Agassiz Association. Wilson Ornithological Chapter.

The Wilson bulletin (Volume 10, 1898) online

. (page 7 of 8)
Online LibraryAgassiz Association. Wilson Ornithological ChapterThe Wilson bulletin (Volume 10, 1898) → online text (page 7 of 8)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

cent " Peaks of Otter," the highest of Virginia moun,tains, rising up in
quiet dignity in the distance, with the lazy tinkling of home-ward bound
cow-bells and the " slowly winding herds over the lea." It is on such
an evening that I most enjoy myself. To be away from the mad, rush
and clamor of the city, and to lose myself in pleasant thoughts and
reveries and to commue with " Nature in her visible forms" alone and
undisturbed. It was at such times that I became familiar with the roost-
ing places of Junco. In the dense foliage of I'irffinica they would settle
themselves. Often I have watched them flying into the trees, exposing
their white rectrices and dodging hither and thither among the dense
foliage. There was a box elder tree standing in the yard and frequently
numbers would settle into this and spend the night, but not so numer-
ously as in the cedars, the Juniper 7'irji^inica. This was Junco hyejna-
lis or perhaps some few were of the carolinensis sub-species. The
season was late fall and the birds were there for the winter. They

66 Bulletin No. 22.

would frequently fly out of the trees uttering their peculiar twittering
note, which when once heard is well remembered.

That has been my experience anyway. So it is an established fact
that Junco roosts in the thick foliage of Jiiviper Tii-ginica, at least in
Virginia. And how its western relatives spend their nights I regret
exceedingly I can't throic my search light of experience, having never
lit the candle upon them or in their neighborhood.

Jno. W. Daniel, Jr., Lynchhnrg, Fa.


Ever since the new reservoir, which contains about three acres of
surface, has been finished, the writer has endeavored to keep a com-
plete record of all ducks and geese which have ventured upon its waters.
Reference has so often been made to this small sheet of water in previous
numbers of the Bulletin, that it may be well to call special attention
to it now. The reader who is unfamiliar with the village of Oberlin will
do well to examine the map of Oberlin opposite page 41 in Bulletin
No. 15. 29, near the lower left-hand corner of the map, indicates the
position of the pumping station, but the spot intended to represent the
reservoir is for the old reservoir. The new one lies south and west of
the old one, occupying the bed of Plum Creek as represented on the
map, the course of the creek having been thrown to the south. Im-
mediately south and west of the new reservoir there is a small grove
of large trees, bounded on the east by an osage orange hedge fence. The
reservoir thus lies in a trough where the creek bed used to be, and can-
not be seen from the higher land on each side. Allow me to say that the
reservoir embankment is so high, and its bottom so built, that outside
water cannot enter.

Morgan street is well built up with dwelling houses, and a dwelling
house at the end of Kinsman street overlooks the reservoir. The region
west and south of the reservoir is not built up, thus affording a means of
approach from these directions. However, the village boasts of so
many and such large shade and ornamental trees that the buildings are
well hidden from any direction. To an observer on the highest building
there are scarcely more evidences of a village than the steeples towering
above the mass of foliage. But to the keen eyed flyers, suspicious of
every least indication of human activities, the village is an object to be

22. 67

avoided if possible. It is interesting to notice that a large proportion of
the birds which find their way to the reservoir follow the course of the
creek down or come ocross the fields from the south. Flocks which have
passed high above the buildings returning from the north, pass com-
pletely over the reservoir, whirl about, circle a few times, approach the
pond from the south-west, whirl around its margin once or twice, then
plunge upon its surface with a great splatter and whistling of wings.
Such species as come singly or in pairs or very small flocks usually steal
in under cover of darkness, or fly low near the woods or hedge, attract-
ing little attention. The passing of a train or the sudden appearance of
a person above the embankment will usually startle the most courageous
birds away. Many return almost at once and many remain even when
the reservoir is nearly surrounded by people, provided no sudden dem-
onstration is made, It often seems almost marvellous how reluctant the
ducks are to leave this small sheet of water. Probably the reason may
be found in the prohibition of shooting anywhere near the premises. It
is certainly true that the numbers visiting the reservoir are constantly
increasing. May this small place always be a secure haven of rest to
the moving host.

Below is a list of the species recorded to date with some remarks upon
their occurrence.

American Merganser, Mcrgayjser aynericauus. — Twice recorded.
April, 1896, May 4, 1898. It is one of the most timid species, appearing
in the early morning and departing at the first signs of activity on the

Mallard, Anas bosc/nis. — March 26 and 28, 1898. A female which
remained all day.

Bald-pate, A?ias atnericana. — A female seen on the water in the
spring of 1896.

Blue-winged Teal, Anas discors. — There were several seen April
3, 1898.

Pintail, Dafiht acuta. — Visits the place every spring, but is very shy,
leaving early in the morning.

Red-head, Aythya americana. — April, 1896, March 12, 1898. Another
very shy bird.

Canvas-b.\ck, Aythya -ludlisneria. — Recorded by Mr. L. M. Mc-
Cormick for the old reservoir

Americx Scaup Duck, .lythya marila nearctica. — March 24, 1898.
One of the less timid ones ; permitting a near approach.

Lesser Scaup Duck, Aythya afifinis. — One of the commonest and
boldest of the visitors ; seen every year.

6S Bulh'tiii No. 22.

Ruffle-head, CInt)-itonetla albeola. — Frequently associated with the
preceding, and even bolder. Usually, as the last, in- mixed flocks, the
females outnumbering the males.

Ruddy Duck, Rrisinatnra rubida. — November 13, 1897, April 23,
i8g8. I found them much like the Grebes — diving when alarmed and
loth to leave the water.

Blue Goose, Chen cccndesccns. — October 28th, 1896, two were cap-
tured. They were not at all timid, and permitted a near approach. A very
rare occurrence for so large a bird and so small a body of- water.

Canada Goose, Branta Cdnadensis. — Single individuals soar about
the reservoir nearly every spring. But one was ever known to light.

Thus 13 out of the 23 species which have been found in the county
have visited this small and seemingly unfavorably situated body of
water at one time or another.

To this list should be added the other "Water Birds," but they can
perhaps better wait until another time.

Lynds Jones, Oberlin, Ohio.


Following the publication of the paper of which the above is the title,
I received several communications calling my attention to facts of which
I had previously been ignorant. In order that no one may be misled
through my misunderstanding of the true state of affairs, I make the fol-
lowing statements:

ist. The responsibility of so many of the remarkable statements in
the "list" referred to, should not rest wholly on the shoulders of the os-
tensible author, whose experience had been limited to two or three years
of field work.

2nd. Our local ornithologists seem very loth to adopt the records
given by my correspondent for the reason that memory is a very unsafe
thing to depend upon especially when one has collected in many parts of
the country. It is said that it is no uncommon thing for some men who
have collected in various places and whose intentions may be perfectly
honest, to get certain experiences mixed up in their memory and state
with great certainty that a kind was killed at such a time and place,
when the specimen they were thinking of was something quite different.
Unfortunately my correspondent cannot refer to his cabinets of skins and
'^■Bulletin No. 12. Wilson Ornitliological Chapter.

Build i}i No. 22. 69

eggs with accompanying data, as his collection was sold while he was ab-
sent on a collecting trip to the far South, and delivered to a person in the
west, by a friend, Mr. Zahn, now deceased.

Frank L. Burns, Berivy7i, Petiyi.


Chimney Swifts. — The Swifts came back to this locality about the
19th of April. They paired toward the middle of May, and two of
them decided to use one of our chimneys for a home. The nest was
begun on Sunday, May 2gth, and was completed on the 3rd of June.
The laying began on the next day, when the first egg was laid, and the
birds seemed to lay every other day, as eggs were noted on the 6th, 8th
and loth of June. They did not waste any time but began to incubate
on the day after the last egg was laid — the nth. Between the times of
laying the third and fourth eggs the female stayed more on the nest, but
hardly enough to be starting to incubate. The morning seemed to be the
favorite time for laying, as all four of the eggs w'ere laid sometime during
the morning. After the four were laid I tried to take a picture of the
nest and eggs, but did not get a very good one for some reason. When
I would put the camera in, the bird would crouch lower on the nest, and
when I would wave my hand, it would fly off the nest and cling to the
wall during the taking of the picture. The nest was about eleven feet
below the hole in the chimney through which I was forced to operate.
Usually they build above the hole, nearer the top of the chimney. On
the 28th of June two of the young Swifts appeared, and on the 29th two
more. They grew fairly well until the i6th of July, when the dampness
in the air must have caused a tragedy, for on looking into it at the usual
time on the 17th, I found that it had dropped to the bottom of the
chimney. I noticed that the old birds were down there fussing around,
but could not see whether the young were alive ; but in a couple of days
three of them appeared on the side of the chimney a foot or so above
the bottom. The other must have been killed. These three stayed
there for a couple of weeks when they began to slowly climb up the side
of the chimney, reaching about the top of it on the 4th of August, and
the next day took their first lesson in flying, or at least in the outside
world, and surely it must have looked entrancing to them after the
depths of the chimney.

Sidney S. Wilson, .SV. Joseph, Mo.

Chimney Swift Nesting in a Barn. — July 7, the boy where 1 was
working in Albion, Dane Co., Wis., called my attention to the nest of a

yo Bulletin N'o. 22.

Chimney Swift, Chtchtra pelagica, placed about six feet below the
roof, on boards of the side of the barn. The nest was made in the
usual manner, and had at the time, four fresh eggs.

I found one Golden-winged Warbler, Hebninthofhila clirysoptera,
among our visitors this spring. This felllow is so occasional in his visits
to Wisconsin that it is a privilege to meet him.

G. Merton Burdick, Xeiv Auburn, Minn.

Hooded W.a.rbler. — A hard and continuous down-pouring of rain had
driven me homeward from a little collecting tour on the South Valley
Hills, near mid-day of the nth of May, 1898. Crossing a typical
Pennsylvania ravine, with its small and clear stream at the bottom and
steep hillsides covered by medium oak and chestnut with the usual laurel
underbrush, I heard an unfamiliar voice in a spicewood thicket and ob-
served a pair of birds feeding close to the ground. In the semi-gloom I
fired twice before securing one of them. This was my first capture. The
species probably formerly nested in our midst, and Dr. Warren is the
authority for a breeding record in Chester county in i-ecent years, al-
though it is now regarded as a rare migrant in eastern Pennsylvania,
while quite common in New Jersey.

Upon dissection I thought I had secured a male minus the hood and
with testes much swollen. I felt sorry I had prevented a possible breed-
ing record. Since then I have become convinced that I had mistaken the
supra-renla capsules which occur just where the testes are found in the
male bird and that my specimen is really a female. Mr. William Pal-
mer whose article in the Auk has proven beyond reasonabla doubt that
the male attains its hood the first season, has written that my bird is
doubtless a female in its second summer.

Now all of this is common-place enough, but I wonder how many col-
lectors have hoodless Hooded Warblers in their cabinets improperly
sexed? Doubtless not a few, as Baird, Cones and others of our foremost
authorities have made this mistake.

Fr.\nk L. Burns, Ber-Lvyn, Penn.

North Greenfield,. Wis. — There seems to be an unusual scarcity of
birds here, tho I have not been able to be out in the field much. The
usual flocks of Nighthawks and Whippoorwills went thru in August.
Bluebirds seem to be common. A few Bob-whites are reported now.
There is' a close season for a few years, and sportsmen have been
"planting" them in this vicinity and out thru the state. They were
practically extinct here a few years ago.

Relben M. Strong, NortJi (ii-eenfifid, J! Vs.

Bui lei iu No. 22. 71


As no nominations have been made for the offices of the Wilson Chap-
ter for the ensuing year, I see no other course than to announe that the
present officers will remain in their respective positions awaiting the
further pleasure of the Chapter.

The Bulletins of the Chapter are read and praised by many of the
most prominent naturalists of the country; but to continue their publica-
tion another year is a burden which ought not to fall so largely on the
shoulders of Mr. Jones as it has in the past. With a fair increase in
membership and a more general contribution of notes it will be possible
to keep up the Bulletins. If the members of th^ Chapter wish to see
a good work go on, the time is ripe for an expression to that effect. The
chairmen of committees have informed me at various times that their
work moves slowly through the lack of support in the way of notes and
data. The committee work certainly offers excellent opportunities for
original investigation by men who have a more or less limited amount of
time for field work. Observations, though they may be few, if they have
value find opportunity in the committee reports for publication and co-
ordination. An aggregation of reports of various members such as the
Sparrow and Crow Reports has permanent value, whereas the individual
reports in most cases, if published alone in the regular journals, would
have soon passed out of sight.

I should like to add another committee to the Chapter's sections to
take up the study of variations of species as shown by skins and eggs
with the use of curve criteria. My plan is to select some group like the
Ground Sparrows or the Horned Larks. I shall be glad to hear from
members who may be interested in this subject.

R. M. Strong, President irHson Ciiapler.

II Melien St., Ca7nbridi>-e , J/ass.


The delay of an entire month in the appearance of this number of the
Bulletin has been unavoidable, but it will not occur again. It should
be needless to remind the reader that the prompt appearance of copy
upon the editor's table will always ensure the prompt appearance of the
Bulletin. To ensure the prompt appearance of the November number
contributions are solicited now. Please give this matter your immediate

72 Bulletin No. 22.

It is likely that Bluebird, Robin and Meadowlark will have seriousl}-
begun the southern movement before this copy is mailed. May we not
have reports from every member and every reader concerning these
movements for publication in the next number? Won't you send your
notes to the editor at once ?

We greatly regret that Mr. Walter A. Johnson is no longer aUle to
attend to the editorial duties of the well known Osp-ey, on account of
ill health. It is to be hoped that the valuable publication will be con-
tinued with as able management.

It gives us pleasure to announce that our President, Reuben M. Strong,
is engaged in graduate study in Harvard University this year, and that a
part of his work is to be in Ornithology. There is certainly no depart-
ment of science which is rhore worthy of study than our chosen one,
and it is gratifying to know that this fact is now recognized by our best


G. M. Burdick, to New Auburn, Minn.

Walton I. Mitchell, to Albuqurque, N. Mex.

R. M. Strong, to 11 Mellen St., Cambridge, Mass.


Americaji Arclieologist , Vol. II, No. g, September, i8g8.

Birds ayid all Nutnrc, Vol. IV, Nos. 2 and 3, August and Septem-
ber, 1898.

BooJi Re-ineivs, Vol. VI, No. 3, September, 1898.

Bidletin Mo. g, Oberlin College, June 15th, 1898.

Bidletins Nos. g, 10, 11, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Division
of Biological Survey.

loiva Ornitiwlogist , Vol. IV, No. 3, July, 1898.

Journal of Apf

1 2 3 4 5 7

Online LibraryAgassiz Association. Wilson Ornithological ChapterThe Wilson bulletin (Volume 10, 1898) → online text (page 7 of 8)