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

Plate XCIII. California jay. (Cyanocitta californica.),   pp. 139-140


Page 139


JAY-WOODPECKER-GNATCATCHERS-CHAT-DIPPERS-GUILLEMOTS.
They were then moulting, and the parti-colored flocks of young
and old were quite unsuspicious, and easily approached. During
the breeding season, we found them exceedingly shy and difficult
to procure, and were unsuccessful in our efforts to discover their
nests."
PLATE XCIII.
California Jay. (Cyanocitta californica.)
Fig. 1.
Cooper says: "1 In California, this Jay is one of the most com-
mon and conspicuous birds, frequenting every locality where oaks
grow, even close to the towns; entering gardens, and audaciously
pilfering fruit, etc., before the owner's eyes. They show the usual
cunning of the tribe, and, if alarmed, become very quiet, conceal-
ing themselves in the thick foliage, so as to be found with difficulty.
They are usually, however, noisy and fearless, their odd cries,
grotesque actions, and bright plumage making them rather favor-
ite guests, in spite of their petty depredations. They live chiefly
on small acorns and insects, but, like other Jays, are decidedly
omnivorous. Their cries are less harsh and loud than those of
Steller's Jay, and they have also some talent for mimicry, besides
notes to express their various wants and ideas."
They build throughout the western parts of California, con-
structing a large and strong nest of twigs, roots, grass, etc., in a
low tree or bush, and laying about five eggs, dark green, with
numerous pale brown blotches and spots, measuring x.04xI.80
inch.
Harris' Woodpecker. (Picus harrisii.)
Fig. 2.
This species, with the exception that it has fewer white wing-
spots, is like the common Hairy Woodpecker, of Eastern North
America. The habitat of this bird is from the Pacific Coast to the
eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains. The cry of this species is
somewhat louder than that of the other small Woodpeckers. Its
food consists of insects and their larve-also, fruits and berries.
Black-tailed or Blaok-headed Gnatcatcher. Black-tailed Flycatcher.
(Polioptila melanura.)
Fig. 3.
This species is usually met with in the southwestern portion of the
United States, in the valley of the Rio Grande and Gila. Very
little is known regarding its habits. Their notes are said to be
somewhat similar to the song of the Wren, and also like that of
the Swallow.
Plumbeous Gnatoatoher. Lead-colored Flycatcher. (Polioplila
plumbea.)
Fig. 4
This bird is to be found in the valley of Colorado and Gila.
differs from the last-named by being without the black crown.
is also larger, and its color is a duller leaden gray.
It
It
Stone Chat. Fallow Chat, or Wheatear. (Saxicola cenanthe.)
Fig. 5.
This Chat is met with on the Atlantic Coast, as a stray bird from
Europe, by way of Greenland, and also on the north Pacific Coast,
from Asia. "The Wheatear," says Brehm, "both dwells and
breeds in the British Islands and Lapland. In Asia, it is met with
in corresponding latitudes. Occasionally it appears in the upper
provinces of India, and in many parts of Africa."
Water Ouzel. American Dipper. Dipper. (Cinclus mexicanus.)
Fig. &
This plainly-plumaged and interesting species is to be met with
along the clear mountain streams, from British America to Mexico,
and west to the Pacific. "About sunset," says Cooper, " I
heard
the male singing very melodiously, as it sat on one of its favorite
rocks, in the middle of the foaming rapids, making its delightful
melody heard for quite a long distance above the sound of the roar-
ing waters." And again the same author says: "The strange
habits of this bird make it a very remarkable object, and it attracts
much attention wherever found. It may be said to combine the
form of a Sandpiper, the song of a Canary, and the aquatic habits
of a Duck. Its food consists almost wholly of aquatic insects, and
these it pursues under water, walking and flying with perfect ease
beneath a depth of several feet of water. When they dive below,
there is a film of air surrounding them, which looks like silver,
and may assist in supporting respiration. They do not, however,
swim on the surface, but always dive, and sometimes fly across
streams beneath the surface. They prefer clear, noisy mountain
streams; but I have seen one on the summit of the Sierra Nevada,
eating insects along the shore of a calm mountain lake. Their
flight is rapid and direct, like that of a Sandpiper; and when they
alight, it is always on a rock or log, when they jerk their tails
much like that bird."
Marbled Guillemot, or Nurselet. (Brachyrhamphus marmoratus.)
Fig. 7.
This pretty little sea bird is said to be numerous on the Pacific,
to California. According to Dr. Brehm, " Guillemots principally
inhabit northern latitudes, at certain seasons appearing in more
temperate climates. Except during the period of incubation, they
seldom visit the land, but pass their whole time upon the ocean.
They are excellent swimmers, and dive well, using both feet and
wings for their propulsion, so that their movements beneath the
water are performed with admirable rapidity and precision. Their
flight is rapid, but hurried, and, owing to the shortness of their
wings, whirring and noisy. So numerous are these birds in the
neighborhood of their breeding-places, that (more especially if it
be a rock of pyramidal form) they resemble, at a distance, a great
swarm of bees."
Cassin's Guillemot. Aleutian Auk. (Plychorhamphus aleuticus.)
Fig. 8.
This rare and striking little species is found on the western and
northwestern coast of America, and was first added to our fauna
by the late Dr. William Gamble. "n The little Auk," says Brehm,
"' must certainly be regarded as the gayest and briskest member
of its family. When visiting the shore, it steps nimbly along on
its toes, vanishes from observation among the stones, or creeps like
a mouse into crevices in the rocks. When out at sea, it swims and
dives with wonderful alacrity, remaining under water for even more
than a couple of minutes. During the breeding season, the little
Auks congregate in immense numbers in the vicinity of the islands
on which the eggs are to be deposited. Each pair seeks a suitable
spot among the stones that have fallen upon the beach, and then
lays a single egg of about the same size as that of the Pigeon, and
of a whitish color, slightly tinged with blue."
ISO


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