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mosses, and may serve to convey an idea of the nature of the vegetation
of those places.


Adult Male. Plate CXCIII. Fig. 1.

Bill short, conical, acute; upper mandible almost straight in its
dorsal outline, rounded on the sides; lower mandible slightly convex
beneath, the sides rounded; edges of both sharp and inflected; gap-line
deflected at the base. Nostrils basal, roundish, partially concealed by
the feathers. Head rather large, neck short, body rather full. Feet of
moderate length, slender; tarsus covered anteriorly with a few longish
scutella; toes free, scutellate above, the lateral ones nearly equal;
hind-toe not much stouter; claws slender, compressed, slightly arched,

Plumage soft, blended, the feathers somewhat distinct on the back,
slightly glossed. Wings shortish, curved, second and third quills longest,
and equal, first almost as long as fifth; secondaries long and rounded.
Tail rather long, graduated and emarginate, of twelve straight, narrow
rather acute feathers.

Bill dark brown at the end, greyish-blue at the base. Iris brown. Feet
yellowish-brown. The upper part of the head has a greyish-blue band in
the centre, and two at the sides, the intermediate spaces chestnut,
streaked with brownish-black. The general colour of the upper parts
is yellowish-brown, with streaks of brownish-black. Quills and larger
coverts deep brown, margined externally with yellowish-brown, and the
latter slightly tipped with whitish. Tail yellowish-brown, the outer
feathers paler. Cheeks of the same tint, tinged with grey, beneath
which is a curved band of ochraceous yellow; throat white, streaked with
dusky, and having a line of dusky spots on each side; fore part of the
breast, and the sides pale greyish-yellow, streaked with dusky, the rest

Length 5¾ inches, extent of wings 8-2/12; bill along the ridge 5/12,
along the edge 7/12; tarsus 10/12.

Adult Female. Plate CXCIII. Fig. 2.

The female differs from the male only in having the tints a little duller.

This species belongs to the same group as the Yellow-winged, the Savannah,
Henslow's and Bachman's Finches.


CORNUS SUECICA, _Linn._ Sp. Pl. p. 171. _Willd._ Sp. Pl. vol. i.

A small herbaceous plant with stems from three to five or six inches
high, with opposite, ovate, acute leaves, and two branches, between
which is the involucrum of four large unequal white leaves, containing
an umbel of dark purple flowers. The berry is red, and has a sweetish


RUBUS CHAMÆMORUS, _Linn._ Sp. Pl. p. 708. _Willd._ Sp. Pl.
vol. ii. p. 1090. _Pursh_, Flor. Amer. Sept. vol. i. p. 349.

A herbaceous bramble with simple, plaited, and lobed leaves; stem
without prickles, undivided and single-flowered. The flowers are white,
the berries large and of a yellowish-red colour. They are ripe in July,
when they drop from the stalk at the slightest touch, make an excellent
preserve, and are collected by Indians, fishermen, and eggers, in
great quantities. In Newfoundland I found them larger and better than
in Labrador. Their ripeness is a sure intimation of the arrival of the
Esquimaux Curlew (_Numenius borealis_), which comes in clouds from the
north, to feed upon them.


KALMIA GLAUCA, _Willd._ Sp. Pl. vol. ii. p. 601. _Pursh_,
Flor. Amer. Sept. vol. i. p. 296.—DECANDRIA MONOGYNIA, _Linn._

A small shrubby plant, with brown bark, opposite, sessile, ovato-oblong
leaves, which have the margins revolute and the under surface glaucous;
and terminal bracteated corymbs of beautiful rose-coloured flowers.




Nothing ever gave me more pleasure than the meeting with a bird long
since discovered, at a time when I could fully study its habits. I had
frequently searched for this interesting little Titmouse in the State
of Maine, where it breeds, but always without success, nor was it until
I visited Labrador, that I had an opportunity of seeing it.

On the 18th of July, after an early breakfast (at three o'clock), my
party, accompanied by our captain and myself, left the Ripley in three
boats for the main shore, distant about five miles. Although the fog
was thick, the wind was fair, and we reached the land in safety, when we
immediately commenced our search for birds. Having traversed an extensive
marsh, without finding any thing of interest, the captain and I, fatigued
and depressed by our want of success, retired to what in that country is
called a wood, with the hope of mending our fortune. We separated and
with great difficulty made our way among the stubborn tangled trees.
Only a few minutes had elapsed when the report of my companion's gun
reached my ear, and I at the same time heard him shout to me to come
up as quickly as possible. This I managed to do after a while, and with
much tugging and tearing; but as I approached him I heard with joy the
notes of the Canada Titmouse. One had been shot, and a nest had been
found. Securing both the parents and the young, which had leaped out on
hearing the guns, we sat down to examine the curious fabric the birds
had reared for their brood.

The nest was placed at the height of not more than three feet from the
ground, in the hollow of a decayed low stump, scarcely thicker than
a man's leg, the whole so rotten that it crumbled to pieces on being
touched. I cautiously removed the woody enclosure, and took possession
of the nest, which I obtained in perfect order. It was shaped like a
purse, eight inches in depth, two in diameter inside, its sides about half
an inch thick. It was entirely composed of the finest fur of different
quadrupeds, but principally of the great northern hare, so thickly and
ingeniously matted throughout, that it looked as if it had been felted
by the hand of man. It was quite elastic throughout, and rather wider
at the bottom, probably in consequence of the natural growth of the
young. The captain told me that he had seen the parents enter the stump,
and that on his walking towards it he was immediately assailed, not
only by the owners of the nest, but by several other pairs of the same
species, all of which, however, had retired when I reached the spot.
It is probable they had nests in the vicinity, but we did not succeed
in finding any. The male, which was shot last, several times flew at
me so close, that I attempted to catch it alive, but it always eluded
my grasp with dexterity, perched on a low branch, and emitted its angry
_te-te-te-tee_. The young I carried on board alive.

This hardy little bird resembles in its manners the other species of
its interesting and beautiful tribe; but as the habits of our Titmice
are so well known, and have been so frequently spoken of by me, I shall
not here trouble you with unnecessary repetitions. Its notes resemble
those of our southern Black-headed Titmouse, but are much weaker.

This species is much scarcer in those parts of Labrador which I visited
than in Newfoundland, where I found it as abundant as our northern
Black-headed Titmouse. The old and young birds were moving in groups
in the direction of Nova Scotia, whither I suppose they all retire in
the autumn, and where I have seen the species along the roads between
Halifax and Windsor. Many breed in that province, as well as in New
Brunswick, and, as I have said, in Maine, where my young friend LINCOLN
has at times found them. None have ever been seen as far south as even

I have represented the male, the female, and the young, in the plumage
in which I found them. The brown of the head is much duller in winter
than in summer. The young do not acquire it until towards the spring
following their birth.

PARUS HUDSONICUS, _Lath._ Index Ornith. vol. ii. p. 566.

HUDSON'S BAY TITMOUSE, Phil. Trans. vol. lxii. p. 408.—_Penn._
Arct. Zool. vol. ii. No. 329.—_Lath._ Synops. vol. iv. p. 557.
p. 24.

Adult Male, in summer. Plate CXCIV. Fig. 1.

Bill short, straight, of moderate strength, somewhat conical, compressed
towards the end; both mandibles with the dorsal outline a little convex,
the sides sloping and slightly convex, the edges sharp, the tip acute.
Nostrils basal, roundish, concealed by the recumbent feathers. The general
form is slender. Feet proportionally large; tarsus of moderate length,
anteriorly covered with a few long scutella, and sharp behind; hind toe
very large and strong, the two lateral nearly equal, the outer united
at the base with the middle; claws large, arched, much compressed, very

Plumage blended, tufty. Wings of moderate length, the fourth quill
longest, fifth almost equal, third scarcely shorter than fourth, first
very short. Tail long, much rounded, of twelve rather narrow, rounded

Bill black. Iris very dark brown. Feet lead-colour. The general tint of
the upper parts is dull leaden, tinged with light brown, the head umber
brown; primaries edged with pale greyish-blue. The throat and fore neck
are deep black, that colour being separated from the brown of the head
by a broad band of white running under the eye: The breast and belly
greyish-white, the sides light yellowish-brown.

Length 5 inches, extent of wings 7; bill along the ridge 3½/12, along
the edge 5/12; tarsus 7/12, middle toe with the claw 6/12, hind toe the

Adult Female, in summer. Plate CXCIV. Fig. 2.

The female resembles the male, but the upper parts are deeply tinged
with brown, and the head and throat are of a lighter tint.

Young fully fledged. Plate CXCIV. Fig. 3.

Bill greyish-blue. Upper parts of a dull greenish-grey. The throat marked
as in the adult, the under parts pale greyish tinged with brown.

The plant represented in this plate is abundant in Labrador, Newfoundland,
and our Northern States. It is a species of _Prunus_, and attains a
height of eight or ten feet.




The history of this diminutive bird is yet in a great measure unknown;
and, although I have met with it in places where it undoubtedly breeds,
I have not succeeded in finding its nest.

On the 27th June 1833, while some of my party and myself were rambling
over the deserts of Labrador, the notes of a warbler came on my ear,
and I listened with delight to the harmonious sounds that filled the
air around, and which I judged to belong to a species not yet known to
me. The next instant I observed a small bird perched on the top of a
fir tree, and on approaching it, recognised it as the vocalist that had
so suddenly charmed my ear and raised my expectations. We all followed
its quick movements, as it flew from tree to tree backwards and forwards
without quitting the spot, to which it seemed attached. At last, my son
JOHN raised his gun, and, on firing, brought down the bird, which fell
among the brushwood, where we in vain searched for it.

The next day we chanced to pass along the same patch of dwarf wood, in
search of the nests of certain species of ducks, of which I intend to
speak on another occasion. We were separated from the woods by a deep
narrow creek; but the recollection of the loss of the bird, which I was
sure had been killed, prompted me to desire my young friends to dash
across and again search for it. In an instant six of us were on the
opposite shore, and dispersed among the woods. My son was so fortunate
as to find the little Regulus among the moss near the tree from which
it had fallen, and brought it to me greatly disappointed. Not so was I;
for I had never heard the full song of the Ruby-crowned Wren, and as I
looked at it in my hand, I could not refrain from exclaiming—"And so this
is the tiny body of the songster from which came the loud notes I heard
yesterday!" When I tell you that its song is fully as sonorous as that
of the Canary Bird, and much richer, I do not come up to the truth, for
it is not only as powerful and clear, but much more varied and pleasing
to the ear. We looked for its mate and its nest, but all around us was
silent as death, or only filled with the hum of millions of insects. I
made a drawing of it in what may be truly called its full spring plumage.
A month later, the young of this species were seen feeding among the

The Ruby-crowned Wren is found in Louisiana and other Southern States,
from November until March. Near Charleston, in January last, they were
very abundant. The old birds were easily distinguished from the young,
without shooting them, on account of the curious difference in their
habits, for while the latter kept together among the lowest bushes, the
former were generally seen on the top branches of high trees. I have not
observed a similar difference in _Regulus tricolor_. The rich vermilion
spot of the head in the present species was wanting in the young, that
part being of the same plain colour as the back. I have found this bird
in Kentucky also during winter, but generally in southern exposures,
and usually in company with the Brown Creeper and the Titmouse.

The little bird of which I speak appears to feed entirely on small
insects and their larvæ; and I have often thought it wonderful that there
should seem to be no lack of food for it even during weather sometimes
too cold for the birds themselves. It appears to migrate during the day
only, and merely by passing from one bush to another, or hopping among
the twigs, until a large piece of water happens to come in its way,
when it rises obliquely to the height of above twenty yards, and then
proceeds horizontally in short undulations. It emits a feeble chirp at
almost every motion. So swiftly, however, does it perform its migration
from Louisiana to Newfoundland and Labrador, that although it sometimes
remains in the first of these countries until late in March, it has young
in the latter by the end of June; and the brood is able to accompany
the old birds back to the south in the beginning of August.

The pair before you are placed on a plant which occurs in abundance from
Maine to Labrador.

REGULUS CALENDULA, _Ch. Bonaparte_, Synops. of Birds of the
United States, p. 91.

vol. i. p. 83. pl. 5. fig 3.—_Nuttall_, Manual, part i. p. 415.

Adult Male, in summer plumage. Plate CXCV. Fig. 1.

Bill short, straight, subulate, very slender, compressed, with inflected
edges; upper mandible nearly straight in its dorsal outline, the edges
scarcely notched close upon the slightly declinate acute tip; lower
mandible straight, acute. Nostrils basal, elliptical, half-closed above
by a membrane, covered over by the feathers. The whole form is slender,
although the bird looks somewhat bulky, on account of the loose texture
of the feathers. Legs rather long; tarsus slender; longer than the middle
toe, much compressed, covered anteriorly with a few indistinct scutella;
toes scutellate above, the lateral ones nearly equal and free; hind toe
stouter; claws weak, compressed, arched, acute.

Plumage very loose and tufty. Short bristles at the base of the bill.
Feathers of the head elongated, silky. Wings of ordinary length, the
third and fourth primaries longest. Tail of twelve feathers, emarginate,
of ordinary length.

Bill black, yellow at the base of the lower, and on the edges of the
upper mandible. Iris light brown. Feet yellowish-brown, the under parts
yellow. The general colour of the upper parts is dull olivaceous, lighter
behind. The eye is encircled with greyish-white, of which colour also
are the tips of the wing-coverts. Quills and tail dusky, edged with
greenish-yellow. The silky feathers of the crown of the head vermilion.
The under parts greyish-white.

Length 4¼ inches, extent of wings 6; bill ⅓; tarsus ¾.

Adult Female, in summer plumage. Plate CXCV. Fig. 2.

The female resembles the male, but the tints are in general duller,
especially the greenish-yellow of the wings.


KALMIA ANGUSTIFOLIA, _Willd._ Sp. Pl. vol. ii. p. 601.—_Pursh_,
Fl. Amer. vol. i. p. 296.—DECANDRIA MONOGYNIA, _Linn._

This species is characterized by its petiolate, ternate, cuneato-oblong
leaves, which are obtuse and tinged with red beneath. The corymbs of
beautiful deep rose-coloured flowers are lateral; the peduncles and calyx
downy, and the bracteæ smooth. It grows to the height of two or even
sometimes four feet, and is common in the Northern States and British
Provinces; flowers from the end of June to the middle of August.


I left the little port of St Augustine, in East Florida, on the 5th of
March 1832, in the packet schooner, the Agnes, bound for Charleston.
The weather was fair, and the wind favourable; but on the afternoon of
the second day, heavy clouds darkened the heavens, and our sails hung
flapping against the masts. Nature, with an angry aspect, seemed to be
breathing for a moment, before collecting her energies, to inflict some
signal punishment on guilty man. Our captain was an old and experienced
seaman. I alternately watched his eye and the distant cloud; both were
black, firm, and determined. Satisfied as to our safety, the vessel being
perfectly sound, and the crew composed of young active men, I determined
to remain on deck, and witness the scene that was about to present itself.
The rest of the passengers had withdrawn when the cloud approached the
vessel. The captain went up to the helmsman, and in a twinkling the
sails were furled excepting one, which was so closely reefed, that it
no longer resembled its former self. In another minute, down came the
blast upon us, sweeping the spray over the vessel, and driving her along
at a furious rate. It increased; all on board was silent; but onward,
unscathed, sped the Agnes, driving through the snow-topped waves. I
cannot tell you at what rate we were carried by the gale, but at the end
of a few hours, the blue sky again appeared, and the anchor was dropped
in the mouth of the Savannah River.

Landing there, I presented my credentials to an officer of the Engineer
Corps, who was engaged in building a fort. He received me with great
politeness, invited me to spend the night at his quarters, and promised
to have his barge ready at dawn to convey my party to Savannah. We,
however, accepted only the proffered favour of the boat, and having
purchased some "shads," returned to the Agnes, where we slept.

The morning was beautiful, and we felt cheerful and buoyant as we
ascended the stream in the barge. Thousands of Canvass-backed Ducks swam
gracefully in pairs over the broad waters; from the adjoining rice-fields
rose myriads of Grakles, Red-wings, and Ortolans, as we approached the
shores, while now and then the great Heron opened its broad blue wings,
and with a hoarse scream rose slowly into the air. Presently we passed
a ship at anchor, and now opened on our view the city of Savannah, where
we soon landed.

Repairing to a hotel, I immediately took a seat in the mail, in order
to proceed directly to Charleston; but happening to have a letter of
introduction from the Rathbones of Liverpool, to a merchant in the city,
to whom I had already written, and to whose care I had several times
taken the liberty of consigning my baggage trunks, I resolved to wait
upon him, and return him my thanks. In the company of a gentleman, who
kindly offered to guide me, I therefore proceeded, and was fortunate
enough to meet him on the street. The merchant took my arm under his,
and as we proceeded, talked of the many demands of money made on him for
charitable purposes, the high price of the "Birds of America," and his
inability to subscribe for that work, concluding with telling me, that
he much doubted if even a single purchaser could be got in Savannah.

My spirits were sadly depressed, for my voyage to the Floridas had been
expensive and unprofitable, not having been undertaken at the proper
season; and I confess I thought more of my family than of what the
gentleman said to me. However, we reached his counting-house, where I met
with Major Le Conte of the United States Army, with whom I was previously
acquainted. Our conversation turned on the difficulties which authors
have to encounter even in their own country. I observed that the merchant
was extremely attentive, and at length seemed uneasy. He rose from his
seat, spoke to his clerk, and sat down again. The Major took his leave,
and I was about to follow him, when the merchant addressing himself to
me, said he could not conceive why the arts and sciences should not be
encouraged by men of wealth in our country. The clerk now returned and
handed him some papers, which he transferred to me, saying, "I subscribe
to your work; here is the price of the first volume; come with me, I
know you now, and I will procure you some others; every one of us is
bound to you for the knowledge you bring to us of things, which, without
your zeal and enterprise, might probably never have reached us. I will
now make it my duty to serve you, and will be your agent in this city.
Come along."

"Thus, poor AUDUBON, art thou alternately transported from a cold to a
warm climate, from one mood to another, desponding this morning, and now
buoyant with the hopes inspired by this generous merchant!" Such, reader,
were the thoughts that filled my mind, along with many others; for I
thought of you also, and of my work then going on in England, under the
care of my excellent friend J. G. CHILDREN, Esq. of the British Museum.
The merchant took me back to the hotel, when he desired me to open the
few drawings I had with me, and lay them, as I usually do, on the floor.
He then went off in search of subscribers. I received three visits from
the worthy soul, on each of which he was accompanied by a gentleman,
of whom two subscribed, the merchant himself paying me the price of a
copy of my first volume for each of them. Others who he thought might
have met my wishes in the same agreeable way, were absent from town.
The time of my departure having arrived, he accompanied me to the ferry
boat, when I bade him adieu with feelings of gratitude which I found it
utterly impossible to express.

Travelling through the woods, already rendered delightfully fragrant by
the clusters of yellow jessamines that bordered them, I arrived in safety
at Charleston, where I had the happiness of finding all my friends well.
The next mail brought me a remittance from Savannah, and an additional
name to my list of subscribers; and before the week was ended, two checks
on the Branch Bank of the United States came to me with two more names.

Leaving Charleston some time after, I revisited the Floridas, crossed
the whole of the Union, went to Labrador, and in October 1833, returned
to my starting place, when I wrote to my generous friend at Savannah,
announcing to him my intention of sailing for Europe. By return of post I
received the following answer:—"Three of your subscribers are now, alas!
dead; but I had taken the precaution to insure the continuation of their
subscription for your works. I have called on their executors, who at
once have paid over to me their respective amounts for the second volume
of the 'Birds of America;' and I now feel great pleasure in enclosing
to you a bill for the whole amount, including mine for the same volume,
payable in London at par."

Some weeks ago I had the pleasure of forwarding the volumes wanted at
Savannah, which I hope have reached their destination in safety; and
here let me express my gratitude towards the generous merchant, who,
on being made aware of the difficulties which men have to encounter
whose success in their pursuits tends to excite the malevolent feelings
of their competitors, nobly resolved to exert himself in the cause of
science. I trust he will not consider it improper in me to inform you,
that on inquiring at Savannah for WILLIAM GASTON, Esq. you will readily
find him.




On the 6th August 1833, while my young friends, THOMAS LINCOLN and JOSEPH
COOLEDGE, accompanied by my son JOHN, were rambling by the rushing waters
of a brook banked by stupendous rocks, eight or ten miles from the port

Online LibraryJohn James AudubonOrnithological Biography, Volume 2 (of 5) → online text (page 52 of 56)