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

[Plate XXVIII. The yellow-billed cuckoo. (Coccygus Americanus.) cont.],   pp. 31-32

Page 31

crevasses, and rotten bark, without the least fatigue, searching out
insects or their eggs or larva.
This species inhabits almost the whole of North America. In
the United States it is more numerous in the Middle and Western
than in the So ithern States. It has been noticed, in mild winters,
in the southern part of Ohio. On the approach of cold, frosty
weather it generally migrates toward the South. If this bird is
taken hold of, by the hand, when winged, it will fight dexterously
and with great spirit. In confinement, it easily becomes recon-
ciled and familiar, and will subsist on hemp-seed, cherry-kernels,
apple-seeds, and the kernels of broken hickory-nuts; but it re-
quires a cage made altogether of wire, as it will chip its way, in
true Woodpecker style, through the wooden part of ordinary cages.
The whole upper parts of the Crested Titmouse are of a dark
cinereous or lead color, except the front, which is black, tinged
with reddish. The whole lower parts are of a dirty white, except-
ing the sides under the wings, which are of a reddish-brown
color. The legs and feet are light blue; the bill black, short, and
pretty strong. The wing-feathers are relieved with a dusky hue
on the inner vane. The eyes are dark hazel, and the lores white.
The head is, as already remarked, ornamented with a high crest,
pointed, and almost upright. The tail is somewhat forked, and
considerably concave below, and of the same color above as the
back. The tips of the wings are dusky; the tongue is very short,
truncated, and ends in three-sometimes four-sharp points. The
female can not be distinguished from the male by the plumage.
Both male and female have the same markings, as well as the red-
dish brown on the sides under the wings. The nest is built in the
hollow of a tree. The cavity is often dug by itself, and the nest
consists of some dry fibrous roots of grass, the cast-off exuvix of
snakes, horse-hair, and feathers inside. The female begins to lay
early in May. The eggs, usually five or six in number, are of a
pure white, with a few small reddish spots on the larger end.
The whole family may be seen, in the month of July, hunting to-
gether, the parent birds keeping up a continual chatter-perhaps
to encourage and direct their inexperienced brood.
The Cardinal Grosbeak. (Cardinalis Virginianus.)
Fig. 3, Male. Fig. 4, Female.
This elegant bird, in his bridal dress, is beautifully but uniformly
colored. His soft and slightly glossy plumage is very even dark
red-highest in the head and breast. The face and throat are deep
black. The inner veins of the quill-feathers are light brown, the
shafts dark brown, and the bill of a coral-red color. The iris of
the eye is dark hazel, and the feet brownish gray. The plumage
of the female is lighter colored and less red, with a more reddish
hue predominant. The head and crest are red, but the back is
brownish, and the breast of a dull loam color. The front or face
and throat are not black, but of a dark ash color or gray. The
bill is also a little lighter coral-red.
The Cardinal is a common bird in the Southern States, and is
found in great numbers in the Middle and Western States. When
the winters are mild, he remains in the Middle aud Western States
all the year round, but in severe winters wanders toward the South.
He is a very pleasing bird, and, by his splendid colors, is an orna-
ment to the forest, especially in winter, when his beautifully red
color contrasts finely with the dull appearance of the leafless trees.
In dayime he loves to roam about in shrubbery interwoven with
briers and other winding plants. From such places he makes his
excursions to the neighboring fields and gardens, if the forests fail
to yield him sufficient food. He is just as often met with in the
nighborhood of cities as in the depths of the most solitary forests.
In the Southern States, he is sometimes seen in the interior cities
and villages, and it is seldom that one can step into a garden in
those States without seeing the "Redbird" slipping through the
bushes. Wherever he is, he is welcome, for he is a pet with every-
body-his beautiful plumage, his rich song, and melodious whis-
tling giving him a ready introduction everywhere.
During the summer, the Cardinal is only found in pairs, but in
fall and winter he is to be seen in small societies. He lives in
harmony with most of the smaller birds, but not so with birds of
his own kindred, especially during the mating and breeding season.
When he remains during the winter, he often comes to the farm-
yard, hopping around with Sparrows, Pigeons, Snow-birds, and
Buntings, and picking up seeds, examining the hedges of gardens
and fields for such food. With his strong and thick bill he skill-
fully cracks the hard corn or husks out of the kernels of oats, and
grinds the grain of wheat, and is therefore pretty certain to find
subsistence during winter. He takes his nights' rest in a neigh-
boring hay-stack or a well-sheltered tree, and so manages to out-
live the otherwise fatal winter. He is a restless bird, remaining
only a few minutes in the same place, but flying or hopping about
in every direction. On the ground he hops tolerably well, but
among the branches he moves skillfully and with perfect ease.
His flight is by starts, rather hard and quick, as well as noisy, but
usually not far extended. In severe winters the Cardinal emi-
grates, as already stated, roaming about the country, but with the
beginning of March returning to his old habitation. He performs
his journeys, as one might say, on foot, at least for a great part
of the distance, as he hops and skips from bush to bush and from
forest to forest, until he arrives at his destination. As with many
other birds, the male Cardinal appears a few days earlier than the
female. Soon after their arrival, they begin to mate, and the
males, inspired with jealousy, commence fighting each other.
They are so quarrelsome that they ferociously attack any in-
truder, whom they will follow from bush to bush, sometimes
fighting him in the air, but never giving him any rest until he is
successfully driven out of their view. They then return to their
former place, expressing their joy with a loud and quavering song.
The strongest attachment is found between the male and female.
Their resting-place is a bush, a tree in the neighborhood of the
farm, or in the midst of a field, on the border or in the middle of a
forest. The woody borders of rivers seem to be the favorite place
for building their nests. The nest is often found in the immediate
neighborhood of a farm, and in many instances only a few yards
from that of the Mocking-bird. The nest consists of dry leaves
and fine branches, especially some thorny branches, interwoven
with stalks. The lining inside is made of fine dry grass. The
full complement of eggs is from four to six. The color of them is
a dirty white, spinkled all over with olive-brown spots; but it is
curious that scarcely ever two eggs are found alike in the nest, but
that they all differ in coloring as well as in their marking.
In the Middle and Western States, the Cardinal breeds but once
in a season; in the Southern States, twice regularly, and sometimes
three times. The young, after they are full fledged, are fed a few
days more by their parents and then left to take care of themselves.
Several kinds of grains, seeds, berries, and perhaps insects serve
them as food. In the spring, they live on the flowers of the maple;
in summer, on elder and other berries; in fall, grain and corn, and in
winter, whatever they can obtain.
The Cardinal Grosbeak may be ranked among the best singing-
birds of this continent. His notes are clear and loud, resembling
the notes of a flageoletto at first, and gradually declining until they
appear as a mere whisper. During the season of love-making they
give free play to their most powerful notes. Being conscious of his
great power he swells his throat and breast, spreads his tail, flaps
his wings, turning alternately his head to the right and left, so as
to make known to others his own ecstasy at the melodious beauty
of his voice. These notes and gestures are frequently repeated, the
bird during the time pausing only to take breath. The beautiful
tunes of the Cardinal can be heard long before sunrise. During the
heat of the day he is silent, but as soon as the heat begins to pass off,
he renews his song with more vigor apparently than in the morn-
ing, and does not cease until surrounded by the shades of night.

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