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reader, that every student of nature meets with "pigs ready roasted" in
our woods—we saw an old White-headed Eagle perched on a tall tree at the
edge of the river. While admiring its posture, by means of a telescope,
and marking its eye keenly bent towards the water, it suddenly dropped
like a stone from its perch, almost immersed its body into the stream,
and rose with a large trout, with which it scrambled to the shore. Our
captain, his first lieutenant, my assistant, and your humble servant,
were present on this occasion, and saw it very composedly eat the fish,
after shaking the water from its plumage. I must add that never before
had I seen this bird plunge into the water, although I had several times
seen it scrambling after small fishes in shallows and gravel banks.

_February 29th._—I saw some Fish-Hawks defend themselves, and chase away
from their nests the Bald Eagle. The former were incubating, and the
latter, as well as some Turkey Buzzards, were anxiously trying to rob
the nest, wherever they found the Fisher Bird absent from its tenement.
The Fish-hawks at last collected from different parts of the river, and
I felt great pleasure in seeing these brave birds actually drive away
their cowardly enemies. The Fish-Hawk had only eggs in that country when
the young of the Eagle were large and fully able to fly.

_Bay of Fundy, 10th May 1833._—While admiring the extraordinary boldness
of the rocky shores of this perhaps most wonderful of all bays, and trying
to discover in what manner the stupendous natural fortifications are
connected with the formidable tides that dash against them, I observed
Crows, Ravens, and the White-headed Eagle, leisurely feeding on mussels
and sea-eggs. The rocks were clad towards their summits with melancholy
firs, of which each broken branch told of a tempest; slimy sea-weeds
hung sluggishly over the waters; and, as each successive wave retired,
banks of shells were exposed to view, closely impacted, and conveying
to my mind the idea of gigantic honeycombs.

_Labrador, July 1833._—The White-headed Eagle is unknown in this country,
although many Fish-Hawks are found here, and I saw several of their
nests, placed on the low fir trees.

_Boston, Massachusetts, 21st November 1832._—This morning I received the
following letter from my learned friend JACOB BIGELOW, Esq. M.D.—"Dear
Sir, about sixteen years since, a large eagle, _Falco leucocephalus_,
belonging to the Linnean Society of this city, was sentenced to contribute
to a cabinet of natural history. A variety of experiments was made with a
view to destroy him without injuring his plumage, and a number of mineral
poisons were successively given him in large doses, but without effect.
At length a drachm of corrosive sublimate of mercury was inclosed in a
small fish, and given him to eat. After swallowing the whole of this,
he continued to appearance perfectly well, and free from inconvenience.
The next day an equal quantity of white arsenic was given him, without
any greater effect; so that in the end the refractory bird was obliged
to be put to death by mechanical means. The experiments were made by Dr
HAYWARD and myself, in presence of other members of the Society. Very
truly, your obedient servant, JACOB BIGELOW."

I have now no doubt that in a state of confinement, this species sometimes
requires a long series of years before it attains the full adult plumage,
by which it is so distinctly characterized. There is now one living in
the suburbs of Philadelphia, which was eight years in coming to this
state of maturity. Almost every person who saw it, while yet in its
brown dress, called it either a new species or a Golden Eagle! Nay some
said that it must be "_the pretended Bird of Washington_!" My constant
and most worthy friend, Dr RICHARD HARLAN, took me to see it. I felt
assured as to the species, and told him that its head and bill would
become white, and that its size, which was rather larger than common,
was not such as to indicate a different species. I offered a wager of
one thousand dollars in support of my assertions, but the Doctor wisely
declined meeting me on this ground. Four years afterwards, when this bird
was eight years of age, it moulted, and the head and tail assumed a pure
white colour. Dr HARLAN, in one of his letters, dated 26th April 1831,
says, "I wish I could walk with you this moment to M'ARRAN'S garden, to
shew you how _white_ the head of the eagle, which we talked of betting
about, has at last become, as well as his tail; but he must have been
at least nine or ten years old first." This very eagle happened to have
each of his middle claws of a whitish colour, and his owner would fain
have persuaded me that it was a new bird, on the assertion, as he said,
of a well-known ornithologist residing in Philadelphia, who has since
published a description of it under a new and very curious name. The
proprietor of this famed bird valued it at one hundred dollars, I at one!

While at the lovely village of Columbia, in South Carolina, Dr ROBERT W.
GIBBES, a man of taste and talent, as well as one who loves the science
of birds for its own sake, kept one of these Eagles for some time in his
aviary, and, being desirous of granting it more liberty, cut across all
the primary quills of one of its wings, and turned it loose in his yard.
No sooner was the bird at liberty, than it deliberately pulled out the
stump of each mutilated quill, in consequence of which the wing was soon
furnished anew. The Doctor told me that his first intention was to draw
them out himself, but this he found so difficult that he gave it up. Do
birds possess a power of contracting the sheaths of their feathers so
powerfully as to prevent their being pulled without great force?

Since my earliest acquaintance with birds, I have felt assured of
the ignoble spirit of the White-headed Eagle, and the following fact
strengthens the impression. WILLIAM W. KUNHARDT, Esq. of Charleston,
S. C., kept one of these birds (a full-grown male) for many months. He
one day put a game-cock into its cage, to see how the prisoner would
conduct himself. The gallant cock at once set to, and beat the eagle in
the "handsomest manner," his opponent giving in at each blow, without
paying the least regard to the established rules of combat. Other cocks
of the common race proved equally formidable to the degraded robber of
the Fish-Hawk.

The White-headed Eagle seldom utters its piercing cry without throwing
its head backward until it nearly touches the feathers of the back.
It then opens its bill, and its tongue is seen to move as it emits its
notes, of which five or six are delivered in rapid succession. Although
loud and disagreeable when heard at hand, they have a kind of melancholy
softness when listened to at a great distance. When these birds are
irritated, and on the wing, they often thrust forth their talons, opening
and closing them, as if threatening to tear the object of their anger
in pieces.

The synonyms and necessary references having been already given in the
first volume (page 169), it is unnecessary to repeat them here. WILSON
figured and described the young of the White-headed Eagle under the name
of the Sea Eagle, _Falco ossifragus_, although not without expressing
doubts.


FALCO LEUCOCEPHALUS, _Ch. Bonaparte_, Synops. of Birds of the
United States, p. 26.—_Nuttall_, Manual, part i. p. 72.

AQUILA LEUCOCEPHALA, _Swains. and Richards._ Fauna
Boreali-Americana, part ii. p. 15.

SEA EAGLE, FALCO OSSIFRAGUS, _Wils._ Amer. Ornith. vol. vii.
p. 16. pl. 55. fig. 2.


The Young Bird fully fledged is represented in Plate CXXVI.

In this state it differs greatly in its colours from the _F. ossifragus_
or young of the _F. albicilla_ of Europe, with which it was confounded
by WILSON.

The bill is black above, bluish-grey towards the end of the lower
mandible, the cere, the base of the lower mandible, and the soft margins
of the bill at the angle, yellow tinged with green. The narrow elongated
feathers of the head and neck are dark-brown tipped with dull white, and
the general colour of the plumage above is dull hair-brown; the lower
parts having the feathers deep brown, broadly margined with greyish-white.
The quills are deep brown, and the tail-feathers are brownish white,
minutely mottled with dark brown, and having their extremities of that
colour. The iris is yellowish-brown, the feet greenish-yellow, the claws
black.


The Adult birds have been described in vol. i. of the present work, p. 169.




THE ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK.

_FRINGILLA LUDOVICIANA_, BONAP.

PLATE CXXVII. MALE, FEMALE, AND YOUNG.


One year, in the month of August, I was trudging along the shores of the
Mohawk River, when night overtook me. Being little acquainted with that
part of the country, I resolved to camp where I was, the evening was calm
and beautiful, the sky sparkled with stars, which were reflected by the
smooth waters, and the deep shade of the rocks and trees of the opposite
shore fell on the bosom of the stream, while gently from afar came on
the ear the muttering sound of the cataract. My little fire was soon
lighted under a rock, and, spreading out my scanty stock of provisions, I
reclined on my grassy couch. As I looked around on the fading features of
the beautiful landscape, my heart turned towards my distant home, where
my friends were doubtless wishing me, as I wished them, a happy night
and peaceful slumbers. Then were heard the barkings of the watch-dog,
and I tapped my faithful companion to prevent his answering them. The
thoughts of my worldly mission then came over my mind, and having thanked
the Creator of all for his never failing mercy, I closed my eyes, and
was passing away into the world of dreaming existence, when suddenly
there burst on my soul the serenade of the Rose-breasted bird, so rich,
so mellow, so loud in the stillness of the night, that sleep fled from
my eyelids. Never did I enjoy music more: it thrilled through my heart,
and surrounded me with an atmosphere of bliss. One might easily have
imagined that even the Owl, charmed by such delightful music, remained
reverently silent. Long after the sounds ceased did I enjoy them, and
when all had again become still, I stretched out my wearied limbs, and
gave myself up to the luxury of repose. In the morning I awoke vigorous
as ever, and prepared to continue my journey.

I have frequently observed this beautiful species, early in the month
of March, in the lower parts of Louisiana, making its way eastward; and
when residing at Henderson in Kentucky, and in Cincinnati in Ohio, I
have noticed the same circumstance. At this early period, it passes at
a considerable height in the air, and now and then alights on the tops
of the tallest trees of the forest, as if to rest a while. While on
wing it utters a clear note, but when perched it remains silent, in an
upright and rather stiff attitude. It is then easily approached. I have
followed it in its migrations into Pennsylvania, New York, and other
Eastern States, through the British provinces of New Brunswick and Nova
Scotia, as far as Newfoundland, where many breed, but I saw none in
Labrador. It is never seen in the maritime parts of Georgia, or those of
the Carolinas, but some have been procured in the mountainous portions
of those States. I have found them rather plentiful in the early part of
May, along the steep banks of the Schuylkil River, twenty or thirty miles
from Philadelphia, and observed, that at that season they fed mostly on
the buds of the trees, their tender blossoms, and upon insects, which
they catch on wing, making short sallies for the purpose. I saw several
in the Great Pine Forest of that State; but they were more abundant in
New York, especially along the banks of the beautiful river called the
Mohawk. They are equally abundant along the shores of Lakes Ontario
and Erie, although I believe that the greater number go as far as New
Brunswick to breed. While on an excursion to the islands at the entrance
of the Bay of Fundy, in the beginning of May, my son shot several which
were in full song. These islands are about thirty miles distant from
the mainland.

The most western place in which I found the nest of this species was
within a few miles of Cincinnati on the Ohio. It was placed in the
upright forks of a low bush, and differed so much in its composition
from those which I have seen in the Eastern States, that it greatly
resembled the nest of the Blue Grosbeak already described. The young,
three in number, were ready to fly. The parents fed them on the soft
grains of wheat which they procured in a neighbouring field, and often
searched for insects in the crannies of the bark of trees, on which
they alighted sidewise, in the manner of sparrows. This was in the end
of July. Generally, however, the nest of the Rose-breasted Grosbeak is
placed on the top branches of an alder bush, near water, and usually on
the borders of meadows or alluvial grounds. It is composed of the dried
twigs of trees, mixed with a few leaves and the bark of vines, and is
lined with fibrous roots and horse hair. The eggs are seldom more than
four, and I believe only one brood is raised in the season. Both sexes
incubate. I have found the nest and eggs, on the 20th of May, on the
borders of Cayuga Lake in the State of New York.

The flight of the Rose-breasted Grosbeak is strong, even, and as graceful
as it is sustained. When travelling southward, at the approach of autumn,
or about the 1st of September, it passes high over the forest trees,
in the manner of the King Bird and the Robin, alighting toward sunset
on a tall tree, from which it in a few minutes dives into some close
thicket, where it remains during the night. The birds travel singly at
this season, as well as during spring.

I am indebted to my friend JOHN BACHMAN, for the following information
respecting this interesting Grosbeak: "One spring, I shot at a beautiful
male bird of this species, in the State of New York. It was wounded in one
foot only, and although I could not perceive any other injury afterwards,
it fell from the tree to the ground, and before it recovered itself I
secured it. Not having a cage at hand, I let it fly in the room which I
had made my study. Before an hour had elapsed, it appeared as if disposed
to eat; it refused corn and wheat, but fed heartily on bread dipped
in milk. The next day it was nearly quite gentle, and began to examine
the foot injured by the shot which was much swollen and quite black. It
began to bite off its foot at the wounded part, and soon succeeded in
cutting it quite across. It healed in a few days, and the bird used the
mutilated leg almost as well as the other, perching and resting upon it.
It required indeed some care to observe that the patient had been injured.
I procured a cage for it, to which it immediately became reconciled. It
ate all kinds of food, but preferred Indian corn meal and hempseed. It
appeared fonder of insects than birds of that genus are supposed to be,
and ate grasshoppers and crickets with peculiar relish. It would at times
sit for hours watching the flies, as these passed about it, and snatched
at and often secured such wasps as now and then approached the pieces
of fruit thrown into the cage. Very often, of fine moonshiny nights, it
would tune its pipe, and sing sweetly, but not loudly, remaining quietly
perched and in the same position. Whilst singing during the day, it was
in the habit of opening its wings, and gently raising them, somewhat in
the manner of the Mocking Bird. I found it very difficult to preserve
this bird during winter, and was obliged for that purpose to place it
in a room heated by a stove to summer temperature. It was a lively and
very gentle companion of my study for nearly three years; it died of
cold the third winter. It frequently escaped from the cage, but never
exhibited the least desire to leave me, for it invariably returned to
some portion of the house at the approach of night. Its song continued
about six weeks during summer, and about two in the autumn; at all other
periods it simply uttered a faint chuck, and seemed to possess many of
the ordinary habits of the Blue Grosbeak."

The food of this beautiful bird consists of seeds of the cereal plants,
of grasses, and those of different kinds of berries, along with insects.
The young are three years in obtaining their full dress, and undergo
their changes very slowly. I have placed several of these birds of both
sexes, and of different ages, on a branch of the ground hemlock, the
berries of which they attack for their seeds.


LOXIA LUDOVICIANA, _Linn._ Syst. Nat. vol. i. p. 306.—_Lath._
Index Ornith. vol. i. p. 379.

FRINGILLA LUDOVICIANA, _Ch. Bonaparte_, Synops. of Birds of
the United States, p. 113.—_Nuttall_, Manual, part i. p. 527.

ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK, LOXIA ROSEA, _Wils._ Amer. Ornith.
vol. ii. p. 135. pl. 17. fig. 1. Male.—_Ch. Bonaparte_, Amer.
Ornith. vol. ii. pl. 14. fig. 2. Female.

COCCOTHRASTES LUDOVICIANA, _Swains. and Richards._ Fauna Bor.-
Amer. vol. ii. p. 271.


Adult Male. Plate CXXVII. Fig. 1, 1.

Bill short, robust, bulging at the base, conical, acute; upper mandible
with its dorsal outline a little convex, the sides rounded, the edges
sharp; lower mandible with its dorsal outline also a little convex,
the sides rounded, the edges inflected; the gap-line is deflected at
the base, then straight to the end. Nostrils basal, roundish, open,
partly concealed by the feathers. Head rather large, neck short, general
form robust. Legs of moderate length, rather strong; tarsus anteriorly
covered with a few scutella, the upper long, posteriorly sharp; toes
scutellate above, free, the lateral ones nearly equal; claws slender,
arched, compressed, acute, that of the hind toe not much larger.

Plumage soft and blended, but firm and elastic. Wings of moderate length,
broad, the second, third, and fourth quills longest, the secondaries
rounded. Tail longish, slightly emarginate, of twelve rounded feathers.

Bill white. Iris hazel. Feet greyish-blue. The head all round, including
the upper part of the neck, the hind neck, the back, wings, and tail,
glossy black; the first row of coverts, the tips of the secondary coverts,
the basal half of the primary quills, and the inner webs towards the end
of the three lateral tail-feathers, white, as is the rump, that part,
however, being spotted with black. Lower neck and middle of the breast
of a bright carmine tint; lower wing coverts white, tinged with carmine.

Length 7¾ inches, extent of wings 13; bill along the back 7½/12, along
the edge 9/12; tarsus 11/12.


Adult Female. Plate CXXVII. Fig. 2.

The female differs greatly from the male in external appearance. The
bill brown above, paler beneath; iris hazel; feet as in the male. The
general colour of the plumage above is olivaceous brown, spotted with
brownish-black, the central part of each feather being of the latter
colour. On the head is a central longitudinal band of pale yellowish-grey,
spotted with dark brown, then on each side, a dark brown band, and above
the eye a white one; a brown band from the bill to the eye and beyond
it, and under this a whitish band. There are two white bands on the
wings as in the male, but narrower and duller. The quills and tail are
brown. The lower parts light brownish-yellow, fading behind into white;
the fore neck, breast, and sides, marked with small longitudinal spots
or streaks of dark-brown. The lower wing-coverts very slightly tinged
with rose-colour.


Young Male in autumn. Plate CXXVII. Fig. 3.

After the first moult, the young male resembles the female, but already
shews the rosy tints both on the breast, and on the under wing-coverts.


Young in first plumage. Plate CXXVII. Fig. 4.

In this state also the young resemble the female.


THE GROUND HEMLOCK.

TAXUS CANADENSIS, _Willd._ Sp. Pl. vol. iv. p. 856. _Pursh_,
Flor. Amer. Sept. vol. ii. p. 647.—DIŒCIA MONADELPHIA. CONIFERÆ,
_Juss._

The Ground Hemlock, or Canadian Yew, is abundant on the declivities of
the mountains from Maryland to Maine. It is a low tree, or rather bush,
often almost prostrate, and frequently hanging from the rocks. The leaves
are linear, distichous, revolute at the margin. The berries, which are
oblong or globular, and of a pale red colour, are eatable.




THE CAT BIRD.

_TURDUS FELIVOX_, VIEILL.

PLATE CXXVIII. MALE AND FEMALE.


Some individuals of this species spend the winter in the southern
portions of East Florida, where I have found them during the months of
December and January; but the greater number retire beyond the limits
of the United States about the middle of October. They are very rarely
seen in the State of Louisiana, nor have I known any to breed in that
portion of the country. They pass in abundance through Georgia and the
Carolinas early in September, feeding then on the berries of the Sweet
Gum, those of the Poke and Sumach, the seeds of grasses, &c. On their
return in spring, they reach the neighbourhood of Charleston, about
the 20th of March, when they feed on insects found along the lanes and
garden-walks; but none are heard to sing, or are found to breed there.
They are abundant during summer in the whole of the western country,
and are plentifully dispersed from Virginia to the middle portions of
Massachusetts, beyond which, proceeding eastward, I saw none. They are in
fact unknown in the State of Maine, as well as in the British provinces.

Their migration is performed mostly during night, when they move slowly
from bush to bush, scarcely ever extending their flight beyond the
breadth of the rivers which they meet with. In a place where not an
individual is to be seen in an afternoon, in the months of April or
May, a considerable number may be found the following morning. They
seem to give a preference to the Middle States during the summer season.
Pennsylvania is particularly favoured by them; and it would be difficult
to walk through an orchard or garden, along a field, or the borders of
a wood, without being saluted by their plaintive notes. They breed in
these places with much carelessness, placing their nests in any bush,
tree, or briar that seems adapted for the purpose, and seeming to think
it unnecessary to conceal them from man, who indeed ought to protect
such amiable birds, but who sometimes destroys them in revenge for the
trifling depredations which they commit on the fruits of the garden.

No sooner has the Cat Bird made its appearance in the country of its
choice, than its song is heard from the topmost branches of the trees
around, in the dawn of the morning. This song is a compound of many
of the gentler trills and sweeter modulations of our various woodland
choristers, delivered with apparent caution, and with all the attention
and softness necessary to enable the performer to please the ear of
his mate. Each cadence passes on without faltering; and if you are
acquainted with the song of the birds he so sweetly imitates, you are
sure to recognise the manner of the different species. When the warmth
of his loving bosom engages him to make choice of the notes of our best
songsters, he brings forth sounds as mellow and as powerful as those
of the Thrasher and Mocking Bird. These medleys, when heard in the calm
and balmy hours of retiring day, always seem to possess a double power,
and he must have a dull ear indeed, and little relish for the simple
melodies of nature, who can listen to them without delight.

The manners of this species are lively, and at intervals border on the
grotesque. It is extremely sensitive, and will follow an intruder to
a considerable distance, wailing and mewing as it passes from one tree
to another, its tail now jerked and thrown from side to side, its wings
drooping, and its breast deeply inclined. On such occasions, it would
fain peck at your hand; but these exhibitions of irritated feeling seldom
take place after the young are sufficiently grown to be able to take care
of themselves. In some instances, I have known this bird to recognise
at once its friend from its foe, and to suffer the former even to handle
the treasure deposited in its nest, with all the marked assurance of the
knowledge it possessed of its safety; when, on the contrary, the latter
had to bear all its anger. The sight of a dog seldom irritates it, while
a single glance at the wily cat excites the most painful paroxysms of
alarm. It never neglects to attack a snake with fury, although it often



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