LEGAAT VAN DEN WEEK

F. E. BLAAUW

GOOILUST

’s-GR A VELAND

1939

- -- '

1

i

ORNITHOLOGY

OF THE

UNITED STATES AND CANADA.

IN TWO VOLUMES. VoL. I.

A

POPULAR HANDBOOK

OF THE

ORNITHOLOGY

EASTERN NORTH AMERICA.

By THOMAS NUTTALL.

KefaiSEli anti ^nnotateti By MONTAGUE CHAMBERLAIN.

VOL. I.

THE LAND BIRDS.

LONDON:

TRUSLOVE AND HANSON. 1894.

John Wilson and Son, University Press, Cambridge, U.S.A.

PREFACE.

HIS work is practically an edition of A Manual

of the Ornithology of the United States and of Canada,” written by THOMAS NUTTALL, though only as much of the original title has been retained as seemed consistent with the changed character of the text.

Nuttall’s work has been out of print for several years ; but its popularity and real value have kept it in demand, and the few copies recently offered for sale were dis- posed of at high prices. A new edition was thus called for ; but it seemed unwise to issue the work in its origi- nal form, or to remodel it to the extent that would be required to arrange it in harmony with the new regime of affairs ornithological ; for the science has advanced rapidly since the “Manual” was written, and the changes effected have been numerous and important. A new and entirely different system of classification has come in vogue ; the nomenclature has been altered and trinomials introduced; and, indeed, little is left of American ornithology as Nuttall knew it, except the birds, and even of these, two species have become extinct, and a large number of new forms have been discovered.

Thomas Nuttall came to this country from England in 1808, and between 1825 and 1834 held the positions

VI

PREFACE.

of Curator of the Botanic Garden and Lecturer on Natural History at Harvard University. In 1842 he returned to England, where he resided until his death in 1859, at the age of seventy-three.

The first volume of the Manual,” containing an account of the Land Birds, was published in 1832, and a second edition, with some additional matter, appeared in 1840. The second volume, of which one edition only was issued, came out in 1834.

The Manual” was the first hand-book of the subject that had been published, and its delightful sketches of bird-life and its fragrance of the field and forest carried it into immediate favor. But Nuttall was more than a mere lover of Nature, he had considerable scientific at- tainment; and though he appears to have enjoyed the study of bird-life more than he did the musty side of ornithology, with its dried skins and drier technicalities, he had an eye trained for careful observation and a stu- dent’s respect for exact statement. It was this rare com- bination that gave to Nuttall’s work its real value; and these chapters of his are still valuable, much too valu- able to be lost ; for if a great advance has been made in the study of scientific ornithology, which term repre- sents only the science of bird-skins, the names by which they are labelled, and the sequence of these names, in other words, the classification of birds, if this science has advanced far beyond Nuttall’s work, the study of bird-life, the real history of our birds, remains just about where Nuttall and his contemporaries left it. The pres- ent generation of working ornithologists have been too busy in hunting up new species and in variety-making

PREFACE.

Vll

to study the habits of birds with equal care and dili- gence, and it is to Wilson and Audubon and Nuttall that we are chiefly indebted even at this day for what we know of bird-life. I must not, however, be under- stood as implying that no additions have been made to this branch of knowledge, nor as undervaluing the im- portance of recent observations. But the field is large ; and in comparison with the work accomplished by the older writers, and with that which is still unknown, the recent acquisitions must be termed slight.

It was suggested to me that the new might be com- bined with the old, that an interesting and useful book might be prepared by taking Nuttall’s biographies and inserting brief notes relating the results of recent determinations in distribution and habits. That is what I have attempted in the present work. The Introduc- tion has been given exactly as it appeared in Nuttall’s second edition, and the text of the biographical matter has been changed but little. My notes follow each chapter in a smaller type, that they may be readily distinguished. I have also rewritten the descriptions of plumage, and have endeavored to phrase these in such well-known and untechnical terms that they may be understood by unskilled readers. To these I have added a description of the ne.st and eggs of each species. In short, an effort has been made to prepare a work that will be useful to young students, as well as entertaining to those who are merely interested in birds.

The new matter has been selected with special re- gard for the needs of these classes of readers, for I

PREFACE.

viii

have had another motive in the preparation of this work besides that of preserving Nuttall’s biographies. Some time ago I made a promise to several Canadian friends to prepare a book treating of Canadian birds that would be scientifically correct and at the same time popular” in its style. So while writing these pages I have kept Canadian readers constantly in mind, and have given here an account of every species that has been found within the Dominion east of the Manitoba plains, together with their Canadian distribution.

The limits of a hand-book demanding the most rigid economy of space, when treating of so extensive a subject I have been compelled to omit those species which occur only to the westward of the Mississippi valley, though I have endeavored to make mention of every bird that has occurred within this Eastern Faunal Province, from the Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic Ocean, and to give their distribution and breeding area so far as these are known. Nuttall knew very little about the Western birds, and therefore only a few short chapters of his have been lost through restricting the scope of the present work to Eastern forms.

The nomenclature adopted is that of the Check- List” issued by the American Ornithologists’ Union. The sequence of species is that arranged by Nuttall, with some few trifling alterations; and being radically different from that of recent authors, the student must be referred to other works for guidance in classification as well as for diagnoses of the higher groups. Coues’ “Key to North American Birds” is a useful work, and contains matter not obtainable elsewhere, though the

PREFACE.

IX

system of classification now generally used is more clearly stated in Ridgway’s Manual of North Amer- ican Birds.” But the most complete work at present obtainable, and one which every student should have at hand, is “The History of North American Birds,” by Baird, Brewer, and Ridgway. With that work and the A. O. U. Check-List to guide him, the student will be equipped for thorough study.

It only remains for me to thank many friends who have aided me. To Mr. William Brewster and Mr. Charles F. Batchelder, the president and the treasurer of the Nuttall Ornithological Club, I am particularly indebted for kind advice and assistance. Nor must I forget to mention the name of my fellow-worker, Ernest E. Thompson, of Toronto. A large number of the illustrations are from drawings made especially for this work by Mr. Thompson.

M. C.

Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. September, 1891.

CONTENTS.

Page

Blackbird, Red-winged . - 96 Rusty . -119

Yellow-headed . 102

Bluebird 285

Bobolink

Bunting, Indigo

Painted 3*4

Caracara, Audubon’s ... 6 j

Cardinal 3^2

Catbird '95

Chat J72

Chickadee *4^

Carolina . . *5°

Hudsonian . . 15’

Chuck-will’s-widow .... 4^5

Cowbird ’°4

Creeper, Bahama Honey . 3®®

Brown 3^7

Crossbill, American . . 37^

White-winged . 3^*

Crow * 26

Fish *3'

Cuckoo, Black-billed .... 43^ Mangrove 437

Yellow-billed 432

Dickcissel 298

Eagle, Bald . 19

Golden 15

Gray Sea 26

Finch, Purple 372

Flicker 438

Page

Flycatcher, Acadian . . . .425

Crested .... 413

Least 421

Olive-sided . . - 410

Traill’s 424

Yellow-bellied . . 426

Gnatcatcher *7°

Goldfinch 353

American .... 348

Goshawk 3'

Crackle, Boat-tailed . . .114

Purple 1 1 5

Grosbeak, Blue .... -37'

Evening . . 367

Pine 375

Rose-breasted . . 369

Gyrfalcon 7

Hawk, Broad-winged ■■■ 49

Cooper’s .34

Ouck 9

Harris’s 4^

Marsh 5'

Pigeon "

Red-shouldered . 43

Red-tailed 4^

Rough-legged . 4*

Sharp-shinned ... 35 Short-tailed . .

Sparrow *3

Plumming Bird 457

Jay, Blue *33

Canada *3^

Xll

CONTENTS,

Page

Jay, Florida

Junco, Slate-colored . . .

339

Kingbird

Gray . . . .

Kingfisher

Kinglet, Golden-crowned .

283

Ruby-crowned . .

. 281

Kite, Everglade ....

Mississippi ....

37

Swallow-tailed . . .

39

White-tailed ....

38

Lapland Longspur . . .

304

Lark, Horned

Meadow

79

Martin, Purple ....

391

Maryland Yellow-throat . .

249

Mocking Bird

. 187

Nighthawk

Nuthatch, Rrown-headed

3S6

Red-breasted . .

385

White-breasted .

383

Oriole, Raltimore . . .

83

Orchard ....

Osprey

Oven Bird

Owl, Barn . ....

7-5

Barred . . .

Burrowing ....

78

Great Gray ....

Great Horned . .

. 61

Hawk ....

Long-eared ....

. 66

Richardson’s . . .

73

Saw-whet

Screech . .

57

Short-eared ....

. 68

Snowy

55

Paroquet, Carolina .

. 428

Pewee, Wood

419

Phoebe

415

Pipit

. 292

Page

Raven

Redpoll ....... 'ICC

Hoary 35S

Redstart i()^

Kobin igjj

Sapsuckee .... Shrike, Loggerhead .

Northern . . Siskin, Pine ....

Skylark

Snowflake .... Sparrow, Acadian Sharp Bachman’s . Chipping . Field . . . P'ox . . Grasshopper Henslow’s House Ipswich .

Lark . .

Le Conte’s Lincoln’s Nelson’s Savanna Seaside . .Sharp-tailet Song . . Swamp .

Tree . . Vesper . White-crowned White-throated Swallow, Bank . . .

Barn . . .

Cliff . . . Rough-winged Tree . . Swift, Chimney . . .

tailec

45°

162

159

351

297

300

345

327

333

336

338

329

330

354

326

3'7

33'

328 34f5

325

346 344 322 342 332 320

315

318

401

394

396

403

399

463

Tanager, Scarlet 306

Summer .... 309

Thrasher, Brown 153

Thrush, Bicknell’s 212

Gray-cheeked . . .211 Hermit ..... 20?

CONTENTS.

xni

Page

Thrush, Louisiana Water . .

214 1

Olive-backed . .

2II 1

Water

212

Wilson’s

207

Wood

202

Titmouse, Tufted

142

Towhee

359

ViREO, Blue-headed . . .

176

Philadelphia . . .

186 1

Red-eyed . .

182

Warbling ....

180

White-eyed . . .

178

Yellow-throated

174

Vulture, Black

. 4

Turkey ....

Warbler, Bachman’s . .

. 261

Bay-breasted

. 237

Black and white

- 389

Blackburnian .

- 232

Black-poll . -

- 238

Black-throated Blue 245

Black-throated

Green . .

. 230

Blue-winged . .

. 258

Canadian . . .

. 227

Cape May . .

. 226

Cerulean . . -

- 247

Chestnut-sided .

235

Connecticut . .

- 253

Golden-winged .

. 260

Hooded . . -

. 167

Kentucky . . .

. 246

Kirtland’s . .

. 265

Page

j Warbler, Magnolia .... 224 Mourning . . . 251

Myrtle 217

Nashville. . . . 263

Orange-crowned 264

Parula 244

Pine 239

Prairie .... 242 Prothonotary . . 257

Swainson’s . . . 256

Tennessee . .261

Wilson’s .... 168 Worm-eating . 255

Yellow .... 230 Yellow Palm . . 219

Yellow-throated . 228 Waxwing, Bohemian .

Cedar ^54

Wheatear ^9°

Whip-poor-will 467

Woodpecker, American three- toed . 45^ Arctic three-toed 455 Downy .... 45^ Hairy .... 451 Ivory-billed . . 44^

Pileated . . 444

Red-bellied . . 44*^

Red-cockaded . 454 Red-headed . . 44^

Wren, Bewick’s 276

Carolina 272

House 266

Long-billed Marsh . . 279

Short-billed Marsh . . 277

Winter 270

INTRODUCTION.

Of all the classes of animals by which we are surrounded in the ample field of Nature, there are none more remarkable in their appearance and habits than the feathered inhabitants of the air. They play around us like fairy spirits, elude approach in an element which defies our pursuit, soar out of sight in the yielding sky, journey over our heads in marshalled ranks, dart like meteors in the sunshine of summer, or, seeking the soiitary recesses of the forest and the waters, they glide before us like beings of fancy. They diversify the still landscape with the most lively motion and beautiful association ; they come and go with the change of the season ; and as their actions are di- rected by an uncontrollable instinct of provident Nature, they may be considered as concomitant with the beauty of the sur- rounding scene. With what grateful sensations do we involun- tarily hail the arrival of these faithful messengers of spring and summer, after the lapse of the dreary winter, which compelled them to forsake us for more favored climes. Their songs, now heard from the leafy groves and shadowy forests, inspire de- light, or recollections of the pleasing past, in every breast. How volatile, how playfully capricious, how musical and happy, are these roving sylphs of Nature, to whom the air, the earth, and the waters are alike habitable ! Their lives are spent in boundless action ; and Nature, with an omniscient benevo- lence, has assisted and formed them for this wonderful display of perpetual life and vigor, in an element almost their own.

XVI

INTRODUCTION.

If we draw a comparison between these inhabitants of the air and the earth, we shall perceive that, instead of the large head, formidable jaws armed with teeth, the capacious chest, wide shoulders, and muscular legs of the quadrupeds, they have bills, or pointed jaws destitute of teeth ; a long and pliant neck, gently swelling shoulders, immovable vertebrae ; the fore- arm attenuated to a point and clothed with feathers, forming the expansive wing, and thus fitted for a different species of motion ; likewise the wide extended tail, to assist the general provision for buoyancy throughout the whole anatomical frame. For the same general purpose of lightness, exists the contrast of slender bony legs and feet. So that, in short, we perceive in the whole conformation of this interesting tribe, a structure wisely and curiously adapted for their destined motion through the air. Lightness and buoyancy appear in every part of the structure of birds : to this end nothing contributes more than the soft and delicate plumage with which they are so warmly clad ; and though the wings (or great organs of aerial motion by which they swim, as it were, in the atmosphere) are formed of such light materials, yet the force with which they strike the air is so great as to impel their bodies with a rapidity unknown to the swiftest quadruped. The same grand intention of form- ing a class of animals to move in the ambient desert they occupy above the earth, is likewise visible in their internal structure. Their bones are light and thin, and all the muscles diminutive but those appropriated for moving the wings. The lungs are placed near to the back-bone and ribs ; and the air is not, as in other animals, merely confined to the pulmonary organs, but passes through, and is then conveyed into a num- ber of membranous cells on either side the external region of the heart, communicating with others situated beneath the chest. In some birds these cells are continued down the w'ings, extending even to the pinions, bones of the thighs, and other parts of the body, which can be distended with air at the pleasure or necessity of the animal. This diffusion of air is not only intended to assist in lightening and elevating the body, but also appears necessary to prevent the stoppage or

INTRODUCTION.

xvii

interruption of respiration, which would otherwise follow the rapidity of their motion through the resisting atmosphere ; and thus the Ostrich, though deprived of the power of flight, runs almost with the swiftness of the wind, and requires, as he possesses, the usual resources of air conferred on other birds. Were it possible for man to move with the rapidity of a Swal- low, the resistance of the air, without some such peculiar pro- vision as in birds, would quickly bring on suffocation. 1 he superior vital heat of this class of beings is likewise probably due to this greater aeration of the vital fluid.

llirds, as well as quadrupeds, may be generally distinguished into two great classes from the food on which they are destined fo subsist ; and may, consequently, be termed carnivorous and granivorous. Some also hold a middle nature, or partake of both. The granivorous and herbivorous birds are provided with larger and longer intestines than those of the carnivorous kinds. Their food, consisting chiefly of grain of various sorts, is conveyed whole into the craw or first stomach, where it is softened and acted upon by a peculiar glandular secretion thrown out upon its surface ; it is then again conveyed into a second preparatory digestive organ; and finally transmitted into the true stomach, or gizzard, formed of two strong muscles connected externally with a tendinous substance, and lined in- ternally with a thick membrane of great power and strength ; and in this place the unmasticated food is at length completely triturated, and prepared for the operation of the gasUic juice. The extraordinary powers of the gizzard in comminuting food, to prepare it for digestion, almost exceeds the bounds of cred- ibility. Turkeys and common fowls have been made to swal- low sharp angular fragments of glass, metallic tubes, and balls armed with needles, and even lancets, which were found broken and compressed, without producing any apparent pain or wounds in the stomach. The gravel pebbles swallowed by this class of birds with so much avidity, thus appear useful in bruising and comminuting the grain they feed on, and prepar- Ittg it for the solvent action of the digestive organs.

Those birds which live chiefly on grain and vegetable sub-

VOL. l. i

xviii INTRODUCTION.

stances partake in a degree of the nature and disposition of herbivorous quadrupeds. In both, the food and the provision for its digestion are very similar. Alike distinguished for sedentary habits and gentleness of manners, their lives are harmlessly and usefully passed in collecting seeds and fruits, and ridding the earth of noxious and destructive insects ; they live wholly on the defensive with all the feathered race, and are content to rear and defend their offspring from the attacks of their enemies. It is from this tractable and gentle race, as well as from the amphibious or aquatic tribes, that man has long succeeded in obtaining useful and domestic species, which, from their prolificacy and hardihood, afford a vast supply of wholesome and nutritious food. Of these, the Hen, originally from India ; the Goose, Duck, and Pigeon of Europe ; the Turkey of America ; and the Pintado, or Guinea- hen of Africa, are the principal ; to which may also be ad- ded, as less useful, or more recently naturalized, the Peacock of India, the Pheasant of the same country, the Chinese and Canada Goose, the Muscovy Duck, and the European Swan.

Carnivorous birds by many striking traits evince the destiny for which they have been created; they are provided with wings of great length, supported by powerful muscles, which enable them to fly with energy and soar with ease at the loftiest elevations. They are armed with strong hooked bills and with the sharp and formidable claws of the tiger ; they are also further distinguished by their large heads, short necks, strong muscular thighs in aid of their retractile talons, and a sight so piercing as to enable them, while soaring at the greatest height, to perceive their prey, upon which they some- times descend, like an arrow, with undeviating aim. In these birds the stomach is smaller than in the granivorous kinds, and their intestines are shorter. Like beasts of prey, they are of a fierce and unsociable nature ; and so far from herding together like the inoffensive tribes, they drive even their offspring from the eyry, and seek habitually the shelter of desert rocks, ne- glected mins, or the solitude of the darkest forest, from w'hence

INTRODUCTION.

XIX

they utter loud, terrific, or piercing cries, in accordance with the gloomy rage and inquietude of their insatiable desires.

Besides these grand divisions of the winged nations, there are others, which, in their habits and manners, might be com- pared to the amphibious animals, as they live chiefly on the Water, and feed on its productions. To enable them to swim and dive in quest of their aquatic food, their toes are con- nected by broad membranes or webs, with which, like oars, they strike the water, and are impelled with force. In this way even the seas, lakes, and rivers, abounding with fish, insects, and seeds, swarm with birds of various kinds, which all obtain an abundant supply. There are other aquatic birds, frequent- ing marshes and the margins of lakes, rivers, and the sea, which seem to partake of an intermediate nature between the land and water tribes. Some of these feed on fishes and rep- tiles ; others, with long and sensible bills and extended necks, seek their food in wet and muddy marshes. These birds are not made for swimming ; but, familiar with water, they wade, s^nd many follow the edge of the retiring waves of the sea, gleaning their insect prey at the recession of the tides : for this kind of life Nature has provided them with long legs, bare of feathers even above the knees ; their toes, unconnected by webs, are only partially furnished with membranous appen- iliiges, just sufficient to support them on the soft and boggy grounds they frequent. To this tribe belong the Cranes, Snipes, Sandpipers, Woodcocks, and many others.

In comparing the senses of animals in connection with their instinct, we find that of sight to be more extended, more acute, 3-nd more distinct in birds, in general, than in quadrupeds. I in general,” for there are some birds, such as the Owls, w ose vision is less clear than that of quadrupeds ; but this rather results from the extreme sensibility of the eye, which, ough dazzled with the glare of full day, nicely distinguishes ®'^en small objects by the aid of twilight. In all birds the ^rgan of sight is furnished with two membranes, an external internal, additional to those which occur in the human ject. I he former, membrana iiictitans, or external mem-

XX

INTRODUCTION.

brane, is situated in the larger angle of the eye, and is, in fact, a second and more transparent eyelid, whose motions are directed at pleasure, and its use, besides occasionally cleaning and polishing the cornea, is to temper the excess of light and adjust the quantity admitted to the extreme delicacy of the organ. I’he other membrane, situated at the bottom of the eye, appears to be an expansion of the optic nerve, which, re- ceiving more immediately the impressions of the light, must be much more sensible than in other animals ; and consequently the sight is in birds far more perfect, and embraces a wider range. Facts and observations bear out this conclusion j for a Sparrow-hawk, while hovering in the air, perceives a Lark or other small bird, sitting on the ground, at twenty times the dis- tance that such an object would be visible to a man or dog. A Kite, which soars beyond the reach of human vision, yet distinguishes a lizard, field-mouse, or bird, and from this lofty station selects the tiny object of his prey, descending iqion it in nearly a perpendicular line. But it may also be added that this prodigious extent of vision is likewise accompanied with equal accuracy and clearness y for the eye can dilate or con- tract, be shaded or exposed, depressed or made protuberant, so as readily to assume the precise form suited to the degree of light and the distance of the object ; the organ thus answer- ing, as It were, the purpose of a self-adjusting telescope, with a shade for examining the most luminous and dazzling objects ; and hence the Eagle is often seen to ascend to the higher regions of the atmosphere, gazing on the unclouded sun as on an ordinary and familiar object.

The rapid motions executed by birds have also a reference to the perfection of their vision; for if Nature, while she en- dowed them with great agility and vast muscular strength, had left them as short-sighted as ourselves, their latent powers would have availed them nothing, and the dangers of a per- petually impeded progress would have repressed or extin- guished their ardor. We may then, m general, consider the celerity with which an animal moves, as a just indication of the perfection of its vision. A bird, therefore, shooting swiftly

INTRODUCTION.

XXI

through the air, must undoubtedly see better than one which slowly describes a waving tract. The weak-sighted bat, flying carefully through bars of willow, even when the eyes were ex- tinguished, may seem to suggest an exception to this rule of relative velocity and vision ; but in this case, as in that of some blind individuals of the human species, the e.xquisite auditory apparatus seems capable of supplying the defect of sight. Nor are the flickerings of the bat, constantly performed in a narrow circuit, at all to be compared to the distant and lofty soarings of the Eagle, or the wide wanderings of the smaller birds, who often annually pass and repass from the arctic circle to the equator.

The idea of motion, and all the other ideas connected with It, such as those of relative velocities, extent of country, the proportional height of eminences, and of the various inequali- ties that prevail on the surface, are therefore more precise in birds, and occupy a larger share of their conceptions, than in the grovelling quadrupeds. Nature would seem to have pointed Out this superiority of vision, by the more conspicuous and elaborate structure of its organ ; for in birds the eye is larger in proportion to the bulk of the head than in quadrupeds ; it is also more delicate and finely fashioned, and the impressions it receives must consequently excite more vivid ideas.

Another cause of difference in the instincts of birds and quadrupeds is the nature of the element in which they live, birds know better than man the degrees of resistance in the uir. Its temperature at different heights, its relative density, and uiany other particulars, probably, of which we can form no adequate conception. They foresee more than we, and indi- cate better than our weather-glasses, the changes which happen in that voluble fluid ; for often have they contended with the violence of the wind, and still oftener have they borrowed the a vantage of its aid. The Eagle, soaring above the clouds, can at will escape the scene of the storm, and in the lofty region of ca m, far within the aerial boundary of eternal frost,* enjoy a

_ o mean heights of eternal frost under the equator and at the latitude of J and 6o° are, respectively, 15,207, 11484, and 3,818 feet.

xxii INTRODUCTION.

serene sky and a bright sun, while the terrestrial animals re- main involved in darkness and exposed to all the fury of the tempest. In twenty-four hours it can change its climate, and sailing over different countries, it will form a picture exceeding the powers of the pencil or the imagination. The quadruped knows only the spot where it feeds, its valley, mountain, or plain ; it has no conception of the expanse of surface or of remote distances, and generally no desire to push forward its excursions beyond the bounds of its immediate wants. Hence remote journeys and extensive migrations are as rare among quadrupeds as they are frequent among birds. It is this desire, founded on their acquaintance with foreign countries, on the consciousness of their expeditious course, and on their foresight of the changes that will happen in the atmosphere, and the revolutions of seasons, that prompts them to retire together at the powerful suggestions of an unerring instinct. When their food begins to fail, or the cold and heat to incom- mode them, their innate feelings and latent powers urge them to seek the necessary remedy for the evils that threaten their being. The inquietude of the old is communicated to the young; and collecting in troops by common consent, influ- enced by the same general wants, impressed with the approach- ing changes in the circumstances of their existence, they give way to the strong reveries of instinct, and wing their way over land and sea to some distant and better country.

Comparing animals with each other, we soon perceive that smell, in general, is much more acute among the quadrupeds than the birds. Even the pretended scent of the Vulture is imaginary, as he does not perceive the tainted carrion, on which he feeds, through a wicker basket, though its odor is as potent as in the open air. This choice also of decaying flesh is probably regulated by his necessities and the deficiency of his muscular powers to attack a living, or even tear in pieces a recent, prey. The structure of the olfactory organ in birds is obviously inferior to that of quadrupeds ; the external nostrils are wanting, and those odors which might excite sensation have access only to the duct leading from the palate ; and even

INTRODUCTION. xxiii

in those, where the organ is disclosed, the nerves, which take their origin from it, are far from being so numerous, so large, or so expanded as in the quadrupeds. We may therefore regard touch in man, smell in the quadruped, and sight in birds, as respectively the three most perfect senses which exercise a general influence on the character.

After sight, the most perfect of the senses in birds appears to be hearing, which is even superior to that of the quadru- peds, and scarcely exceeded in the human species. We per- ceive with what facility they retain and repeat tones, successions of notes, and even words; we delight to listen to their un- wearied songs, to the incessant warbling of their tuneful affec- tion. Their ear and throat are more ductile and powerful than in other animals, and their voice more capacious and generally agreeable. A Crow, which is scarcely more than the thousandth part the size of an ox, may be heard as far, or farther ; the Nightingale can fill a wider space with its music than the human voice. This prodigious extent and power of sound depend entirely on the structure of their organs ; but the support and continuance of their song result solely from their internal emotions.

The windpipe is wider and stronger in birds than in any other class of animals, and usually terminates below in a large cavity that augments the sound. The lungs too have greater extent, and communicate with internal cavities which are capable of being expanded with air, and, besides lightening the body, give additional strength to the voice. Indeed, the formation of the thorax, the lungs, and all the organs connected 'yith these, seems expressly calculated to give force and dura- tion to their utterance.

Another circumstance, showing the great power of voice in birds, is the distance at which they are audible in the higher J'cgions of the atmosphere. An Eagle may rise at least to the height of seventeen thousand feet, for it is there just visible. Flocks of Storks and Geese may mount still higher, since, not- withstanding the space they occupy, they soar almost out of ®'ght; their cry will therefore be heard from an altitude of

XXIV

INTRODUCTION.

more than three miles, and is at least four times as powerful as the voice of men and quadrupeds.

Sweetness of voice and melody of song are qualities which in birds are partly natural and partly acquired. The facility with which they catch and repeat sounds, enables them not only to borrow from each other, but often even to copy the more diffi- cult inflections and tones of the human voice, as well as of musical instruments. It is remarkable that in the tropical regions, where the birds are arrayed in the most glowing colors, their voices are hoarse, grating, singular, or terrific. Our sylvan Orpheus (the Mocking-bird), the Brown Thrush, the IVarbling Flycatcher, as well as the Linnet, the Thrush, the Blackbird, and the Nightingale of Europe, pre-eminent for song, are all of the plainest colors and weakest tints.

The natural tones of birds, setting aside those derived from education, express the various modifications of their wants and passions ; they change even according to different times and circumstances. The females are much more silent than the males ; they have cries of pain or fear, murmurs of inquietude or solicitude, especially for their young; but of song they are generally deprived. The song of the male is inspired by ten- der emotion, he chants his affectionate lay with a sonorous voice, and the female replies in feeble accents. The Nightin- gale, when he first arrives in the spring, without his mate, is silent ; he begins his lay in low, faltering, and unfrequent airs ; and it is not until his consort sits on her eggs that his en- chanting melody is complete : he then tries to relieve and amuse her tedious hours of incubation, and warbles more pathetically and variably his amorous and soothing lay. In a state of nature this propensity for song only continues through the breeding season, for after that period it either entirely ceases, becomes enfeebled, or loses its sweetness.

Conjugal fidelity and parental affection are among the most conspicuous traits of the feathered tribes. The pair unite their labors in preparing for the accommodation of their expected progeny; and during the time of incubation their participa- tion of the same cares and solicitudes continually augments

INTRODUCTION.

XXV

their mutual attachment. When the young appear, a new source of care and pleasure opens to them, still strengthening the ties of affection ; and the tender charge of rearing and defending their infant brood requires the joint attention of both parents. The warmth of first affection is thus succeeded hy calm and steady attachment, which by degrees extends. Without suffering any diminution, to the rising branches of the femily.

This conjugal union, in the rapacious tribe of birds, the Eagles and Hawks, as well as with the Ravens and Crows, con- tinues commonly through life. Among many other kinds it is also of long endurance, as we may perceive in our common Pewee and the Blue-bird, who year after year continue to fre- •fuent and build in the same cave, box, or hole in the decayed Orchard tree. But, in general, this association of the sexes expires with the season, after it has completed the intentions of reproduction, in the preservation and rearing of the off- spring. The appearance even of sexual distinction often van- ishes in the autumn, when both the parents and their young are then seen in the same humble and oblivious dress. When they arrive again amongst us in the spring, the males in flocks, often by themselves, are clad anew in their nuptial livery ; and With vigorous songs, after the cheerless silence in which they have passed the winter, they now seek out their mates, and Warmly contest the right to their exclusive favor.

With regard to food, birds have a more ample latitude than quadrupeds ; flesh, fish, amphibia, reptiles, insects, fruits, grain, ®®eds, roots, herbs, in a word, whatever lives or vegetates, blor are they very select in their choice, but often catch indif- ferently at what they can most easily obtain. Their sense of faste appears indeed much less acute than in quadrupeds ; for if we except such as are carnivorous, their tongue and palate ^re, in general, hard, and almost cartilaginous. Sight and scent can only direct them, though they possess the latter in an infe- rior degree. The greater number swallow without tasting ; and mastication, which constitutes the chief pleasure in eating, is entirely wanting to them. As their horny jaws are unprovided

XXVI

INTRODUCTION.

with teeth, the food undergoes no preparation in the mouth, but is swallowed in unbruised and untasted morsels. Yet there is reason to believe that the first action of the stomach, or its preparatory venliiculits, affords in some degree the ruminating gratification of taste, as after swallowing food, in some insectiv- orous and carnivorous birds, the motion of the mandibles, ex- actly like that of ordinary tasting, can hardly be conceived to exist without conveying some degree of gratifying sensation.

The clothing of birds varies with the habits and climates they inhabit. The aquatic tribes, and those which live in northern regions, are [jrovided with an abundance of plumage and fine down, from which circumstance often we may form a correct judgment of their natal regions. In all climates, aqua- tic birds are almost equally feathered, and are provided with posterior glands containing an oily substance for anointing their feathers, which, aided by their thickness, prevents the admission of moisture to their bodies. These glands are less conspicuous in land birds, unless, like the fishing Eagles, their habits be to plunge in the water in pursuit of their prey.

The general structure of feathers seems purposely adapted both for warmth of clothing and security of flight. In the wings of all birds which fly, the webs composing the vanes, or plumy sides of the