University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Digital Library for the Decorative Arts and Material Culture

Page View

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

[Plate L. The olive-sided flycatcher. (Contopus borealis.) cont.],   pp. 73-74


Page 74


FLYCATCHERS-MOURNING TURTLE, OR CAROLINA DOVE.
that had been debarred the essential duties of incubation earlier in
the season, since this desire is so innate as to be foregone with diffi-
culty.- Gentry.
Traill's Flycatcher. (Emtidonax traillii.)
Fig. 4.
It requires great care to distinguish this bird from the Least Fly-
catcher and the Green-crested Flycatcher, their plumage being
very similar, as are also their habits. Naturalists, who make orni-
thology a study, have been very much confused and mistaken in
their descriptions of this species.  It is said to be entirely with-
drawn from the United States during the fall season, and to winter
in Central America. According to eastern ornithologists, it breeds
in their section. Maynard says: "1 This species has a peculiar note,
like the syllables 'ke-win'k'; this is not so quickly given as the
'se-wic'k' of E. minimus, and is somewhat harsher. There is,
perhaps, thirty seconds interval between each ' ke-win'k.' The
birds, while singing, were perched on the top of a low alder. It
appears to frequent these thickets, generally by the side of streams."
Of its nest-building, Mr. Merriman gives the following account:
"1 This western race of E. trailiji was very common in the Salt
Lake valley, where I collected seven specimens and three nests.
They build a neat, compact little nest, which they place in the
fork of a rose or other small bush, about five feet above the
ground. It is composed of fibrous grasses, flax, wool, and other
soft substances, interwoven with a few leaves of swamp-grass. It
is a curious fact that this bird places all the wool and other soft,
downy substances on the outside of its nest, lining it with the rough
stalks of dry grass." Coues says: "The eggs of this species
(traillii), to judge from numerous specimens before me, may be
distinguished from those of acadicus in lacking much or all of the
creamy tinge of the latter, and in the markings being, for the most
part, large, bold, and blotched, rather than sharply dotted. The
fact that the eggs are colored instead of colorless, at once distin-
guishes them from those of E. minimus, and is a point to be re-
garded in discussing the specific relationship of the two."
Pewit Flycatcher, or Phobe-bird. (Sayornis fuscus.)
Fig. S.
A faithful and familiar messenger of spring, that may be met
with in most parts of the continent of North America, wintering
in the Southern States, into Mexico. It is one of the earliest vis-
itors, reaching Canada early in April. On their first arrival they
frequent the woods, but their favorite resort is in the neighborhood
of streams, ponds, or stagnant waters, about bridges, caves, and
barns-their favorite breeding-places. Nuttall says: " Near such
places our little hunter sits on the roof of some out-building, on a
stake of the fence or on a projecting branch, calling out, at short
intervals, and in a rapid manner, phebe phebe; and at times in a
more plaintive tone, phee-be-ee. This quaint and querulous note,
occasionally approaching to a warble, sometimes also sounds like
tewait pewait, and then te-wai-ee, also phebe the-bee-ee, twice
alternated, the latter phrase somewhat soft and twittering. In the
spring, this not unpleasing guttural warble is kept up for hours to-
gether, until late in the morning, and though not loud, may be
heard to a considerable distance." Audubon's beautiful description
of the habits of this bird is one of his best efforts. We copy the
following:
" The flight of the Pewee Flycatcher, is performed by a flut-
tering, light motion, frequently interrupted by sailings. It is slow
when the bird is proceeding to some distance, rather rapid when
in pursuit of prey. It often mounts perpendicularly from its perch
after an insect, and returns to some dry twig, from which it can see
around to a considerable distance. It then swallows the insect whole,
unless it happens to be large. It will at times pursue an insect to
a considerable distance, and seldom without success.  It alights
with great firmness, immediately erects itself in the manner of
Hawks, glances all around, shakes its wings with a tremulous mo-
tion, and vibrates its tail upward as if by a spring. Its tufty crest
is generally erected, and its whole appearance is neat, if not ele-
gant. The Pewee has its particular stands, from which it seldom
rambles far. The top of a fence-stake near the road is often se-
lected by it, from which it sweeps off in all directions, returning at
intervals, and thus remaining the greater part of the morning and
evening. The corner of the roof of the barn suits it equally well,
and if the weather requires it, it may be seen perched on the highest
dead twig of a tall tree. During the heat of the day it reposes in
the shade of the woods. In the autumn it will choose the stalk of
the mullen for its stand, and sometimes the projecting angle of a
rock jutting over a stream. It now and then alights on the ground
for an instant, but this happens principally during winter, or while
engaged during spring in collecting the materials of which its nest
is composed, in our Southern States, where many spend their time
at this season.
"The nest is rather large for the size of the bird. It is composed
of roots, mosses, grasses, and hairs, and the whole put together
against the object built on, by well-mixed mud, and is lined with
soft grasses, wool, and feathers. The eggs, usually five in number,
are white, and have a delicate cream tint. A few of the eggs
have reddish-brown spots scattered over the larger end.  The
length of this species is six and a half inches, and its breadth is
nine and a half inches."
The Mourning Turtle, or Carolina Dove. (Zenaxdura carolinensis.)
Fig. 6.
A beautiful and familiar bird, that is very abundant throughout
the temperate parts of North America. Wilson says: " This is a fa-
vorite bird with all those who love to wander among our woods in
spring, and listen to their varied harmony. They will there hear
many a singular and sprightly performer, but none so mournful as
this. The hopeless coo of settled sorrow, swelling the heart of fe-
male innocence itself, could not assume tones more sad, more tender,
and affecting. Its notes are four (a'gh coo coo coo); the first is some-
what the highest, and preparatory, seeming to be uttered with an in-
spiration of the breath, as if the afflicted creature were just recovering
its voice from the last convulsive sobs of distress; this is followed by
three long, deep, and mournful moanings, that no person of sensi-
bility can listen to without sympathy. A pause of a few minutes
ensues, and again the solemn voice of sorrow is renewed as before.
This is generally heard in the deepest shaded parts of the woods,
frequently about noon and toward the evening. There is, however,
nothing of real dotress in all this; quite the reverse. The bird
who utters it wantons by the side of his beloved partner or invites
her by his call to some favorite, retired, and shady retreat. It' is
the voice of love, of faithful connubial affection, for which the
whole family of Doves are so celebrated; and, among them all,
none more deservingly so than the species now before us.
" On their return to the North in March, and early in April,
they disperse so generally over the country that there are rarely
more than three or four seen together-most frequently only two.
Here they commonly fly in pairs; resort constantly to the public
roads to dust themselves, and procure gravel; and are'ofteu seen
in the farmer's yard before the door, the stable, barn, and other out-
houses, in search of food, seeming little inferior in familiarity at
such times to the domestic Pigeon. They often mingle with the
poultry while they are fed in the morning; visit the yard and ad-
joining road many times a day, and the pump, creek, horse-
trough, and rills for water.  Their flight is quick, vigorous, and
always accompanied by a peculiar whistling of the wings, by
74


Go up to Top of Page