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feeds. In fact, its food is altogether composed of different fruits and
berries, which are at all seasons abundant in our woods.

The branches so thickly covered with dull red berries, and upon which two
Hermit Thrushes are seen, belong to a shrub which grows in the swampy
recesses preferred by these birds. Its leaves fall off at an early
period, and are of an ovato-lanceolate form, thin consistence, and deep
green colour, their under surface light grey. The common name of it is
_Robin Wood_. It seldom grows taller than from seven to eight feet, and
all the branches, in a favourable season, are thickly covered with the
berries, on which many birds, besides the _Turdus migratorius_, from
which it seems to have derived its common name, are seen to feed.

TURDUS MINOR, _Gmel._ Syst. Nat. vol. i. p. 809.—_Ch.
Bonaparte_, Synops. of Birds of the United States, p. 75.
—_Lath._ Ind. Ornith. vol. i. p. 328.

LITTLE THRUSH, _Lath._ Synops. vol. iii. p. 20.

HERMIT THRUSH, TURDUS SOLITARIUS, _Wils._ Amer. Ornith. vol. v.
p. 95, Pl. 43. fig. 2.

Adult Male. Plate LVIII. Fig. 1.

Bill of ordinary length, nearly straight, compressed towards the end;
upper mandible with the dorsal outline a little convex, the tip slightly
declinate, the margins acute, inflected towards the end, slightly notched
close upon the tip; lower mandible slightly convex in its dorsal line, the
tip rather obtuse. Head of ordinary size; neck and body rather slender.
Feet rather long; tarsus longish, compressed, slender, anteriorly covered
with a few elongated, indistinct scutella, posteriorly edged, longer
than the middle toe; toes scutellate above, lateral ones almost equal,
the outer connected as far as the second joint.

Plumage rather loose. A few longish bristles at the base of the upper
mandible. Wings of ordinary length, the third quill longest, the first
very short. Tail rather short, even, of twelve broad feathers, the shaft
of which projects a little beyond the extremity of the webs, as is the
case with the outer primaries.

Bill dark brown, yellowish towards the base of the lower mandible. Iris
hazel. Feet flesh-colour. The general colour of the upper parts is light
yellowish-brown, changing on the rump and tail into dull yellowish-red.
Quills dusky, margined externally with yellowish-brown. Primary coverts
yellowish-brown, dusky at the end; secondary coverts tipped with
yellowish-red. Under parts greyish-white, the neck and breast spotted
with dark brown.

Length 7 inches, extent of wings 10½; bill along the ridge, 7/12, along
the gap ⅚; tarsus 1⅙.

Adult Female. Plate LVIII. Fig. 2.

The female differs only in having the spots on the breast somewhat
larger, and the tints of the upper parts rather deeper.




In the beginning of May 1808, I shot five of these birds, on a very cold
morning, near Potts-grove, in the State of Pennsylvania. There was a
slight fall of snow at the time, although the Peach and Apple trees were
already in full bloom. I have never met with a single individual of this
species since. They all had their wings drooping, as if suffering severely
from the sudden change of the weather, and had betaken themselves to
the lower rails of a fence, where they were engaged in searching after
insects, particularly spiders. I procured every one of those which I
met with that morning, and which were five in number, two of them males,
and the rest females.

Where this species goes to breed I am unable to say, for to my inquiries
on this subject I never received any answers which might have led me
to the districts resorted to by it. I can only suppose, that if it is
at all plentiful in any portion of the United States, it must be far to
the northward, as I ransacked the borders of Lake Ontario, and those of
Lakes Erie and Michigan, without meeting with it. I do not know of any
naturalist who has been more fortunate, otherwise I should here quote
his observations.

The females had the ovaries furnished with numerous eggs, about the size
of the head of a common pin. The stomach of all the birds which I killed
contained some grass seeds of the preceding year, and a few small black
spiders; but the birds appeared half-starved. Having procured them near
the ground, I have placed them on a plant which grows about the fields,
and flowers in the beginning of May.

SYLVIA ICTEROCEPHALA, _Lath._ Ind. Ornith. vol. ii. p. 538.—_Ch.
Bonaparte_, Synops. of Birds of the United States, p. 80.

MOTACILLA ICTEROCEPHALA, _Linn._ Syst. Nat. vol. i. p. 334.

QUEBEC WARBLER, _Lath._ Synops. vol. iv. p. 484.

CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER, _Wils._ Amer. Ornith. vol. i. p. 99.
Pl. 14. fig. 5.

Adult Male. Plate LIX. Fig. 1.

Bill of ordinary length, nearly straight, subulato-conical, acute, nearly
as deep as broad at the base, the edges acute, the gap-line slightly
deflected at the base. Nostrils basal, lateral, elliptical, half-closed
by a membrane. Head of ordinary size. Neck short. Body slender. Feet of
ordinary length, slender; tarsus longer than the middle toe, covered
anteriorly by a few scutella, acutely edged behind; toes scutellate
above, the inner free, the hind toe of moderate size; claws slender,
compressed, acute, arched.

Plumage soft, blended, tufty. Wings of ordinary length, acute, the second
quill longest. Tail short, slightly notched.

Bill light blue, blackish above. Iris hazel. Feet dusky. Forehead
white; upper part of the head bright yellow. Loral space, and two lines
proceeding from it, one over and behind the eye, the other downwards,
black. Back dusky green, spotted with black, as are the lesser
wing-coverts, the larger broadly tipped with bright yellow, excepting
those of the primary quills, which are dusky. Primaries dusky, edged
externally with light blue, as is the tail. Under parts white; side of
the lower neck and body under the wings deep chestnut.

Length 5¼ inches, extent of wings 8; bill along the ridge 5/12, along
the gap 7/12; tarsus ¾.

Adult Female. Plate LIX. Fig. 2.

The female is considerably smaller, but is coloured nearly in the same
manner as the male. The chestnut patch on the sides is of less extent,
and the primaries are yellow, instead of blue, on their outer webs.


VERBASCUM BLATTARIA, _Willd._ Sp. Pl. vol. i. p. 1005. _Pursh_,
Flor. Amer. vol. i. p. 142. _Smith_, Engl. Flor. vol. i. p. 513.

A biennial plant, distinguished from the other species of the same genus
by its amplexicaul ovato-oblong, rugose, serrated, glabrous leaves, and
one-flowered solitary pedicels. The ordinary colour of the flowers is
yellow, but the plant represented is of a variety with larger whitish
or pale rose-coloured flowers. It grows in fields and by roads, and is
of common occurrence.




I shot the two little birds here represented, near the village of
Henderson, in the State of Kentucky, in May 1811. They were both busily
engaged in searching for insects along the branches and amongst the
leaves of a Dog-wood tree. Their motions were those common to all the
species of the genus _Sylvia_. On examination, they were found to be
both males. I am of opinion, that they were both young birds of the
preceding year, and not in full plumage, as they had no part of their
dress seemingly complete, excepting the head. Not having met with any
other individuals of the species, I am at this moment unable to say any
thing more about them. They were drawn, like all the other birds which
I have represented, immediately after being killed; but the branch on
which you see them was not added until the following summer.

The common name of this plant is _Service Tree_. It seldom attains a
greater height than thirty or forty feet, and is usually found in hilly
ground of secondary quality. The berries are agreeable to the taste, and
are sought after by many species of birds, amongst which the Red-headed
Woodpecker is very conspicuous.


Young Male. Plate LX.

Bill of ordinary length, nearly straight, subulato-conical, acute, nearly
as deep as broad at the base, the edges acute, the gap line slightly
deflected at the base. Nostrils basal, lateral, elliptical, half-closed
by a membrane. Head rather small. Neck short. Body slender. Feet of
ordinary length, slender; tarsus longer than the middle toe, covered
anteriorly by a few scutella, acutely-edged behind; toes scutellate
above, the inner free, the hind toe of moderate size; claws slender,
compressed, acute, arched.

Plumage, soft, blended, tufty. Wings of ordinary length, acute, the
second quill longest. Tail short, notched.

Bill brownish-black above, light blue beneath. Iris hazel. Feet light
flesh-colour. Upper part of the head black. Fore part of the back,
lesser wing-coverts and sides dusky, spotted with black. Lower back dull
yellowish-green, as is the tail, of which the outer web of the outer
feather is whitish. Tips of the second row of coverts white, of the first
row yellow; quills dusky, their outer webs tinged with yellow. A line
from the lore over the eye, sides of the neck, and the throat, bright
yellow. A dusky line behind the eye. The rest of the under parts dull
yellow, excepting the sides.

Length 4¾ inches; bill along the ridge 5/12, along the gap 7/12; tarsus ¾.


PYRUS BOTRYAPIUM, _Willd._ Sp. Pl. vol. ii. p. 1013. _Pursh_,
Flor. Amer. vol. i. p. 339. ICOSANDRIA PENTAGYNIA, _Linn._
Rosaceæ, _Juss._

This species is distinguished by its ovate, acuminate leaves, racemose
flowers, linear-lanceolate petals, pubescent germens, and smooth calycine


On a journey from Louisville to Henderson in Kentucky, performed during
very severe winter weather, in company with a foreigner, the initials of
whose name are D. T., my companion spying a beautiful animal, marked with
black and pale yellow, and having a long and bushy tail, exclaimed, "Mr
AUDUBON, is not that a beautiful squirrel?" "Yes," I answered, "and of a
kind that will suffer you to approach it, and lay hold of it, if you are
well gloved." Mr D. T. dismounting, took up a dry stick, and advanced
toward the pretty animal, with his large cloak floating in the breeze.
I think I see him approach, and laying the stick gently across the body
of the animal, try to secure it; and I can yet laugh almost as heartily
as I then did, when I plainly saw the discomfiture of the traveller.
The Pole-cat, (for a true Pole-cat it was, the _Mephitis americana_ of
zoologists), raised its fine bushy tail, and showered such a discharge
of the fluid given him by nature as a defence, that my friend, dismayed
and infuriated, began to belabour the poor animal. The swiftness and
good management of the Pole-cat, however, saved its bones, and as it
made its retreat towards its hole, it kept up at every step a continued
ejectment, which fully convinced the gentleman that the pursuit of such
squirrels as these was at the best an unprofitable employment.

This was not all, however. I could not suffer his approach, nor could
my horse; it was with difficulty he mounted his own; and we were forced
to continue our journey far asunder, and he much to leeward. Nor did
the matter end here. We could not proceed much farther that night; as,
in the first place, it was nearly dark when we saw the Pole-cat, and
as, in the second place, a heavy snow-storm began, and almost impeded
our progress. We were forced to make for the first cabin we saw. Having
asked and obtained permission to rest for the night, we dismounted and
found ourselves amongst a crowd of men and women who had met for the
purpose of _corn-shucking_.

To a European who has not visited the western parts of the United States,
an explanation of this corn-shucking may not be unacceptable. Corn (or
you may prefer calling it maize) is gathered in the husk, that is, by
breaking each large ear from the stem. These ears are first thrown into
heaps in the field, and afterwards carried in carts to the barn, or, as
in this instance, and in such portions of Kentucky, to a shed made of
the blades or long leaves that hang in graceful curves from the stalk,
and which, when plucked and dried, are used instead of hay as food for
horses and cattle. The husk consists of several thick leaves rather longer
than the corn-ear itself, and which secure it from the weather. It is
quite a labour to detach these leaves from the ear, when thousands of
bushels of the corn are gathered and heaped together. For this purpose,
however, and in the western country more especially, several neighbouring
families join alternately at each other's plantations, and assist in
clearing away the husks, thus preparing the maize for the market or for
domestic use.

The good people whom we met with at this hospitable house, were on
the point of going to the barn (the farmer here being in rather good
condition) to work until towards the middle of the night. When we had
stood the few stares to which strangers must accustom themselves, no
matter where, even in a drawing-room, we approached the fire. What a
shock for the whole party! The scent of the Pole-cat, that had been
almost stifled on my companion's vestments by the cold of the evening
air, now recovered its primitive strength. The cloak was put out of
the house, but its owner could not be well used in the same way. The
company, however, took to their heels, and there only remained a single
black servant, who waited on us until supper was served.

I felt vexed at myself, as I saw the good traveller displeased. But he
had so much good breeding as to treat this important affair with great
forbearance, and merely said he was sorry for his want of knowledge in
zoology. The good gentleman, however, was not only deficient in zoological
lore, but, fresh as he was from Europe, felt more than uneasy in this
out-of-the-way house, and would have proceeded towards my own house that
night, had I not at length succeeded in persuading him that he was in
perfect security.

We were shewn to bed. As I was almost a stranger to him, and he to me,
he thought it a very awkward thing to be obliged to lie in the same
bed with me, but afterwards spoke of it as a happy circumstance, and
requested that I should suffer him to be placed next the logs, thinking,
no doubt, that there he should run no risk.

We started by break of day, taking with us the frozen cloak, and after
passing a pleasant night in my own house, we parted. Some years after,
I met my Kentucky companion in a far distant land, when he assured me,
that whenever the sun shone on his cloak, or it was brought near a fire,
the scent of the Pole-cat became so perceptible, that he at last gave
it to a poor monk in Italy.

The animal commonly known in America by the name of Pole-cat is about a
foot and a half in length, with a large bushy tail, nearly as long as the
body. The colour is generally brownish-black, with a large white patch
on the back of the head; but there are many varieties of colouring, in
some of which the broad white bands of the back are very conspicuous. The
Pole-cat burrows, or forms a subterranean habitation among the roots of
trees, or in rocky places. It feeds on birds, young hares, rats, mice,
and other animals, and commits great depredations on poultry. The most
remarkable peculiarity of this animal is the power, alluded to above, of
squirting for its defence a most nauseously scented fluid contained in
a receptacle situated under the tail, which it can do to the distance
of several yards. It does not, however, for this purpose, sprinkle its
tail with the fluid, as some allege, unless when extremely harassed by
its enemies. The Pole-cat is frequently domesticated. The removal of
the glands prevents the secretion of the nauseous fluid, and when thus
improved, the animal becomes a great favourite, and performs the offices
of the common cat with great dexterity.




It is during the placid serenity of a beautiful summer night, when the
current of the waters moves silently along, reflecting from its smooth
surface the silver radiance of the moon, and when all else of animated
nature seems sunk in repose, that the Great Horned Owl, one of the Nimrods
of the feathered tribes of our forests, may be seen sailing silently
and yet rapidly on, intent on the destruction of the objects destined
to form his food. The lone steersman of the descending boat observes
the nocturnal hunter, gliding on extended pinions across the river,
sailing over one hill and then another, or suddenly sweeping downwards,
and again rising in the air like a moving shadow, now distinctly seen,
and again mingling with the sombre shades of the surrounding woods,
fading into obscurity. The bark has now floated to some distance, and is
opposite the newly cleared patch of ground, the result of a squatter's
first attempt at cultivation, in a place lately shaded by the trees of
the forest. The moon shines brightly on his hut, his slight fence, the
newly planted orchard, and a tree, which, spared by the axe, serves as a
roosting-place for the scanty stock of poultry which the new comer has
procured from some liberal neighbour. Amongst them rests a Turkey-hen,
covering her offspring with extended wings. The Great Owl, with eyes
keen as those of any falcon, is now seen hovering above the place. He
has already espied the quarry, and is sailing in wide circles meditating
his plan of attack. The Turkey-hen, which at another time might be sound
asleep, is now, however, so intent on the care of her young brood, that
she rises on her legs and purs so loudly, as she opens her wings and
spreads her tail, that she rouses her neighbours, the hens, together
with their protector. The cacklings which they at first emit soon become
a general clamour. The squatter hears the uproar, and is on his feet in
an instant, rifle in hand; the priming examined, he gently pushes open
his half closed door, and peeps out cautiously, to ascertain the cause
by which his repose has been disturbed. He observes the murderous Owl
just alighting on the dead branch of a tall tree, when, raising his
never-failing rifle, he takes aim, touches the trigger, and the next
instant sees the foe falling dead to the ground. The bird is unworthy
of his farther attention, and is left a prey to some prowling oppossum
or other carnivorous quadruped. Again, all around is tranquillity. In
this manner falls many a Great Horned Owl on our frontiers, where the
species abounds.

Differences of locality are no security against its depredations, for
it occurs in the highest mountainous districts, as well as in the low
alluvial lands that border the rivers, in the interior of the country, and
in the neighbourhood of the sea-shore. Every where it finds abundance of
food. It is, moreover, an extremely hardy bird, and stands the severest
winters of our northernmost latitudes. It is consequently found dispersed
over all parts of the United States.

The flight of the Great Horned Owl is elevated, rapid and graceful. It
sails with apparent ease, and in large circles, in the manner of an eagle,
rises and descends without the least difficulty, by merely inclining its
wings or its tail, as it passes through the air. Now and then, it glides
silently close over the earth, with incomparable velocity, and drops, as
if shot dead, on the prey beneath. At other times, it suddenly alights on
the top of a fence-stake or a dead stump, shakes its feathers, arranges
them, and utters a shriek so horrid that the woods around echo to its
dismal sound. Now, it seems as if you heard the barking of a cur-dog;
again, the notes are so rough and mingled together, that they might be
mistaken for the last gurglings of a murdered person, striving in vain
to call for assistance; at another time, when not more than fifty yards
distant, it utters its more usual _hoo, hoo, hoo-e_, in so peculiar an
under tone, that a person unacquainted with the notes of this species
might easily conceive them to be produced by an Owl more than a mile
distant. During the utterance of all these unmusical cries, it moves
its body, and more particularly its head, in various ways, putting them
into positions, all of which appear to please it much, however grotesque
they may seem to the eye of man. In the interval following each cry,
it snaps its bill, as if by way of amusement; or, like the wild boar
sharpening the edges of his tusks, it perhaps expects that the action
will whet its mandibles.

The food of the Great Horned Owl consists chiefly of the larger species
of gallinaceous birds, half-grown Wild Turkeys, Pheasants, and domestic
poultry of all kinds, together with several species of Ducks. Hares,
young Oppossums and Squirrels are equally agreeable to it, and whenever
chance throws a dead fish on the shore, the Great Owl feeds with peculiar
avidity on it.

It is one of the most common species along the shores of the Ohio and
Mississippi, where it is to be met with at all seasons, being fond of
roosting amongst the thick-growing young cotton-wood trees and willows,
that cover the muddy sand-bars of these noble streams, as well as in the
more retired woody swamps, where the gloomy cypress spreads its broad
arms, covered with dangling masses of Spanish beard, which give way to
the gentlest breeze. In both such situations I have frequently met with
this owl: its body erect, its plumage closed, its tufted head-feathers
partially lowered, and its head half turned and resting on one shoulder.

When the sun shines brightly, the bird is easily approached; but if the
weather be cloudy, it rises on its feet, at the least noise, erects the
tufts of its head, gives a knowing kind of nod, flies off in an instant,
and generally proceeds to such a distance that it is difficult to find
it again. When disturbed while at roost on willows near a river, it
sails off low over the stream, as if aware that by so doing it renders
its pursuit more difficult. I once nearly lost my life by going towards
one that I had shot on a willow-bar, for, while running up to the spot,
I suddenly found myself sunk in quicksand up to my arm-pits, and in this
condition must have remained to perish, had not my boatmen come up and
extricated me, by forming a bridge of their oars and some driftwood,
during which operation I had to remain perfectly quiet, as any struggle
would soon have caused me to sink overhead.

I have related this occurrence to you, kind reader,—and it is only one
out of many,—to shew you that every student of nature must encounter
some difficulties in obtaining the objects of his research, although
these difficulties are little thought of when he has succeeded. So much
is this the case with me, that, could I renew the lease of my life, I
could not desire to spend it in any other pursuit than that which has
at last enabled me to lay before you an account of the _habits_ of our

Early in February the Great Horned Owls are seen to pair. The curious
evolutions of the male in the air, or his motions when he has alighted
near his beloved, it is impossible to describe. His bowings, and the
snappings of his bill, are extremely ludicrous; and no sooner is the
female assured that the attentions paid her by the beau are the result
of a sincere affection, than she joins in the motions of her future
mate. At this juncture both might be said to be _dancing mad_, little
dreaming, like most owls on such occasions, of the possibility of their
being one day _horn-mad_.

The nest, which is very bulky, is usually fixed on a large horizontal
branch, not far from the trunk of the tree. It is composed externally of
crooked sticks, and is lined with coarse grasses and some feathers. The
whole measures nearly three feet in diameter. The eggs, which are from
three to six, are almost globular in form, and of a dull white colour.
The male assists the female in sitting on the eggs. Only one brood is
raised in the season. The young remain in the nest until fully fledged,
and afterwards follow the parents for a considerable time, uttering a
mournful sound, to induce them to supply them with food. They acquire the
full plumage of the old birds in the first spring, and until then are
considerably lighter, with more dull buff in their tints. I have found

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