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

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

Plate L. The olive-sided flycatcher. (Contopus borealis.),   p. 72

Page 72

white in color, marked on the round end with a few small dots of
reddish or brown. This bird is five and a half inches long, and
seven and a quarter broad.
The Warbling Vireo. (Vireo gilvus.)
Fig. 9.
Throughout the most of the United States, this species is gen-
erally to be seen in the thick and leafy branches of our tallest trees,
in search of food. It is seldom seen in the deep forests. The
tall trees along our streets and lanes, secured from his dreaded
enemies, afford this exquisite songster ample safety to cheer the
inmates of the houses and cottages. "' Its voice is not strong, and
many birds excel it in brilliancy of execution; but not one of them
all can rival the tenderness and softness of the liquid strains of this
modest vocalist. Not born to ' waste its sweetness on the desert
air,' the Warbling Vireo forsakes the depths of the woodland for
the park and orchard and shady street, where it glides through
the foliage of the tallest trees, the unseen messenger of rest and
peace to the busy, dusty haunts of men."-Coues.
The nest, which is usually built in tall trees, is composed of
grass, leaves, and strips of grape-vine bark. The eggs, usually
four, are white, thinly spotted with reddish-black at the larger
end. This bird is five and a quarter inches long and eight inches
The Least Flycatcher. (Emtidonax minimus.)
Fig. to.
It is singular that a bird so abundant as this is in the Eastern
United States should have been overlooked by Wilson and Audu-
bon, or, what is more probable, confounded with E. acadicus.
Nuttall was perfectly familiar with it, though he thought it was the
Acadian Flycatcher. It is very common in the Middle States
during the migrations. At Washington, D. C., it usually arrives
the last week in April, and is seen for about two weeks only; it
returns the last of August, and loiters through most of September.
It breeds abundantly in most parts of New England; in Massa-
chusetts, Mr. Allen found it as numerous as all the other Empi-
donaces put together. Some individuals press on into the Hud-
son's Bay country, and in the West its extension is much greater
than that of typical trailii or _├čaviventris, particularly along the
Missouri itself, and the Red river, where the wooded river-
bottoms afford it congenial shelter. Like others of the genus, it
penetrates to Central and Northern South America in winter, and
it is also quoted from portions of Mexico.
It is not ordinarily found in gloomy woods, like E. acadicus,
nor even in heavy timber of any kind; it prefers the skirts of
woods, coppices, and even hedge-rows. It is readily distinguish-
able from acadicus by this circumstance alone, to say nothing of
the several personal peculiarities-so to speak-slight traits, almost
impossible to describe intelligently, but which the field-naturalist
learns to recognize in a moment.  Its usual voice is lower and
more plaintive, though one of its call-notes is sharp and jerky;
and its flight is slightly different, owing to the marked difference
in the shape of the wing. In all these particulars it comes much
nearer traillii and !aviventris, as has been already hinted.
The bird generally nests on a sapling or shrub, within ten or
twelve feet from the ground. One nest I reached without climbing,
and another was placed on a slender swaying elm, about forty feet
high; these were the extremes of situation I observed. It is al-
ways placed, so far as I discovered, in an upright crotch of several
forks, preferably between twigs no thicker than a finger.  The
high nest just mentioned was situated on the bending trunk itself,
but it rested, as usual, between a little set of twigs that grew
upright. It is very deeply let down into the crotch, and usually
bears deep impressions of the boughs.  The female sets very
closely; one I almost covered with my hand before she fluttered off,
although I stood for several moments within a yard of her. On
being frightened away, she retreats but a little distance, and flies
from one twig to another, uttering a mournful note. The nest is a
neat little structure; if it were only stuccoed with lichens, it would
be as elegant as that of a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, which it scarcely
exceeds in size. The basis of the nest is a substantial intertwining
of fine fibrous inner-bark, and the decomposing outer substance
of various weeds. With this is matted a great quantity of soft
plant-down, making a soft yet firm and warm fabric. The interior
is finished variously with a special lining of plant-down, confined
with a slight layer of horsehair or the finest possible grass-tops.
The brim of the nest is firm and even, with a circular arrangement
of the fibers; inside, the lining is simply interlaced. In size, these
elegant structures vary a good deal; the smallest one before me
is under two inches and a half across outside, and less than two
deep; another, which was let down very deeply in a narrow
crotch, is nearly three inches, both in depth and width, and is
quite unsymmetrical.  The cavity is quite large for the outside
dimensions, in some instances the walls being barely coherent
along the track of the supporting twigs; it is not, or but little,
contracted at the brim, and is about as deep as wide.
The eggs are generally four in number, sometimes only three;
I did not find five in any one of the six nests collected. One con-
tained a Cow-bird's egg. The eggs are pure white, unmarked.
They vary much in size and shape. Out of twenty examples, a
large elongate one measures o.68 by 0.52; a small globular one,
0.59 by 0.50; a normal one, o.65 by o.5o.-Coues.
The Olive-sided Flyeatcher. (Cont!pus boreals.)
Fig. x.
The very general dispersion of this species in North America
only gradually become apparent. It was discovered by Sir John
Richardson on the Saskatchewan, at Cumberland House, in lati-
tude 540, and described in 183i by Mr. Swainson, as above cited.
It was rediscovered by Mr. Nuttall, a specimen being obtained
near Cambridge, Massachusetts, in June, i830. This gentleman
obtained several others in the same vicinity, and described its
notes and manners accurately. The nest, he states, was on " the
horizontal branch of a tall cedar-tree, forty or fifty feet from the
ground. It was formed much in the manner of the Kingbird's,
externally made of interlaced dead twigs of the cedar, internally
of the wiry stolons of the common cinquefoil, dry grass, and some
fragments of branching Lichen or Usnea. It contained three
young, and had probably four eggs. The eggs had been hatched
about the 20th of June, so that the pair had arrived in this vicinity
about the close of May. The young remained in the nest no les
than twenty-three days." The same author speaks of the eggs as
"yellowish-creamy white, with spots of reddish-brown, of a light
and dark shade." This is exactly the character of the specimens
before me. The size is about 0-84 by o.66. About the same time
Dr. Brewer communicated a note to Mr. Audubon, describing the
nest as follows: "Measures five inches in external diameter and
three and a half inches in internal, and is about half an inch deep.
It is composed entirely of roots and fibers of moss. It is, more-
over, very rudely constructed, and is almost wholly flat, resembling
the nest of no other Flycatcher I have seen, but having some simil-
itude to that of the Cuckoo." New England quotations have con-
tinually multiplied, many-referring to the breeding of the bird from
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