forming on the flanks transverse bands,
almost continuous; on the tibiæ the white prevails, the rufous bars
being more distant, and connected only by a brown shaft-line; lower
tail-coverts less numerous, transverse spots of dull rufous. Lining
of the wing ochraceous-white, with sparse, rather small, irregularly
deltoid spots of dull rufous; under surface of the primaries unvaried
white, as far as their emargination, beyond which they are black. Fourth
quill longest; third a little shorter; second intermediate between fifth
and sixth; first about equal to the ninth. _Female_ (extremes 30,969,
Brookline, Mass., and 30,895, Mirador, Mexico; the latter the larger.)
Wing, 11.00–11.30; tail, 6.80–7.10; tarsus, 2.30; middle toe, 1.30.
_Male_ (32,309, Moose Factory, Hudson’s Bay Territory). Wing, 10.50;
tail, 6.30; tarsus, 2.30; middle toe, 1.20.

_Young male_, second year? (39,106, Remedios, Cuba, June; N. H. Bishop).
Upper parts similar to adult, but a reddish tint appreciably washing
the edges of the interscapulars and (less noticeably so) the scapulars.
Bands on tail nearly as in adult; but very near the base is a fourth,
very narrow and faintly defined, pale band, while the bases of all
the feathers are much mottled with white. Dull rufous of the breast
not continuous, but in the form of large longitudinal broad spots,
occupying the greater middle portion of each feather; abdomen, sides,
and tibiæ with smaller and more cordate spots of dull rufous; the lower
tail-coverts immaculate; the decided ochraceous tinge beneath, deepest

_Young_, first year (11,984, Washington, D. C.). The blackish above
is much variegated, being broken by the narrow rusty borders to
interscapulars, rump, and lesser wing-coverts; the broader and more
ochraceous borders to scapulars and greater wing-coverts, and partially
concealed whitish spotting on the former. Upper tail-coverts white, with
broad bars of blackish-brown; secondaries and primaries edged terminally
with whitish. Tail dull umber-brown, growing darker terminally; narrowly
tipped with white, and crossed with six obscure, narrow bands of dusky,
the (concealed) bases of all the feathers white. Superciliary region,
cheeks, chin, throat, and entire lower parts, delicate pale ochraceous,
or whitish cream-color; a conspicuous “mustache,” a medial longitudinal
series of streaks on the throat, with large longitudinal ovate spots on
sides of breast, cordate spots on sides and flanks, and sagittate spots
on tibiæ, clear blackish-brown. The ochraceous deepest on the abdomen
and crissum. Wing beneath as in adult.

A very young bird, scarcely fledged (33,598, Milltown, Me.; G. A.
Boardman), differs from the last in a much more continuous black shade
above, the deeper ochraceous beneath, and larger, as well as more
numerous, blackish spots beneath.

In the adult plumage of this species, the principal variation is in the
continuity or distinctness of the anterior light band on the tail, and
the extent and depth of shade of the brown beneath. The first feature
is characteristic of most specimens, only one (55,980, ♂, Costa Rica)
being without it; it is broadest and most conspicuous, as well as less
concealed by the coverts, in the females, and this appears to be the
principal sexual difference. The dull brownish-rufous of the under
parts is most prevalent in a specimen from Mirador, Mexico (30,895, ♀
? September; Dr. Sartorius), in which specimen the breast is almost
continuously of this color, and the lower tail-coverts are strongly
barred (or transversely spotted) with the same; the ground-color beneath
is also more ochraceous than in any other individual. In the Costa-Rican
specimen (the one lacking the anterior tail-band), the brown beneath
is quite different from that of the others, being of a much more ashy
shade; the lower tail-coverts are also immaculate. The brown markings
beneath are most sparse in 20,389, from Coban, Vera Paz (January; O.
Salvin); in this, also, the tail-bands are very distinct, and almost

A young bird from Costa Rica (30,412; Dr. Frantzius) is exactly similar
to No. 27,048, from Fort Garry, Selkirk Settlement.


National Museum, 18; Philadelphia Academy, 6; Boston Society, 3; New
York Museum, 2 (Caraccas); Museum, Cambridge, 2; Cab. G. N. Lawrence, 5;
Coll. R. Ridgway, 2. Total, 38.


 |Sex.|   Wing.   |   Tail.   | Culmen. | Tarsus. |Middle Toe.|Specimens.|
 | ♂  | 9.85–10.70|  6.50–7.00|  .70–.00|2.15–2.80|  1.20–1.38|   11     |
 | ♀  |11.00–11.40|  7.00–8.00|  .70–.78|2.20–2.70|  1.30–1.40|   14     |

HAB. Eastern North America southward along Gulf coast through Louisiana,
into Mexico and Central America; Cuba, Ecuador, Upper Amazon, Caraccas
(N. Y. Museum).

Localities: Ecuador, winter (SCL. 1858, 451); Orizaba (SCL. 1857, 211);
Upper Amazon (SCL. 1857, 261); Cuba (CAB. Journ. II, lxxxii; GUNDLACH,
Rept. 1865, 223; resident); Panama (LAWR. VII, 1861, 288); S. E. Texas
(DRESSER, Ibis, 1865, 325; breeds); Costa Rica (LAWR. IX, 133).

HABITS. The Broad-winged Hawk appears to be distributed over eastern
North America, somewhat irregularly, as far north as the British
Provinces, and as far west at least as the Mississippi. It has been
found in Florida by Mr. Wurdemann, where it was said to be not uncommon.
It is a resident in Cuba, where it breeds; but it has not been taken
in Jamaica. It has also been detected in Guatemala by Mr. Skinner.
Audubon states that he never met with it in Louisiana, but Mr. Dresser
found it not uncommon from the Nueces eastward. In September he noticed
several near the Mission of San Patricio, and during the winter obtained
several specimens near San Antonio. In May he shot a young bird on
the Medina River, and early in June he found a nest containing young
on the Colorado. It was on a high cottonwood-tree, and in an almost
inaccessible position.

[Illustration: _Buteo pennsylvanicus._]

It is not mentioned by Mr. Downes as occurring in Nova Scotia, though I
think it quite probable it may be found there; but it is quite common
near Calais, both in Eastern Maine and in New Brunswick. Professor
Verrill gives it as a common summer visitant in Oxford County, Me.,
near Norway, and as still more abundant near the Umbagog Lakes, and
apparently the most common Hawk in that vicinity. He found its nest,
June 12, containing two eggs nearly hatched. It is to be met with
throughout Massachusetts, having been found breeding near Williamstown,
Springfield, and also in the vicinity of Boston. Its nest was also met
with in Middlebury, Vt., by the late Professor Adams. Mr. McIlwraith, of
Hamilton, Canada, has noted extensive migrations of this Hawk in March
of different years, as many as twenty or thirty being in view at one
time, passing at a considerable height, and moving in circles towards
the northwest. Others, that appeared to be stragglers from the main
body, were met with in the woods. Dr. Hoy states it to be rather common
near Racine, and Mr. Kumlien has obtained it in the vicinity of Lake
Koskonong. From all these data it may naturally be inferred that this
Hawk has a pretty general distribution from Florida to Texas, and from
New Brunswick to the Mississippi Valley, probably extending northward
into the Saskatchewan Valley and south-westerly to Central America.

The Broad-winged Hawk was first described by Wilson, who shot a single
specimen that had been feeding on a meadow-mouse. On his approach it
uttered a whining whistle and flew to another tree. Another of the same
species was observed, and its movements were in wide circles, with
unmoving wings. Nuttall never met with it, and regarded it as very rare.

Audubon characterizes this Hawk as spiritless, inactive, and deficient
in courage, seldom chasing other birds of prey, but itself frequently
annoyed by the little Sparrow-Hawk, the Kingbird, and the Martin. It
only attacks birds of a weak nature, young chickens, and ducklings,
and feeds on small animals and insects. It is usually found singly, is
easily approached, and when wounded throws itself on its back, erects
its top feathers, utters a hissing sound, and attempts to defend itself
with its talons.

A nest of this bird, found by Mr. Audubon, is said to have been about
the size of that of the Crow, and to have been placed in the larger
branches of a tree, near the trunk. It was composed externally of dry
sticks and briers; internally, of small roots, and lined with numerous
large feathers. The nest found by Professor Adams, near Middlebury, Vt.,
was quite large, and was coarsely constructed of sticks, and lined only
with fibrous roots and fine grass. In this instance the eggs were three.
This is the more usual number, though occasionally four or five are

Mr. Boardman informs me that Mr. Audubon’s account of the spiritless
manner in which one of these Hawks suffered him to capture it on its
nest does not at all correspond with his own experience. He has, on
the contrary, found it one of the most courageous and spirited of its
family. On one occasion, when a man employed by him was ascending to a
nest, a parent bird assailed the disturber with great fury, tore his
cap from his head, and would have done the man serious injury had it
not been shot. In another instance one of these birds attacked a boy
climbing to its nest, and fastened its talons in his arm, and could not
be removed until it was beaten off and killed with a club.

The eggs of this Hawk have an average length of 2.09 inches, and an
average breadth of 1.61. The smallest egg measures 1.94 by 1.50 inches,
and the largest 2.11 by 1.72 inches, showing considerable variation
in their relative capacity, but not so much as is found among the
eggs of other species. In shape, the eggs are of a slightly rounded
oval, one end a little less obtuse than the other. The ground-color
is of a grayish or dirty white, occasionally with a slightly silvery
shading. These are marked, usually over the entire egg, in irregular
distribution, with varying shades of brown. The more common is a
light tawny or reddish-brown. Intermingled with these blotches are
often found a peculiar faint purplish-brown, dull shading of a light
yellowish-brown, and a deep rich shade of purplish-brown, approaching
occasionally almost in intensity to black. These may occur separately,
or they may all be found blended in the same egg. The size, shape,
and peculiar coloring of the eggs of this Hawk make them readily
recognizable, though not readily permitting a satisfactory description.

A nest of this Hawk, taken by Mr. J. P. Ritchie, May 18, 1863,—the
parent female of which was secured also,—is described as having been
made of large sticks, very loosely put together, lined with a few pieces
of bark. It was placed in the crotch of a tree, close to the trunk, and
twenty feet from the ground, and contained two eggs.

Buteo swainsoni, BONAP.

Var. =swainsoni=, BONAP.


  _Buteo swainsoni_, BONAP. Comp. List, p. 3, 1838; Consp. Av. p.
  19, 1850; Proc. Ac. N. S. Phil. p. 280, 1855; Birds N. Am. 19,
  1858.—HEERM. P. R. R. Rep’t, II, 32, 1855.—STRICKL. Orn. Syn. I, 30,
  1855.—DRESSER, Ibis, 1865, 324 (Texas).—GAMB. Journ. Ac. N. S. Phil.
  n. δ. I, 27.—COUES, Prod. B. Ariz. 9, 1866.—BLAKIST. Ibis, III, 1861,
  317 (fresh eggs).—GRAY, Hand List, I, 7, 1869. _Falco buteo_, PENN.
  Arct. Zoöl. II, 207, sp. 103 (♀ Juv.), 1785.—AUD. B. Am. pl. ccclxxii,
  1831; Orn. Biog. IV, 508, 1831. _Falco obsoletus_, GMEL. Syst. Nat. p.
  268, 1789.—KERR, Trans. Gmel. II, 501, 1792.—LATH. Ind. Orn. p. 28,
  sp. 61, 1790; Synop. Supp. I, p. 30; Gen. Hist. I, p. 254, 1821.—DAUD.
  Tr. Orn. II, 104, 1800.—SHAW, Zoöl. VII, 152, 1812. _Buteo cinereus_,
  VIEILL. Ois. Am. 1807. _Buteo vulgaris_, RICH. & SWAINS. F. B. Am.
  p. 5, 1831.—JARD. (WILS.) Am. Orn. II, 56, 1808.—BREW. (WILS.) Am.
  Orn. p. 303; Synop. p. 684, 1852. _Buteo montanus_, NUTT. Man. Orn.
  U. S. & Canad. I, 112, 1833. _Buteo bairdi_, HOY, Proc. Ac. Sc. Phil.
  VI, 451, 1853.—CASSIN, B. of Cal. & Tex. pl. xli, 1854; Birds N. Am.
  21, 1858.—STRICKL. Orn. Syn. I, 37, 1855. _Buteo insignatus_, CASS.
  B. Cal. & Tex. p. 102, pl. xxxi, 1854; Birds N. Am. 23, 1858.—HEERM.
  P. R. R. Rep’t, VII, 31, 1857.—STRICKL. Orn. Syn. I, 38, 1855.—COUES,
  Prod. B. Ariz. 9, 1866.—BRYANT, Proc. Bost. Soc. X, 1865, 90 (=
  _swainsoni_). _? Buteo gutturalis_, MAX. Cab. Journ. VI, 1858, 17 (and

SP. CHAR. Form robust and strong, like _B. borealis_; wings long
and pointed; only three outer primaries with their inner webs cut.
Feet robust, the tarsi strong. Dimensions: Wing, 14.40–17.00; tail,
8.00–9.50; culmen, .80–.95; tarsus, 2.30–2.70; middle toe, 1.50–1.70.
Weight, 1½–3½ lbs. Colors: Tail dark grayish-brown with a hoary cast,
crossed by numerous obscure narrow bands of a darker shade. _Adult_,
uniform blackish-brown above; upper tail-coverts barred with white.
Throat and lower parts posterior to the breast white or pale ochraceous;
a broad patch across the breast uniform brown,—reddish-rufous in
the male, and grayish-umber in the female,—the whole lower surface
varying to entirely uniform dull brownish-black, though intermediate
shades. _Young_, with the ground-color of the plumage soft ochraceous,
or cream-color; the head, neck, dorsal region, and sides of the
breast, with tear-shaped spots of brownish-black, with a faint purple
reflection. Upper parts purplish-black, variegated with ochraceous,
sometimes almost wholly black. Tail as in the adult, but more hoary.

_a._ _Normal plumage._

_Adult male_ (53,105, Truckee River, Nevada, July; C. King, R. Ridgway).
Head, neck, and upper parts blackish-brown; scapulars slightly
variegated with a rufous mottling; upper tail-coverts white tinged with
rufous, and with transverse bars of blackish-brown, about six on each
feather. Tail dark brown like the back, approaching black terminally,
basally with a slight hoary cast; crossed by about ten narrow, very
obscure bands of nearly black. Front and whole throat clear white,
immaculate, and sharply defined against the surrounding blackish; lores
dusky. Whole breast, cinnamon-rufous (forming a wide, sharply defined
band), marked laterally with the brown of the neck; each feather with
a shaft-line of black; rest of lower parts, including whole lining of
the wing, continuous ochraceous white, the latter region unvariegated;
sides with sparse, faint, transverse bars of rufous, and shaft-lines of
darker. Under side of primaries light slate anterior to emargination,
beyond which they are black; slaty portion crossed by very obscure bars
of darker. Fourth quill longest, third scarcely shorter; second equal
to fifth; first intermediate between seventh and eighth. Length, 19.75;
extent, 48.00; wing, 15.40; tail, 8.00; tarsus, 2.32; middle toe, 1.60.
(Weight 1½ lbs.) Bill slate-black, bluish basally; cere, and angle of
mouth, light dull lemon yellow; iris deep hazel; tarsi and toes deep
chrome yellow, claws black.


  =58505=, ♀. ½
  =58505=, ♀. ½

_Buteo swainsoni_ (Nevada).]

_Adult female_ (58,507, Great Salt Lake City, Utah, May; C. King, R.
Ridgway). Similar to the male, but pectoral area blackish-brown, like
the back; blackish-brown of upper surface untinged with rufous, all
the feathers, however, fading on edges; bands of the tail scarcely
distinguishable on outer webs; white of forehead very restricted; lining
of the wing barred with small cordate or deltoid spots of black; under
surface of primaries plain deep slate. Abdomen and sides variegated with
a few irregular longitudinal spots, and on the latter, transverse bars
of dark brown; tibiæ with faint bars of rufous. Fourth quill longest;
third scarcely shorter; second very slightly shorter than fifth; first
intermediate between seventh and eighth. Length, 21.50; extent, 54.00;
wing, 16.50; tail, 8.50; tarsus, 2.70; middle toe, 1.70. (Weight, 2¾

_Young_ (10,761, Rocky Mountains, September; C. Drexler). Head, neck,
and entire lower parts fine delicate light ochraceous, or cream-color;
feathers of the crown, occiput, and neck, each with a medial stripe
of black, of less amount, however, than the ochraceous; forehead,
supraoral region, and ear-coverts, with only a few very fine hair-like
shaft-streaks; on the chin, and across the cheeks, are longitudinal
spaces of blended streaks of black, the latter forming a conspicuous
“mustache”; sides of the breast with large ovate spots of black; middle
of the breast with less numerous, smaller, and more longitudinal ones
of the same; sides, flanks, and abdomen, with broad hastate spots,
more irregular and transverse on the former; throat, tibiæ, anal
region, and lower tail-coverts immaculate. Upper surface generally,
deep black; feathers bordered with pale ochraceous, the scapulars
and middle wing-coverts much variegated with the same. Secondary
coverts, secondaries, and primaries narrowly tipped with white. Upper
tail-coverts pale ochraceous, barred with black. Tail ashy-brown, very
much lighter than the rump (more hoary than in the adult), narrowly, but
clearly, tipped with white, and crossed by ten or twelve narrow bands of
black, more distinct than in the adult. Under surface of primaries more
whitish than in the adult.

(_b._ _Melanistic condition_; = _B. insignatus_ of Cassin.)

Adult male (22,567, Onion River; R. McFarlane). Entirely brownish black,
whole under surface of wings included; lower tail-coverts equally
barred with white and black. Tail blackish slate, narrowly paler at
the tip, and crossed with numerous oblique bars of dusky black; upper
tail-coverts barred obsoletely with lighter slaty-brown. Wing, 15.00;
tail, 8.00; tarsus, 2.20; middle toe, 1.50. Fourth quill longest; third,
next; second, shorter than fifth; first, slightly shorter than eighth.

_Adult female_ (12,927, Utah Valley, July; C. S. McCarthy). Similar;
lower tail-coverts white, tinged with rusty, and barred with brown;
tibiæ tinged with chestnut. Wing, 16.50; tail, 8.80; tarsus, 2.60;
middle toe, 1.65. Third and fourth quills equal and longest; third
shorter than fifth; first equal to eighth.


National Museum, 27; Philadelphia Academy, 2; Boston Society, 1; Museum,
Cambridge, 1; Cab. G. N. Lawrence, 2; W. Brewster, 1; R. Ridgway, 5.
Total, 39.


 |Sex.|   Wing.   |   Tail.   | Culmen. | Tarsus. |Middle Toe.|Specimens.|
 | ♂  |14.40–15.25|  8.25–9.00|  .80–.90|2.30–2.65|  1.50–1.60|   11     |
 | ♀  |14.75–16.50|  9.00–0.00|  .80–.95|2.50–2.70|  1.55–1.65|   11     |

HAB. Western regions of North America, east to the Mississippi Valley,
north to the Arctic regions; Wisconsin; Arkansas; Canada; Massachusetts.

Localities: S. Texas (DRESSER, Ibis, 1865, 324); Arizona (COUES?);
Guatemala (SCL. Ibis, I, 216, “_insignatus_”).

The young plumage described above is the _Buteo bairdi_, Hoy, of
authors. The melanistic plumage is _B. insignatus_, Cassin.

The young birds of this species are as variable as the adults; thus,
No. 53,210, ♂, has the fine ochraceous of the lower parts entirely free
from spots, except across the breast; on the upper parts the ochraceous
spotting is so extended as to almost prevail, while another, from the
same nest, has the black beneath exceeding the ochraceous, the tibiæ
being thickly spotted, and the lower tail-coverts barred. Both these
specimens belong to a brood of four, which were hardly able to fly, and
were shot, with their parents, the male of which is the one described,
while the female (No. 53,206) is a very dark example of _insignatus_,

The type of _bairdi_, and another Wisconsin specimen, are in the
collection of the Philadelphia Academy. In plumage, they are unlike
any others I have seen, though there is as little resemblance between
these two as between any I have compared. Dr. Hoy’s type (Racine,
Wisc., January, 1854) differs from others, in exceedingly pale colors;
the cream-color beneath is scarcely spotted, there being only a few
triangular spots and shaft-lines of black on the sides; the lining
of the wing is entirely immaculate. Above, the black is unusually
continuous; the under surface of the primaries is unusually white. Wing,
15.00; tail, 8.00.

The other specimen (Menonomee Marsh, Milwaukee, Wisc., spring of 1851)
is just the opposite extreme in plumage, being unusually dark, for a
young bird. Beneath, the black spots are so large as to nearly cover
the whole surface, while the continuity of the black of the upper part
is almost unbroken. The head above, and nape, and broad “mustache”
stripe from angle of mouth down to the jugulum, with nearly the whole
pectoral area, unbroken black, leaving the gular region and side of the
head pale, but thickly streaked. Wing, 15.00; tail, 8.80; tarsus, 2.35;
middle toe, 1.50. These specimens may be said to form about the extremes
of the young plumage. An Iowa skin (No. 59,052; Ricksecker) is like the
average of far-western examples.

The melanistic condition bears to the normal plumage of _swainsoni_
precisely the same relation that the black _calurus_, Cassin, does to
the usual style of the western variety of _borealis_ (_borealis_ var.
_calurus_ = _montanus_, Cassin); the variable series, connecting these
two extremes, and designated by the name _borealis_ var. _calurus_,
which covers the whole, finds an exact parallel in the present species.

A specimen from the Platte (5,576, ♂, August; W. S. Wood) is entirely
dark rufous-brown beneath (excepting the lower tail-coverts), with the
shafts of the feathers black.

This species is entirely distinct specifically from the _B. vulgaris_
of Europe. The latter has four, instead of only three, outer primaries
deeply emarginated, and is very dissimilar in every stage of plumage.

Var. oxypterus, CASSIN.


(_Normal young plumage._)

  _Buteo oxypterus_, CASS. P. A. N. S. VII, 1855, 282.—IB. Birds N.
  Am. 1858, 30.—STRICKL. Orn. Syn. I, 1855, 28.—COUES, P. A. N. S.
  1866, 9.—GRAY, Hand List, I, 8.—COOPER, Birds Cal. 1870, 480. _Buteo
  albicaudatus_, “VIEILL.,” SCLATER, P. Z. S. 1869, 634, No. 22.

(_Melanistic plumage._)

  _Buteo fuliginosus_, SCLATER, P. Z. S. Lond. 1858, 356.—IB. Trans.
  Z. S., July, 1858, 267, pl. lxii.—RIDGWAY, P. A. N. S. Dec. 1870, 142.

SP. CHAR. _Adult; melanistic plumage_ (No. 12,117, Mazatlan, Mexico;
Colonel Abert). Entirely fuliginous-black, darkest on head and back; no
white on forehead. Tail cinereous-umber, crossed with seven very regular
and continuous bands of black, the subterminal one of which is broadest.
Lower tail-coverts, and larger under wing-coverts, with transverse bands
of dull white; lining of the wing unvaried black; under surface of
primaries silvery-white, that portion beyond their emargination black,
the whitish portion crossed by distant, very obsolete, transverse bars.
Third quill longest; fourth and fifth scarcely shorter, and nearly
equal; second equal to sixth; first shorter than eighth. Tail square;
scutellæ of the tarsus very faintly defined, or, in fact, scarcely
detectable (probably accidental), Wing, 13.00; tail, 7.00; tarsus, 1.95;
middle toe, 1.55.

_Young male; normal plumage_ (No. 8,550, Fort Fillmore, New Mexico;
Dr. T. C. Henry, U. S. A.). Head, neck, and lower parts, soiled
ochraceous-white. Feathers of the head above, and neck laterally and
behind, with medial stripes of blackish-brown; jugulum, breast, sides,
flanks, and abdomen, with large rounded spots of blackish-brown; tibiæ
with transverse bars of the same; lower tail-coverts almost immaculate.
A conspicuous “mustache” of blended dusky streaks, from angle of the
mouth across the cheeks, the dusky suffusing the lores. Whole oral
region scarcely variegated pale yellowish; whole chin and throat

Prevailing tint above, blackish-brown, becoming purplish-black on
primaries; whole outer surface of wing plain, but interscapular region
somewhat variegated with partially concealed, irregular blotches of
deeper ochraceous than the lower parts; upper tail-coverts with pairs
of indistinct white spots. Tail grayish-brown (white at extreme base),
crossed with about ten narrow, indistinct, but regular bands of dusky.
Lining of the wings yellowish-white, with sparse cordate spots of
blackish, this tint prevailing over the under primary coverts; under
surface of the primaries pure purplish-black after their emargination,
but anteriorly plain hoary brown, growing paler basally. On inner webs
are very indistinct transverse spots of dusky, touching neither the
edge nor shaft of the feather, and entirely concealed when the wing is
closed. Shafts of primaries pure white on under side; on outer, dark
brown. Wing-formula, 3–4–2–5–6–7–1, 8. Three outer primaries emarginated
on inner webs; second, third, and fourth, sinuated on outer. Wing,
13.70; tail, 7.00; tarsus, 2.10; middle toe, 1.35. Primaries project
beyond secondaries, 5.50. (Cassin’s type.)


  =12117.= ½
  =12117.= ½

_Buteo oxypterus_ (Mazatlan).]

_Young female_ (33,508, San José, Costa Rica; J. Carmiol). Differs from
the type chiefly in lighter colors. The whole forehead very broadly
immaculate dull white, this continuing back to the occiput in a broad
unstreaked superciliary stripe; along the upper edge of the ear-coverts
is a rusty suffusion, with condensed, fine dusky streaks, forming an
indistinct stripe separating the wholly white ear-coverts from the
supraoral stripe; the “mustache” is very conspicuous; the breast has a
few large tear-shaped spots of clear blackish-brown, and the sides have
very sparse, irregular, and more sagittate spots of the same; the whole
posterior parts are immaculate. The upper parts are more variegated
with paler, the wing-coverts and rump having the feathers irregularly
bordered with whitish. The upper tail-coverts are white, barred with
dark brown. Tail, hoary brown, crossed by nine or ten nearly obsolete,
narrow bands of dusky. Whole lining of the wings immaculate, except the
conspicuous patch on the primary coverts. The whole under surface of the
primaries is uniform slaty, gradually deepening into black towards ends.
Wing-formula, 3–4–2–5–6–7, 1. Wing, 15.00; tail, 8.00; tarsus, 2.45;
middle toe, 1.55. Primaries project beyond secondaries, 6.00.

HAB. Tropical America, from the southern border of the United States to
Buenos Ayres.

The melanistic specimen described above agrees perfectly with Mr.
Sclater’s excellent figure of his _B. fuliginosus_ above cited, and
the only discrepancy in the description is in the measurements,—those
given for the _B. fuliginosus_ being, wing 12.00, tail 6.50, and
tarsus 2.60. This difference—certainly not great—very likely indicates
the proportions of the sexes, while the discrepancy as regards the
length of the tarsus, it is probable, results from a different mode of

The present form is very nearly related to the true _B. swainsoni_,
and, though distinguishable, we find it difficult to express points
of absolute difference. The essential distinctions, however, are the
longer primaries and lighter colors of the present bird, there being
in the immature plumage of _oxypterus_ no approach to the deep, fine
ochraceous, the characteristic and prevalent tint of the young _B.
swainsoni_. The spots beneath are more sparse, and there does not appear
to be that tendency to their aggregation on the sides of the breast as
generally seen in _swainsoni_.

Both agree, however,—and differ from all other species,—in the unbarred
slate-color of the under surface of primaries, the plain black of the
outer surface, conspicuous “mustache,” obscurely barred gray tail, etc.
In fact, the general pattern is almost exactly the same, while there is
little difference in relative proportions.

In view of the very appreciable, though rather indefinite, differences
above indicated, and the obscure history of the present bird, we prefer,
at least until more familiar with its different stages, to recognize it
under the above name.

A third specimen, from Buenos Ayres (Conchitas; William H.
Hudson),—exactly similar, in all particulars, to the two specimens
described,—was labelled by Mr. Sclater, _B. albicaudatus_, Vieill.,
which is usually placed as a synonyme under B. pterocles, an exclusively
South American species; though belonging strictly to the same section
of the genus with the present bird and _B. swainsoni_, it is quite
distinct, the Smithsonian Collection containing numerous examples
illustrating the several stages of plumage.

HABITS. Taking the two varieties together, this species appears to range
over the entire continent of America, from the Arctic regions to the
cold-temperate portion of South America. In Arctic America it appears to
have a western distribution, though extending far to the north during
the breeding-season, and being more or less nomadic during the winter. A
single well-marked specimen was taken by Mr. Brewster, in the winter of
1871–72, in the eastern part of Massachusetts. It was first noticed by
Dr. Richardson, and was by him supposed to be identical with the common
Buzzard of Europe. It was met with in the fur country, where it was
migratory, arriving there early in April, and departing again about the
end of September. It frequented the low alluvial points of land which
stretch out under the high banks of rivers, where it might be observed
sitting for a long while motionless on the bough of a tree, waiting
patiently for some small birds or quadrupeds to pass within its reach.
As soon as it perceived anything of the kind, it would glide silently
into the air and sweep easily but rapidly down upon its prey. One of Dr.
Richardson’s specimens was found to have two whole toads in its stomach.

Dr. Richardson states that this Buzzard builds its nest on a tree, of
short sticks, lining it sparingly with deer’s hair. The eggs, from three
to five in number, are described as equalling in size those of the
domestic fowl, and as having a greenish-white color, with a few large
dark brown blotches at the larger end. It was seen by the doctor as far
to the north as the 57th parallel.

Mr. Audubon’s drawing and description of this bird were taken from a
specimen obtained by Dr. Townsend from the Columbia River. A number
of specimens have been obtained by the various government exploring
expeditions. A single specimen was taken by Mr. Dresser near San
Antonio, in Texas.

Captain Blakiston (Ibis, 1861, p. 317) obtained several specimens of
this Buzzard at the forks of the Saskatchewan River, in the stomach
of one of which he found three toads. He states that it was quite
abundant in that neighborhood. He adds that Mr. Bourgeau procured
several specimens of the eggs, identified by also obtaining the parents.
These eggs are said to have been white, more or less blotched with red.
Mr. Bernard Ross also obtained this bird on the Mackenzie River, where
it was rare.

[Illustration: _Buteo swainsoni_ (adult).]

This Hawk was observed by Mr. Dall, in Alaska, a skin having been
obtained at Koyukuk, May 26, from an Indian. Mr. Dall states that it
prefers the thickets and woody places, is not so often seen as some of
the other species. It generally builds a very large nest of sticks, and
begins to lay about the last of April. The young are hatched out about
the 30th of May. It was only a summer visitor. He found not only the
bones of rabbits, squirrels, and mice about its nest, but also those of
ducks, and in one instance part of a white-fish.

Dr. Heermann obtained an egg of this species in Northern California,
which had a yellowish-white ground-color, marked with obscure cloudings
of a purplish-gray, and irregular patches of a light tone of umber
brown. It measured 2.31 inches in length, and 1.84 in breadth.

We are indebted to Dr. W. J. Hoffmann for the following interesting
note in relation to the nesting of this species: “On the 28th of May,
1871, we encamped on Antelope Creek, forty miles north of the Central
Pacific Railroad Station, Argenta, Nevada. The stream of water, which
is small, is fringed with willows, averaging about twelve feet in
height. Strolling along the underbrush, I came to the nest of the
_Buteo swainsoni_, which was built on the top of a willow, and in its
construction took in several distinct limbs, so as to give better
support. The nest, about two feet across and one foot in thickness,
was constructed of thin sticks and fragments of roots. The inside was
lined with leaves of tule and grass. The nest contained two eggs. Only
eight feet from this nest, on the same bush, and at the same height, a
female of _Icterus bullocki_ was on her nest. These birds appeared to be
living together in harmony, having been in constant sight of each other
for several weeks, as the condition of the eggs proved. I deem this
remarkable only as showing a rapacious and an insectivorous bird living
so closely together that one might at any time have been made the prey
of the other by a single spread of the wings.”

[Illustration: _Buteo swainsoni_ (young).]

Dr. Gideon Lincecum, of Washington County, Texas, speaks of this species
as one of the common Hawks of the Texan prairies. He states that it
nests on the ground in the prairie; lays six eggs, sometimes on tall
trees,—when it chooses to rear its young in the forest. It is apt to
pounce on a brood of young poultry when it sees them, but being rather
timid does not like to go about the houses. Its principal food is
grasshoppers, prairie rats and mice, and small birds. Dr. Lincecum has
often seen it when the grass on the prairie was burning, in the spring
of the year, constantly on the wing, in front of the fire, catching the
grasshoppers, rats, mice, and any small game that is driven out of the
grass by the crackling fire; and it will keep in the smoke so close
to the fire that it soon becomes almost as black as soot. He further
remarks that, “when any one approaches their nest on the prairie, they
will make a pretty bold attempt to frighten or decoy him away from it.
It first tries to lead the intruder off, by alighting in the grass near
by, and screeching loudly as if something was greatly the matter; you
approach him, and with much seeming difficulty it makes out to move off
a little farther, still screeching louder than before, and this piece
of deception it will repeat time after time, improving a little in its
powers of locomotion as it gets you farther from the nest, until it
judges it is far enough,—that you have lost the place in the unmarked
sea of grass,—when it seems to fly as well as ever; it circles round
once or twice, going still farther off, and settles silently down in
the deep grass. This last performance is to induce the belief that it
has returned to the nest. But if you refuse to be led astray by these
manœuvres, and remain about its nest, it will make a good fight. One
came very near knocking off my hat one day when I did not know I was
intruding on its premises.”

The _Buteo bairdi_ of Hoy is now ascertained to be only an immature
form. It was first met with in Wisconsin, and since then has been taken
in various western localities.

A pair of these birds was found by Mr. Ricksecker, breeding in this
plumage, in Utah. The nest was built in a young aspen-tree. The egg is
marked with larger and more deeply marked blotches than usual, and is
nearly of an exact oval shape, measuring 2.30 inches in length by 1.75
in breadth. The ground-color is white, with a slight tinge of rufous,
over which are diffused, over the whole surface, fine markings of a
reddish, rust-tinged brown. Besides these the larger end, and some other
portions of the surface, are boldly dashed with large blotches of the
same color, but of a deeper shade.

A black Buzzard, originally described as _Buteo insignatus_, is now
known to be only an individual melanistic condition of the species.
It was first met with in the vicinity of Montreal, and the specimen
belonging to the Natural History Society of that city was described as
new by Mr. John Cassin. A similar specimen was taken by Mr. Macfarlane
at Fort Anderson, where it was breeding. It was met with rather
abundantly by Dr. Heermann on the San Joaquin River, in California, and
seen along his route for a considerable distance. He described it as
sluggish in its habits, perching for hours in a quiescent state on some
tall tree, and permitting the hunter to approach without showing any
signs of fear.

[Illustration: _Buteo swainsoni_, var. _oxypterus_ (young).]

Dr. Cooper found this bird pretty common in the vicinity of San Diego,
in March, 1862, when they were apparently migrating northward. In their
habits they appeared to resemble the larger varieties of Buzzards. Mr.
Salvin obtained a single specimen of a Hawk at Duenas, which is referred
by Mr. Gurney to this variety (Ibis, I, 216).

The variety _oxypterus_, of this species, was first described from an
immature specimen obtained at Fort Fillmore, New Mexico. It ranges
southward throughout tropical America to Buenos Ayres.

Buteo zonocercus, SCLATER.


  _?? Buteo albonotatus_, G. R. GRAY, Isis, 1847, p. 329. _Buteo
  zonocercus_, SCLATER, Trans. Zoöl. Soc. Lond. IV, pt. vi, 263,
  1858.—COUES, Pr. A. N. S. 1866, 46.—ELLIOT, Birds N. A. pl.
  xxxiii.—GRAY, Hand List I, 8, 1869.—COOPER, Birds Cal. 1870, 479.


  =52763=, ♂. ½
  =52763=, ♂. ½
  =52763=, ♂. ¼

_Buteo zonocercus._]

SP. CHAR. _Adult_ (36,872, Hassayampa River, Arizona Territory, August;
Dr. Coues). Entirely carbonaceous black; forehead pure white, and
feathers of occiput, neck, and breast the same beneath the surface; this
on under parts, showing as transverse, ovate spots on webs of feathers,
partially exposed. Tail black, faintly tipped with pale ashy, crossed
(about 1¾ inches from the end) by a band of hoary plumbeous, nearly an
inch in width; about half an inch anterior to this is another plumbeous
band, about as broad as the black one which separates it from the last;
and about the same distance, near the base, is another, much narrower,
and less continuous ashy band. The outlines of these bands are rather
irregular; and on the inner webs the plumbeous is replaced by snowy
white, which, not exactly corresponding to the plumbeous of outer webs,
is rather more extended, as well as more sharply defined, forming three
very conspicuous transverse zones (decreasing in width towards the base
like those on outer webs), observable only when the tail is spread,
or from below. On the two middle feathers both webs are plumbeous and
black; and on the lateral feathers, the white prevails on the inner web,
the black bands being broken up into narrow zigzags. Primaries less
intensely black than the back, and showing obscure transverse bands of
deeper black; lining of the wing unvariegated black; under surface of
primaries pale plumbeous, passing into hoary white on edges, and crossed
from base to ends with very irregular, transverse bars of blackish,
these breaking up into a mottling, or blended speckling, along the edges
of the feathers. Owing to moulting stage, the wing-formula cannot be
ascertained. Wing, 15.50; tail, 8.50; tarsus, 2.50; middle toe, 1.60.
Length, 19½; extent, 47½.

_Young male_ (52,763, Mazatlan, Mex.; Colonel A. J. Grayson). Generally
similar to the preceding; feathers of neck, back, and under parts more
conspicuously spotted with white beneath the surface, these spots
considerably exposed on the breast and upper tail-coverts. Tail deep
dark vandyke-brown, faintly tipped with paler, and crossed with numerous
narrow oblique bands of black; subterminal one broadest, being about
three fourths of an inch in width; the next one is not a fourth as wide,
and crosses about an inch anterior to the last; the distance between the
black bands diminishes towards the base of the tail, so that after the
seventh of these, no more can be distinguished. Inner webs passing into
whitish towards edges, this prevailing on lateral feathers. Fourth quill
longest; third scarcely shorter; fifth but little shorter than third;
second intermediate between fifth and sixth; first equal to eighth.
Wing, 15.30; tail, 8.80; tarsus, 2.40; middle toe, 1.60. Length, 15¾;
alar extent, 48. Bill black at tip, bluish-brown at base; iris dark

HAB. Guatemala, Mexico, and adjoining parts of United States; Arizona
(COUES); Santa Clara Co., Cal. (COOPER).


National Museum, 2; Philadelphia Academy, 2. Total, 4.

There can be but little doubt that this plumage denotes a younger
stage of the same species as the _B. zonocercus_ of Sclater. The adult
bird described above is moulting, and two tail-feathers of the old
plumage, which have not yet been cast, are precisely like those of this
specimen, the new ones being entirely different, as will be seen by
the description. Taking with this the exact similarity of the pattern
of under side of primaries, as well as the plumage in general, and the
sameness of proportions, one cannot but be convinced of their identity.
The localities of the two specimens are also so near that it is scarcely
possible they are distinct.

The plumage of this stage is parallel, in its relation to the adult,
with that of the young of _B. albifrons_ var. _minutus_, both differing
from the mature stage in nearly the same particulars, the more numerous
bands on the tail distinguishing the young of nearly all _Buteos_ from
adults of the same species.

An adult specimen from Mexico, in the collection of the Philadelphia
Academy (without number or other indications on the label), though
resembling the two specimens described, in all essential points, differs
from them in regard to the coloration of the tail. The main differences
are as follows: Tail deep black basally and subterminally, the tip (very
narrowly) and a middle zone about 2.00 inches broad, and 1.80 from the
tip, being duller and more brownish-black, this irregularly defined
anteriorly, but of sharp regular definition along the posterior border;
the subterminal black band is very precisely defined on the inner webs,
and anterior to this nearly the whole inner web is white, irregularly
blotched with black towards the base, however; the markings of somewhat
longitudinal direction; the outer webs are black to the very base. Wing,
16.50; tail, 9.00; tarsus, 2.70; middle toe, 1.80. Wing-formula, 4,
3–5–2–6–7, 1.

Whether this is a progressive stage of plumage or a mere individual
peculiarity, I do not feel certain, but am inclined to the latter
opinion. Both this specimen and the immature one described are labelled
_B. albonotatus_, Gray; I have been unable to refer to Gray’s original
description; if there is no doubt of its being pertinent to the immature
stage described, then this will be the name of the species, as it has
priority; I should much regret, however, to discard the very appropriate
and characteristic name _zonocercus_, for the other, as Mr. Sclater’s
species is so satisfactorily described and accurately figured, while the
original description of _albonotatus_ is very meagre and difficult of

[Illustration: _Buteo zonocercus_ (adult).]

HABITS. This Hawk is a Mexican and Guatemalan species which occasionally
strays into our borders in Arizona and in Southern California. Dr.
Cooper was the first of our naturalists to meet with this species within
the United States, shooting an individual on the 23d of February, 1862,
thirty miles north of San Diego, and within five of the coast. It was
associating with specimens of _B. insignatus_ and other Hawks wintering
there, and seemed rather sluggish and tame. He saw no other Black Hawks
in that neighborhood. Two years afterwards, September 24, 1864, Dr.
Coues also procured a single specimen on the Gila River. He regards the
species as restricted, within our borders, to the warm valley of the
Gila and the Lower Colorado. We possess no information in regard to
any distinctive specific habits it may possess. This species was first
described by Dr. Sclater from a Guatemalan specimen.

The bird described as _B. albonotatus_ is presumed to be identical with
this species. It was observed by Mr. Salvin on the southern slope of the
Cordillera, in Guatemala, which appears to be the true habitat of this
species, but even there it cannot be said to be common. He states that,
like many others of its class, it is a feeder on beetles and locusts.

Buteo lineatus, GMELIN.

Var. =lineatus=, GMELIN.


  _Falco lineatus_, GMEL. Syst. Nat. p. 268, 1789.—LATH. Ind. Orn. p.
  27, 1790; Syn. I, 56, sp. 36, 1781; Gen. Hist. I, 268, 1821.—DAUD.
  Tr. Orn. II, 158, 1800.—SHAW, Zoöl. VII, 153, 1812.—WILS. Am. Orn.
  pl. liii, f. 3, 1808.—AUD. Orn. Biog. I, 296, 1831; Syn. p. 7, 1839.
  CUVIER, Reg. Anim. ed. 2, I, 334, 1829. _Buteo lineatus_, JARD.
  (WILS.) Am. Orn. II, 290, 1832.—AUD. Syn. p. 7, 1839.—BREWER, (WILS.)
  Am. Orn. 684, 1852.—CASSIN, Birds Cal. & Tex. Syn. 99, 1854; Birds
  N. Am. 1858, 28.—BONAP. Comp. Av. p. 19, 1850.—KAUP, Web. Falk. Mus.
  Senck. 1845, p. 261.—STRICKL. Orn. Syn. I, 30, 1855.—BREWER, Oölogy,
  1857, 28, pl. iii, f. 25.—MAX. Cab. Journ. VI, 1858, 19.—GRAY, Hand
  List, I, 7, 1869. _Poecilopternis lineatus_, KAUP, Mon. Fal. Cont.
  Orn. p. 76, 1850. _Falco hyemalis_, GMEL. Syst. Nat. 274, 1789.—LATH.
  Ind. Orn. 35, 1790; Syn. I, 79, sp. 62, 1781; Gen. Hist. I, p.
  91.—DAUD. Tr. Orn. II, 110, 1800.—SHAW, Zoöl. VII, 153, 1812.—WILS.
  Am. Orn. pl. 35, fig. I, 1808.—BONAP. Ann. Lyc. N. Y. II, 33; Isis,
  p. 1138, 1832.—AUD. B. Am. pl. lvi, 71, 1831; Orn. Biog. I, 364,
  1831. _F. hyemalis_, var. LATH. Ind. Orn. Supp. p. 8, 1801; Syn.
  Supp. II, 39, 1802. _Circus hyemalis_, VIEILL. Ois. Am. Sept. pl.
  vii, 1807.—JAMES. Wils. Am. Orn. I, 88 & 87, 1808. _B. hyemalis_,
  LESS. Tr. Orn. p. 81, 1831.—BONAP. Eur. & N. Am. B. p. 3, 1838.
  _Astur hyemalis_, JARD. Wils. Orn. II, 72, 1808.—VIEILL. Enc. Méth.
  III, 1273, 1823. _Nisus hyemalis_, CUV. Reg. An. ed. 2, I, 334, 1829.
  _Buteo fuscus_, VIEILL. Ois. Am. Sept. pl. v, 1807. _Astur fuscus_,
  BONAP. Oss. Cuv. Reg. An. p. 37, 1830. _Falco buteoides_, NUTT. Man.
  I, 100, 1832. _Buteo cooperi_ (not of Cassin), ALLEN, Am. Nat. III,
  1869, 518 (young of _B. lineatus_!)

SP. CHAR. _Adult male_ (32,509, Washington, D. C., January). Head, neck,
and interscapulars deep rufous (above becoming darker posteriorly),
each feather with a medial stripe of blackish-brown. Throat and cheeks
almost destitute of rufous tinge, the ground being dull white,—the
dusky forming an indistinct “mustache,” and an imperfect, obsolete
collar (formed by confluent, or suffused streaks), across the throat.
Breast, sides, abdomen, and tibiæ rather light rufous, becoming paler
posteriorly; breast with shaft-streaks of blackish; the rufous of
sides of breast almost unvaried; abdomen, sides, and middle of the
breast, with transverse bars of ochraceous white; tibiæ uniform pale
ochraceous; anal region and lower tail-coverts, immaculate white.
Lesser wing-coverts chestnut-rufous, feathers with black shaft-streaks,
these becoming larger posteriorly; scapulars and middle wing-coverts
edged broadly with rufous, and obsoletely spotted on inner webs with
white.—this somewhat exposed; secondaries dark clear brown, tipped and
crossed with two (exposed) bands of white; primaries black, fading at
tips into dilute grayish-brown, and with quadrate spots of white on
outer webs. Rump uniform blackish-brown; upper tail-coverts tipped
and banded with black. Tail clear brownish-black, crossed with six
sharply defined narrow bands of white, the last of which is terminal,
and the first two concealed by the upper coverts. Lining of the wing
nearly uniform pale rufous, with very sparse, deeper rufous, somewhat
transverse spots; under surface of primaries silvery white, crossed
by broad bands, these where the white is clearest being pale rufous,
bordered with dusky, but as the white grows more silvery they darken
into black; the longest (fourth) has eight of these spots, including
the subterminal, very broad one. Fourth quill longest; fifth, just
perceptibly shorter; third, a little shorter; second, considerably
longer than sixth; first equal to ninth. Wing, 13.00; tail, 8.50;
tarsus, 2.90; middle toe, 1.33.

_Adult female_ (11,991, Washington, D. C.; Dr. W. Wallace). Generally
similar to the male, but rufous more extended, this tinging the outer
webs of secondaries and primaries. On the under parts the rufous is
rather deeper, and the tibiæ are strongly barred, and even the lower
tail-coverts have obsolete spots of the same. Wing, 13.75; tail, 9.00;
tarsus, 2.90; middle toe, 1.50.

_Younger_ (41,683, Washington, D. C.; Dr. Coues). Upper plumage
precisely as in adult, but the black prevailing on head above, and
nape. Beneath ochraceous-white, deepest on the tibiæ; breast, abdomen,
sides, and tibiæ, with diamond-shaped spots of dark rufous-brown,
connected along the shaft of the feathers, running thus, in a peculiar,
longitudinal, chain-like series (19.50; 42.50; cere, legs, and feet
bright chrome-yellow; anterior scales of tarsus with greenish tinge).

_Young male_ (No. 1,210). Ground-color of head, neck, and under
parts white; feathers of head and neck, with medial stripes of
dark clear vandyke-brown, leaving a superciliary space, and the
ear-coverts scarcely striped; a blackish suffusion over cheeks,
forming a “mustache,” and large longitudinal spot of the same on
middle of throat; breast, abdomen, sides, and flanks, with rather
sparse, irregularly sagittate spots of clear vandyke-brown, those on
the sides of breast more longitudinal; tibiæ, with a faint ochraceous
tinge, and with sparse, small, and irregular specks of brown; lower
tail-coverts with a very few distant isolated bars of the same.
Upper parts generally, clear dark vandyke-brown; interscapulars and
wing-coverts edged (most broadly beneath the surface) with pale rufous;
middle wing-coverts with much white spotting on upper webs, partially
exposed; wing-coverts generally, and scapulars, narrowly bordered with
white; secondaries narrowly tipped with white, and crossed with about
four (exposed) bands of paler grayish-brown; primaries inclining to
black; faintly margined at ends, with whitish; outer webs anterior to
the emargination, rufous-white, with distant, narrow bars of blackish,
these widening on inner quills; upper tail-coverts white with transverse
spots of blackish. Tail dark vandyke-brown, narrowly tipped with white,
and crossed with numerous narrow bands of pale grayish-brown, these
obsolete towards the base. Lining of the wing pale ochraceous, with a
few irregularly cordate spots of dark brown toward edge of wing; under
surface of primaries mostly white, the dusky bars not extending across
the web, except on inner quills. Wing, 13.25; tail, 9.30; tarsus, 2.85;
middle toe, 1.40.

_Young female_ (11,994, Washington, D. C., January; C. Drexler). Almost
precisely similar; tibiæ unspotted; light bands of the tail more sharply
defined basally, and pale mottled rufous, instead of pale ashy brown.
Wing, 14.50; tail, 9.60; tarsus, 3.10; middle toe, 1.45.

HAB. Eastern N. Am.; south to Florida; west to Texas and the tributaries
of the Missouri.

Localities: Orizaba, SCL. 1857, 211; S. E. Texas, DRESSER, Ibis, 1865,
325 (breeds); Iverness Shore, England (Feb. 26, 1863), NEWCOME, Ibis,
1865, 549.


National Museum, 19; Philadelphia Academy, 14; Boston Society, 8; Mus.
Cambridge, 16; Cab. G. N. Lawrence, 4; Coll. R. Ridgway, 4. Total, 65.


 |Sex.|   Wing.   |   Tail.   | Culmen. | Tarsus. | Middle  | Specimens. |
 |    |           |           |         |         |  Toe.   |            |
 | ♂  |11.25–13.50|  8.00–9.70|  .75–.90|2.70–3.25|1.30–1.50|20 Northern.|
 | ♀  |13.35–14.25| 9.00–10.00|  .80–.90|3.10–3.20|1.35–1.50| 7 Northern.|

This specimen may possibly indicate a mere individual variation, rather
than a progressive stage of plumage.

A male (25,198, Washington, D. C., February) is as strongly barred
beneath as described in the female; thus it would appear that any
differences in plumage in the sexes are nothing more than individual

The yellowish outer webs of the primaries constitute a feature which
will serve to distinguish the young of the _Buteo lineatus_ from that of
every other North American species.

A series of twelve specimens from Florida, in the Museum of Comparative
Zoölogy, at Cambridge, shows that the birds of this species from that
peninsula are very much smaller than northern ones; and though that of
the adults does not differ appreciably, the plumage of the young birds
is considerably darker than in northern specimens, and occasionally
approaches quite nearly to that of the young of var. _elegans_, the
markings on the lower parts, including the tibiæ, being often in the
form of transverse spots.

The extreme measurements of this series are as follows: Wing,
10.90–12.75; tail, 7.70–8.50; culmen, .80–.90; tarsus, 2.90–3.20; middle
toe, 1.25–1.45. Specimens, 12.

Var. elegans, CASSIN.


  _Buteo elegans_, CASS. P. A. N. S. 1855, 281.—IB. B. N. Am. 1858,
  28, plate.—HEERM. P. R. Rep. II, 32.—KENNERLY, P. R. Rep. III,
  19.—NEWB. VII, 75.—COOP. & SUCKL. XII, ii, 147.—STRICKL. Orn. Syn. I,
  38.—? DRESSER, Ibis, 1865, 325 (Texas).—COUES, P. A. N. S. 1866, 9
  (Arizona).—GRAY, Hand List, I, 7.—COOPER, Birds Cal. 1870, 477.

SP. CHAR. _Adult male_ (10,573, Ft. Tejon, California, “Oct. 22,
1857”; J. Xantus). Head, neck, interscapulars, anterior scapulars,
lesser wing-coverts, lining of the wing, and entire lower parts, dark
lateritious-rufous, inclining to chestnut on the shoulders. The upper
parts so colored have each feathers with a medial-ovate space of dull
black, giving a striped appearance; the lesser wing-coverts, however,
have each only a narrow shaft-line of black, these growing larger as
they approach the middle coverts. There is a strong black suffusion
over the cheeks, forming an obscure “mustache”; orbit blackish,
throat streaked with the same. The dark lateritious-rufous of the
jugulum and breast is perfectly continuous and uniform, varied only
by the obsoletely darker shafts of the feathers; sides and flanks
transversely barred with white; lining of the wing, and tibiæ, with very
ill-defined bars of paler rufous; anal region and lower tail-coverts
with broader and more sharply defined bars of the same. Scapulars and
middle wing-coverts brownish-black, narrowly tipped, and irregularly
spotted transversely, with pure white; secondaries and greater coverts
brownish-black, tinged with rufous, and broadly tipped and crossed, with
sharply defined bands of pure white, of which there are on secondaries
about six exposed (including the terminal band); primaries and their
coverts deep black (tinged anterior to their emargination with rufous),
tipped with pure white, and having spots of white on outer webs. Rump
and upper tail-coverts brownish-black, with indistinct transverse
bands of white, the latter sharply tipped with the same. Tail clear
brownish-black sharply tipped with white, and with about five sharply
defined bands of the same, about .30 of an inch in width. Under surface
of secondaries and primaries white to near the ends, where they are
black; the tips, however, again white; the white portion crossed by
regular transverse bands, those where the white is purest being light
rufous, but as the white shades toward the black they become dusky; the
rufous bars are, however, bordered with dusky. Fifth quill longest;
third and fourth longer than sixth; second a little shorter than sixth;
first intermediate between ninth and tenth. Wing, 12.50; tail, 8.00;
tarsus, 2.90; middle toe, 1.40.

_Young._ Predominating color, blackish-brown; this existing on under
parts in large, confluent sagittate spots, which are longitudinal on
throat and jugulum, and more transverse on sides, abdomen, tibiæ,
and lower tail-coverts, the ground-color of lower parts being dull
ochraceous. The head and neck, all around, presenting a uniform,
streaked appearance, the edges of the feathers being ochraceous, but
the black far exceeding this in amount. Interscapulars and scapulars
bordered with rusty rufous; wing-coverts more broadly bordered with
ochraceous, and with much concealed dull white spotting; lesser
wing-coverts, with a strong wash of rich dark rufous; secondaries tipped
with white, and crossed by two or three (exposed) broad bands of dull
ashy; primaries brownish-black, narrowly tipped with white, and with
ill-defined restricted spots of the same on outer webs. Rump uniform
blackish-brown, feathers faintly bordered with rusty; upper tail-coverts
tipped and barred with white. Tail brownish-black tipped with white, and
crossed with five narrow bands of dull light ashy. Lining of wing dull,
dingy ochraceous, with numerous transverse bars of brown; fourth quill
longest; third shorter than fifth; second longer than sixth; first equal
to ninth. Wing (male, 10,572, Fort Tejon), 12.00; tail, 8.40; tarsus,
2.82; middle toe, 1.35. Female (4,520, Santa Clara, Cal.; Dr. Cooper),
wing, 13.00; tail, 9.00; tarsus, 2.90; middle toe, 1.52.

HAB. Pacific, and southern portion of the middle Provinces of the United
States; Mexico.

Localities quoted: Texas (San Antonio, winter), (DRESSER, Ibis, 1865,
325); Arizona (Coues, P. A. N. S. 1866, 9); city of Mexico (SCL. & SALV.
P. Z. S. 1869, 364).


National Museum, 4; Philadelphia Academy, 4; Cab. G. N. Lawrence, 1; R.
Ridgway, 2. Total, 11.


Wing, 12.00–13.00; tail, 8.75–9.50; culmen, .78–.90; tarsus, 3.00–3.12;
middle toe, 1.40–1.50.

The young of the _Buteo elegans_ differs most remarkably from that of
_B. lineatus_; the pattern of coloration appears scarcely the same,
for the ochraceous on outer webs of primaries, anterior to their
emargination,—which is a feature distinguishing the immature _lineatus_
from all other _Buteos_,—is in the present bird almost obliterated by
the extension of the dusky.

HABITS. The Red-shouldered Hawk has an extended distribution, being
found more or less abundant from Florida to Nova Scotia, and from the
Atlantic to the Pacific coast it is replaced by the _Buteo elegans_.
Mr. J. A. Allen found it by far the most abundant of this family in
Florida. In Texas the two races, _lineatus_ and _elegans_, appear to
occur together, Mr. Dresser having met with both near San Antonio. The
Red-shouldered Hawk was noticed by this writer from the river Neuces
eastward. He found it breeding in the heavily wooded river bottoms of
the Medina, and several others of the rivers of Texas, but did not
succeed in procuring the eggs. It breeds abundantly in Florida, and
thence throughout the United States as far north as Northern Vermont,
Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. Lieutenant Bland notices it as a common
and migratory species in Nova Scotia, but Mr. Downes speaks of it as
rare near Halifax, where he only met with two specimens. Mr. Boardman
gives it as quite common near Calais, breeding there and probably
resident. In Western Maine Mr. Verrill regarded the species as a not
very common summer resident, where it was also known to breed, as he
met with its nest and eggs May 24, 1860. It is quite common in Eastern
Massachusetts, where it is found all the year, but where it is more
abundant in the fall, from the addition of northern migrants, than at
any other time. A few are found throughout the winter, keeping about
open springs and in sheltered situations. Mr. Allen also speaks of it as
not uncommon in the western part of the same State. It was not taken or
seen by Richardson in northern regions, nor does it appear to have been
observed in any of the West India Islands.

The history and habits of this very common Hawk seem to have been
involved, among earlier writers, in a confusion that seems hardly
explicable. Wilson described and always regarded the young and old as
two distinct species, calling the former _hyemalis_, giving to it a
northern residence, and the mature bird _lineatus_. Mr. Audubon repeated
this error at first, and sought to demonstrate its correctness by giving
to the two forms very dissimilar habits. Bonaparte believed these
forms to be identical, and Nuttall did the same, but was altogether
in error as to its distribution. He was not aware of its presence in
Massachusetts, where it is at times the most abundant of the raptorial
birds. This writer only met with it in the Southern States, where he
found it very common in swampy situations. He speaks of its having a
quailing cry of mutual recognition, which is a plaintive echoing note,
like _keé-oó_, which is continued with little intermission for nearly
twenty minutes. He describes the species as not shy, and as very easily
approached. These Hawks remain mated throughout the year, and their
affectionate treatment of each other is in striking contrast with the
selfish indifference of the Red-tail species when their breeding-season
is ended.

Nuttall observed it feeding on frogs, cray-fish, and even insects,
and rarely troubling larger game. In only one instance did he see one
descend upon a Plover. Wilson saw them attack Plover, Sand-pipers,
Larks, and even Hawks; but the last is very rare and exceptional. I have
never known one of this species to molest the poultry-yard. From 1828 to
1838, during my stay in Roxbury, a pair of these Hawks were residents
within a few hundred yards of the house, where, as they never molested
the tenants of the barn-yard, they were not allowed to be disturbed.
Their breeding-place we could not find, but they kept about an open
spring during the winter, feeding upon small game, and were not at all
shy. One of them unfortunately was wounded, and was kept in confinement
several days. It was the male bird, in full adult plumage, and was by
no means wild, feeding readily upon what was given to it, even with
our near presence. It would not tolerate a too great familiarity, but
manifested great irritation if we attempted to approach it. Its wing
had been badly shattered, and it finally died from mortification of the
wound. It would never submit to be handled, and fought desperately when
we sought to have its limb bound up. After we gave up this attempt as
impossible it became rather more familiar, and would even at last greet
me with a welcome cry of recognition, and take its food from my hand.

Wilson, in speaking of the adult bird, states that this Hawk has a high
and very irregular flight, and is quite different from that of species
with longer wings. In his account of the immature plumage, he notes
its arrival in Pennsylvania early in November, and its departure in
March. He speaks of it as a dexterous catcher of frogs, and adds that it
sometimes so stuffs itself that it can fly with difficulty. He has found
the remains of ten frogs in the stomach of a single individual.

The Red-shouldered Hawk constructs a large nest, not unlike that
of the Crow, in the forked branches of a high tree. It is composed
externally of sticks, and is lined with moss and soft leaves. The eggs
are four in number, and occasionally three or two. When the nest is
approached, the bird utters loud, frequent, and peculiar cries of alarm
and resentment, not unlike _keé-oó!_ rapidly repeated, but makes no
attempt at resistance. The pair return year after year to the same nest,
even when it has been robbed the previous season.

The eggs of this Hawk are of a very uniform spheroidal-oval shape,
but slightly pointed at one end, and exhibit certain very general
characteristics in the colors of their markings, but vary greatly in
their size. The length varies from 2.20 to 2.00, and the breadth from
1.81 to 1.56. The ground-color is usually a dingy white, rarely pure
white, and frequently with decidedly brownish tinge. The blotches are
most frequently of a yellowish umber color; sometimes blotches of
sienna-brown, slate-drab, and more obscure shades of brown are present,
and these colors are not unfrequently confusedly mingled. An egg from
Cheraw, S. C., has a ground-color of a light drab, tinged with slate and
without any blotches whatever. It is not uncommon to find these nearly
unspotted eggs in the same nest with others very boldly and profusely
blotched. The Cheraw egg measures 2.00 by 1.56 inches; an egg from
Massachusetts, 2.20 by 1.81: their relative capacity being nearly as
three to four. They average about 2.10 by 1.68 inches.

Mr. L. Heiligbrodt found the nest of this Hawk near Austin, Texas. One
egg was taken from the nest, and in a few days after a second was found
to have been deposited (S. I. 15,894).

The handsome variety known as _B. elegans_ is generally spoken of by all
familiar with its habits, as well as with its appearance, as the almost
exact counterpart of the Red-shouldered Hawk, replacing that form on the
west coast.

[Illustration: _Buteo elegans._]

In regard to its distinctive specific habits but little is as yet known,
but it is probable they are not essentially different from those of
the _lineatus_, Dr. Cooper bearing positive testimony to this fact. He
found this Hawk common in the southern part of the State, especially
near San Diego, but he did not meet with any in the Colorado Valley.
On his approach to one of them, it would always fly off from its usual
perch, circling up high into the air, and uttering short shrill screams
in rapid succession in the manner of the _lineatus_. He noticed a pair
constantly at one place near a ranch, and supposed they were about
building there, but was not able to find the nest.

Among the memoranda of Mr. Xantus, made at Fort Tejon, Cal., is one
dated May 9, mentioning the finding the nest of this species. It
contained four eggs, was built in an old decayed tree, in a swamp, and
was about fifteen feet from the ground. The nest was large and made of

Buteo borealis (GMEL.).


SP. CHAR. Form heavy and robust; wings moderate, the third to fifth
quill longest; the first shorter than the seventh; outer four with
inner webs cut. Feet strong, the tarsi and toes robust, and claws not
very acute. Dimensions: Wing, 13.50–17.25; tail, 8.50–11.30; culmen,
.90–1.15; tarsus, 2.70–3.40; middle toe, 1.60–1.95; weight, 2½ to 4
lbs. Colors: _Adult_: tail, deep lateritious-rufous, paler at the tip,
and usually with a subterminal bar of black (sometimes without any bar,
and sometimes with numerous bars to the base). Above blackish-brown,
more or less variegated with whitish on the scapulars and wing-coverts;
beneath white, usually with a belt of blackish spots across the abdomen;
sometimes wholly dusky or blackish beneath, but the pectoral region
always appreciably lighter than the abdomen; under surface of primaries
plain white anterior to their emargination. _Young._ Tail grayish-brown,
with nine or ten narrow, sharply defined bands of blackish. Pattern
of other parts as in the adult, but the white purer, and the plumage
generally with less rufous.

HAB. Entire continent of North America; West Indies.

The plumage varies from wholly dusky blackish, with a paler, more
brownish, pectoral area, and the tail of the adult with numerous black
bars, or indications of bars, to the very base (var. _calurus_), through
various proportionate degrees of rufous and dusky, to entirely pure
white beneath, without any spotting; the tail of the adult without a
single black bar (vars. _krideri_ and _lucasanus_).

Var. borealis, GMELIN.


  _Falco borealis_, GMEL. Syst. Nat. p. 266, 1789.—LATH. Ind. Orn. p.
  25, 1790; Syn. I, p. 50, 1780; Supp. II, 34, 1787; Gen. Hist. I,
  p. 265, 1821.—DAUD. Tr. Orn. II, 157, 1800.—SHAW, Zoöl. VII, 112,
  1812.—WILS. Am. Orn. pl. lii, fig. 1, 1808.—SAB. Frankl. Exp. p.
  670.—WAGL. Isis, p. 517, 1831.—BONAP. Ann. N. Y. Lyc. II, pp. 32,
  434; Isis, p. 1138, 1832.—AUD. Birds Am. pl. li, 1831; Orn. Biog. I,
  p. 265, 1831; Syn. VI.—GRAY, Genera, 1840.—RICH. F. B. A. II, 50,
  1831.—NUTT. Man. I, 102, 1840.—GOSSE, Birds Jam. II, 1847.—DOUGH.
  Cab. I, 229, pl. xxx, 1830. _Buteo borealis_, VIEILL. Nouv. Dict.
  Hist. Nat. IV, p. 478, 1819; Enc. Méth. III, p. 1222, 1823.—VIG.
  Zoöl. Journ. I, p. 340; Zoöl. Beech. Voy. p. 15.—STEPH. Zoöl. XIII,
  pt. 2, p. 47, 1826.—LESS. Tr. Orn. p. 79, 1831.—JAMES. (WILS.) Am.
  Orn. I, pp. 82, 84, 1808.—JARD. (WILS.) Am. Orn. II, pp. 280, 282,
  1808.—BREW. (WILS.) Am. Orn. p. 450; Synop. p. 684.—BONAP. Eur. & N.
  Am. B. p. 3, 1838; Consp. Av. p. 19.—AUD. Synop. p. 6, 1839.—GRAY,
  Gen. B. fol. sp. 6, 1844; List B. Brit. Mus. p. 34, 1844.—PUCHER.
  Rev. Zoöl. p. 214, 1850.—GOSSE, B. Jam. p. 11, pl. ii, 1847.—CASS.
  B. Cal. & Tex. Syn. p. 97, 1854; Proc. Ac. Sc. Philad. p. 279,
  1855.—GAMB. Journ. Ac. Nat. Sc. Phil. N. S. I, p. 26.—NUTT. Man.
  Orn. U. S. & Canad. p. 102, 1833.—DE KAY, Zoöl. N. Y. II, p. 9, pl.
  viii, f. 17 (Juv.), 1844.—PEAB. Bost. Journ. Nat. Hist. III, p. 80,
  1837.—THOMP. Hist. Verm. App. p. 63, 1853.—PEALE, U. S. Expl. Exp. p.
  62, 1848.—TOWNS. Sit. Exp. Zuñi & Color. p. 59.—KAUP, Ueb. Falk. Mus.
  Senck. p. 261, 1845.—STRICKL. Orn. Syn. I, 29, 1855.—MAX. Cab. Journ.
  VI, 1858, 17.—BLAKIST. Ibis, III, 1861, 318.—WOOD, Am. Nat. III,
  1869, 393.—GRAY, Hand List, I, 1869, 7. _Astur borealis_, CUV. Règ.
  An. (ed. 2), I, 332, 1829.—SWAINS. Class. B. I, 316; II, 215, 1837,
  _Pœcilopternis borealis_, KAUP, Isis, Mon. Falc. Cont. Orn. 1850, p.
  76. _Falco leverianus_, GMEL. Syst. Nat. 266, 1789.—LATH. Ind. Orn.
  p. 181, 1790; Syn. Supp. I, 31, 1787; Gen. Hist. I, 620, 1821.—DAUD.
  Tr. Orn. II, 126, 1800.—SHAW, Zoöl. VII, 151, 1812.—WILS. Am. Orn. pl.
  lii (Juv.), 1808.—AUD. Orn. Biog. I, 265. _Buteo leverianus_, VIG.
  Zoöl. Journ. I, 340.—STEPH. Zoöl. XIII, pt. 2, p. 47, 1815. _Falco
  aquilinus_, BARTR. Tran. p. 390, 1791. _Accipiter ruficaudus_, VIEILL.
  Ois. Am. Sept. pl. xiv, bis. 1807. _Buteo fulvus_, VIEILL. Ois. Am.
  Sept. p. 34; Nouv. Dict. Hist. IV, p. 468 (quot. _F. jamaicensis_),
  1819. _Buteo ferrugineocaudus_, VIEILL. Ois. Am. Sept. pl. vi,
  1807.—CUV. Règ. An. (ed. 2), I, 337. _Buteo americanus_, VIEILL. Nouv.
  Dict. Nat. IV, 477 (quot.), Ois. Am. Merid. pl. vi, Enc. Méth. III,
  1224, 1823. _? Buteo gallinivorus_, VIEILL. Ois. _Buteo borealis_,
  BREWER, N. A. Oölogy, 1857.

SP. CHAR. _Adult._ Upper parts rich blackish-brown, approaching black
on the back; scapulars and middle wing-coverts edged and barred beneath
the surface with dull white, and tinged along edges with ochraceous.
Wings generally of a paler shade than the back; secondaries fading into
nearly white at tips, and, with the greater coverts, obscurely barred
with darker; primaries nearly black, tips edged with pale brown, this
passing into whitish. Rump uniform blackish-brown, feathers obscurely
bordered with rusty. Upper tail-coverts ochraceous-white, nearly pure
terminally, and with about two distinct transverse bars of deep rufous.
Tail rich uniform lateritious-rufous, passing narrowly into white at
the tip, and about an inch (or less) from the end crossed by a narrow
band of black. Head and neck with the feathers medially blackish-brown,
their edges rusty-rufous, causing a streaked appearance; the rufous
prevailing on the sides of the occiput, the ear-coverts, and neck. The
blackish almost uniform on the forehead and on the cheeks, over which it
forms a broad “mustache”; lores and sides of frontlet whitish. Throat
white, with broad stripes of pure slaty-brown; lower parts in general
ochraceous-white; tibiæ and lower tail-coverts immaculate; across the
abdomen and flanks (immediately in front of the tibiæ) is a broad
interrupted belt of longitudinal black blotches, those on the abdomen
tear-shaped, on the flanks larger and more irregular, throwing off bars
toward the edge of the feathers; whole pectoral area variegated only
with a few shaft-streaks of black (these growing broader laterally), and
sometimes washed with rusty. Lining of the wing ochraceous-white, with
sparse diamond-shaped spots of pale rufous, and shaft-streaks of darker;
under surface of primaries white anterior to their emargination, beyond
which they gradually deepen into black; the innermost ones are finely
mottled with slaty, and with imperfect transverse bars of the same.

_Male._ Wing, 13.50–16.50; tail, 8.50–10.00; culmen, .95–1.08; tarsus,
1.40–3.20; middle toe, 1.60–1.70. Weight, 2½–3 lbs.

_Female._ Wing, 15.25–17.75; tail, 9.50–10.50; culmen, 1.00–1.15;
tarsus, 3.15–3.40; middle toe, 1.70–1.80. Weight, 3–4 lbs.

_Young_ (28,154, Philadelphia; J. Krider). Above similar to the adult,
but lacking entirely any rufous tinge, the scapulars and wing-coverts
more variegated with whitish. Tail light grayish-brown (very much
lighter than the rump), tinged, especially basally, with rufous,
narrowly tipped with white, and crossed with nine or ten narrow, curved
bands of black; upper tail-coverts white, with broad bars of black.
Head as in the adult, but the rufous wanting, leaving the streaks black
and white; forehead more broadly white; chin and throat wholly white,
the latter with a collar of dusky streaks across the lower part; whole
pectoral region entirely immaculate, pure white; abdominal band as in
the adult; tibiæ somewhat tinged with ochraceous, unvariegated.

HAB. Eastern North America; not in West Indies, nor west of the

Localities: (?) Bahamas (BRYANT, Pr. Bost. Soc. 1867, 64).


National Museum, 9; Philadelphia Academy, 13; Boston Society, 8; Museum,
Cambridge, 15; Cab. G. N. Lawrence, 3; Coll. R. Ridgway, 2. Total, 50.

The true _Buteo borealis_, as restricted, may always be distinguished
from the var. _calurus_, its western representative, by its having the
posterior lower parts (tibiæ and lower tail-coverts) entirely free
from transverse bars, and by lacking indications of transverse bars on
the tail, anterior to the conspicuous subterminal one. It differs from
the var. _costaricensis_, in having the head and neck conspicuously
striped with rufous, and the throat thickly striped with black, almost
obliterating the white; in the conspicuous abdominal belt of large black
spots, and in having the tibiæ lighter ochraceous than the breast;
from the var. _lucasanus_ and var. _krideri_, it is distinguished by
having the black tail-band, more spotted under parts, and in the upper
tail-coverts being white, banded with rufous, instead of plain white, or
deep rufous, uniform with the tail.

A specimen (No. 1,750, Carlisle, Pa.; S. F. Baird) appears at first
sight much like the var. _calurus_, being very dark; the tibiæ, anal
region, and the lower tail-coverts are, however, not barred as in this,
and the tail possesses but the subterminal band.

An immature specimen (No. 21,488; John Krider) from Philadelphia has the
tibiæ quite distinctly barred, but less conspicuously so than in young
of var. _calurus_.

Var. krideri, HOOPES.


  _Buteo krideri_, HOOPES, P. A. N. S. Philad. 1873, p. —

SP. CHAR. _Adult._ Similar to var. _borealis_, but beneath continuous
pure white, without rufous tinge, and without distinct spots across
the abdomen, or lacking them entirely; above much lighter, the brown,
light rufous, and white being about equal in amount. Upper tail-coverts
immaculate white; tail pale rufous, the shafts pure white, and the webs
mixed with white along their edges, its amount increasing toward the
base; no trace of a dusky subterminal bar, or else only indicated by
badly defined spots.

_Young._ Differing from that of var. _borealis_ in the immaculate,
snowy-white lower parts, nearly equal extent of the white and dusky on
the upper parts, and whitish cast of the tail.

Two females (one shot from nest of two eggs, near Alexandria, Minn.,
May 8, 1872,[87] and the other, also shot from nest of two eggs, near
Pelican Lake, Minn., May 21, 1872[88]) are entirely absolutely pure
white beneath, there being but the faintest indications of markings in
the region of the usual abdominal belt; even the whole under side of the
wing is almost immaculate. The ground-color of the upper parts is pale
grayish-brown, about equally variegated transversely, on the scapulars
and tertials, with white. In one of them, the sides of the head and neck
are pale fawn-color, the “mustache” from the rictus brownish-black in
conspicuous contrast; the upper parts are nearly equally variegated with
brown, light rufous, and white, the latter predominating posteriorly.
The upper tail-coverts are immaculate white. The tail-feathers are light
rufous, with pure white shafts, considerably mixed with white along the
edges of the feathers, the white considerably increasing towards the
base of the tail. Of the subterminal dusky band there is no trace in one
specimen, while in the other it is indicated by transverse spots, while
the inner webs along the shafts are much variegated with transverse
dusky spots. The male specimen (shot at Chippewa Lake, Minn., from nest
(!) of two eggs May 19, 1872[89]) is considerably darker, nearly like
the average plumage of eastern var. _borealis_. Still the white of the
lower parts is remarkably pure, being of an almost snowy clearness,
without any trace whatever of an ochraceous tinge.

No. 8,532, Devil’s River, Texas (Nov. 1855; Dr. C. B. Kennerly), differs
only in being a little less pure white beneath, the lower parts being
very appreciably tinged with rufous posteriorly.

HAB. Plains of the United States, from Minnesota to Texas (Devil’s
River, M. S. I.).

Var. lucasanus, RIDGWAY.


  “_Buteo borealis_ var. _lucasanus_, RIDGWAY,” COUES, KEY, 1872, 216
  (under _B. borealis_).

SP. CHAR. _Adult._ General appearance of the normal plumage of var.
_calurus_, but the upper parts more uniformly blackish, and the upper
tail-coverts and tail uniform rufous, the latter without a trace of a
black bar. Beneath nearly uniform reddish ochraceous, or light rufous,
the usual abdominal belt merely indicated by a few inconspicuous spots;
no trace of transverse bars on the lower parts. _Female_ ? (No. 16,925,
Cape St. Lucas, Sept. 15, 1859; J. Xantus). Wing, 16.00; tail, 9.50;
tarsus, 3.00; middle toe, 1.60. Wing-formula 5, 4, 3, 2–6–7–8–9, 1, 10.

_Young._ Not distinguishable, by positive characters, from that of var.

HAB. Peninsula of Lower California.

All adult specimens from the peninsula of Lower California agree with
that described above, in the peculiar features which I consider as
characterizing a well-marked local race. The present form is most nearly
related, in its adult dress, to the var. _krideri_ of the plains, in its
unbarred tail and immaculate lower plumage, but differs from this in
having the upper parts nearly black instead of almost white, the upper
tail-coverts deep rufous, like the tail, instead of white, and the lower
parts rufous instead of white; in the rufous lower plumage and very dark
upper parts, it closely resembles var. _costaricensis_[90] of Central
America and Southern Mexico, but the latter has a barred tail, entirely
continuous black above, plain white throat patch, and other minor
differences, besides having a quite different young plumage. As to the
young plumage of var. _lucasanus_, I cannot find any character by which
it can with certainty be distinguished from that of var. _calurus_.

Var. calurus, CASSIN.


  _Buteo calurus_, CASSIN, Proc. Acad. Nat. Sc. Phil. VII, 281, 1855;
  Birds N. Am. 1858, 22.—STRICKL. Orn. Syn. I, 38, 1855.—COUES, Prod.
  Orn. Ariz. p. 8, 1866.—GRAY, Hand List, I, 7, 1869. _Buteo montanus_
  (not of NUTTALL!), CASSIN, Birds N. Am. 1858, 26.—NEWB. P. R. R. Rept.
  VI, iv, 1857.—HEERM. P. R. R. Rept. VII, 31, 1857.—COOP. & SUCK.
  P. R. R. Rept. XII, ii, 147, 1860.—COUES, Prod. Orn. Ariz. p. 7,
  1866.—_Buteo swainsoni_ (not of BONAP!), CASS. B. Cal. & Tex. p. 98,

SP. CHAR. _Adult._ Similar to var. _borealis_, but darker, with more
rufous and blackish in the plumage; tibiæ always, and flanks and crissum
usually, barred with rufous; throat with the dark streaks suffused and
widened, so as to form the prevailing color. Tail with indications of
transverse bars anterior to the usual subterminal one, these varying in
number and distinctness with the individual. Whole plumage sometimes
sooty black, the breast, however, covered by an appreciably paler patch,
usually of a somewhat rufous hue. Tail sometimes with regular and
continuous narrow bands to the very base.

_Young._ Very much darker than that of var. _borealis_, the pattern
being similar, but the dark markings much expanded and more numerous;
tibiæ with heavy transverse spots of dusky.

HAB. Western region of North America, from the Rocky Mountains to the
Pacific; south into Mexico; West Indies (Jamaica and Cuba, Mus. S. I.).

Localities quoted: (?) Xalapa (SCLATER, P. Z. S. 1859, 368); Oaxaca
(SCL. P. Z. S. 1859, 389); (?) Cuba (CAB. Journ. II. lxxxii; GUNDL. Rep.
1865, 223; resident. “_B. borealis_”); S. E. Texas (DRESSER, Ibis, 1865,


National Museum, 44; Philadelphia Academy, 18; Boston Society, 6; Coll.
G. N. Lawrence, 2; R. Ridgway, 5. Total, 75.


 |Sex.|   Wing.   |   Tail.   | Culmen. | Tarsus. |Middle Toe.| Specimens.|
 | ♂  |13.50–16.00| 9.50–10.00| .90–1.10|2.90–3.30|  1.70–1.80|  30 N. Am.|
 | ♀  |16.00–17.25| 9.50–11.30|1.00–1.08|3.30–3.40|  1.80–1.95|  16 N. Am.|
 | ♂  |13.25–14.00|  9.00–0.00|1.00–0.00|3.30–0.00|  1.80–0.00|2 Jamaican.|
 | ♀  | 14.50–0.00|  9.00–0.00|1.10–0.00|3.25–0.00|  1.75–0.00|1 Jamaican.|
 | ♂  | 15.50–0.00|  9.50–0.00|1.15–0.00|3.10–0.00|  1.85–0.00|   1 Cuban.|

A large collection of specimens of this race presents a series
connecting _borealis_ with the black form known as “_calurus_”; every
possible condition between the two being indicated in the range of
individual variation. The lightest styles as distinguished from var.
_borealis_ always have the tibiæ barred with rufous; the crissum, also,
is generally barred, on the throat the blackish-brown predominates, and
the tail has more or less perfect bars to the roots of the feathers;
generally, however, these are merely indicated by projections from the

The extreme condition of this is the melanistic form which Mr. Cassin
described as “_Buteo calurus_”; the darkest example of which (5,481,
Petaluma, Cal.; E. Samuels) is entirely blackish-brown, wings and
scapulars with feathers somewhat paler at tips; breast inclining to dark
sepia-brown, the feathers with black shaft-streaks; tibial feathers
faintly tipped with pale grayish-brown; lower tail-coverts tipped and
barred with rufous; upper tail-coverts deep rufous barred with black;
tail deep chestnut-rufous, the subterminal black band very broad, and
anterior to this are nine or ten imperfect narrower black bands.

These fuliginous examples have always a more or less appreciably lighter
pectoral area, corresponding to the white of this region seen in the
lighter styles.

Of this race, almost each individual has its own characteristic
markings, and scarcely two are to be found alike in a very large series
from Western North America. All the specimens from the Rocky Mountains
to the Pacific, and from the table-lands of Mexico, as well as from Cuba
and Jamaica, are referrible to this variety, although we are not aware
that in the latter region the bird ever becomes black. In the latter
island this species (as is also the case with many other birds) seems to
be remarkably subject to albinism. In the peninsula of Lower California
it is replaced by the var. _lucasanus_, and in Central America by
the very different var. _costaricensis_; from both of which it may
be distinguished by the numerous transverse rufous bars crossing the
posterior under parts, which character serves also to distinguish the
lightest examples from the eastern typical _borealis_.

A specimen (50,761; Colonel Grayson) from the Socorro Island, S. W.
Mexico, is like some Fort Tejon specimens.

No. 41,759 (immature), Merida, Yucatan (Dr. Schott), is remarkably
light colored, or, rather, is unusually variegated with whitish above;
the tail, also, is almost white; the bands, however, very conspicuous.
The lower parts are as thickly spotted as in specimens from Washington

The young bird of this western style is as different from that of the
eastern as is the adult, and the essential differences are about the
same,—i.e. darker colors, or a predominance, or, rather, increase in
size, of the dark markings. The numerous heavy transverse spots on
the tibia constitute a persistent feature of the young of the var.
_calurus_, as compared with the almost, or perfectly, immaculate white
of those in var. _borealis_.

It being certain that the _Buteo montanus_ of Nuttall is really the _B.
swainsoni_, and not the variety of _borealis_ so called by Mr. Cassin,
it becomes necessary to drop this name in connection with the present
bird, and transfer it as a synonyme to _swainsoni_. In its place, Mr.
Cassin’s name _calurus_ must be substituted, under which was described
the melanistic condition of the present variety of _borealis_.

In describing his _B. montanus_, Nuttall cites Audubon’s plate of
“_Falco buteo_,” which, of course, is a name by which the _B. swainsoni_
was first designated before it was distinguished from the _B. vulgaris_
of Europe. Audubon’s plate represents, unmistakably, the adult female of
the _Buteo swainsoni_.

HABITS. The well-known Red-tailed Hawk is widely distributed throughout
North America from the West Indies and Central America to the Arctic
regions, and from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

According to Sir John Richardson, it is common in the fur countries,
which it visits in summer, and where a few are known to breed. Specimens
were taken by his party on the Rocky Mountains, the plains of the
Saskatchewan, and at the York factory. These were all between the 53d
and the 57th parallels of latitude.

[Illustration: _Buteo borealis_ (adult).]

Mr. Salvin cites it as generally and plentifully distributed throughout
Guatemala, from whence numerous examples in all stages of plumage, from
the young to the adult, were transmitted by Mr. Skinner. It was also
found at Dueñas by him. Mr. Swainson states that this Hawk was taken on
the plains of Mexico by Mr. Taylor. A single specimen was received by
Mr. Lawrence from Panama. Mr. Gosse states that it is the most common
bird of this family in Jamaica, where it is a resident, and where it
breeds. Mr. Lembeye and Dr. Gundlach both include it in their lists of
the birds of Cuba, and the latter marks it as breeding in that island.
It has been observed in Florida by Mr. Allen, and is not uncommon in all
the New England States, where it is resident throughout the year. In the
Southern States it is most abundant in the winter months.

Specimens of this bird are recorded in the government reports as
obtained from the Yellowstone, from the Pecos River in Texas, and from
Fort Fillmore in New Mexico. Mr. Dresser found it common throughout
all of Texas in all seasons of the year, breeding in all parts, but
preferring the heavily timbered country. He obtained its eggs from
Systerdale and from the Medina River.

This Hawk is a strong and powerful bird, with a firm, steady, and
protracted flight, frequently at a great elevation, and often moving
quite a distance without any apparent motion of the wings. It is said
to generally descend upon its prey from some fixed position, as the
branch of a tree, and rarely to dart upon it when flying. It is a
cautious bird, and rarely ventures near a house for poultry except when
the dwelling is isolated and near its own haunts. It preys chiefly upon
small quadrupeds, small birds, and reptiles. It usually darts upon a
snake from the branch of a tree, and seizing it near the head bears it
writhing through the air. In the valley of the Saskatchewan, Richardson
states that it watches for the marmots, and when one imprudently
ventures from its burrow, darts upon it, bears it a short distance off,
and tears it to pieces.

As they fly, these birds utter a very peculiar and unpleasantly harsh
cry or scream, which they repeat very frequently. Capt. Blakiston
observed this at the Red River settlement, and speaks of it as the
Squealing Hawk.

Though said to be thus generally cautious in exposing itself to danger
in approaching a poultry-yard, it is not always thus cautious. Mr.
Downes mentions an instance where one of these birds entered a garden in
Halifax to pounce upon a tame Crow, and was captured alive by the owner.

Mr. Audubon states that after rearing their young they no longer
remain mated, but separate and evince rather jealous hostility to each
other than good-will. When one has taken any prey in sight of another,
the latter will pursue and struggle with it for possession of the
plunder. In these fights they scream vociferously while struggling for

In the Southern States these Hawks begin to build in February; in the
Middle States, from March the 24th to April 15th; and in New England
usually from April to May. They construct a large nest, composed
externally of coarse sticks and twigs, and lined with dried grasses,
moss, and leaves, built for the most part in the fork of a lofty tree.
The eggs are usually four in number.

Mr. Augustus Fowler of Danvers, who is familiar with the habits of this
bird, writes me that in Massachusetts they usually begin to build their
nests about the first of April, selecting some tall tree near the middle
of the woods, the branches of which form a crotch near its trunk. To
this chosen spot the female carries a sufficient quantity of sticks for
its outside (the male taking no very active part in the matter), and for
its inside she uses the bark from the dead branches of the chestnut,
which she beats and pecks to pieces with her bill, making it soft and
pliable, or gathers the fallen leaves of the pine, or some other soft
material, which she finds conveniently, as a lining, which is about one
inch in thickness. It is thirteen inches in diameter from outside to
outside, and seven inches in diameter on the inside, while its depth
is two and a half inches. The female usually lays five eggs, which are
spherical, of a dirty-white color, and marked with large blotches of
brown; on some they cover almost the whole egg, while others are marked
mostly on the large end, and some even of the same nest are so faintly
marked as to appear almost wholly white. They are 2.12 inches in length
and 1.95 in diameter.

In Jamaica, according to Mr. March, these Hawks do not confine
themselves to any particular mode or place for breeding, height seeming
to be their chief object. He has found their nest in a quite accessible
tree, not more than twenty feet from the ground, and near a frequented
path. In another instance a pair nested for several years on the roof
of the turret of the belfry of the Spanishtown Cathedral church. The
nest he describes as a platform of dry sticks, more than a foot across
and two or three inches thick. The bed of the nest is about six inches
across and two deep, of fine inner bark, grass, and leaves, containing
four or five eggs, nearly spherical, measuring 2.25 by 2.75 inches, of a
dirty or clayish white, dashed with blotches and spots of vandyke-brown
and umber, often running with a light shade into the ground-color.

The eggs of the Red-tail exhibit great variations in nearly every
respect except their shape, which is pretty uniformly a spheroidal-oval.
Their ground-color varies from white to a dingy rusty drab, their
markings vary greatly in colors, shades, size, frequency, and
distribution. In some the markings are small, few, and light, and the
egg appears to be of an almost homogeneous brownish-white. In others
the ground is completely concealed by large and confluent blotches of
deep and dark purplish-brown, burnt umber, and a peculiar shade known as
Dutch umber. In some the markings are distributed in fine and frequent
granulations, diffused over the entire surface of the egg, producing
the effect of a color of uniform umber brown, through which the ground
of yellowish-white can only be traced by a magnifying-glass. Four eggs
in my cabinet average 2.22 inches in length by 1.72 in breadth. The
largest egg measures 2.55 by 1.90 inches; the smallest, 2.10 by 1.70.
The capacity of the largest to the smallest is nearly as five to four.

The season in which this Hawk deposits its eggs varies considerably. Mr.
Jackson of West Chester, Penn., gives March 24 the earliest, and April
15 the latest, in which he has met with its fresh eggs.

Mr. Ridgway obtained two eggs of this Hawk at Mount Carmel, Ill., on
the 6th of March, the nest having been commenced early in February. It
was placed on the summit of a black-gum tree (_Nyssa multiflora_), and
rested upon the topmost branches, about ninety feet from the ground.
It was lined with corn-husks, gathered from a field close by. The eggs
(No. 12,740, S. I. Collection) measure, respectively, 2.45 and 2.50 in
length, by 1.95 and 2.00 in breadth. Their color is plain bluish-white,
entirely free from markings of any kind.

In California, the var. _calurus_ is stated to be common in all parts
of the State not destitute of trees, and to reside permanently wherever
found, pairing only during the breeding-season. They prey upon hares
and other small quadrupeds, upon smaller birds, and upon reptiles.
Dr. Cooper states that at times, when food is plenty, they become
excessively fat. They are known to occasionally seize a fowl from the
farm-yard. During the middle of the day, in the cold weather, they are
said to soar very high in the air, and occasionally to disappear also in
the manner of their eastern relatives, the _Buteo borealis_. They are
said to be abundant and resident species in Washington Territory, having
been found by Dr. Suckley quite numerous at Puget Sound, but scarcer
on the Upper Columbia, east of the Cascade Mountains. It seems to be
more daring than is common with the _borealis_, for Dr. Suckley states
that while he was stationed at Fort Steilacoom he noticed that the
poultry-yards were as much harassed by this Hawk as by the Goshawk, not
hesitating to seize poultry from the very doors of the dwelling-houses.

Dr. Kennerly states that this Hawk was met with by him between the coast
of Texas at Indianola, and the Rio Grande at El Paso del Norte. It
seemed to feed indifferently upon reptiles, particularly lizards, and
the smaller quadrupeds and birds.

Dr. Cooper states that the nests of this species are numerous in the
valleys and on the lower mountains of California. They are generally
built in the forks of a sycamore or other large trees, and formed of
twigs pretty finely constructed, and with a very distinct cavity. Eggs,
taken by Dr. Cooper near San Diego, were laid about the 20th of March,
and were three in number. They measured 2.28 by 1.76 inches, were
of a dull yellowish-white, with faint brown spots. While Dr. Cooper
was climbing to the nest, the old birds darted towards him from a
neighboring bluff, but when within a few feet of his head they turned
away and did not attempt to make an assault.

Two eggs belonging to the variety _calurus_ were obtained by Mr. E.
Samuels near Petaluma, Cal., in 1856; measure 2.31 inches in length by
1.87 in breadth. The shape of one egg is an almost exact ovoid, slightly
tending to a spheroid, one end being hardly perceptibly larger than the
other. Its ground-color is a very light buff, the spottings and markings
giving to it the effect of a yellowish-white. It is marked over the
entire surface with blotches, dashes, and lines of a light tint of a
brown tending to vandyke. These are mixed with markings of a lighter
purplish-brown. The markings, of both shades, are chiefly oblong in
shape, and run with the length of the egg. They bear no resemblance to
any eggs of the _B. borealis_ that I have ever seen, and are unlike
those of other Hawks so far as I am aware. It was built on the top of
a large evergreen-oak, at least seventy feet from the ground, and was
constructed entirely of large, coarse sticks, lined with a few stray
feathers. The male bird was shot as it flew from the nest, which was so
hidden by the thick branches that it would have escaped detection.

The black form of this species was first described by Mr. Cassin as
_Buteo calurus_, in 1855, from a specimen procured by Dr. Henry near
Fort Webster, New Mexico. In this plumage it was afterwards met with
by Mr. Emanuel Samuels, near Petaluma, in California, who found it
breeding, and was fortunate enough to secure the parent bird on its

The nest was built near the top of an evergreen-oak, at the height of
about sixty feet from the ground, and contained two eggs just on the
point of hatching. It was constructed of sticks, and was lined with
moss. Both birds were about the spot. The male bird, manifesting much
more courage than his mate in resistance to the intruders, was shot. The
female was wounded, but escaped.

One of these eggs measures 2.25 inches in length by 1.79 in breadth.
Its capacity is considerably less than that of the specimens just
described; its shape is a much more oblong-oval; one end is evidently
more pointed than the other. Its ground-color is a dirty cream-white,
covered, chiefly at the larger end, with blotches and smaller markings
of a dark shade of a brown almost exactly corresponding with that known
as vandyke-brown, with smaller markings and spottings of a lighter shade
of the same. The latter are distributed at intervals over its entire

A nest, found by Mr. Xantus near Fort Tejon, is stated by him to have
been found in a swamp. It was built in a water-oak, was about fifteen
feet from the ground. The nest was very large and was built of coarse
sticks. It contained four eggs.

Buteo harlani (AUDUBON).


  _Falco harlani_, AUD. B. Am. 1831, pl. xxxvi; IB. Orn. Biog. I,
  441.—BREWER (WILS.), Am. Orn. Synop. 1852, 684. _Buteo harlani_,
  BONAP. List, 1838, 3.—AUD. SYNOP. 1839, 6.—GRAY, List B. Brit. Mus.
  18.—DE KAY, Zoöl. N. Y. II, 11.—STRICKL. Orn. Syn. I, 30.—CASS. Birds
  N. Am. 1858, 24 (adult, but not the description of young, which is
  that of _B. borealis_, var. _calurus_).—COUES, P. A. N. S. 1866,
  43.—GRAY, Hand List, I, 7 (under _B. borealis_).—RIDGWAY, P. A. N. S.
  Dec. 1870, 142.—COUES, Key, 1872, 216.

SP. CHAR. Form strong and heavy, like _B. borealis_, but still more
robust; tibial plumes unusually developed, long and loose, their
ends reaching to or beyond the base of the toes; lateral toes nearly
equal. Four outer primaries with inner webs cut. Dimensions: Wing,
14.25–15.75; tail, 8.80–10.00; culmen, 1.00; tarsus, 2.75–3.25; middle
toe, 1.50–1.70. Colors: Nearly uniform black, varying from a sooty to a
carbonaceous tint, with more or less of concealed pure white. _Adult._
Tail confusedly mottled longitudinally, with grayish, dusky, and white,
often tinged or mixed with rufous, the different shades varying in
relative amount in different individuals; a subterminal band of black.
_Young._ Tail grayish-brown, crossed by about nine very regular and
sharply defined, broad bands of black, about equal in width to the gray

_Adult male_ (Lawrence, Kansas, Oct., 1871; in Collection of Kansas
University). General color deep, almost carbonaceous, black, showing
much exposed white on the head, neck, and breast, all the feathers of
which are snowy white beneath the surface, the black being merely in
the form of tear-shaped spots on the terminal portion of the feather;
chin, lores, and front pure white; upper parts in general, the posterior
lower parts and the lining of the wing, with the black unbroken, but
all the feathers—except the under wing-coverts—more or less spotted
with white beneath the surface, on a grayish ground; these spots being
usually arranged in pairs on each side of the shaft, on the flanks;
tail-coverts, above and below, spotted irregularly with bright rufous,
in nearly equal amount with the black and white. Alulæ, primary coverts,
and primaries, with quadrate spots of plumbeous on their outer webs,
forming transverse bands; under surface of primaries plumbeous-gray
except at ends, but much broken by coarse marbling of white, this
prevailing anteriorly, where it is much confused, but posteriorly about
equal with the grayish, and exhibiting a tendency to form quadrate
spots. Tail, with the ground-color white, but this nearly hidden on the
upper surface by a longitudinal mottling of dark and light ashy, this
growing more uniform terminally, where it becomes slightly suffused with
reddish and crossed by a subterminal, broad but broken and irregular,
band of black, the tip again very narrowly grayish and reddish.

[Illustration: =6851.= ½

_Buteo harlani._]

Wing-formula, 4, 3, 5–2, 6; 1=10. Wing, 15.00; tail, 8.80; culmen, 1.00;
tarsus, 2.75; middle toe, 1.50; lateral toes equal. Plumage of the
flanks, abdomen, tibiæ, and crissum remarkably lengthened and lax, the
latter reaching within two inches of the tip of the tail, and the tibial
plumes reaching to the base of the toes.

_Adult female_ (6,851, Rio Grande, lat. 32°; Dr. T. C. Henry, U. S. A.).
Whole plumage purplish black, or chocolate-black, with a purplish
lustre; feathers everywhere pure white at bases, this exposed, however,
only on the occiput, or where the feathers are disarranged. Forehead,
lores, and chin white. Secondaries and primaries more brown than
other portions, crossed by distinct bands of black,—about six on the
secondaries. Whole lining of the wing and upper tail-coverts continuous,
unvariegated black. Under surface of the primaries ashy-white, more
slaty terminally; ends with distinct, and other portions with obsolete
mottled, bars of dusky. Tail ashy-brown on outer webs, white on inner;
both with a confused, rather longitudinal mottling of blackish;
terminally, there is a broad nearly continuous subterminal band
indicated by blotches, these mixed very slightly with a rufous tinge.
Primaries injured by shot, therefore proportions of the quills cannot be
determined. Wing 15.75; tail, 9.10; culmen, 1.00; tarsus, 2.90; middle
toe, 1.60; outer, 1.15; inner, 1.15.

_Young_ (Phil. Acad. Coll.; San Antonio, Texas, 1860; Dr. A. L.
Heermann). Like the preceding, but basal white rather more exposed, and
somewhat fulvous on the breast; the sides, axillars, lining of the wing,
and lower tail-coverts have very obsolete transverse spots of the same.
Under surface of primaries unvariegated silvery white anterior to their
emargination, beyond which they are more hoary, along the edge black,
this portion with about five transverse spots of black. Tail grayish
ashy-brown to the tip, crossed with about nine very sharply defined
bands of black, of equal width with the gray ones. Lores grayish-white.
Wing-formula, 4, 3, 5–2–6–7–8=1. Wing, 14.25; tail, 10.00; tarsus, 3.25;
middle toe, 1.70.

HAB. Southern Mississippi Valley, from Louisiana (Aud.) and Texas (Mus.
S. I.); north to Eastern Kansas (Coll. Kansas Univ.).

Localities quoted: Guatemala (SCLATER, Ibis I, 216 (?)); Arizona (COUES,
P. A. N. S. 1866, 43).

There is not a doubt in my mind as to the propriety of separating this
bird from any close relationship to the _B. borealis_, nor of the
correctness of considering it the _B. harlani_ of Audubon. It only can
be referred to Audubon’s plate and description, both of which agree
perfectly with the younger plumage described.

The specimens Mr. Cassin describes as the “adult” _B. harlani_ are
really such; but those which he describes as the “young” are the
young of the Western Red-tail (_B. borealis_ var. _calurus_). The
California specimens to which Mr. Cassin refers, as identified by Mr.
Lawrence as _B. harlani_, are in reality the melanistic condition of _B.
swainsoni_, or the “_insignatus_” of Cassin. The present bird appears to
be restricted to Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, and adjacent portions,
north to Kansas, and probably Eastern Mexico.

HABITS. This Hawk was first described by Audubon from a pair obtained by
him near St. Francisville, Louisiana. They had bred in that neighborhood
for two seasons, were shy and difficult of approach, and for a long
while eluded his pursuit. The female was shot while sailing over his
head, and wounded in the wing. He endeavored to preserve it alive and to
carry it as a present to the Zoölogical Society, but it refused all food
and died in a few days. This specimen is now in the British Museum. The
male bird was also obtained a few days later, and this too was brought
to him yet alive but also wounded. It was even more fierce and wilder
than the female, would erect the feathers on its head, open its bill,
and prepare to strike with its talons when any object was brought near
to it.

This species, though smaller than the Red-tail, to which he regarded it
as allied, Audubon thought greatly superior to it in flight and daring.
Its flight is described as rapid, greatly protracted, and so powerful
as to enable it to seize the prey with apparent ease, or effect its
escape from its stronger antagonist, the Red-tail, which pursued it on
all occasions. It had been seen to pounce upon a fowl, kill it almost
instantly, and afterwards drag it along the ground several hundred
yards. It was not seen to prey on hares or squirrels, but seemed to
evince a marked preference for poultry, partridges, and the smaller
species of wild duck. He saw none of the young, but was told that they
appeared to be of a leaden-gray color at a distance, and at the approach
of winter became as dark as their parents.

Mr. Dresser states that he noticed this bird on several occasions near
San Antonio but was not fortunate enough to shoot one. He received
one specimen that had been shot by a lad on the Medina River. He was
informed by a man living near there, who was a good sportsman and a
careful observer, that he had several times found their nests, and Dr.
Heermann is said to have obtained the eggs there several years before.
Dr. Coues did not meet with it in Arizona, where it probably, however,
will yet be found. Specimens have been received from Mexico, as is
stated by Cassin, and a Buzzard, which Mr. Salvin referred to this
species, was seen by him near Dueñas, where it was by no means common.

A specimen of this species has recently been taken in Kansas, near
Lawrence, as recorded by Professor Snow, and fully identified at the
Smithsonian Institution.

Buteo cooperi, CASSIN.


  _Buteo cooperi_, CASS. P. A. N. S. Philad. VIII, 1856, 253.—IB. Birds
  N. Am. 1858, 31, pl. xvi.—COOP. & SUCK. P. R. R. Rept. XII, ii,
  1860, 148.—GRAY, Hand List, I, 8.—RIDGWAY, P. A. N. S. Dec. 1870,
  142.—COUES, Key, 1872, 43.

[Illustration: =8525.= ½

_Buteo cooperi._]

SP. CHAR. _Adult_ (8,525, Santa Clara, California, Oct. 1856; Dr. J. G.
Cooper). Head, neck, and whole lower parts white; feathers of the head
and neck with medial longitudinal streaks of black, the white prevailing
on the occiput and superciliary region,—the black predominating over
the cheeks, forming a “mustache”; throat with fine lanceolate blackish
streaks; sides of the breast with broader, more cuneate markings of the
same; flanks with narrow, lanceolate stripes, these extending sparsely
across the abdomen; tibiæ, and lower tail-coverts immaculate, the
inner face of the former, however, with faint specks. Upper plumage in
general dark plumbeous-brown, inclining to black on the back; plumbeous
clearest on primaries, which are uniformly of this color, the inner
ones inclining to fine cinereous. Scapulars and wing-coverts spattered
with white beneath the surface. Rump black; upper tail-coverts white
tinged with rufous, and with irregular, distant transverse bars of
blackish. Tail with light rufous prevailing, but this broken up by
longitudinal daubs and washes of cinereous, and darker mottlings running
longitudinally on both webs; basally, the ground-color approaches white;
tips white, and a distinct, but very irregular, subterminal band of
black, into which the longitudinal mottlings melt; outer webs of lateral
feathers entirely cinereous, and without the black band. Under side of
the wing white, with a large black space on the lining near the edge;
under surface of primaries white anterior to their emargination, finely
mottled with ashy, and with indistinct transverse bands terminally.
Fourth quill longest; third shorter than fifth; second equal to sixth;
first equal to tenth. Wing, 15.75; tail, 9.10; tarsus, 3.25; middle toe,

[Illustration: _Buteo cooperi_ (adult).]

This remarkable Hawk is certainly not to be referred to the _B.
borealis_, as has been suggested, the proportions of the two being quite
different, while there is no similarity of plumage. In plumage, _Buteo
cooperi_ very closely resembles the adult of _Archibuteo ferrugineus_,
and the suggestion has been made that it is a hybrid between this and
the Red-tail. The markings of the head, and the general tint of the
upper parts, are almost precisely as in the former bird, while the
tail is exactly similar in character of markings, the only difference
being the more reddish tinge and black subterminal band, which are, in
fact, the only characters approximating it to the _Buteo borealis_. The
feet are, however, very much stronger than in the _A. ferrugineus_,
while the tarsus is very much longer than in _borealis_, scarcely more
so, however, than in the former. The black patch on the lining of the
wing, however, is a feature shared by neither of these birds, being
one entirely peculiar to the _Buteo cooperi_. But one specimen—the one
described above—is known to have been obtained. Mr. J. A. Allen, in
his “Notes on some of the Rarer Birds of Massachusetts” (see “American
Naturalist,” Vol. III, p. 518, and a separate paper, p. 14), mentions
the capture of this species near Cambridge, Mass., but probably did not
actually see it. The specimen in question being in the possession of
Mr. C. J. Maynard, he kindly sent it to the Smithsonian Institution. On
examination, it proved to be a young _Buteo lineatus_, differing from
the average in somewhat lighter colors.

HAB. Santa Clara County, California.

The nearest ally of this species is the _B. ferox_, of the Palæarctic
Realm (Northern Asia and Africa and portions of Europe), which has
exactly the size and proportions of the present bird, and in certain
stages a very similar plumage. I have not seen an unquestionable
adult of _B. ferox_, but specimens almost adult, in the collection of
the Boston Society of Natural History, from the Himalaya Mountains,
come remarkably close to _B. cooperi_ in plumage, having like it a
black spot on the under side of the wing, but apparently on the under
primary-coverts, instead of on the lining, near the edge; the tail
is also very similarly colored. Upon the whole, I consider the _B.
cooperi_ to be a good species, with _B. ferox_, Gmelin, of Asia, etc.,
as its nearest relative, unless it proves to be a hybrid between _Buteo
borealis_ and _Archibuteo ferrugineus_, which I think is less likely to
be the case.

HABITS. A single individual of this bird was shot by Dr. Cooper near
Mountain View in Santa Clara Valley, California, in November, 1855.
It still remains unique in collections, and during his more recent
explorations Dr. Cooper has not been able to obtain any additional
specimens or see any like it. Those he mistook for this bird and to
which he refers in his report on the birds of Washington Territory, he
is satisfied were only the _Archibuteo ferrugineus_. The suggestion
of Sclater, that the bird is not distinct from _Buteo erythronotus_,
is negatived, according to Mr. Ridgway, by the fact of their actually
belonging to different sections of the genus.


  _Archibuteo_, BREHM, 1828. (Type, _Falco lagopus_, GMELIN.)
  _Triorchis_, KAUP, 1829 (nec. LEACH, 1816). (Same type.)
  _Butaëtes_, LESS. 1831. (Same type.)
  _? Butaquila_, HODGS. 1844. (Type, _Butaquila strophiata_, HODGS.)
  _? Hemiaëtus_, HODGS. 1844. (Same type.)

CHAR. Similar to _Buteo_, but bill and feet weaker, wings longer, and
tarsi feathers in front, to the toes. Bill small, compressed anteriorly,
but very broad through the gape; upper outline of the cere ascending
basally; nostril broadly oval, nearly horizontal. Tarsus densely
feathered in front and on the sides down to the base of the toes; naked
behind, where covered with irregular scales. Tarsus more than twice
as long as the middle toe; basal half of the toes covered with small
scales; outer toe longer than the inner; claws long, strongly curved,
acute. Feathering of the head and neck normal. Wing very long; the third
to fourth quill longest; first shorter than seventh; outer four or five
with inner webs deeply emarginated. Tail moderate, rounded. Plumage full
and soft.

The relationship of this well-marked genus appears to be nearest to
_Buteo_ and _Circus_, with an approach to _Circætus_ in character of
the plumage, especially the wing. The Old World species, belonging to
the subgenus (?) _Butaquila_, numbering two or three, according to
different authors, I have not seen, and consequently cannot say whether
they are really congeneric with the American species or not. Exclusive
of these, two species are known, both of which belong to North America,
one of them (_A. lagopus_) being found also in Europe and Africa. These
differ very considerably from each other, in the details of external
structure, probably quite as much as they do from the Asiatic forms
above mentioned. The following synopsis will express the differences
between the two North American species, and between the American and
European races of the one common to both continents.


  =54338=, ♀. ½
  =54338=, ♀. ½
  =54338=, ♀. ½
  =54338=, ♀. ¼
  =41720=, ♀. ½
  =54338=, ♀. ½

  41720, _A. ferrugineus_.
  54338, _Archibuteo lagopus_.]

Species and Races.

  COMMON CHARACTERS. Tail more or less white basally; inner webs of the
  primaries white, without bars, anterior to their emargination. Head
  and neck with longitudinal streaks of whitish and dusky (except in
  melanistic individuals of _lagopus_ var. _sancti-johannis_).

    1. =A. ferrugineus.= Wing, 15.90–17.60; tail, 9.50–11.00; culmen,
    1.00–1.20; tarsus, 3.10–3.45; middle toe, 1.40–1.65. Bill wide,
    the base very broad and depressed. Beneath, continuous pure white,
    without conspicuous spots, except sometimes a few scattered ones
    along the sides and across the abdomen; breast immaculate, or with
    only narrow shaft-streaks. Upper parts always with more or less
    rufous. _Adult._ Upper parts and tibiæ fine rufous, the former with
    longitudinal spots, the latter with transverse bars, of blackish.
    Secondaries and primaries plumbeous, the latter with a hoary cast.
    Tail white, washed with pale ash, and more or less stained along the
    edges of the feathers (longitudinally) with light rufous; sometimes
    with a badly defined indication of a dusky subterminal bar. _Young._
    Above dark grayish-brown, with only the borders of the feathers
    rufous or ochraceous; tibiæ white, with sparse transverse spots
    of dark brown. Tail white only on basal third, and on inner webs,
    the remaining portion brownish-ashy, with several more or less
    distinct darker bands. _Hab._ Western North America, from Arizona,
    California, and Oregon, east to the Great Plains.

    2. =A. lagopus.= Wing, 15.75–18.20; tail, 8.70–10.50; culmen,
    .80–1.00; tarsus, 2.30–2.80; middle toe, 1.30–1.50. Bill narrow,
    compressed; beneath more or less spotted with dusky, which usually
    predominates; breast with large spots of dusky; no rufous on upper
    parts, nor on tibiæ. _Adult._ Whitish, with transverse dusky spots.
    On the lower parts, the dusky spots or cloudings, largest and most
    suffused anteriorly (on the jugulum and breast). Terminal portion
    of the tail with several irregular dusky bands. (Sometimes almost
    entirely black, varying in shade from a brownish to a carbonaceous
    tint!) _Young._ Above grayish-brown, longitudinally spotted with
    dusky, and more or less edged with pale ochraceous, or rusty
    whitish. Beneath ochraceous-white, with the spots largest and most
    suffused posteriorly, forming a wide, more or less continuous belt
    across the abdomen; markings on the jugulum and breast longitudinal.
    Terminal portion of the tail without transverse bars.

      Spots on the jugulum, in the adult, suffused into a nearly uniform
      patch. Never melanistic (?). _Hab._ Europe …

                                                     var. _lagopus_.[91]

      Spots on the jugulum, in the adult, scattered. Frequently
      melanistic. _Hab._ North America …

                                                 var. _sancti-johannis_.

Archibuteo ferrugineus (LICHT).


  _Falco ferrugineus_, LICHT, Berl. Trans. 1838, p. 429. _Lagopus
  ferrugineus_, FRASER, Proc. Zoöl. Soc. Lond. 1844, p. 37. _Archibuteo
  ferrugineus_, GRAY, Gen. B. fol. sp. 3, 1844.—CASS. B. of Cal. &
  Tex. 1854, p. 104; Birds N. Am. 1858, 34.—BONAP. Consp. Av. p.
  18.—STRICKL. Orn. Syn. I, 41, 1855.—HEERM. P. R. R. Rept. VII, 31,
  1857.—COOP. & SUCK. P. R. R. Rept. XII, ii, 149, 1860.—COUES, Prod.
  Orn. Ariz. p. 10, 1866 (anatomical notes).—BLAKIST. Ibis, III, 1861,
  318 (Saskatchewan; eggs).—FRASER, Pr. Z. S. 1844, 37.—GRAY, Hand List,
  I, 10, 1869. _Archibuteo regalis_, GRAY, List B. Brit. Mus. p. 39,
  1844; Gen. B. fol. pl. vi.

SP. CHAR. _Adult male_ (41,719, Fort Whipple, Arizona, Dec. 2, 1864;
Dr. Coues). Ground-color of head and neck white; each feather with a
medial streak of black, these growing broader posteriorly, and along
the upper border of the ear-coverts are so blended as to form an
indistinct stripe back from the eye. Entire lower parts (except tibia)
and whole under surface of the wing continuous pure white; breast with
a faint tinge of delicate ochraceous; tibia and tarsus reddish-white,
tinged with or inclining to deep ferruginous on upper portion, and with
numerous transverse bars of darker ferruginous and blackish; sides of
the breast with a very few hair-like shaft-streaks of black; flanks
with a few distant, dark ferruginous bars; axillars with two or three
cordate spots of ferruginous near ends; feathers of the lining next the
body, with blended irregularly hastate spots of rufous; under primary
coverts shading into cinereous on terminal half, and with obscure
broadly hastate spots of a darker shade of the same; primaries slaty
beyond their emargination, deepening gradually toward their tips. Back,
scapulars, and lesser and middle wing-coverts fine rufous, each feather
with a broad median, longitudinal spot of brownish plumbeous-black,
these on the back rather exceeding the rufous; longer wing-coverts and
secondaries ashy-umber, with very obsolete transverse bands of darker;
primary coverts more ashy, and more distinctly banded; primaries fine
chalky cinereous, this lightest on outer four; shafts pure white. Rump
nearly uniform brownish-black,—posterior feathers rufous with medial
black blotches; upper tail-coverts snowy white on outer webs, inner webs
more rufous; a few concealed blackish transverse spots. Tail pale pearly
ash, becoming white basally, and with a wash of dilute rufous along
the edge of outer webs; inner webs white, with an ashy tinge thrown in
longitudinal washes; outer feathers nearly white, with faint pale ashy
longitudinal mottlings; shafts of tail-feathers pure white. Fourth quill
longest; third but little shorter; second very much shorter than fifth;
first intermediate between seventh and eighth. Wing, 16.75; tail, 9.20;
tarsus, 2.95; middle toe, 1.35.

“Length, 22.50; extent, 54.50. Iris clear light yellow; cere, edges of
commissure, and feet bright yellow; bill very dark bluish horn; mouth,
purplish flesh-color, livid bluish along edges.”

_Adult female_ (41,720, Fort Whipple; Dr. Coues). Almost exactly like
the male, but black spots on rufous portions of upper parts much
restricted, forming oblong spots in the middle of each feather; rump
almost entirely rufous, variegated, however, with black. Longitudinal
lines on breast more distinct; transverse bars on flanks and abdomen
more numerous; tibial and tarsal feathers wholly deep rufous or
ferruginous, the bars more blackish. Third and fourth quills equal
and longest; second intermediate between fifth and sixth; first equal
to eighth. Wing, 17.25; tail, 9.75; tarsus, 2.95; middle toe, 1.40.
“Length, 23.25; extent, 56.50. Iris light ochraceous-brown.”

_Young female_ (6,883, Los Angeles, California; Dr. Heermann). General
plumage above, grayish-brown; interscapulars, scapulars, lesser and
middle wing-coverts, and feathers of head and neck, edged laterally
with light rufous; secondaries passing broadly into pale ashy at
ends; primaries slaty-brown, with obscure darker bands; no appearance
of these, however, on secondaries; rump entirely blackish-brown;
upper tail-coverts wholly white. Tail hoary slate, basal third (or
more) white, the junction of the two colors irregular and broken; tip
obscurely paler; feathers obscurely blackish along edges, and with
obsolete transverse spots of the same; white prevailing on inner webs.
Beneath entirely pure white, scarcely variegated; tibiæ and tarsi with
a few scattered small transverse spots of blackish; flanks with larger,
more cordate spots of the same. (Breeds in this plumage.)

HAB. Western North America from California to the Missouri, and from the
Saskatchewan to Texas.

Localities: Texas (Fort Stockton), (DRESSER, Ibis, 1865, 325); Western
Arizona (COUES. Pr. A. N. S., 1866, 40).


Nat. Mus., 10; Philad. Acad., 2; Boston Soc., 2; Coll. R. Ridgway, 2.
Total, 16.


 |Sex.|   Wing.   |   Tail.   | Culmen. | Tarsus. |Middle Toe.|Specimens.|
 | ♂  |15.90–17.00| 9.50–10.50|1.00–1.18|3.10–3.45|  1.40–1.50|    6     |
 | ♀  |17.00–17.60|10.50–11.00|1.08–1.20|3.20–3.40|  1.60–1.65|    6     |

The variations in this species are very slight, and never sufficient
to mislead the student. One specimen (26,590, ♂; Fort Tejon, Cal.;
J. Xantus) differs from the adults described in having the abdomen
quite closely barred, the streaks on the breast distinct, the
rufous above tinging the secondary coverts, and spreading over the
upper tail-coverts, while the tibiæ and tarsi are of a very deep
ferruginous,—the bars black.

In a specimen from the Platte (5,577, ♂; W. S. Wood) white prevails on
the tibiæ, the bars being dark ferruginous upon a white ground; the
flanks are similarly marked, the other lower parts, however, immaculate;
there is much concealed white on the scapulars. The rufous tinge of the
tail is very deep, while there is a transverse series of black blotches,
indicating the course of a transverse band near the end.

HABITS. The California Squirrel Hawk appears to be an exclusively
western species, occurring as far to the east as Nebraska and Kansas,
and as far to the north as the Plains of the Saskatchewan and Washington
Territory. It occurs as far to the southeast as Texas, and has been
found also in New Mexico and in Arizona.

This species was first noticed and described in a paper on the natural
history of California published in the Transactions of the Royal Academy
of Berlin, in 1838, by Professor Lichtenstein, a Prussian naturalist. It
was first brought to the notice of American naturalists by Mr. Edward M.
Kern, of Philadelphia, who accompanied Colonel Fremont in his expedition
of 1846, and who brought home specimens.

Dr. Coues found it quite abundant about Fort Whipple, where it was
especially numerous in the winter, and where also he thinks it probable
that it is a permanent resident. He found it more generally frequenting
meadows, plains, and the more open woods. He usually found their
stomachs filled with arvicolæ and other small quadrupeds peculiar to
that country. It could always be readily recognized by its conspicuously
white under parts, contrasted with its dark chesnut tibiæ and reddish

[Illustration: _Archibuteo ferrugineus._]

At San Pedro, on the southern coast of California, he again found this
Hawk very common. It there alights very freely on the ground, where he
often observed it. At Fort Whipple he only saw it on trees. At San Pedro
its choosing thus the bare plain may have been a matter of necessity.

Dr. Kennerly observed a single individual of this species in a
“prairie-dog-town” of large extent, near Fort Davis. It was intently
watching at the hole of one of these animals. While in this position,
it was observed to strike at the prairie-dog with its claw, when one of
these animals protruded its head. As it was very intently watching its
prey, it was easily approached and shot.

Dr. Heermann observed this Hawk in the valley of the Sacramento, where
he thought it rather rare, but afterwards, during his connection
with the government surveying party under Lieutenant Williamson, in
the southern part of the State, he found it very abundant. On one
occasion five or six individuals were in view at the same moment,
among the mountains, sixty miles east of San Diego. It was there much
more abundant than any other species. As large tracts of that country
frequented by these birds are entirely without trees, they alight on the
ground or on some slightly elevated tuft of grass, or a stone, where
they sit patiently for hours watching for their prey, which was always
found to consist of mice and other small quadrupeds. In one instance the
crop was found filled with the remains of a ground squirrel.

Dr. Heermann states that he found the nest and eggs of this bird on the
Consumnes River. The nest was in the fork of an oak, and was composed of
coarse twigs and lined with grasses; the eggs were two in number, white
with faint brown dashes. The nest was placed in the centre of a large
bunch of mistletoe, and would have escaped notice had not the Hawk, in
flying, betrayed her retreat.

The eggs, however, differ essentially in size from those mentioned
by Capt. Blakiston, and it is quite possible that Dr. Heermann was
mistaken in his identification. One of these eggs was figured in the
North American Oölogy, and resembles much more an egg of Swainson’s
Buzzard than any egg I have since seen of this species.

The specimens procured by Mr. Kerr were taken in the Tulare Valley,
in January, 1846, and are stated in his notes to have been remarkably
fat, and in excellent condition generally, so that some of his party
shot these birds whenever opportunity offered, for the mess-kettle, and
considered them very good eating.

Dr. Cooper states that in the spring and fall these Hawks abound in
Southern California, migrating in summer through the interior plains
of the Columbia and the Platte Rivers, at least as far north as the
Dalles. He found it in winter at Martinez, and is of the opinion that
few migrate beyond the State. It was usually to be seen slowly sailing
over the plains, sometimes in circles, and occasionally pouncing down
obliquely on its prey, which consists principally of the large ground
squirrel. It rarely, if ever, attacks poultry, and limits its prey to
wild animals, and is therefore a decided friend to the farmer.

Capt. Blakiston met with this bird breeding between the north and the
south branches of the Saskatchewan River, April 30, 1858. The nest was
placed in an aspen-tree, twenty feet from the ground, was composed
of sticks, two and a half feet across, and lined with buffalo wool.
The eggs were four in number. Those taken from another nest near the
same locality were five in number. This nest was in a tree, and was
only ten feet above a lake. Two eggs were taken by Mr. Bourgeau on
the Saskatchewan Plains, July 9. These differences in seasons, from
April to July, are suggestive either of great variations in the time of
nesting, or of there being two broods in a season. The eggs obtained by
Capt. Blakiston measured, one 2.60 by 2.00 inches, the other 2.50 by
1.95 inches, and are described as having been white with large distinct
blotches and smaller specks of two shades of brown. The other was more
obscurely blotched with a paler brown, and at the same time freckled all

An egg of this species taken by H. R. Durkee near Gilmer in Wyoming
Territory, May 9, 1870, measures 2.43 inches in length by 1.95 in
breadth. The ground-color is a creamy white, over which are very
uniformly distributed on every part of the egg, in nearly equal
proportions, blotches, plashes, and smaller markings of a dark burnt
umber. The nest from which this egg was taken was composed of sticks,
and was placed among rocks. The nest contained but one egg. The parent
bird was secured, and there was no question as to identification.

Archibuteo lagopus, var. sancti-johannis (PENN.).


  _Falco sancti-johannis_, PENN. Arct. Zoöl. pl. ix, 1785.—GMEL.
  Syst. Nat. p. 273, 1789.—LATH. Index Orn. p. 34, 1790; Syn. I, 77;
  Gen. Hist. I, 276.—DAUD. Tr. Orn. II, 105, 1800.—SHAW, Zoöl. VII,
  150, 1809.—BONAP. Ann. Lyc. N. Y. II, 32.—AUD. Orn. Biog. II, 381,
  1831.—GIRAUD, B. Long Island, p. 6, 1844.—KERR, Trans. Gmel. II,
  507, 1792. _Buteo sancti-johannis_, JARD. (WILS.) Am. Orn. II, 287,
  288, 1832.—NUTT. Man. Orn. U. S. & Canad. p. 98, 1833.—DE KAY, Zoöl.
  N. Y. II, 7, pl. ii, fig. 3, 1844. _Butaëtes sancti-johannis_, CUV.
  Règ. An. (ed. 1), i, 323, 1829.—BONAP. List, p. 3, 1838. _Archibuteo
  sancti-johannis_, GRAY, Gen. B. fol. sp. 2, 1844; List B. Brit. Mus.
  p. 39, 1844.—BONAP. Consp. Av. p. 18, 1850.—CASS. Birds Calif. & Tex.
  p. 103, 1854.—BLAKIST. Ibis, III, 1861, 318 (eggs).—KAUP, Monog.
  Falc. Cont. Orn. 1850, p. 75.—STRICKL. Orn. Syn. I, 40, 1855.—BREWER,
  Oölogy, 1857, 34, pl. iii, f. 28.—CASS. Birds N. Am. 1858, 33.—GRAY,
  Hand List, I, 10, 1869. _Falco spadiceus_, GMEL. Syst. Nat. p. 273,
  1789.—LATH. Ind. Orn. p. 27, 1790; Gen. Hist. I, 279.—DAUD. Tr. Orn.
  II, 109, 1800. _Buteo spadiceus_, VIEILL. Ois. Am. Sept. I, 34, 1807.
  _Falco lagopus_, WILS. Am. Orn. pl. xxxiii, f. 1, 1808.—BREW. (WILS.)
  Am. Orn. Syn. 648, 1852.—BONAP. Ann. Lyc. N. Y. II, 32; Isis, 1852,
  1138.—AUD. Birds Am. pl. clxvi, 422, 1831; Orn. Biog. II, 377; V,
  217. _Buteo lagopus_, RICH. Faun. Bor. Am. II, pl. xxviii, 1831.—AUD.
  Synop. p. 8, 1839.—JAMES. (WILS.) Am. Orn. I, 77, 1831.—JARD. (WILS.)
  Am. Orn. II, p. 54, 1832.—NUTT. Man. Orn. p. 97, 1833.—PEAB. B.
  Mass. p. 79, 1841. _Archibuteo lagopus_, CASS. Birds N. Am. 1858, p.
  32.—BREWER, Oölogy, 1857, 36, pl. iii, f. 29.—COOP. & SUCK. P. R. R.
  Rept. VII, ii, 148, 1860.—COUES, Prod. Orn. Ariz. p. 16, 1866. _Falco
  niger_, WILS. Am. Orn. pl. liii, figs. 1 and 2, 1808.—LATH. Gen. Hist.
  pp. 256, 257, 1821. _Buteo niger_, STEPH. Zoöl. XIII, pt. ii, p. 47,
  1815.—VIG. Zoöl. Journ. I, 340.—JAMES. (WILS.) Am. Orn. I, pp. 79, 80,
  1831.—CUV. Règ. An. (ed. 2), i, 326, 1829. _Buteo ater_, VIEILL. Nouv.
  Dict. Nat. Hist. IV, 482, 1866; Enc. Meth. III, 1227.

_a._ _Normal plumage._

SP. CHAR. _Adult male_ (43,073, Fort Resolution, June; J. Lockhart).
Ground-color of the upper parts dull umber-cinereous, this more
rufous on the shoulders, and dull white on nape, scapulars, inner
secondaries, and upper tail-coverts; rump entirely black, feathers
bordered with whitish. All the feathers above with central oblong or
irregular spots of black, this color predominating on top of head, and
forming transverse bands across the wing-coverts and secondaries; upper
tail-coverts pure white, each marked with an exceedingly irregular
transverse spot of black. Tail white on basal two thirds, and narrowly,
but sharply, tipped with the same; subterminal portion pale mottled
cinereous, with a very broad zone of black next the terminal white, and
anterior to this three narrower and more irregular bands of the same.
Primaries blackish-cinereous, with obsolete darker bands. Ground-color
of head and lower parts dull white; cheeks thickly streaked with
black; ear-coverts and throat more sparsely streaked; forehead and
sub-orbital region plain whitish. Breast with large, longitudinal but
very irregular, oblong spots of dark brown, these largest and somewhat
confluent laterally; lower part of breast with much less numerous and
less longitudinal spots; tibiæ strongly tinged with rusty, and with
tarsus, abdomen, crissum, and flanks having irregular transverse spots
of blackish-brown; lower tail-coverts unvariegated. Lining of wing
white, with numerous spots of black, these becoming more rusty towards
the axillars; a large space of continuous clear black, covering the
under primary coverts and the coverts immediately anterior; under
surface of primaries and secondaries pure white, the former becoming
black at ends, the latter ashy; no bars, except toward shafts, of the
latter. Fourth quill longest; third equal to fifth; second intermediate
between fifth and sixth; first equal to eighth. Wing, 16.50; tail, 9.00;
tarsus, 2.50; middle toe, 1.30; bill, 1.30 and .90.

_Adult female_ (28,156, Philadelphia, Pa.; J. Krider). Generally
similar to the male. On head and nape, however, the yellowish-white
predominates, the central black being much reduced; on the other hand,
there is less white on the upper parts, the dull cinereous-drab being
much more evenly spread; darker markings less conspicuous. Tail white
only at the base, the remaining portion being pale cinereous-drab
crossed with four or five distinct, very regular bands of black, the tip
being very broadly ashy. Flanks with ground-color light umber-drab, and
marked with transverse bands of black. Lower surface generally as in
the male; tail-coverts with two or three blackish spots, apparently out
of place. Fourth quill longest; fifth much shorter than third; second
intermediate between fifth and sixth; first intermediate between seventh
and eighth. Wing, 17.00; tail, 9.00; tarsus, 2.40; middle toe, 1.30;
bill, 1.30 and .85.

_Young_ (25,934, United States). Upper surface generally light umber,
becoming lighter on scapulars and middle wing-coverts, but showing
nowhere any trace of spots or bands; wings, scapulars, and back with
blackish shaft-streaks; primaries approaching black toward ends,
becoming white basally; upper tail-coverts white, with a hastate stripe
of brown along shaft; tail, basal half white, terminal half plain drab,
becoming darker terminally, the tip narrowly white. Head, neck, and
lower plumage in general, white stained with ochraceous, this deepest
on tibiæ and tarsi; head and neck streaked with dark brown, ear-coverts
almost immaculate; breast with oblong spots of clear brown; flanks,
abdomen, and anal region continuous uniform rich purplish vandyke-brown,
forming conspicuous transverse belt; tibiæ and tarsi scarcely varied,
the few markings longitudinal; lower tail-coverts immaculate. Under side
of wing much as in adult; black area, however, more extended; lining
much tinged with rufous, and with longitudinal streaks of dark brown.

_b._ _Melanistic condition._

_Adult male_ (28,153, Philadelphia; J. Krider). General plumage
blackish-brown, the head streaked by whitish edges of the feathers;
wing-coverts, secondaries, primaries, and tibial plumes paler
terminally; tarsi mottled with whitish; upper and lower tail-coverts
tipped obscurely with white. Tail narrowly tipped with dull white, and
with about five very obsolete pale ashy bands. Lining of wing black,
spotted with white near edge; whole under surface of the primaries pure
white anterior to their emargination, beyond which they are black. Third
and fourth quills equal and longest; second intermediate between fifth
and sixth; first shorter than seventh. Wing, 16.00; tail, 8.85; tarsus,
2.45; middle toe, 1.25.

_Adult female_ (12,008, Philadelphia; C. Drexler). Continuous pure
carbonaceous black; forehead white; occiput same beneath surface. Tail
paler at tip, and crossed with four ill-defined though continuous bands
of ashy white, the last of which is distant over two and a half inches
from the tip; lower tail-coverts with a few white spots. Whole lining of
wing glossy coal black; under surface of primaries, anterior to their
emargination, white mottled with ashy. Fourth and fifth quills equal and
longest; third only a little shorter; second a little longer than sixth;
first intermediate between seventh and eighth. Wing, 16.50; tail, 9.00;
tarsus, 2.50; middle toe, 1.20.

_Young._ Similar, but the tail dusky, growing whitish toward the base,
and without any bars.

HAB. Whole of North America north of Mexico, but breeding northward of
the United States.

Localities: Western Arizona (COUES, Pr. A. N. S., 1866, 48).


National Museum, 44; Philadelphia Academy, 17; Boston Society, 1; Museum
Comparative Zoölogy, Cambridge, 10; Cab. G. N. Lawrence, 6; Coll. W. S.
Brewer, 3; R. Ridgway, 4. Total, 85.


 |Sex.|   Wing.   |   Tail.   | Culmen. | Tarsus. |Middle Toe.|Specimens.|
 | ♂  |15.80–16.80| 9.80–10.00|  .85–.90|2.75–2.80|  1.35–0.00|   18     |
 | ♀  |16.15–17.70| 9.00–10.50| .90–1.00|2.80–0.00|  1.30–1.40|    8     |
 |    |15.75–18.00| 9.00–11.00| .80–1.00|2.15–3.00|  1.20–1.50|   40     |

That all the North American Rough-legged Hawks, whether light or dark
(excepting of course the _A. ferrugineus_), are one species, and also
one race, there appears to be but little doubt; a critical comparison
and minute examination of about one hundred specimens also proves that
the dark plumage, usually separated as “_A. sancti-johannis_,” has
nothing to do with age, sex, season, or locality, but that, as in _Buteo
borealis_ var. _calurus_ and _B. swainsoni_, it is a purely individual
condition, black birds being black, and light birds being light, from
the first plumage till death. Each phase has its young and adult stages
distinctly marked, as the above diagnoses point out. It however appears
to be the fact that certain regions are frequented more by birds of one
color than another, and of the many hundreds of specimens sent from
the Arctic regions to the Smithsonian Institution by officers of the
Hudson’s Bay Company, none exhibited the blackish plumage which, on the
other hand, appears most abundant about Hudson’s Bay.

The North American birds are distinguishable from European ones (var.
_lagopus_) by the characters given in the synopsis on p. 1619, and
description, on p. 1624.

HABITS. The Rough-legged Hawk of North America bears so close a
resemblance to the European species, in all respects,—plumage, habits,
and eggs,—that the two are generally considered to be identical. The
distribution of the American variety appears to be nearly throughout
the entire Union, from the Atlantic to the coast of the Pacific, and
from New Mexico to the Arctic regions. It was taken at Fort Steilacoom,
and at Shoal-water Bay in Washington Territory, by Drs. Suckley and
Cooper. It was not seen by Mr. Dresser in Texas nor by Dr. Woodhouse in
New Mexico, but it was taken near Zuñi by Dr. Kennerly, was found from
Mimbres to the Rio Grande by Dr. Henry, and obtained near Fort Fillmore
by Captain Pope, and at Fort Massachusetts by Dr. Peters.

The Rough-legged Hawk is quite abundant in spring and fall in the
neighborhood of Niagara Falls. In the fall of 1872, Mr. James Booth met
with a pair of this species, accompanied by their young. The latter were
fully grown. The male bird was in very black plumage, while the female
was unusually light, the pair thus presenting well-marked illustrations
of the two types, the black _sancti-johannis_ and the common _lagopus_.
The parents were secured, and are now in the museum of the Boston
Society of Natural History. One of the young was also shot, but I did
not see it. It was said to have been only a little less dark plumaged
than the male parent.

It is very abundant throughout the Arctic regions, where it was found
breeding in the Anderson River country by Mr. MacFarlane, from whom were
received valuable notes and a large number of specimens of birds and
eggs. It was observed generally by Dr. Richardson’s party, but owing to
its extreme wariness only a single specimen was obtained. Richardson
noted its arrival in the fur countries in April or May, and gives the
time of its departure as early in October.

Dr. Kennerly mentions finding this Hawk quite abundant in the vicinity
of the Pueblo Zuñi, where it confined itself in the neighborhood of the
stream, watching eagerly for ducks, which seemed to be its favorite

[Illustration: _Archibuteo lagopus_ (Europe).]

Dr. Cooper found a large number of these Buzzards on a low point near
the sea-coasts, at Shoalwater Bay, Washington Territory, in October.
This point was covered with small pines, on the dead tops of which they
were observed sitting in the manner of owls. Occasionally one would
dart down after a mouse, and alight a short distance off. At times
they would call to each other with a loud scream, but they usually sat
motionless and silent for hours together. Some remained there throughout
the winter, and he had no doubt that a few build near the mouth of the
Columbia, where he saw young birds in July. In California, the same
writer states, this species is only a winter visitor, and has never been
observed by him south of Santa Clara Valley.

Dr. Coues mentions the taking of a single specimen of this bird in the
Territory of Arizona in the winter, but no others were observed.

Audubon never met with this species south of North Carolina nor west of
the Alleghanies. He regarded it as a sluggish bird, confining itself
to the meadows and low grounds bordering the rivers and salt marshes,
where its principal food appeared to be moles, mice, and other small
quadrupeds. He has never known it to attack a duck on the wing, although
it will occasionally pursue a wounded one. Except when alarmed, it
flies low and sedately, and manifests none of the daring courage or
vigor so conspicuous in most Hawks. They are also described as somewhat
crepuscular in habit, watching for their food long after sunset, and
Mr. Richardson speaks of their hunting for their prey “by the subdued
daylight which illuminates even the midnight hours in the high parallels
of latitude.” For these nocturnal hunts it is well fitted by the
softness of its plumage, which renders its flight noiseless, like that
of the more nocturnal birds.

These birds were once quite abundant in the low lands and marshes in the
vicinity of Boston, but are now comparatively rare. They were abundant
during October and November, and again in April. They usually kept
on or near the ground, appeared to feed chiefly on small quadrupeds
or reptiles, were never known to molest the poultry-yard, or even to
destroy other birds.

[Illustration: _Archibuteo sancti-johannis_ (black plumage).]

They were very wary, and when approached with a gun would slowly and
deliberately move off to a safer distance. Wilson found them quite
abundant, during the winter months, in the meadows on the Delaware and
Schuylkill Rivers, near Philadelphia, where they are still common.
Though rendered very shy by the frequent attempts made to shoot them,
they would never fly far at a time, usually from one tree to another,
making a loud squealing noise as they arose. They all disappeared early
in April.

He also speaks of them as common during winter in the lower parts of
Maryland, as well as in the extensive meadows below Newark, N. J. He
mentions having often seen this Hawk coursing over the surface of
meadows long after sunset, and many times in pairs. They roost near
these low grounds, and take their station at daybreak near a ditch,
watching with patient vigilance for their prey.

Wilson, Audubon, and Nuttall appear to have known nothing in regard to
the breeding of the Rough-legged Hawk. A pair was seen by Richardson at
their nest, which was built of sticks, and on a lofty tree standing on
a low moist alluvial point of land, in a bend of the Saskatchewan; but
they were too wary to be shot, and he makes no mention of their eggs.

My nephews, H. R. and F. H. Storer, found a pair of Rough-legged Hawks
nesting on a rocky cliff on the coast of Labrador, near the harbor of
Bras d’Or. The nest was very rudely constructed of sticks, and placed
on a high rock directly over the water, inaccessible from below, but
readily approached from above. It contained three young birds and an
egg. The young Hawks were just ready to fly, and all scrambled out
as the nest was approached, and rolled the egg to the bottom of the
cliff, but without injuring it. The nest contained four or five large
rats peculiar to that region, collected by the old birds for their
young. The old birds were in the light plumage. At the same time a young
bird was taken alive from another nest by one of the sailors of their
party, which was quite black even in its immature dress, and strikingly
different from the young just mentioned.

Mr. MacFarlane’s very complete and careful notes mention, in detail, no
less than fifty-eight nests of this species as procured and identified
by his party. Of these, forty-six were built on trees, generally spoken
of as being large pines, and usually about twenty feet from the ground.
Twelve nests were found built on the edge of steep cliffs of shaly mud
on the banks of creeks, rivers, and lakes.

The nests that were taken from trees are described as having been built
in a crotch, not far from the top, and to have been formed externally of
dry twigs, sticks, and small branches, warmly lined with down, feathers,
and fine hay. Those found upon cliffs and high river-banks were made
of similar materials, but usually with a smaller base of sticks, and a
greater supply of hay, moss, and other soft materials. The number of
eggs varied from three to five, never more than the latter, and were
at times in differing stages of incubation in the same nest. Whenever
the nest was approached, the parent birds always manifested great
uneasiness, and uttered vociferous screams of distress. The eggs were
generally found from the 27th of May to the 25th of June. Those taken
after the 20th of June usually contained well-developed embryos. The
species was met with by Mr. MacFarlane in great abundance in various
localities,—near Fort Anderson, lower down on the Anderson River, near
the Arctic coast, and in the vicinity of Rendezvous Lake.

One of the Indians collecting for Mr. MacFarlane informed him that on
the 9th of June he discovered the nest of one of these Hawks on a ledge
of shaly mud. As he could not kill the parents, he set a snare about
the nest. Going to it later in the day, he was disappointed at finding
his snare set aside, the eggs gone, and the birds not to be seen. He
presumed the parents had removed the eggs, of which there had been
three, to a safer place. Several nests were also taken on the shores and
among the islets of the Arctic coast, west of Liverpool Bay.

The egg of the Rough-legged Hawk taken by the Storers in Labrador
measures 2.06 inches in length by 1.88 in breadth, and is nearly
spherical. The ground-color is a soiled white or a light drab, and is
marked with a few faint, ill-defined spots of light umber, distributed
at intervals over the entire surface.

Two European specimens in my collection are so nearly like the American
that the same description would answer for both. They are a trifle
larger, but their color and markings are exactly the same. These eggs
vary from 2.25 to 2.12 inches in length, and the breadth of each is
1.75 inches. In one specimen the ground-color is of a deeper shade of
dingy-white, with larger blotches, and its purplish-slate markings are
intermingled with those of umber. A fourth, from Switzerland, varies
from most others of this species, and is marked over a cream-colored
ground with very numerous and quite large blotches of different shades
of umber and sepia-brown. It measures 2.25 by 1.93 inches.

Six eggs taken by Mr. MacFarlane have an average length of 2.18 and
an average breadth of 1.79 inches. Their greatest length is 2.24, and
their least 2.12 inches. There is but very little variation in their
breadth, or only from 1.76 to 1.80 inches. Occasionally these eggs are
of a nearly uniform dingy-white, nearly unmarked, and only by very faint
cloudings. These cases are rare. Generally they have a creamy-white
ground and are boldly marked with blotches of a varying intensity of
umber or sepia-brown. Intermingled with these are obscure markings of a

The dark variety of the Rough-legged Falcon, recognized by some as the
_A. sancti-johannis_, Mr. Ridgway is disposed to regard as rather an
individual melanism of the common species, rather than as a distinctive
race. In this form it appears to be quite generally distributed over the
continent, rather in isolated pairs than as a common bird. It was not
taken on the Anderson River by Mr. MacFarlane, where the _lagopus_ style
was extremely common, hundreds of skins having been sent by him to the
Smithsonian Institution.

The dark-colored birds are seen occasionally in Massachusetts in the
winter season, and are usually found frequenting low alluvial tracts
in search of small quadrupeds and frogs, and occasionally well-marked
specimens have been secured in the neighborhood of Boston. A pair was
found breeding near the mouth of the Kennebec River in Maine, and the
eggs were secured. They were not readily distinguishable from those
of the common Rough-legged Hawk. It is also said, on the authority of
Mr. John Krider of Philadelphia, to have been found breeding in New
Jersey, and the eggs taken. The parent bird was not secured. These eggs
resembled well-marked eggs of the _lagopus_. Wilson, who observed birds
in this plumage on the marshy banks of the Delaware, describes them as
remarkably shy and wary, frequenting river-banks, and feeding on mice,
moles, and other small game, sailing a good deal and at a great height,
which is not the habit of the _lagopus_, and was seen by him to kill a
Duck while on the wing. It has been seen to sit for an hour at a time
on a stake by the side of marshes, in an almost perpendicular position,
as if dozing. It flies with great ease, and occasionally with great
swiftness, and rarely with any flapping of the wings; was most numerous
on the Delaware in the winter, but was occasionally to be seen there in
the summer. Such is Wilson’s account of its habits as observed by him,
and these are partially confirmed by Nuttall from his own observations.
It is, however, quite probable that they are mistaken in claiming an
essential or specific difference in the habits of the two former. Mr.
Audubon regarded it as the adult of the _lagopus_, and appears not to
have been familiar with its habits.

Captain Blakiston mentions the occurrence of the dark bird on the
Saskatchewan Plains, where the parent bird and three eggs were obtained
by M. Bourgeau, a French collector, in the summer of 1858, and where it
is spoken of as not uncommon. Mr. Andrew Murray, in his Contributions
to the Natural History of the Hudson Bay Territories, records specimens
from Hudson Bay and the country lying between its western shore and
Lake Winnipeg. Dr. Gambel speaks of this bird as common in California.
Dr. Cooper refers to one obtained by Mr. Lorquin at San Francisco. Mr.
Lawrence cites it among the birds of New York. Mr. Boardman gives it as
rare near Calais. Mr. Verrill also gives it among the birds of Western
Maine, where the _lagopus_ was not observed, but where this form was a
regular winter visitant.

The Storers found the Black Hawk not uncommon on the cliffs near Bras
d’Or, and their observations of its habits, as contrasted with those of
the still more common Rough-legged Hawk, left no doubt in their mind
of their specific distinction. While the Black Hawk was observed to be
a bold, vigorous, and spirited bird, easy and swift in its motions,
and preying upon other birds while on the wing, the Rough-legged was
comparatively sluggish, inoffensive, and subsisted only upon rats, mice,
moles, frogs, and other small game. A nest containing young birds was
found, and one of the latter caught alive. Both old and young were in
the same black plumage. The young Hawk was fierce and intractable, and
its whole air and manner were utterly unlike the conduct of the young
of the other species. Unfortunately, it broke from its confinement and

The eggs from New Jersey, attributed to this bird by Mr. Krider, vary
in the number and depth of coloring of their markings, the blotches in
one being darker and less generally distributed. They measure 2.06 by
1.69 inches. Their ground-color is a yellowish white, intermingled with
which are faint markings and blotches of a brownish-purple. Over these
are diffused confluent blotches of russet-brown.

An egg from near Wiscasset, taken by Edmund Smith, Esq., the parent of
which was secured, measures 2.22 by 1.75 inches, has a white ground, and
is marked and blotched with deep umber-brown. These markings are chiefly
at one end and only vary in their depth, and are unmixed with any other
shading or colors.


  _Aquila_, MŒHR. 1752. (Type, _Falco chrysætos_, LINN.)
  _Aëtos_, NITZSCH, 1840. (Same type.)
  _Hieroaëtus_, 1844, and _Hieraëtus_, 1845, KAUP. (Type, _Falco
      pennatus_, GMEL.)
  _Pteroaëtus_, KAUP, 1844. (Type, _Falco vulturinus_, DAUD.)
  _Uroaëtus_, KAUP, 1844. (Type, _Vultur audax_, LATH.)
  _Pseudaëtus_, HODGS. 1844. (Type, _Falco bonelli_, TEMM.)
  _Tolmaëtus_, BLAS. 1845. (Same type.)
  _Eutolmaëtus_, BLAS. 1848. (Same type.)


  =41901=, ♀. ¼
  =9128=, ♀. ¼
  =41901=, ♀. ¼
  =41901=, ♀. ¼
  =54338=, ♀. ½
  =12006=, ♀. ¼
  =19124=, ♀ ? ¼

  9128. _Haliaëtus leucocephalus._
  41901 : 12006 : 19124. _Aquila chrysaëtus_, var. _canadensis_.
  54338. _Archibuteo lagopus_ (tarsus from behind).]

GEN. CHAR. Form robust and structure powerful; the bearing and general
aspect that of _Buteo_ and _Archibuteo_. Wing long, the primaries long
and strong, with their emarginations very deep. Tail rather short,
slightly rounded or wedge-shaped. Bill stronger than in the preceding
genera, its outlines nearly parallel, and the tip somewhat inclined
backward at the point; commissure with a more or less prominent festoon;
nostril narrowly oval, vertical; skin of the cere very hard and firm.
Superciliary shield very prominent. Feet very strong, the membrane
between the outer and middle toes very well developed; tarsus less than
twice as long as the middle toe; outer toe equal to, or longer than, the
inner; claws very long and strong, very much graduated in size; scutellæ
of the toes small except on the terminal joint, where they form broad
transverse plates; tarsi densely feathered all round down to the base
of the toes; tibial plumes well developed, loose-webbed, their ends
reaching down to or beyond the base of the toes. Feathers of the nape
and occiput lanceolate, acute, and distinct, forming a nuchal “cape”
of differently formed feathers. Third to fifth quill longest; first
shorter than the seventh; outer five or six with their inner webs deeply

This genus is almost peculiar to the Old World, where about seventeen
so-called species are known, while America has no member of the genus
exclusively its own, the single North American species being the same
as the European one. Though the details of external structure vary
somewhat, and the size ranges from that of a _Buteo_ to that of a
sea-eagle (_Haliaëtus_), the generic characters given in the above
diagnosis apply well to all the species. The species of _Heteropus_,
Hodgson, 1842 (_A. malayensis_, REIN. and _H. gurneyi_, Gray), I
remove entirely from _Aquila_, since they differ so strikingly in many
important respects. With the general aspect of _Aquila_, _Heteropus_
has the outer toe disproportionately shorter than the inner (instead
of equal to it, or longer), which curious feature it shares only
with _Geranospiza_ of tropical America, and _Polyboroides_ of South
Africa,—both terrestrial _Buteonine_ forms of specialized structure.
An entirely peculiar feature of _Heteropus_ is the great length and
straightness of the claws. Its bill is more like that of _Archibuteo_
than like that of _Aquila_.

The North American and European races of the single species which occurs
on the former continent may be distinguished as follows:—

Species and Races.

  =A. chrysaëtus.= Wing, 23.00–27.00; tail, 14.00–16.00; culmen,
  1.50–1.90; tarsus, 3.40–4.20; middle toe, 2.40–3.10. Third to
  fifth quill longest first shorter than seventh or eighth. Color
  blackish-brown, or umber-brown, nearly uniform, except on the tail;
  nuchal cape of lanceolate feathers, and tarsi of a paler and more
  tawny tint. _Adult._ Tail transversely clouded with ashy, and not
  white at the base; feathers of the body not distinctly white beneath
  the surface. _Young._ Tail with the basal half plain white, the
  terminal portion plain blackish; feathers of the body distinctly white
  beneath the surface. _Hab._ Nearctic and Palæarctic Realms.

    Tarsi of adult pale umber; of young, dirty whitish. _Hab._
    Palæarctic Realm …

                                                  var. _chrysaëtus_.[92]

    Tarsi of adult deep umber; of young light brown. _Hab._ Nearctic
    Realm …

                                                      var. _canadensis_.

Aquila chrysaëtus, var. canadensis (LINN.).


  _Aquila chrysaëtus_ (not of LINN.!), RICH. & SW. F. B. A. II,
  1831, 12.—JARD. (WILS.) Am. Orn. II, 1832, 304.—BONAP. List, 1838,
  2.—AUD. Synop. 1839, 9.—DE KAY, Zoöl. N. Y. II, 4, pl. vi, f. 14
  (_Juv._).—CASS. B. Cal. & Tex. 109.—STRICKL. Orn. Syn. I, 55 (in
  part).—BREWER, Oölogy, 1857, 45.—COUES, Key, 1872, 219. _Falco
  chrysaëtus_, (LINN.) MAX. Cab. J. 1858, VI, 9.—BLAS. Ber. XVI, Vers.
  Deutsch. Orn. 1862, 83 (“absolutely identical with European”). _Falco
  canadensis_, LINN. S. N. (ed. 10), 1766, 88. _Aquila canadensis_,
  WILS. Am. Orn. 1808, pl. lv, f. 1.—HEERM. P. R. R. Rept. II, 1855,
  30.—CASS. Birds N. Am. 1858, 41.—COUES, P. A. N. S. 1866, 13.—GRAY,
  Hand List, I, 40. _Falco niger_, GMEL. S. N. 359. _Aquila nobilis_,
  PALL. Zoög. Ros. As. 1811. _Aquila fulva_ (not of LINN.!), NUTT. Man.
  Orn. 1833, 62.—PEAB. B. Mass. 1841, 71.

SP. CHAR. _Adult male_ (24,167, Fort Crook, North California, Dec. 25;
D. F. Parkinson). General plumage fuliginous-black, this deepest on the
head, throat, lower surface in general, under surface of the wings,
back, scapulars, shoulders, secondaries, primaries, and rump; middle and
secondary wing-coverts, upper and under tail-coverts, tarsi and inside
of tibiæ, considerably paler, inclining to light umber. Lanceolate
feathers of occiput and nape with the exposed portions light fulvous,
the shafts black; dusky beneath the surface. Tail black, somewhat paler
on basal half, and with about three irregular, obsolete zigzag bands
of pale brown (on two middle feathers ashy); no concealed white on
breast. Fifth quill longest; third and fourth intermediate between fifth
and sixth; second considerably shorter than sixth; first intermediate
between eighth and ninth. Length, 31.60; extent, 78.30. Wing, 24.50;
tail, 13.40; culmen, 1.60; from base of cere, 2.15; tarsus, 3.85; middle
toe, 2.40; hind claw (chord) 1.90.

_Adult female_ (12,006, Washington, D. C., March 7, 1869; C. Drexler).
Almost exactly like the male. Black covering forehead, ear-coverts,
cheeks, chin, throat, foreneck, and under parts generally (except the
tarsi, inside and front of tibiæ, and lower tail-coverts, which are
light fulvous, the tarsi palest), more tawny than in the male. The
lanceolate, pale, tawny feathers, which in the male cover only the
occiput and neck, in the female extend forward over the top of the head,
leaving the forehead only blackish. Upper parts and tail as in the
male. Fourth quill longest; third slightly shorter than fifth; second
intermediate between sixth and seventh; first intermediate between
eighth and ninth. Wing, 26.00; tail, 14.25; culmen, 1.70; tarsus, 3.80;
middle toe, 2.70; hind claw, 2.15; inner toe, 1.90; outer, 2.00; inner
claw, 1.80; middle, 1.35; outer, 1.10.

_Young male_ (49,684, Camp Grant, near Tucson, Arizona, July 10,
1867; Dr. E. Palmer). Continuous deep sepia-black, with a purplish
lustre; breast and scapulars with large concealed spots of pure white;
lanceolate feathers of the “mane” dull brown, not conspicuously
different from the throat; under surface of primaries showing much
white basally, this most extended on inner feathers. Upper and under
tail-coverts more brownish than the rump, the basal portion white. Basal
half or more of tail white (more ashy on outer feathers), distinctly
defined against the broad, pure black, terminal zone; tarsi dull white,
clouded with dilute brownish; inside of tibiæ with feathers tipped with

_Young female_ (older?) (9,121, Washington, D. C., Dec., 1856; B.
Cross). Similar, but black more brown; “mane” as in adult; tarsi dull
whitish brown; tail-coverts deep umber-brown; tail as in young male, but
terminal band narrower, the white occupying nearly the basal two thirds.
Wing, 25.70; tail, 14.75; culmen, 1.65; middle toe, 2.80; hind claw,

HAB. Whole of North America north of Mexico; most common in mountainous


National Museum, 8; Philadelphia Academy, 2; Boston Society, 2;
Cambridge Museum, 2; Coll. R. Ridgway, 2. Total, 16.


 |Sex.|   Wing.   |   Tail.   | Culmen. | Tarsus. |Middle Toe.|Specimens.|
 | ♂  |23.00–24.50|14.00–15.00|1.50–1.62|3.65–3.80|  2.40–2.80|    5     |
 | ♀  |25.00–27.00|15.00–16.00|1.68–1.85|4.15–4.20|  2.55–2.80|    7     |

A young male from Massachusetts (No. 39, Lexington; Dr. S. Kneeland), in
the collection of the Boston Society of Natural History, has the tail
plain black, the extreme base and tip white.

Though the Golden Eagles of North America can be distinguished by the
characters given in the diagnosis on p. 312 from those of Europe, the
differences are appreciable only on direct comparison. The American bird
is darker in all its shades of color, the difference being most marked
in the young plumage, which in var. _chrysaëtus_ has the tarsal features
nearly white, and in var. _canadensis_ light brown, the brown of other
portions being also considerably darker. The American bird appears to be
rather the larger.

HABITS. The Ring-tailed or Golden Eagle of North America is found
throughout the continent from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from New
Mexico to the higher Arctic regions.

In its geographical distribution, the Golden Eagle of North America
appears to be chiefly confined to the mountainous regions, and the more
northern portions, but to be nowhere abundant. Sir John Richardson saw
but few individuals in the Arctic regions, nor does he appear ever to
have met with its nest. Individual birds on the Atlantic coast have
been occasionally obtained,—once as far south as Philadelphia, twice
at Washington,—but very rarely. Several specimens appear to have been
obtained among the mountains of New Mexico by Dr. Henry’s party.

Although not mentioned by either Dr. Heermann or Dr. Gambel in their
lists of the birds of California, it was found in Oregon by Dr.
Townsend, and is said by Dr. Cooper to be quite common in almost all
parts of California during the colder months. It is, however, much less
numerous than the White-headed Eagle. It is very much more a mountain
bird, and its descent into the plains or to the sea-coast is said to be
quite rare. Dr. Adolphus Heermann, in his Report of the survey between
Fort Yuma and San Francisco, speaks of seeing one of these birds near
Livermore Pass, and of meeting others in Northern California, and of an
individual killed in the mountains near Mokelumne River. He regarded
it, both in that state and elsewhere, as a rare and wild bird. It is
not mentioned as occurring in Greenland. It was found breeding in Napa
Valley, Cal., by Mr. F. Gruber.

[Illustration: _Aquila chrysaëtus._]

A bird was secured alive in Brighton, near Boston, in 1837, by being
taken in a trap which had been set for another purpose. Its occurrence,
however, near the sea-coast, is very rare, and even among the mountains
it is never found except in occasional pairs. It breeds in the
mountainous portions of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York,
and was formerly not unfrequent among the cliffs of the Hudson River.
Steamboats and railroads have, however, driven this wild bird from
its romantic retreats in that quarter. In Franconia, N. H., for quite
a number of years, a pair occupied a nest on an inaccessible rock,
near the top of a mountain, known as Eagle Cliff, in sight of, and
opposite, the Profile House. Repeated efforts have been made to reach
its nest, but thus far without success. In the summer of 1855 a renewed
attempt was made to scale the precipice over which the shelving rock,
on which the nest stands, projects. A party was formed, and although
they succeeded in ascending the mountain, which had never been achieved
before, they could reach only a point beyond and above, not the nest
itself. The attempt to pass to it was abandoned as too perilous. The
party reported a large collection of bones in its immediate vicinity,
with other evidences of the accumulated plunder of many years, as well
as a plentiful supply of fresh food at the time visited.

Without here seeking to affect the question of identity of species, it
is interesting to note certain peculiarities in the European Golden
Eagle so far not noticed or of rare occurrence in the American birds.
Mr. I. W. P. Orde in the Ibis of 1861 (p. 112), gives a very interesting
account of a pair of Golden Eagles, which the previous season built
their nest in a large Scotch fir-tree, in a wood on the southern bank
of Glen Lyon, in Perthshire, within a few hundred yards of Meggerine
Castle. Four eggs were laid, two of which were hatched. The nest was
one of the Eagles’ own construction, and is specially interesting from
being in such near proximity to human habitations. Mr. Tristram (Ibis,
1859, p. 283, in his valuable note on the birds of North Africa), while
he never observed this Eagle in any of the cliffs among the mountain
ranges of the desert, found it almost gregarious, so abundant was it
among the Dayets. In one wood he saw no less than seven pairs of the
Eagles, each pair with a nest. There were, besides, many unoccupied
nests, and, indeed, very few terebinths of any size were without a huge
platform of sticks on the topmost boughs. The birds were undisturbed,
and consequently very fearless. On the other hand Mr. Salvin, in the
same volume (p. 180) among the mountains of Eastern Atlas, describes
very different manner of life in the same birds. “Whatever rock a
pair may choose for their eyrie, there they reign alone in dignified
solitude, nor do they allow a single Vulture, Kite, or indeed any other
species of rapacious bird, to occupy with their nest a single spot in
the same rock, however eligible for the purpose; nor are these other
species ever to be seen in the haunts of their exclusive majesties. The
whole southern precipice at Djebel Dekma was thus tenanted by a single
pair of this Eagle, as also several other rocks that came under our
notice. Instances of the Golden Eagle building in trees were by no means
of unfrequent occurrence.”

[Illustration: =12006=, ♀. NAT. SIZE.

_Aquila canadensis._]

The extreme southern range of the European bird, its gregarious habit,
and the frequency of its building in trees, are all peculiarities not
observed in the American form. They are not necessarily conclusive, but
are at least suggestive.

The Golden Eagle in this country usually constructs its nest on the
sides of steep, rocky crags, where its materials are coarsely heaped
together on a projecting shelf of rock. These consist of large sticks,
loosely arranged, and lined with other softer materials. In rare
instances they are said to build on trees, where rocky cliffs are not
to be met with. The eggs are usually three in number; sometimes two, or
only one. Mr. Audubon describes them as measuring 3.50 inches in length
by 2.50 in breadth; the shell thick and smooth, dull white, brushed
over with undefined patches of brown, which are most numerous at the
larger end. This description is not quite accurate in regard to size.
The European egg is presumed to be larger than the American, yet the
largest I have ever seen measures but 3.19 inches in length by 2.31 in
breadth. An egg of the European bird in the British Museum, and another
represented in Hewitson’s British Oölogy, which closely resembled it,
were marked over the entire surface with small but distinct blotches
of reddish-brown on a white ground. One in my collection, taken
in Scotland, is nearly unmarked. A distinctly bluish-white ground
is faintly stained with a few very obscure markings of slate and

Mr. MacFarlane furnishes very full and interesting notes and
observations on the habits of our _canadensis_, as attentively studied
by him in the neighborhood of Anderson River, near the Arctic Ocean. Our
limits will only permit us to give a summary of his valuable memoranda.
In a large majority of instances the nests were built against the face
of a steep bank, some sixty or seventy feet from the ground, and about
thirty from the summit. They were very strongly constructed with dry
sticks, usually of willow, and formed a platform on the top, in the
centre of which the eggs were found on a bed composed of moss, hay, and
feathers. These platforms were usually about six by seven feet, and
ranged from four to six in height. It is said to be “not very scarce
in that quarter,” and to be “a resident, in the summer, of the entire
Arctic coast and rivers.” Mention is made of ten nests observed by him,
and eggs taken therefrom. In several instances these eggs were white
and unspotted, exciting his doubts whether they might belong to the

According to Mr. MacFarlane they feed on ducks, mice, and other small
animals, partridges, and the fawn of the reindeer. In confinement they
are fierce and nearly untamable, though they readily eat the food that
is given them, whether fish or meat. Even when taken young from the
nest they evince the same fearless and intractable disposition. In one
instance a young female killed its older companion by piercing it with
her talons. When first observed, she was standing on and plucking the
feathers from the body of the slain bird. This was the second bird
this same ferocious, but comparatively tame, Eagle had thus destroyed.
When the cage was removed outside, though the weather was very cold,
the Eagles did not seem to mind it much, but exercised themselves with
jumping off and on their roosting-pole, and seemed very much interested
in all that was taking place within the Fort square. They kept their
plumage in a cleanly condition, and were generally a very clean bird
in all respects. During the fine weather the Eagles were more lively
than on other occasions. When feeding they drooped both wings, and, if
disturbed, arched their necks and moved their heads in a threatening
manner, spreading out their tails like a fan. They grasped the meat
or fish in the talons of either leg, and tore it with their beaks.
After feeding, they invariably removed any blood or other impurities
that may have adhered to the beak by scratching it with their talons
or rubbing it against the bars of their cage. Several of these birds,
in confinement, especially the female referred to, when their cage was
approached, would endeavor to attack Mr. MacFarlane, descending from
their sleeping-pole and making a rush at the front bars of the cage,
spreading the wings and flapping them with great force, and making
active demonstrations with beak and talons. Occasionally they would get
out of their cages; then it was no easy matter to get them back again,
as, when approached, they would throw themselves on their backs and
thrust out their talons in the most formidable manner. They nest as
early as the last of April or early in May, as largely developed embryos
were found on the 27th of May. When their nests were pillaged they
generally deserted them; but in one instance, where the female had been
snared upon her nest, and the eggs taken, the same nest was occupied the
following season by the male with another mate. The new mate was shot,
and proved to be a mature bird. Almost invariably the male birds were
too wary to be either shot or taken in a snare. Two of the nests of this
bird, pointed out by the Indians, appeared to have been used for several
years, and had been known to their discoverers for six or seven years
previous. The nests taken were in about latitude 69° 30′.

In one particular case a nest had been discovered two years previously
by MacFarlane’s Esquimo interpreter. It had been occupied that season,
and a pair of Eagles had been recognized as its inmates. In 1863 the
nest was known to have been reoccupied, though he did not visit it. On
the 17th of May, 1864, he went to it and found both Eagles engaged in
repairing it. The female appeared to act as the builder, and the male as
the carrier of the materials, as well as the provider of provisions. The
nest was not complete, and contained two half-eaten Ptarmigans, but no
eggs. It was built against the face of a steep bank of a small stream,
and was of considerable bulk. When first constructed, the nest of this
Eagle is comparatively small, but as it is renovated every season, it
ultimately becomes large and bulky. A quantity of dry sticks and twigs
are laid lengthways over the greater portion of the platform of the
previous season, and the spaces between are filled up by smaller twigs,
mosses, and hay, and the centre is then covered with the two latter
ingredients, intermixed with deer’s hair, etc. This annual addition
varies in thickness from three to eighteen inches. In no instance did
Mr. MacFarlane find or hear of any accumulation of bones or other
_débris_ of food either on or in the neighborhood of the nests. In three
instances the nests were constructed in the tops of tall pines. In these
cases the sandy nature of the soil did not favor their building on the
sides of cliffs.

The “Mountain Eagle,” as this species is called throughout the western
regions of the United States, was found by Mr. Ridgway to be a
common species throughout the Great Basin along the line of the 40th
parallel. It was daily seen soaring about the mountains, and nested on
inaccessible cliffs. A pair—the female leading—were observed to give
chase to a Sage Hen (_Centrocercus urophasianus_), chasing her on the
wing until the fugitive dropped down to the ground from exhaustion,
when she was picked up by the foremost of the Eagles, who then flew off
together to the summit of the mountain range (the East Humboldt) near
by, where they probably had their nest.

An egg of this bird, taken by Mr. R. MacDonald among the mountains
west of the Lower Mackenzie River, measures 2.60 inches in length by
2.18 in breadth. The ground-color is of a rich pinkish cream-color,
boldly dashed with large blotches of three or four varying shades of
umber-brown, intermingled with a few finer markings of a lighter shade
of brown, and a few clouded markings of a purplish-slate. These markings
are grouped and confluent about the smaller end. Other specimens vary to
whitish, with faint obsolete blotches.


  _Haliaëtus_, SAVIG. 1809. (Type, _Falco albicilla_, LINN.)
  _Thalassoaëtus_, KAUP, 1844. (Type, _Falco pelagicus_, PALLAS.)
  _Cuncuma_, HODGSON, 1837. (Type, _Falco macei_, TEMM.)
  _Pontoaëtus_, KAUP, 1844. (Same type.)
  _Blagrus_, BLAS. 1849. (Same type.)
  _Polioaëtus_, KAUP, 1847. (Type, _Falco icthyaëtus_, HORSF.)
  _Icthyiaëtus_, LAFR. 1839 (nec KAUP, 1829). (Same type.)

GEN. CHAR. Form robust, and organization powerful, as in _Aquila_; size
large. Bill very large, usually somewhat inflated, the chord of the arch
of the culmen more than twice the length of the cere on top; commissure
with a more or less distinct festoon and sinuation behind it. Nostril
oval, obliquely vertical. Feet robust and strong, the tarsus less than
one and a half times the middle toe; tarsus feathered in front and on
the sides for about one half its length; front of the tarsus and top of
the toes with an imperfectly continuous series of transverse scutellæ,
entirely interrupted in the region of the digito-tarsal joint; the other
portions covered with roundish, somewhat granular, scales, these larger
on the posterior face. Claws large, strongly curved, and more obtuse,
and less graduated in size, than in _Aquila_. No trace of a web between
outer and middle toes. Wing very large, the primaries well developed and
strong; third to fifth quill longest; first longer than the ninth; outer
five to six with inner webs deeply emarginated. Tail variable in length
and shape, usually short and rounded, cuneate and with fourteen feathers
in _H. pelagicus_, and nearly even, and with twelve feathers, in _H.
macei_, the rest all having twelve feathers, varying in form with the
species. Feathers of the neck, all round, lanceolate.

The species of this very strongly marked genus vary between great
extremes in the details of their external structure; but these
variations I consider to be mainly specific, though two well-defined
subgeneric divisions should be made, one to include the Old World _H.
leucogaster_, _H. vocifer_, and _H. icthyætus_, which have five, instead
of six, outer quills, with their inner webs cut, and the tarsus with the
frontal and posterior rows of broad transverse scutellæ nearly as well
developed and continuous as in _Buteo_. The last of these species has
the claws nearly uniform in size, and contracted and rounded underneath
almost as much as in _Pandion_; but the other species are less so, each
differing in this respect, so that I consider this as only indicating
the greatest perfection in the specialization of the piscatorial type
of modified structure. In the possession of fourteen tail-feathers, its
very large bill, naked lores, and general aspect, the _H. pelagicus_
shows an approach to the Old World Vultures.

About nine species are known, of which only two belong to North America,
one of them (_H. leucocephalus_) being peculiar to that continent.
Tropical America is without a single representation of the genus.
The majority of the species belong to the Indian region, only the
_H. albicilla_ and _H. pelagicus_ belonging to the Palæarctic Realm,
the former representing the western, and the latter peculiar to the
eastern, district of that zoögeographical division; it is the former
which straggles into the Nearctic fauna. The habits of the Sea Eagles
differ considerably from those of the true Eagles (_Aquila_) in very
important respects; they frequent the shores of the sea, lakes, or large
rivers, instead of mountainous portions, and feed chiefly—some of the
species entirely—on fish. Those of the subgenus _Polioaëtus_ are almost
precisely like _Pandion_ in their habits.


  =52509=,♀ ? ¼
  =9128=,♀. ¼
  =9128=,♀. ¼
  =28100.=(♀ ?) ¼
  =9128=,♀ ? ¼

  52509 : 9128. _Haliaëtus leucocephalus._
  28100. _H. pelagicus._]

The three closely allied species belonging to the northern portions of
the Northern Hemisphere may be distinguished by the characters given in
the following synopsis.

Species and Races.

  COMMON CHARACTERS. _Adult._ Bill, cere, and iris yellow. Tail, and
  sometimes the head and neck, white. _Young._ Bill and cere black; iris
  dark brown. Tail, head, and neck, blackish.


  =28100=,(♀ ?). NAT. SIZE.
  =28100=,(♀ ?). ¼

_Haliaëtus pelagicus._]

    =A.= Tail of fourteen feathers, cuneate, or graduated, for nearly
    half its length. Nostril with its lower end acute, bevelled
    gradually to the level of the cere; upper outline of the cere very
    convex; lore naked.

      1. =H. pelagicus.=[93] Wing, 24.50–26.00; tail, 13.50–16.00;
      culmen, 2.60; depth of bill, 1.80; cere, on top, 1.10; tarsus,
      3.50; middle toe, 2.95. _Adult._ Forehead, greater wing-coverts,
      abdomen, and tail, white; other portions blackish-brown (AUCT.).
      _Young._ Dark umber or blackish-brown, the feathers of the head
      and neck with lighter shaft-streaks; tertials (except at ends)
      and basal third, or more, of inner webs of tail-feathers, white;
      tail-coverts much mixed with the same. _Hab._ Northeastern Asia.

    =B.= Tail of twelve feathers, only slightly rounded. Lower end of
    the nostril rounded, opening more abruptly inward; upper outline of
    the cere nearly straight; lores scantily feathered.

      2. =H. albicilla.= Wing, 23.00–28.00; tail, 11.50–16.00; culmen,
      2.05–2.20; tarsus, 3.30–3.80; middle toe, 2.50–2.95; depth of
      bill about 1.45; cere, on top, .85. _Adult._ Head and neck pale
      grayish-fulvous, or dirty yellowish-gray, not abruptly lighter
      than the body. Tail, only, pure white. Rest of the plumage,
      including the tail-coverts, dark grayish-brown, inclining to
      blackish on the primaries. _Young._ Prevailing tint of the upper
      parts light isabella-color, or pale grayish-cinnamon, each feather
      having a terminal triangular spot of blackish-brown. Breast soiled
      white, with broad stripes of brownish-black; rest of the lower
      parts nearly uniform fulvous-brown, the tibiæ darker. _Hab._
      Europe; Egypt; Greenland.

      3. =H. leucocephalus.= Wing, 20.00–26.00; tail, 10.50–15.50;
      culmen, 1.85–2.20; tarsus, 2.65–3.70; middle toe, 2.35–3.10; depth
      of bill about 1.30; cere, on the top, .80. _Adult._ Head and
      neck, tail and tail-coverts, pure white, immaculate (except in
      transition dress). Rest of the plumage brownish-black. _Young._
      Brownish-black, showing much concealed white at the bases of the
      feathers; ground-color inclining to umber-brown on the upper
      surface; on the lower parts, the basal white much exposed and
      predominating, the blackish forming longitudinal, tear-shaped
      spots. Head and neck brownish-black, the penicillated feathers of
      the nape seldom with whitish points. Tail-feathers and primaries
      black, the inner webs usually more or less marked, longitudinally,
      with buffy-whitish. _Hab._ The whole of North America.

SP. CHAR. _Young female_(?) (28,100, Amoor River; Mr. Burlingame).
Form: very similar to _H. albicilla_ and _H. leucocephala_, but bill
altogether more robust, and feet rather less so, than in these. Tail, of
fourteen feathers! graduated for about one half its length. Dimensions:
About the size of the female of the two other species. Color: Generally
dusky vandyke-brown, a medial line on the lanceolate feathers of the
neck, and the border of the squamate ones of the tibiæ, decidedly
lighter. Entire plumage white at the base, this exposed wherever the
feathers are disarranged, and prevailing on the crissum. Tertials, basal
half of inner webs of primaries, the whole tail, and upper tail-coverts,
white with a yellowish tinge. Tertials, upper tail-coverts, and
tail-feathers, with a large terminal spot of clear grayish-black; on the
tail these form a rather irregular terminal zone, being on the middle
feather narrower, and broken into fine blotches. Bill, cere, lore, and
feet, yellow; end of upper mandible, and the claws, black. Wing-formula,
3, 4, 2, 5–6–7=1. Wing, 24.50; tail, 13.50; culmen, 2.60; depth of bill,
1.80; cere, on top, 1.10; tarsus, 3.50; middle toe, 2.95.

Haliaetus albicilla (LINN.).


  _Aquila albicilla_, BRISS. Orn. I, 427, 1760.—PALL. Zoog. Ross. As. I,
  345, 1811.—BENICK. Isis, 1824, pp. 878, 892.—SWAINS. Classif. B. II,
  207, 1837.—KUHL. Beiträg. Zool. pt. i, p. 76 (anat.), 1820.—TYZENHAUZ,
  Rev. Zoöl. 1848, p. 235.—BAILLY, Orn. Sav. I, 110, 1853.—S. LONGCH.
  Faun. Belg. p. 53, 1842. _Vultur albicilla_, LINN. Syst. Nat. p. 123,
  1766. _Falco albicilla_, PENN. Brit. Zoöl. p. 61, pl. A, 1812; ed.
  8vo, 1812, I, 209, pl. xviii.—GMEL. Syst. Nat. p. 253, 1789.—LATH.
  Ind. Orn. I, 9, 1790; Syn. I, 33, 1781; Supp. I, 11, 1802; Gen. Hist.
  I, 46 A, 1821.—ODMANN, Nov. Act. Soc. Ups, IV, 225.—SHAW, Zoöl. VII,
  79, 1812.—TEMM. Man. Orn. pt. i, 49; pt. iii, 26, 1820; Tab. Méth. p.
  3, 1836.—KITTL. Kupf. Vög. pl. ii, f. 2, 1832.—BRUNN. Orn. Bor. p. 3,
  1764.—FABER, Prod. Island, Orn. p. 1, 1822.—NAUM. Nat. Vög. Deutschl.
  ed. nov. I, 224, pls. xii, xiii, xiv, 1822; Nachtr. p. 330, pl. ix, f.
  17.—FRISCH, Vög. Deutschl. pl. lxix, 70, 1739. _Haliaëtus albicilla_,
  CUV. Reg. Anim. (ed. 1), I, 315, 1817; (ed. 2), I, 336, 1829.—BENN.
  Gard. Zoöl. Soc. II, 33, 1831.—WERN. Atl. Ois. Eur. 1826.—LESS. Man.
  Orn. I, 85, 1828.—VIG. Raffl. Life, p. 648. SELBY, Brit. Orn. I, 18,
  pl. iii, iii^x, 1833.—GOULD, B. Eur. pl. x, 1837.—BONAP.
  Eur. & N. Am. B. p. 3, 1838; Cat. Ucc. Eur. p. 19, 1842; Consp. Av. p.
  15, 1850; Rev. et Mag. Zoöl. p. 531, 1854.—CASS. B. Calif. & Tex. I,
  p. 111, 1854.—GRAY, Gen. B. p. 3; ed. 2, p. 4; fol. sp. 1, pl. vii,
  fig. 8.—BREHM. Vög. Deutschl. I, 14, pl. iii, f. 1, 1831.—CASS. Birds
  N. Am. 43, 1858.—SCLAT. Pr. Z. S. 1863, 257 (found in Newfoundland
  and Nova Scotia—this disproven!).—ELLIOT, Birds N. A. I. _Haliaëtus
  albicilla_, GRAY, Hand List, I, 16, 1869. _Aquila ossifraga_, BRISS.
  Orn. I, p. 437 (_Juv._), 1760.—KUHL, Beiträg. Zoöl. pt. i, p. 60,
  pl. iv, figs. 1, 3, 3; pl. v, f. 1. _Falco ossifragus_, LINN. Syst.
  Nat. p. 124, 1766.—GMEL. Syst. Nat. p. 255, 1789.—LATH. Ind. Orn.
  p. 12, 1790; Syn. I, 30, 1781; Supp. I, 9, 1802; Gen. Hist. I, 48
  (_Juv._), 1821.—DAUD. Tr. Orn. II, 64, 1800.—SHAW, Zoöl. VII, pl.
  xviii, 1809.—RAFFL. LINN. Tr. VIII, 277 (var.). _Aquila leucocephala_,
  MEYER, Taschenb. Deutsch. Vögelk. p. 16, 1810. _Falco melanotus_,
  GMEL. Syst. Nat. p. 254, 1789. _Falco albicaudus_, GMEL. Syst. Nat.
  p. 258, 1789. _Falco hinularius_, LATH. Ind. Orn. p. 15, 1790; Syn.
  I, 39, sp. 16, 1781; Gen. Hist. I, 47 B, 1821.—SHAW, Zoöl. VII, 80,
  1809. _Falco pygargus_, DAUD. Tr. Orn. II, 62, 1800. _Falco albicilla
  borealis_, FABER, Isis, 1827, p. 56; Prod. Island, Orn. p. 1, 1822.
  _Haliætus nisus_, SAVIG. Descr. Egyp. pt. i, 86, 1809.—VIEILL. Faun.
  Franç. p. 10, pl. v, figs. 1, 2.—DEGL. Mém. Soc. Sc. Lille, 1831, p.
  213.—LESS. Tr. Orn. p. 40, pl. viii, fig. 2, 1831.—ROUX, Orn. Prod. I,
  16, pl. ix, x, 1825.

SP. CHAR. _Adult male_ (56,034, Europe; Schlüter Collection). Plumage
almost continuously umber-brown, becoming black on the primaries; on the
head and neck approaching pale grayish-brown. Tail (but not the coverts)
white, much mottled with dusky at base; shafts of the quills white.
Wing-formula, 3–2=4–5–6, 1. Wing, 23.00; tail, 11.50; culmen, 2.20;
depth of bill, 1.45; cere, above, .85; tarsus, 3.30; middle toe, 2.50;
outer, 2.00; inner, 1.70; posterior, 1.40. Bill and feet yellow.

_Young._ Head and neck blackish-brown, feathers whitish beneath the
surface, the long pencillate feathers of the nape tipped inconspicuously
with the same; prevailing color of the upper surface isabella-color
(much more reddish than in corresponding age of _leucocephalus_) each
feather with a terminal triangular spot of blackish-brown; tertials
more whitish. Secondaries rich dark brown; primaries deep black, their
shafts dark brown. Tail brownish-black much spotted with isabella-color,
or soiled creamy-white, this occupying most of the inner webs. Breast
soiled white, each feather with a conspicuous broad medial stripe of
brownish-black; abdomen more fulvous; tibiæ nearly uniform dark brown.
Rump nearly uniform vinaceous-fulvous. Bill black. Feet yellow.

_Male_ (56,037, North Europe; Schlütter Coll.). Wing, 26.00; tail,
12.50; culmen, 2.20.

_Female_ (56,039, North of Europe; Schlütter Coll.). Wing, 28.00; tail,
16.00; culmen, 2.45; depth of bill, 1.55; cere above, .70; tarsus, 3.65;
middle toe, 3.50.

_Hab._ Europe and in Greenland.


National Museum, 3; Philadelphia Academy, 3; New York Museum, 2; Boston
Society, 2; Cambridge Museum, 1. Total, 11.


 | Sex. |   Wing.   |   Tail.   | Culmen. | Tarsus. | Middle  |Specimens.|
 |      |           |           |         |         |  Toe.   |          |
 |♂ Ad. |23.00–24.00| 11.50–0.00|2.10–2.20|3.30–3.70|2.50–2.85|    2     |
 |♂ Juv.|24.75–26.00| 12.50–0.00|2.05–2.20|3.80–0.00|2.70–0.00|    2     |
 |♀ Juv.|27.80–28.00|14.00–16.00|2.20–2.45|3.50–3.65|2.95–3.50|    2     |

HABITS. The White-tailed or Gray Sea Eagle is common to the sea-coast of
Europe, where it inhabits only the parts of the country adjacent to the
sea, and rears its young on the cliffs. It occurs in Greenland, and is
on that ground included in the fauna of North America. It has not yet
been traced south of Greenland, nor has it been found in any part of our

The Sea Eagle in Europe is rarely found inland. It builds its nest on
rocky cliffs projecting over the water, on the shores of Scotland,
the Orkney and Shetland Islands, Norway, Russia, etc. The nest is
constructed of sticks, or, where these are not convenient, of seaweed.
The eggs are two or three in number. Their ground-color is a clear
white, usually unmarked, but occasionally stained with small, faint
spots of light brown. The measurements of two in my collection, both
from Scotland, but obtained at different times by H. F. Walter, Esq., of
London, are as follows: Length 2.69 inches, breadth 2.19 inches; length
2.13 inches, breadth 2.25 inches.

[Illustration: _Haliatus albicilla_ (Europe).]

The following, in relation to their breeding and distribution, is taken
from Mr. Yarrell’s excellent work on the Birds of Great Britain:—

“The White-tailed Eagle builds its nest on high rocks, and lays two
eggs, about the same size of those of the Golden Eagle, but with very
little or no red color on the white ground. The young are at first
covered with a soiled white down, and even at this age the beaks and
claws of the eaglets are of very large size. A pair of Golden Eagles
have been known to rear their young in the same spot for eight seasons
in succession; and Mr. Mudie has mentioned that, being thus attached to
a particular locality, their young, when able to provide for themselves,
are driven away by the parent birds to get their living elsewhere; but
the more erratic White-tailed Eagles, quitting the breeding station
when the season is ended, leave their young to forage over the district
in which they have been raised. In confinement, the White-tailed Eagle
sometimes becomes sociable.... One kept by Mr. Hoy laid three eggs in
the same season; and a female in the possession of Mr. Selby laid an egg
after having been kept in confinement twenty years.... The White-tailed
Eagle breeds in the Hebrides, in Orkney and Shetland. Mr. Dunn, in his
useful Guide to these latter islands, names the particular localities
in which they may be found, but states that they are much more numerous
in winter than in summer. This accords with the opinion of Mr. Temminck
and others that this species returns to the southward from high northern
latitudes as the season advances.... This Eagle frequents Denmark,
Sweden, the west coast of Norway, and from thence as far north as
Iceland and Greenland, but is not found in North America. Mr. Temminck
believes that this Eagle follows the flocks of geese that annually
resort to the Arctic regions in summer to rear their young. It is found
in Siberia, at Lake Baikal, and inhabits Russia, from whence to the
southward it is spread over the European continent generally.”

Haliaëtus leucocephalus (LINN.).


  _Aquila leucocephala_, BRISS. Orn. I, 422, 1760.—VIEILL. Ois. Am.
  Sept. pl. iii, 1807.—PALLAS, Zoog. Ross. As. I, 347, 1811.—SWAINSON,
  Classif. B. II, 207, 1837; Anim. Menag. 106, 1838.—S. LONGCH.
  Faun. Belg. 53, 1842. _Falco leucocephalus_, LINN. Syst. Nat. 124,
  1766.—GMEL. Syst. Nat. 255, 1789.—LATH. Ind. Orn. 11, 1790; Syn. I,
  29, 1781; Supp. p. 9, 1802; Gen. Hist. I, 45, 1821.—PENN. Arct. Zoöl.
  pp. 194 and 196, 1785.—WILS. Am. Orn. pl. xxxvi, 1808.—TEMM. Man.
  Orn. pt. i, 52; pt. ii, 27, 1820; Tab. Méth. 3, 1836.—SHAW, Zoöl.
  VII, 78, 1809.—BONAP. Ann. Lyc. N. Y. II, 26.—GREEN, Silliman’s Am.
  Journ. IV, 89; Isis, 1832, p. 1136.—AUD. Orn. Biog. I, 160, 1831;
  Birds Am. pl. xxxi, 1831.—BREWER, (WILS.) Am. Orn. Synop. 683,
  1852. _Haliaëtus leucocephalus_, SAVIG.—CUV. Règ. An. (ed. 2), I,
  326.—LESS. Tr. Orn. p. 40, 1831.—STEPH. Zoöl. XIII, pt. 2, p. 13,
  1826.—JAMES. (WILS.) Am. Orn. I, 21, 33, 1808.—JARD. (WILS.) Orn. II,
  89, 307.—RICH. F. B. A. II, 15, 1831.—BENNETT, Gard. Zoöl. Soc. II,
  37, 1831.—BONAP. Eur. & N. Am. B. 3, 1838; Cat. Ucc. Eur. 19, 1842;
  Consp. Av. 15, 1850; Rev. et Mag. Zoöl. 1854, p. 531.—MAX. Cab. Journ.
  VI, 1858, 3.—BLAKISTON, Ibis, III, 1861, 320.—DRESSER, Ibis, 1865, 328
  (Texas, breeding).—GOULD, B. Eur. pl. xi, 1837.—GRAY, Gen. B. fol.
  sp. 3, 1844; List Birds Brit. Mus. 2, 1844.—AUD. Synopsis Birds Am.
  10, 1839.—NUTTALL, Man. Orn. U. S. & Canad. 72, 1833.—PEALE, U. S.
  Expl. Exp. 71, 1848.—PEAB. Birds Mass. 73, 1841.—GIRAUD, Birds Long
  Island, 9, 1844.—WOODH. Sit. Expl. Zuñ. & Colorad. 59, 1853.—CASSIN,
  B. Calif. & Tex. I, 111, 1854.—DE KAY, Zoöl. N. Y. II, 5, pl. i, f.
  1, 1844.—HEERM. P. R. R. Rept. VII, 30, 1857.—NEWB. P. R. R. Rept.
  VI, 75, 1857.—WERN. Atl. Ois. Eur. 1826.—BREHM, Vögel Deutschl. 17,
  1831.—CASS. Birds N. Am. 1858, 43.—COOP. & SUCK. P. R. R. Rept.
  XII, ii, 151, 1860.—COUES, Prod. B. Ariz. 13, 1866. _Haliaëtus
  leucocephalus_, GRAY, Hand List, I, 16 (1869). _Falco candidus_,
  GMEL. Syst. Nat. 258, 1789.—LATH. Ind. Orn. 14, 1790; Syn. I, 36,
  1781; Gen. Hist. I, 240, 1821.—DAUD. Tr. Orn. II, 51, 1800.—VIEILL.
  Ois. Am. Sept. I, 30, 1807. _Falco pygargus_, DAUD. Tr. Orn. II,
  62, 1800. _Falco ossifragus_, WILS. Am. Orn. pl. lv, f. 2 (_Juv._),
  1808. _Falco leucogaster_, LATH. Gen. Hist. I, 242, 1821. _Vultur
  albicilla_, FABER, Faun. Grœnl. 53, 1780. _Falco washingtoni_,
  AUD. Mag. Nat. Hist. ser. 1, I, 1828, 115.—IB. Orn. Biog. I, 58;
  Birds Am. pl. xi.—BREWER, (WILS.) Am. Orn. 683.—JAMES. (WILS.) Am.
  Orn. IV, 261. _Haliaëtus washingtoni_, JARD. (WILS.) Am. Orn. II,
  92.—BONAP. List, 1838, 3.—GRAY, Gen. fol. sp. 4.—AUD. Synop. Birds
  Am. 10.—CASS. B. CAL. & Tex. 110.—IB. Birds N. Am. 1858, 42.—STRICKL.
  Orn. Syn. I, 51, No. 82. _Falco washingtonianus_, NUTT. MAN. pl.
  lxvii. _Haliaëtus leucocephalus_, BREWER, Oölogy, 1851, 48, pl. iv, f.

SP. CHAR. _Adult._ Entire head and neck, upper and lower tail-coverts,
and tail, immaculate pure white. Rest of the plumage brownish-black,
the feathers fading toward the edges, these paler borders being most
conspicuous on the upper surface. Primaries uniform deep black.
Bill, cere, superciliary shield, and feet, deep chrome-yellow; iris
Naples-yellow. _Male_ (12,017, Philadelphia; C. Drexler). Wing, 22.00;
tail, 10.50; culmen, 1.90; top of cere, .80; depth of bill, 1.30;
tarsus, 3.00; middle toe, 2.60; outer, 2.00; inner, 1.50; posterior,
1.30. Wing-formula, 3=4–5, 2–6; 1=7. _Female_ (11,986, Philadelphia;
C. Drexler). Wing, 25.00; tail, 12.75; culmen, 2.20; top of cere,
.80; tarsus, 3.10; middle toe, 2.85. Wing-formula, 3=4, 5–2–6–7–1, 8.
_Young._ Second year (?) (No. 58,977, Mount Carmel, Wabash County,
Illinois, Dec.; D. Ridgway). Head and neck brownish-black, white beneath
the surface, the penicillate ones of the nape tipped with pale brown.
Prevailing color of other portions blackish-brown, inclining to umber
on the dorsal region, wing-coverts, and lower parts; all the feathers
white at their roots, this much exposed on the lower parts, where the
brown forms tear-shaped terminal spots; axillars and lining of the
wing white, each feather of the latter region with a medial lanceolate
stripe of blackish-brown. Primaries and tail brownish-black; inner
webs of secondaries and tail-feathers spattered longitudinally with
creamy-white. Bill and cere black; iris brown; feet yellow. Wing, 25.50;
tail, 15.00; culmen, 2.10; tarsus, 3.10; middle toe, 2.60.

_Young_, _first year_ (No. 41,595, Eastern United States?). Whole
plumage nearly uniformly black, this very continuous above; beneath, the
basal white is much exposed, producing a somewhat spotted appearance.
Primaries and tail deep black, the inner webs of the latter sprinkled
with cream-color.

_Young in down_ (Washington, D. C.). Downy covering uniform deep
sooty-gray; the sprouting feathers on wings, etc., all brownish-black.

Specimens from the Pacific Coast have the plumage rather deeper black;
but scarcely any other differences are appreciable. Measurements of
specimens are as follows:—

  “_Male_” (?) (45,838, Sitka; Bischoff). Wing, 24.50; tail, 12.50;
  culmen, 2.00.

  _Female_ (45,835, Sitka; Bischoff). Wing, 25.00; tail, 12.50; culmen,

Of these, the male is continuous deep black, the head, neck, tail,
and tail-coverts pure white in sharp contrast; the female is less
continuously black,—more so, however, than in eastern specimens; the
white portions are as pure as in the male.

An immature bird (9,130, Shoalwater Bay, W. T., Feb.; Dr. Cooper)
is almost like the Illinois specimen described, but is somewhat
larger, measuring, wing, 26.00; tail, 15.00; culmen, 2.20. It differs
somewhat in plumage also, the lower parts being nearly uniformly light
isabella-color, not variegated by the black spots; the whole wing
(except the quills) is pale isabella-brown, the wing-coverts with
terminal triangular spots of black; the back is also light-colored, like
the wings.


  =52509=, (♀ ?). NAT. SIZE.
  =9128=, ♀ ? ¼

_Haliaëtus leucocephalus._]

_Hab._ Entire continent of North America, north of Mexico.

Localities quoted: Upper Texas; breeds (DRESSER, Ibis, 1865, 65).
Western Arizona (COUES, P. A. N. S., 1866, 49).


National Museum, 17; Philadelphia Academy, 14; Boston Society, 3; Museum
Comparative Zoölogy, 3; Coll. R. Ridgway, 2; Coll. J. C. Sharp, Jr., 1;
W. S. Brewer, 1. Total, 41.


 | Sex. |   Wing.   |   Tail.   | Culmen. | Tarsus. | Middle  |Specimens.|
 |      |           |           |         |         |  Toe.   |          |
 |♂ Ad. |20.00–23.00|11.00–13.00|1.85–2.00|2.65–3.40|2.35–2.65|   10     |
 |♂ Juv.|23.50–25.00|12.00–15.25|1.95–2.20|3.20–3.30|2.70–2.90|    5     |
 |♀ Ad. |23.50–25.00|12.50–13.50|1.90–2.20|3.40–3.60|2.55–2.80|    7     |
 |♀ Juv.|25.50–26.00|15.00–15.50|2.10–2.20|3.25–3.70|2.55–3.10|    2     |

The “Bird of Washington” of Audubon was, without the least doubt, a
very large immature female, in about the second year: the discrepancies
between Audubon’s figure and description, and the real characters of
the young Bald Eagle, are very probably the result of carelessness
and faulty memory; the stretch of wing of “10 feet 2 inches” is, no
doubt, an exaggeration; and the peculiar scutellation of the tarsus,
as exhibited in his plate, was as certainly caused by this portion of
the figure being worked up from memory. The probability is also that
the description was made up, or at least very much added to, from this
plate, as there is no record of Mr. Audubon’s specimens having been
preserved. It is by no means strange that persons should consider these
large grayish Eagles a different species from the smaller white-headed
ones, since their proportions are as different as their colors; and
throughout the country, unscientific people, and among them experienced
hunters, distinguish the three stages described above as the “bald,”
“big gray,” and “black” Eagles. Nothing is more certain, however, than
that all are only different stages of one and the same bird.

In the preceding table of measurements the old and immature specimens
are given separately, in order to prove the remarkable fact that the
latter have longer wings and tails than the former. This feature is not
confined to the present bird, however, but applies as a general rule to
all _Falconidæ_.

HABITS. The White-headed Eagle is widely diffused throughout the North
American continent, from about latitude 58° north to the Gulf of Mexico
and Central America.

Sir John Richardson, in _Fauna Boreali-Americana_ (Vol. II, p. 15),
states that he did not meet with this species north of 62°, although
he found it common between that point and Lake Superior. He also
states that they leave the fur-countries in October, when the rivers
are frozen. Subsequently, in his expedition overland to the Arctic
Seas, in 1848, he found occasion to change his first impressions quite
materially. He gives it as abundant at Half-Moon Lake, in latitude
56° north. He also speaks of finding both the Osprey and White-headed
Eagle building their nests on the banks of Bear Lake River, in about
60° north. We find in his notes, that White-headed Eagles made their
appearance at Fort Confidence, latitude 66° 54′, as early as May
17, before the ice had given way in the rivers; and in his tables
of phenomena observed at the Cumberland House, in latitude 54°, we
also observe that a White-headed Eagle was seen as early as the 24th
of March, “being almost always the first of the summer birds which

[Illustration: _Haliaëtus leucocephalus._]

Mr. MacFarlane found these Eagles breeding on Lockhart River, latitude
67° 30′, but does not regard it as abundant in that locality, and from
the information he has received from the Indians, he presumes latitude
68° to be its extreme northern range. In the following year, 1862, this
supposition was in part confirmed by his finding a pair breeding on
the same river, near its junction with the Anderson, in latitude 68°
north. Mr. B. E. Ross states that it ranges to the Arctic Circle, and is
numerous around Great Slave and Bear Lakes. It proved to very common at
Sitka, where Bischoff obtained a number of specimens.

Dr. Cooper, during his journey northward to the 49th degree, found
this one of the most abundant birds of the Falcon tribe in Washington
Territory, particularly along the Columbia River. It is a constant
resident in the Territory, and is said to lay its eggs as early as
February. He saw large numbers along the Columbia, sitting on some log
or cliff over the water. He never met with it about high mountain tops
nor on the plains east of the Rocky Mountains.

Dr. Newberry met with this Eagle in the interior of Northern California,
along the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers. He found it very common
at the Cascades of the Columbia, at the Falls of the Willamette, and
still more abundant about the chain of lakes in the Klamath basin, and
also in the Cascade Range, among the mountain lakes, and wherever fish
was attainable. They exhibited little shyness, and were easily brought
within rifle range.

In Florida, Mr. Allen found this bird very common, breeding as early as
January. It was very abundant on the upper St. John’s, and especially
so at Lake Monroe. It is also equally common in Texas, according to
Dresser, especially near the headwaters of some of the rivers. He
was told by his guide, Westfall, that in passing a distance of forty
miles he had noticed eight nests. It also breeds on the Altacosa. Dr.
Woodhouse found these birds, but nowhere very abundant, from the Gulf of
Mexico to the Pacific, along his entire route, and Dr. Coues observed
them near Fort Whipple.

The statements of Temminck that this Eagle has been taken accidentally
in Central Europe, Switzerland, and Germany, and also that it breeds in
Northwestern Europe, are not now credited; and more recent scrutiny of
these supposed facts cast discredit upon them, and show that there is no
well-authenticated instance of its having been detected in Europe.

The White-headed Eagle appears to be equally well adapted by nature for
the endurance of heat or cold, and is apparently indifferent to either.
Its residence is influenced only by its abundance of food, especially
that of fish; and it seems to matter very little whether that plenty
is procurable within the Arctic Circle or on the coast and rivers of
Florida and Texas. In places like the Falls of Niagara, where the stream
is ever liable to contribute the remains of animals destroyed by the
descent of the torrent, this Eagle is especially abundant. Unscrupulous,
greedy, voracious, not select in its choice of food, and capable of
providing for itself when necessity compels, we find this not altogether
unsuitable emblem of our country now enacting the tyrant and robber and
plundering the Fishhawk of the fruits of its industry, now sharing with
the Raven and the Vulture the dead salmon of the Columbia, and in other
places diving for and catching its own fish. The impetuosity and skill
with which it pursues, overtakes, and robs the Fishhawk, bearing off a
fish it has just taken, must be witnessed to be appreciated; and the
swiftness with which the Eagle can dart down upon and seize the booty,
which the Hawk has been compelled to let fall, before it reaches the
water, is not the least wonderful feature of this striking performance.
On the banks of the Columbia, where there are no Fishhawks to depend
upon, this bird finds an easy subsistence on the vast numbers of dead
and dying salmon which abound; and in Florida Mr. Allen has observed it
dive and catch its own fish. This is also confirmed by the statements of
other naturalists. Wilson also accuses this Eagle of destroying great
numbers of young pigs in the Southern States, young lambs, and even
sickly sheep; and in one instance it attempted to carry off a child,
which was only saved by its dress giving way.

The White-headed Eagle breeds along the Atlantic coast from the St.
Lawrence to Florida, and thence westward to Mexico along the coast and
among the tributaries of the Gulf. In the interior it breeds as far
north as the Arctic Circle.

Richardson states that it abounds in the watery districts of Rupert’s
Land, and a nest may be looked for within every twenty or thirty miles.
Each pair appropriates a certain range of country, on which they are
said to suffer no intruders of their own species to encroach; but the
nest of the Osprey is often placed at no great distance from that of
the Eagle. Some of the voyagers had the curiosity to visit an Eagle’s
nest, which was built on the cleft summit of a balsam poplar, of sticks,
many of them as thick as a man’s wrist. It contained two young birds,
well fledged, with a good store of fish in a very odoriferous condition.
While the men were climbing the tree, the female parent hovered close
around, and threatened an attack on the invaders; but the male kept
aloof, making circles high in the air.

In California, where the rocky coast is destitute of convenient trees,
the White-headed Eagle resorts to rocky cliffs as the safest and most
convenient places for nesting. We have the authority of Richardson
for the same deviation from its usual resort to trees in parts of the
fur-countries where the latter are wanting. The climate apparently
exerts a certain influence, though not so much as might be supposed.
In the Southern States it nests seven weeks earlier than in Maine, in
both of which regions it is resident throughout the year. Farther north,
where the severity of the cold, by closing the ponds and rivers with
solid ice, places their food beyond their reach, and where they are only
visitants in the warmer season, they, of course, nest still later, for
the reason that they do not reach these regions until after the breeding
season of more southern birds of the species.

In the extreme Southern States, as in California, the White-headed
Eagle breeds as early as February. In Maine, the general impression has
been that the eggs are not deposited before May, and at a still later
period in the more northern portions of the United States. More recent
observations show this to be incorrect, and that these birds breed at
a much earlier season of the year. Mr. Audubon speaks of having once
shot a female on her eggs, near the Mississippi, as early as the 17th
of January. Dr. Gambel found White-headed Eagles nesting on the cliffs
along the shores of the Pacific in February and March.

Having occasion to visit the State of Maine in April, 1856, near the
Damariscotta River, the banks of which stream are frequented by these
birds on account of the abundance of fish, I was informed that a pair
had constructed a nest in a neighboring wood, which they had occupied
for several successive years. The previous season (1855), late in
May, my informant had climbed a tree in the immediate neighborhood,
commanding a full view of the nest. It then contained young nearly
grown. From this statement I was led to conclude that there was no time
to be lost if we would secure the eggs before hatching. We accordingly
visited the nest on the 27th of April, and found it situated on a tall
pine, at least sixty feet from the ground. The tree stood in a swampy
wood, within a few rods of the stage road, and not more than half a mile
from the village of Damariscotta. It contained no limbs or branches to
facilitate ascent for at least the distance of thirty feet, and the
trunk at the base was from six to nine feet in circumference, rendering
it impossible to mount the tree by the aid only of the hands and feet.
My assistant was, however, drawn up, by means of a rope fastened round
his body, to a height where the branches of the tree rendered the
remainder of the ascent comparatively easy. While he was ascending, we
observed several Eagles flying over our heads, but at a great height.
One only approached us; but, as soon as we were noticed, the bird made
a precipitate retreat. It was apparently conveying food to the nest,
and was not at first aware of our presence; after which it hovered at
a distance, uttering hoarse, disagreeable cries of displeasure, not
unlike the imperfect barking of a dog. No attempt was made to molest or
interrupt the man as he ascended to, or after he had reached, the nest.
We found, when he had climbed to the nest, that the female had been
sitting upon it all the while, and only left when the unwelcome caller
was near enough to have reached her with his hands. She too flew over
the man’s head in somewhat close proximity, uttering frequent cries of
distress, but made no effort whatever to attack him.

The nest was found to contain no egg, and but a single bird, apparently
about a fortnight old. It was some six or seven inches in length,
its weight between one and two pounds, and its head and claws
disproportionately large. It was covered uniformly with a thick, close,
and soft downy plumage, which was of a clean deep straw-color. There was
not the least admixture of gray or brown. The young bird was completely
helpless, and uttered almost constant cries for food. It ate readily
whenever fish or meat was offered it, but was unable to support itself
upon its legs. It was taken to my host’s house, where it was well cared
for, and for a while, with careful attention, it did well and grew
apace, manifesting a most inordinate and insatiable appetite.

The nest was described to me by my assistant as a platform between
five and six feet in diameter, and at least four in thickness. It was
constructed of regular layers of large sticks, each several feet in
length, and from an inch to an inch and a half in thickness. Its surface
was perfectly flat, and was “finished off,” to use his expression, with
tufts of grass, dry leaves, mosses, lichens, small twigs, etc., etc. He
found in it, by the side of the young Eagle, four or five large eels,
each of which was about two feet in length, showing that the parent
birds provide liberally for their own wants and those of their young.

Estimating the age of the young Eagle at ten days, and allowing four
weeks for incubation, and at least one week’s interval between the
deposition and the commencement of the parent bird’s sitting upon it, we
have very nearly the exact period at which the egg was laid, March 13.

This occurred at the coldest period of the season, when the ground
was covered with snow to an unusual depth, and when the thermometer
indicated a temperature at that time frequently as low as 15° below

The nest is usually of great size, composed of sticks from three to five
feet in length, pieces of turf, weeds, and moss. Its diameter is about
five feet, and its depth is not unfrequently as great. In the warmer
localities, where it breeds, the pair usually frequent the same nest
throughout the year, and make it their permanent place of resort. This
is also true, probably, wherever this Eagle remains throughout the year.
Mr. T. H. Jackson, of West Chester, Pa., informs me that he met with
three fresh eggs of this species in Maryland, on the 11th of February,

The eggs are usually two, sometimes three or four, in number; they
are nearly spherical, equally rounded at either end, and more or less
granulated on their surface. Their color is a dull white, unspotted, but
often stained by incubation to a dirty white or a light soiled drab.
Two eggs in my collection present the following measurements: Length
3 inches, breadth 2.75; length 2.88 inches, breadth 2.80. The first
was obtained in New Jersey by Alexander Wilson, the ornithologist; the
latter by Dr. Trudeau, in Louisiana.

Another, taken from a nest in Texas by Dr. Heermann, measured 2.80
by 2.20 inches. A fourth, from Sitka, measures 2.75 by 2.25 inches.
These measurements, so far as they may be taken as typical, exhibit but
little variation in size between the most northern and the most southern

Several nests were met with and the eggs taken by Mr. MacFarlane near
Anderson River. They were generally built in high trees not far from
river-banks. In a few instances the parents made hostile demonstrations
when their nests were robbed, but generally kept at a safe distance,
uttering loud and discordant sounds. The nests were built of dry sticks
and decayed branches, and lined with deer’s hair, mosses, hay, and other
similar soft materials.

Mr. Dall was informed by the Indians that this species breeds among the
Alaskan mountains on inaccessible cliffs. This statement, however, may
have had reference to the Golden Eagle.

[Illustration: _Falco communis_ (Europe), p. 138.]


  _Cathartidæ_, GRAY, 1842.—HUXLEY, P. Z. S. 1867, p. 463. _Cathartinæ_,
  LAFR. 1839. _Sarcorhamphidæ_, GRAY, 1848. _Gryphinæ_, REICH. 1850.

The characters of this family have been given in sufficient detail (III,
1), so that a short diagnosis, showing its most readily observable
peculiarities, will here be sufficient.

CHAR. Whole head, and sometimes the neck, naked; eyes prominent, and not
shaded by a superciliary shield. Cere much elongated, much depressed
anteriorly below the very arched culmen; nostrils longitudinal,
horizontal, the two confluent or perforate. Middle toe very long, and
the hind one much abbreviated. A web between the base of the inner and
middle toes.

The family _Vulturidæ_,[94] as long recognized, included all the
naked-headed, carrion-feeding _Raptores_ of both the Old and the
New World. The later researches of science, however, have shown the
necessity of separating the Vultures of the latter continent from those
of the former, and ranking them as a distinct family, while at the same
time the Old World Vultures are found to be merely modified _Falconidæ_.
The resemblance between the _Cathartidæ_ and the vulturine _Falconidæ_
is merely a superficial one of analogy, and not one of affinity. Being
the scavengers of the countries they inhabit, the latter thus perform
the same office in nature as the former, and for adaptation to a similar
mode of life their external characters are modified to correspond.
Close, however, as is the external resemblance between the two groups,
their osteological structure and internal anatomy is entirely different.

The _Cathartidæ_ differ from the _Vulturinæ_[95] as to their external
structure in the following particulars, the osteological structure
being entirely different in the two groups, the latter being like the
_Falconidæ_ in all the characters which separate the latter family from
the _Cathartidæ_.

  =Cathartidæ.= Nostrils horizontal, perforate; a well-developed web
  between the inner and middle toes, at the base.

  =Vulturinæ.= Nostrils vertical, not perforate; no trace of web between
  inner and middle toes.

In habits, the _Cathartidæ_ resemble the vulturine _Falconidæ_ of the
Old World. “They lack the strength and spirit of typical _Raptores_,
and rarely attack animals capable of offering resistance; they are
voracious and indiscriminate gormandizers of carrion and animal refuse
of all sorts,—efficient and almost indispensable scavengers in the
warm countries where they abound. They are uncleanly in their mode of
feeding; the nature of their food renders them ill-scented, and when
disturbed they eject the fetid contents of the crop. Although not
truly gregarious, they assemble in multitudes where food is plenty,
and some species breed in communities. When gorged, they appear heavy
and indisposed to exertion, usually passing the period of digestion
motionless, in a listless attitude, with their wings half spread.
But they spend most of the time on wing, circling high in the air;
their flight is easy and graceful in the extreme, and capable of being
indefinitely protracted. On the ground, they habitually walk instead of
progressing by leaps. Possessing no vocal apparatus, the Vultures are
almost mute, emitting only a weak hissing sound.” (COUES.)

The _Cathartidæ_ all belong to the tropical and warm temperate portions
of the continent, only one species (_Rhinogryphus aura_) extending its
range as far as the border of the colder regions. The famous Condor
(_Sarcorhamphus gryphus_) of the Andes and the equally large California
species (_Pseudogryphus californianus_) are among the largest birds of
flight in the world, being exceeded in size by none, and rivalled but by
one or two of the Vultures of the Eastern Hemisphere.

The following diagnoses based upon the external structure are sufficient
to characterize the very well-marked genera and subgenera of this
family. The distinctive osteological characters which accompany these
external features afford still more decided differences, and are
illustrated by the figures.

[Illustration: _S. gryphus_, ♂, Chile. ¼ nat. size.]

[Illustration: _S. papa_, ♀, Mazatlan. ¼ nat. size.]

Genera and Subgenera.

  =A.= Crop naked. _Male_ with a fleshy crest, or lobe, attached to
  the top of the cere. Bill very robust and strong, its outlines very
  convex; cere much shorter than the head.

      1. =Sarcorhamphus.= Entire neck bare; nasal cavity entirely open;
      posterior claw very thick and strongly curved. Tail even.

        Sexes different, the female lacking any fleshy caruncles, or
        appendages, on the head and neck. Frontal lobe, or fleshy crest
        of male, extending from the anterior border of the cere to the
        middle of the crown; throat with a median wattle, or “dewlap”;
        side of the neck with a somewhat convoluted or twisted caruncle,
        extending from the side of the occiput obliquely downward,
        across the neck to near the lower extremity of the gular wattle;
        lower part of the foreneck with a pendent fleshy appendage.
        Plumage beginning below the neck by a crescentic ruff of soft
        white down, or cottony feathers, around the posterior portion.
        Primaries longer than the secondaries; front of the tibio-tarsal
        joint feathered …


        Sexes alike, the female possessing the caruncular appendages of
        the head as well as the male. Frontal lobe attached to only the
        middle portion of the cere, above the nostril; throat without
        a median wattle; side of the neck without any caruncles; no
        appendage on the foreneck; auricular region with longitudinal
        corrugations, and occiput densely haired. Plumage beginning
        below the neck by a ruff of broad, well-developed, normal
        feathers. Primaries not longer than the secondaries. Front of
        the tibio-tarsal joint naked …


  =B.= Crop feathered. Male without a fleshy crest, or other appendages,
  on the head. Bill less robust, variable as to strength, its outlines
  only moderately convex; cere nearly equal to the head in length. Sexes

    _a._ Entire neck bare; plumage commencing abruptly in a ruff of
    lanceolate, or penicillate feathers, these continued on the breast
    and abdomen. Head much elongated, the upper outline a slightly
    convex plane, the forehead depressed below the level of the very
    elevated dorsal outline of the cere. Posterior claw very thick and
    strongly curved.

      2. =Pseudogryphus.= Nostril occupying only the posterior third of
      the nasal orifice, its anterior end acute. Bill weak, the terminal
      hook only slightly developed, the mandibles broader than deep, the
      lower as deep as the upper. Head and neck without corrugations
      or caruncles. Tarsus slightly longer than the middle toe; fourth
      or fifth quill longest; extremities of the quills reaching to or
      beyond the end of the tail. Tail even. (_P. californianus._)

    _b._ Only the upper half, or less, of the neck bare; plumage
    commencing gradually with normal, broad feathers; feathers of breast
    and abdomen broad and normal. Head only moderately elongated, the
    upper outline irregular, the forehead elevated above the dorsal
    outline of the cere. Bill strong, the terminal hook well developed.
    Posterior claw weaker, less curved.

      3. =Rhinogryphus.= Nostril occupying the whole of the nasal
      cavity, its anterior end broadly rounded; cere as deep as broad,
      the upper and lower outlines divergent posteriorly, the former
      considerably arched; lower mandible much less deep than the upper.
      Skin of the neck without corrugations; a semicircular tuft of
      antrorse radiating bristles in front of the eye. Wing very long,
      the primaries reaching to or beyond the end of the tail. Tail much
      rounded. (_R. aura_ and _R. burrovianus_.)

      4. =Catharista.= Nostril occupying only the posterior half of
      the nasal cavity, its anterior end contracted and acute; cere
      depressed, much wider than deep, its upper and lower outlines
      parallel, the former not perceptibly arched; lower mandible as
      deep as the upper; skin of the neck transversely corrugated; no
      tuft of bristles in front of the eye. Wing short, the primaries
      reaching scarcely to the middle of the tail. Tail even, or
      slightly emarginate. (_C. atratus._)


  _Cathartes_, AUCT. (in part.)

GEN. CHAR. Size very large, and aspect vulturine. Head much elongated,
with regular outlines; the entire head and neck bare of feathers,
the skin faintly wrinkled, but free from corrugations or caruncles.
Nostril small, occupying only the posterior third, or less, of the nasal
orifice, its anterior end acute. Plumage beginning at the bottom of the
neck in a ruff of lanceolate, acuminate feathers, these continued over
the breast and abdomen. Wings very large, the primaries and secondaries
well developed, the former longest, and reaching to, or beyond, the end
of the tail; fourth or fifth quill longest; outer five with inner webs
appreciably sinuated. Tail even. Sexes alike.

[Illustration: _Pseudogryphus californianus._ ¼ nat. size.]

The single species composing this very distinct genus belongs to
Western North America, and, so far as known, has the most restricted
distribution of any large raptorial bird in the world. It is remarkable
for its very large size, all its dimensions nearly, if not quite,
equalling those of the famed Condor of the Andes (_Sarcorhamphus

Pseudogryphus californianus (SHAW).


  _Vultur californianus_, SHAW, Nat. Misc. IV, pl. ccci, 1797; Zoöl.
  VII, 10, 1809.—LATH. Syn. Supp. II, 3, 1802; Ind. Orn. Supp. 2; Gen.
  Hist. I, 7.—JAMES. (WILS.) Am. Orn. IV, 259, 1831.—DOUGL. Zoöl. Journ.
  IV, 328; Isis, 1831, 110.—REICH. Prakt. Nat. Vög. p. 18. _Cathartes
  californianus_, CUV. Règ. An. (ed. 2), I, 316, 1829.—BONAPARTE, Ann.
  Lyc. N. Y. II, 221; Isis, 1832, 1135; List, 1; Consp. Av. 9.—SWAINS.
  Classif. B. II, 206, 1837.—RANZ. Elem. di Zool. III, 23.—GRAY, Gen.
  B. sp. 3, pl. ii.—DE KAY, Zoöl. N. Y. II, 3, 1844.—NUTT. Man. I, 39,
  1833.—AUD. Birds Am. pl. ccccxxvi, 1831; Orn. Biog. V, 240; Synop. p.
  2, 1839.—BREW. (WILS.) Synop. p. 832, 1852.—PEALE, U. S. Expl. Exp.
  VIII, 58.—STRICKL. Orn. Syn. I, 3, 1855.—KAUP, Thierr. p. 229.—CASSIN,
  Birds N. Am. 1858, 5.—HEERM. P. R. R. Rept. II, 29, 1855.—NEWB.
  P. R. R. Rept. VI, 73, 1857.—COOP. & SUCK. XII, ii, 141, 1860.—COUES,
  Prod. Orn. Ariz. p. 6, 1866.—GRAY, Hand List, I, 3, 1869.—TAYLOR,
  Hutchins’s Cala. Mag. III, 1859, 537 (fig. of egg and young).—GURNEY,
  Cat. Rapt. B. 1864, 39.—SCLAT. P. Z. S. 1866, 366 (with fig. from
  life); 1868, 183 (fig. of young from life, same specimen).—COUES, Key,
  1872, 222. _Catharista californianus_, GRAY, List B. Brit. Mus. p. 4,
  1844. _Sarcorhamphus californicus_, STEPH. Zoöl. XIII, 6, 1815.—VIG.
  Zoöl. Journ. II, 375.—RICH. & SWAINS. F. B. A. II, 1, 1831.—LICHT.
  Orn. Calif. p. 8, pl. i. _Cathartes vulturinus_, TEMM. Pl. Col. 31,
  1820.—LESS. Man. Orn. VII, 10, 1828.

SP. CHAR. Wing, 30.00–35.00; tail, 15.00–18.00; culmen, about 1.50;
length of head, 6.50–7.00; tarsus, about 4.50–5.00; middle toe,
4.00–4.50; outer, 3.10; inner, 3.60; posterior, 1.10; middle claw
(longest), 1.50; posterior (shortest), 1.90. Total length, .45–.50;
extent of wings, about 9 or 10 feet.

_Adult._ Bill yellowish white; naked skin of the head and neck orange
and red; iris carmine (authors). General plumage dull black, the upper
surface with a faint bluish lustre, the feathers (excepting the primary
coverts, secondary coverts, and remiges) passing into dull brownish on
their margins, producing a squamate appearance. Scapulars and (more
appreciably) the secondaries and their coverts with a hoary grayish
cast, the latter white for most of their exposed portions (producing a
band across the wing), the white following the edges of the secondaries
nearly to their ends; primaries and tail-feathers, with their shafts,
uniform deep black. Whole lining of the wing (except the outer border)
and axillars pure white. Lower parts continuous dull carbonaceous-black,
the tips of the penicillate feathers with a hoary or chalky tinge. (No.
41,649, Monterey, California; Dr. C. A. Canfield. Wing, 32.00; tail,
15.00; culmen, 1.50; depth of bill, 1.20; length of head, 7.00; cere, on
top, 2.90; point of bill to anterior end of nostril, 2.50; tarsus, 5.00;
middle toe, 4.20.)

_Young._ Bill dusky; naked skin of the head and neck dusky, and more or
less covered with soft, grayish down. Plumage duller black, with the
white wholly absent. (No. 41,707, Monterey; C. A. Canfield. Measurements
as in the last.)

Localities: Fort Yuma (COUES, Pr. Ac. Nat. Sc. 1866, 42).

HAB. Pacific Coast region from mouth of the Colorado to the Columbia?
Southern Utah (HENSHAW).

HABITS. This large Vulture, so far as is known, is restricted to the
area on the Pacific Coast from the Columbia River to the Colorado,
and extending as far to the east as the Sierra Nevada. None are known
to have been taken in Mexico, and it very rarely goes north of the
Columbia. It is said to be most common in the hot interior valleys of
California, where are large herds of cattle, upon which it, to a large
extent, depends for its food. Dr. Cooper saw none on the Colorado,
and met with none east of the San Bernardino Mountains. Even at Fort
Mohave the cattle killed during the five months he resided there did not
attract one of these Vultures.

Dr. Cooper did not see these birds in any number along the sea-coast,
and has noticed none on the islands or in the highest Sierra Nevada.
Yet they are said, when other food is scarce, to feed on dead seals and
whales; but this fact he has never witnessed.

Dr. Newberry states that it was to him a pleasant portion of every day’s
experience, in his march through the Sacramento Valley, to watch the
graceful evolutions of this Vulture. In its colors the combination was
a pleasing one, while its flight was easy and effortless beyond that of
any other bird. Though a common bird in California, he found it much
more shy and difficult to shoot than its associate, the Turkey-Buzzard;
and it was never seen in such numbers or exhibiting such familiarity
as the smaller species which swarm, and are such efficient scavengers,
in our southern cities. After his party left the Sacramento Valley, he
saw very few in the Klamath Basin, and met with none within the limits
of Oregon. It is occasionally found there, but much more rarely than in

Dr. Newberry states that a fine specimen presented to Dr. Sterling on
his return to San Francisco ate freely of the meat given him, and was
for some time kept alive. It was, however, impatient of confinement,
and succeeded in tearing the cord that confined him from his legs, and
in making his escape. Dr. Cooper also saw one of these Vultures in
confinement, at Monterey, in the possession of Dr. Canfield. This was
a full-grown individual which he had raised from the nest. It had been
fed exclusively on fresh meat, had no offensive smell, and was clean
and shining. It was gentle and familiar, but seemed stupid, and dozed
most of the time on a fence. This was subsequently presented to the
Zoölogical Society of London, and formed the subject of our figure. The
figure of the young bird on the next page is taken from a photograph of
the same specimen at an early age.

[Illustration: _Pseudogryphus californianus._]

Dr. Heermann, in his Report on Lieutenant Williamson’s Survey, mentions
having observed this Vulture sailing majestically in wide circles at a
great height, and ranging by its powers of flight over an immense space
of country in search of food. Often when hunting in the Tejon Valley,
if unsuccessful, they would be several hours without seeing one of this
species; but as soon as they succeeded in bringing down any large game,
these birds would be seen rising above the horizon before the body
had grown cold, and slowly sweeping towards them, intent upon their
share of the game. In the absence of the hunter, unless well protected,
these marauders will be sure to drag out from its concealment the slain
animal, even though carefully covered with branches. Dr. Heermann states
that he has known them to drag out and devour a deer within an hour.
This Vulture possesses immense muscular power. Dr. Heermann has known
four of them to drag the body of a young grizzly bear, that weighed over
a hundred pounds, the distance of two hundred yards. Dr. Cooper states
that it visits the Columbia River in autumn, when its shores are lined
with great numbers of dead salmon, on which, in company with other birds
and various animals, it feasts for a couple of months. He considered
it, however, only a visitor at certain seasons, and not a resident even
through the summer. He did not see it, nor did he hear of its presence
at Puget Sound.

[Illustration: _Pseudogryphus californianus._]

It is stated by Douglas that these Vultures will in no instance attack
any living animal unless it be so severely wounded as to be unable
to walk. Their senses of sight and smell are very acute, especially
the former; and when searching for prey they soar to a very great
height, and if they chance to discover a wounded animal they immediately
follow and attack it whenever it sinks down. The first comers are soon
followed by others, and it is not long before the carcass is reduced
to a skeleton. After thus feeding, they remain for a while sluggish
and reluctant to move. At these times they perch on dead trees, with
their heads drawn down, and their wings drooping over their feet.
Except after feeding, or when protecting their nests, they are said to
be very wary, and are with great difficulty shot by the hunter. Their
flight is described as slow, steady, and graceful, and they glide along
with little or no perceptible motion of the wings, the tips of which
are curved upward in flying, in the manner of the Turkey-Buzzard. They
are said to appear most numerous and to soar the highest preceding
thunder-storms and tempests.

Dr. Townsend states that in their walk they resemble a Turkey strutting
over the ground with great dignity, but are clumsy and awkward when they
endeavor to hasten their movements. When they attempt to rise from the
ground they always hop several yards, in order to give an impetus to
their heavy body. Dr. Cooper discredits the statement of Mr. Taylor,
that this Vulture has been known to kill and carry off a hare in its
claws. These are straight and weak, and not adapted for such uses.

Dr. Heermann states that a nest of this bird with young was discovered
in a thicket on the Tuolumne River. It was about eight feet back from
the entrance of a crevice in the rocks, completely surrounded and
masked by thick underbrush and trees, and composed of a few loose
sticks thrown negligently together. He found two other nests, of a like
construction and similarly situated, at the head of Merced River and in
the mountains. From the latter the Indians were in the habit of yearly
robbing the young, to kill at one of their festivals.

Mr. Alexander S. Taylor, of Monterey, published a series of papers
in a California journal relative to this Vulture. In one of these
he mentions that a Mexican _ranchero_, in hunting among the highest
peaks of the Santa Lucia range, disturbed two pairs of them from their
nesting-places, and brought away from one a young bird a few days old,
and from the other an egg. There was no nest, the eggs having been laid
in the hollow of a tall old robles-oak, in a steep _barranca_, near the
summit of one of the highest peaks. These birds are said by some hunters
to make no nest, but simply lay their eggs on the ground at the foot of
old trees or on the bare rocks of solitary peaks. Others affirm that
they sometimes lay their eggs in old nests of Eagles and Buzzards. Mr.
Taylor states that the egg weighed 10.50 ounces, the contents weighing
8.75. The egg was of a dead dull white color, the surface of the shell
slightly roughened. It was nearly a perfect ellipse in shape, and
measured 4.50 inches in length by 2.38 in diameter. The egg-shell held
nine fluid ounces of water. The young Vulture weighed ten ounces. His
skin was of an ocreous-yellow, covered with a fine down of a dull white.

Dr. Canfield informed Dr. Cooper that he has seen as many as one hundred
and fifty of these birds at one time and place in the vicinity of
antelopes he had killed, and noticed that they invariably sighted
their prey. They are often killed by feeding on animals that have been
poisoned with strychnine. They are not feared by the _rancheros_, yet
Dr. Canfield has known a number to attack a young calf, separate it from
its mother, and kill it. A _vaquero_ having killed a large grizzly bear,
left it on the plains near the sea-shore, to return to the house, about
three miles distant, for assistance. On his return, after an absence
of about two hours, a flock of these Vultures had cleaned the entire
carcass, leaving only the skin and the skeleton. This Vulture and the
Turkey-Buzzard often feed together over the same carcass, and generally
do some fighting together. Many of them nest in the high mountains east
and south of the Carmelo Valley, and also near Santa Cruz, as well as in
the Santa Lucia range, and are found there throughout the year, but in
greater numbers from July to November.

An egg of this species, in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution
(9,983), from San Rafael, California, obtained by Dr. C. A. Canfield,
measures 4.40 inches in length by 2.50 in breadth. It is of an
elongate-oval shape, but is decidedly more pointed at the smaller than
at the larger end. In color it is of a uniform pale greenish-blue,
almost an ashy greenish-white, and without spots.


  _Cathartes_, AUCT. (in part). (Type, _Vultur aura_, L.)

GEN. CHAR. Size medium (about equal to _Neophron_), the wings and tail
well developed, the remiges very long and large. Head and upper portion
of the neck naked; the skin smooth, or merely wrinkled; a semicircular
patch of antrorse bristles before the eye. Nostril very large, with
both ends broadly rounded, occupying the whole of the nasal orifice.
Cere contracted anteriorly, and as deep as broad; lower mandible not so
deep as the upper. Plumage beginning gradually on the neck, with broad,
rounded, normal feathers. Ends of primaries reaching beyond the end of
the tail; third or fourth quill longest; outer five with inner webs
appreciably sinuated. Tail much rounded; middle toe slightly longer than
the tarsus. Sexes alike.

[Illustration: _R. aura._ ¼ nat. size.]

[Illustration: _R. aura._ (¼.)]

[Illustration: _R. burrovianus._ (¼.)]

[Illustration: _Neophron percnopterus._ (¼.)]

[Illustration: _Rhinogryphus aura._ (¼.)]

The species of this genus are only two in number, one of them (_aura_)
extending over the whole of America, with the exception of the colder
portions; the other (_burrovianus_) confined to the eastern tropical
region. They may be distinguished as follows:—


  COMMON CHARACTERS. General plumage nearly uniform blackish; no white.
  _Adult._ Bill white; head reddish. _Young._ Bill and head dusky, or

    1. =R. aura.= Upper half of the neck bare all round. Feathers of the
    upper surface with brown borders. Wing, 20.00–23.00; tail, about
    12.00. _Hab._ Entire continent and islands of America, except the
    colder portions.

    2. =R. burrovianus.=[98] Only the head and throat naked, the
    feathers of the neck extending up to the occiput. Feathers of the
    upper surface without brown borders. Wing, 18.00–18.50; tail, 9.00.
    _Hab._ Eastern Tropical America (Brazil; Eastern Mexico??).

Rhinogryphus aura (LINN.).


  _Vultur aura_, LINN. Syst. Nat. 122, 1766.—GMEL. Syst. Nat. 246,
  1789.—LATH. Syn. I, 9; Syn. Supp. I, 2; Ind. Orn. 4.—Gen. Hist. I, 12,
  pl. iii.—PENN. Arct. Zoöl. I, 221.—BART. Trav. Carol. p. 285.—VIEILL.
  Ois. Am. Sept. pl. ii.—ORD (WILS.) Am. Orn. pl. lxxv, f. 1.—AUD.
  Edin. New. Phil. Journ. II, 172.—DARW. Journ. Res. p. 68.—WAGL. Isis,
  1831, 517.—SHAW, Zoöl. VII, 36.—SELLS, Proc. Zoöl. Soc. pt. v, p. 33;
  Mag. Nat. Ser. 2, I, 638.—LEDRU, Voy. Ténérif. Trinit. etc. II, 264.
  _Cathartes aura_, ILLIG. Prod. Syst. 236, 1811.—CUV. Règ. An. (ed. 1),
  308; (ed. 2) I, 317.—SPIX, Av. Bras. I, 2.—VIG. Zoöl. Journ.—LESS.
  Man. Orn. I, 73; Tr. Orn. p. 28.—BONAP. Ann. Lyc. N. Y. II, 23; Isis,
  1832, p. 1135; List Eur. & N. Am. B. p. 1.—RICH. & SWAINS. F. B. A.
  II, 4.—JARD. (WILS.) Am. Orn. I, 3; IV, 245.—BREWER (WILS.) Synop.
  p. 682.—IB. N. A. Oölogy.—AUD. Birds Am. pl. cli; Orn. Biog. II,
  339; Synop. Birds Am. p. 2.—NUTT. Man. I, 43.—SWAINS. Classif. B.
  II, 205.—DARW. Zool. Beag. pt. iii, p. 8.—GRAY, Gen. B. fol. sp. 2;
  List B. Brit. Mus. p. 3; List Gen. & Subgen. Brit. Mus. p. 2.—DE
  KAY, Zoöl. N. Y. II, 2, pl. v, f. 12.—GOSSE, Birds Jam. 1.—PEALE,
  U. S. Expl. Exp. VIII, 58.—REICHENB. Prakt. Nat. Vög. p. 26.—KERR,
  Transl. Gmel. II, 472.—MAX. Beit. III, 64.—RICH. (SCHOMB.) Faun. Brit.
  Guiana, p. 742.—CAB. (TSCHUDI) Av. Consp. Wieg. Archiv, 1844, 262;
  Faun. Per. Orn. p. 71.—D’ORB. Synop. Av. Mag. Zoöl. p. 2; Voy. Am.
  Merid. Ois. p. 38 (R. Sagra); Hist. Nat. Cuba Ois. p. 4.—LICHT. Verz.
  Doubl. p. 63.—HARTL. Syst. Ind. Azar. Pax. p. 1.—MAX. Cab. Journ. VI,
  1858, 2.—GURNEY, Cat. Rapt. B. 1864, 42.—DRESSER, Ibis, 1865, 322
  (Texas).—COUES, Key, 1872, 222. _Percnopterus aura_, STEPH. Zoöl.
  XIII, pt. ii, p. 7, 1826. _Vultur iota_, MOLIN. St. Chil. p. 265,
  1782.—GMEL. Syst. Nat. p. 247.—DAUD. Tr. Orn. II, 20.—LATH. Gen. Hist.
  I, 15. _Cathartes iota_, BRIDG. Proc. Zoöl. Soc. pl. ii, p. 108; Ann.
  Nat. Hist. XIII, 498. _Cathartes ruficollis_, SPIX, Av. Bras. I, 2,
  1824 (quote Catesby, pl. vi). _Cathartes falklandicus_, SHARPE, Ann. &
  Mag. N. H.

SP. CHAR. Length, about 27.00–30.00; extent of wings, about 6 feet;
weight, 4–5 pounds. Wing, 20.00–23.00; tail, 11.00–12.00. Culmen, about
1.00; tarsus, 2.25–2.30; middle toe, 2.50; outer, 1.55; inner, 1.25;
posterior, .80. Iris umber; tarsi and toes dirty whitish, tinged with
yellow or flesh-color.

_Adult._ Bill chalk-white; naked skin of the head and neck livid
crimson, approaching dilute carmine on the cere, and sometimes with
whitish papillæ on the crown and before the eye. General plumage black,
this deepest and uniform on the lower parts; upper parts with a violet
lustre, changing to greenish posteriorly, all the feathers of the dorsal
region and the wing-coverts passing into brown on its borders. Primaries
and tail-feathers dull black, their shafts clear pale brown. ♂ (No.
12,015, Maryland; M. F. Force). Wing, 22.00; tail, 12.00; culmen, .95;
tarsus, 2.30; middle toe, 2.50; outer, 1.55; inner, 1.25; posterior,
.30. ♀ (No. 49,681, Camp Grant, Arizona; Dr. E. Palmer). Wing, 20.00;
tail, 11.50.

_Young._ Bill, and naked skin of the head and neck, livid blackish,
the occiput and nape with more or less of whitish down. Plumage more
uniformly blackish, the brownish borders above less distinct; the
reflections of the plumage rather green than violaceous.

HAB. Whole of Temperate America; resident to lat. 38° north.

Localities: Guatemala (SCL. Ibis, I, 213); Cuba? (CAB. Journ. II, lxxix;
GUNDLACH, resident); Bahamas (BRYANT, Pr. Bost. Soc. 1859); Jamaica
(GOSSE); Ecuador (SCL. Pr. Z. S. 1860, 287); Honduras (SCL. Ibis, II,
222); Trinidad (TAYLOR, Ibis, 1864, 78); S. Texas (DRESSER, Ibis, 1865,
322, breeding); Arizona (COUES, Prod. 1866, 42); Para (SCL. & SALV.
1867, 589).

After having compared numerous specimens of this species from all
parts of its range, including Chile, Patagonia, Terra del Fuego, the
West India Islands, and all portions of Middle America and the United
States, I am unable to appreciate differences according to locality,
and cannot recognize any geographical races. As a rule, the specimens
from intertropical regions, as might be expected, are the smallest and
most brightly colored. The smallest in the series are those from Lower

HABITS. Probably none of the birds of America have so extended a
distribution as this Vulture, occurring, as it does, in greater or
less abundance from high northern latitudes at the Saskatchewan,
throughout North America from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and in all
portions of South America, even to the Straits of Magellan. On the
Atlantic coast it is not common north of Central New Jersey, though
occasionally individuals have been seen as far north as New Brunswick
and Nova Scotia. Several specimens have been taken in various parts of
New England, from Calais, Me., to Connecticut. Mr. Lawrence cites it
as of rare and irregular occurrence near New York. In one instance he
noticed a company of nine individuals at Rockaway, Long Island. West
of the Alleghanies it has a much less restricted distribution, from
Central America almost to the Arctic regions. It is found more or less
frequently in all the Middle, the Southern, Western, and Northwestern
States, without an exception. It is met with in large numbers throughout
the entire Pacific coast of North America, from Lower California to
Washington Territory. Mr. Douglas saw vast numbers of this species in
Canada, near Sandwich and Lake St. Clair, during their breeding-season.
Dr. Richardson speaks of their having higher summer migrations in the
interior of the continent than on the Pacific coast, finding it along
the banks of the Saskatchewan, in latitude 55°, late in the month of
June. Mr. Say met with them in latitude 59°, and Lewis and Clarke
noticed them near the Falls of the Columbia River, in latitude 48°. Mr.
Blakiston states that an individual was shot at the Red River Settlement
as early as April 27, while the winter’s snow was still covering the
ground to the depth of a foot and the rivers were ice-bound. He also
observed it at Fort Carlton, in latitude 53°, on the 7th of May, and
again, on the 2d of September, in latitude 49°.

Mr. T. H. Jackson, of West Chester, Pa., informs me that this Vulture
has been known to breed at Parkersburg, fifteen miles west of the
former place, in the summer of 1870, and that they also breed rather
plentifully on the banks of the Susquehanna, laying their eggs, two in
number, in caves among the rocks, as early as the 10th of April, and
that some remain in that vicinity all winter.

[Illustration: _Rhinogryphus aura._]

Dr. Cooper mentions their great abundance during the summer in all
parts of Washington Territory, frequenting the vicinity of prairies and
river-banks, but never appearing along the coast. They arrive at Puget
Sound about the middle of May, and undoubtedly breed in the Territory.
Dr. Suckley met with them at Fort Dalles, in Oregon, and also on Puget
Sound. He also met with them not far from Pembina. Dr. Newberry also
observed them in California and Oregon, quite common in the vicinity of
the towns and about the great rivers. In the Klamath Basin it was more
rare, and on the Des Chutes he scarcely saw any; but on the Columbia,
especially below the Cascades, they were very plentiful.

Dr. Heermann found this bird ranging over the whole extent of
California, meeting them in great numbers in the vicinity of Fort Yuma,
at the junction of the Colorado and Gila Rivers.

In the West India Islands these birds occur in Cuba, Jamaica, and
Trinidad; but according to Mr. E. C. Taylor, neither this nor any other
species of Vulture occurs in any of the islands between Trinidad and
St. Thomas, not even in Tobago or Porto Rico. At Trinidad they are very

Mr. G. C. Taylor found this Vulture common in Honduras, where, however,
it does not go much into the towns and villages, but is usually seen on
the outskirts and in the forests. In Guatemala, Mr. Salvin found it not
nearly so abundant as _C. atratus_, and there also, as in Honduras, it
frequented the more uncultivated and forest districts, leaving to the
latter all the duties of the scavenger. Captain C. C. Abbott found this
Vulture very common in the Falkland Islands, remaining the whole year
round, and breeding.

The flight of the Turkey-Buzzard is graceful, dignified, and easy. It
sails with a steady, even motion, with wings just above the horizontal
position, with their tips slightly raised. They rise from the ground
with a single bound, give a few flaps to their wings, and then proceed
with their peculiar, soaring flight. They rise very high in the air,
moving round in large circles. They are of gregarious habits, and
usually associate in companies of from ten to a much larger number.
They feed upon all kinds of animal food, and are accused by Audubon of
sucking eggs and devouring the young of Herons and other birds. Yet
in Trinidad they were observed by Mr. E. C. Taylor associating with
the poultry apparently upon the most amicable terms, and, although
surrounded with chickens of all sizes, they were never known to molest
them. Mr. Audubon also states that they devour birds of their own
species when dead. They are said to walk well on the ground and on
the roofs of houses, and associate and even roost in company with the
Black Vulture. Dr. Heermann, who observed them on the desert between
the Colorado and Carissa Creek, where they find an ample supply of food
from numerous animals that there perish from want of grass and water,
states that they seemed to be on terms of amity both with the Ravens
and the California Vultures, but retire on the approach of the prairie
wolf. He adds that when a company of these Vultures have once commenced
upon a carcass, a scene of plunder, noise, confusion, and dispute
ensues, baffling all description. Each one strives, as best he may, to
bolt the morsel he has seized, or to rob his neighbor whose booty is
too voluminous to be despatched at once. As illustrating the peculiar
flight of this species, Dr. Newberry mentions that, having occasion to
shoot one for the purpose of determining its identity, the wounded bird
made no motion indicating it had been struck by the shot, but sailed
on with widely expanded and motionless wings as before; gradually it
“began to descend in wide and regular circles, till finally, without
a wing-flap, it settled as lightly as a feather on the prairie, and
remained motionless.” Upon going to the bird, Dr. Newberry found it
resting in the grass, the wings still widely and evenly expanded, but
the head drooping and life extinct.

In the Southern States this Vulture is found equally in cities and
large villages, and near the coast, as well as in the interior, in
company with the Black Vulture (_C. atratus_), although the latter
species is chiefly confined to the coast, and is rare in the interior.
It is noticeable that in Guatemala and Honduras its habits are somewhat
different in these respects, being only found in wild places, leaving
the cities and sea-coast to the exclusive occupancy of the Black
Vulture. Mr. G. C. Taylor, who observed these birds in Kingston,
Jamaica, states that they were the only species seen, and that they were
always to be found either on the roofs of the houses or feeding on the
carrion in the streets. They made great noise with their feet as they
clattered over the shingles of the roofs.

In Trinidad, where Mr. E. C. Taylor found this bird much less numerous
than the _atratus_, it kept to the open country, and was not found in
the towns. He could always readily distinguish it by its more graceful
flight and its aquiline appearance. They were generally to be seen
skimming over the tree-tops, as if trying how near they could go without
touching. On the Orinoco, though more numerous than in Trinidad, they
did not frequent the towns in the same familiar manner with the Black

The Turkey-Buzzards, as well as the Black Vultures, are evidently
aided by a very powerful sight in distinguishing their food at a great
distance. They are frequently known to collect in large numbers, from
great distances, around the dead bodies of animals, where none were in
sight before. But it seems equally certain that they are also assisted
by an only less powerful sense of smell. Mr. Hill, cited by Mr. Gosse,
mentions a remarkable instance where these Vultures were attracted by a
strong smell of carrion to the house of a German emigrant, lying sick
of a fever, and where his neglected food had become offensive. In this
instance the sense of smell, unaided by that of sight, must have guided
these birds.

Mr. G. C. Taylor, while residing at Kingston, often used to puzzle the
Vultures by throwing dried bird-skins stuffed with cotton out upon an
adjacent roof. Few seconds would elapse before a Vulture would pounce
upon them, and manifest a great disappointment in finding nothing to eat
in skins of so promising an appearance. He once wrapped the carcass of a
bird in a piece of paper, and threw it into the top of a thickly leaved
tree near his window. There it remained for a long while, the Vultures
sweeping within a few feet of it, almost brushing the leaves with their
wings, their sense of smell informing them that there was something
eatable close by, but their sight failing to solve the problem, owing to
the enclosure of the object in an envelope.

The Turkey-Buzzard breeds on or near the ground, usually in hollow
trees, stumps, or decaying logs. It generally constructs no nest,
depositing the eggs with little or no preparatory pains for their
shelter. Mr. Ord found them breeding as early as the month of May in the
deep recesses of the solitary swamps of New Jersey. He describes the
nest as formed, without any painstaking, in a truncated hollow tree, and
in excavated stumps or logs, and mentions the number of eggs as from
two to four. Except in regard to the number of eggs, which is probably
never more than two, these observations substantially correspond with
other accounts of their breeding. In Jamaica, Mr. Gosse mentions that
the situations usually selected by the Turkey-Buzzard of that island for
laying and hatching its eggs are hollows and ledges of rocks in secluded
places or inaccessible crags and cliffs. A little dry trash, he adds,
or decaying leaves, are all the apology for a nest. On the island of
Galveston, where this Vulture was plentiful, Mr. Audubon several times
found its nest on a level part of the salt marshes, either under the
widespread branches of cactuses, or among tall grass growing beneath low
bushes. Mr. T. H. Jackson found this Vulture nesting in Maryland, with
fresh eggs, from April 10 to May 1.

Dr. C. Kollock, of Cheraw, S. C., informs me that in his neighborhood
both this species and the Black Vulture frequent places in the interior
of swamps and thick woods, generally called Buzzards’ roosts. They
congregate there through the year in large numbers, and usually breed in
the immediate vicinity. Mr. Audubon visited one of these roosts, near
Charleston, S. C., which extended over two acres of ground, and was
entirely destitute of vegetation.

Mr. Dresser, who found this species one of the most common birds of
Southern Texas, gives a somewhat different account of their nesting.
He found them breeding all through the country on the banks of streams
where the timber afforded a secure shelter. He saw many nests on the
banks of the Medina, Altacosta, and San Antonio Rivers; and these, he
states, were large and bulky, composed of sticks, and generally placed
at some height on a cypress or an oak near the river-bank.

Captain C. C. Abbott states (Ibis, 1861, p. 149) that in the Falkland
Islands they lay their eggs, two in number, but sometimes three, under
a high bank amongst bushes, or on the top of a dead balsam log, without
constructing any nest. The time of their laying was the first week of
November. The young birds have the bare space of the head and neck of
a bluish color, as also the feet. The old birds go in pairs the whole

The eggs exhibit slight deviations in size, and occasionally the
nature of their markings, yet for the most part preserve specific
characteristics. The following are the proportions of four specimens,
which will represent their usual variations: 2.81 inches by 1.94; 2.75
by 1.87; 2.94 by 1.87; 2.62 by 1.94. These were from New Jersey, South
Carolina, Louisiana, and Tamaulipas (Mexico). The more common varieties
have a ground of a light cream-color, marked with large confluent spots
of reddish-brown or chocolate, chiefly predominating at the larger
end, but also sparsely scattered over the entire egg. Intermixed with
these are less frequent markings of a light purplish or lilac shade of
drab. These are often so faint as only to be perceptible on a close
examination. An egg taken some years since in New Jersey, by Alexander
Wilson, and somewhat faded, is marked over the entire shell with
confluent spots of a dark greenish-brown, with no perceptible shades
of red or purple. Another variety from Cheraw, S. C., has a ground of
nearly pure white, is very nearly unspotted, and is only marked with a
few small dots and lines of red and indistinct purple at the larger end.


  _Catharista_, VIEILL. 1816. (Type, _Vultur atratus_, BARTRAM.)
  _Coragypys_, I. GEOFFROY, 1854.
  _Cathartes_, AUCT. (in part).

GEN. CHAR. Size of _Rhinogryphus_, but more robust, with shorter wings,
and very different flight. Wings with the remiges abbreviated, the
primaries scarcely reaching to the middle of the tail. Tail even, or
faintly emarginated. Head and upper portion of the neck naked, the
feathers extending farther up behind than in front; naked skin of the
side of the neck transversely corrugated; no bristles before the eye.
Nostril narrow, occupying only about the posterior half of the nasal
orifice, its anterior end contracted and acute. Cere not contracted
anteriorly, but the upper and lower outline parallel; much depressed, or
broader than deep. Plumage beginning gradually on the neck with normal,
or broad and rounded, feathers. Fourth or fifth quill longest; outer
five with inner webs sinuated. Tarsus longer than middle toe.

[Illustration: _Catharista atrata._ ¼ nat. size.]

This well-marked genus is composed of a single species, which is
confined to the tropical and warm temperate portions of America. The
difference from the other Vultures which this bird exhibits in its
habits, and especially in its flight, is very striking, and furnishes
additional characters distinctive of the genus.

Catharista atrata (BARTRAM).


  _Vultur atratus_, BARTRAM, Trav. Carol. 285, 1792.—MEYER, Zool. Ann.
  I, 290.—ORD (WILS.) Am. Orn. pl. lxxv, f. 2.—AUD. Birds Am. pl.
  cvi.—BREWST. Ed. Journ. Sc. Ser. 1, VI, 156. _Cathartes atratus_,
  LESS. Man. Orn. I, 73, 1828.—RICH. & SWAINS. F. B. A. II, 6,
  1831.—DARW. Journ. Res. p. 68; Zool. Beag. pt. iii, p. 7.—SWAINS.
  Classif. B. II, 206.—JAMES. (WILS.) Am. Orn. I, 10.—BREWER (WILS.) Am.
  Orn. Synop. Birds Am. p. 682.—IB. N. A. Oölogy.—AUD. Synop. Birds Am.
  p. 3.—BRIDG. Proc. Zoöl. Soc. pt. xi, p. 108; Am. Nat. Hist. XIII,
  498.—BONAP. Consp. p. 9.—DE KAY, Zoöl. N. Y. II, 3.—REICH. Prakt.
  Nat. Vög. p. 27.—CASS. Bird N. Am. 1858, 5.—COUES, Key, 1872, 222.
  _Catharista atratus_, GRAY, Hand List, I, 1869, 3, No. 16. _Vultur
  aura niger_ β, KERR, Transl. Gmel. 473, 1792. _Vultur aura_ (not of
  Linn.!), DAUD. Tr. Orn. II, 19 (quotes Pl. Enl. 187, 1800). _Vultur
  urubu_, VIEILL. Ois. Am. Sept. pl. ii, 1807.—LATH. Gen. Hist. I, 14.
  _Cathartes urubu_, LESS. Tr. Orn. p. 27, 1831.—D’ORB. Voy. Am. Mérid.
  Ois. p. 31, pl. i. _Percnopterus urubu_, STEPH. Zoöl. XIII, 7, pl.
  xxxi, 1826. _Vultur iota_, JARD. (WILS.) Am. Orn. III, 226, 1832.—ORD
  (WILS.) Am. Orn. (ed. 2). _Neophron iota_, CUV. Règ. An. (ed. 2),
  I, 317, 1829. _Cathartes iota_, BONAP. Ann. Lyc. N. B. p. 23; Isis,
  1832, p. 1135; List, p. 1.—KING, Voy. Beag. I, 532.—NUTT. MAN. I,
  46.—PEALE, U. S. Expl. Exp. VIII, 59. _Cathartes fœtens_, ILLIG. Mus.
  Berol.—LICHT. Verz. Doubl. p. 63, 1823.—GRAY, Gen. B. sp. 1, pl. i, f.
  3.—MAX. Beitr. III, 58.—RICH. SCHOMB. Faun. Brit. Guian. p. 742.—CAB.
  Av. Consp. Wieg. Archiv, 1844, 262; Faun. Per. Orn. p. 71.—HARTL.
  Syst. Ind. Azar. p. 1.

SP. CHAR. Form heavy; the wings and tail short, the latter square; the
remiges and rectrices very hard and stiff. Bill strong, the mandibles
broader than deep, and of about equal depth, the terminal hook well
developed; upper and lower outlines of the cere parallel, and nearly
straight. Nostril narrow, its anterior end contracted and pointed. Wing,
17.00–17.50; tail, 7.50–8.50; culmen, .90–.95; tarsus, 3.00; middle toe,
2.90; outer, 1.90; inner, 1.50; posterior, .75.

_Adult._ Bill blackish, the point horny white; naked skin of the
head and upper part of the neck blackish. Entire plumage continuous,
perfectly uniform dull black; primaries becoming grayish basally (more
hoary whitish on their under surface), their shafts pure white for their
whole length.

♂ (11933, St. Simon’s Island, Georgia; Dr. Wilson). Wing, 17.50; tail,

HAB. Tropical and warmer portions of America, especially near the

HABITS. The Black Vulture or Carrion Crow of the Southern States, though
found in a much less extended area than the Turkey Vulture, has yet a
very wide distribution. It is quite common along our Atlantic and Gulf
coasts from North Carolina to Mexico. It does not occur on the Pacific
coast of the United States, though given by Douglas as being abundant
on the Columbia River; indeed, it has not, that I am aware of, been
detected west of the Rocky Mountains. It is, however, as Dr. Gambel
states, very common about the Gulf of California, and at Mazatlan,
particularly, he saw it around the town in large companies. On the
Atlantic coast it is not often met with farther north than Wilmington,
N. C. I could not detect it near Norfolk, Va., nor could I ascertain
that it was known ever to occur there. Accidental specimens have been
taken, two on the coast of Massachusetts and one in the Bay of Fundy;
but such occurrences are very rare. Along the coast of all the Southern
States, from North Carolina to Texas, it is much more abundant than
its kindred species, even where, in the interior of the same State,
it is far less frequent. Along the banks of the Mississippi and its
tributaries, as far as Ohio to the east and Illinois to the north, it
is found more or less abundantly at certain seasons. It is met with
in several of the West India Islands, though rare in Jamaica. It is
abundant throughout Central America, and occurs in nearly all parts of
South America. Specimens were brought from Chile by Lieutenant Gilliss,
obtained near Santiago, where it was not common, and only found in the
mountainous regions of the interior. Darwin fixes its extreme southern
limit in latitude 41° south, near the Rio Negro, and he did not meet
with any in Chile or Patagonia.

Mr. E. C. Taylor, in his paper on the Birds of the West Indies, mentions
the great abundance of Black Vultures at Port of Spain, in Trinidad.
They swarmed over the town, covered the roofs of the houses, and lived
on the best terms with the poultry. So tame and familiar were they that
he often poked them with his stick or umbrella as he walked through the
streets. At night they roosted in the trees in the gardens and squares
of the town. They were very abundant all over Trinidad and in the parts
of Venezuela he visited, but he found none in any of the islands from
Trinidad to St. Thomas. This species was not found in Jamaica by Mr.
Gosse, but Mr. March afterwards reported it as a “recent settler.”

[Illustration: _Catharista atrata._]

Mr. G. C. Taylor (Ibis, 1860, p. 22) found the Black Vulture very
abundant in Honduras, where it is always to be seen in the villages,
sitting on the roofs of the houses, wheeling in flocks high in the air,
or feeding on the offal in the streets. They were very tame and very
numerous, forty or fifty being frequently seen in a single company. They
abounded in all parts of Central America that he visited.

With the exception of _Quiscalus macrurus_, Mr. Salvin regards this
species as the most familiar bird in Guatemala. At night they retired to
the forests, and in the early morning trooped back to their posts in the
streets and lanes, and about the tops of the houses and churches. They
generally nested in the forests, though in Antigua Guatemala they were
said to use the ruins of the old churches for that purpose.

Mr. Dresser found this Vulture about equally common with the _R.
aura_ on the Lower Rio Grande, but much less common near San Antonio.
He usually found the two species in company, attended also by the
_Polyborus auduboni_ and _Craxirex harrisi_. They were found breeding
among the rocks at Systerdale, where they were said to be the only
species found.

Dr. Coues did not meet with any in Arizona, nor were any taken on the
survey of the Mexican boundary. In South Carolina he considered it
chiefly confined to the lower country, while the _C. aura_ is more
generally distributed over the State. The two meet together freely, and
as they circle about in each other’s company they afford an excellent
opportunity of noticing the great differences in their mode of flight
and in the outline of their bodies and wings. On the other hand, Wilson,
Ord, and others deny that the two kinds live together.

In the Southern Atlantic cities, especially Charleston and Savannah, the
Black Vulture is a semi-domestic bird, and is very abundant. It is also
to be found in the interior, but is neither so common nor so tame.

The _Catharista atratus_ is said to be much more sensitive to cold
than the _aura_, and when the weather is at all unfavorable they cower
around the tops of chimneys to enjoy the heat. Though tolerated and even
protected by law, their filthy habits render them a source of annoyance
to those whose houses they frequent. Their value as scavengers and
the services they render in the removal of offal render them almost a
necessity in Southern cities.

Both in their mode of flight and in their movements upon the ground
this species differs materially from the Turkey-Buzzard. The latter
walks steadily while on the ground, and when it mounts does so by a
single upward spring. The Black Vulture is ill at ease on the ground,
moves awkwardly, and when it essays to fly upward takes several leaps
in a shuffling sidelong manner before it can rise. Their flight is more
labored, and is continued by flapping several times, alternating with
sailing a limited distance. Their wings are held at right angles, and
their feet protrude beyond their tail-feathers. In all these respects
the differences between the two birds are very noticeable, and plainly
mark the species.

Mr. Audubon states that at the commencement of the mating-season, early
in February, the gesticulations of the males are very conspicuous. They
strut in the manner of a Turkey-cock, open their wings, lower their
heads, and utter a puffing sound that is anything but musical.

Alexander Wilson describes with great minuteness a scene he witnessed
near Charleston, where the carcass of a horse was devoured by these
birds, the ground for hundreds of yards around being black with them.
He counted at one time two hundred and thirty-seven, while others
were in the air flying around. He ventured within a few yards of the
horse without their heeding his presence. They frequently attacked
one another, fighting with their claws and striking with their open
wings, fixing their claws in each other’s head. They made a hissing
sound with open mouths, resembling that produced by thrusting a red-hot
poker into water, and occasionally a snuffling noise, as if clearing
their nostrils. At times one would emerge with a large fragment, and in
a moment would be surrounded by several others, who would tear it in
pieces and soon cause it to disappear.

The Black Vulture breeds on or near the ground in the same manner as the
Turkey-Buzzard, in hollow logs, decayed trunks of trees, and stumps,
and also without this protection, the bare earth only being made use
of. It is said to make no nest. The eggs seldom, if ever, exceed two
in number. These are greater, both in their length and capacity, than
those of the Turkey-Buzzard, although the measurements of the birds
themselves would seem to show the latter to be apparently the larger
bird. The average weight of the Black Vulture’s egg, however, is about
one pound, or fifteen per cent greater than that of the Buzzard.
Three from Charleston, Galveston, and the Rio Grande furnish the
following measurements: 3.81 inches by 1.94; 3 by 2.06; 3.06 by 1.94.
The principal difference between the eggs of this and the preceding
species is in regard to their size. Their ground-color is the same, or
nearly the same,—a yellowish-white or cream-color, almost never a pure
white, and only in exceptional cases. The eggs are more elongate in
their shape, and the blotches are usually larger. These are of a dark
reddish-brown, confluent, and chiefly distributed around the larger
end. There are also markings, smaller and less frequent, of lilac and
purplish-drab, similar to those noticed in the eggs of _C. aura_. An
egg from the Rio Grande is marked with small spots of reddish-brown and
obscure lilac, equally distributed over the whole surface on a ground of

Mr. Audubon is positive that this Vulture never breeds in trees, and
that they never build any nest, but deposit their eggs on the ground,
on a dead log, or in a hollow tree. Twenty-one days are required for
hatching their eggs, on which the male and female sit by turns and feed
each other. The young are covered with a light cream-colored down, and
are fed with regurgitated food, in the manner of Pigeons. As soon as
they are able, they follow their parents through the woods, at which
period their entire head and neck, which afterwards become bare, are
covered with feathers.


The following figures are given to illustrate some of the cranial and
sternal peculiarities of the _Cathartidæ_.


    14. Sarcorhamphus gryphus. One half natural size.
  3369. Pseudogryphus californianus. One half natural size.
  7260. Rhinogryphus aura. One half natural size.
  1588. Catharista atrata. One half natural size.]


    14. Sarcorhamphus gryphus. Skull and palatine bones. One half
        natural size.

  1588. Catharista atrata. Skull and palatine bones. One half natural

  3369. Pseudogryphus californianus. Skull and palatine bones. One half
        natural size. Sternum, 3369. One fourth natural size.

   260. Rhinogryphus aura. Skull and palatine bones. One half natural
        size. Sternum, 9007. One fourth natural size.

  9007. Sarcorhamphus papa. Skull and palatine bones. One half natural


CHAR. The basal portion of the bill covered by a soft skin, in which
are situated the nostrils, overhung by an incumbent fleshy valve, the
apical portion hard and convex. The hind toe on the same level with the
rest; the anterior toes without membrane at the base. Tarsi more or less
naked; covered laterally and behind with hexagonal scales.

The bill of the _Columbidæ_ is always shorter than the head, thinnest in
the middle; the basal half covered by a soft skin; the apical portion
of both jaws hard; the upper one very convex, blunt, and broad at the
tip, where it is also somewhat decurved. There is a long nasal groove,
the posterior portion occupied by a cartilaginous scale, covered by a
soft cere-like skin. The nostrils constitute an elongated slit in the
lower border of the scale. The culmen is always depressed and convex.
The bill is never notched in the true Doves, though _Didunculus_ shows
well-defined serrations. The tongue is small, soft, and somewhat fleshy.

The wing has ten primaries, and eleven or twelve, rarely fifteen,
secondaries; the latter broad, truncate, and of nearly equal length. The
tail is rounded or cuneate, never forked.

The tarsus is usually short, rarely longer than the middle toe,
scutellate anteriorly, and with hexagonal plates laterally and behind;
sometimes naked. An inter-digital membrane is either wanting entirely,
or else is very slightly indicated between the middle and outer toes.

The valuable monograph of Bonaparte in the second part of _Conspectus
Avium_ renders the task of arranging the American _Columbidæ_ in
proper sequence and of determining their synonomy comparatively easy.
He divides the family into _Lopholæminæ_, _Columbinæ_, _Turturinæ_,
_Zenaidinæ_, and _Phapinæ_, the second and fourth alone occurring in
North America. They may be briefly distinguished as follows:—

  =Columbinæ.= Tarsus shorter than the lateral toe; feathered above.

  =Zenaidinæ.= Tarsus longer than the lateral toes; entirely bare of


CHAR. Tarsi stout, short, with transverse scutellæ anteriorly; feathered
for the basal third above, but not at all behind. Toes lengthened, the
lateral decidedly longer than the tarsus. Wings lengthened and pointed.
Size large. Tail-feathers twelve.

This section of doves embraces the largest North American species, and
among them the more arboreal ones. The genera are as follows:—

  =Columba.= Head large; tail short, broad, and rounded.

    Outer toe much longer than the inner; bill rather short, stout …


    Outer toe scarcely longer than the inner; bill lengthened,
    compressed …


  =Ectopistes.= Head very small; tail much lengthened, cuneate.


  _Columba_, LINNÆUS, Syst. Nat. 1735. (Type, _Columba livia_, L.)

GEN. CHAR. Bill stout and rather short; culmen from the base of the
feathers about two fifths the head. Lateral toes and claws about equal,
reaching nearly to the base of the middle claw; the claws rather long,
and not much curved. Tail rather short, rounded, or nearly even; as long
as from the carpal joint to the end of secondaries in the closed wing.
Second and third quills longest.

[Illustration: =8741= ♂. ½ ½

_Columba fasciata._]

The genus _Columba_, as characterized above, includes the _C. livia_, or
domestic Pigeon, the differences between it and the American forms being
very slight. Reichenbach and Bonaparte separate the North American birds
from _Columba_, under the name of _Chlorœnas_, while _C. leucocephala_
and a near ally of the West Indies (_C. corensis_) have been placed in
the subgenus _Patagiœnas_, Reichenbach.

The variations of form among the numerous American members of _Columba_
are more with the species, however, than with groups, and withal are so
exceedingly slight that an attempt at subdividing the genus is scarcely
justifiable. They may be arranged by the style of coloration as follows.
None of the American species have the forepart of the neck metallic,
as in the European species, or _Columba_ proper, as restricted, and
in which these metallic feathers have the fibres loose and blended,
instead of being compact; the feathers also have a well-defined squamate
arrangement in nearly or quite all the American _Columbæ_.

Species and Varieties.

  =A.= Tail with a broad terminal band abruptly lighter in color than
  the basal portion, and with a more or less well-defined blackish band
  across the middle. Nape with metallic reflections.

    _a._ A narrow nuchal band of white; the metallic feathers beneath
    this, with their outlines distinct, producing a squamate appearance.

      1. =C. fasciata.= Blackish band across the middle of the tail
      narrow, and badly defined, and concealed by the coverts; terminal
      portion of the tail much lighter than the basal part. Bill
      yellow; crissum whitish; hood and anterior lower parts ashy
      vinaceous-purple; dorsal region ashy.

        Bill tipped with black; wing-coverts conspicuously edged with
        white; back with an olivaceous cast. Wing, 8.80; tail, 6.10;
        culmen, .75; tarsus, 1.13; middle toe, 1.37; outer, 1.05; inner,
        .94. _Hab._ Pacific Province of the United States, south to
        Guatemala …

                                                        var. _fasciata_.

        Bill entirely yellow; wing-coverts not distinctly edged with
        white; back with a bluish cast. Wing, 8.30; tail, 6.20; culmen,
        .80; tarsus, 1.04; middle toe, 1.27; outer, 1.00; inner, .88.
        _Hab._ Costa Rica …

                                                   var. _albilinea_.[99]

      2. =C. araucana.=[100] Black band across the middle of the tail as
      broad as the terminal lighter one, and wholly exposed; terminal
      portion not lighter than the base. Bill black; crissum deep slate;
      hood and lower parts deep purplish-vinaceous; dorsal region like
      the breast. Wing, 8.35; tail, 6.20; culmen, .58; tarsus, 1.13;
      middle toe, 1.26; outer, .90; inner, .77. _Hab._ Chile.

    _b._ No nuchal bar of white; metallic feathers of the nape with
    their fibres blended, producing a soft even surface.

      3. =C. caribæa.=[101] Tail much as in _C. fasciata_, but with a
      much greater contrast between the nearly equal dark basal and
      light terminal portions; the former more uniformly dusky, not
      showing any distinct darker intermediate band. Bill black; hood
      and lower parts light ashy-pinkish vinaceous; crissum white;
      dorsal region ashy. Wing, 8.70; tail, 6.90; culmen, .81; tarsus,
      1.05; middle toe, 1.28; outer, .90; inner, .88. _Hab._ Jamaica.

      4. =C. rufina.=[102] Terminal light band of the tail narrow, badly
      defined. Bill black. Forehead, dorsal region, lesser wing-coverts,
      neck and breast, deep chocolate-purple; forepart of the back with
      a violet reflection. Other portions mainly ashy. Wing, 7.50; tail,
      5.00; culmen, .68; tarsus, .97; middle toe, 1.13; outer, .89;
      inner, .78. _Hab._ Brazil, north to Guatemala.

  =B.= Tail of a uniform shade throughout.

    _a._ A metallic “cape” on the nape, each feather bordered with
    black, producing a conspicuously squamate appearance; above this,
    a broad, transverse, crescentic patch of dark maroon color. No
    vinaceous tints on the body.

      5. =C. leucocephala.= Hood white; metallic cape brassy-green;
      throat, cheeks, etc., dark plumbeous-slate, like the rest of the
      plumage. Bill yellow only at the tip. Wing, 7.70; tail, 5.50;
      culmen, .66; tarsus, 1.00; middle toe, 1.25; outer, .85; inner,
      .83. _Hab._ Cuba, and south Florida.

      6. =C. corensis.=[103] Hood, with remaining portions of head and
      neck, purplish-vinaceous; metallic cape vinaceous-purple. Bill
      wholly yellow. Wing, 8.00; tail, 5.70; culmen, .63; tarsus, 1.05;
      middle toe, 1.25; outer, .86; inner, .83. _Hab._ Porto Rico; St.
      Thomas; Santo Domingo; Santa Cruz.

    _b._ No metallic reflections on the nape.

      Head and neck, all round, lower parts to the anal region, and a
      patch on the lesser wing-coverts, reddish chocolate-purple. Rest
      of plumage slaty-blue, darker on tail and primaries, and more
      olivaceous on the dorsal region.

      7. =C. flavirostris.= Feathers of the forehead reaching forward to
      the anterior end of the nasal lobe, and wholly covering the cere
      on top. Culmen much arched. Bill and claws yellow. Wing, 7.80;
      tail, 5.40; culmen, .52; tarsus, 1.03; middle toe, 1.15; outer,
      .82; inner, .75. _Hab._ Middle America, and southern borders of
      Middle Province of United States, from Arizona and the Rio Grande;
      south to Costa Rica.

      8. =C. inornata.=[104] Feathers of the forehead reaching forward
      to only about the middle of the nasal lobe, leaving the top of the
      cere naked; culmen only moderately arched. Bill and claws black.
      Wing, 9.20; tail, 6.60; culmen, .75; tarsus, 1.16; middle toe,
      1.47; outer, 1.18; inner, .97. _Hab._ Jamaica.


  1. Ortalida maccalli. _Ad._, Texas.
  2. Columba fasciata. ♂ Cal., 33661.
  3. Columba leucocephala. ♂ Fla., 8662.
  4. Ectopistes migratoria. ♂ 7115.
  5. Columba flavirostris. ♂ Mazatlan, 30893.]

Columba fasciata, SAY.


  _Columba fasciata_, SAY, Long’s Exped. R. Mts. II, 1823, 10.—BON.
  Amer. Orn. I, 1825, 77, pl. viii.—WAGLER, Syst. Av. 1827, _Columba_,
  No. 47.—NUTTALL, Man. I, 1832, 624.—AUD. Orn. Biog. IV, 1838, 479,
  pl. ccclxvii.—IB. Syn. 1839, 191.—IB. Birds Amer. IV, 1842, 312, pl.
  cclxxix.—TSCHUDI, Fauna Peruana, 1844–46, No. 261.—NEWBERRY, Zoöl.
  Cal. & Or. Route, Rep. P. R. R. VI, IV, 92.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858,
  597.—COOPER, Orn. Cal. I, 1870, 506. _Chlorœnas fasciata_, BONAP.
  Consp. II, 1854, 51. _Columba monilis_, VIGORS, Zoöl. Beechey’s
  Voyage, 1839, 26, pl. x. _Chlorœnas monilis_, REICH. Icones Av.
  ccxxvii, fig. 2481.

SP. CHAR. Above ash, inclining to olivaceous on the back, and with a
fine bluish cast on the rump, under surface of wings, and sides. The
primaries and basal portion of the tail dusky. Larger wing-coverts and
secondaries, with primaries, distinctly edged with white; terminal
third of tail of nearly the same tint as the wing-coverts, but the
basal portion much darker, with a rather indistinct, narrow dusky band
between the two shades, a little beyond the tips of the upper coverts.
Whole head, lateral and front part of neck, and lower parts to the
anal region, ashy vinaceous-purple, lighter, and more pinkish on the
abdomen; chin considerably lighter; anal region and crissum white.
A narrow half-collar of white across the upper portion of the nape;
feathers beneath this dull metallic golden-green, with an occasional
bronzy reflection, the feathers somewhat squamate. Bill and feet yellow,
the former black at the end; iris red. Length, about 15.00; wing, 8.80;
tail, 6.10. _Female_ smaller, and less deeply colored, the purplish tint
more ashy; sometimes with the nuchal white band obsolete or wanting; the
abdomen whitish, etc.

HAB. Pacific Province of United States, and table-lands of Mexico, to
Guatemala. Oaxaca (SCL. 1858, 304); Xalapa, 1859, 369 (CORDOVA, 1856,
359); Guatemala (SALVIN, Ibis, II, 276); Fort Whipple, Arizona (COUES,
P. A. N. S. 1866, 93); Vera Cruz, alpine region (SUM. M. Bost. Soc. I,

[Illustration: _Columba fasciata._]

Specimens—even those from the same locality—vary a great deal in size,
particularly as to the bill, and there is also considerable variation
in the shade and depth as well as the extent of the purplish tint;
this varies from a purplish-chocolate tint to nearly violaceous, and
sometimes tinges the ends of the lower tail-coverts; sometimes the back
has faint bronzy reflections. Guatemalan skins have the white edgings
to the wing-coverts less conspicuous than in northern ones, showing an
approximation to the features of var. _albilinea_ of Costa Rica; they
also have a shorter bill than California specimens. Oregon birds, on the
other hand, have longer bills than the California, and are considerably
darker in color.

HABITS. The Band-tailed Pigeon was first met with in Long’s expedition
to the Rocky Mountains, and described by Say in 1823. It is found
from the northern Rocky Mountains westward to the Pacific, and from
Central America northward along the whole of the Pacific Coast as far
to the north as Washington Territory, and probably portions of British

Mr. Townsend, quoted by Audubon, noticed this Pigeon from the eastern
spurs of the Rocky Mountains across to the Columbia River, where it was
very abundant. He noticed their arrival in very great numbers on the
17th of April, and they continued in large flocks even while breeding.
Their breeding-places were on the banks of the river, the eggs were
placed on the ground, under small bushes without any nest, where numbers
congregated together. The eggs were two in number, and are described as
of a yellowish-white color, some inclining to a bluish-white with minute
white dots at the larger end.

These birds feed on the berries of the black-elder and the buds of the
balsam poplar. When sitting on the trees, they huddle close together in
the manner of the Carolina Parrot, and many may be killed at a single
discharge. Their flesh is said to be tender, juicy, and fine eating.

Mr. Nuttall states that this Pigeon is always in flocks, and in Oregon
keeps only in the thick forests of the Columbia and the Wahlamet, and
during the summer is more particularly abundant in the alluvial groves
of the latter river, where he constantly heard its cooing, and saw
it in large flocks, feeding on the berries of the elder, the _Cornus
nuttalli_, and the seed-germs and young pods of the balsam poplar. Its
call is somewhat similar to that of the Carolina Dove, but is readily
distinguishable, is uttered at the usual intervals, and is repeated an
hour or two at a time, chiefly in the morning and evening. It remains
on the lower part of the Columbia nearly the whole year, feeding on the
berries of the tree cornel, moving south only in the severity of winter.

Mr. Salvin found this Pigeon at Volcan de Fuego, in Guatemala, at an
elevation of six thousand feet, and at Coban. It was quite common in the
high forests of the Volcano.

Dr. Woodhouse met with small flocks of these Pigeons in different parts
of New Mexico, and especially in the San Francisco Mountains, now
included within the limits of Arizona.

This species was found at Los Nogales, in Mexico, July, 1855, by Dr.
Kennerly, and at New Leon by Lieutenant Couch. Dr. Kennerly states that
these beautiful birds were often observed in the valleys of the Santa
Cruz and Los Nogales Rivers, as well as among the oaks on the adjacent
hills. In the month of June they were found in small flocks of four or
five, rarely more. When flying, the wings often caused a flapping noise,
similar to that made by the domestic Pigeon.

Dr. Newberry, in his Report on the zoölogy of Colonel Williamson’s
route, states that he met with this Pigeon at several points of his
journey. He speaks of it as an attractive bird, about the size and with
many of the habits of the domestic Pigeon. At McCumbers, northeast of
Fort Reading, the first individual was seen and killed by one of his
party. In that region they were not rare, and during the season of
acorns they subsist on those of the scrub-oak, which abounds in that
vicinity. On the Columbia they were seen in pairs, and near the Dalles
might readily be mistaken for domestic doves.

Dr. Suckley found this Pigeon a very common bird in Washington
Territory, especially west of the Cascade Mountains. He saw but a single
flock containing five individuals east of those mountains. In 1856,
the first birds of this species that arrived in the spring made their
appearance about the 15th of May, which he found to be their customary
time of arrival. One or two individuals were first seen, and within two
or three days thereafter the main body of the migration followed. A
small number remained throughout the summer to breed, the rest proceeded
farther north. Those that remained generally made their nests in the
thick fir forests near water. During the summer they subsisted on wild
cherries and other berries, and later in the season, in the settled
parts of the country, on grain. About the first week in September
large flocks congregated on the stubble-fields in the vicinity of Fort
Steilacoom, and for two or three weeks thereafter their numbers were
daily augmented by arrivals from the north. Some of the flocks that he
saw in September, he states, must have contained at least a thousand
individuals. He was told that on the cultivated districts on Cowlitz
River, at the same season, they were in still greater numbers. By the
5th of October all had suddenly disappeared, except a few stragglers,
generally young birds. In their flights, Dr. Suckley states, they are
not quite as compactly crowded as in the case of the Passenger Pigeon.
During the summer, while they were breeding, their cooing and calls
could be heard quite a long distance. The name of this bird in the
Nisqually language is “Hubboh,” in imitation of their call. In the
autumn these birds are said to be excellent eating.

According to Dr. Cooper, these Pigeons arrive at the Columbia River in
April, and frequent all the forests of the Territory until the end of
October, when they retire south. They keep about the borders of prairies
and clearings, and frequently do much damage to fields of grain, though
never found in such immense numbers as the common Passenger Pigeon east
of the Mississippi. In June they lay two white eggs about the size of
those of the House Pigeon, on the ground near streams or openings, and
without constructing any nests. During the summer they were observed to
feed upon wild peas, wild cherries, and other wild fruits and berries,
which are very abundant. Later in the season they seem to depend upon
acorns and other nuts. Their cooing is very much like that of the common
Pigeon. He saw none east of the Cascade Range.

Mr. Ridgway did not meet with this Pigeon in his route from the Sierra
Nevada eastward to the Rocky Mountains, along the line of the 40th
parallel, and it is supposed not to occur in that latitude except near
the Pacific Coast.

An egg of this Pigeon, given me by Dr. Holden, of Stockton, and obtained
in the Coast Range, is oval in shape, equally rounded at either end, and
of a dull white. It measures 1.49 inches in length by 1.15 in breadth.
Another, in the Smithsonian collection, measures 1.55 by 1.20 inches.

Columba leucocephala, LINN.


  _Columba leucocephala_, LINN. Syst. Nat. I, 1758, 164.—BONAP.
  J. A. N. S. Ph. V, 1825, 30; Syn. 119; Am. Orn. II, 1828, 11, pl.
  xv.—NUTT. Man. I, 1832, 625.—AUD. Orn. Biog. II, 1834, 443; V, 557,
  pl. clxxvii; Birds Am. IV, 1842, 315, pl. cclxxx.—TEMM. Pig. et
  Gallin. I, 459.—GOSSE, Birds Jam. 1847, 299.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am.
  1858, 599.—MARCH, P. A. N. S. 1863, 301 (says there are two species).
  _Patagiœnas leucocephalus_, REICHENB. Syst. Av. 1851, xxv; Ic. Av.
  tab. 223 and 255.—BONAP. Consp. II, 1854, 54.—GUNDL. Caban. Journ.
  1856, 107.—REICH. Handb. 64, tab. 223, f. 1257, 1258, 255, 2863, 2864.

SP. CHAR. General color very dark slate-blue, primaries and tail
darker. Upper half of the head, from the bill to the nape, pure white,
not reaching the edge of the eyelids; a triangular patch of dark
maroon-purple on the occiput, and below it a semicircular “cape”
covering the nape, of metallic brassy-green, each feather distinctly
bordered externally with velvety-black, producing a squamate appearance.
Bill deep purple, the end light blue; iris white; legs deep lake-red.
In skins the bill dusky tipped with yellowish, the feet yellow. Sexes
similar. Length, 13.50; wing, 7.00; tail, 5.80.


  =8662= ♂
  =8663= ♂ ½

_Columba leucocephala._]

HAB. Southern Keys of Florida (including Indian Key) and West Indies
generally. Honduras (MOORE, P. Z. S. 1859, 61); Santa Cruz (NEWTON,
Ibis, I, 253); Cuba (CAB. J. IV, 107); Bahamas (BRYANT, Pr. Bost. Soc.
VII, 1859); Jamaica (GOSSE, B. J. 299); Porto Rico (TAYLOR, Ibis, 1864,
171); Cuba (GUNDL. Repert. I, 1866, 298); Santa Bartholemy (SUND. Ofv.
1869, 585).

HABITS. The White-headed Pigeon occurs in the more southern of the keys
of Florida, but, so far as I am aware, has never been taken on any part
of the mainland. It is an abundant species in Cuba, Jamaica, and in most
of the other West India Islands.

This Dove, according to Audubon, arrives on the southern keys of Florida
about the 20th of April, sometimes not until the first of May. On the
30th of April he shot several just after their arrival from across the
Gulf Stream. He noticed them as they approached the shore, skimming
along the surface of the water, and flying with great rapidity, in the
manner of the House Pigeon. As they approached the land they rose to
about a hundred yards, flying in circles as if to survey the country.
To procure specimens, it was necessary to force them out from the dark
retreats in which they had alighted. They were at all times exceedingly
shy and wary, probably on account of the war that is incessantly waged
against them, their flesh being very juicy and finely flavored. This
shyness is only partially abated even during the breeding-season,
as they will silently slide from their nest when sitting, if it is
approached, and retreat to the dark shade of the mangroves, and do not
return for an interval to their charge. They were more abundant in the
more southern keys, except the sterile Tortugas.

According to Mr. March, there are two varieties of this Pigeon, known
as the Baldpate in Jamaica, distinguished as the Mountain and the
Mangrove Baldpate. The latter he has never met with in the mountains,
but both kinds resort at all times to the lowlands and mangrove-swamps
along the coasts, and to the neighboring islands and keys (Pigeon
Island and the two Goat Islands in particular), where they breed in
numbers, making their nests in trees, some at high elevations, others
so low as to be within reach of a person standing, according to the
convenience of the site. Large numbers of squabs are often taken from
these places and brought into the towns for sale. They feed in company
in the morning and afternoon, and as they often feed at a distance
from their roosting-places, large flocks are sometimes seen in the
early morning and evening passing and repassing overhead, sometimes in
high, at other times in low flight, going to and returning from the
feeding-ground or convenient watering-place. Their food is grain, fruit,
and berries, nuts and seeds; and they commit serious depredations on
the Guinea-corn fields, not only by the quantity they devour, but by
breaking down the brittle cornstalks with the weight of their bodies.
They are easily kept in confinement, and often breed and become quiet
and contented, but take the earliest opportunity of emancipation. The
nest is a platform of sticks and twigs loosely put together, and bedded
with softer materials, with a slight hollow in the centre. The eggs are
two, glarish-white in color, varying in form and dimensions, but usually
long oval, measuring 1.63 inches in length by 1.13 in breadth.

According to Mr. Leyland (Ibis, I, p. 222) this Pigeon inhabits the keys
or small islands on the coast of Honduras.

It was found at St. Croix by Professor Alfred Newton, frequenting the
hills in the north of the island, and occasionally in the brush-land on
the south side. It was not very common, and was said to be a visitor
from Porto Rico; but it undoubtedly breeds on the island of St. Croix,
as Professor Newton obtained a young bird, shot July 28, which could
not have left the nest many days. A caged specimen of this bird, that
had been in the possession of Dr. Carden of St. Croix several years,
was given to Professor Newton by that gentleman, and presented to the
Zoölogical Society of London.

Mr. Audubon found the nests placed high or low according to
circumstances, but never saw two on the same tree. He has met with
them on the top of a cactus, only a few feet from the ground, or on
a low branch of a mangrove almost touching the water. They are said
to resemble that of the common Passenger Pigeon, but are more compact
and better lined; the outer part being composed of small dry twigs,
the inner of fibrous roots and grasses. The eggs are two, of an opaque
white, roundish, and as large as those of the common Pigeon. Mr. Audubon
thinks that these birds may have several broods in a season. None were
known by him to visit the mainland of Florida.

In captivity these birds may be easily managed, and breed readily, as
Mr. Audubon witnessed in the aviaries of Dr. Wilson and Rev. Dr. Bachman
of Charleston, S. C.

In confinement they are said never to lay more than a single egg. The
measurement of their eggs, as given by Mr. Audubon, is 1.31 inches in
length by 1.06 in breadth. Eggs in my cabinet from Cuba measure 1.40 by
1.03 inches. They are of a pure but not a brilliant white color, equal
at either end and oval in shape.

Columba flavirostris, WAGLER.


  _Columba flavirostris_, WAGLER, Isis, 1831, 519.—LAWRENCE, Annals
  N. Y. Lyc. V. May, 1851, 116.—BAIRD, Birds N. Am. 1858, 598, pl.
  lxi.—IB. Mex. B. II, Birds 21, pl. xxiii.—COOPER, Orn. Cal. I,
  1870, 508. _Chlorœnas flavirostris_, BONAP. Consp. Av. II, 1854,
  52.—REICHENB. Handb. 61. _? Columba solitaria_, MCCALL, Pr. A. N. Sc.
  Phila. III, July, 1847, 233 (Rio Grande, Texas. Description referring
  probably to this species).

SP. CHAR. Second and third quills equal, and decidedly longer than the
first and fourth, also nearly equal. Tail truncate, slightly rounded.
Head and neck all round, breast, and a large patch on the middle and
lesser wing-coverts, light chocolate-red, the latter deeper and more
opaque red; the middle of the back, scapulars, and tertials olive; the
rest of body, wings, and tail very dark slaty-blue; the inferior and
concealed surfaces of the latter black. Bill and legs yellow in the
dried skin, said to be purple in life; eyes purple. Length, 14.00; wing,
8.00; tail, 5.70.

HAB. Lower Rio Grande, and Mexico, south to Costa Rica. Oaxaca (SCL.
1859, 391); (Cordova, 1856, 309); Honduras (TAYLOR, Ibis, II, 226; SALV.
Ibis, III, 355); City of Mexico (SCL. P. Z. S. 1864, 178); Southeastern
Texas, breeding (DRESSER, Ibis, 1866, 23); Costa Rica (LAWR. IX, 134).

There is no trace of any metallic scale-like feathers on the neck of
this species. The wing-feathers, including the greater coverts, are
whitish on their external border. There is sometimes a tinge of the red
on the inside of the wing.

The _C. inornata_ of Jamaica (see synopsis) is wonderfully similar,
except in the form and color of the bill; the plumage of the two does
not differ in the minutest particular. The West Indian bird is much the
larger, however, the bill black, and very differently shaped.

The _Columba solitaria_ of McCall appears to be closely related to this
species, but, judging from the description, seems to differ in having
the head and neck bluish rather than red. It may possibly be the female
of _C. flavirostris_, as this sex usually has a bluish tinge instead of
red; the smaller size, too, would favor this supposition.[105]

=Habits.= The Red-billed Dove claims a place in the North American
fauna only as a resident in the valley of the Lower Rio Grande River.
It appears also to be found on and near the gulf-coast of Mexico and
Central America.

It was taken at New Leon, Mexico, in March, 1853, by Lieutenant Couch,
and on the Rio Grande by Mr. A. Schott. It was first seen by the former
in the thick woody bottoms of the San Juan, New Leon. The birds were
quite common, but remained very secluded. They are said to be of very
rapid flight.

Mr. G. C. Taylor (Ibis, 1860, p. 226) mentions finding these birds not
uncommon on Tigre Island, in Honduras, but did not meet with them in the
interior. He speaks of them as very handsome birds, but gives no account
of their habits.

Mr. Henry E. Dresser found the Red-billed Dove quite common near
Matamoras, and breeding there. During the autumn great quantities, as
well as of the _leucoptera_ and the _carolinensis_, are brought to the
market for sale. At Brownsville, also, these birds were not uncommon,
but were found for only a short distance towards the interior of Te