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

[Plate CV. Rio Grande, or green jay. (Xanthoura incas, var. luxuosa.) cont.],   p. 159

Page 159

WOODPECKER-JAY-GREBES.                 1l9
in our ornithology could have been more novel and unexpected than
was Mr. Henshaw's announcement of the fact, which he deter-
mined beyond reasonable question, that he found the two supposed
species paired and rearing a family in the same hole. It is not
uninstructive now to look back upon the history of the supposed
species. In the first place we notice that the two have always been
accredited with the same geographical range, and have generally
been found together; at least, most papers containing a notice of
one, also give the other. Next we observe, in most cases, hesita-
tion and evident uncertainty in descriptions of the sexual differences
of each supposed species, the female of " williamsoni" and the
male of II thyroideus" having been groped for indeed, but not
found. Nor is there, in the fairly large amount of material re-
ceived at the Smithsonian, an unquestionable specimen of the op-
posite sex of either of the supposed species. As indicating how
far we may sometimes go astray, these birds have been placed in
several different genera, so widely have the sexes of one species
been dissociated; while the biographical notices which have ap-
peared are not entirely concordant, showing how much our written
history of living birds may be tempered by evidently fortuitous cir-
cumstances of observation, or transient impressions of an observer.
Red-naped, Yellow-bellied, or Nuchal Woodpecker. (Sthyrapicus varius,
var. nzuchalis.)
Fig. 31.
A variety that is met with in the middle provinces of the United
States. Its habits are very similar to the typical bird K5physopicus
varius, Plate IX., figs. 3 and 4, page Io. Mr. Ridgeway found it
a very abundant species of the Wahsatch and Uintah Mountains.
It was also found, in greater or less numbers, throughout the Great
Basin, and one specimen was seen on the eastern Sierra Nevada.
Its favorite resort, during summer, was the aspen groves in the
mountains, at an altitude averaging about seven thousand feet;
and even when pine woods were near the aspens were invariably
chosen as nesting places. In winter it was found among the cot-
tonwoods and willows of the river valleys.
Arizona Ultramarine Jay. (Aphelocoma ultramarina.)
Fig. 32.
The above name has been given to two varieties of the Canada
Jay, one of which was from Alaska and the other from the
Rocky Mountains.
Crested Grebe. (Podiceps cristaius.)
Fig. r.
This stately bird is a general inhabitant of North America; also
of Europe and other parts of the Old World; in fact, wherever
suitable pieces of water exist this bird is to be met with. Accord-
ing to Behm, these birds, in early spring, make their appearance in
pairs, but towards the autumn large parties of them may be seen
together, consisting of fifty or sixty individuals, who keep com-
pany with each other during their migration southward. In their
migrations it is generally understood that these birds only travel
by night, and that wherever large lakes or rivers are to be found,
as also along the sea-coast, they make their way principally by
swimming. During the summer season the Crested Grebe takes
up its abode on extensive lakes, where reeds and other water
plants are abundant. Their powers of swimming and diving are
quite wonderful. According to Nauman's observations, this Grebe
will dive, in the course of half a minute, to the distance of two
hundred feet. Its flight, too, when it thinks proper to take wing,
is tolerably swift; it always proceeds in a straight line, and the
whirring noise made by the rapid motion of its wings is audible
at some distance. In its behavior it seems to be the most cir-
cumspect and the shyest member of the family, and is not easily ap-
proached, more especially as it generally keeps in open water,
where it can see to a distance. If surprised, when in the vicinity
of a bed of reeds, it immediately takes refuge among them,
but only so long as to enable it again to plunge into deep water;
if pursued it immediately dives, and when it comes up again
to breath, allows only its beak to appear above the surface, and as
soon as it has taken breath dives again, until it has placed itself
quite beyond reach of danger.
The male and female sit upon the eggs alternately; but the fe-
male has the greater share in the business of incubation, the male
often swimming around the place, apparently for the purpose
of keeping her company. Should, however, both be obliged to
leave the nest at the same time, they carefully cover the eggs with
a mass of half rotten water-plants, brought up from the bottom for
the purpose. In about three weeks the young are hatched, even
from eggs which during a great part of the time have been lying
in the water. From the first moment they are able to swim, and
in the course of a few days to dive; they are, however, con-
stantly accompanied by their parents, who often give them shelter
under their wings. Having once quitted the nest, the young ones
seldom return to it, a comfortable resting and sleeping place being
afforded to them on the backs of their parents.
Horned Grebe. (Podicefis cornutus.)
Fig. 2.
The Horned Grebe is a common species to North America, as
well as Europe and Asia.
Dr. Kennerly's manuscript contains the annexed observations in
regard to the Western Grebe and the Horned Grebe:
" This species, and the Podiceps cornutus, are very common on
Puget's Sound. They are rather more rare during the summer
months than in the autumn and winter. During the latter seasons
they may almost always be found-two, rarely more, in com
pany-coasting near the shore, diving rapidly in search of food.
When desirous of descending beneath the water, they seem to raise
themselves partially from the surface, and describing as they
descend, almost a perfect arc of a circle. Few birds are more
graceful on the water than these interesting species; and it has
afforded us many moments of real enjoyment to watch them glid-
ing rapidly and smoothly over its surface, or performing in rapid
succession their graceful curves as they disappear beneath its sur-
face. They do not often take to wing, relying more on their pow-
ers of swimming and diving as a means of escape from enemies;
when they do fly, they rise very awkardly from the water, often
for a long distance dragging their dangling legs before they suc-
ceed, and often, under such circumstances, abandoning the effort,
they stop and suddenly disappear beneath the surface. They fol-
low up the streams emptying into the Sound for long distances,
many of them spending their summer on the lakes far inland, in
the neighborhood of which they probably breed with the Large
Loon (C. torquatus). I have often seen large flocks of them
on Chiloweyuck Lake from August to September, and perhaps
St. Domingo Grebe. (Podiceps dominicus.)
Fig. 3.
This species, according to the latest information, is an inhabit-
ant of our Southern border, and is the only North American rep-
resentative of the group.

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