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

[Plate L. The olive-sided flycatcher. (Contopus borealis.) cont.],   pp. 73-74


Page 73


RED-BELLIED NUTHATCH-WOOD PEWEE.
Maynard's book above quoted, that it nests generally in the fork
of a pine-tree, the only nest found by him in any other situation
being placed on the outer limb of an apple-tree. Mr. Audubon
mentions the Magdaleine Islands and Labrador as other localities.
In the.reverse direction, the bird has been traced in New York,
New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, but I never saw it in Maryland or
Virginia; and in including it in my South Carolina list, I relied
entirely upon Prof. R. W. Gibbes, of Charleston. He very likely
included it on the strength of Audubon's statement of its occur-
rence in Georgia. The rarity of the bird, along the whole Atlan-
tic coast south of New England, may be inferred from the fore-
going.
Turning now to the west, we find Audubon again quoting Nut-
tall for its occurrence " in the dark fir-woods of the Columbia."
This is corroborated by Dr. Cooper, who says that the Olive-sided
Flycatcher "1 is very common, arriving early in May, and frequent-
ing the borders of woods, where, from the summit of some tall,
dead tree, its loud, melancholy cry resounds through the day,
during the whole of summer. It frequents the small pine-groves
along the coast, as well as in the interior, and remains until late in
September." More recently, the same observer gives the species as
" resident" in most parts of California, stating that he found
them
rather common in the coast-range toward Santa Cruz, where they
had nests in May; and saw them at Lake Tahoe in September.
In Colorado, according to Mr. Trippe, it breeds, though it is not
very common. ", This Flycatcher," he says, "1 arrives at Idaho
Springs late in May, and remains till late in August or early in
September. It is quite uncommon, only three or four pairs having
been observed throughout the summer, and these at widely different
points, each pair apparently monopolizing a wide range. It keeps
in the tops of the trees, and is an active Flycatcher; its voice is
loud and distinct; and its nest is placed in the top of a pine, and
zealously guarded from all intrusion with as much fierceness and
energy as the Kingbird's." I did not observe it any season in Ari-
zona, but the presumption is that it visits that Territory, since it is
known to go south, through Mexico, and to Central America.
-Coues.
The Red-bellied Nuthatch. (Sitta canadensis.)
Fig. 2.
"This pretty little bird is four inches long, and seven and three-
quarters broad. It is usually found with the Chickadees and
smaller Woodpeckers, busily engaged in search of food. Its
habits are similar to the last named. It is equally as active and in-
dustrious in search for the larvae and eggs of insects, which it ob-
tains by boring in the bark, and knocking off the moss and dead
pieces of trees with their sharp, powerful bills.
"d This bird is particularly fond of the seeds of pine-trees. You
may traverse many thousand acres of oak, hickory, and chestnut
woods, during winter, without meeting with a single individual;
but no sooner do you enter among the pines than, if the air be
still, you have only to listen for a few moments, and their notes
will direct you where to find them."- Wison.
It is a hardy bird, and many spend the winter as far north as
Nova Scotia. A few are said to winter in the Southern States.
Audubon says: "1 I found it building its nest, near Eastport, in
Maine, on the x9th of May, before the Bluebird had made its ap-
pearance there, and while much ice still remained on the northern
exposures. The nest is dug in a low, dead stump, seldom more
than four feet from the ground, both the male and female working
by turns until they have got to the depth of about fourteen inches.
The eggs, four in number, are small, and of a white color, tinged
with a deep blush, and sprinkled with reddish dots. They raise,
I believe, only one brood in the season."
The Wood Pewee. (Conto pus virens.)
Fig. 3.
This species usually makes its appearance in the eastern part of
Pennsylvania in the latter part of April, and commences building
about the middle of May. It prefers the loneliness of the forest
generally, to the busy haunts of man. It is described by writers
as being more retired in its habits than its cousins, as well as more
suspicious.  In my early ornithological peregrinations, I had al-
ways encountered it far from the scenes of active life, its nest being
found in the recesses of dense forests, saddled upon the horizontal
limb of some gigantic, high-towering oak. Last spring I was sur-
prised to meet with several within a few yards of occupied dwell-
ings, in the midst of a rather thickly settled portion of our town.
These nests were fixed upon the horizontal branches of apple-trees,
at elevations less than ten feet from the ground. The trees had
been often visited by several of my pupils, who had even whiled
their leisure moments away underneath their sheltering boughs,
while the mother-birds sat within their cozy nests overhead, ap-
parently in the enjoyment of calm satisfaction and perfect se-
curity.
It is true that birds originally conceive very unfavorable opinions
of man, and seek safety and immunity from his presence in inter-
minable forests and impenetrable undergrowth, under the fancied
belief that he is their inveterate foe; but through the habit of as-
sociation, or accidental intrusion into his presence, they have
learned more of his nature, particularly in these latter times when
the law is their protection, and from holding him aloof as a being
to be hated, they begin to see his good qualities, and draw near to
his dwellings and render to him manifold services.
Nuttall's description of the nest of this species, which has the
credit of being the best that is recorded, may have been a faithful
portraiture thereof in his day, and no doubt will be found to hold
good in various sections, as it does in New England, according to
the authority of Samuels; but in this section of the country it is
somewhat different, and needs remodeling. Instead of being uni-
versally saddled upon an old moss-grown and decayed limb, I
have frequently seen it resting between the forked twigs of an oak,
and one that was in a perfectly living condition. The body of the
fabric occasionally consists of wiry grass or root-fibers, but I have
never detected the small branching lichens held together with cob-
webs and caterpillars' silk, moistened with saliva. In a nest which
I have before me, which can be taken as a type, the bulk of it is
made up entirely of small strips of liber plucked from trees and
fence-rails, tow, and wool, arranged in a circular manner, and
pressed compactly together by the body of the bird. One of the
most prominent features of the nest is its external coating of bluish-
gray crustaceous lichens, of the kind that are found upon the
trunks of trees, which give it a very close resemblance to that of
the Hummingbird, which it nearly rivals in symmetry and beauty,
When the nests are saddled upon the limb, there is much saving
of material, economy doubtless being practiced at the expense of
the comfort of the young. The bottom of the nest is so slight,
that upon being detached from the branch, it presents a sieve-like
appearance. In those that have been placed in the angle consti-
tuted by two uniting twigs, there has always been an abundance of
material, thus making a soft and comfortable nest for the tender
brood.
The habit of constructing the nest upon the superior face of a
branch was doubtless acquired in order to secure protection, the
nest in this position presenting to an enemy at a distance the sem-
blance of an anomalous growth, overgrown with moss, such as are
sometimes found upon the diseased branches of the oak.
I have taken the nests of this species during the latter part of July
and the early part of August, with eggs, but whether a second lay-
ing or not I am not prepared to say; possibly the work of birds
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