Agassiz Association. Wilson Ornithological Chapter.

The Wilson bulletin (Volume 10, 1898) online

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approaching it, and that it was a pendent nest, like that of the oriole,
only smaller. I longed to get that nest down after Parula was done with
it, but had not succeeded in doing so, when a storm in mid-winter car-
ried it ofi. The next spring the Parulas were often seen about the bird's
bathing-place, and were like most of the birds, very tame. Many times
they shook off the water and preened their feathers on low branches near
me, and glanced down at me most sociably. I had good opportunities
for seeing their pretty markings, the bright yellow of chin and throat,
melting into the rich orange-bronze across the breast, this changing sud-
denly to the white of underparts. The blue of upper parts with the
bronze across the back and the two white wing-bars — instead of one as
many books say. Then some dashes of white on the tail, and vou have
as dainty a bird as can be imagined.



34 Bulletin N'o. 20.

Once I saw on the black mud which the overflow from the spring keeps
wet, one of these tiny birds drinking from a dot of a lake, and it made
me think of a delicate lace handkerchief dropped on a dusty floor, it was
so small and frail and beautiful, and the black earth seemed so unfit for
it to touch. I did not find the nest that year. The next spring I was
puzzled for a long time by two bird songs which I could not place. I
always heard them from the higher trees, and although I could get
glimpses of the birds who sang them, they would not come down and tell
me their names. The voice of one bird was slightly shrill, and the song
went like this "- /- - - - - ' " a trill followed by one longer ac-
cented note. The other was much sweeter and more varied, '' -\\\ \"

represents the changes in the notes as well as I can give them. I was
quite convinced that there were two different birds, but found at last
that it was just one, and that, the Parula warbler. Besides these two
songs there is the common call note "chip, chip,"

Then one day when I was out a bird flashed by me and up into a tree
close by. I followed its flight and there was again the Parula's nest and
again in a hemlock ! About twenty-five feet high, in the lowest branch,
and where the green was thickest and pendent, this time without any
outside help to make them so, it just grew that way, and Madam Parula
had looked and seen that it was just the place for a nest. The tree stood
just outside my garden fence and about a rod from the tree that held the
nest two years ago. The nest was not quite finished as the birds made
many trips to and from it, and jerked and twitched things about when-
ever they were in it. After a week, Madam was evidently sitting, and
several times while I watched, the male flew to the tree singing as he
reached it ; and almost instantly the female came out and flew off. She
was gone perhaps five minutes and sometimes the male dived down into
that dark spot in the branches and stayed until she came back, when he
flew out and she in, without apparently seeing each other, though pass-
ing just above the nest, just pretending I suppose. At other times the
male perched on a twig close to the nest and repeated his song, until his
mate came back, when he flew off and could be heard singing about the
trees all day.

Then for a week I was vmable to visit the nest, and when I did it was
deserted, but since I heard the song for the rest of the season I concluded
the birds were safely hatched and flown in that short time. In the fall
my husband climbed the tree and brought me the bough with the nest,
and at last I could see how it was made. Very frail and the wall so
thin one side was formed by only three or four bare twigs of hemlock,

Bulletin A^o. 20. 35

])ut doubtless these bore their leaves when the nest was occupied and
that would complete the wall on that side. Fine, thread-like green lich-
ens and slender black roots compose the nest, and the latter are used to
bind the hemlock twigs into the framework and support of the nest. One
twig is bent up around the bottom and bound firmly there. The nest
measures two inches deep, two and a half inches across one way and one
and a half the other, being much flattened instead of round. The black
roots look like those of the fern "Dicksonia" which grows plentifully

Mrs. T. D. Dershimer, Square Top, IVyomiui^Co., Pa.


Tuesday, May 17, was the day agreed upon by the editor and myself
in which to take a representative horizon of Lorain County birds. In
order that it should be a fair test of the possibilities of a single day, we
arranged to spend as much time in the field as possible, and at the same
time cover a variety of bird haunts. With this in mind we began at
3:00 .K. M., and devoted the best early morning hours to a favorite piece
of woodland and thicket two miles out of town. There was a considera-
ble frost on the ground, which no doubt dissuaded a number of birds
from leaving us the night before, but the day became bright and warm
and still — in fact an ideal bird day.

The chorus was opened at 3:15, while we were still in town, by the
Chipping Sparrow, and he was joined within a minute by Robins and
Mourning Doves. Between four and five hours were spent in the woods,
which, with intervening fields, resulted in a horizon of seventy-one
species by 8:00 a. m. This included several rare finds.

We chased a shy and very suspicious looking sparrow for a hundred
yards or more along a shady creek in the heart of the woods. Finally
when we had him pushed almost to the edge, he graciously treed at about
twenty feet high, for a half a minute. How eagerly we scanned him ! —
altho at such long range ! — but there could be no doubt ! It was Lincoln's
Sparrow. Later in the day, while we were poking in a small tangle near
the lake, we came upon this bird again. Here too he was skulking in a
creek bottom, but by walking one on each side of the creek, we got a
double cinch on him. P'irst, Mr. Jcjnes drove him (on the ground) to the
water's edge, and from across the stream I noted his head stripes, his
pale streaked breast and his demure airs. Then I retired, while Mr.

36 Jhilleiiii No. 20.

Jones put him across the creek, where I " held him " for Jones to study.
During this time he favored us with a few delicate snatches of a sweet
but very weak song. Taken altogether it is scarcely any wonder that
we had not found this bird before.

In the woods also I almost stumbled on a beautiful Mourning Warbler.
So tenaciously did it cling to the brush heap, that Mr. Jones afterward
drove it up within four feet of me, where it allowed a most minute in-
spection. It's snapping black eyes vied with the shining jet of its breast,
and we let it go for a " little exquisite. " Another rarity was the Gray-
cheeked Thrush, which we came upon in addition to the three other

After a half hour lost at breakfast, Mr. Jones and I boarded the elec-
tric cars for Lorain, on Lake Erie, intending to search the shore for hve
miles ; then after exploring a swamp there to tramp back to Oberlin via
Beaver Creek bottom. Arrived at Lorain, we saw from the pier Com-
mon Terns, which are usually anything but common here. Purple Mar-
tins swarmed about the docks and channels, and with them were mingled
a few Tree Swallows. Also a very ancient and tattered Bald Eagle soared
slowly overhead. When we called the attention of an intelligent-looking
bystander to the fact, he exclaimed excitedly, " Is that so ? Why, some-
body ought to get after him." That's it ! That is the average American's
one idea of the eagle. "Kill it." Let us be thankful that there are
some of us who have been spared that ignominy.

Shore birds were conspicuously absent, but in the swampy sections
arrivals dropped in on us pretty fast. As the "go" mark was passed
our spirits, already high, rose perceptibly. When it began to look as if
we would score a hundred, the editor became visibly excited, while the
writer, who is somewhat younger and more "flighty," gave vent to a
few uncontrollable whoops. However in our wanderings we came across
a feathered brother who was able to adequately express our sentiments.
It was the American Bittern ; and I tell you candidly, gentle reader, that
of all uncanny noises the noise he makes is the most uncanniest of all.
Take a jug the size of a hogshead, and while full of air, duck it mouth
down in the pond. Then let the air escape in great gurgles, say a cask-
ful at a time, and Vou get but a faint idea of the terrifying, earth shak-
ing power of the well lubricated " Thunder-pump."

The return was made along a creek bottom of varied character. A
pair of the rare Rough-winged Swallows were sighted in a small shale-
walled gorge. Several strays were brought into line, and the list ap-
propriately closed at 7:15 p. i\i. by the appearance of the first Nighthawk.

Bulletin No. 20.


We arrived home at 8:30 v. m., having spent seventeen and a half hours
with the birds, and having secured a horizon of 102 species.

In glancing over such a list it is instructive to note the deficiencies, as
well as the names present. In the first place it was not a warbler day.
Altho eighteen species were found, it was only by hard work, for the
warblers were scanty and scattered. Almost any day of the week pre-
vious must invariably have yielded more species and many times more
individuals. Again, certain other species are bound to have been in the
county on that da}-, but were not seen simply because of the necessary
limitations of time and strength. Among such must be reckoned at least
the Turkey Vulture, Broad-winged Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Sharp-
shinned Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, Screech Owl, Barred Owl, Red-bellied
Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Whippoorwill, Cedar-Bird, Bay-
breasted Warbler and Yellow-breasted Chat.

We don't want to boast, but if any of the brethren encounter better
luck within the limits of a single day and county, we want to hear from
them in future numbers of the Wilson Bulletin. Tlie following is
the horizon complete ;


American Herring Gull.




Common Tern.


Chimney Swift.


American Bittern.




Great Blue Heron.




Green Heron.


Crested Flycatcher.


Virginia Rail.






Wood Pewee.


American Woodcock.


Green-crested Flycatcher.


Solitary Sandpiper.


Alder Flycatcher.


Bartramian Sandpiper.


Least Flycatcher.


Spotted Sandpiper.


Prairie Horned Lark.




Blue Jay.






Mourning Dove.




Red-shouldered Hawk.


Cow bird.


Bald Eagle.


Red- winged Blackbird.


Sparrow Hawk.




Belted Kingfisher.


Orchard Oriole.


Hairy Woodpecker.


Baltimore Oriole.


Downy Woodpecker.


Bronzed Grackle.


Red-headed Woodpecker.






Vesper Sparrow.


Bulletin No. 20.

Grasshopper Sparrow.
White-crowned Sparrow.
White-throated Sparrow.
Chipping Sparrow.
Field Sparrow.
Song Sparrow.
Lincohi's Sparrow.
Swamp Spirrow.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak.
Indigo Bunting.
Scarlet Tanager.
Purple Martin.
Cliff Swallow.
Barn Swallow.
Tree Swallow.
Bank Swallow.
Rough-winged Swallow.
Loggerhead Shrike.
Red-eyed Vireo.
Warbling Vireo.
Blue-headed Vireo.
Black-and-white Warbler.
Blue-winged Warbler.
Nashville Warbler.
Tennessee Warbler.
Yellow Warbler.
Black-throated Blue Warbler.


Magnolia Warbler.


Cerulean Warbler.


Blackburn ian W^arbler.


Black-thro' t'dGreen Warbler


Palm Warbler.






Louisiana Water-thrush.


Mourning Warbler.


Maryland Yellow-throat.


Wilson's Warbler.


Canadian Warbler.




American Pipit.




Brown Thrasher.


House Wren.


W^inter Wren.


Long-billed Marsh Wren.


White-breasted Nuthatch.


Tufted Titmouse.




Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.


Wood Thrush.


Wilson's Thrush.


Gray-cheeked Thrush.


Olive-backed Thrush.


American Robin.




L. Dawson, OberJin, Ohio.


Parvenir, New Mexico, altitude 7,500 feet, March 27th, 1898.
The following were observed in a three hour's walk, from nine to
twelve A. M., taking in the Gallivas river canon, mountains and mesas.
Long-crested Jay, 31. Red-backed Junco, 34.

Woodhouse's Jay, 2. Red-shafted Flicker, i.

American Dipper, 11. Cabani's Woodpecker, 2.

Bulletin No. 20. 39

Pigmy Nuthatch, 23. American Magpie, 9.

Slender-billed Nuthatch, 2. Mountain Chickadee. 7.

Western Robin, 8. Golden Eagle, 2.

Canon Towhee, 5. Road Runner, i.

Western Goshawk, i. Mourning Dove, 17.

Sparrow Hawk, i. Desert Horned Lark, 39.

The day was a perfect one. No clouds, hot sun, thermometer 52° in
the shade, and a very light snow had fallen the previous night, which
had entirely disappeared, except slight patches on the shady side of the
mountains along the canon.

W.\LTON I. Mitchell, Partwuir, Scdi Miffucl Co., Xczc Mexico.

Phtl.\delphl^, Pa. — This censo-horizon was taken during a two hours
tramp over the Delaware marshes near Philadelphia, February 26, 1898.
The day was clear, with a comparatively strong breeze, the temperature
ranging from 40° to 60°.

Duck, 12. A flock swimming in the river too far out too determine
the kind.

Marsh Hawk, i. Solitary.

I All these were flying about over the

Red-tailed Hawk. 3. Together. \ fa ^le meadow. These meadows are

; literallv alive with mice, which prob-

Red-shouldered Hawk, i. , ^bly accounts for the number of

Am. Rough-legged Hawk. 3 j hawks, which are abundant there in

I winter.

Short-eared Owl, 2. Pair.

Flicker, 3. Two together, one solitary.

American Crow, 12. In pairs mostly.

Red-winged Blackbird, 1.

Meadowlark, 3. Solitary,

Purple Grackle, 3. Flock.

Vesper Sparrow, 3. Flock.

Savannah Sparrows, 6 small flocks of 2 or 3.

White-throated Sparrow, 2.

Slate-colored Junco, 3.

Song Sparrow, 50. Small flocks.

Swamp Sparrow, i, with Junco.

Titlark, 100. Flock.

Carolina Wren, i.

Robin, 4

40 Bulletin No. 20.


Notes from Philadelphia. — Mr. Davie, in his "Nests and Eggs" says
concerning the Robin, that the eggs are "usually four, rarely five." This
spring there were under my observation, near home, ten nests of the
Robin. Of these, two never contained eggs ; of the other eight, two con-
tained when the set was completed, two eggs ; three had three eggs ; three
four eggs and one, five. Therefore it would seem to me that it should be
said that the number of eggs in a complete set is from two to five. The
nests were all, except the one of five eggs, undisturbed and the broods
reared. I am also positive that the nests were not disturbed in any way
and it is too early for second sets.

I should like to withdraw a statement that I made in the last number
of the Bulletin about the curious Sparrow's nest. Since then I have
found that all the newly built nests have the hole in the side and not the
top. There are some thirty or forty nests about the home and are all,
without exception, built in this manner.

While on a collecting trip to the Delaware Ri\'er marshes, on Feb. 26,
I shot a Fish Crow, C. ossifraj^us, which had a white feather in the
greater coverts of each wing.

On .May 29, a Wilson's Phalarope was presented to the Delaware Val-
ley Ornithological Club. It was shot on the marshes back of Ocean
City. This is the only specimen of this bird that has ever been shot by
any member of the club.

Appropriation of the Yellow-billed Magpie's Nest by the Desert
Sparrow Hawk. — In San Benito County, California, the Desert Sparrow
Hawk, Falco spar-i

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Online LibraryAgassiz Association. Wilson Ornithological ChapterThe Wilson bulletin (Volume 10, 1898) → online text (page 4 of 8)