Agassiz Association. Wilson Ornithological Chapter.

The Wilson bulletin (Volume 26, 1914) online

. (page 16 of 19)
Online LibraryAgassiz Association. Wilson Ornithological ChapterThe Wilson bulletin (Volume 26, 1914) → online text (page 16 of 19)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


food for themselves, they Hked to snuggle down on the pine
needles under low firs, or among dead leaves and sticks in
hollows, or to perch on dead branches or stumps. The
Thrushes resembled their surroundings so closely that I was
in constant fear lest I should step on one. I always examined
the ground carefully before advancing a step.

When in the woods, the birds kept in touch by a very sweet,
low call that sounded like phee. A bird became uneasy at
once if he lost his mates. I heard them call peep frequently,
and also chuck once. One day when I covered a little bird
in a basket to take him to the studio, he gave the pitiful call
that the parents give when concerned for the safety of the
young in the nest, a call that sounds like a deep sigh.

Even after the young had been in the woods for several
days, they would have suffered for food and water without my
constant care. I found that it was necessary to select a new
feeding place for them where they must find water, and where
they could not avoid the wild birds that came to drink and
bathe.

When the Hermits were about fifteen days old, they awoke
me one morning, calling for food. I fed them and returned
to my room. When one became hungry again, he perched
on the molding of the door through which I disappeared and
called until I came and fed him.

When seventeen days old, the Thrushes were able to pick
up anything from the floor such as ants, ant's eggs, flying
ants, small spiders, and the like.

Often tame young birds will follow voices, and fly up onto
a stranger and beg for food instead of helping themselves.
To counteract this tendency in my Thrushes, I never exhibited
them to company at home, I never took visitors to see them
in the woods, I never called them save at the feeding place,
I never answered their welcoming peeps until I arrived at
the feeding tree. Although I loved them dearly, I never
petted or coddled them. And I never spared myself any ex-
ertion that would add to their health, comfort, or safety.



184



The Wilson Bulletin — No. 89




Painted Trillium.
In the environment of the Hermit Thrush.

PHOTO BY CORDELIA J. STANWOOD



Staxwood — A Hermit Thrush Study 185

When the Thrushes came to feed, they liked to perch on
my arms, head, or fly into my lap. They disliked being held
across the wings, and strenuously resisted being caught.
Every day they became more swift in their movements, more
sensitivs to sounds, and less dependent on the food supply
that I brought to them.

I saw them pick up brown and green caterpillars, moths,
and ants, besides such food as I left on the ground for them
as spruce bud moths, grasshoppers, earthworms, ants' eggs,
wild pears and wdld strawberries.

A few days later, after I began to leave the Thrushes out
nights, there came a severe rain storm. I was able to visit
the Thrushes but twice that day. I found them dry save the
tips of their tail feathers and not very hungry. The follow-
ing day I carried food to them three times. On one of these
trips, a little Thrush came to meet me, dripping from his
bath in the spring. Although the feeding tree was not more
than six yards from the wire fence that separated the woods
from the open pasture and the spring, I never knew the
Thrushes to come through the wire fence when anyone was at
the spring.

They now ate so rapidly that it was awkward for them to
open their mouths sufficiently to take steak from the scissors,
and there was danger of cutting their mouths or throats. A
mouthful or two sufficed and they darted away. They were
also extremely quiet and started and listened at every sound.

The Thrushes were so w^ell able to care for themselves
that it seemed needlessly cruel to toll them to a certain spot
with food where animals of prey might lie in wait for them.
My frequent visits, also, kept them from their kind. Their
parents drank and bathed at this same spring. I did not visit
the feeding spot again. I never saw or heard of the Thrush-
es again.

I have lived with several Thrush families and I do not hesi-
tate to affirm that this experiment might not have been so
successful with all of them. Most young Thrushes when
tamed, particularly when excessively petted, loose all instinct



186 The Wilson Bulletin — No. 89

for caring for themselves ; they are little fool birds. How-
ever, Thrush character varies ; it is as beautiful and flexible
as the bird's wonderful voice. While nearly all Thrushes
are extremely gentle and affectionate, I must confess that the
only bird that ever dealt me a blinding blow in the eyes with
his wings, when I accidentally startled the young from the
nest was an 'extremely beautiful specimen of the Hermit
Thrush. In one family I have found one helpless little bird
that insisted on sitting in my note book all the time, with two
that resented too much attention.

June 15, 1912, I found a Hermit Thrush incubating three
egg-s.

June 26, the young Hermit Thrushes were seven days old ;
it was the end of the quill stage ; I took the young Thrushes
to study.

June 29, the young Hermits left the nest.

June 30-July 10, the young Thrushes spent part or all of
each day in the woods learning to feed. They perched in
fir boughs in the house at night.

July 10-July 15, I freed the Thrushes entirely and fed
them what was necessary.

July 15. the Thrushes appeared to be in an almost natural
state. They were entirely competent to care for themselves.



A BRIEF STUDY OF THE NEST LIFE OF THE
• BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER.

BY CORDELIA J. STAN WOOD.

Beside a shady path that marked the course of a neglected
woodroad, a pair of Black-throated Green Warblers con-
structed a nest, near the tip of a branch of a large spruce
tree, but three and one-half feet above the ground. It is
not very often that the Black-throated Green Warbler pro-
vides the student with such an excellent opportunity for study-
ing her nest. Usually these birds build at a greater elevation.



Stanwood — Black-throated Green Warbler 187

This spruce stood in a clump of firs that bordered an open
space in the woods.

There was just room enough among the trees to erect a
small balsam blind. When it was completed, my face was
about a yard from the nest, and it was so dusky in the tent,
that there was little fear of the birds becoming aware of my
presence, save when I moved.

As usual, the nest was a dainty-looking, soft, strong, warm
cradle. Fine spruce twigs, curls of birch bark, bits of dead
wood, secured and cemented together with spiders' silk, gave
the substantial foundation. The lining consisted of plant
down similar to that of the cinnamon fern, a few threads of
black plant fibre, and a' few of the dull, orange setae of some
moss such as dicranum pulled before they were ripe. The
nest was just large enough to accomodate four, plump, hun-
gry, sleepy, little Warblers.

Hidden in the blind, I saw the mother bird brood the
young, cleanse the nest by burrowing under the young, and
carry away the excrement. The diet of the young consisted
of brown, white, gray moths, a fly-like insect, a bee-like
insect, a small beetle similar to the larder beetle, and a large
number of smooth caterpillars, both green and brown. Some-
times the mother bird fed three brown or three green caterpil-
lars to one nestling at a time. Often besides the insect that
I was able to distinguish, was a mass of other insect food that
I was unable to place. Usually each bird fed several nest-
lings at each feeding but not more than three at one feeding.

The first day after the tent was constructed, I observed
three hours in the afternoon — from 18:37 to 3:05 p. m. A
bird cam'e a dozen minutes after I entered the blind. Dur-
ing that time, the male fed the young nine times, and car-
ried away the excrement three times : the female fed the
young nine times ; one visit was made by a bird whose sex
I did not determine : the rate of feeding the young was once
in nine and one-half minutes ; during my stay, I saw a few
of the insects fed to the young; among them were seven
smooth, green caterpillars, two brown moths, and three gray



188 The Wilson Bulletin — No. 89

moths ; when the female fed the young she twittered sint,
sint, sint.

At this stage the young twittered faintly when the birds
came, gave a vigorous food reaction, preened a great deal and
yawned. They had yellow beaks, brownish at the tip, throats
lined with red, greenish-grey upper parts, wings darker than
the back, two buffy-yellow wing-bars, buffy-yellow under-
parts, and almost invisible streaks on the breast. Most of the
time the young rested their beaks on the rim of the nest, at
other times they raised them at an angle of 60°.

The parent birds had formed a habit of walking out the
branch to the west side of the nest, but when both birds came
at the same time, the male sometimes came to the north side
of the nest and the female to the east.

The following morning I was present at the blind from 7
a. m. to 11 :11 a. m. — four hours and eleven minutes. Dur-
ing this time the parent birds fed the young once in seven
and one-half minutes. The male brought food thirteen times,
and the female sixteen times. On the bill of fare I saw one
fly-like insect, one bee-like insect, one beetle similar to the
larder beetle, ten smooth green caterpillars, eleven smooth
brown caterpillars, one white moth and three brown moths.
The morning was very wet and foggy. The young are more
hungry at this time of day, and usually more caterpillars and
fewer moths are served, I suppose on account of the damp-
ness.

The eyes of the young looked intelligent ; one called when
the parent left the nest ; they all snuggled down in the nest
when I moved in the blind.

In the evening I spent an hour in the blind. At 7 :25
the female fed the young. I remained in the blind until 8
P. M. It was so dark in that part of the woods that the nest
ceased to be visible. I saw nothing more of the parent birds.

Two days later the young were still in the nest in the morn-
ing. At noon the little grove was deserted and the nest of
the Black-throated Green Warbler was " To Let."



Cahn — Food of Nestling Birds



189



THE DETERMINATION OF THE FOOD OF NEST-
LING BIRDS.

BY ALVIN R. CAHN.

I note with interest the discussion regarding- the relative
value of field observations and laboratory examinations in
the d'etermination of the food of nestling birds, and beg
leave as an " outsider " to say a word on the subject, and to
offer a suggestion. The controversy, in a word, seems to be :
Are field observations of the food of nsstling birds of any




House Wren with Food for Youxg.
photo by a. e. cahn

value as compared with the laboratory examination of stom-
ach contents ? ^ My answer to this question would be that
^W. L. M.. Auk XXXI. .July. 1914. pp. 420-421 vs. T. C. Stephens,
Wilson Bui.. XXIV, Sept.. 1014. pp. 1."5T-1G1.



190 The Wif.soN Bulletin — No. 89

each method serves its own end, and that neither can to any
extent supplant the other ; that there are at least two big prob-
lems in connection with the food of birds : the determination
of the specific food, and the amount of food eaten, and each
problem demands a different method of solution.

Laboratory examination of the stomach contents yields at
best a list of specific material which chanced to be in the pro-
cess of digestion at the time the fledgeling was killed — a list
of species which, as W. L. M. states, requires an accomplished
entomologist to compile. Given the tarsus of a beetle, it
would indeed require an expert systematic entomologist to
place that appendage in the proper family, genus and species
to which its owner belonged. And with the very many spe-
cies of beetles which abound in nearly every habitat, it would
probably require a specialist in Coleoptera to perform the
task to the satisfaction of the exacting scientific world. In
a similar way it would require a specialist in Lepidoptera to
ascertain with any degree of certainty the species of moth
or butterfly to which a head, a particle of wing, or an isolated
leg belonged. The great advantage of stomach examina-
tions is the determination of sfrcciHc animals eaten, and unless
this is exact, the value of the method as a means of deter-
mining the food of the bird is minimized.

Field observations, on the other hand, should yield data on
the amount rather than on the species eaten. It is no difficult
matter to watch the feeding of nestlings, whether the neigh-
borly warbler and sparrow, or the hawk nesting on the face
of a perpendicular cliff. I have sat in a blind four feet from
the nest of a Redstart and have watched the actions of the
young and parents ; I have removed the Song Sparrows from
the nest and had the parents feed them, perched on my fin-
ger, within less than a foot of my eyes ; I have sat above the
nest of the Duck Hawk and watched the daily life of the
birds through powerful binoculars, and identified the birds
that were brought in for the young. In every case I feel
sure that I could have gathered much data on the amount
of food administered to the youngsters had I given my at-
tention to that phase of the subject. I think, also, that I



Cahn — Food of Nestling Birds



191





Blueiiirds with Food,
photo by a. r. cahn



192



The Wilson Bulletin — No. 89



could have determined many of the more familiar insects with
some certainty, though not with that degree of certainty an
expert entomologist would were he examining the remains
under a microscope. As it was, my attention was given to
photographing the home life of the birds, and particularly
of the parents, which brings me to the suggestion I would
offer.

As long as we admit that field observations are not carried
on with the idea of determining the specific food, I would
suggest the use of the camera as an amount determinant, —




Robin Feeding with Food Massed in the Bill,
photo by a. k. cahn



not that I would leave it to the camera to determine the
amount of food administered ; I would use the camera as a
check upon the observations made. There are few of our
common birds that will not eventually become reconciled to
the presence of a camera either artfully concealed or without
any attempt at concealment placed three or four feet from the
nestlings. If the birds object to the presence of the observ-



Young — Flight of Shore Birds 193

cr, the undesirable party may withdraw, and operate the cam-
era by means of a thread, watching the birds through a field
glass, and taking the picture at the psychological moment.
Why not let the cyclopic eye of the camera verify the obser-
vations on the amount of food given the young? I admit
that I have not tried this out, but I find in looking over my
negatives that I have quite a number of photographs showing
the parent with a definite amount of food in the bill, and I
think that possibly very definite results might be obtained af-
ter a little experience, if the object were kept in mind. To
illustrate my point I ofifer the photographs accompanying
this note. Whether these will show as clearly in print as
they do on lantern slides is very doubtful indeed, but the
slides, when projected on a screen, show the food in great
detail, so that it may be roughly identified.



A FLIGHT OF SHORE-BIRDS NEAR YOUNGSTOWN,

OHIO.

BY JOHN P. YOUNG.

Near North Lima, Mahoning County, Ohio, there is a res-
ervoir of about 400 acres area, made by damming the outlet
of an old tamarack swamp. Many water birds stop at this
lake in the migrations, and this article is written to tell of a
heavy migration of shore-birds which occurred on August
10 and 11, 1914.

Our first visit to the lake after the return of the shore-birds
was on July 27th, when we found Pectoral, Least, Semipal-
mated and Solitary Sandpipers, Wilson's Snipe, Great Blue
Heron and Black Tern. On August 3, in addition to the
above, we found the Semipalmated Plover, Yellow-legs, and
Dowitcher.

On August 10 and 11 there were many shore-birds of the
common kinds, and in addition we saw 4 Western Willets, 4
Dowitchers, one Western Sandpiper, one White-rumped
Sandpiper, one Greater Yellow-legs, 2 Red-backed Sand-
pipers, also the Common Tern. On these days there were



194 The Wilson Bulletin — No. 89

many more shore-birds than there have been any day since,
so far as we know from our rather frequent visits.

The Western Willets seen were the first we have recorded,
and they were still there August 13th. The Dowitchers
were not seen after the 11th.

The Western Sandpiper seemed to Hke the surroundings,
as we saw it there for almost two weeks, presumably the same
bird. It was found with the Least and Semipalmated Sand-
pipers, and in the opinion of Mr. Fordyce, and myself, was
easily recognizable by the long bill. (This is the first record
for the Western Sandpiper Erciinetes mauri for Ohio. The
fact that the species occurs on the Atlantic coast during the
southward migration, and is more or less regular in Missouri,
Iowa, and Wisconsin, would make its occurrence in Ohio cas-
ual rather than accidental. Ed.)

The White-rumped Sandpiper was seen on August 10 and
11, and on October 29, and was quite tame. It would re-
main on the shore after the other birds had flown from the
approaching observer. On one occasion I got within fifteen
feet of it before it flushed. When it did fly it showed the
white rump very plainly, but even when feeding it was rath-
er easily differentiated from Pectorals and other sandpipers
v/ith which it was associated.

The appearance of the Red-backed Sandpipers and the
Greater Yellow-legs was unusually early according to our
records.

On August 13 the larger part of these birds had disappeared,
and since that time no unusually large flights have been seen,
though the Sanderling, Black-bellied Plover, and Golden Plov-
er have come along in due time. Only one Sanderling has
been seen, as our beaches are not very sandy. The Black-
bellied Plover has been more numerous this year than be-
fore, and four or five individuals have been seen at frequent
intervals.

. The following extract from the Journal of ^Ir. W. E.
Clyde Todd, may throw some light upon this remarkable
flight:

"Great Whale River, Hudson Bav, Aug. 7, 1914.— Heavy



Henninger — Corrections to A. O. U. Checklist 195

storm of wind and rain from the west, the worst I have ever
seen in this country. Worked on our birds all morning and in
the afternoon went out along the beach to the mouth of the
river, and thence northward to where the sandy beach gave
way to a rocky ridge. The wind nearly blew me off my feet
and birds were naturally very scarce."

We believe that the Wood Duck bred in the swamp at the
lower end of this reservoir, as they were seen a number of
times during August and September. On September 3 we
saw 13 of them.



CORRECTIONS OF THE A. O. U. CHECKLIST IN
REGARD TO BIRDS OF OHIO.

BY W. F. HENNINGER.

When the writer reviewed the last A. O. U. Checklist in the
Wilson Bulletin, Sept.. Dec, No. 1910, pp. 198-199 he made
the statement that evidently neither the pages of the Wilson
Bulletin nor any Ohio ornithologist had been consulted by the
authors, who worked out the geographical ranges of the birds,
as otherwise 'errors and omissions concerning this state would
not be found so frequently in it. Some time later on a simi-
lar statement was made concerning another state in the col-
umns of the Auk. Thereupon the writer corresponded with
the editor of the " x\uk " concerning Ohio birds and sent a
complete list of the changes that should be made. A long
time has since elapsed during which the writer expected the
list to appear in the Auk as that was the impression he got
from this correspondence, but as this was never done he
thinks it is time that the correct records appear in print so
that any one can change his checklist accordingly. They are
herewith appended ; and one glance will suffice to show how
incomplete the checklist is without them as far as the status
of many birds is concerned in Ohio and this no doubt will
be true in regard to other states.

1. Garia immer. — Does not breed in Ohio. (Jones. Wils. Bull.,
June. 1909, p. 68.)



196 The Wilson Bulletin — No. 89

2. Stercorariiis pomav'mus. — Casual in Ohio. (Jones, Cat. Ohio
Birds, p. 26.)

3. Sterna antillarum. — Occurs in Ohio. (Jones, Cat. Ohio Birds,
p. 33.)

4. Oceanites oceaniciis. — Accidental in Ohio. (Henninger, Auk,
1907, p. 447.)

5. Anhinga anhmga. — Accidental in Ohio. (Jones, Wils. Bull.,
June, 1905, p. 64.)

6. Anas platyrhynclms. — Breeds in Ohio. (Wils. Bull., Dec.
1912, and other records.)

7. Oidemiw perspicillata. — Accidental in Ohio. (Jones, Wils.
Bull., Dec. 1908, p. 210.)

8. Branta canadensis. — Winters regularly in Southern Ohio.
(Henninger, Wils. Bull., Sept. 1902, p. 80.)

9. Branta hernicla glaucogastra. — Rare in Ohio. (Jones and
Fisher, Wils. Bull., Dec. 1908, p. 210.)

10. Plegadis aiitimmaUs. — Casual north to Ohio. (Jones, Cat
Ohio Birds, p. 216.)

11. Ixohryclius neoxenus. — Rare in Ohio. (Jones, Wils. Bull.,
March, 1908, p. 50 and Auk, 1907, p. 338.)

12. Herodias egretta. — Casual north to Ohio. (Jones, Cat. Ohio
Birds, p. 54.)

13. Egretta candddissima. — Casual in Ohio. (Jones, Cat. Ohio
Birds, p. 55.)

14. Florida caerulea. — Wanders rather regularly to Ohio. (Hen-
ninger, Auk, Jan. 1910, p. 66, Dawson's Birds of Ohio, and Jones,
Cat. Ohio Birds, p. 55.)

15. G^rus mexicana. — Still breeds in Ohio. (Several records pub-
lished and unpublished.)

16. Coturnicops novcboracensis. — Breeds in Ohio. (Jones, Cat.
Ohio Birds.) Set of eggs taken by Dr. B. R. Bales of Circleville,
Ohio, identified in 1909 at Smithsonian Institution. (Apologies due
Dr. Bales.)

17. lonornis martinica. — Irregularly north to Ohio in summer.
(Jones, Cat. Ohio Birds, p. 61 and Dawson's Birds of Ohio.)

18. Recurvirostra americana. — 'Accidental in Ohio. (Jones, Cat.
Ohio Birds, p. 64.)

19. Hinnantopus mexicanus. — Accidental in Ohio. (Jones, Cat.
Ohio Birds, p. 64.)

20. Oallinago delicata. — Winters north locally to Ohio. (Jones,
Cat. Ohio Birds, p. 67.)

21. Macrorhamphxis griseus scolopacens. — Rare migrant in Ohio.
(Jones, Cat. O. B., p. 68.)



Henninger — Corrections to A. O. U. Checklist 197

22. Pisobia bairdi. — Irregular migrant in Oliio. (^Vlleaton, Jones,
Henninger and Wils. Bull., Sept. 1909, p. 126.)

23. Catoptrophorus seniipalmatus inornatm. — Accidental in Ohio.
(Jones, Wils. Bull., Dec. 1900, p. 131, and Wils. Bull., Sept 1909,
p. 129.)

24. Machetes ptignax. — Strays to Ohio. (Wheaton, Jones, Cat.
O. B., p. 317, and Dawson's Birds of Ohio, p. 527.)

25. Elanoides forficattis. — Accidentally north to Ohio. (Jones,
Cat. O. B., p. 88, and others.)

26. Astur atricapillus. — Winters south to northern Ohio. (Daw-
son, Birds of Ohio.)

27. Bitteo boreaUs calt(7'iis. — Accidental in Ohio. (Jones, Cat.
O. B., p. 217, and Henninger, Wils. Bull., Sept. 1912, p. 156), the
latter record since the publication of the checklist added for the
sake of completeness.)

28. Falco rmticolus. — Accidental in Ohio. (Henninger, Wils.
Bull., March, 1911, p. 58.) Added for the sake of completeness.

29. Asio flammeiis. — Breeds in Ohio. (Wheaton and lately Dr.
Bales.)

30. Cryptoglaux acadica. — Breeds in Ohio. (Dawson's Birds of
Ohio.)

31. Dryobates borealis. — Casually to Central Ohio. (Jones, Cat.
O. B., p. 218, and also Dawson's Birds of Ohio.)

32. Antrostomms carolinensis. — Does not occur in Ohio at all.
The writer would like to see the Biological Survey furnish the
proof (printed or otherwise) that the Chuck-wilLs-widow breeds in
Ohio.

33. Muscivora forflcata. — Accidental in Ohio. (Jones, Cat. O. B.
and Wils. Bull., June, 1905, p. 64.)

34. Empidonax traillu alnormn. — All Ohio birds are alnorum
and not traillU proper. (Jones, Wils. Bull., March, 1908, p. 51.)

35. Xanthocephalus xanthocephahis. — Casual in Ohio. (Jones,
Cat. O. B., p. 218.)

36. Pinicola etiucleator leiicura. — Winters south to Ohio. (Jones,
Cat. O. B., p. 136 and 137, and Wils. Bull., March, 1910, p. 35.)

37. Calcariiis pictus. — Accidental in Ohio. (Wils. Bull., Sept.
1904, p. 85.)

38. PasserherbuUis lecontei. — Accidental in Ohio. (Wils. Bull.,
March, 1907, p. 20.)

39. PasserherbuUis nelsoni. — Accidental in Ohio. (Jones, Cat
Ohio Birds, p. 145.)

40. Melospha georgiana. — Breeds in Ohio. (Jones, Cat. Ohio
Birds, p. 152.) Since then found breeding in Ohio, but record not
published.


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 16 18 19

Online LibraryAgassiz Association. Wilson Ornithological ChapterThe Wilson bulletin (Volume 26, 1914) → online text (page 16 of 19)