Agassiz Association. Wilson Ornithological Chapter.

The Wilson bulletin (Volume 10, 1898) online

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were not numerous, but that the number perceptibly increased as I ap-
proached the lake, while in the immediate vicinity of the lake manv of
the species literally swarmed. All of the song birds were in full song,
and most of them still in companies. The Prairie Horned Larks were
paired, and a nest of the Barred Owl was seen. The Crows were mostly
in considerable companies, but a few pairs were noticed. Meadowlarks
were mating, but none seemed to be occupying breeding grounds.

The list of species seen is a long one, but it is so interesting that I beg
to give it here. The species that were recorded for the first time are
indicated by a capital F, and those that were common by a capital C.

American Herring (iull, 7. Turkey Vulture, F. i.

Redhead, F. i. Ked-tailed Hawk, F. i.

Shoveller, F. 14. Red-shouldered Hawk, 2.

Canada Goose, V . r. Sparrow Hawk, 2.

Killdeer, C. Barred Owl, F. i. •

Ruffed Grouse, 3. Short-eared Owl, F. 2.

Mourning Doxe, 5. ITairx' ^Voodpecker, C.

Ihilh'tin No. ig.


Downy Woodpecker, C.

Red-bellied Woodpecker, i,

Flicker, C.

Prairie Horned Lark, C.

Blue Jay, C.

Cowbird, F. 13.

Meadow lark, C.

Red-winged Blackbird, (\

Rusty Grackle, F. C.

Bronzed Grackle, C.

American Crow, C.

American Goldfinch, C.

Tree Sparrow, C.

Total species. 40. Total NeA

Field Sparrow. F. 2.
Slate-colored Junco, C.
Song Sparrow. C.
Fox Sparrow, F. 5.
Cardihal, 6.
Towhee, F. i.
Cedar Waxwing, 7.
Brown Creeper. F. i.
White-breasted Nuthatch. C.
Tufted Titmouse. C.
Chickadee. C.
Robin, C.
Bluebird, C.
records, 13.

This list does not include ten species that were beyond question in the
county on March 12. In spite of that this record is a phenomenal one
in every way and will not soon be broken.

Lynds Jones, Ohei-Ini, Ohio.


Horizon for March 2.
American Crow, 4.
Purple Grackle, 12.
Chipping Sparrow, 3.
Song Sparrow, g.
Horizon for March 8,
American Crow, g.
Purple Grackle, 120.
Junco, 57.




Meadowlark, 2.

American Goldfinch, i.

Field Sparrow, i.

Total, 32,

Meadowlark, 2.

American Goldfinch, 2.

Song Sparrow, 2.

Total, ig2.

Russell Gray


For some time I have been jotting down the local names of our birds
whenever opportunity afforded the means. I append a few examples
from my own neighborhood. Some are in common use, others are sel-
dom heard, but are nevertheless as deep rooted as the oldest scientific
names used bv our ornithologists, and perhaps much more so.

24 Bulleiin A^o. rg.

Great Blue Heron. — "Crane," " Blue Crane," " Big Blue Crane,"
"Big Crane," "Big Blue Shitepoke," "Great Big Fly-up-the-creek,"
"Big Kingfisher," "Fish Crane," "Frog Eater."

Cooper's Hawk. — " Chicken Hawk," "Pigeon Hawk," "Bird Hawk,"
" Long-tailedHawk," "Privateer." The latter a relic of the time when
privateering was so popular along our coast. This Hawk, b}' its dash,
quickness, and boldness well earning the title. The term is in quite
common use.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo. — "Great American Cuckoo," " Indian Hen,"
"Rainbird," "Rain Crow," "Cowbird," "Conk." The last from its

Whip-poor-will. — " Whipper-will," " Whipper-ca-loo."

Cardinal. — "Rainbird," "Cowbird," " Virginia Nightingale," "Red-
bird," "Red Jay," " Corn Cracker," " English Cockatoo." The last two
probably so called from its powerful looking beak.

Chipping Sparrow. — "Chippy," "Chiprie," " Hairbird ' (from its
nest), " Chip Sparrow," " House Sparrow," " Bush Sparrow," "Honey
Sucklebird." The latter from its frequent use of the woodbine — here
called "honey suckle" — as a safe and convenient nesting place. "Tit"
and "Tomtit."

Maryland Yellow-throat. — "Muff Wren." The black hood about
its head suggests the first, and its harsh wren-like cry the other part. A
half wild and partly crazed dweller of a nearly swampy thicket took the
trouble to hunt up and point out to me the above named Warbler as the
original of the name.

Frank L. Burns, /-Vvti'A';/, Poiiia.


Notes from Wisconsin. — Bald Ea(;lk;. — Saw an adult flying along
the creek in Albion, Dane Co., November ig, 1897. Saw three young
eagles by Lake Koshkonong, November 21, 1897. These birds come to
the lake every winter to pick up what fish they can from the fishermen
on the ice. They sometimes get so bold as to take the fish from close
beside the fishermen.

Rough-legged Hawk.— This hawk is with us all winter. Every
slaughter house around here is headquarters for one of these hawks.
January 26, 1898, I saw one which was in the black phase, being black
except a very little on the underside of wing.

. Biillriiu A^o. rg. 25

I'^ox Spakkow. — I found one among the pines in tlie nursery at Milton,
December 12, 1897.

Redpoll.— December. 26, 1897, I saw a flock of about 120 near I.ake
Koshkonong. There was not a single rosy-breasted one among them that
I could And. I have not seen a rosy-breasted one this winter. Last win-
ter I found one flock where eighteen out of thirty-three were rosy-breasted.

JuNCO.- — There has been a flock of about thirty Juncos which have
roosted among the pines in the cemetery in Albion all this winter.

Cedar Waxwinci. — A flock of twenty-two lighted in a maple tree in
Milton Junction, January 6, 1898.

Ci. M. BcKDiCK, Milton fioiction. H^/s.

Notes from Philadelphia, Pa— On February 12, I saw a Belted
Kingfisher. This is a very unusual occurrence, as they are very rare in
winter, although comparatively common in summer.

February 9. I saw a White-crowned Sparrow in a small swamp. It
did not seem to be very lively, as it sat on one branch for fully five min-

The migrations opened here on February 12, with the arrival of a
Robin ; the only one seen so far this winter. On February 13, one
Purple Crackle arrived and on the next day a flock of about forty was
seen, and no more were noticed until the 24th Thev did not l)ecome
common until March 2. On March r>, 7, and 8, 104, 107, and 120
respectivelv were noted.

February 26. Today I saw a Black-capped Chickadee dig an acorn
out of a hole in a tree and taking it in his beak, bark up the tree, then
wedge it in a crevice in the bark and hammer it with his bill. It worked
loose so he took it higher and wedged it again. This he repeated several
times until he finall}' got it open and ate it.

Russell Gray, Philndelp]iia, Fa.

Two Curious English Sparrows' Nests. — On March 14, while tearing
down the nests which these pests have already begun to build, I found
two nests -cci'lh /he openiufy hi fhe side. They were composed of about
half a peck of hay and feathers, and placed in the ivy flat against the
wall, and well lined with feathers. One of the nests had two openings,
one in each end. I have never seen any like these before.

Russell (iKAV, riiilndelphin, /\t.

26 Bill 1 1' tin No. ig.


Mr. Arthur T. Wayne, Mt. Pleasant, S. C, writes: "Heard but a sin-
gle Pine Linnet this year ! " He also mentions finding a nest of the Bald
Eagle containing two almost fresh eggs, on January 20. The nest was in
an enormous dead pine tree, loi feet and 8 inches high. The tree was
struck by lightning last summer. His record of a Great Horned Owl's
nest containing two young birds, one of them about ten days old, on Jan-
uary 22, is probably the earliest for that bird yet recorded. The nest
was in the top of a 'green' pifte about go feet from the ground, and con-
tained, besides the two young birds, a large rat with its head eaten off.

Mr. G. M. Burdick writes that between March 9 and 14, Bluebird,
Robin, Bronzed Grackle, Red-winged Blackbird and Meadowlark,
arrived at Milton Junction, Wis.

Under date of March 12. Miss Caroline Mathews, Waterville, Me.,
writes : " We shall not have the birds with us very early this spring, as
the snow is still deep." It was the same day that 40 species were
recorded at Oberlin, Ohio, 13 of them new records for the year.


How many Final Report Special Bulletins shall we have this year?
That entirely depends on th© work of individual members. For several
years we have been working upon the Warblers, the subject being
divided into three heads. One of these has to do with the breeding
birds only — Nesting — and is capable of development along lines of the
greatest value, if each member will lend his earnest aid to the chairman,
Mr. H. C. Higgins, Cincinnatus, N. Y. Surely each member can watch
a nest of the Yellow Warbler from its beginning until the young have
left. Many may be able to do the same with some one or more of th^
other more or less common species. Will not each one make an earnest
effort to contribute to this report at the close of the nesting season of
1898 ? The information you will gain from such a study will be far
greater than you may imagine.

The migrations of the Warblers are peculiarly interesting because of
the uncertainty of their appearance during any season. In this subject
lie many interesting problems of the influence of weather iipon bird

Jhtlli'ti)! No. rg. 27

movements. Ikit aside frcMii any such problems, it is in the mij^rating
season that we must look out for the Warbler host if we are to find it at
all, for the greater part of our species are strictly transients. Hence, a
study of their migrations means acquaintance with a far greater number
of them than are to be found in summer. Mr. J. E. Dickinson, Rock-
ford, 111., has charge of this work, and he will be glad to put you in the
way of it.

When we study the songs of the Warblers we begin to get nearer to
their inner life and to know something of the bird as a sentient being.
This is an essential part of the life history, and one of the most interest-
ing parts. Here, again, we must be on the lookout for them as they go
to and fro on their migrations if we are to hear many of them singing.
Aside from the sentiment of song there are some interesting problems
which need working out, and with time and patience we can hope to do
it. The diurnal as well as the seasonal period of song has never been
carefully worked out for even the commonest of the group. Here is an
open field. An attempted description of a song is always an aid to the
memory, and may often result in valuable contributions ; but at best it is
difficult and unsatisfactory because our vocabulary is not suited to repre-
sentation of bird songs, and our powers of imitation are too imperfect
and feeble. But even here a great deal may be done by patience and

We know what the food of the Warblers is in a general way. but many
of the particulars are still hidden. I cannot advocate killing the birds
for the purpose of learning what they eat, but if they must be killed for
some other purpose it would be a shame not to examine the contents of
the stomach and make a record of what is found. An accumulation of
such records would be of great value in determining the food habits of
our birds. If a bird must l)e killed its dead body should be made to tell
as much of the history of that species as it is capable. But a study of
the stomach contents will tell only a part of the story of the food habits,
because the birds eat many things which leave no remains in the stomach.
Then bv carefully watching the birds in the field we may learn not a
little about what they eat. The study of Food and Song is under the
direction of Lynds Jones, Olierlin, Ohio. Any notes or suggestions will
be thankfully received.

Mr. Frank L. Burns, Berwyn, Pa., is still stnd\ing tlie Flicker, and
he will be glad to put you in the way of helping forwarrl his report to
completion. Write to him without delav.

The report upon the Swallows is nearing completion, and is only wait-

28 Biillciin No. rg.

ing for more notes. Mr. Stephen J. Adams, Cornish, Maine, desires any
and all notes from all sections of the country at once so that the work of
compiling may begin. Any note you may have will be a welcome
addition to his report.

I am glad to refer you to the announcement of the Committee on Geo-
graphical Distribution, which appears in this issue. ■ Read it and act
upon its suggestions.

Lynds Jones, Chiu'rpian of U'o)-k.



Several of our members having taken so kindly to the suggestions made
in Bulletin No. 14 with reference to daily horizons and bird censuses,
I venture to submit other ideas along the same line. By speaking of
mechanical helps, I do not refer to instruments which observers may use,
such as opera glasses, camera, etc., (purposely omitting the shot-gun),
but rather to those schemes or methods of study which may fairly be
called mechanical.

First in importance after those already discussed I should place the
cxnnmxl horizon, or local list for the year. This may be, if you please,
a formal list, such as the U. S. Dept. of Agriculture provides for in its
migration blanks, or it may simply be indicated by a series of consecu-
tive numbers, running through your note-book. For my part, I employ
the latter method, throwing a circle around each number; so as to make
it stand out from the page, and catch the eye in hasty reference.

Always record first appearances, no matter what the season or what its
possible bearing on migration. By so doing one gets into the wa)- of ex-
pecting old bird friends, and refuses to be satisfied until he has seen
them. So too, one gets the winter residents straightened out in his
mind, and notes untimely appearances that would be overlooked by the
man who is jotting down only migration records in the height of the sea-
son. Begin on the first day of January, if possible, and follow it
through, according to opportunity, until the 31st day of December.

This annual horizon should have a definite local significance; that is,
the limits of observation should be decided upon at the beginning of the
year and adhered to throughout. Such a section as one expects to fre-
quent the most will of course be chosen. INIany valuable and instructive

Jhillctiii No. ig. 29

lists have been taken in such circumscribed areas as a village garden or a
water-works pond. A county, however, makes a natural and convenient
division for those who find it possible to cover so much ground. Here at
Oberlin we try to hold ourselves answerable for Lorain county, bv mak-
ing frequent excursions to the most favorable points.

As an example, I may cite my personal Lorain county horizon for the
year 1897. By March 1st, I had recorded 2S species; by June ist, 137
species; by Sept. ist, only 139; and by Dec. 31st, 146 species.

Such annual local horizons are of course valuable for comparison year
by year, but their chief value lies in the fact that they enlist and com-
pel attentive observation. The obvious mechanical feature is a genuine
stimulus to that which has value in itself.

For a similar reason, an enthusiastic observer will take delight in the
growth of his Ufc-horizon. This is, in short, a list of all the birds he
knows in the field. It should include only those species which he has
actually met and so can identify afield. Now, whereas the accumulation
of such a list, if it were merely for the sake of numerical comparison
with some rival observer would be as vulgar as a collection of tobacco
tags, it may be, on the other hand, if rightly conceived, a source of legit-
imate satisfaction. To be able to add year by year to your list of bird
friends is no mean ambition. It will incite the student to a careful scru-
tiny of his own surroundings and give zest as well to the vacation trip or
the change of residence.

The pleasure of such a life-list grows with increasing knowledge. The
new bird, that would be a perfect enigma to the novice, drops at once in-
to Its appropriate niche with the man who has a field acquaintance with
its congeners. Of course, there is a limit to this sort of thing, — namely,
when one knows them all. But this day fortunately is far distant from
most of us. Meanwhile, we suspect, the flavor of the "new bird" im-
proves to the taste with his increasing rarity. The veteran ornithologist,
Dr. Coues, says — and we can almost hear him sighing — "For myself the
time is past, happily or not, when every bird was an agreeable surprise,
for dew-drops do not last all day; but I have never yet walked in the
woods without learning something pleasant that I did not know before.
I should consider a bird new to science ample reward for a month's
steady work ; one bird new to a locality would repay a week's search ; a
day is lutffily spent that sho-L>.'s jyie any bird that I nv7.(tions lo PJiilippinc 0)-nitholo!^y, by Dean C. Worcester, A.
B.. and Frank S. Bourns, M. D. From the Proceedings of the U. S.
National Museum. Vol. XX, pages 549-625, (with plates LV-LXI). These

32 Biillcti)! No. rg.

Contributions swell the list of Philippine birds to 526 species positively
known to occur on these interesting islands, exclusive of 67 about whose
occurrence there may be some doubt. The paper is in two parts, part I
dealing with the list of species and their distribution in the group, part
II discussing the many interesting problems presented by so varied a
group of islands in the midst of the ocean. The paper is a contribution
not only to Philippine Ornithologv, but to the general subject of Orni-
thology as well.

B/)-ds, Vol. III. Nos, 2 and 3. February and March, i8g8.

Book A\-7'u-zl-s, Vol. V, Nos. 8 and g. February and March, i8g8.

Bidlcfius 88, 8g, go. Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station.

BuUeti)i of the Michif^an Ornithological Club. Vol. II, No. i. Janu-
ary, i8gS.

Bulletin 87. Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station.

Contributions to IVestern Botany, No. VIII. February 21, i8g8.

B^orest and Stream, Vol, L, No. i. January, i8g8.

The /ozca Ornithologist . Vol. IV, No. i. January, i8g8.

1 he Journal of Applied Microscofy. Vol. I, No. 2. February, i8g8.

Museum. Vol. IV, No. 4. February, i8g8.

The Osprey. Vol. II, Nos. 5, 6-7. January, February-March, i8g8.

Stories from A'atuie. Vol. I, Nos. 8, g. January and February,

\A/ A NinrPP^ ! The following numbers of llieOsp)ey: October,
VV AIN 1 CU i and December, i8g6, February, i8g7' Will ex-
change other publications, or pay cash. Address, Lynds Jones, Oberlin ,

\K1 A NITPr^ ! ^ ^^^^^ P^y C2i'^\\ for the following publications :
VV /vlN 1 SliVJ . Curleic, any and all numbers. Or/n'tholo^i^^ists'
and Oo/o^i^ists" Semi- Annual, Vol. I, No. i, Vol. II, No. i. Bulletin
(new series) Nos. i, 2, 3, 4. iVorth American Fauna No. 7. Copies
must be unbound and in good condition. Address, Lynds Jones, Oberlin,


Walking through the woods one day, 1 was surprised by a bird drop-
ping lightly to the ground at my feet, and, (as I stopped instantly) seeing
it calmly go about picking up tiny bits as if I were not there. It was a
mite of a bird, and beautifully marked with various colors. After a few
moments it flew on through the woods and I said to myself, "some one
is going to house-keeping and I \vonder whoi^"

I came home and went to my books, and yes, it was as I thought and
hoped, the Parula Warbler. I had seen mounted specimens and pictures,
but this was my first acquaintance with the bird

The next day I came upon the same bird on a bush and as I looked at
it, it flew up into a tree close by, and into a dark spot among the foliage,
where I could see that it was jerking and twitching things about, and
then away. Still watching and peeping I finally found an opening
which showed me a nest, and then the bird came back with more mater-
ial and renewed its work. You may know that this was highly interest-
ing since the books say it builds its nest in the long tufts of gray lichens,
{Csnea barbaia), and this was not in long moss, but in the boughs of a
hemlock tree ! A beech had been blown over and leaned against this
hemlock bending some of the branches until they were quite perpendicu-
lar, and very thick, so of course it made a place more like the moss
which it is said to use. I visited this nest often, but it was so high up —
about forty-five feet — that I could see nothing but the birds leaving or

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Online LibraryAgassiz Association. Wilson Ornithological ChapterThe Wilson bulletin (Volume 10, 1898) → online text (page 3 of 8)