University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Digital Library for the Decorative Arts and Material Culture

Page View

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

Plate VI. The wandering falcon, or great-footed hawk. (Falco peregrinus.),   pp. 7-8

Page 7

But little can be remarked here concerning this bird, as it is only to
be met with now and then in spring, and during a sojourn of
nearly eight years in Ohio, the writer has seen it only twice in
the fall; but as the woods are then still thick with leaves, and the
bird perfectly silent, it is more difficult to get sight of him, and
he probably makes a shorter stay than in spring. Although no
pains were spared to find his nest, here as well as in more north-
ern districs, still the search has not been successful. During
summer not one single individual of this species has been ob-
Our plate shows the male. The female has a kind of a dusky
ash on the breast, and some specimens which had been shot were
nearly white.
The Black and White Creeper. (Mniotilla varia.)
Fig. 6.
This is also one of the little birds which ought to be respected
by farmers and husbandmen generally, on account of his extreme
usefulness. He clears their fruit and forest trees of myriads of
destructive insects, particularly ants, although he does not sere-
nade them with his songs. He seldom perches on the small twigs,
but circumambulates the trunk and larger branches, in quest of
ants and other insects, with admirable dexterity. He is evidently
nearer related to the Creepers than to the Warblers, for his hind
claw is the largest, and his manners, as well as his tongue, which
is long, fine-pointed, and horny at the extremity, characterize him
strongly as a true Creeper. He arrives in Missouri, toward the
latter part of April, and begins soon afterward to build his
nest. One which we had the good luck to discover was fixed in the
crack of the trunk of a large tree, and was composed of some
fibers and dry leaves, lined with hair and a soft cotton-like down.
It contained five young ones recently hatched. This was on the
28th of April. At about the beginning of October, the whole tribe
leave again for warmer climates, probably the West Indies, though
we have been informed that at least several of them have been
perceived in the Gulf States during the whole winter.
The male and female are nearly alike in colors.
The Yellow-Throated Warbler. (Dendroica safierciliosa.)
Fig. 7.
The habits and manners of this splendid little bird are not con-
sistent with the shape and construction of his bill, his ways being
those of the Creepers or the Titmouse, while the peculiarities of
his bill rank him with the Warblers. His notes, which are loud
and spirited, resemble strongly those of the Indigo Blue Bird
(Cyanospiza Cyanea). He utters them every three or four minutes,
while creeping around the branches or among the twigs in the
manner of the Titmouse. On flying to another tree, he frequently
alights on the trunk and creeps nimbly up and down or spirally
around it, in search of food, like a Creeper. He leaves the North
for a short time only in winter, and can not, therefore, migrate very
far South. They have been seen in the North as late as the middle
of November, and as early again in the spring as the X2th of
March. In the State of Connecticut, on the banks of the Connecti-
cut river, great numbers of them have been observed as late in the
fall as the ioth of October. They are rarely met with there in the
spring, but why, we are unable to state. They seem to be rather
partial to running waters, in the vicinity of which they are invari-
ably found; sometimes on trees, sometimes hanging on fences,
head downward, like the Titmouse, or searching among the dry
leaves on the ground.
The bird on our plate is the perfect male. As to the female, her
wings are of a dingy brown, and her colors in general, particu-
larly the yellow on the breast, much duller. The young birds of
the reat season are without the yellow.
The Wandering Falcon, or Great-Footed Hawk. (Falco teregrinus.)
The Wandering Falcon, Mountain Falcon, Rock Falcon, Duck
Hawk, or Great-footed Hawk, justly deserves his names. He
roams almost all over the world. His home extends from the
northeast of Asia to western Europe, and the question is yet to be
solved whether our American bird is a different species or not. It
is evident he is not; for the size, as well as the general characteris-
tic traits of both the American and the one described by European
writers, agree almost to minuteness. Some of the European orni-
thologists differ somewhat in the description of his coloring; but
these discrepancies seem to have been occasioned by specimens of
different ages, more than by any other cause. He is also found in
the interior of Africa, and, according to Jerdon, in India. This ex-
cellent observer says: " The Wandering Falcon is found through-
out India, from the Himalaya to Cape Comorin, but only during the
cold season; especially plentiful near the sea-coasts, or on the
shores of large rivers. He does not breed there, as far as I can
ascertain, but is only a winter visitor, who appears in October and
leaves again in April." In America he extends his wanderings far
to the South; whether they reach to South America has not been
ascertained, but it is certain that he flies across the Gulf of Mex-
ico. To his immense faculty of flying, a distance of a few hun-
dred miles is mere fun. He inhabits large forests, especially those
interspersed with high steep rocks, but is occasionally found close
to habitations, and even large cities.  The one that served for
our drawing was, for instance, shot in the neighborhood of Colum-
bus, Ohio, on the Scioto river, in the month of September. He is
a powerful, daring, and extremely agile bird, and experience shows
that he knows, too, how to make use of his natural gifts. His
flight is extremely swift, mostly close to the ground, in spring only
rising to heights immeasurable and almost out of sight. He sel-
dom is sailing but rapidly flapping his long wings. Before rising,
he flies a short distance low above the ground and with expanded
tail. He is very shy and cautious, choosing the densest pine forests
to pass the night, and if such be too far to be reached, prefers sit-
ting on a piece of rock in an open field. His voice is strong and
penetrating, sounding somewhat like Kajak I Kajak I
The Wandering Falcon attacks birds only, from a Wild Goose
down to a Meadow Lark. Among Pigeons, Quails, and Grouse
he makes the greatest havoc, but is especially fond of Ducks, which
he pursues with untiring tenacity. Water-fowls, when approached
bv a gunner, usually take to the wing; not so if our Falcon is vis-
ible. Then they make all speed to the water and dive, and those
only which are on land or in shallow water fly off, till they reach
deep water, then suddenly drop and dive also; but this caution on
their part is of no avail, for the Hawk will hover above the water
till they are exhausted, then strike down upon them and pick
them up.
All birds seem to know him, for not one attacks him, not even
the otherwise courageous Crows. All are anxious to save them-
selves as soon as he is in sight. He usually strangles his prey in
the air, before it can even reach the ground. Larger birds, such as
the Wild Goose, which he has seized, are tormented by him in the
air until they drop down with him, and then are killed. By throw-
ing himself with full force upon his victim, the latter is stunned by
the concussion, and drops. This is probably the reason he never
attacks a bird that is sitting on the ground, as he would run the risk
of killing himself by the concussion. Small birds he carries away
to a convenient place; larger ones he eats on the spot where they
dropped, plucking off some of their feathers before he begins.
Small birds he devours, together with the intestines, which he re-
jects in the bigger ones. In his attacks he very seldom fails, and
they seem to be but play to him.
His nest is chiefly built in cracks of steep rocks, difficult, if not

Go up to Top of Page