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Studer, Jacob Henry, 1840-1904. / Birds of North America
(1903)

Plate XLVIII. The sharp-tailed finch. (Ammodromus candacutus.),   p. 66


Page 66


PALM WARBLER-SHARP-TAILED FINCH-TREE SPARROW.
intervals, 'tsh', 'tsh', 'tsh', 'tsh', 'tshaYa, or ishe, ishe, tsh, tshayia,
tshe, tshe,-this last phrase rather plaintive and interrogatory, as
if expecting the recognition of its mate. The Summer Yellow-
bird, to attract attention from its nest, when sitting, or when the
nest contains young, sometimes feigns lameness, hanging its tail
and head, and fluttering feebly along in the path of the spectator.
At other times, when certain that the intrusion had proved harm-
less, the bird would only go off a few feet, utter a feeble complaint,
or remain wholly silent, and almost instantly resume her seat."
The length of this species is five inches, and its extent about
seven inches.
The Palm, or Yellow Red-poll Warbler. (Dendroeca palmarum.)
Fig. I2.
Late authorities agree that the Palm Warbler is an abundant
species, and may be seen in good numbers during winter in the
South. " It passes rapidly," says Coues, " through the Middle
and Western States early in the spring, sometimes reaching the
Connecticut valley before the snow is gone, and returns more leis-
urely in autumn, lingering late by the way. It is found in New
England through October, and has even been seen in Massachu-
setts in November. Its habits are somewhat peculiar, some of
them, such as the continual jetting of the tail and fondness for the
ground, recalling the Seiuri rather than a bird of its own genus.
Unlike most Warblers, it is rarely, if ever, found in high thick
woods, being partial to coppices, hedge-rows, straggling shrub-
bery, and especially old waste fields, where it delights to ramble
and flutter in company with Yellow-rumps and various kinds of
Sparrows. It keeps much on the ground, running among the weeds
and stubble, and even on the open dust of the wayside, with a pe-
culiar tremulousness, something like that of the Titlark. Its song,
if it have one, I have never heard. Its only note, with us, is a
slight 'tstP,' indistinguishable from that of several of its allies.
This is corroborated by Dr. Brewer, as I learn from an early proof-
sheet of his work. He says: ' They have no other song than a
few simple and feeble notes, so thin and weak that they might
almost be mistaken for the sounds made by the common grass-
hopper."'
Maynard says: "The constant watchfulness of these birds,
which is exhibited by every movement, is necessary for their ex-
istence, for they usually inhabit open places, where they are in
constant danger from the attacks of enemies. At Key West, this
vigilance frequently saved their lives, for a Sparrow, Pigeon, or
Broad-winged Hawk would often come sweeping over them, and,
without a moment's warning, would dart like a flash at a Warbler;
but such forays almost always proved unsuccessful; for, although
the swoop of the Hawk was so rapid that the eye could scarcely
follow its movements, yet the Red-poll was on the alert, and, ut-
tering a shrill chirp of alarm, would instantly shoot into the nearest
prickly pear or mass of tangled vines, where it was safe from the
pursuer." The same good authority also says: "They are seldom
quiet for an instant; for, when perching, they are ever turning
their little heads right and left, while their bright eyes are carefully
scanning everything far or near. Their tails are also constantly
moving up and down. This lattter peculiarity at once distinguishes
the Yellow Red-polls from all other North American Warblers, for
none beside have this habit."
Its nest-building is described by Dr. Brewer as follows:
"I The Red-poll usually selects for the site of its nest the edge
of a swampy thicket, more or less open, placing it invariably upon
the ground. They are usually not large, about three and a half
inches in diameter and two and a half in depth, the diameter and
depth of the cavity averaging each only half an inch less. The
walls are compactly and elaborately constructed of an interweav-
ing of various fine materials, chiefly fine, dry grasses, slender
strips of bark, stems of the smaller plants, hypnum and other
mosses. Within, the nest is warmly and softly lined with down
and feathers."
The length of this species is five inches, and its extent is eight
inches.
PLATE XLVIII.
The Sharp-tailed Fineh. (Ammodromus candacutus.)
Fig. I.
This species is mostly confined to the neighborhood of the salt-
marshes on the coast, and during the breeding-season, is seldom to
be met with more than a few miles from such localities. It is a
peculiar species of North American bird. In its habits, it resem-
bles those of the Sea-side Finch, of which Wilson says: " It
inhabits the low, rush-covered sea islands along our Atlantic
coast, where I first found it; keeping almost continually within
the boundaries of tide-water, except when long and violent east
and northeasterly storms, with high tides, compel it to seek the
shore. On these occasions, it courses along the margin, and
among the holes and interstices of the weeds and sea-wrack, with
a rapidity equaled only by the nimblest of our Sand-pipers, and
very much in their manner. At these times, also, it roosts on the
ground, and runs about after dusk." The food of this species
consists chiefly of small shell-fish and fragments of small sea-
crabs. The nest is usually built the latter part of May, in a
tussock of grass above the tide-marks, and is constructed exter-
nally of coarse grasses strongly woven together,and lined with finer
grasses and sea-weed. The eggs are four to five in number, and
of a bluish-white color, sprinkled over with fine purplish-brown
dots; these dots are more numerous near the greater end. The
length of this species is five and a quarter inches, and about seven
inches broad.
The Canadian, or Tree Sparrow. (Shizella monticola.)
Fig. 2.
In its habitat, this species may be said to take in all portions
of North America. West of the Rocky Mountains, and in the
United States, it is only occasionally met with. Eastward it is
very abundant, and in great numbers makes its winter-quarters
in the Middle States, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, and
sometimes reaches as far as the Carolinas. It is a very hardy
bird, and is evidently suited to a cold climate, as it is often found
to winter in New England and the Canadas. Its breeding-range
extends from Labrador to Maine. Its nest is placed on trees,
bushes, or the ground, and is formed externally of mud and dry
grass, and lined with soft hair or down. According to Coues:
"I The eggs are much like that of the Song Sparrow, being pale-
bluish, speckled and blotched with different shades of reddish-
brown. It measures about three-fourths of an inch long by three-
fifths in breadth."
The same author also says, in narrating his observations of this
species, at Fort Randall:
"IAll the undergrowth of the river-bottom was full of them, in
troops sometimes numbering hundreds, singing as gaily, it seemed
to me, as in spring-time. With the colder weather of the follow-
ing month, so many moved off that I thought none would remain
to endure the rigor of winter, but such proved to be not the case.
The remainder simply retreated to the deepest recesses of the
shrubbery, where, protected from the biting winds, if not from the
cold, they passed the winter, and to all appearances very comfort-
ably. I account for their remaining at this inclement season, by
the profusion of seeds of various kinds that are to be obtained
during the whole winter; certainly, those that I shot were in good
condition, and generally had the cIop well filled. Their seclusion
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