Wilson, Alexander, 1766-1813. / American ornithology; or The natural history of the birds of the United States
Species 3. Falco columbarius. Pigeon hawk, pp. -45
SPECIES 3. FdLCO COLUMB.RIUS. PIGEON HAWK. [Plate XV. -Fig. 3.-Male.] LINN. Syst. ed. 10, p. 90, N<o. 19.-LATH. Syn. v. I, P. Io1, Ado. 86.-L'Epervier de la Caroline, BRISS. Orn. T, P. 378.-CATESB. I, p. 3, t. S.-BARTRAM, p. 290.-GMEL. Syst. V. I, p. 281.- PEALE'S Auseum, So. 352. THIS small Hawk possesses great spirit and rapidity of flight He is generally migratory in the middle and northern states, arriving in Pennsylvania early in spring, and extending his migrations as far north as Hudson's Bay. After building and rearing his young, he retires to the south early in November. Small birds and mice are his principal food. When the Reed- birds, Grakles, and Red-winged Blackbirds, congregate in large flights, he is often observed hovering in their rear, or on their flanks, picking up the weak, the wounded or stragglers; and frequently making a sudden and fatal sweep into the very midst of their multitudes. The flocks of robins and pigeons are honour- ed with the same attentions from this marauder; whose daily excursions are entirely regulated by the movements of the great body, on whose unfortunate members he fattens. The indivi- dual from which the drawing in the plate was taken, was shot in the meadows below Philadelphia, in the month of August. He was carrying off a blackbird (Oriolus phceniceus) from the flock, and though mortally wounded and dying, held his prey fast till his last expiring breath; having struck his claws into its very heart. This was found to be a male. Sometimes when shot at, and not hurt, he will fly in circles over the sportsman's head, shrieking out with great violence, as if highly irritated. He frequently flies low, skimming a little above the field. I have never seen his nest.
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