Studer, Jacob Henry, 1840-1904. / Birds of North America
Plate XXXIX. The sparrow hawk, or rusty-crowned falcon. (Falco sparverius.), p. 54
PINE GROSBEAK-RUSTY-CROWNED FALCON. country, returning to settle upon the same trees in the evening. They are very social, living in pairs in the breeding season; but even during that period, will sometimes associate in considerable numbers. Their nests are made among the branches of fir-trees, and there they disport themselves gayly, climing nimbly, and assisting their movements, as parrots do, with their beaks. They will hang for minutes together head downward, clinging to a twig or cone, seeming to enjoy this apparently uncomfortable position. Their movements, when on the wing, are undulating and rapid, but they never fly to any great distance. The pleasure they ex- perience in the society of their mate is often testified by fluttering over the tops of the trees as they sing, after which they hover for a time, and then descend slowly to thei- perch. In the daytime they are generally in motion, with the exception of a short time at noon. During the spring, summer, and autumn, they pass their time in flying from one plantation or mountain to another. In winter, if the cold is extreme, they remain much longer in their sleeping-place, only coming abroad after the sun has warmed the earth, though they commence their song early in the morn- ing. At this season they make their first appearance about ten o'clock, and are soon busily employed in search of food; about two o'clock they become quieter, seek food again at four o'clock, and then go to roost. The Cross-bill troubles itself but little about the other inhabitants of the woods, and is almost fearless of man, whom it is very evident it has not learnt to regard as an enemy. Should a female be shot, its mate will remain sorrowfully perched upon the branch from which his little companion has fallen, or again and again visit the spot where she was killed, in the hope of finding her; indeed, it is only after repeated proofs of the treachery of mankind that he begins to testify any symptom of shyness. When placed in a cage, the Cross-bills become exceed- ingly tame, appearing entirely to forget the loss of their freedom, and grow so fond of those they are with as to obey them in every- th~-ng, allowing themselves to be touched, or even carried about the room on the hand, and demonstrating their confidence in a variety of ways, so that the inhabitants of mountainous districts are usually much attached to these gentle little creatures. The Pine Grosbeak. (Pinicola eniecleator.) Fig. 9, Male. Fig. io, Female. This species is an inhabitant of northern North America, and appears generally in flocks, in the pine-woods, in the United States, in winter; and is also to be seen in the Sierra Nevada of Califor- nia. When these birds first come among us they are harmless, confiding creatures, who have not yet experienced the artifices of man, never offering to stir if a stranger or hunter approach the trees on which they are perched, and will stare at the gun destined for their destruction, without thinking of flight, even should one of their companions be shot down from the same branch. Persons have tried successfully to catch them by means of snares fastened to the end of poles, by the aid of which they could be thrown over the heads of birds; indeed, the clumsiest kind of trap is all that is required to catch these unsuspicious little wanderers. The most touching tales are told of the attachment of the Pine Grosbeak to its mate. On one occasion, three out of a party of four had been captured, when, to the astonishment of all, the fourth crept into the net, in order to share the fate of its companions. It must not be imagined; however, that these birds are really foolish; for ex- perience soon teaches them its lessons, and they become distrustful, shy, and cautious. In its habits, the Pine Grosbeak often reminds one of the Cross-bill. It is essentially a tree-bird, being quite at home upon a branch, but uneasy and out of place on the ground. It can climb skillfully from one bough to another, hopping with ease to tolerably distant branches. Its flight is rapid, and, like that of most Finches, rather undulating, and it hovers before perch- ing. Its voice is flute-like and expressive, resembling that of the Bullfinch, and its song, which may be heard throughout the whole of the winter, is very varied and pleasing, on account of its soft, clear notes. In winter, we do not hear it in perfection, as it is then low and disjointed; but in spring, when the male rouses all his energies to cheer his little mate, his tones would satisfy the most fastidious critic. It sings during the clear light summer nights, and on that account is called "I the Watchman." This bird has many other good qualities, and, owing to its gentle, confiding tem- perament, may be easily tamed, if properly treated. It becomes, in a few days, accustomed to confinement, taking its food readily from the hand, and will allow itself to be stroked, or even carried about the room, all the time testifying its happiness and content. It is an interesting sight to see a male and female bird in one cage, for their tenderness toward each other is extreme; but, alas I in one point they are deficient-they do not survive the loss of their freedom for any considerable length of time, and pine away rapidly, especially when their keepers forget that these children of the North must have fresh, cold air, and foolishly confine them in hot rooms. The length of this bird is about nine inches, three of which belong to the tail; the breadth across the wings varies from thirteen to fourteen inches, and the wing measures four and a half inches from the shoulder to the tip. PLATE XXXIX. The Sparrow Hawk, or Rusty-crowned Falcon. (Falco 4parverius.) Fig. I, Male. Fig. 2, Female. This elegant and singularly marked little Hawk is at once recognized by the smallness of its size and the peculiarity of its plumage. They are a constant resident in almost every part of the United States, and are particularly abundant in the Southern States in winter, wandering in summer as far as the Rocky Moun- tains. The nest is built in a hollow, shattered, or decayed tree, at a considerable elevation; the eggs are usually four or five in num- ber, of a light brownish-yellow, and spotted with brown. This species is a frequent visitor to the farm-house and barn-yard, where it is most commonly seen perched on some dead branch, or on a pole or stalk in the fields, often a little distance from the ground, keeping up a constant agitation of the tail, and attentively watching for the approach of some unlucky mouse or mole, or even for beetles or grasshoppers, upon which it pounces with great quickness, and immediately returns to its stand to devour it. When changing its position, it flies low until within a few yards of the spot upon which it wishes to settle, when it suddenly rises with an easy curve and alights with the utmost grace, closing its wings with the rapidity of thought. Sometimes a Sparrow or Finch crosses its pathway, when the little Hawk, all anxiety to secure so great a prize, at once gives chase, and soon overtaking it, bears it off to share the dainty morsel with its mate and young. Instances have been recorded in which this Hawk has been so eager in the pursuit of its prey as to follow the victim even into a house or wagon, and even going so far as to dart into a railway car when in rapid motion, in order to secure its prize. In so much dread is this formidable enemy held by the objects of its attack, that on its approach some birds will throw themselves, as though dead, upon the ground; others will make for their hiding-place with such devious turnings from the direct path as baffle even the skillful steering of their pursuer, and then dart into the inmost recesses of some protecting bush, and thus place themselves for the time in safety. " The Blue Jay," says Wilson, " has a particular antipathy to this bird, and frequently insults it by following and imitating its notes so exactly as to deceive even those well acquainted with both.
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