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the entrance of the already chosen and occupied hole. The conflict is but
momentary; the creeping bird is forced to yield, and after whirling round
in the air as it defends itself, and very nearly comes to the ground,
makes the best of its way off, well knowing that there its opponent is
more formidable than even in the air.

This over, the Grakle roams in quest of food. Little heaps of grubs,
with a few grains of corn, afford delicious repasts to himself and his
mate. They thus share the labours of incubation, and see the time pass
in eager and pleasant expectation. And now the emerging brood shake off
the shell that so long enclosed them; their tottering heads are already
raised toward their mother, while she, with intense anxiety, dries and
cherishes them. They grow up day after day. The hole becomes nearly
filled with their increased bulk. The vigilance and industry of the
parents also augment apace. I wish, good-natured reader, you would seek
out such a sight: it would gladden your heart, for the rearing of such
a family is worthy of your contemplation.

It is with regret that I must turn from this picture. I have already told
you that the Grakles are at least as fond of corn as the lords of the
land are. Hark to the sound of rattles, and the hallooing of the farmer's
sons and servants, as they spread over the field! Now and then the report
of a gun comes on the ear. The Grakles have scarcely a single moment of
quiet; they are chased, stolen upon, and killed in great numbers, all
the country round; but the hungry birds heed not the slaughter of their
brethren. They fly in flocks from place to place, and, in spite of all
that the farmer has done or threatens to do, continue their depredations.
Food must be had. Grubs and worms have already retired to their winter
quarters within the earth; no beech-nuts or acorns have yet fallen from
the trees; corn is now their only resource, and the quantity of it which
they devour is immense.

Now gloomy November brings up its cold blasts from the north, and drives
before it the Grakles from the Eastern States. They reach Louisiana and
all the Southern States when autumn has not yet retired, when the weather
is still mild and serene, and the yellow foliage of the wide woods gives
shelter to myriads of birds. The Grakles, congregated in prodigious
flocks, alight on the trees that border the vast forests, covering every
twig and bough in such astonishing masses, that the most unskilful or
most avaricious gunner finds no difficulty in satisfying his wish for
sport or game. This is the time to listen to their choruses. They seem
to congratulate each other on their escape, and vociferate at such a
rate as to make one imagine their number double what it is.

Beech-nuts and acorns are now abundant in the woods, having by this
time fallen from the trees, and the Grakles roam in quest of them in
immense bodies, rising on wing when disturbed, uttering at the same time
a tremendous noise, then making a few rounds, and alighting again. They
thus gradually clear away the mast, in the same manner as the wild pigeons
are wont to do. As the weather becomes colder, they frequent the farms,
and even resort to the cattle pens, where, from among the litter and
refuse straw, they pick the scattered grains that have fallen from the
stores with which the farmer has supplied his stock. They remain about
the farms until the commencement of spring. They are easily caught in
traps, and shew little fear when seized, biting so severely as often to
draw blood, and laying hold with their claws in a very energetic manner.

During the winter of 1821, I caught a number of them, as well as many
other birds, for the purpose of sending them alive to Europe. The whole
of my captives were confined together in a large cage, where they were
well fed and watered, and received all necessary attention. Things went
on favourably for several days, and I with pleasure saw them becoming
daily more gentle. An unexpected change, however, soon took place, for
as the Grakles became reconciled to confinement, they began to attack
the other birds, beating and killing one after another so fast that
I was obliged to remove them from the cage. Even this did not prevent
further breach of the peace, for the strong attacked and killed the weak
of their own race, so that only a few remained in the end. The Grakles
thus mangled, killed and partially devoured several Cardinal Grosbeaks,
Doves, Pigeons, and Blue Jays. I look upon this remarkable instance of
ferocity in the Grakle with the more amazement, as I never observed it
killing any bird when in a state of freedom.

What I have said respecting the Purple Grakle (which by some is improperly
named the Boat-tailed Grakle) refers particularly to the habits of those
in the south, where some of them are found at all seasons. I shall now
speak of those of the Western and Middle States. Most of these birds
leave the south about the middle of February, setting out in small
detached flocks. They reach the State of New York in this straggling
manner about the middle of May. Their migratory flight is performed in
short undulating lines, resembling small segments of very large circles.
It may be explained in this manner. Supposing the bird poised in the air
and intent on moving forwards, it propels itself by a strenuous flap of
the wings, which carries it forward in a curve, along which it ascends
until it attains the level of its original point of departure, when it
flaps its wings again, and performs another curve. In this form of flight
they pursue their long journey, during which they keep up a continual
low chattering, as if they were discussing some important question.
When they reach Pennsylvania, they commence the avocations which I have
already described, and are seen following the plough, while their kindred
that have been left in Louisiana are probably by this time feeding their
young, as the difference of climate between these latitudes leaves the
northern states a month later in their seasons than the southern.

In the Northern States these birds construct their nests in a much
more perfect, and therefore more natural manner. A pine tree, whenever
it occurs in a convenient place, is selected by preference, its dense
foliage and horizontal branches being well adapted for nidification.
There the Grakle forms a nest, which from the ground might easily be
mistaken for that of our Robin, the _Turdus migratorius_, were it less
bulky. But it is much larger, and instead of being placed by itself, is
associated with others, often to the number of a dozen or more, on the
horizontal arms of the pine, forming tier above tier, from the lowest
to the highest branches. The centre of the nest is what I would call
_saddled_ on the bough, the materials being laid so that the nest is
thinner in its middle part and thicker at the two opposite sides, so
as to have a firm hold. It is about six inches in diameter outside,
and four inches within, the depth being the same, and is composed of
grass, slender roots and mud, lined with hair and finer grasses. I had
a white pine-tree in one of my fields on Mill Grove Farm, on which many
of these birds bred every spring, when some mischievous lads frequently
amused themselves with beating down the nests with long fishing-rods,
to my great annoyance. Some of the Pennsylvanian farmers, from a very
laudable motive, have given out that Grakles are fond of pulling up the
garlic plant, so injurious to the pastures of the Middle States; but I
am sorry to say this assertion is by no means correct, and were these
good people to look to the Grakles for the clearing of their fields from
that evil, they might wait long enough.

The flesh of the Purple Grakle is little better than that of the Crow,
being dry and ill-flavoured, notwithstanding which it is frequently used,
with the addition of one or two Golden-winged Woodpeckers or Redwings,
to make what is here called _pot pie_, even amidst a profusion of so
many better things. The eggs, on the contrary, are very delicate, and I
am astonished that those who are so anxious for the destruction of these
birds do not gratify their wishes by eating them while yet in embryo
in the egg. In some parts of Louisiana, the farmers, or, as they are
styled, the planters, steep the seed corn for a few hours in a solution
of Glauber's salt, to deter the Grakles and other birds from eating the
grains when just _planted_, as we term it in America, the word _sow_
being seldom employed there to denote the act of depositing in the earth
even the smallest seed.

The Purple Grakle travels very far north. I have found it everywhere
during my peregrinations, and in one or two instances have seen it form
its nest in the fissures of rocks.

QUISCALUS VERSICOLOR, _Vieill._ Nouv. Dict. d'Hist. Nat. vol. xxviii.
p. 488.—_Ch. Bonaparte_, Synopsis of Birds of the
United States, p. 54; and Americ. Ornith. vol. i. p. 42, Pl. v.
fig. 1. Female.

GRACULA BARITA, _Gmel._ Syst. vol. i. p. 396.—_Lath._ Ind.
Ornith. p. 191.

PURPLE GRAKLE, _Lath._ Synops. vol. ii. p. 462.

BOAT-TAILED GRAKLE, _Lath._ Synops. vol. ii. p. 460.—_Wilson_,
Americ. Ornith. vol. iii. p. 44, Pl. xxi. fig. 4. Male.

Adult Male. Plate VII. Fig. 1.

Bill longish, straight, tapering, compressed from the base; upper
mandible prolonged on the forehead, forming an acute angle there, a
little declinate at the tip, its dorsal outline slightly convex, as
are the sides; under mandible nearly straight in its lower outline,
convex on the sides, acute at the tip; edges of both acute, of the
lower inflected; the gap line deflected at the base, reaching to beneath
the eye. Nostrils basal, oval, half closed by a membrane. Head large,
rounded above. Neck of moderate length, thick. Body rather robust. Feet
of moderate length, strong; tarsus considerably longer than the middle
toe, covered anteriorly with longish scutella, shorter below, laterally
with two longitudinal plates, meeting behind at an acute angle; lateral
toes nearly equal, the outer connected at the base by a membrane; claws
strong, arched, compressed, acute.

Plumage soft, silky, glossy, blended. Wings of ordinary length; second,
third and fourth quills longest, first and fifth nearly equal and little
shorter. Tail longish, of twelve feathers, much rounded, concave along
the middle above, or what is termed boat-shaped.

Bill, feet and claws black. Iris bright-yellow. Head, neck, and upper part
of the breast blackish, with vivid reflections of violet, steel-blue, and
green. General colour of the body black, with bright-green, purple and
bronze-coloured reflections above, dull beneath. Quills and tail-feathers
black, the latter with purple and green reflections; secondaries and
wing-coverts tinged with brown.

Length 13 inches, extent of wings 19; beak 1¼ along the ridge, 1½ along
the gap; tarsus 1¾, middle toe 1¼.

Adult Female. Plate VII. Fig. 2.

The female differs from the male in being smaller, in having the tail
less hollow above, and in the less brilliant reflections of its plumage,
which has more of a brown tint.

Length 11 inches, extent of wings 16; bill 1 along the ridge, 1¼ along
the gap.


ZEA MAYS, _Willd._ Sp. Pl. vol. iv. p. 200. _Pursh_, Flor.
Americ. p. 46.—MONŒCIA TRIANDRIA, _Linn._ GRAMINEÆ, _Juss._

This very important plant is abundantly cultivated in all parts of
America. As it is generally known, and as I shall have occasion to speak
of it elsewhere, it is unnecessary for me to describe it here.




This pretty little bird is a visitor of Louisiana and all the southern
districts, where it remains only a very short time. Its arrival in
Louisiana may be stated to take place in the beginning of November, and
its departure in the first days of March. In all the Middle States it
remains longer. How it comes and how it departs are to me quite unknown.
I can only say, that, all of a sudden, the hedges of the fields bordering
on creeks or swampy places, and overgrown with different species of
vines, sumach bushes, briars, and the taller kinds of grasses, appear
covered with these birds. They form groups, sometimes containing from
thirty to fifty individuals, and live together in harmony. They are
constantly moving up and down among these recesses, with frequent jerkings
of the tail, and uttering a note common to the tribe. From the hedges
and thickets they issue one by one in quick succession, and ramble to
the distance of eight or ten yards, hopping and scratching, in quest of
small seeds, and preserving the utmost silence. When the least noise is
heard, or alarm given, and frequently, as I thought, without any alarm
at all, they all fly back to their covert, pushing directly into the
very thickest part of it. A moment elapses, when they become reassured,
and ascending to the highest branches and twigs, open a little concert,
which, although of short duration, is extremely sweet. There is much
plaintive softness in their note, which I wish, kind reader, I could
describe to you; but this is impossible, although it is yet ringing in
my ear, as if I were in those very fields where I have so often listened
to it with delight. No sooner is their music over than they return to
the field, and thus continue alternately sallying forth and retreating
during the greater part of the day. At the approach of night, they utter
a sharper and shriller note, consisting of a single _twit_, repeated
in smart succession by the whole group, and continuing until the first
hooting of some owl frightens them into silence. Yet, often during fine
nights, I have heard the little creatures emit here and there a twit,
as if to assure each other that "all's well."

During the warmer days, they remove partially to the woods, but never out
of reach of their favourite briar thickets, ascend the tops of hollies,
or such other trees as are covered with tangled vines, and pick either
a berry or a winter grape. Their principal enemies in the daytime, are
the little Sparrow Hawk, the Slate-coloured or Sharp-shinned Hawk, and
above all, the Hen-harrier or Marsh Hawk. The latter passes over their
little coteries with such light wings, and so unlooked for, that he
seldom fails in securing one of them.

No sooner does spring return, when our woods are covered with white
blossoms, in gay mimicry of the now melted snows, and the delighted eye
is attracted by the beautiful flowers of the Dog-wood tree, than the
White-throated Sparrow bids farewell to these parts, not to return till
winter. Where it spends the summer I know not, but I should think not
within the States.

It is a plump bird, fattening almost to excess, whilst in Louisiana,
and affords delicious eating, for which purpose many are killed with
_blow-guns_. These instruments—should you not have seen them—are prepared
by the Indians, who cut the straightest canes, perforating them by
forcing a hickory rod through the internal partitions which intersect
this species of bamboo, and render them quite smooth within by passing
the rod repeatedly through. The cane is then kept perfectly straight,
and is well dried, after which it is ready for use. Splints of wood, or
more frequently of cane, are then worked into tiny arrows, quite sharp
at one end, and at the other, instead of being feathered, covered with
squirrel hair or other soft substances, in the manner of a bottle-brush,
so as to fill the tube and receive the impulse imparted by a smart
puff of breath, which is sufficient to propel such an arrow with force
enough to kill a small bird at the distance of eight or ten paces. With
these blow-guns or pipes, several species of birds are killed in large
quantities; and the Indians sometimes procure even squirrels by means
of them.

The Dog-wood, of which I have represented a twig in early spring, is a
small tree found nearly throughout the Union, but generally preferring
such lands as with us are called of second quality, although it
occasionally makes its appearance in the richest alluvial deposits.
Its height seldom exceeds twenty feet, or its diameter ten inches. It
is scarcely ever straight to any extent, but the wood, being extremely
hard and compact, is useful for turning, when well dried and free of
wind-shakes, to which it is rather liable. Its berries are eaten by
various species of birds, and especially by our different kinds of
Squirrels, all of which shew great partiality to them. Its flowers,
although so interesting in early spring, are destitute of odour, and
of short duration. The bark is used by the inhabitants in decoction as
a remedy for intermittent fevers, and the berries are employed by the
housewife for dyeing black.

FRINGILLA PENNSYLVANICA, _Lath._ Ind. Ornith. vol. i. p. 445.
—_Ch. Bonaparte_, Synopsis of Birds of the United States,
p. 108.

Ornith. vol. iii. p. 51, Pl. xxxi. fig. 5. Male.

WHITE-THROATED FINCH, _Lath._ Synops. vol. iii. p. 443.

Adult Male. Plate VIII. Fig. 1.

Bill short, robust, conical, acute; upper mandible broader than the
lower, scarcely declinate at the tip, almost straight in its dorsal
outline, as is the lower, both being rounded on the sides, and the lower
with inflected, acute edges; the gap line nearly straight, a little
deflected at the base, and not extending to beneath the eye. Nostrils
basal, roundish, open, partially concealed by the feathers. Head rather
large. Neck shortish. Body robust. Legs of moderate length, slender;
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 rather

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

Upper mandible dark brown, its edges and the lower mandible light blue.
Iris hazel. Feet flesh-coloured, claws light brown. Upper part of the head
black, with a narrow white stripe from the forehead to the upper part of
the neck. A broader white stripe, anteriorly passing into bright orange,
over each eye, margined by a narrow black stripe extending from the eye
down the neck. Upper part of the back, and the lesser wing-coverts, bright
bay, variegated with black; lower back and tail-coverts brownish-grey.
Quills and large coverts blackish, margined with bay, the latter, as
well as the next series, tipped with white, forming two conspicuous bands
on the wing. Tail dusky brown. Throat white; sides and fore-part of the
neck and breast bluish-grey; the rest of the under parts greyish-white.

Length 6½ inches, extent of wings 9; bill 5/12 along the ridge, 7/12
along the gap; tarsus 1¼, middle toe 1.

Adult Female. Plate VIII. Fig. 2.

In the female, the colours are similarly arranged, but much duller, the
bright bay of the male being changed into reddish-brown, the black into
dark brown, and the white into greyish-white. The white streak above the
eye is narrower, shorter, and anteriorly less yellow, the greyish-blue
of the breast paler, and the white spot on the throat less defined.

Length 6¼ inches, extent of wings 8½; bill ⅓ along the ridge, ½ along
the gap.


CORNUS FLORIDA, _Willd._ Sp. Plant. vol. i. p. 661. _Michaux_,
Abr. Forest. de l'Amer. Sept. t. iii. p. 138, Pl. iii. _Pursh_,

A beautiful small tree, generally about twenty feet in height, with
very hard wood; dark grey bark, cracked into squarish compartments;
ovate-elliptical, acuminate leaves, which are light green above, whitish
beneath; large, obcordate involucral leaves; and bright-red oval berries.




The works of every student of nature are always pleasing to me, and it
is with delight that I see the number of such students daily increasing;
but when I meet with one who, regardless of the labour attending upon
figuring in their full size the objects from which he has derived his
knowledge, my heart expands, and I hail his name with enthusiasm. Mr
SELBY's great work is so well known to the scientific world, that I need
only here mention the favour which its accomplished author has conferred
upon me by permitting me to decorate one of my pages with his name, in
quality of foster-father to a beautiful and hitherto unknown species of

As this bird, to the day on which my engraving of it appeared, had not
been described, or, in as far as I know, obtained by any other person
than myself, notwithstanding the great number of individuals who have
of late years been searching our States for new and rare species, it
must be considered as of very unfrequent occurrence, and probably as
seldom going farther north or east than the place where I discovered it.
Moreover, it is so scarce even there, that in all my walks I only shot
three individuals, in the course of nine years. In no instance have I
been able to cultivate its society longer than a few minutes, as, before
it might escape from me, I was obliged to shoot it, in order to satisfy
myself that it was indeed a different bird from any figured or described
in books.

My journal, under the date of 1st July 1821, contains the following
statement:—"I found this bird about three miles from St Francisville
in Louisiana, whilst engaged in searching for a Turkey, which I had
wounded. It was afternoon, and the heat oppressive. I saw it innocently
approaching us until within a few yards, anxiously looking, as if trying
to discover our intentions; but as we stood motionless, it once came so
near that I could easily have reached it with my gun barrel. It moved
nimbly among the twigs of the low bushes, making now and then short
dashes at flies, which it swallowed after killing them under foot, as
many other Fly-catchers are in the habit of doing, then peeping at us,
and again setting off in pursuit of flies. The snapping of its bill when
seizing an insect, was sharp, and as distinct as if the bird had been
in my hand. At length, fearing that it might escape, I desired my young
friend JOSEPH MASON to retire further from it, that we might shoot it."

On the 4th July, while searching with care about the same place, to find
its nest or the female, I shot another of these birds, which I found to
be a female. It differed only in being rather smaller, darker above,
and paler beneath. On the 27th September of the same year, I shot a
second male in beautiful plumage, six or seven miles off, in a different
direction, in the same State. Finding the pretty flower on which the bird
is drawn, in the immediate neighbourhood, and growing wild, although I am
assured it is originally from Europe, I have represented it, thinking it
might contrast well with the Fly-catcher in its richly coloured flowers,
and be assimilated to it in that of its stem and leaves. This flower is
found in damp places, in Louisiana only, at least I have not met with
it in the woods of any other State.


Adult Male. Plate X.

Bill longish, depressed, tapering to a sharp point, very broad at the
base, the gap reaching to nearly under the eye; upper mandible slightly
notched and inflected at the tip; lower straight. Nostrils basal, lateral,
linear. Head and neck of moderate size. Body somewhat slender. Feet
moderately long, slender; tarsus covered with short scutella above, with
a longitudinal keeled plate behind, longer than the middle toe; toes
slender, unconnected; claws small, weak, slightly arched, compressed,

Plumage blended, soft and glossy. The beak margined at the base with
long spreading bristles. Wings of moderate length, third quill longest,
second and first little shorter, the other quills graduated. Tail rather
long, forked when closed, rounded when spread, the feathers acuminate.

Bill brown, horn-colour above, passing into dark flesh-colour below. Iris
dark brown. Legs, feet, and claws very light flesh-colour. The whole
upper parts dark olive; wings black, the feathers margined externally
with light olive, internally with white. The whole under parts, including

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