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murmuring sound, when chasing another bird from the vicinity of its nest.
The young all leave the nest, if once touched, and hide among the grass
and weeds, where the parents continue to feed them. I once attempted
to feed some young birds of this species, but they rejected the food,
which consisted of flies, worms, and hard-boiled eggs, and died in three
days without ever uttering a note. In 1829, I shot one of these birds,
a fine male, in the Great Pine Swamp. This was the only individual I
ever saw to the eastward of Henderson on the Ohio. As this happened
in the beginning of September, it is probable that some migrate to a
considerable distance north-east; but I am at the same time of opinion
that very few of these birds enter the United States.

I have represented a pair of them killed near a nest in a cane-brake.
A general description of the American Cane will be found in the present
volume.


VIREO SOLITARIUS, _Ch. Bonaparte_, Synops. of Birds of the
United States, p. 70.

SOLITARY FLY-CATCHER, MUSCICAPA SOLITARIA, _Wils._ Amer.
Ornith. vol ii. p. 143. Pl. xvii. fig. 6.


Adult Male. Plate XXVIII. Fig. 1.

Bill rather short, broad and depressed at the base, strong, nearly
straight; upper mandible with the sides convex, the edges overlapping
and notched near the tip, which is suddenly decurved; lower mandible a
little shorter, convex on the sides and back. Nostrils basal, roundish.
Head and neck large. Body ovate. Feet of ordinary length, rather strong;
tarsus compressed, covered anteriorly with transverse scutella; toes
free, scutellate above, the lateral ones nearly equal; claws arched,
compressed, acute.

Plumage blended, tufty. Bristle-pointed feathers at the base of the
bill. Wings of ordinary length, the third quill longest. Tail slightly
forked, of twelve feathers.

Bill black above, light blue beneath. Iris dark brown. Feet and claws
light blue. Head and back light olive-green; cheeks of the same colour.
A band of white on the forehead, passing over the eye, and nearly
encircling it, leaving the loral space dark green. Rump and upper
tail-coverts greenish-brown. Quills blackish-brown, margined externally
with brownish-yellow; two first rows of coverts blackish-brown, largely
tipped with white, forming two bands on the wing. Tail brownish-black,
margined externally with yellowish-white. Under parts brownish-grey,
fading posteriorly into white.

Length 5½ inches, extent of wings 8½; bill along the ridge 9/12, along
the gap ½; tarsus ⅔.


Adult Female. Plate XXVIII. Fig. 2.

The female is considerably duller. The colouring is generally similar,
but the head is brownish-grey, and the band on the forehead and round
the eyes narrower and tinged with grey.

Length 5¼.


THE AMERICAN CANE.

MIEGIA MACROSPERMA, _Pursh_, Fl. Amer. vol. i. p. 59.
ARUNDINARIA MACROSPERMA, _Mich._ Fl. Amer. vol. i. p. 74.
—TRIANDRIA MONOGYNIA, _Linn._ GRAMINEÆ, _Juss._

As the Cane is elsewhere described, it is unnecessary to speak
particularly of it here.




THE TOWHE BUNTING.

_FRINGILLA ERYTHROPHTHALMA_, LINN.

PLATE XXIX. MALE AND FEMALE.


The flight of the Towhe Bunting is short, low, and performed from one
bush or spot to another, in a hurried manner, with repeated strong jerks
of the tail, and such quick motions of the wings, that one may hear
their sound, although the bird should happen to be out of sight. On the
ground, where it is more usually to be seen, it hops lightly, without
moving the tail more than the Common Sparrow of Europe. It is a diligent
bird, spending its days in searching for food and gravel, amongst the
dried leaves and in the earth, scratching with great assiduity, and every
now and then uttering the notes _tow-hee_, from which it has obtained
its name. At other times, it ascends to the top of a small tree, or its
favourite low bushes and briars, on which it sings very sweetly a few
continued mellow notes.

This species constructs a larger nest than birds of its size usually
do, and scoops out a place for its foundation in the earth, sometimes
in an open spot, more commonly at the foot of a small sapling or large
bunch of tall grass. The nest is sunk into the ground, so as to be level
with it at top, and is composed of dried leaves and the bark of vines,
lined with grasses of fine texture, as well as fibrous roots. The female
lays from four to six eggs, and rears two, sometimes three, broods each
season. If disturbed while sitting, she moves off apparently in great
agony, but with more celerity than most other birds, by which means
she generally prevents her nest being discovered. Snakes, however, suck
the eggs, as does the Crow. The young leave the nest long before they
are able to fly, and follow the mother about on the ground for several
days. Some of the nests of this species are so well concealed, that in
order to discover them, one requires to stand quite still on the first
appearance of the mother. I have myself several times had to regret not
taking this precaution.

The favourite haunts of the Towhe Buntings are dry barren tracts, but
not, as others have said, low and swampy grounds, at least during the
season of incubation. In the Barrens of Kentucky they are found in the
greatest abundance.

Their migrations are performed by day, from bush to bush, and they seem
to be much at a loss when a large extent of forest is to be traversed
by them. They perform these journeys almost singly. The females set out
before the males in autumn, and the males before the females in spring,
the latter not appearing in the Middle Districts until the end of April,
a fortnight after the males have arrived. Many of them pass the confines
of the United States in their migrations southward and northward.

Although these birds are abundant in all parts of the Union, they never
associate in flocks, but mingle during winter with several species of
Sparrow. They generally rest on the ground at night, when many are caught
by weasels and other small quadrupeds. None of them breed in Louisiana,
nor indeed in the State of Mississippi, until they reach the open woods
of the Choctaw Indian Nation.

I have represented the male and female moving through the twigs of the
Common Briar, usually called the _Black Briar_. It is a plump bird, and
becomes very fat in winter, in consequence of which it is named _Grasset_
in Louisiana, where many are shot for the table by the French planters.


FRINGILLA ERYTHROPHTHALMA, _Linn._ Syst. Nat. vol. i. p. 318.
—_Ch. Bonaparte_, Synops. of Birds of the United States,
p. 112.

EMBERIZA ERYTHROPHTHALMA, _Lath._ Ind. Ornith. vol. i. p. 413.

TOWHE BUNTING, EMBERIZA ERYTHROPHTHALMA, _Wils._ Amer. Ornith.
vol. ii. p. 35. Pl. 10. fig. 5, Male; vol. vi. p. 90. Pl. 53.
fig. 5. Female.—_Lath._ Synops. vol. iii. p. 199.


Adult Male. Plate XXIX. Fig. 1.

Bill short, robust, narrower than the head, regularly conical, acute;
upper mandible almost straight in its dorsal outline, as is the lower,
both having inflected edges; the gap line nearly straight, a little
deflected at the base. Nostrils basal, roundish, open, partially concealed
by the feathers. Head rather large, neck shortish, body robust. Legs
of moderate length, rather robust; tarsus longer than the middle toe,
covered anteriorly with a few longish scutella; toes scutellate above,
free, the lateral ones nearly equal; claws slender, arched, compressed,
acute, that of the hind toe long.

Plumage rather compact above, soft and blended beneath. Wings of ordinary
length, the third and fourth quills longest, the first much shorter,
the secondaries short. Tail long, rounded, the lateral feathers slightly
curved outwards towards the tip.

Bill black. Iris bright red. Legs and claws pale yellowish-brown.
Head, neck, and upper parts generally, deep black. A white band across
the primaries, partly concealed by their coverts; outer edge of first
quill white; margins of the last secondaries brownish-white. Lateral
tail-feathers white, excepting at the base, and a longitudinal streak
towards the tip, on the outer web; the next two white on the inner web,
towards the end. Breast white, abdomen pale red; sides and lateral parts
of the breast brownish-red.

Length 8½ inches, extent of wings 12; beak along the ridge ½, along the
gap ⅔; tarsus 1⅓, middle toe 1, hind toe ⅚.


Adult Female. Plate XXIX. Fig. 2.

The female is scarcely smaller, and differs from the male in having
the parts which in him are of a deep black, reddish-brown, excepting
the bill, which is almost entirely light blue, the ridge of the upper
mandible only being dark brown.

Length 8¼ inches.

In the adult bird the iris is bright red, but in the young it is
frequently brown, and sometimes yellowish-white. In some instances, one
eye is brown and the other red.


THE BLACKBERRY.

RUBUS VILLOSUS, _Willd._ Sp. Pl. vol. ii. p. 1085. _Pursh_, Fl.
Amer. vol. i. p. 346.—ICOSANDRIA POLYGYNIA, _Linn._ ROSACEÆ,
_Juss._

Pubescent, prickly, with angular twigs; the leaves ternate or quinate,
with ovato-oblong, serrate, acuminate leaflets, downy on both sides; the
calycine leaves short, acuminate; and a loose raceme of white flowers.
The berry is black. This species grows abundantly in old fields and by
fences.




VIGORS'S WARBLER.

_SYLVIA VIGORSII._

PLATE XXX. MALE.


I regret that I am unable to give any account of the habits of a species
which I have honoured with the name of a naturalist whose merits are so
well known to the learned world. The individual represented in the plate
I shot upwards of twenty years ago, and have never met with another
of its kind. It was in the month of May, on a small island of the
Perkioming Creek, forming part of my farm of Mill Grove, in the State
of Pennsylvania. The bird was flittering amongst grasses, uttering an
often repeated _cheep_.

The plant on which it is represented is that on which it was perched
when I shot it, and is usually called _Spider-wort_. It grows in damp
and shady places, as well as sometimes in barren lands, near the banks
of brooks.


SYLVIA VIGORSII.


Male. Plate XXX.

Bill of ordinary length, rather robust, depressed at the base, straight,
acute; upper mandible notched, slightly deflected at the tip; lower
shorter. Head of ordinary size, neck short, body ovate. Legs of ordinary
length, slender; tarsus compressed, anteriorly covered with a few long
scutella, toes free, the lateral ones nearly equal, the middle toe much
longer; claws weak, much compressed, acute, slightly arched.

Plumage soft, tufty, blended. Wings of ordinary size, the second quill
longest. Tail longish, a little forked, of twelve feathers. A few small
basirostral bristles.

Bill brownish-black. Iris dark brown. Feet flesh-coloured. Head and
back light greenish-brown. Wings blackish-brown, the first two rows of
coverts tipped with white. Tail of the same colour, the outer feather
white. Throat pale grey, lower neck and breast ochre-yellow, abdomen
yellowish-white.

Length 6 inches, extent of wings 9; bill along the ridge 5/12, along
the gap 7/12; tarsus ¾, middle toe ⅔.


THE VIRGINIAN SPIDER-WORT.

TRADESCANTIA VIRGINICA, _Willd._ Sp. Pl. vol. ii. p. 16.
_Pursh_, Fl. Amer. vol. i. p. 218.—HEXANDRIA MONOGYNIA, _Linn._
JUNCI, _Juss._

This species is distinguished by its erect, succulent stem; elongated,
lanceolate, smooth leaves; and umbellate, subsessile flowers, which are
of a deep purple colour, with yellow anthers.




A FLOOD.


Many of our larger streams, such as the Mississippi, the Ohio, the
Illinois, the Arkansas and the Red River, exhibit at certain seasons
the most extensive overflowings of their waters, to which the name of
_floods_ is more appropriate than the term _freshets_, usually applied
to the sudden risings of smaller streams. If we consider the vast
extent of country through which an inland navigation is afforded by
the never-failing supply of water furnished by these wonderful rivers,
we cannot suppose them exceeded in magnitude by any other in the known
world. It will easily be imagined what a wonderful spectacle must present
itself to the eye of the traveller, who for the first time views the
enormous mass of waters, collected from the vast central regions of our
continent, booming along, turbid and swollen to overflowing, in the broad
channels of the Mississippi and Ohio, the latter of which has a course
of more than a thousand miles, and the former of several thousands.

To give you some idea of a _Booming Flood_ of these gigantic streams, it
is necessary to state the causes which give rise to it. These are, the
sudden melting of the snows on the mountains, and heavy rains continued
for several weeks. When it happens that, during a severe winter, the
Alleghany Mountains have been covered with snow to the depth of several
feet, and the accumulated mass has remained unmelted for a length of
time, the materials of a flood are thus prepared. It now and then happens
that the winter is hurried off by a sudden increase of temperature, when
the accumulated snows melt away simultaneously over the whole country,
and the south-easterly wind which then usually blows, brings along with
it a continued fall of heavy rain, which, mingling with the dissolving
snow, deluges the alluvial portions of the western country, filling up
the rivulets, ravines, creeks and small rivers. These delivering their
waters to the great streams, cause the latter not merely to rise to a
surprising height, but to overflow their banks, wherever the land is
low. On such occasions, the Ohio itself presents a splendid, and at the
same time an appalling spectacle; but when its waters mingle with those
of the Mississippi, then, kind reader, is the time to view an American
flood in all its astonishing magnificence.

At the foot of the Falls of the Ohio, the water has been known to rise
upwards of sixty feet above its lowest level. The river, at this point,
has already run a course of nearly seven hundred miles, from its origin
at Pittsburg, in Pennsylvania, during which it has received the waters
of its numberless tributaries, and overflowing all the bottom lands or
valleys, has swept along the fences and dwellings which have been unable
to resist its violence. I could relate hundreds of incidents which might
prove to you the dreadful effects of such an inundation, and which have
been witnessed by thousands besides myself. I have known, for example,
of a cow swimming through a window, elevated at least seven feet from
the ground, and sixty-two feet above low-water mark. The house was then
surrounded by water from the Ohio, which runs in front of it, while the
neighbouring country was overflowed; yet the family did not remove from
it, but remained in its upper portion, having previously taken off the
sashes of the lower windows, and opened the doors. But let us return to
the Mississippi.

There the overflow is astonishing; for no sooner has the water reached
the upper part of the banks, than it rushes out and overspreads the whole
of the neighbouring swamps, presenting an ocean overgrown with stupendous
forest-trees. So sudden is the calamity, that every individual, whether
man or beast, has to exert his utmost ingenuity to enable him to escape
from the dreaded element. The Indian quickly removes to the hills of
the interior, the cattle and game swim to the different stripes of land
that remain uncovered in the midst of the flood, or attempt to force
their way through the waters until they perish from fatigue. Along the
banks of the river, the inhabitants have rafts ready made, on which they
remove themselves, their cattle and their provisions, and which they
then fasten with ropes or grape-vines to the larger trees, while they
contemplate the melancholy spectacle presented by the current, as it
carries off their houses and wood-yards piece by piece. Some who have
nothing to lose, and are usually known by the name of _Squatters_, take
this opportunity of traversing the woods in canoes, for the purpose of
procuring game, and particularly the skins of animals, such as the deer
and bear, which may be converted into money. They resort to the low
ridges surrounded by the waters, and destroy thousands of deer, merely
for their skins, leaving the flesh to putrefy.

The river itself, rolling its swollen waters along, presents a spectacle
of the most imposing nature. Although no large vessel, unless propelled
by steam, can now make its way against the current, it is seen covered
by boats, laden with produce, which running out from all the smaller
streams, float silently towards the City of New Orleans, their owners
meanwhile not very well assured of finding a landing-place even there.
The water is covered with yellow foam and pumice, the latter having
floated from the Rocky Mountains of the north-west. The eddies are
larger and more powerful than ever. Here and there tracts of forest are
observed undermined, the trees gradually giving way, and falling into
the stream. Cattle, horses, bears and deer are seen at times attempting
to swim across the impetuous mass of foaming and boiling water; whilst
here and there a Vulture or an Eagle is observed perched on a bloated
carcass, tearing it up in pieces, as regardless of the flood, as on former
occasions it would have been of the numerous _sawyers_ and _planters_,
with which the surface of the river is covered, when the water is low.
Even the steamer is frequently distressed. The numberless trees and logs
that float along break its paddles and retard its progress. Besides, it
is on such occasions difficult to procure fuel to maintain its fires;
and it is only at very distant intervals that a wood-yard can be found
which the water has not carried off.

Following the river in your canoe, you reach those parts of the shores
that are protected against the overflowing of the waters, and are called
_Levees_. There you find the whole population of the district at work
repairing and augmenting those artificial barriers, which are several
feet above the level of the fields. Every person appears to dread the
opening of a _crevasse_, by which the waters may rush into his fields.
In spite of all exertions, however, the crevasse opens, the water bursts
impetuously over the plantations, and lays waste the crops which so
lately were blooming in all the luxuriance of spring. It opens up a new
channel, which, for aught I know to the contrary, may carry its waters
even to the Mexican Gulf.

I have floated on the Mississippi and Ohio when thus swollen, and have in
different places visited the submersed lands of the interior, propelling
a light canoe by the aid of a paddle. In this manner I have traversed
immense portions of the country overflowed by the waters of these rivers,
and, particularly whilst floating over the Mississippi bottom-lands,
I have been struck with awe at the sight. Little or no current is met
with, unless when the canoe passes over the bed of a bayou. All is silent
and melancholy, unless when the mournful bleeting of the hemmed in Deer
reaches your ear, or the dismal scream of an Eagle or a Raven is heard,
as the foul bird rises, disturbed by your approach, from the carcass on
which it was allaying its craving appetite. Bears, Cougars, Lynxes, and
all other quadrupeds that can ascend the trees, are observed crouched
among their top branches. Hungry in the midst of abundance, although they
see floating around them the animals on which they usually prey, they
dare not venture to swim to them. Fatigued by the exertions which they
have made in reaching the dry land, they will there stand the hunter's
fire, as if to die by a ball were better than to perish amid the waste
of waters. On occasions like this, all these animals are shot by hundreds.

Opposite the City of Natchez, which stands on a bluff bank of considerable
elevation, the extent of inundated land is immense, the greater portion
of the tract lying between the Mississippi and the Red River, which is
more than thirty miles in breadth, being under water. The mail-bag has
often been carried through the immersed forests, in a canoe, for even
a greater distance, in order to be forwarded to Natchitochez.

But now, kind reader, observe this great flood gradually subsiding, and
again see the mighty changes which it has effected. The waters have now
been carried into the distant ocean. The earth is everywhere covered by a
deep deposit of muddy loam, which in drying splits into deep and narrow
chasms, presenting a reticulated appearance, and from which, as the
weather becomes warmer, disagreeable, and at times noxious, exhalations
arise, and fill the lower stratum of the atmosphere as with a dense
fog. The banks of the river have almost everywhere been broken down in
a greater or less degree. Large streams are now found to exist, where
none were formerly to be seen, having forced their way in direct lines
from the upper parts of the bends. These are by the navigator called
_short-cuts_. Some of them have proved large enough to produce a change in
the navigation of the Mississippi. If I mistake not, one of these, known
by the name of the _Grand Cut-off_, and only a few miles in length, has
diverted the river from its natural course, and has shortened it by fifty
miles. The upper parts of the islands present a bulwark consisting of
an enormous mass of floated trees of all kinds, which have lodged there.
Large sand-banks have been completely removed by the impetuous whirls of
the waters, and have been deposited in other places. Some appear quite
new to the eye of the navigator, who has to mark their situation and
bearings in his log-book. The trees on the margins of the banks have in
many parts given way. They are seen bending over the stream, like the
grounded arms of an overwhelmed army of giants. Everywhere are heard
the lamentations of the farmer and planter, whilst their servants and
themselves are busily employed in repairing the damages occasioned by the
floods. At one crevasse an old ship or two, dismantled for the purpose
are sunk, to obstruct the passage opened by the still rushing waters,
while new earth is brought to fill up the chasms. The squatter is seen
shouldering his rifle, and making his way through the morass, in search
of his lost stock, to drive the survivors home, and save the skins of
the drowned. New fences have everywhere to be formed; even new houses
must be erected, to save which from a like disaster, the settler places
them on an elevated platform supported by pillars made of the trunks of
trees. The lands must be ploughed anew, and if the season is not too far
advanced, a crop of corn and potatoes may yet be raised. But the rich
prospects of the planter are blasted. The traveller is impeded in his
journey, the creeks and smaller streams having broken up their banks in
a degree proportionate to their size. A bank of sand, which seems firm
and secure, suddenly gives way beneath the traveller's horse, and the
next moment the animal has sunk in the quicksand, either to the chest
in front, or over the crupper behind, leaving its master in a situation
not to be envied.

Unlike the mountain-torrents and small rivers of other parts of the
world, the Mississippi rises but slowly during these floods, continuing
for several weeks to increase at the rate of about an inch in the day.
When at its height, it undergoes little fluctuation for some days, and
after this subsides as slowly as it rose. The usual duration of a flood
is from four to six weeks, although, on some occasions, it is protracted
to two months.

Every one knows how largely the idea of floods and cataclysms enters
into the speculations of the geologist. If the streamlets of the European
Continent afford illustrations of the formation of strata, how much more
must the Mississippi, with its ever-shifting sand-banks, its crumbling
shores, its enormous masses of drift timber, the source of future beds
of coal, its extensive and varied alluvial deposits, and its mighty mass
of waters rolling sullenly along, like the flood of eternity!




THE WHITE-HEADED EAGLE.

_FALCO LEUCOCEPHALUS_, LINN.

PLATE XXXI. MALE.


The figure of this noble bird is well known throughout the civilized
world, emblazoned as it is on our national standard, which waves in the
breeze of every clime, bearing to distant lands the remembrance of a
great people living in a state of peaceful freedom. May that peaceful
freedom last for ever!

The great strength, daring, and cool courage of the White-headed Eagle,



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