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Studer, Jacob Henry, 1840-1904. / Birds of North America

Plate IX. The woodcock. (Philohela minor.),   p. 10

Page 10

northward. But I have rarely met with them alon
shores until autumn, when the young, which, lik
other Terns with which I am acquainted, mostly I
selves until spring, make their appearance there.
a single individual when on my way to Labrador,
visit to that country. Often have I watched their g
and rapid flight, as they advanced and passed over
twenty, thirty, or more, during the month of May,
opening her stores anew, benignly smiled upon the
The Woodcock. (Phzilohela minor.)
This bird, so universally known to our sportsman,
at the bottom of the plate. It arrives in the Cer
March, and if the weather is mild, even earlier, and
first frosts forbode the approach of winter. It is sot
here in December, and it may be that in mild winters,
birds remain until spring. During the day the Wc
to the woods, or wooded swamps and thickets; towaan
usually fly out to the broad open glades, which lea(
woods, or to meadows and swampy places in the neig
carefully hidden observer can see the Woodcock pus
bill under the decayed leaves and turning them over,
hole close to another in the damp soft ground, as de(
flexible bill will permit, to get at the larvae, bugs, or
beneath. In a similar manner he examines the fre
which is soon populated by a multitude of larvae of
never tarries long at any place. Larva! of all kinds
naked snails, especially angle-worms, form his princ
If in hot seasons his favorite resorts in watery r(
are generally dried up, he descends to the marshy
large rivers.
The female Woodcock usually begins to lay in A
is built in a quiet, retired part of the wood, frequentl
of an old stump; it is constructed of a few wither,
stalks of grass put together with but little art. The e;
five in number, about an inch and a half long, and .
in diameter, tapering suddenly at the small end; the
clay color, thickly marked with brown spots-part
large end the spots are interspersed with others of a
ple. The young Woodcocks, when six to ten (lays
ered with down of a brownish white color, and are
the bill along the crown to the hind head with a bi
deep brown; another line of the same color curves i
and runs to the hind head; another stripe reaches fri
the rudiments of the tail, and still another extends a
under the wings. The throat and breast are consi4
with rufous, and the quills at this age are just burst'
light blue sheaths, and appear marbled as on the old
taken they utter a long, clear, but very feeble " pee
than that of a mouse. They are, on the whole,
young Partridges in running and skulking.
The Woodcock is a nocturnal bird, seldom stirring
sunset, but at that time, as well as in early morni
in spring, he rises by a kind of spiral course to I
uttering now and then a sudden " quack;" having I
most height he hovers around in a wild irregular ma
ing a sort of murmuring sound, and descends with i
same way he arose.
The large head of the Woodcock is of a very si
mation, somewhat triangular, and the eyes set at a
from the bill, and high up in the head; by this me
great range of vision. His flight is slow; when f
g our Atlantic   time he rises to the height of the bushes or the underwc3d,
e those of all   usually drops down again at a short distance, running off
a fi
-eep by them-    yards as soon as he touches the ground.
Nor did I see
or during my
;racexul, lightp            I lu vvuU I nirutir.  I urarcs muszetznus.)
.in groups of
when nature,                       Fig. I, Male. Fig. 2, Female.
favored land."     The Wood Thrush is one of our best and sweetest singers.
dubon writes of him as follows:
I" The song of the Wood Thrush, although composed of but few
notes, is so powerful, distinct, clear, and mellow, that it is impos-
sible for any person to hear it without being struck by the effect
which it produces on the mind. I do not know to what instru-
mental sounds I can compare these notes, for I really know none
so melodious and harmonical. They gradually rise in strength, and
is represented  then fall in gentle cadences, becoming at length so low as
to be
itral States in  scarcely audible, like the emotions of the lover who, at
one mo-
stays till the  ment exults in the hope of possessing the object of his affections,
netimes found    and the next pauses in suspense, doubtful of the result
of all his
, some of these  efforts to please.
~odcocks keep      "Several of these birds seem to challenge each other
from differ-
d evening they   ent portions of the forest, particularly toward evening,
and at that
i through the    time nearly all the other songsters being about to retire
to rest, the
-hborhood. A     notes of the Wood Thrush are doubly pleasing. One would
;hing his long   that each individual is anxious to excel his distant rival,
and I have
, or boring one  frequently thought that on such occasions their music is
more than
ep as his soft,  ordinarily effective, as it then exhibits a degree of skillful
worms hidden    lation quite beyond my power to describe. These concerts
are con-
wsh cow-dung,    tinued for some time after sunset, and take place in the
month of
- insects. He    June, when the females are sitting."
of insects and    The Wood Thrush inhabits almost the whole continent of
ipal food.       America, from Hudson's Bay to the Gulf. The very next morn-
ecesses inland   ing after his arrival he will mount to the top of some small
tree and
shores of our    announce himself by his sweet song, which, although not
I ing a great variety of notes, is exceedingly mellow and melodious,
,pril; the nest  poured forth in a kin4 of ecstacy, and becoming more charming
y at the roots   every repetition, especially if several of them are heard
at the same
ed leaves and    time, in different parts of the wood, each trying to outdo
the other.
ggs are four or  He is always in good humor, and his voice is often heard
on rainy
about an inch    days, from morning to nightfall. His favorite retreats are
are of a dunch   shaded hollows, through which meander small creeks or rills,
icularly at the  hung with alder bushes and wild grapes. It is in such places,
verypale put th  near them, that he builds his nest, a little above the ground.
It is
veold ary  cov  D constructed outwardly of withered leaves to prevent dampness;
old, are coy-   cnsr
marked from     these are layers of knotty stalks of withered grass mixed
with mud
road stripe of   and smoothly formed; the inside lining consists of fine
dry roots of
under tim eyes  plants. The female lays four, sometimes five, light blue
om the back to  The Wood Thrush is a shy and unobtrusivebird, appearing either
Llong the sides  j single or in pairs, and feeding on different kinds of
berries, as well
Jerably tingedes  as on beetles or caterpillars.
ing from their     On his migration to the South he never appears in the
birds. When   l plains, but hops and flies swiftly through the woods. Occasionally
p," not louder   he takes a rest on a low branch, uttering a low chuckling
*ncl ierkinoa his tail Un nd clown at each note: then for a few mn-
tar interior to
g about before
ng, especially
great heights,
anner, produc-
rapidity in the
ments he keeps perfectly still, with the feathers of his neck and
back a little raised.
The Yellow-bellied Woodpecker. (Sthyraticus varius.)
Fig. 3, Male. Fig. 4, Female.
This is one of our resident birds, and is often to be met with in
.    .1  .  I - 1___  I  _ ! ,  !1_-._  T. :_  __  .1 _  _  !A
ngular contor-  the thickets ot the woods in midwinter. it is generally considerea
great distance   a handsome bird, and in its manners and mode of living resembles
!ans lie has a  I the small spotted Woodpeckers.
lushed at any      He is frequently seen in their company, especially in
the fall,

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