Agassiz Association. Wilson Ornithological Chapter.

The Wilson bulletin (Volume 10, 1898) online

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Lynds Jones, Oberlin, Ohio.


As we come to count up when the month is only a little more than
half over, it seems remarkable the number of birds v.'e have found
nesting here near Oberlin, in July. Of course we expect to run across
some belated nesters every season, but as Mr. Jones and I compare notes
we find that we have recorded eggs belonging to fourteen species of birds
in only three days afield this month — and that too. without paying any
particlar attention to nests. Is the nesting season later than usual this

Bulletin No.


year ? or have we been blinded to the fact that birds nest regularly in
July at this latitude ? 1 hat the former supposition must have at least
some weight my note-book will show. Where I have four species nest-
ing for April and ten for May (all accidentally or at least /wcidentally
discovered), I have also ten for June, and here, with Mr. Jones, four-
teen for July. This count includes, of course, only those actually ex-
amined. No account is made of nests containing young.

The following is the record of the three July days :

July 4.

Cliff Swallow. — A colony of twenty pairs contain'ed two or three
sitting birds.

Cedar Waxwings. — Two nests were found in an orchard, one contain-
ing four eggs, and the other containing one egg and three young just
hatched. Beside these were found three nests as yet unoccupied.

Robin. — One nest with four eggs examined. Other sitting birds seen
but not disturbed.

Chipping Sparrow. — Four eggs, apparently fresh.

Phoebe. — Four eggs in a nest placed on a shale cliff.

A Warbling Vireo's nest not quite completed contained a single Cow-
bird's egg with a sizable hole in it, probably made by the aggrieved
party. As the contents of the egg were unaltered, the evidence is
strongly in favor of the July nesting of the Vireo— but we don't count

July 5.

Spotted 'Sandpiper. — Four eggs.

Vesper Sparrow. — Three eggs.

Field Sparrow. — The nest contained three eggs of the Sparrow and
one of the Cowbird.

July 12.

Vesper Sparrow. — Three eggs.

Song Sparrow. — Three eggs of the Sparrow and one of the Cowbird.

Crested Flycatcher. — Three eggs.

Wood Pewee. — Two eggs.

Cardinal. Two Eggs.

Wood Thrush. — Two eggs.

These last three were probably second attempts of birds whose nests
had been disturbed.

W. L. Dawson, Oberlin, Ohio.

56 Bulletin No. 21.


Rough-winged Swallow. — We have long suspected that this Swallow
nested on the shale cliffs on the Vermillion River, in this county, but
were able to verify our suspicions only this summer. On the 24th of
June, I saw one of these birds visit a cranny in the well shaded west
wall, at a point nine feet above the river. By the aid of a short log, I
reached up and explored the black, narrow passage, formed by the
partial springing .of a superficial shale layer. Several half fledged young
rested on a considerable heap of straw at a distance of about two feet
and a half. The female charged boldly at me twice, but for the most
part did not venture within fifty feet of me.^

English Sparrow Nesting in Shale Cliffs. — It is usually gratifying
to find a bird nesting in a state of absolute nature. For instance, altho
we are often pleased to have the birds accept our hospitality, it is more
interesting to find a Chimney Swift nesting in a hollow tree than in the
present conventional situation. But I confess to feelings of mingled
disgust and despair when I found, on July 4th last, that the English
Sparrows were nesting freely on the high shale cliffs of the Vermillion
River near Mill Hollow. Is no place safe from the desecration of these
impudent intruders ? Every available cranny of the cliffs at this point
was occupied by them, and the clatter of passerine Billingsgate filled
the air. The place is several hundred yards from any buildings and is
as secluded as any native bird could desire. Doubtless these ruffians
are dispossessing the Rough-winged Swallows, who were finding all too
few favorable nesting sites as it was.

W. L. Dawson, Oberlin, Ohio.

Is it generally observed that the female Goldfinch is an outrageous
thief? On the 7th day of May last year, as I sat at the window watch-
ing a Chipping Sparrow building her nest in a small red cedar, I observed
that every time the Sparrow went off in search of more material the
Goldfinch quietly slipped into the bush and proceeded to pull the nest
apart, flying off with portions of it in her bill. What could she want of
it so long before her own nesting season ? Later on, last summer we
watched a female Goldfinch pull a Hummingbird's nest to pieces,
taking out the downy lining almost faster than the Hummingbird could
put it in.

Miss E. D. Roberts, IVooster, O/iio.

Bulletin N'o. 2[. 57


Our fellow member, John W. Daniel, Jr., as ist lieutenant, 3rd
Brigade, Rosser's Staff, in company with Dr. Edgar Mearns, is on his
way, with the army, to Puerto Rico, where he will have opportunity to
study the avifauna of our new island possession.

Again the heated term, coupled with the unusual interest in our war
with Spain, has contributed to a dearth of copy for this issue. The
editor pleads guilty to negligence in soliciting copy early in July, in the
hope that solicitation would be unnecessary. But members should not
wait to be asked to contribute short notes of interest ; that is as much a
part of the duty of membership as working for the committees. This
number is both late and four pages short. Do not let this occur again.

Our Constitution provides that nominations for officers for the ensuing
year must be made in September. As heretofore the September issue
will be delayed a few days in order to announce the list of nominees.
There should be no nominations for the office of Vice-President, since
the person receiving the second highest number of votes for President
is declared Vice-President. The list of nominations should be forwarded
to President R. M. Strong, North Greenfield. Wis. Will not every
member send in a list of nominations? By so doing your interest in the
organization will be increased, and your zeal for study of the birds will
receive a greater impetus.

Have we ever stopped to consider the real reason for the existence of
our Chapter ? What is its mission in the field of scientific investigation,
and is it fulfilling that mission ? Our Constitution declares that the
object of the Chapter is the systematic study of Ornithology and Oology,
and the publication of the results. But to furnish an excuse for exis-
tence the Chapter must have a mission as well as this broadly stated
object. The mission, if we properly understand it, is the exhaustive
study of some one limited topic, accomplished by the plan of co-opera-
tive study. The degree to which we are fulfilling this mission will find
a ready answer in the mind of each member, for its fulfillment depends
directly upon the earnest effort of each member. A complete fulfillment
necessitates an exhaustive study of the object chosen by each member in
his own locality. While a complete fulfillment can hardly be hoped for,
on account of the limitations of time and opportunity of the most of us
who are pressed by other duties, yet completeness can be closely approxi-

58 Bulletin No. 21.

mated by earnest and intelligent attention during the opportunities for
study. The mind must be trained to receive the impressions which eye
and ear are constantly bringing to it. Probably the most of us are able
to retain enough of a song, even once heard, so that we shall be able to
recognize it weeks or years afterwards if it be repeated, but I doubt if
more than a chosen few could imitate successfully even a small pittance
of the more common songs and notes heard nearly every day. Then a
secondary mission of our Chapter must be the training of the faculties
for more careful and profitable study.

What have we done that will furnish assurance of future success ?
There is but one published report that is worthy of our high ideal — the
Crow Report, Bulletin No. 4 — , but there are others under way. Mr.
Frank L. Burns, the compiler of the Crow Report, has a similar work
on the Flicker well under way, besides the several other investigations
mapped out, for which see Bulletin No. ig, page 26. It is earnestly
hoped that these reports may be pushed to an early completion and pub-
lished. Your investigations will contribute largely to this end.


Bird Tablet, for Field Use. By Josephine A. Clark, 1322 Twelfth
St. N. W., Washington, D. C. Price twenty-five cents. Special rates
to schools and classes.

In this Bird Tablet, Miss Clark supplies the need which every be-
ginner must feel of a printed form which will at once furnish a record
book which will enable the student to go to his key with a fair prospect
of arriving at the correct identification of the bird seen, and also train
him to look for the more essential points of structure, markings and
habits. The beginner is too often led to stop with general impressions,
giving little or no attention to details. This Tablet will correct that
tendency, and prove to be an educator to eye and ear, and lead to a
habit of discrimination, so necessary in the study of birds. There are
fourteen main heads, with sub-heads under the most of them, and
usually ample space left for annotations, besides two full pages for
" Notes." While the printed descriptions are not intended to be exhaus-
tive, they are sufficiently detailed to furnish a basis for intelligent work.
Beginners in bird study will find this Tablet a useful field companion.

The Sutn7ner Birds of Susquehajina County, PeiinsylTauia. By
Francis R. Cope, Jr.

Bulletin No. 21. 59

After a few introductory remarks relating to the literature, location
and fauna of the county, the author presents a pretty fully annotated list
of the birds which are known to nest in Susquehanna county. The list
comprises ninety-one species, five of which the author considers hypo-
thetical, not having been actually found breeding by him. Similar lists,
prepared by, as trustworthy observers, throughout the country, would
give us a basis for maps of life areas which would need very little future

Charts of North American Birds. Published by Mature Study
Publishing Company, Chicago.

These charts comprise eighteen sheets, representing 142 plates of birds
and three plates of eggs. One of the bird plates is repeated, thus leav-
ing 141 species of birds represented, while there are forty-nine species
of eggs represented on the three plates. These plates have already
appeared in that unparalleled magazine — Birds — and so need not be
given individual attention here. For the first time they are here grouped
in more or less natural order, as one finds them associated together in
the fields. These groupings must be seen to be appreciated. They are
certainly a work of art. It is too much to expect that a work of this
kind should not have some defects or some possibilities for improvement,
but it is cause for congratulation that there are so few necessary changes.
The third cover-page is devoted to an outline bird at the top with the
printed names of all the parts illustrated. It is cause for regret that this
figure and the labelling is unworthy of the company in which it has
been placed. It is earnestly hoped that it will early be supplanted by
an accurate figure. The lower half of the page presents an alphabetical
list of all the birds represented on the plates, with first, the A. O. U.
number, common name, small figure referring to the collection from
which the subject is taken, scientific name, and the plate number. In
this list we notice only two errors. The generic name of the Belted
Kingfisher should read Ceryle instead of Alcedo, and the Nonpareil, or
Painted Bunting should be given the A. O. U. number 601. One can
appreciate the difficulties of an undertaking of this kind only when he
attempts any arrangement of the Nature Study plates of birds. These
charts are printed on strong manilla paper, which is reinforced on three
edges with cloth. The twenty sheets are securely fastened in a solid oak
stick which is supported on an adjustable tripod, the whole weighing but
a few pounds. We predict a wide sphere of usefulness for these charts.

6o Bulletin No. 21.

At Yoii-AWs House. A Missouri Nature Story. By James Newton
Baskett. Published by the Macmillan Company, New York.

In this little book of thirty-five chapters and 346 pages, we are treated
to a natural country love-story with a most pleasing setting of Nature.
The author discovers rare familiarity with country life and manners, and
an artist's pen in the nature descriptions. It is a pleasure to note that the
true influence of Nature upon the personalities of the story is given a
fair share of notice. The reader cannot but feel the refining influence
of natural surroundings because he is led to realize something of the
mission of such surroundings. He who reads this little book will find
in it both pleasure and profit, and will finish it with a clean taste in his
mouth. It will give him a desire to know more of the natural objects
which are his daily surroundings.

Aynerican MojitJily Microscopical Joiiryial. Vol. XIX, Nos. 5, 6 and 7.

Birds. Vol. 3, No. 6.

Birds a7id All Nature. Vol. IV. No. i.

Book Reviezvs. Vol. XVI, No. 2.

Bnlletins g2 arid gj, Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station.

Fer7i Bidletin. Vol. VI, No. 3.

Journal of Afiflied Microscofy . Vol. I, No. 6.

The Kingdom. Vol. X, Nos. 35 and 39.

Lakeside Magazine. Vol. IV, No. 11.

Mineral Collector. Vol. V, No. 11.

Museinn. Vol. IV, Nos. 8 and 9.

Osfrey. Vol. II, Nos. 10 and 11.

Recreation. Vol. VIII, No. 5.

Shooting a?id Fishihg. Vol. XXIV, No. 5.

Histoj-ical Sketch of the U. S. Department of .Agriculture.



It is not my purpose to elaborately discuss the various changes which
have occurred in the bird life of the county during its life as a county,
nor even within recent years, but rather to notice some special features.
In common with other parts of the eastern portion of the Mississippi
Valley, as well as the Atlantic slope, and to a less degree other parts of
the country, Lorain county has suffered the complete extinction of one
or two birds, diminution in the numbers of some and the increase of
others. In a region, the natural character of which has been so greatly
modified as the Western Reserve of Ohio, from dense forests to relative-
ly open farming land, it is doubtful if there are any species of birds
which have not undergone some change in numbers or habits. But we
are concerned with only the more striking changes.


1. Wild Turkey, J/r/cai^^ri's ^aUopai'o. — Formerly a very common
game bird in the forests of the county, but it has long since entirely dis-
appeared. A specimen in the Oberlin College museum was collected
about 1858.

2. P.^ssENGER Pigeon, Ectopistcs jjiif^ratoriiis. — The immense
flights of former years have given place to a condition of practical ex-
tinction. There is no recorded capture or occurrence within fifteen


Under this heading there should be grouped all of the Anseres, 23
species; Limicolae, 18 species, and Gallinae, 2 species, which are found in
the county. The Woodcock and Bob-white are, however, on the in-
crease, thanks to protective laws. Killdeer and Spotted Sandpiper are
still common, but less so than six years ago.

Short-e.\red Owl, Asia accipilrinus. — It was reported as a common
resident eight years ago, by Messrs. L. M. McCormick and Geo. D. Wil-
der. I have seen but two individuals in the past six years, and those on
the lake shore in March.

Barred Owl, Syrniiim yiebidosiim. — The steady decrease year by


62 Bulletin No. 22.

year has been only too evident. This is due as much to the restriction
of suitable nesting places as to the "man with a gun."

Great Horned Owl, Bubo Tirginianii?,. — Eight years ago it was
not infrequently seen in the deeper woods. I have not seen one for four
years, and have heard of very few.

NiGHTHAWK, Chordeiles r'jyginianiis. — From common it has become
decidedly uncommon ; from what cause I am not able to state. It is
seldom seen at all except in fall.

Long-billed Marsh Wren, C/'sfol horns paluslris. — The restric-
tion of suitable nesting sites has nearly driven this wren from the

Bluebird, Si'ah'a s/alis. — The recovery of this species from almost
extermination in the winter of 1894-95 has been remarkable. It is not
yet abundant, as it was previously, but is becoming so.


In these days of a gradual decrease in wild animal life as a whole it is
a genuine pleasure to record the marked increase of a few species. A
careful study of our records enables me to add a number of species to
those given by Mr. W. L. Dawson on page 49 of the present volume.
Mr. Dawson's list includes Baltimore Oriole, Cardinal, Orchard Oriole,
Scarlet Tanager, Yellow-Breasted Chat, Bob-white. There are several
species whose increase has been very apparent \)\\t no cause can be as-
signed. They are:

Turkey Vulture, Ca/hartes aiiTci. — Always in evidence during the
warmer months.

Long-eared Owl, Asia wilsotiianus. — Usually either seen or heard
in every moderately heavy woods, responding to an imitation of its

Red-bellied Woodpecker, Melanerfies carolimis. — In nearly every
piece of woods, and even strays into town occasionally.

Green-crested Flycatcher, Emfidonax viresceyis. — The increase
in numbers during the past four years has been remarkable. Now every
considerable woods boast its scores of pairs, where formerly it was scarce
or absent.

Grasshopper Sparrow, Am?nodi-ajnus sar'amiaruni fasscriniis. —
The first record of Mr. L. M. McCormick was May 30th, 1892. Since
1893 it has been one of the common birds of the fields.

Lark Sparrow, CJiondcstes grayyimacus. — Like the preceding, Mr.
McCormick's first record is May 30, 1892. Since 1895 it has gradually in-
creased, but has not yet become common.

Bulletin A^o. 22. 63

Cedar Waxwing, Amf>elis cedrorum. — Formerly irregular, it is
now a common resident. It was decidedly common during the past sum-
mer, nesting in orchards and in towns.

Wilson's Thrush, l^irdus fuscesceus. — During the last two sum-
mers it has nested rather commonly. Our recor;^ls show that it is vari-
able in this respect.

In the foregoing enumeration I have purposely omitted all species
about which there might be a question, because of the greater amount of
field work which it has been possible to do in the last four years than

It is my hope that more careful attention may be given to the actual
numbers of individuals of the different species that are more common
and more familiar, with the idea of furnishing exact data for comparison
in years to come. We need to learn the effects of our civilization upon
our environment.

Lynds Jones, Obcrlin, Ohio.


Tuesday, September 13th, finds us once more walking through those
favorite fields of the collector, which bound the Mississippi below the
C. B. & Q. R.R. bridge, opposite Burlington, in Illinois, — our destination
being Ellison Slough. The day is all that can be desired — bright, yet
pleasantly cool.

As we push through the timber we note numerous feathered friends, —
the Woodpeckers being perhaps the most conspicuous since they insist
upon making their presence known by their loud notes. Next in point
of noise, or perhaps I should have placed him first, is our garrulous Blue
Jay, who is ever willing to let us know his whereabouts by some appro-
priate remark. Little fellows are now and then seen flitting among the
taller elms and the Warbling and Red-eyed Vireos seem not to have for-
gotten their sweet cry, for ever and anon we hear one babbling to himself,
no doubt recounting the pleasures of the past season.' P2ven the cheery
little note and bright gleam of the Redstart do not arrest our step, — but
we do stop, just for an instant, yet long enough to add a Golden-crowned
Thrush to our study series.

On we tramp, pausing to add a Tufted Tit to our bag, before we cross
the trestle which spans Running and Prairie Sloughs. Here we admire
the new club house and wish we might enjoy its hospitality and comforts

64 Bulletin Ah). 22.

for a while, but time will not permit, so we simply wave our hat at Mr.
Runge and continue our march down the railroad track. A few Doves,
enjoying a sunny sand bath ; a band of merry Chicadees ; a Fox Squirrel,
which happens to cross the track ; a Water Trush, very likely Grinnell's ;
and a few other warblers, who keep their distance and hence remain
strangers ; a Flicker or two ; a Barred Owl and a few piping Downy
Woodpeckers are about all we see until we reach Ellison Creek.

Ah ! where is my prairie ? Where my flocks of roving Bobolinks ?
All gone ! A sea of tall moving corn greets my eyes ; I am disappointed.
Yes, I admit I am not practical. I would prefer the prairie, with its
Bobolinks, its Shorelarks, Doves and Upland Plovers, those long drawn
notes I had hoped to hear again, a thousand times to the moving grain.

Why is it, that one longs to see old scenes appear, just as of old ?
Why are we hurt, when we return and find that our favorite tree, "neath
whose leafy arms we often sought repose," has been supplanted by
some stately home ? Civilized vandalism is what we mumble as we pass
on ; the place is estranged to us — we are no longer friends.

I confess I felt deeply hurt when I beheld my favorite piece of prairie
turned into a prosaic, monotonous cornfield of enormous extent. Fortu-
nately Ellison Creek has high banks and the plowman has left a broad
skirting strip for a road, now all grown up in weeds, chiefly Bidens and
Ambrosia. Slowly we work through this, now and then flushing a Field
or Chipping Sparrow. At the hog-pen we find a host of noisy Jays in
clamorous debate with Red-headed Woodpeckers, and a little further on
we even flush a Savanna Sparrow who makes good his escape by a hasty
retreat. No more birds are seen until we reach the little slough below
the farm house. Here we add a Sora to our collection and admire the
lazy flight of a Red-tail as he flaps off into the timber. Doves and
Bronzed Grackles are quite plentiful.

After sampling a quart of milk apiece, at the farm house, we continue
our journey to the Spring-heads. Here my friend, Mr. Poppe, flushes
and brings to grief, with the auxiliary, the first specimen of Yellow
Rail which I have ever observed in this locality. It is useless to say that
I took the Yellow Rail fever, a very severe malady when one is not
attired in high water-proofs, and with combined efforts we managed to
raise and drop two more.

White-bellied, Barn, Cliff, Bank and Rough-winged Swallows are
coming in, to rest on the tops of the Iron-weeds for the night. For here
we still have a bit of the old flora remaining, a reminder of olden times.
A Long-billed Marsh Wren and a Dickcissel are conv^eyed to our satchel,

Biilleti)! N'o. 22. 65

while a belated Maryland Yellow-throat complains of the disturbance.
As the sun sinks low behind the timber we merge from the marsh,
tired, weary and dirty, but we forget all about this when a little bird
jumps up under our feet and skulks off to a willow bush, where we send
a No. 12 invitation from the .44 X. L. to which he graciously responds.
Luck once more ! It is my first Lincoln's Sparrow, a fitting climax to
the day.

Paul Bartsch, \]\tshinirto)i, /). C.


Some time ago there appeared in the Bulletin an appeal from the
Editor for "light" upon the genus Junco. At the time I was quite
busy, and though I wanted to give what little experience that I had had
to my brother members, I failed at the time to get opportunity to do so,
and not till now have I gotten the leisure, though the query still remains,
and all along remained, in my thoughts.

Standing in my back yard, at my home in Lynchburg, Va., are three
specimens of Juniper -I'ljginica. In the gloaming, I used to take fre-
quent strolls out in the yard to drink in the perfumes of the southern roses,
inhale the pure air, and look and wonder at those glorious sun bursts and
cloud effects such as you see only in the quiet valleys of " Old Virginia,"
with the blue rim of the Alleghanies as a background, and the magnifi-

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Online LibraryAgassiz Association. Wilson Ornithological ChapterThe Wilson bulletin (Volume 10, 1898) → online text (page 6 of 8)