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dexterously in all their motions with their bills. They usually alight
extremely close together. I have seen branches of trees as completely
covered by them as they could possibly be. If approached before they
begin their plundering, they appear shy and distrustful, and often at a
single cry from one of them, the whole take wing, and probably may not
return to the same place that day. Should a person shoot at them, as
they go, and wound an individual, its cries are sufficient to bring back
the whole flock, when the sportsman may kill as many as he pleases. If
the bird falls dead, they make a short round, and then fly off.

On the ground these birds walk slowly and awkwardly, as if their tail
incommoded them. They do not even attempt to run off when approached by
the sportsman, should he come upon them unawares; but when he is seen
at a distance, they lose no time in trying to hide, or in scrambling up
the trunk of the nearest tree, in doing which they are greatly aided by
their bill.

Their roosting-place is in hollow trees, and the holes excavated by the
larger species of Woodpeckers, as far as these can be filled by them. At
dusk, a flock of Parakeets may be seen alighting against the trunk of a
large Sycamore or any other tree, when a considerable excavation exists
within it. Immediately below the entrance the birds all cling to the
bark, and crawl into the hole to pass the night. When such a hole does
not prove sufficient to hold the whole flock, those around the entrance
hook themselves on by their claws, and the tip of the upper mandible,
and look as if hanging by the bill. I have frequently seen them in such
positions by means of a glass, and am satisfied that the bill is not
the only support used in such cases.

When wounded and laid hold of, the Parakeet opens its bill, turns its
head to seize and bite, and, if it succeed, is capable of inflicting a
severe wound. It is easily tamed by being frequently immersed in water,
and eats as soon as it is placed in confinement. Nature seems to have
implanted in these birds a propensity to destroy, in consequence of which
they cut to atoms pieces of wood, books, and, in short, every thing that
comes in their way. They are incapable of articulating words, however
much care and attention may be bestowed upon their education; and their
screams are so disagreeable as to render them at best very indifferent
companions. The woods are the habitation best fitted for them, and there
the richness of their plumage, their beautiful mode of flight, and even
their screams, afford welcome intimation that our darkest forests and
most sequestered swamps are not destitute of charms.

They are fond of sand in a surprising degree, and on that account are
frequently seen to alight in flocks along the gravelly banks about the
creeks and rivers, or in the ravines of old fields in the plantations,
when they scratch with bill and claws, flutter and roll themselves in
the sand, and pick up and swallow a certain quantity of it. For the same
purpose, they also enter the holes dug by our Kingsfisher. They are fond
of saline earth, for which they visit the different Licks interspersed
in our woods.

Our Parakeets are very rapidly diminishing in number; and in some
districts, where twenty-five years ago they were plentiful, scarcely
any are now to be seen. At that period, they could be procured as far
up the tributary waters of the Ohio as the Great Kenhawa, the Scioto,
the heads of the Miami, the mouth of the Manimee at its junction with
Lake Erie, on the Illinois River, and sometimes as far north-east as
Lake Ontario, and along the eastern districts as far as the boundary
line between Virginia and Maryland. At the present day, very few are to
be found higher than Cincinnati, nor is it until you reach the mouth of
the Ohio that Parakeets are met with in considerable numbers. I should
think that along the Mississippi there is not now half the number that
existed fifteen years ago.

Their flesh is tolerable food, when they are young, on which account
many of them are shot. The skin of their body is usually much covered
with the mealy substances detached from the roots of the feathers. The
head especially is infested by numerous minute insects, all of which
shift from the skin to the surface of the plumage, immediately after
the bird's death. Their nest, or the place in which they deposit their
eggs, is simply the bottom of such cavities in trees as those to which
they usually retire at night. Many females deposit their eggs together.
I am of opinion that the number of eggs which each individual lays
is two, although I have not been absolutely to assure myself of this.
They are nearly round, and of a light greenish white. The young are at
first covered with soft down, such as is seen on young Owls. During the
first season, the whole plumage is green; but towards autumn a frontlet
of carmine appears. Two years, however, are passed before the male or
female are in full plumage. The only material differences which the
sexes present externally are, that the male is rather larger, with more
brilliant plumage. I have represented a female with two supernumerary
feathers in the tail. This, however, is merely an accidental variety.


PSITTACUS CAROLINESIS, _Linn._ Syst. Nat. vol. i. p. 141.
—_Lath._ Ind. Orn. vol. i. p. 93.—_Ch. Bonaparte_, Synops.
of Birds of the United States, p. 41.

CAROLINA PARROT, _Lath._ Synops. vol. i. p. 227.—_Wils._ Amer.
Ornith. vol. iii. p. 89. Pl. 26. fig. 1.


Adult Male. Plate XXVI. Fig. 1, 1, 1.

Bill short, bulging, very strong and hard, deeper than broad, convex
above and below, with a cere at the base; upper mandible curved from
the base, convex on the sides, the margin overlapping, with an angular
process, the tip trigonal, acute, declinate, much exceeding the under
mandible, which is very short, broadly convex on the back, truncate at
the extremity. Nostrils basal, round, open, placed in the cere. Head
very large. Neck robust. Body rather elongated. Feet short and robust;
tarsus scaly all round; toes scutellate above, flat beneath, two behind
and two before, the latter united at the base; claws curved, acute.

Plumage compact and imbricated on the back, blended on the head, neck,
and under parts. Orbital space bare. Wings long, second and third quills
longest. Tail long, wedge-shaped, of twelve, narrow, tapering feathers.

Bill white. Iris hazel. Bare orbital space whitish. Feet pale
flesh-colour, claws dusky. Fore part of the head and the cheeks bright
scarlet, that colour extending over and behind the eye, the rest of
the head and the neck pure bright yellow; the edge of the wing bright
yellow, spotted with orange. The general colour of the other parts is
emerald-green, with light blue reflections, lighter beneath. Primary
coverts deep bluish-green; secondary coverts greenish-yellow. Quills
bluish-green on the outer web, brownish-red on the inner, the primaries
bright yellow at the base of the outer web. Two middle tail-feathers
deep green, the rest of the same colour externally, their inner webs
brownish-red. Tibial feathers yellow, the lowest deep orange.

Length 14 inches, extent of wings 22; bill along the ridge 1-1/12, gap,
measured from the tip of the lower mandible, ½; tarsus ⅚, middle toe 1¼.


Adult Female. Plate XXVI. Fig. 2, 2, 2.

The female is similar to the male in colour. The upper figure represents
a kind of occasional variety, with fourteen tail-feathers. The specimen
from which the drawing was taken was shot at Bayou Sara, in Louisiana.


Young Bird. Plate XXVI. Fig. 3.

The young bird is known by the comparative shortness of the tail, and
the uniform green colour of the head.


THE COCKLE-BUR.

XANTHIUM STRUMARIUM, _Willd._ Sp. Pl. vol iv. p. 373. _Pursh_,
Flor. Amer. vol. ii. p. 581. _Smith_, Engl. Fl. vol. iv. p. 136.
—MONŒCIA PENTANDRIA, _Linn._ CORYMBIFERÆ, _Juss._

Root fibrous; stem solitary, erect, branched, from three to six feet
high, furrowed, downy; leaves on long petioles, cordate, lobed, serrate,
scabrous, three-nerved at the base; clusters axillar, of four or five
fertile, and one or two barren flowers, which are green; nuts densely
armed, and furnished with two beaks.




THE RED-HEADED WOODPECKER.

_PICUS ERYTHROCEPHALUS_, LINN.

PLATE XXVII. MALE, FEMALE, AND YOUNG.


You have now, kind reader, under consideration a family of Woodpeckers,
the general habits of which are so well known in our United States, that,
were I assured of your having traversed the woods of America, I should
feel disposed to say little about them.

The _Red-heads_ (by which name this species is usually designated)
may be considered as residents of the United States, inasmuch as many
of them remain in the Southern Districts during the whole winter, and
breed there in summer. The greater number, however, pass to countries
farther south. Their migration takes place under night, is commenced in
the middle of September, and continues for a month or six weeks. They
then fly very high above the trees, far apart, like a disbanded army,
propelling themselves by reiterated flaps of the wings, at the end of
each successive curve which they describe in their flight. The note which
they emit at this time is different from the usual one, sharp and easily
heard from the ground, although the birds may be out of sight. This
note is continued, as if it were necessary for keeping the straggling
party in good humour. At dawn of day, the whole alight on the tops of
the dead trees about the plantations, and remain in search of food until
the approach of sunset, when they again, one after another, mount the
air, and continue their journey.

With the exception of the Mocking Bird, I know no species so gay and
frolicksome. Indeed, their whole life is one of pleasure. They find a
superabundance of food everywhere, as well as the best facilities for
raising their broods. The little labour which they perform is itself
a source of enjoyment, for it is undertaken either with an assurance
of procuring the nicest dainties, or for the purpose of excavating a
hole for the reception of themselves, their eggs, or their families.
They do not seem to be much afraid of man, although they have scarcely
a more dangerous enemy. When alighted on a fence-stake by the road, or
in a field, and one approaches them, they gradually move sidewise out
of sight, peeping now and then to discover your intention; and when you
are quite close and opposite, lie still until you are past, when they
hop to the top of the stake, and rattle upon it with their bill, as if
to congratulate themselves on the success of their cunning. Should you
approach within arm's length, which may frequently be done, the Woodpecker
flies to the next stake or the second from you, bends his head to peep,
and rattles again, as if to provoke you to a continuance of what seems
to him excellent sport. He alights on the roof of the house, hops along
it, beats the shingles, utters a cry, and dives into your garden to pick
the finest strawberries which he can discover.

I would not recommend to any one to trust their fruit to the Red-heads;
for they not only feed on all kinds as they ripen, but destroy an immense
quantity besides. No sooner are the cherries seen to redden, than these
birds attack them. They arrive on all sides, coming from a distance
of miles, and seem the while to care little about the satisfaction you
might feel in eating some also. Trees of this kind are stripped clean by
them. When one has alighted and tasted the first cherry, he utters his
call-note, jerks his tail, nods his head, and at it again in an instant.
When fatigued, he loads his bill with one or two, and away to his nest,
to supply his young.

It is impossible to form any estimate of the number of these birds
seen in the United States during the summer months; but this much I may
safely assert, that an hundred have been shot upon a single cherry-tree
in one day. Pears, Peaches, Apples, Figs, Mulberries, and even Pease,
are thus attacked. I am not disposed to add to these depredations those
which they commit upon the Corn, either when young and juicy, or when
approaching maturity, lest I should seem too anxious to heap accusations
upon individuals, who, although culprits, are possessed of many undeniably
valuable qualities.

But to return:—They feed on apples as well as on other fruit, and carry
them off by thrusting into them their sharp bills when open, with all
their force, when they fly away to a fence-stake or a tree, and devour
them at leisure. They have another bad habit, which is that of sucking
the eggs of small birds. For this purpose, they frequently try to enter
the boxes of the Martins or Blue-birds, as well as the pigeon-houses,
and are often successful. The corn, as it ripens, is laid bare by their
bill, when they feed on the top parts of the ear, and leave the rest
either to the Grakles or the Squirrels, or still worse, to decay, after
a shower has fallen upon it.

All this while the Red-heads are full of gaiety. No sooner have they
satisfied their hunger, than small parties of them assemble on the tops
and branches of decayed trees, from which they chase different insects
that are passing through the air, launching after them for eight or
ten yards, at times performing the most singular manœuvres, and, on
securing their victim, return to the tree, where, immediately after, a
continued cry of exultation is uttered. They chase each other on wing
in a very amicable manner, in long, beautifully curved sweeps, during
which the remarkable variety of their plumage becomes conspicuous, and
is highly pleasing to the eye. When passing from one tree to another,
their flight resembles the motion of a great swing, and is performed by
a single opening of the wings, descending at first, and rising towards
the spot on which they are going to alight with ease, and in the most
graceful manner. They move upwards, sidewise, or backwards, without
apparent effort, but seldom with the head downwards, as Nuthatches and
some smaller species of Woodpeckers are wont to do.

Their curving from one tree to another, in the manner just described,
is frequently performed as if they intended to attack a bird of their
own species; and it is amusing to see the activity with which the latter
baffles his antagonist, as he scrambles sidewise round the tree with
astonishing celerity, in the same manner in which one of these birds,
suspecting a man armed with a gun, will keep winding round the trunk
of a tree, until a good opportunity presents itself of sailing off to
another. In this manner a man may follow from one tree to another over a
whole field, without procuring a shot, unless he watches his opportunity
and fires while the bird is on wing. On the ground, this species is by
no means awkward, as it hops there with ease, and secures beetles which
it had espied whilst on the fence or a tree.

It is seldom that a nest newly perforated by these birds is to be
found, as they generally resort to those of preceding years, contenting
themselves with working them a little deeper. These holes are found not
only in every decaying tree, but often to the number of ten or a dozen
in a single trunk, some just begun, others far advanced, and others
ready to receive the eggs. The great number of these holes, thus left
in different stages, depends upon the difficulties which the bird may
experience in finishing them; for whenever it finds the wood hard and
difficult to be bored, it tries another spot. So few green or living
trees are perforated by _this_ species, that I cannot at the present
moment recollect having seen a single instance of such an occurrence.

All Woodpeckers are extremely expert at discovering insects as they lie
under the bark of trees. No sooner have they alighted, than they stand
for a few moments motionless and listening. If no motion is observed in
the bark, the Woodpecker gives a smart rap with its bill, and bending
its neck sidewise lays its head close to it, when the least crawling
motion of a beetle or even a larva is instantly discovered, and the
bird forthwith attacks the tree, removes the bark, and continues to dig
until it reaches its prey, when it secures and swallows it. This manner
of obtaining food is observed particularly during the winter, when few
forest fruits are to be found. Should they, at this season, discover a
vine loaded with grapes, they are seen hanging to the branches by their
feet, and helping themselves with their bill. At this time they also
resort to the corn-cribs, and feed on the corn gathered and laid up by
the farmers.

In Louisiana and Kentucky, the Red-headed Woodpecker rears two broods
each year; in the Middle Districts more usually only one. The female lays
from two to six eggs, which are pure white and translucent, sometimes in
holes not more than six feet from the ground, at other times as high as
possible. The young birds have at first the upper part of the head grey;
but towards autumn the red begins to appear. During the first winter,
the red is seen richly intermixed with the grey feathers, and, at the
approach of spring, scarcely any difference is perceptible between the
sexes.

The Red-headed Woodpecker is found in all parts of the United States.
Its flesh is tough, and smells strongly of ants and other insects, so
as to be scarcely eatable.

A European friend of mine, on seeing some of these birds for the first
time, as he was crossing the Alleghanies, wrote me, on reaching Pittsburg,
that he had met with a beautiful species of Jay, the plumage of which
was red, black and white, and its manners so gentle, that it suffered
him to approach so near as the foot of a low tree on which it was.

On being wounded in the wing, they cry as they fall, and continue to do
so for many minutes after being taken, pecking at their foe with great
vigour. If not picked up, they make to the nearest tree, and are soon
out of reach, as they can climb by leaps of considerable length faster
than can be imagined. The number of insects of all sorts destroyed by
this bird alone is incalculable, and it thus affords to the husbandman
a full return for the mischief which it commits in his garden and fields.

In Kentucky and the Southern States, many of these birds are killed in the
following manner. As soon as the Red-heads have begun to visit a Cherry
or Apple tree, a pole is placed along the trunk of the tree, passing
up amongst the central branches, and extending six or seven feet beyond
the highest twigs. The Woodpeckers alight by preference on the pole, and
while their body is close to it, a man standing at the foot of the pole
gives it a smart blow with the head of an axe, on the opposite side to
that on which the Woodpecker is, when, in consequence of the sudden and
violent vibration produced in the upper part, the bird is thrown off dead.


PICUS ERYTHROCEPHALUS, _Linn._ Syst. Nat. vol. i. p. 174.
—_Lath._ Ind. Ornith. vol. i. p. 227.—_Ch. Bonaparte_,
Synops. of Birds of the United States, p. 45.

RED-HEADED WOODPECKER, PICUS ERYTHROCEPHALUS, _Wilson_, Amer.
Ornith. vol i. p. 142. Pl. ix. fig. i.—_Lath._ Synops. vol. ii.
p. 561.


Adult Male. Plate XXVII. Fig. 1.

Bill longish, straight, strong, compressed toward the tip, which is
vertically acute; upper mandible with the dorsal outline nearly straight,
the edges acute and overlapping; under mandible with acute, slightly
inflected edges. Nostrils basal, elliptical, direct, open. Head rather
large; neck short; body robust. Feet short; tarsus and toes scutellate;
two toes before and two behind, the inner hind toe shortest; claws
strong, arched, acute.

Plumage glossy, generally blended, on the back and wings compact. Wings
longish, third and fourth quills longest. Tail much rounded, of twelve
decurved stiff feathers, worn by rubbing to an acute, ragged point.
Palpebral region bare.

Bill light blue, dark at the tip. Feet of the same colour. Iris dark
hazel, palpebral region bluish. Head and neck bright crimson. Back
wing-coverts, primaries and tail-feathers black, with blue reflections;
rump and secondaries white, the shafts of the latter black. Breast and
abdomen white, tinged with yellowish-brown; an irregular transverse
narrow band of black at the junction of the red of the fore-neck and
the white of the breast.

Length 9 inches, extent of wings 17; bill along the ridge 1, along the
gap 1⅓; tarsus 1.


Adult Female. Plate XXVII. Fig. 2.

The female differs from the male only in being smaller, and in having
the tints of the plumage somewhat less vivid.

Length 8½ inches.


Young Birds. Plate XXVII. Fig. 3, 3, 3.

The young when fully fledged have the bill and iris dark brown, the
feet bluish. The head and neck are dark brownish-grey, mottled with
small streaks of dark brown; the back and wing-coverts of the same
colour, spotted with darker; the primaries brownish-black, margined with
whitish, the secondaries yellowish-white, barred with black; the tail
brownish-black, tipped with white; the rump and under parts greyish-white.




THE SOLITARY FLY-CATCHER, OR VIREO.

_VIREO SOLITARIUS_, VIEILL.

PLATE XXVIII. MALE AND FEMALE.


This, reader, is one of the scarce birds that visit the United States
from the south, and I have much pleasure in being able to give you
an account of it, as hitherto little or nothing has been known of its
history.

It is an inhabitant of Louisiana during the spring and summer months,
when it resorts to the thick cane-brakes of the alluvial lands near
the Mississippi, and the borders of the numberless swamps that lie in
a direction parallel to that river. It is many years since I discovered
it, but as I am not at all anxious respecting priority of names, I shall
not insist upon this circumstance. In the month of May 1809, I killed a
male and a female of this species, near the mouth of the Ohio, while on
a shooting expedition after young swans. The following spring, I killed
a female near Henderson in Kentucky. In 1821, I again procured a pair,
with their nest and eggs, near the mouth of Bayou La Fourche, on the
Mississippi, and since that period have killed eight or ten pairs.

The nest is prettily constructed, and fixed in a partially pensile manner
between two twigs of a low bush, on a branch running horizontally from
the main stem. It is formed externally of grey lichens, slightly put
together, and lined with hair, chiefly from the deer and raccoon. The
female lays four or five eggs, which are white, with a strong tinge of
flesh-colour, and sprinkled with brownish-red dots at the larger end.
I am inclined to believe that the bird raises only one brood in a season.

The manners of this bird are not those of the Titmouse, Fly-catcher, or
Warbler, but partake of those of all three. It has the want of shyness
exhibited in the Red-eyed and Yellow-throated Fly-catchers. It hangs to
bunches of small berries, feeding upon them as a Titmouse does on buds
of trees; and again searches amongst the leaves and along the twigs of
low bushes, like most of the Warblers. On the other hand, it differs from
all these in their principal habits. Thus, it never snaps at insects
on the wing, although it pursues them; it never attacks small birds
and kills them by breaking in their skulls, as the Titmouse does; nor
does it hold its prey under its foot in the way of the Yellow-throated
Fly-catcher or Vireo, a habit which allies the latter to the Shrikes. On
account of all these circumstances, I look upon this bird as deserving
the attention of systematic writers, who probably will find its proper
place in the general arrangement.

The flight of this bird is performed by a continued _tremor_ of the
wings, as if it were at all times angry. It seldom rises high above
its favourite cane-brakes, but is seen hopping up and down about the
stems of low bushes and the stalks of the canes, silently searching
for food, more in the manner of the Worm-eating Warbler than in that
of any other bird known to me. Their confidence at the approach of man
is very remarkable. They look on without moving until you are within a
few feet, and retire only in proportion as you advance towards them. In
this respect it resembles the White-eyed Fly-catcher.

When wounded by a shot, it remains quite still on the ground, opens its
bill when you approach it, and bites with all its might when laid hold
of, although its strength is not sufficient to enable it to inflict a
wound. I have never heard it utter a note beyond that of a querulous low



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