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I have found this species abundant in the Floridas in winter, in full
song, and as lively as ever, also in Louisiana and the Carolinas,
particularly in the cotton fields. None, however, to my knowledge, breed
south of Charlestown in South Carolina, and very few in the lower parts
of that State. They leave Louisiana in February, and return to it in
October. Occasionally during winter they feed on berries of different
kinds, and are quite expert at discovering the insects impaled on thorns
by the Loggerhead Shrike, and which they devour with avidity. I met
with a few of these birds on the Magdeleine Islands, on the coast of
Labrador, and in Newfoundland.

The nest of this species bears some resemblance to that of the Barn
Swallow, the outside consisting of mud, with which are firmly impacted
grasses or mosses of various kinds deposited in regular strata. It
is lined with delicate fibrous roots, or shreds of vine bark, wool,
horse-hair, and sometimes a few feathers. The greatest diameter across
the open mouth is from five to six inches, and the depth from four to
five. Both birds work alternately, bringing pellets of mud or damp earth,
mixed with moss, the latter of which is mostly disposed on the outer
parts, and in some instances the whole exterior looks as if entirely
formed of it. The fabric is firmly attached to a rock, or a wall, the
rafter of a house, &c. In the barrens of Kentucky I have found the nests
fixed to the side of those curious places called _sink-holes_, and as
much as twenty feet below the surface of the ground. I have observed
that when the Pewees return in spring, they strengthen their tenement
by adding to the external parts attached to the rock, as if to prevent
it from falling, which after all it sometimes does when several years
old. Instances of their taking possession of the nest of the Republican
Swallow (_Hirundo fulva_) have been observed in the State of Maine. The
eggs are from four to six, rather elongated, pure white, generally with
a few reddish spots near the larger end.

In Virginia, and probably as far as New York, they not unfrequently raise
two broods, sometimes three, in a season. My learned friend, Professor
NUTTALL, of Cambridge College, Massachusetts, thinks that the Pewee
seldom raises more than one brood in the year in that State.

This species ejects the hard particles of the wings, legs, abdomen,
and other parts of insects, in small pellets, in the manner of owls,
goatsuckers and swallows.


MUSCICAPA FUSCA, _Ch. Bonaparte's_ Synops. of Birds of the
United States, p. 68.

PEWIT FLYCATCHER, MUSCICAPA NUNCIOLA, _Wils._ Amer. Ornith.
vol. ii. p. 78. Pl. 13. Fig. 4.—_Nuttall_, Manual, part i. p. 278.


Adult Male. Plate CXX. Fig. 1.

Bill rather long, broad and depressed at the base, compressed towards
the tip, acute; upper mandible with the dorsal line slightly arched,
the sides convex, the edges sharp, the tip declinate; lower mandible
straight, the back convex, the edges sharp. The general proportions
are rather slender, the eyes large. Feet short, rather slender; tarsus
shorter than the middle toe, compressed anteriorly scutellate, sharp
behind; toes slender, free; claws small, weak, slightly arched, acute.

Plumage blended, soft, glossy; feathers of the head elongated and
erectile. Basirostral bristles long. Wings of ordinary length, the third
and fourth quills longest. Tail rather long, emarginate.

Bill and feet black. Iris brown. The general colour of the plumage is
dull olive green, darker on the head; the quills and tail dusky, the
larger coverts and inner secondaries edged with pale brown; the outer
tail feathers whitish on their outer edge towards the base. The lower
parts in general are brownish white, the sides dusky.

Length 7 inches, extent of wings 9½; bill along the ridge 6/12, along
the edge 10/12; tarsus ¾.


Adult Female. Plate CXX. Fig. 2.

The Female resembles the Male, being only a little lighter on the sides
of the neck.


THE COTTON PLANT.

GOSSYPIUM HERBACEUM, _Linn._ Syst. Nat. vol. ii. p. 462.
—MONADELPHIA POLYANDRIA, _Linn._ MALVACEÆ, _Juss._

See vol. i. p. 359.




THE SQUATTERS OF THE MISSISSIPPI.


Although every European traveller who has glided down the Mississippi,
at the rate of ten miles an hour, has told his tale of the Squatters,
yet none has given any other account of them than that they are "a
sallow, sickly-looking sort of miserable beings," living in swamps, and
subsisting on pig-nuts, Indian corn, and bear's flesh. It is obvious,
however, that none but a person acquainted with their history, manners,
and condition, can give any real information respecting them.

The individuals who become squatters, choose that sort of life of their
own free will. They mostly remove from other parts of the United States,
after finding that land has become too high in price, and they are persons
who, having a family of strong and hardy children, are anxious to enable
them to provide for themselves. They have heard from good authorities,
that the country extending along the great streams of the West, is
of all parts of the Union the richest in its soil, the growth of its
timber, and the abundance of its game; that, besides, the Mississippi
is the great road to and from all the markets in the world; and that
every vessel borne by its waters, affords to settlers some chance of
selling their commodities, or of exchanging them for others. To these
recommendations is added another, of even greater weight with persons
of the above denomination, namely, the prospect of being able to settle
on land, and perhaps to hold it for a number of years, without purchase,
rent or tax of any kind. How many thousands of individuals in all parts
of the globe would gladly try their fortune with such prospects, I leave
to you, reader, to determine.

As I am not disposed too highly to colour the picture which I am about
to submit to your inspection, instead of pitching on individuals who
have removed from our eastern boundaries, and of whom certainly there
are a good number, I shall introduce to you the members of a family from
Virginia, first giving you an idea of their condition in that country,
previous to their migration to the west. The land which they and their
ancestors have possessed for a hundred years, having been constantly
forced to produce crops of one kind or other, is now completely worn
out. It exhibits only a superficial layer of red clay, cut up by deep
ravines, through which much of the soil has been conveyed to some more
fortunate neighbour, residing in a yet rich and beautiful valley. Their
strenuous efforts to render it productive have failed. They dispose
of every thing too cumbrous or expensive for them to remove, retaining
only a few horses, a servant or two, and such implements of husbandry
and other articles as may be necessary on their journey, or useful when
they arrive at the spot of their choice.

I think I see them at this moment harnessing their horses, and
attaching them to their waggons, which are already filled with bedding,
provisions, and the younger children, while on their outside are fastened
spinning-wheels and looms, and a bucket filled with tar and tallow swings
between the hind wheels. Several axes are secured to the bolster, and
the feeding trough of the horses contains pots, kettles, and pans. The
servant, now become a driver, rides the near saddled horse, the wife is
mounted on another, the worthy husband shoulders his gun, and his sons,
clad in plain substantial homespun, drive the cattle a-head, and lead the
procession, followed by the hounds and other dogs. Their day's journey is
short and not agreeable:—the cattle, stubborn or wild, frequently leave
the road for the woods, giving the travellers much trouble; the harness
of the horses here and there gives way, and needs immediate repair; a
basket, which has accidentally dropped, must be gone after, for nothing
that they have can be spared; the roads are bad, and now and then all
hands are called to push on the waggon, or prevent it from upsetting.
Yet by sun-set they have proceeded perhaps twenty miles. Rather fatigued,
all assemble round the fire, which has been lighted, supper is prepared,
and a camp being erected, there they pass the night.

Days and weeks, nay months, of unremitting toil, pass before they gain
the end of their journey. They have crossed both the Carolinas, Georgia,
and Alabama. They have been travelling from the beginning of May to
that of September, and with heavy hearts they traverse the State of
Mississippi. But now, arrived on the banks of the broad stream, they
gaze in amazement on the dark deep woods around them. Boats of various
kinds they see gliding downwards with the current, while others slowly
ascend against it. A few inquiries are made at the nearest dwelling,
and, assisted by the inhabitants with their boats and canoes, they at
once cross the Mississippi, and select their place of habitation.

The exhalations arising from the swamps and morasses around them, have a
powerful effect on these new settlers, but all are intent on preparing
for the winter. A small patch of ground is cleared by the axe and the
fire, a temporary cabin is erected, to each of the cattle is attached
a jingling-bell before it is let loose into the neighbouring canebrake,
and the horses remain about the house, where they find sufficient food
at that season. The first trading boat that stops at their landing,
enables them to provide themselves with some flour, fish-hooks, and
ammunition, as well as other commodities. The looms are mounted, the
spinning-wheels soon furnish some yarn, and in a few weeks the family
throw off their ragged clothes, and array themselves in suits adapted to
the climate. The father and sons meanwhile have sown turnips and other
vegetables; and from some Kentucky flat boat, a supply of live poultry
has been procured.

October tinges the leaves of the forest, the morning dews are heavy, the
days hot, the nights chill, and the unacclimated family in a few days
are attacked with ague. The lingering disease almost prostrates their
whole faculties, and one seeing them at such a period might well call
them sallow and sickly. Fortunately the unhealthy season soon passes
over, and the hoarfrosts make their appearance. Gradually each individual
recovers strength. The largest ash trees are felled; their trunks are
cut, split, and corded in front of the building; a large fire is lighted
under night on the edge of the water, and soon a steamer calls to purchase
the wood, and thus add to their comforts during the winter.

This first fruit of their industry imparts new courage to them; their
exertions multiply, and when spring returns, the place has a cheerful
look. Venison, bear's-flesh, wild turkeys, ducks, and geese, with now
and then some fish, have served to keep up their strength, and now their
enlarged field is planted with corn, potatoes, and pumpkins. Their stock
of cattle, too, has augmented; the steamer, which now stops there as if
by preference, buys a calf or a pig, together with the whole of their
wood. Their store of provisions is renewed, and brighter rays of hope
enliven their spirits.

Who is he of the settlers on the Mississippi that cannot realise some
profit? Truly none who is industrious. When the autumnal months return,
all are better prepared to encounter the ague, which then prevails.
Substantial food, suitable clothing, and abundant firing, repel its
attacks; and before another twelvemonth has elapsed, the family is
naturalized.

The sons have by this time discovered a swamp covered with excellent
timber, and as they have seen many great rafts of saw logs, bound for
the mills of New Orleans, floating past their dwelling, they resolve
to try the success of a little enterprise. Their industry and prudence
have already enhanced their credit. A few cross-saws are purchased, and
some broad-wheeled "carry-logs" are made by themselves. Log after log is
hauled to the bank of the river, and in a short time their first raft
is made on the shore, and loaded with cord-wood. When the next freshet
sets it afloat, it is secured by long grape-vines or cables, until the
proper time being arrived, the husband and sons embark on it, and float
down the mighty stream.

After encountering many difficulties, they arrive in safety at New Orleans
where they dispose of their stock, the money obtained for which may be
said to be all profit, supply themselves with such articles as may add to
their convenience or comfort, and with light hearts, procure a passage
on the upper deck of a steamer, at a very cheap rate, on account of the
benefit of their labour in taking in wood or otherwise.

And now the vessel approaches their home. See the joyous mother and
daughters as they stand on the bank! A store of vegetables lies around
them, a large tub of fresh milk is at their feet, and in their hands are
plates filled with rolls of butter. As the steamer stops, three broad
straw-hats are waved from its upper deck; and soon, husband and wife,
brothers and sisters, are in each other's embrace. The boat carries off
the provisions, for which value has been left, and as the captain issues
his orders for putting on the steam, the happy family enter their humble
dwelling. The husband gives his bag of dollars to the wife, while the
sons present some token of affection to their sisters. Surely, at such
a moment, the Squatters are richly repaid for all their labours.

Every successive year has increased their savings. They now possess a
large stock of horses, cows, and hogs, with abundance of provisions, and
domestic comfort of every kind. The daughters have been married to the
sons of neighbouring Squatters, and have gained sisters to themselves
by the marriage of their brothers. The government secures to the family
the lands, on which, twenty years before, they settled in poverty
and sickness. Larger buildings are erected on piles, secure from the
inundations; where a single cabin once stood, a neat village is now to
be seen; warehouses, stores, and work-shops increase the importance of
the place. The Squatters live respected, and in due time die regretted,
by all who knew them.

Thus are the vast frontiers of our country peopled, and thus does
cultivation, year after year, extend over the western wilds. Time will no
doubt be, when the great valley of the Mississippi, still covered with
primeval forests, interspersed with swamps, will smile with corn-fields
and orchards, while crowded cities will rise at intervals along its banks,
and enlightened nations will rejoice in the bounties of Providence.




THE SNOWY OWL.

_STRIX NYCTEA._

PLATE CXXI. MALE AND FEMALE.


This beautiful bird is merely a winter visitor of the United States, where
it is seldom seen before the month of November, and whence it retires
as early as the beginning of February. It wanders at times along the
sea coast, as far as Georgia. I have occasionally seen it in the lower
parts of Kentucky, and in the State of Ohio. It is more frequently met
with in Pennsylvania and the Jerseys; but in Massachusetts and Maine it
is far more abundant than in any other parts of the Union.

The Snowy Owl hunts during the day, as well as in the dusk. Its flight
is firm and protracted, although smooth and noiseless. It passes swiftly
over its hunting ground, seizes its prey by instantaneously falling
on it, and generally devours it on the spot. When the objects of its
pursuit are on wing, such as ducks, grouse, or pigeons, it gains upon
them by urging its speed, and strikes them somewhat in the manner of the
Peregrine Falcon. It is fond of the neighbourhood of rivers and small
streams, having in their course cataracts or shallow rapids, on the
borders of which it seizes on fishes, in the manner of our wild cat. It
also watches the traps set for musk-rats, and devours the animals caught
in them. Its usual food, while it remains with us, consists of hares,
squirrels, rats, and fishes, portions of all of which I have found in
its stomach. In several fine specimens which I examined immediately
after being killed, I found the stomach to be extremely thin, soft, and
capable of great extension. In one of them I found the whole of a large
house-rat, in pieces of considerable size, the head and the tail almost
entire. This bird was very fat, and its intestines, which were thin, and
so small as not to exceed a fourth of an inch in diameter, measured 4½
feet in length.

When skinned, the body of the Snowy Owl appears at first sight compact and
very muscular, for the breast is large, as are the thighs and legs, these
parts being covered with much flesh of a fine and delicate appearance,
very much resembling that of a chicken, and not indelicate eating, but the
thorax is very narrow for so large a bird. The keel of the breast-bone
is fully an inch deep at its junction with the fourchette, which is
wide. The heart and liver are large; the œsophagus is extremely wide,
enabling the bird to swallow very large portions of its food at once.
The skin may be drawn over the head without any difficulty, and from
the body with ease. The male weighs 4 lb., the female 4¾ lb. avoirdupois.

The observations which I have made induce me to believe that the pure
and rich light-yellowish whiteness of this species belongs to both sexes
after a certain age. I have shot specimens which were, as I thought, so
young as to be nearly of a uniform light-brown tint, and which puzzled me
for several years, as I had at first conceived them to be of a different
species. This, indeed, led me to think that, when young, these birds are
brown. Others were more or less marked with broad transverse lines of
deep brown or black; but I have seen specimens of both sexes perfectly
free from spots, excepting on the occiput, where I have never missed them.

Some twenty years passed; and, during that time, scarcely was there a
winter which did not bring several of these hardy natives of the north to
the Falls of the Ohio at Louisville. At the break of day, one morning,
when I lay hidden in a pile of floated logs, at the Falls of the Ohio,
waiting for a shot at some wild geese, I had an opportunity of seeing
this Owl secure fish in the following manner:—While watching for their
prey on the borders of the "pots," they invariably lay flat on the rock,
with the body placed lengthwise along the border of the hole, the head
also laid down, but turned towards the water. One might have supposed
the bird sound asleep, as it would remain in the same position until a
good opportunity of securing a fish occurred, which I believe was never
missed; for, as the latter unwittingly rose to the surface, near the edge,
that instant the Owl thrust out the foot next the water, and, with the
quickness of lightning, seized it, and drew it out. The Owl then removed
to the distance of a few yards, devoured its prey, and returned to the
same hole; or, if it had not perceived any more fish, flew only a few
yards over the many pots there, marked a likely one, and alighted at a
little distance from it. It then squatted, moved slowly towards the edge,
and lay as before watching for an opportunity. Whenever a fish of any
size was hooked, as I may say, the Owl struck the other foot also into
it, and flew off with it to a considerable distance. In two instances of
this kind, I saw the bird carry its prey across the Western or Indiana
Shute, into the woods, as if to be quite out of harm's way. I never heard
it utter a single note on such occasions, even when two birds joined in
the repast, which was frequently the case, when the fish that had been
caught was of a large size. At sun-rise, or shortly after, the Owls flew
to the woods, and I did not see them until the next morning, when, after
witnessing the same feats, I watched an opportunity, and killed both at
one shot.

An old hunter, now residing in Maine, told me that one winter he lost
so many musk-rats by the owls, that he resolved to destroy them. To
effect this, without loss of ammunition, a great object to him, he placed
musk-rats caught in the traps usually employed for the purpose, in a
prominent spot, and in the centre of a larger trap. He said he seldom
failed, and in this manner considerably "thinned the thieves," before
the season was over. He found, however, more of the Great Grey Owl,
_Strix cinerea_, than of the Snowy Owl. The latter he thought was much
more cunning than the former.

In the course of a winter spent at Boston, I had some superb specimens
of the Snowy Owl brought to me, one of which, a male, was alive, having
only been touched in the wing. He stood upright, keeping his feathers
close, but would not suffer me to approach him. His fine eyes watched
every movement I made, and if I pretended to walk round him, the instant
his head had turned as far as he could still see me, he would open his
wings, and with large hops get to a corner of the room, when he would
turn towards me, and again watch my approach. This bird had been procured
on one of the sea-islands off Boston, by a gunner in my employ, who,
after following it from one rock to another, with difficulty wounded it.
In the course of the same winter, I saw one sailing high over the bay
along with a number of gulls, which appeared to dislike his company, and
chased it at a respectful distance, the owl seeming to pay no regard to
them.

Several individuals have been procured near Charleston, in South
Carolina, one on James' Island, another, now in the Charleston Museum,
on Clarkson's plantation. A fine one was shot at Columbia, the seat of
government for the State of that name, from the chimney of one of the
largest houses in that town, and was beautifully preserved by Professor
Gibbes of the Columbia College. I once met with one while walking with
a friend near Louisville in Kentucky, in the middle of the day. It was
perched on a broken stump of a tree in the centre of a large field; and,
on seeing us, flew off, sailed round the field, and alighted again on
the same spot. It evinced much impatience and apprehension, opening its
wings several times as if intending to fly off; but, with some care, it
was approached and shot. It proved to be a fine old female, the plumage
of which was almost pure white. I have heard of individuals having been
seen as far down the Mississippi as the town of Memphis. Some Indians
assured me that they had shot one at the mouth of the Red River; and,
while on the Arkansas River, I was frequently told of a large White Owl
that had been seen there during winter.

So much has been said to me of its breeding in the northern parts of
the State of Maine, that this may possibly be correct. In Nova Scotia
they are abundant at the approach of winter; and Professor MACCULLOCH,
of the University of Pictou, shewed me several beautiful specimens in
his fine collection of North American Birds. Of its place and mode of
breeding I know nothing; for, although every person to whom I spoke of
this bird while in Labrador knew it, my party saw none there; and in
Newfoundland we were equally unsuccessful in our search.


STRIX NYCTEA, _Linn._ Syst. Nat. vol. i. p. 132.—_Lath._ Index
Ornith. vol. i. p. 57.—_Ch. Bonaparte_, Synops. of Birds of
the United States, p. 36.—_Swains. and Richards._ Fauna Bor.-
Americ. vol. i. p. 88.

SNOWY OWL, STRIX NYCTEA, _Wils._ Amer. Ornith. vol. iv. p. 53.
pl. 32. fig. 1.—_Nuttall_, Manual, vol. i. p. 116.


Adult Male. Plate CXXI. Fig. 1.

Bill short, compressed, curved, acute, with a small cere at the base;
upper mandible with its dorsal outline curved from the base, the edges
sharp, the point trigonal, very acute, deflected; lower mandible with
the edges sharp and inflected, the tip obtuse. Nostrils roundish, in the
fore part of the cere, concealed by the recumbent bristles. Head very
large, although proportionally smaller than in most other owls, as are
the eyes and external ears. Body short. Legs of ordinary length; tarsus
feathered, as are the toes, on which, however, are two scutella; claws
curved, slender, rounded, extremely sharp.

The plumage is soft but compact above, blended beneath, and in general
remarkable for its bulk and elasticity. The feet are thickly clothed with
long shaggy feathers, and the eyes are surrounded by circles of bristly
feathers with disunited barbs. Wings ample, the third quill longest; the
secondaries very broad and rounded. Tail of moderate length, slightly
rounded, of twelve very broad rounded feathers.

Bill and claws black. Iris bright yellow. The general colour of the



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