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Studer, Jacob Henry, 1840-1904. / Birds of North America
(1903)

Plate V. The great horned owl. (Bubo virginianus.),   pp. 5-6


Page 6


GROSSBEAK-AMERICAN RED START-BLUE WARBLER.
introduced in gloomy midnight stories and fearful scenes of nature,
to heighten the horror of the picture; but knowledge of the gen-
eral laws and productions of Nature has done away with this su-
perstitious idea, as well as with so many others. With all his
gloomy habits and ungracious tones, there is nothing mysterious
about this bird, which is simply a bird of prey, feeding at night and
resting during the day. The harshness of his voice is occasioned
by the width and capacity of his throat. The voices of all car-
nivorous birds and quadrupeds, are likewise observed to be harsh
and hideous.
The Great Horned Owls are not migratory; they remain with
us during the whole year. The female is, like all birds of prey,
considerably larger than the male, but the white on the throat
is not as pure, and she has less of the bright ferruginous or tawny
color below.
The Rose-Breasted Grossbeak. (Cocco~&rs ludovicianus.)
Fig. 2, the Male. Fig. 3, the Female.
This elegant species of the Parrot Finches (Pityli) is found most
abundant in the New England States, especially Massachusetts,
but with the exception of the extreme western parts and coast of
Georgia and the Carolinas, they are met with, at certain seasons,
in almost every part of the United States. His wanderings extend
as far up, asNew Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland,
where he has been observed to breed. He leaves early in the fall
to take up his abode in warmer regions and as soon as spring sets
in, commences his wanderings eastward again. He is seen in Ken-
tucky as early as the i6th of March, on his eastern travel.
His flight is steady, and at a considerable height. At times he
will lower himself and take a rest in the top branches of a high
tree. Before taking a new start he will utter a few very clear
and sweet notes. You may hear the same, at times, during his
flight, but not when he is resting. At about sundown he chooses
one of the highest trees to sit upon, in a stiff and upright position,
and after a few minutes repose retreats into a thicket to spend the
night.
His food consists of grass and other seeds, buds of trees, tender
blossoms, and berries, especially those of the Sour Gum, on which
he eagerly feeds; he also subsists partly on insects, which he often
catches on the wing, as most of the Finches do.
In the third year he arrives at his full plumage. The younger
birds have the plumage of the back variegated with light brown,
white, and black, a line of which extends over the eye. The rose-
color reaches to the back of the bill, where it is speckled with
black and white. Our plate shows the full-plumaged female, who,
therefore, differs considerably from the male.
The Rose-Breasted Grossbeak is, in common opinion, one of the
sweetest singers of this continent. His song is rich and melodious,
and he sings at night as well as in day-time. His notes are clear,
full, and very loud, suddenly changing, at times, to a plaintive
and melancholy, but exceedingly sweet, cadence. One loves to
observe him on such occasions, and can not help thinking that
he must himself be fully aware of his good singing talent, from his
gestures and the positions he takes while pouring forth the sweet
notes from the depth of his breast.  In captivity he sings fre-
quently and just as well, though not so loud.
His nest is found from the latter part of May to the beginning of
July. It is fixed on the upper forks of bushes, on apple trees, or
even higher trees, mostly in the neighborhood of water. It is
composed of thin branches, intermixed with dry leaves and the
bark of the wild grape, lined inside with dry roots and horse-hair.
The female lays four eggs of a bluish white color, sprinkled with
oblong specks of a brownish purple, especially at the larger end.
They are hatched alternately by both male and female. The young
are fed with insects exclusively, as long as they are little; then as
they grow, with seeds also, which were previously soaked in the
crops of the parents.
The American Red Start. (Setphaga ruticilla.)
Fig. 4.
This little bird has been classed by several of our best ornithol-
ogists among the Sylvicolinve (Warblers). We will not, therefore,
venture to remove him, though we would rather have him placed
among the Muscicapidee (Fly-catchers), as there is hardly any
other in the whole tribe that has the characteristic marks of the
genus Muscicapa more distinct than he. The formation of his bill,
the forward-pointing bristles, and especially his manners, stamp
him a Fly-catcher. He is in almost perpetual motion, and will
pursue a retreating party of flies from the top of the tallest tree to
the ground in an almost perpendicular but zigzag line, while the
clicking of his bill is distinctly heard. He certainly secures a
dozen or more of them in one descent, lasting not over three or
four seconds, then alights on an adjoining branch, traverses it
lengthwise for a few moments, and suddenly shoots off in a quite
unexpected direction after fresh game, which he can discover at a
great distance.
His notes or twitter hardly deserve the name of song. They
resemble somewhat the words, Weese I Weese I Weese I often re-
peated as he skips along the branches; at other times this twitter
varies to several other chants, which may easily be recognized in the
woods, but are almost impossible to be expressed by words. In the
interior of the forest, on the borders of swamps and meadows, in
deep glens covered with wood, wherever flying insects abound, this
little bird is sure to be found. He makes his appearance in Ohio
in the latter part of April, and leaves again for the South at the be-
ginning of September. Generally speaking, he is met with all
over the United States, and winters chiefly in the West Indian is-
lands.
The name Red Start is evidently derived from the Dutch " Roth
Start" (Red Tail), and was given to him by the first settlers, from
his supposed resemblance to the European bird of this name, the
Motacilla Phcenicurus; but he is decidedly of a different genus,
and differs not only in size, but in manners and the colors of the
plumage.
The Red Start builds his nest frequently in low bushes, in the
fork of a small sapling, or on the drooping branches of the elm, a
few feet above the ground. The exterior consists of flax, or other
fibrous material, wound together and moistened with his saliva, in-
terspersed here and there with pieces of lichen; inside it is lined
with very fine soft substances. The female lays five white eggs,
sprinkled with gray and little blackish specks. The male is ex-
tremely anxious about them, and, on a person's approach will flirt
within a few feet about the nest, seemingly in great distress. The
female differs from the male, in having no black on the head and
back. Her head is of a cinerous color, inclining to olive. The
white below is not as pure. The lateral feathers of the tail and
breast are of a greenish yellow; those of the middle tail, of a dark
brown. That beautiful aurora color on the male is, on her, very
dull. The young males of the first season look almost exactly like
the females, and it is not until the third season that they receive
their complete colors. Males of the second season are often heard
in the woods crying the same notes as the full-plumaged males,
which has given occasion to some people to assert that the females
of this bird sing as well as the males.
The Black-Throated Blue Warbler. (Dendroica canadensis.)
Fig. 5.
This bird is one of those transient visitors that, at about the end
of April or the first week of May, pass through Ohio, on their
route to the north to breed. He reminds one, in his manners of
the Fly-catcher, but the formation of his bill as well as his gen-
eral appearance. places him unmistakably among the Warblers.
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