John James Audubon.

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I chanced to call on Mr GREENWOOD, the proprietor of the Museum of that
city, who informed me that he had purchased a very fine Eagle, the name
of which he was desirous of knowing. The bird was produced, and as I
directed my eye towards its own deep, bold and stern one, I recognised
it at once as belonging to the species whose habits I have here to
describe, and I determined to obtain possession of it. Mr GREENWOOD, who
is a very kind as well as talented person, being asked if he would part
with the noble bird, readily answered in the affirmative, and left to
me to determine its value, which I accordingly did, and carried off my
purchase. His report of the manner in which the royal prisoner had been
secured, was as follows:—"The man from which I bought it had it in the
same cage it is now in, on the top of his market-waggon, and when I asked
its price, said that the Eagle had been caught in a spring-trap set for
foxes on the white mountains of New Hampshire. One morning the trap was
missing, but on searching for it, it was at last discovered more than
a mile from its original place, and held the bird by one of its toes
only. The eagle flew about through the woods for several hundred yards,
but was at last with difficulty secured. This took place a few days ago."

The Eagle was immediately conveyed to my place of residence, covered by
a blanket, to save him, in his adversity, from the gaze of the people.
I placed the cage so as to afford me a good view of the captive, and I
must acknowledge that as I watched his eye, and observed his looks of
proud disdain, I felt towards him not so generously as I ought to have
done. At times I was half inclined to restore to him his freedom, that
he might return to his native mountains; nay, I several times thought
how pleasing it would be to see him spread out his broad wings and sail
away towards the rocks of his wild haunts; but then, reader, some one
seemed to whisper that I ought to take the portrait of the magnificent
bird, and I abandoned the more generous design of setting him at liberty,
for the express purpose of shewing you his semblance.

I occupied myself a whole day in watching his movements; on the next I
came to a determination as to the position in which I might best represent
him; and on the third thought of how I could take away his life with
the least pain to him. I consulted several persons on the subject, and
among others my most worthy and generous friend, GEORGE PARKMAN, Esq.
M.D., who kindly visited my family every day. He spoke of suffocating
him by means of burning charcoal, of killing him by electricity, &c. and
we both concluded that the first method would probably be the easiest
for ourselves, and the least painful to him. Accordingly the bird was
removed in his prison into a very small room, and closely covered with
blankets, into which was introduced a pan of lighted charcoal, when the
windows and door were fastened, and the blankets tucked in beneath the
cage. I waited, expecting every moment to hear him fall down from his
perch; but after listening for _hours_, I opened the door, raised the
blankets, and peeped under them amidst a mass of suffocating fumes. There
stood the Eagle on his perch, with his bright unflinching eye turned
towards me, and as lively and vigorous as ever! Instantly reclosing
every aperture, I resumed my station at the door, and towards midnight,
not having heard the least noise, I again took a peep at my victim. He
was still uninjured, although the air of the closet was insupportable
to my son and myself, and that of the adjoining apartment began to feel
unpleasant. I persevered, however, for ten hours in all, when finding
that the charcoal fumes would not produce the desired effect, I retired
to rest wearied and disappointed.

Early next morning I tried the charcoal anew, adding to it a quantity of
sulphur, but we were nearly driven from our home in a few hours by the
stifling vapours, while the noble bird continued to stand erect; and to
look defiance at us whenever we approached his post of martyrdom. His
fierce demeanour precluded all internal application, and at last I was
compelled to resort to a method always used as the last expedient, and
a most effectual one. I thrust a long pointed piece of steel through his
heart, when my proud prisoner instantly fell dead, without even ruffling
a feather.

I sat up nearly the whole of another night to outline him, and worked
so constantly at the drawing, that it nearly cost me my life. I was
suddenly seized with a spasmodic affection, that much alarmed my family,
and completely prostrated me for some days; but, thanks to my heavenly
Preserver, and the immediate and unremitting attention of my most worthy
friends Drs PARKMAN, SHATTUCK, and WARREN, I was soon restored to health,
and enabled to pursue my labours. The drawing of this Eagle took me
fourteen days, and I had never before laboured so incessantly excepting
at that of the Wild Turkey.

The Golden Eagle, although a permanent resident in the United States,
is of rare occurrence there, it being seldom that one sees more than a
pair or two in the course of a year, unless he be an inhabitant of the
mountains, or of the large plains spread out at their base. I have seen
a few of them on the wing along the shores of the Hudson, others on the
upper parts of the Mississippi, some among the Alleghanies, and a pair
in the State of Maine. At Labrador we saw an individual sailing, at the
height of a few yards, over the moss-covered surface of the dreary rocks.

Although possessed of a powerful flight, it has not the speed of many
Hawks, nor even of the White-headed Eagle. It cannot, like the latter,
pursue and seize on the wing the prey it longs for, but is obliged to
glide down through the air for a certain height to insure the success
of its enterprise. The keenness of its eye, however, makes up for this
defect, and enables it to spy, at a great distance, the objects on which
it preys; and it seldom misses its aim, as it falls with the swiftness of
a meteor towards the spot on which they are concealed. When at a great
height in the air, its gyrations are uncommonly beautiful, being slow
and of wide circuit, and becoming the majesty of the king of birds. It
often continues them for hours at a time, with apparently the greatest
ease.

The nest of this noble species is always placed on an inaccessible shelf
of some rugged precipice,—never, that I am aware of, on a tree. It is of
great size, flat, and consists merely of a few dead sticks and brambles,
so bare at times that the eggs might be said to be deposited on the
naked rock. They are generally two, sometimes three, having a length of
3½ inches, and a diameter at the broadest part of 2½. The shell is thick
and smooth, dull white, brushed over, as it were, with undefined patches
of brown, which are most numerous at the larger end. The period at which
they are deposited, is the end of February or the beginning of March. I
have never seen the young when newly hatched, but know that they do not
leave the nest until nearly able to provide for themselves, when their
parents drive them off from their home, and finally from their hunting
grounds. A pair of these birds bred on the rocky shores of the Hudson
for eight successive years, and in the same chasm of the rock.

Their notes are harsh and sharp, resembling at times the barking of a
dog, especially about the breeding season, when they become extremely
noisy and turbulent, flying more swiftly than at other times, alighting
more frequently, and evincing a fretfulness which is not so observable
after their eggs are laid.

They are capable of remaining without food for several days at a time,
and eat voraciously whenever they find an opportunity. Young fawns,
racoons, hares, wild turkeys, and other large birds, are their usual
food, and they devour putrid flesh only when hard pressed by hunger,
none alighting on carrion at any other time. They are nice in cleaning
the skin or plucking the feathers of their prey, although they swallow
their food in large pieces, often mixed with hair and bones, which they
afterwards disgorge. They are muscular, strong, and hardy, capable of
bearing extreme cold without injury, and of pursuing their avocations in
the most tempestuous weather. A full grown female weighs about twelve
pounds, the male about two pounds and a half less. This species seldom
removes far from its place of residence, and the attachment of two
individuals of different sexes appears to continue for years.

They do not obtain the full beauty of their plumage until the fourth
year, the Ring-tailed Eagle of authors being the young in the dress
of the second and third years. Our north-western Indians are fond of
ornamenting their persons and implements of war with the tail-feathers
of this Eagle, which they kill or raise expressly for that purpose.

I conclude my account of this species with an anecdote relating to it
given in one of Dr RUSH'S lectures upon the effects of fear on man. During
the revolutionary war, a company of soldiers were stationed near the
highlands of the Hudson River. A Golden Eagle had placed her nest in a
cleft of the rocks half way between the summit and the river. A soldier
was let down by his companions suspended by a rope fastened around his
body. When he reached the nest, he suddenly found himself attacked by
the Eagle; in self defence he drew the only weapon about him, his knife,
and made repeated passes at the bird, when accidentally he cut the rope
almost off. It began unravelling; those above hastily drew him up, and
relieved him from his perilous situation at the moment when he expected
to be precipitated to the bottom. The Doctor stated that so powerful
was the effect of the fear the soldier had experienced whilst in danger,
that ere three days had elapsed his hair became quite grey.


FALCO CHRYSAËTOS and F. FULVUS, _Linn._ Syst. Nat. vol. i. p. 125.
—_Lath._ Ind. Ornith. vol. i. p. 10.

FALCO FULVUS, _Ch. Bonaparte_, Synops. of Birds of the United
States, p. 25.

AQUILA CHRYSAËTOS, _Swains. and Richards._ Fauna Bor.-Amer.
vol. ii. p. 12.

RING-TAILED EAGLE, F. FULVUS, _Wils._ Amer. Ornith. vol. vii.
p. 13. pl. 55. fig. 1. Young.

ROYAL or GOLDEN EAGLE, _Nuttall_, Manual, part. i. p. 62.


Adult Female. Plate CLXXXI.

Bill shortish, deep, compressed, strong, cerate at the base; upper
mandible with the dorsal outline nearly straight and sloping at the base,
from the margin of the cere to the end curved so as to form the fourth
of a circle, the sides sloping and slightly convex, the edges sharp,
nearly straight, with a slight convexity and a shallow sinus close to
the strong subtrigonal tip, which is concave or channelled beneath; lower
mandible convex on its dorsal outline, the sides convex, the edges sharp
and inflected, the tip obliquely truncate. Nostrils in the fore part of
the cere, lateral, oblique, oval, open, with a process at their anterior
margin. Head of moderate size, neck short, body full. Legs of ordinary
length; the tibia proportionally long; the tarsus short, rounded, robust,
feathered to the toes, which are rather short, very strong, united at
the base by a short web, marginate, covered above with series of angular
scales, and towards the end with large broad scutella, of which there
are four on the hind toe, three on the next, four on the middle toe, and
three on the outer; the first and second toes are about equal, the hind
one stronger, the middle toe longest, the outer shortest and smallest;
claws long, curved, rounded, flat beneath, middle claw with a deep groove
and an edge on the inner side.

Plumage compact, imbricated, glossy; feathers of the head and neck narrow
and pointed, of the back and breast broader, but still pointed. Space
between the bill and eye covered with small bristle-pointed feathers
disposed in a radiating manner; both eyelids ciliated; a bare projecting
space over the eye. Wings long; the fourth quill longest, the third
almost equal, the second considerably shorter, the first short; the
first, second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth, abruptly cut out on the
inner webs; the secondaries long, broad, and rounded. Tail rather long,
ample, rounded, of twelve broad, rounded, and acuminate feathers.

Bill light bluish-grey at the base, black at the tip; cere and basal
margins yellow. Eyebrows and margins of the eyelids light blue; iris
chestnut. Toes rich yellow; claws bluish-black. Fore part of the head,
cheeks, throat, and under parts, deep brown. Hind head, and posterior
and lateral parts of the neck, light brownish-yellow, the shafts and
concealed parts of the feathers deep brown. The back is deep brown,
glossy, with purplish reflections; the wing-coverts lighter. The primary
quills brownish-black, the secondaries with their coverts brown, and
those next the body more or less mottled with brownish-white, excepting
at the ends; the edge of the wing at the flexure pale yellowish-brown.
Tail dark brown, lighter towards the base, and with a few irregular
whitish markings, like fragments of transverse bands; its coverts pale
brown, mottled with white at the base, and paler at the ends. The short
feathers of the legs and tarsi are light yellowish-brown, each with a dark
shaft; the outer elongated feathers dark brown; the lower tail-coverts
light yellowish-brown. The base of the feathers on the upper parts of
the body is white, on the lower pale dusky grey.

Length 3 feet 2 inches, extent of wings 7 feet; bill along the back 2¾,
edge of lower mandible 2½; tarsus 4½, middle toe and claw 4½, hind claw
2¾. The extremities of the wings are 1 inch short of that of the tail.


THE NORTHERN HARE.

The species of Hare here represented, is found in the more northern
parts of the State of New York, and from thence to the extremities of
Nova Scotia. During the summer months it is of a deep greyish-brown
colour above, darker on the shoulders and rump, and dull white beneath.
About the beginning of October, the tips of the hairs become whitish,
not unfrequently in spots, and at length the fur acquires a snowy hue
all over, although its under parts remain greyish at all seasons. Its
flesh resembles that of the European Hare in taste, but is much lighter
in colour. The markets of Boston and our eastern cities are generally
well supplied with them during winter, when they are brought from the
mountainous districts or highlands of the interior, where they prefer
living. They are easily caught with snares, or run down by fleet dogs
during deep snows. Being a true Hare, it has a form, to which it returns
on being chased.

While at Newfoundland, I procured a remarkably large Hare, which has
been described by Dr RICHARDSON under the name of _Lepus glacialis_.
The greater part of its hair was of a fine pearl-grey colour above, and
white beneath. The ears were black at the extremities, and perhaps those
parts remain so at all seasons. The tread of its hind foot measured
fully three inches in width, when the toes were extended. The head was
much longer and more curved in its frontal line, than in any other hare
that I have seen. The flesh was white, tender, and excellent eating.
The animal weighed 7½ lb. avoirdupois. The species is rather common at
Newfoundland, but I could not ascertain its habits. The feet are in
great request in the manufacturing districts for the use of hatters,
who employ it for smoothing the pile of their fabric.




THE GROUND DOVE.

_COLUMBA PASSERINA_, LINN.

PLATE CLXXXII. MALE, FEMALE, AND YOUNG.


If the different species of Pigeons and Doves which I have described, have
interested you sufficiently to render you desirous of holding further
converse with that interesting family, and of examining for yourself,
which I sincerely wish you would resolve to do, you may perhaps visit
the islands, which, like so many bastions, protect the shores of South
Carolina, Georgia, and the Floridas, those spots where, in the calm of
every spring morn, the air is rendered balmy by the effluvia of thousands
of flowers, each of which rivals its neighbour in the brilliancy of its
hues. Stop there, kind reader, and seat yourself beneath the broadly
extended arms of the thickly-leaved evergreen oak, and at that joyous
moment when the first beams of the sun reach your eye, see the Owl passing
low and swiftly over the ground, in haste to reach his diurnal retreat
before the increasing light render all things dim to his sight; observe
the leathern-winged Bat, pursuing his undulating course through the dewy
air, now deflecting downwards to seize the retiring nocturnal-insect,
now upwards to pursue another species, as it rises to meet the genial
warmth emitted by the orb of day. Listen,—for at such a moment your
soul will be touched by sounds,—to the soft, the mellow, the melting
accents, which one might suppose inspired by Nature's self, and which
she has taught the Ground Dove to employ in conveying the expression of
his love to his mate, who is listening to them with delight.

Before I proceed to describe the habits of this interesting bird, allow
me to present you with the result of my observations relative to the
geographical distribution of the birds of the genus Columba, which are
either resident in the United States, or visit them annually.

The _Passenger Pigeon_ ranges over the whole of the United States,
excepting perhaps the southernmost portions of the Floridas, and extends
to Newfoundland, where it is well known.

The _Carolina Dove_ ranges from Louisiana to the middle parts of the
State of Massachusetts, but is never seen in Maine. It reaches up the
Mississippi, as far as Prairie du Chien, and in that direction extends
to the borders of Upper Canada.

The _Ground Dove_ is met with from the lower parts of Louisiana to Cape
Hatteras, following the coast quite round the Floridas, but very seldom
seen at any great distance in the interior. It is unknown in the State
of Mississippi; and I will venture to add, that one of these birds has
never been seen in Kentucky, although some writers have alleged that they
occur there. They are more abundant on the sea islands of Georgia, and
the middle portions of the coast of East Florida, than any where else.
A search for them an hundred miles inland would in all probability prove
fruitless.

The _White-headed Pigeon_ is confined to about three hundred miles of
the Florida Keys. It seldom, if ever, visits the mainland. It remains
with us about seven months of the year.

The _Zenaida Dove_ seldom reaches farther east, along the Florida Keys,
than Cape Light-House. It never visits the Main. Its residence with us
is shorter than that of the White-headed Pigeon by a full month.

The _Key West Pigeon_ has never been met with elsewhere than on the
island of that name. It remains there about five months only.

The same is the case with the Blue-headed Ground Pigeon, commonly called
the Cuba Partridge, which is the rarest of all the species known to me
that resort to the Floridas.

In the above account, I have placed the species according to the number
of individuals of each that occur in our country, beginning with the
Passenger Pigeon, which is the most numerous, and ending with the
Blue-headed Pigeon, which is the rarest; and I beg of you, kind reader,
to recollect that hear-say has no part as a foundation for the results
in this statement. I may also inform you, that curiosity, in part,
prompted me to present it, it having been written in 1832, with the view
of seeing if any of these birds shall become more or less numerous, or
extend or diminish their range.

The flight of the Ground Dove is low, easy, and accompanied with a
whistling sound, produced by the action of the wings, when the bird
is surprised and forced to fly. It is less protracted than that of any
other species with which I am acquainted in the United States, with the
exception of the Blue-headed Pigeon. The crossing of the Gulf Stream
by the latter bird is more surprising than the extended flight of the
European Quail. The Ground Dove seldom flies more than a hundred yards
at a time, and indeed is extremely attached to the spot which it has
selected for the season. You may drive it to the opposite end of a large
field, and yet, in a few hours after, it may be found in the place
whence you raised it. Although it alights on trees or low bushes, on
the branches of which it walks with ease, and on which its nest is most
frequently placed, the ground is its usual resort. There it runs with
facility, keeping its tail considerably elevated, as if to save it from
being soiled. It is also fond of alighting on fences, where it is easily
observed, and where it may be heard cooing for half an hour at a time.

These Pigeons are met with in groups of four or five, and it is seldom
that more than a dozen are seen together. They prefer the thinly grassed
sandy portions of cotton fields, pea-patches, and such places. In East
Florida they are seen in the villages, and resort to the orange groves
about them, where they frequently breed. I have often found them in the
inner court of the famous Spanish fort of St Augustine, where I have
been surprised to see them rise almost perpendicularly, to reach above
the parapets, by which they insured their escape. They are easily caught
in traps, and at that place are sold at 6¼ cents each. They readily
become domesticated, and indeed so very gentle are they, that I have
seen a pair which, having been caught at the time when their young were
quite small, and placed in an aviary, at once covered the little ones,
and continued to nourish them until full-grown. They afterwards raised
a second brood in the same nest, and shewed great spirit in keeping the
Jays and Starlings from their charge. In this aviary, which belonged to
Dr WILSON of Charleston, several other species bred, among which were the
Carolina Dove, the Cardinal Bird, the Blue Grosbeak, the White-throated
Sparrow, the Towhe Bunting, the Common Partridge, and the Wood Duck.
The Ground Doves were fed on rice and other small grain.

The nest of this species is large for the size of the bird, and compact.
Its exterior is composed of dry twigs, its interior of grasses disposed
in a circular form. It is usually placed in low bushes or hedges, or
in orange trees in orchards. Early in April the female deposits her two
pure white eggs; and sometimes three, but more generally two broods are
reared in a season. The male struts before the female in the manner of
the Barbary Ringed Dove.

A few of these birds remain all the year in the vicinity of Charleston,
but the greater number retire either to the sea islands or to the
Floridas. I met with them on the Keys resorted to by the Zenaida Dove,
and saw some on Sandy Island, which lies six miles south from Cape Sable,
the extreme point of the peninsula. They were so gentle that I approached
them within less than two yards. Their nest was placed on the top of a
cactus, not more than two feet high. I took some pleasure in destroying
a pair of Fish Crows, that were waiting an opportunity to deprive them
of their young.

In a wild state, the food of this species consists of grass-seeds and
various small berries, with which they pick up a large proportion of
gravel to assist digestion. They are extremely fond of dusting themselves
in the sand, lying down upon it for a long time, in the manner of
Partridges and other Gallinaceous birds, to which indeed they are closely
allied. Their flesh is excellent.


COLUMBA PASSERINA, _Linn._ Syst. Nat. vol. i. p. 285.—_Lath._
Ind. Ornith. vol. ii. p. 611.—_Ch. Bonaparte_, Synops. of
Birds of the United States, p. 120.

GROUND DOVE, COLUMBA PASSERINA, _Wils._ Amer. Ornith. vol. iv.
p. 15. pl. 46. fig. 2. male, fig. 3. female.—_Nuttall_,
Manual, part i. p. 635.


Adult Male. Plate CLXXXII. Fig. 1, 2, 3.

Bill rather short, slender, feeble, compressed, straight; upper mandible
with a tumid fleshy covering at the base, the tip rather obtuse, its
margins sharp; lower mandible nearly straight in its dorsal outline.
Nostrils medial, oblique, linear. Head small, roundish, neck short, body
moderately full. Legs short; tarsus short, compressed, covered anteriorly
with a few transverse scutella; toes free, slender, scutellate above;
hind toe shorter and more slender, the two lateral equal, the middle
one not much longer; claws short, compressed, deep, acute.

Plumage soft, blended, without gloss. Wings of moderate length; second
quill longest, third nearly as long, first and fourth about equal;



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