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States, p. 82.

HEMLOCK WARBLER, SYLVIA PARUS, _Wils._ Amer. Ornith. vol. v.
p. 114. pl. 44. fig. 3. Male.—_Nuttall_, Manual, part i. p. 392.


Adult Male. Plate CXXXIV. Fig. 1.

Bill shortish, nearly straight, subulato-conical, acute, nearly as deep
as broad at the base, the edges sharp, the gap line slightly deflected at
the base. Nostrils basal, elliptical, lateral, half-closed by a membrane.
General form rather slender. Feet of ordinary length; tarsus slender,
compressed, anteriorly scutellate, sharp behind; toes scutellate above,
the inner free, the hind toe of moderate size; claws arched, slender,
compressed, acute.

Plumage soft, blended, slightly glossed. Wings of ordinary length, the
first quill longest. Tail shortish, emarginate.

Bill dark brown above, pale brown beneath. Iris hazel. Feet pale brown,
tinged with yellow. The upper parts are yellowish-green, spotted
with brownish-black. The head yellow. The quills and their coverts
brownish-black, margined with yellowish-green. The outer margin of
the inner secondary quills, and the ends of the secondary coverts and
first row of small coverts, white. Tail-feathers brownish-black, edged
externally with yellowish-green; the three outer on each side white,
with the shafts and a broadish line at the end black. A yellow band
passes over the eye; cheeks greenish; throat, fore neck, and breast,
rich yellow, which gradually fades posteriorly; the sides streaked with
blackish-brown.

Length 5½ inches, extent of wings 8½; bill along the back 5/12, along
the edge 7/12; tarsus 9/12.


Adult Female. Plate CXXXIV. Fig. 2.

The Female resembles the male, but is rather paler.


THE DWARF MAPLE.

ACER SPICATUM.

This is a low shrubby tree, which does not attain a greater height at
most than fifteen or twenty feet. It abounds along the rocky margins
of creeks or rivers, especially those meandering at the bases of the
Alleghany Mountains.




THE BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER.

_SYLVIA BLACKBURNIÆ_, LATH.

PLATE CXXXV. MALE.


This charming and delicate Warbler passes through the United States in
April and May. I have met with it at different times, although sparingly,
in every part of the Union, more frequently in the southern districts
in spring, and in the eastern in early autumn. In the State of Maine,
on the north-eastern confines of the United States, it is not uncommon,
and I have reason to think that it breeds in the vicinity of Mars Hill,
and other places, along the banks of St John's River, where my sons and
myself shot several individuals, in the month of September. While at
Frederickton, New Brunswick, Sir ARCHIBALD CAMPBELL kindly presented me
with specimens. On the Magdalene Islands, in the Gulf of St Lawrence,
which I visited in June 1833, I found the Blackburnian Warbler in all
the brilliancy of its spring plumage, and had the pleasure of hearing
its sweet song, while it was engaged in pursuing its insect prey among
the branches of a fir tree, moving along somewhat in the manner of the
American Redstart. Its song, which consisted of five or six notes, was
so much louder than could have been expected from the size of the bird,
that it was not until I had fairly caught it in the act, that I felt
satisfied as to its proceeding from my old acquaintance. My endeavours to
discover its nest proved fruitless. In Labrador we saw several individuals
of both sexes, and on the coast of Newfoundland, on our return westward,
we again found it.

To Professor MACCULLOCH of the Pictou College I am indebted for a nest
and three eggs of this bird. While looking at his valuable collection of
the Birds of Nova Scotia, my attention was attracted by a case containing
nests with eggs, among which was that of the Blackburnian Warbler. It was
composed externally of different textures, and lined with silky fibres
and thin delicate stripes of fine bark, over which lay a thick bed of
feathers and horse-hair. The eggs were small, very conical towards the
smaller end, pure white, with a few spots of light red towards the larger
end. It was found in a small fork of a tree, five or six feet from the
ground, near a brook. The Professor informed me that it was the only
nest he had seen, and that he considered this species of Warbler as rare
in the district.

My friend JOHN BACHMAN has since informed me, that, in June 1833, he saw
a pair of these birds engaged in constructing a nest near Lansingburgh,
in the State of New York. He never saw the species in the maritime parts
of South Carolina.

The specimen from which I made the drawing copied in the plate before you,
I procured near Reading in Pennsylvania, on the banks of the Schuylkill
River, about thirty years ago. Some specimens shot in New Brunswick in
September, were mottled somewhat in the manner of a two years old Tanager
or Summer Red Bird, being probably very young birds.


SYLVIA BLACKBURNIÆ, _Lath._ Ind. Ornith. vol. ii. p. 257.—_Ch.
Bonaparte_, Synops. of Birds of the United States, p. 80.

BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER, SYLVIA BLACKBURNIÆ, _Wils._ Amer. Ornith.
vol. iii. p. 67. pl. 28. fig. 3.—_Nuttall_, Manual, part i.
p. 379.


Adult Male. Plate CXXXV.

Bill short, straight, subulato-conical, acute, rather broader than
deep at the base, the edges sharp. Nostrils basal, lateral, elliptical,
half-closed by a membrane. General form slender. Feet of ordinary length;
tarsus slender, compressed, anteriorly scutellate, sharp behind; toes
free, scutellate above, the hind toe of moderate size; claws arched,
slender, compressed, acute.

Plumage soft, blended, slightly glossed. Wings longish, the first quill
longest, the two next scarcely shorter, and almost equal. Tail of moderate
length, slightly emarginate.

Bill and legs umber-brown, the former bluish at the base below. Iris
hazel. The general colour of the upper parts is black, with streaks
of white on the back. A small patch of orange on the top of the head,
a band of the same colour from the base of the mandible over the eye,
passing down the neck and curving forwards; a similar short band under
the eye; lore, and a patch behind the eye, black. Quills margined with
white, and a large patch of the same on the wing, including the inner
secondary coverts, and the ends of the outer, with those of the first
row of smaller coverts. The three outer tail-feathers on each side
white at the base, and along the inner web. Throat and breast of a rich
reddish-orange, the hind part of the breast and belly dull yellow, fading
backwards; the sides of the breast marked with black streaks and spots.

Length 4¾ inches, extent of wings 7¾; bill along the ridge 4/12, along
the edge ½; tarsus 8½/12.


The Female resembles the male in colouring, but the bright orange of
the head and breast is replaced by yellow.


PHLOX MACULATA, _Willd._ Sp. Pl. vol. i. p. 840. _Pursh_,
Flor. Amer. Sept. vol. i. p. 149.—PENTANDRIA MONOGYNIA, _Linn._
POLEMONIA, JUSS.

Erect; the stem rough, with purplish dots; the leaves oblongo-lanceolate,
smooth, with the margin rough; the flowers in an oblong crowded panicle,
of a purplish-red tint, the segments of the corolla rounded; the calycine
teeth acute and recurved. It grows abundantly in wet meadows, from New
England to Carolina. The flowers, although pleasing to the eye, have no
scent.




A BALL IN NEWFOUNDLAND.


On our return from the singularly wild and interesting country of
Labrador, the "Ripley" sailed close along the northern coast of
Newfoundland. The weather was mild and clear; and, while my young
companions amused themselves on the deck with the music of various
instruments, I gazed on the romantic scenery spread along the bold and
often magnificent shores. Portions of the wilds appeared covered with a
luxuriance of vegetable growth far surpassing that of the regions which
we had just left, and in some of the valleys I thought I saw trees of
moderate size. The number of habitations increased apace, and many small
vessels and boats danced on the waves of the coves which we passed. Here
a precipitous shore looked like the section of a great mountain, of which
the lost half had sunk into the depths of the sea, and the dashing of the
waters along its base was such as to alarm the most daring seaman. The
huge masses of broken rock impressed my mind with awe and reverence, as
I thought of the power that still gave support to the gigantic fragments
which every where hung, as if by magic, over the sea, awaiting, as it
were, the proper moment to fall upon and crush the impious crew of some
piratical vessel. There again, gently swelling hills reared their heads
towards the sky, as if desirous of existing within the influence of its
azure purity; and I thought the bleatings of rein-deer came on my ear.
Dark clouds of Curlews were seen winging their way towards the south,
and thousands of Larks and Warblers were flitting through the air. The
sight of these birds excited in me a wish that I also had wings to fly
back to my country and friends.

Early one morning our vessel doubled the northern cape of the Bay of St
George; and, as the wind was light, the sight of that magnificent expanse
of water, which extends inward to the length of eighteen leagues, with
a breadth of thirteen, gladdened the hearts of all on board. A long
range of bold shores bordered it on one side, throwing a deep shadow
over the water, which added greatly to the beauty of the scene. On the
other side, the mild beams of the autumnal sun glittered on the water,
and whitened the sails of the little barks that were sailing to and
fro, like so many silvery gulls. The welcome sight of cattle feeding
in cultivated meadows, and of people at their avocations, consoled us
for the labours which we had undergone, and the privations which we had
suffered; and, as the Ripley steered her course into a snug harbour that
suddenly opened to our view, the number of vessels that were anchored
there, and a pretty village that presented itself, increased our delight.

Although the sun was fast approaching the western horizon when our anchor
was dropped, no sooner were the sails furled than we all went ashore.
There appeared a kind of curious bustle among the people, as if they
were anxious to know who we were, for our appearance, and that of our
warlike looking schooner, shewed that we were not fishermen. As we bore
our usual arms and hunting accoutrements, which were half Indian and half
civilized, the individuals we met on the shore manifested considerable
suspicion, which our captain observing, instantly made a signal, when the
star-spangled banner glided to the mast-head, and saluted the flags of
France and Britain in kindly greeting. We were welcomed and supplied with
abundance of fresh provisions. Glad at once more standing on something
like soil, we passed through the village, and walked round it, but as
night was falling, were quickly obliged to return to our floating home,
where, after a hearty supper, we serenaded with repeated glees the
peaceful inhabitants of the village.

At early dawn I was on deck, admiring the scene of industry that presented
itself. The harbour was already covered with fishing-boats, employed in
procuring mackerel, some of which we appropriated to ourselves. Signs of
cultivation were observed on the slopes of the hills, the trees seemed
of goodly size, a river made its way between two ranges of steep rocks,
and here and there a group of Mickmack Indians were searching along the
shores for lobsters, crabs, and eels, all of which we found abundant and
delicious. A canoe laden with rein-deer meat came alongside, paddled by
a pair of athletic Indians, who exchanged their cargo for some of our
stores. You would have been amused to see the manner in which these men,
and their families on shore, cooked the lobsters: they threw them alive
into a great wood-fire; and, as soon as they were broiled, devoured them
while yet so hot that any of us could not have touched them. When properly
cooled, I tasted these roasted lobsters, and found them infinitely better
flavoured than boiled ones. The country was represented as abounding
in game. The temperature was higher, by twenty degrees, than that of
Labrador, and yet I was told that the ice of the bay seldom broke up
before the middle of May, and that few vessels attempted to go to Labrador
before the 10th of June, when the cod-fishery at once commences.

One afternoon we were visited by a deputation from the inhabitants of
the village, inviting our whole party to a ball which was to take place
that night, and requesting us to take with us our musical instruments. We
unanimously accepted the invitation, which had been made from friendly
feelings; and finding that the deputies had a relish for "old Jamaica,"
we helped them pretty freely to some, which soon shewed that it had lost
nothing of its energies by having visited Labrador. At ten o'clock, the
appointed hour, we landed, and were lighted to the dancing hall by paper
lanterns, one of us carrying a flute, another a violin, and I with a
flageolet stuck into my waistcoat pocket.

The hall proved nothing else than the ground floor of a fisherman's
house. We were presented to his wife, who, like her neighbours, was an
adept in the piscatory art. She curtseyed, not _à la Taglioni_, it is
true, but with a modest assurance, which to me was quite as pleasing
as the airiness with which the admired performer just mentioned might
have paid her respects. The good woman was rather unprepared, and quite
_en negligée_, as was the apartment, but full of activity, and anxious
to arrange things in becoming style. In one hand she held a bunch of
candles, in the other a lighted torch, and distributing the former at
proper intervals along the walls, she applied the latter to them in
succession. This done, she emptied the contents of a large tin vessel
into a number of glasses which were placed in a tea-tray on the only
table in the room. The chimney, black and capacious, was embellished with
coffee-pots, milk-jugs, cups and saucers, knives and forks, and all the
paraphernalia necessary on so important an occasion. A set of primitive
wooden stools and benches was placed around, for the reception of the
belles of the village, some of whom now dropped in, flourishing in all
the rosy fatness produced by an invigorating northern climate, and in
decoration vying with the noblest Indian queen of the west. Their stays
seemed ready to burst open, and their shoes were equally pressed, so full
of sap were the arctic beauties. Around their necks, brilliant beads,
mingled with ebony tresses, and their naked arms might have inspired
apprehension had they not been constantly employed in arranging flowing
ribbons, gaudy flowers, and muslin flounces.

Now arrived one of the beaux, just returned from the fishing, who, knowing
all, and being equally known, leaped without ceremony on the loose boards
that formed a kind of loft overhead, where he soon exchanged his dripping
apparel for a dress suited to the occasion, when he dropped upon the
floor, and strutting up and down, bowed and scraped to the ladies, with
as much ease, if not elegance, as a Bond Street highly-scented exquisite.
Others came in by degrees, ready dressed, and music was called for. My
son, by way of overture, played "Hail Columbia, happy land," then went
on with "La Marseillaise," and ended with "God save the King." Being
merely a spectator, I ensconced myself in a corner, by the side of an
old European gentleman, whom I found an agreeable and well-informed
companion, to admire the decorum of the motley assemblage.

The dancers stood in array, little time having been spent in choosing
partners, and a Canadian accompanying my son on his Cremona, mirth and
joy soon abounded. Dancing is certainly one of the most healthful and
innocent amusements. I have loved it a vast deal more than watching for
the nibble of a trout, and I have sometimes thought enjoying it with an
agreeable female softened my nature as much as the pale pure light of
the moon softens and beautifies a winter night. A maiden lady, who sat
at my side, and who was the only daughter of my talkative companion,
relished my remarks on the subject so much, that the next set saw her
gracing the floor with her tutored feet.

At each pause of the musicians, refreshments were handed round by the
hostess and her son, and I was not a little surprised to see all the
ladies, maids and matrons, swallow, like their sweethearts and husbands,
a full glass of pure rum, with evident pleasure. I should perhaps
have recollected that, in cold climates, a dose of ardent spirits is
not productive of the same effects as in burning latitudes, and that
refinement had not yet induced these healthy and robust dames to affect
a delicacy foreign to their nature.

It was now late, and knowing how much I had to accomplish next day, I
left the party and proceeded towards the shore. My men were sound asleep
in the boat, but in a few moments I was on board the Ripley. My young
friends arrived towards daylight, but many of the fishermen's sons and
daughters kept up the dance, to the music of the Canadian, until after
our breakfast was over.

Although all the females whom I had seen at this ball were perfectly
free from _mauvaise honte_, we were much surprised when some of them,
which we afterwards met in the course of our rambles in the neighbouring
meadows and fields, ran off on seeing us, like gazelles before jackalls.
One bearing a pail of water on her head, dropped it the moment she saw
us, and ran into the woods to hide herself. Another, who was in search
of a cow, on observing us going towards her, took to the water and waded
through an inlet more than waist-deep, after which she made for home with
the speed of a frightened hare. On inquiring the reason of this strange
conduct, the only answer I received from several was a deep blush!




THE MEADOW LARK OR AMERICAN STARLING.

_STURNUS LUDOVICIANUS_, LINN.

PLATE CXXXVI. MALE, FEMALE, AND NEST.


How could I give the history of this beautiful bird, were I not to return
for a while to the spot where I have found it most abundant, and where
the most frequent opportunities occurred of observing it? Then, reader,
to those rich grass fields let us stray. We are not far from the sandy
sea-shores of the Jerseys; the full beauties of an early spring are
profusely spread around us; the glorious sun illumines the creation with
a flood of golden light, as he yet lies beneath the deep; the industrious
bee is yet asleep, as are the birds in bush and tree; the small wavelets
break on the beach with a gentle murmur; the sky is so beautifully
blue, that, on seeing it, one fancies himself near heaven; the moon is
about to disappear in the distant west; the limpid dew-drops hang on
every leaf, bud and blossom, each tall blade of grass bending under the
weight. Anxious to view Nature at her best, I lie waiting in pleasure
for the next moment:—it has come; all is life and energy; the bee, the
bird, the quadruped, all nature awakes into life, and every being seems
moving in the light of the Divine countenance. Fervently do I praise
the God who has called me into existence, and devotedly do I pursue my
avocations, carefully treading on the tender grass, until I reach a seat
by nature's own hand prepared, when I pause, survey, admire, and essay
to apprehend all—yes, _all_ around me! Delightful days of my youth, when
full of strength, health and gladness, I so often enjoyed the bliss of
contemplating the beauties of creation! They are gone, never to return;
but memory fondly cherishes the thoughts which they called into being,
and while life remains will their memory be pleasing.

See the Lark that arrived last evening! fully refreshed, and with a bosom
overflowing with love towards her who had led him thus far, he rises
from his grassy couch, and on gently whirring pinions launches into the
air, in the glad hope of finding the notes of his beloved fall on his
ear. Females are usually tardy at this early season. I shall not pretend
to tell you why, reader, but that such is the fact, I have been fully
convinced, since the very first feelings of their value was impressed on
my mind. The male is still on the wing; his notes sound loud and clear as
he impatiently surveys the grassy plain beneath him. His beloved is not
there. His heart almost fails him, and, disappointed, he rises towards
the black walnut-tree, under which, during many a summer's heat, the
mowers have enjoyed both their repast and their mid-day rest. I now see
him, not desponding as you might suppose, but vexed and irritated. See
how he spreads his tail, how often he raises his body, how he ejaculates
his surprise, and loudly calls for her whom of all things he best
loves.—Ah!—there comes the dear creature; her timorous, tender notes
announce her arrival. Her mate, her beloved, has felt the charm of her
voice. His wings are spread, and buoyant with gladness, he flies to meet,
to welcome her, anticipating all the bliss prepared for him. Would that
I could interpret to you, reader, as I feel them, the many assurances of
friendship, fidelity and love that at this precious moment pass from the
one to the other, as they place their bills together and chatter their
mutual loves!—the gentle chidings of the male for the sorrow her delay
has caused him, and the sweet words she uses to calm his ardour. Alas!
it were vain to attempt it. I have listened to the talk, it is true;
I have witnessed all their happiness; but I cannot describe it to you.
You, reader, must watch them, as I have done, if you wish to understand
their language. If not, I must try to give you a taste of what I would
willingly impart, were I competent to the task, and proceed to relate
what I have observed of their habits.

When the Meadow Lark first rises from the ground, which it does with
a smart spring, it flutters like a young bird, then proceeds checking
its speed and resuming it in a desultory and uncertain manner, flying
in general straight forward, and glancing behind as if to ascertain
the amount of its danger, but yet affording an easy aim to the most
inexperienced marksman. When pursued for a while, it moves more swiftly,
sailing and beating its wings alternately, until it gets out of reach.
It will not stand before the pointer longer than a moment, and that
only when surprised among rank weeds or grasses. During its migrations,
which are usually performed by day, it rises above the tallest forest
trees, passing along in loose bodies, and not unfrequently in flocks
of from fifty to a hundred individuals. At such times its motions are
continued, and it merely sails at intervals, to enable it to breathe
and renew its exertions. Now and then, one may be seen making directly
towards another, chasing it downwards or horizontally away from the group,
uttering all the time a sharp querulous note, and keeping up the pursuit
for a distance of several hundred yards, when it suddenly abandons it.
Both birds then rejoin the flock, and the party continue their journey
in amity. When flocks thus travelling spy a favourable feeding place,
they gradually descend and alight on some detached tree, when, as if by
one accord, each individual jerks out its tail, springs on its legs, and
utters a loud soft call-note. They then fly successively to the ground,
and immediately proceed in search of food. An old male now and then
erects itself, glances its eye around with anxious scrutiny, and should
danger be perceived, does not fail to inform his party by emitting a
loud rolling note, on hearing which the rest of the flock become alert,
and hold themselves in readiness to depart.

In this manner the Meadow Larks proceed in autumn from the northern parts
of Maine to the State of Louisiana, the Floridas, or Carolinas, where
they abound during the winter. At this season the pine barrens of the
Floridas are filled with them, and after the land has been fired by the
native herdsmen, these birds become as sooty as the sparrows residing in
London. Some were so infested with ticks as to have lost almost all the
feathers off their body, and in general they appeared much smaller than
those of the Atlantic States, probably on account of the deficiency of
their plumage. In the prairies of the Opellousas and those bordering on
the Arkansas River, they are still more abundant. Many of these, however,
retire into the Mexican country at the approach of very severe weather.
They now sleep on the ground among the tall grass, but at a distance of



Online LibraryJohn James AudubonOrnithological Biography, Volume 2 (of 5) → online text (page 22 of 56)