Studer, Jacob Henry, 1840-1904. / Birds of North America
[Plate C. Least Vireo. (vireo pusillus.) cont.], p. 147
Plate CI. Texas orchard oriole. (Icterus spurius, var. affinis.), pp. 147-148
HUMMINGBIRD-FIN CHES-FLYCATCHERS-ORIOLE it at Fort Whipple, in Arizona. Its habits are similar to its east- ern relative. Broad-tailed Hummingbird. (Selasphorus platycercus.) Fig. 6. Mr. Allen writes: "The Broad-tailed Hummer was common from Cheyenne southward along the base of the mountains to Col- orado City, and throughout the mountains was everywhere abun- dant, even to above the timber-line. Its flight is exceedingly swift, and characterized by a sharp, whistling sound; but in all other respects it might be readily mistaken for the common Ruby-throat of the East. Its nest was not discovered, but hardly a day passed without a considerable number of the birds being observed, often several individuals being in sight at once. The great abundance of flowers throughout the mountain valleys, and which here and there also nearly cover the ground, even far above the limit of trees on the Snowy Range, renders this mountain region highly favorable to the existence of this interesting species, and offers a ready explanation of its abundant occurrence here." Mr. Holden, who noticed this species in the Black Hills, says: "These little birds were quite common. On one occasion, while skinning a Hawk, I threw a piece of flesh into a small dead tree near me. In an instant three of the birds were poised before the meat, mistaking it, no doubt, for some gaudy flower. But one nest was found. It contained two young ones about a week old. I was struck by the wisdom displayed by the birds in placing their nest. A small tree had fallen over the brook, which was here eight feet wide. The nest was placed on one of the under branches in such a way that the trunk of the tree would effectually keep out the rain. The nest was lined with a species of cotton obtained in the vicinity." Rufous-crowned Finoh, or Sparrow. Red-capped Finch.* Boucard's Finch. (Peucaa ruflceps.) Fig. 7. The coast of California and south to Mexico is the place of res- idence of this species. It was first obtained by Dr. Heerman, in California. He states that in the fall of i853, he shot, on the Co- sumnes river, a single specimen of this bird from among a large flock of Sparrows of various kinds. In the spring of the follow- ing year, among the mountains, near the Calaveras river, he found it quite abundant. It was then flying in pairs, engaged in picking grass-seed from the ground, and, when started, it never extended its flight beyond a few yards. Its notes, in their charac- ter, reminded him of the ditty of our common little Chipping Spar- row (Spizella socialis). He obtained several specimens. Its flight seemed feeble, and when raised from the ground, from which it would not start until almost trodden on, it would fly but a short distance, and almost immediately drop again into the grass. Hammond's Flycatcher. (Empidonax hammondii.) Fig. & This species is met with in the western province of the United States, south to Mexico. It was first discovered by Mr. Xantus, in California, in i858. Dr. Cooper says, the first of this species arrives at Santa Cruz, March I3, and they were numerous during the summer, disappear- ing in September. They kept in low trees, and uttered a few faint notes. April 27, he found the first nest. It was built on the hori- zontal branch of a negundo tree, about eiqh'een feet from the ground. He found four others afterward, from four to ten feet high, either on horizontal branches or on forks of small trees. Wright's Flycatcher. Grayish Flycatcher. (Empidonax ocbsCrur.) Fig. g. About the first of April this species arrives from Mexico, and remains until October. It is met with from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific, north to Colorado, south through Mexico. Accord- ing to Mr. Allen: "1 The Gray Flycatcher was the commonest and almost the only species of Enimpdonax met with in the mountains of Colorado. It was generally observed in rather wet, swampy localities, dense willow thickets seeming to form its favorite resorts. It is very re- tiring in its habits, keeping almost constantly concealed in thick copses, where it silently hunts its insect prey, and is hence a diffi- cult species to collect. Though it may be approached within a few yards, it eludes capture by keeping in the middle of the close wil- low clumps, exposing itself to view only when obliged to fly across an open space, taking its departure from the side furthest from the observer, and flying low and hurriedly to the nearest point of con- cealment. The several nests found contained young, and were always placed some distance within the thick copse the birds had chosen for their home. The nests were usually built in the forks of small branches, and in thickness and general appearance greatly resembled the ordinary nests of the summer Yellow-bird (Dendraca atstiva). Bell's Finch, or Sparrow. (Poospiza belli.) Fig. 0o. The extensive thickets, called chaparral, says Dr. Cooper, which cover barren, dry tracts for miles, in all the southern half of California, are the favorite resorts of this little bird. There they pick up a living from small seeds, and probably insects, be- ing apparently quite indifferent as to water, or depending on that dropping from the foliage after dews and fogs. They may be seen running rapidly, or rather hopping along the ground, with tail car- ried perfectly erect, and at the least alarm seeking the friendly thicket. They reside all the year in the same localities, and are numerous on the island of San Nicolas, eighty miles from the mainland, though I saw none on the other islands, except one on Santa Barbara. In spring the males sing a low, monotonous ditty from the top of a favorite shrub, answering each other from long distances. Their nest, built about three feet from the ground, is composed of grasses and slender weeds, lined with hair, etc. The eggs, about four, are pale greenish, with reddish-brown dots thickly sprinkled over. This species seems to be restricted to California, and val- ley of Gila and Colorado, to Fort Horn. PLATE CI. Texas Orchard Oriole. (Icderus spurius, var. afnt) Fig. z. This beautiful species is a small southern variety of our common Orchard Oriole so often met with in parks, orchards, and near the outskirts of woods. See page 13. 14?
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