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

Plate XLIX. The savanna sparrow. (Passerculus savanna.),   pp. 69-72


Page 69


RED-POLL LINNET-PURPLE FINCH-SAVANNA SPARROW-PINE FINCH.
Dbliged to supply itself with food, by being obliged to draw toward
its bill a little chariot filled with seeds. The length of this species
is five inches, and its breadth eight inches.
(See page 84 for Fig. 8.)
The Red-poll Linnet. (_giothus linarius.)
Fig. 9.
The habitat of this species ranges from the Atlantic to the Pa-
cific, and in winter to the South in flocks, at which season it is
also met with in the Middle and Western States. According to
Richardson, this is one among the few hardy and permanent resi-
dents in the fur countries, where it may be seen in the coldest
weather, on the banks of thee lakes and rivers, hopping among
the reeds and canes, or clinging to their stalks. They are nu-
merous throughout the year, even in the most northern districts,
and from the rarity of their migrations into the United States, it
is obvious that they are influenced by no ordinary causes to evacu-
ate the regions in which they are bred. Famine, in all proba-
bility, or the scarcity of food, urges them to advance toward the
south. It is certain that they do not forsake their natal regions to
seek shelter from the cold. A similar species is at home through-
out Europe.
When in a wild state, elder-berries are its favorite food, though
it also eats linseed, rape-seed, etc., moistening all its food in its
crop before subjecting it to the process of digestion. Wilson says:
"They seem particularly fond of the seeds of the common elder,
and hang, head downward, while feeding, in the manner of the
Yellow-bird. They seem extremely unsuspicious at such times,
and will allow a very near approach without betraying any symp-
toms of alarm." "After being shot at," says Nuttall, "'
they only
pass on to the next tree, and resume their feeding as before.
They have a quailing call perfectly similar with that of the Yellow-
bird, twie twie, or tshe-vee; and when crowded together in flight,
make a confused chirping 'twit'itwit 'twit 'twit'wit, with a rat-
+ling noise, and sometimes go off with a simultaneous twitter."
1This species is commended mostly on account of the beauty of its
plumage. "' It may, however, be taught," says Bechstein, "
to
draw up its own water, and perform other similar feats, as well
as to eat out of its master's hand." It is a very affectionate bird,
constantly caressing not only its own mate, but even Linnets,
Goldfinches, Siskins, and Canaries, if confined in the same cage.
It seems, therefore, not improbable that it might be induced to pair
with some, if not all of these. " The nest," says Selby, "
is
built in a bush or low tree, such as willow, elder, or hazel, of
moss and the stalks of dry grass, intermixed with down from the
catkin of the willow, which also forms the lining, and renders it a
particularly soft and warm receptacle for the eggs and young.
The eggs are four or five in number; their color, pale bluish-
green, spotted with orange-brown, principally toward the larger
end." This species is five inches and a quarter long, and eight
inches and a half broad.
The Purple Finch. (Carpodacus pzurpureus.)
Fig. io.
This is a fine-looking bird, and it has a beautiful warbling song.
But in consequence of its bad habit of cutting off and eating the
buds and blossoms of fruit-trees, it is much disliked by the farmers
and fruit-growers. Of its habits, Wilson says: " This is a winter
bird of passage, coming to us in large flocks from the north in
September and October; great numbers remaining with us in
Pennsylvania during the whole winter, feeding on the seeds of
the poplar, buttonword, juniper, cedar, and on those of many
rank weeds that flounsh in rich bottoms and along the margin of
creeks. When the season is very severe, they proceed to the
South, as far at least as Georgia, returning north early in April.
They now frequent the elm-trees, feeding on the slender but sweet
covering of the flowers; and, as soon as the cherries put out their
blossoms, feed almost exclusively on the stamina of the flowers.
Afterward the apple-blossoms are attacked in the same manner;
and their depredations on these continue till they disappear, which
is usually about the xoth or middle of May.  .  .  . About
the middle of September, I found these birds numerous on Long
Island, and around Newark, in New Jersey. They fly at a con-
siderable height in the air; and their note is a single chirp, like
that of the Rice-bird. They possess great boldness of spirit,
and when caught, bite violently, and hang by the bill from your
hand, striking with great fury; but they are soon reconciled to
confinement, and in a day or two are quite at home. I have kept
a pair of these birds upward of nine months to observe their man-
ners. One was caught in a trap, the other was winged with the
gun. Both are as familiar as if brought up from the nest by the
hand, and seem to prefer hempseed and cherry-blossoms to all
other kinds of food. Both male and female, though not crested,
are almost constantly in the habit of erecting the feathers of the
crown. They appear to be of a tyrannical and domineering dispo-
sition; for they nearly killed an Indigo-bird, and two or three
others that were occasionally placed with them, driving them
into a corner of the cage, standing on them, and tearing out their
feathers, striking them on the head. munchinp, their wines. etc..
till obliged to interfere; and, even if called to, the aggressor would
only turn us a malicious eye for a moment, and renew his outrage
as before. They are a hardy, vigorous bird."
Within late years there seems to be a greater increase of this
species, and it is now considered a common bird, particularly in
spring and fall. The nest is usually built in a pine or cedar tree,
and is sometimes thirty or even forty feet from the ground-oftener
about fifteen or twenty. It consists of fine roots and grasses, and
is lined with horse-hair, mosses, and hogs' bristles. The eggs are
of a bluish-green color, and marked with spots and streaks of
black. Two broods are often reared in the season. This species
is six inches long, and in extent it is nine inches.
PLATE XLIX.
The Savanna Sparrow. (Passerculus savanna.)
Fig. 1.
In colors, this bird has a close general likeness to other species
of the family of Finches-a fact which renders it absolutely nec-
essary to represent all the different species, so that they may be-
come more familiar.
It may safely be said to be abundant in all parts of North
America-in the fields, on the plains, and by the waysides.  In
winter, it is mostly met with along the seashore, near the low
countries on the Atlantic coast, where the seeds and insects they
feed on are most abundant. Its nest is made in the grass, and is
composed of fine grasses and roots, neatly interwoven. They
usually lay four eggs, grayish-white or pale greenish, and are
slightly spotted. Their mating song is simple and melodious,
resembling the syllables 'chewvie, 'chewitt, 'chewitt, 'chewu-et,
'chewie. It also has a quite faint, yet shrill, chirp, somewhat
similar to the chirpings of a cricket. This species is four and a
half inches long, and eight and a half broad.
The Pine Finch. (Chrysomitris pinus.)
Fig. 2.
Although this species, as its name implies, is mostly found in-
habiting the groves and pine forests, it may also be seen frequent-
ng the snady, sneltered borders oI creeks and rivulets. W here-
69


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