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

[Plate LXXXVIII. Black ptilogonye--black-crested flycatcher. (Phaenopepla nitens.) cont.],   pp. 133-134


Page 133


HUMMING BIRD-TANAGER-FLY.CATCHER-GROSBEAKS-CAT BIRD.
Rufous-baoked or Red-backed Humming Bird. (Selasphorus rufus.)
Fig. 7.
The Rufous-backed is the only representative of the family that
is to be met with in the extreme north. The Rocky Mountains to
the Pacific, from Mexico to Alaska, is their abiding place. It
was first discovered by the navigator, Captain Cook. Of its
habits, Nuttall says:
" We began to meet with this species near the Blue Mountains
of the Columbia river, in the autumn, as we proceeded to the
west. We now, for the first time (April i6), saw the males in
numbers, darting, burring, and squeaking in the usual manner of
their tribe; but when engaged in collecting its accustomed sweets,
in all the energy of life, it seemed like a breathing gem, or magic
carbuncle of glowing fire, stretching out its gorgeous ruff, as if to
emulate the sun itself in splendor. Toward the close of May, the
females were sitting, at which time the males were uncommonly
quarrelsome and vigilant, darting out at me as I approached the
tree, probably near the nest, looking like an angry coal of brilliant
fire, passing within very little distance of my face, returning sev-
eraf times to the attack, sinking and darting with the utmost ve-
locity, at the same time uttering a curious reverberating, sharp
bleat, somewhat similar to the quivering twang of a dead twig,
yet also so much like the bleat of some small quadruped that for
some time I searched the ground, instead of the air, for the actor
in the scene. At other times, the males were seen darting up high
in the air, and whirling about each other in great anger, and with
much velocity. After these maneuvers, the aggressor returned
to the same dead twig, where for days he regularly took his station
with all the courage and angry vigilance of a King Bird. The
angry hissing or bleating note of this species seems something like
' wht 't It 't 't shvee,' tremulously uttered, as it whirls and sweeps
through the air, like a musket-ball, accompanied also by some-
thing like the whirr of the Night Hawk."
The nest is usually built on a twig; is composed externally of
mosses, lichens, and a few feathers, with slender, fibrous roots, in-
terwoven and lined with fine cottony seed-down.
Louisiana Tanager. (Pyranga ludoviciana.)
Fig. &
This conspicuously-plumaged Tanager is the western cousin of
the eastern Scarlet Tanager. It is met with in the Rocky Mount-
ains, thence to the Pacific. There is very little difference in the
note or song of the two species. The habits of the western spe-
cies are also very similar to those of its eastern cousin. Dr.
Cooper mentions the arrival of this species near San Diego on the
24th of April, and says: " The males come sometimes in advance,
clothed in their full summer livery, and are more bold and con-
spicuous than the females, which are rarely seen without close
watching. They frequent trees, feeding on insects and berries,
and singing much in the same manner as other species." " The
favorite habitat of this species," says Dr. Suckley, " in those
lo-
calities where I have observed it, is among the tall, red fir-trees
belonging to that magnificent species, the Abies longlassii. They
seemingly prefer the edges of the forest, rarely retiring to its
depths, unless for concealment, when alarmed. In early summer,
at Fort Steilacoom, they are generally seen during the middle of
the day, sunning themselves in the firs, occasionally darting from
one of these trees to another, or to some of the neighboring white
oaks (.. garryana), on the prairies. Later in the season, they
may be seen very actively flying about in quest of insect food for
their young. Both sexes, during the breeding season, are much
less shy; the males, during the daytime, frequently sitting on some
low limb, rendering the scene joyous with their delightful melody."
The eggs of this species, in size and shape, are very similar to
the Scarlet Tanager.
The Red or Vermilion Fly-catcher. (Pyrocephalus rubineus, var. mexi-
canus.)
Fig. 9.
The habitat of this species is in the valleys of the Rio Grande
and Colorado, and southward. It is a shy bird, and does not allow
one to approach within shooting distance. Its note is a low chirp.
Its general habits are the same as those of Fly-catchers.
Blue Grosbeak. (Guiraca cerulea.)
Fig. io.
This is one of our solitary species, that is mostly met with in the
more temperate sections of North America. It occasionally extends
its migrations as far as the State of Maine. The song consists of a
few sweet-toned notes, but the most common note is a loud chuck.
It is also described "1 as a rapid, intricate warble, like that of the
Indigo Bird, though stronger and louder." It is also claimed that
this species is closely allied to the Indigo Birds "1 otherwise than
merely by their coloration and structure." Wilson says: "They
are timid birds, watchful, silent, and active." Their food consists
of " hemp-seed, millet, and kernels of several kinds of berries."
The nest of this species is usually built in a tree or bush. The
eggs are light blue in color.
Evening Grosbeak. (Hesperipfhona vesfertina.)
Fig. ii.
This beautiful species is a resident along the Rocky Mountains
to New Mexico, Sierra Nevada, northward, also on Lake Supe-
rior, north and west. It was first discovered by Mr. William
Cooper, who says of it:
" In the north, they are not uncommon, but keep so high among
the cottonwoods and pines that they are rarely obtained. They do
not seem to come down near the coast, even at the Columbia river;
and, in this state (California), have never been met with in the
coast range of mountains. They feed chiefly on the seeds of pines,
spruces, and cottonwood poplars, occasionally seeking other seeds
nearer the ground. When feeding, they are very silent and diffi-
cult to perceive; but when they fly from one place to another they
utter a loud call-note. In spring, they have a rather short, but
melodious song, resembling that of the Robin, or Black-headed
Grosbeak."
Arctic Spotted Towhee. California Ground Robin. Cat Bird. (Pisilo
macueatus, var. megalonyx.)
Fig. 12.
This species is one of our several varieties of Spotted Towhees,
and is known as the western variety. Its habitat is in California,
Arizona, and New Mexico. Mr. Cooper says:
" Their favorite residence is in thickets and oak groves, where
they live mostly on the ground, scratching among the dead leaves
in the concealment of the undergrowth, and rarely venturing far
from shelter. They never fly more than a few yards at a time, and
only a few feet above the ground. About towns, if unmolested,
133


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