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

Plate XLIX. The savanna sparrow. (Passerculus savanna.),   pp. 69-72

Page 71

cline, and the business of incubation is finished-about the be-
ginning of August-this sad and slow but interesting musician
nearly ceases his song, a few feeble, farewell notes only being
heard to the first week in September.
" This species, like the rest of the genus, constructs a very beau-
tiful pendulous nest, about three inches deep, and two and a half
in diameter. One, which I now more particularly describe, is
suspended from the forked twig of an oak, in the near neighbor-
hood of a dwelling-house in the country. It is attached firmly all
around the curving twigs by which it is supported; the stoutest
external materials or skeleton of the fabric are formed of interlaced
folds of thin strips of red cedar bark, connected very intimately
by coarse threads, and small masses of the silk of spiders' nests
and of the cocoons of large moths. These threads are moistened
by the glutinous saliva of the bird. Among these external mate-
rials are also blended fine blades of dry grass. The inside is
thickly bedded with this last material and fine root fibers; but the
finishing layer, as if to preserve elasticity, is of rather coarse grass
stalks. Externally, the nest is coated over with green lichen, at-
tached very artfully by slender strings of caterpillars' silk, and
the whole afterward tied over by almost invisible threads of the
same, so as to appear as if glued on; and the entire fabric now
resembles an accidental knot of the tree grown over with moss.
The eggs, about four, are white, with a few deep ink-colored
spots of two shades, a very little larger than those on the eggs of
the Red-eyed Vireo, and chiefly disposed toward the larger end."
The food of this species during summer is insects, but toward
autumn they and their young feed also on various small berries.
About the middle of September, the whole move off and leave the
United States, probably to winter in tropical America.
This species is five and one-half inches long, and nine inches
The Blue-headed or Solitary Vireo. ( Vireo soitarius.)
Fig. 6.
The habits and characteristics of this species-one of the rarest
of the genus-are similar to the preceding. On the nidification
of this species, Mr. Thomas G. Gentry, in a paper to the Phila-
delphia Academy, says: "' I have five nests of this species, four
of which are perfectly similar in structure; the remaining one
formed of culms of a species of aira, constituting an exceptional
case, and the only one that has ever fallen under my notice. They
are all shallow, loose in texture, scarcely surviving the season for
which they were designed, and placed between two twigs of a
cedar or a maple tree, at a considerable elevation from the ground,
on a branch nearly horizontal to the main axis. They are built
entirely of clusters of male flowers of Puercus palustris, which,
having performed their allotted function, don their brownish hue
at the very period when they can be utilized." This species is five
inches long, and eight inches broad.
The White-eyed Vireo. ( Vireo noveboracensis.)
Fig. 7.
This neat and interesting little bird appears to have a more gen-
eral distribution than it has been credited with. It is very numer-
ously to be met with in the Middle States, from the latter part of
Alarch to October. It is very active in its movements, and is
mostly found in low thickets and swamps, seldom in the forests.
It winters in the Gulf States and southward.  This species, at
times, avoids certain districts within its general range of migra-
tion.  Its active manners, loud and cheering notes, make it a
noted bird. Nuttall says: 'I first heard its voice in the low
thickets of West Florida. His ditty was now simply-ss't (with a
whistle) wa witte witte we wa (the first part very quick).
On the 22d of June, I heard the male in full song near his
nest, when incubation was going on. His warble was very
pleasing, though somewhat monotonous and whimsical. This af-
fectionate note, often repeated near to his faithful mate while con-
finedto her nest, was like 'tshzippewee-wasay, 'tshippewee-wee-was-
say, sweetly whistled, and with a greater compass of voice and
loudness than might have been expected from the size of the little
vocalist. The song is sometimes changed two or three times in
the course of twenty minutes; and I have heard the following
phrases: 'att tshizppewat 'wurr, tshz)ppewat 'wurr; at another
time, 'tshipeway 'tshio et .'tsherr.  On another visit, the little per-
former had changed his song to '5pS te waigh a tsherra, with a
guttural trill, as usual, at the last syllable. He soon, however,
varied his lay to 'whi/. te woi wee, the last syllable but one con-
siderably lengthened and clearly whistled. Such were the cap-
tious variations of this little quaint and peculiarly earnest musi-
cian, whose notes are probably almost continually varied."
This bird, like others of its genus, builds its nest in a thicket of
briers or vines, in gardens or fields. It is made of slender twigs,
bark of trees, grasses, pieces of hornets' nests, fragments of paper,
and sometimes newspapers; the interior is composed of slender
root-fibers. The whole is pencil-shaped, and suspended by the
upper edge. The eggs number four or five, marked at the larger
end with a few small spots of blackish-brown. When the nest is
approached, this bird descends within a few feet of the intruder,
and becomes very loud and earnest in its demonstrations. Its food,
so like all Vireos, consists of insects and various kinds of berries,.
This species is five inches long, and eight inches broad.
The Red-eyed Vireo. (Vireo olivaceus.)
Fig. 8.
This is one of our most numerous and popular birds. Its mi-
grations extend over most every part of the American continent,
from Labrador to the large tropical islands of Jamaica, St. Do-
mingo, and the mild table-lands of Mexico. It arrives in the Mid-
dle States, from the warmer regions where it winters, the latter part
of April. It is mostly to be seen in woodlands, or tall shade-trees
near gardens, and in the apple-trees near the farm-houses. From
its arrival, until the middle of summer, it is one of the most de-
termined songsters of the forests. When most all the song-birds
have become silent, its notes may yet be heard with unabated
vigor. " When our Vireo," says Nuttall, " sings slow enough
be distinctly heard, the following sweetly warbled phrases, vari-
ously transposed and toned, may often be caught by the attentive
listener: 'lshooe pewee peeai musik 'du 'du 'du 'Vshoove 'here
here here here 'king ritshard 't'shegru 'Isheevon 'Ishuvee peeait
'Peroi; the whole delivered almost without any sensible interval,
with earnest animation, in a pathetic, tender, and pleasing
strain, well calculated to produce calm and thoughtful reflection
in the sensitive mind. Yet, while this heavenly reverie strikes on
the human ear with such peculiar effect, the humble musician
himself seems but little concerned; for all the while, perhaps,
that this flowing chorus enchants the hearer, he is casually hop-
ping from spray to spray in quest of his active or crawling prey,
and if a cessation occurs in his almost untiring lay, it is occasioned
by the caterpillar or fly he has just fortunately captured. So un-
affected are these delightful efforts of instinct, and so unconscious
is the performer, apparently, of this pleasing faculty bestowed
upon him by nature, that he may truly be considered as a messen-
ger of harmony to man alone. Wantonly to destroy these delight-
ful aids to sentimental happiness, ought therefore to be viewed not
only as an act of barbarity, but almost as a sacrilege I "
In May, this species builds a small, neat, pensile nest, and is
hung from the fork of a small limb of a tree, about twelve feet
from the ground.   The eggs usually are four in number, pure

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