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of Bras d'Or, on the coast of Labrador, they were startled by a loud and
piercing shriek, which issued from the precipices above them. On looking
up, my son observed a large hawk plunging over and about him. It was
instantly brought to the ground. A second hawk dashed towards the dead
one, as if determined to rescue it; but it quickly met the same fate,
the contents of my son's second barrel bringing it to his feet.

The nest of these hawks was placed on the rocks, about fifty feet from
their summit, and more than a hundred from their base. Two other birds
of the same species, and apparently in the same plumage, now left their
eyry in the cliff, and flew off. The party having ascended by a circuitous
and dangerous route, contrived to obtain a view of the nest, which,
however, was empty. It was composed of sticks, sea-weeds, and mosses,
about two feet in diameter, and almost flat. About its edges were strewed
the remains of their food, and beneath, on the margin of the stream,
lay a quantity of wings of the _Uria Troile_, _Mormon arcticus_, and
_Tetrao Saliceti_, together with large pellets composed of fur, bones,
and various substances.

My son and his companions returned to the Ripley towards evening. The
two hawks which they had brought with them, I knew at once to be of a
species which I had not before seen, at least in America. Think not that
I laid them down at once—No, reader, I attentively examined every part of
them. Their eyes, which had been carefully closed by the young hunters,
I opened, to observe their size and colour. I drew out their powerful
wings, distended their clenched talons, looked into their mouths, and
admired the sharp tooth-like process of their upper mandible. I then
weighed them in my hand, and at length concluded that no Hawk that I
had ever before handled, looked more like a great Peregrine Falcon.

At day-dawn, the same party, highly elated with their success of the
former day, were dispatched in quest of the other two; but although a
third specimen was shot, it flew off to a great distance, fell among
the deep moss, and was never found. Several visits to the nest proved
fruitless. The parents I had, and the last young had probably for ever
abandoned the place of its birth.

While we remained in Labrador, I was ever on the watch for hawks, and
I frequently inspected the country around with a telescope, to try if
I could discover some object worthy of my attention. I several times
observed the individuals which I have portrayed, ranging high in the
air, over an island where multitudes of Puffins were breeding. Many were
the instances in which I saw these warriors descend like a streak of
lightning, pounce on a Puffin, and carry it off in their talons. Their
aerial course I also marked, and was thus enabled to trace them to their

Their flight resembled that of the Peregrine Falcon, but was more
elevated, majestic, and rapid. They rarely sailed when travelling to and
fro, between their nest and the island mentioned, but used a constant
beat of their wings. When over the Puffins, and high in the air, they
would hover almost motionless, as if watching the proper moment to
close their pinions, and when that arrived, they would descend almost
perpendicularly on their unsuspecting victims.

Their cries also resembled those of the Peregrine Falcon, being loud,
shrill, and piercing. Now and then they would alight on some of the high
stakes placed on the shore as beacons to the fishermen who visit the
coast, and stand for a few minutes, not erect like most other Hawks,
but in the position of a Lestris or Tern, after which they would resume
their avocations, and pounce upon a Puffin, which they generally did
while the poor bird was standing on the ground at the very entrance of
its burrow, apparently quite unaware of the approach of its powerful
enemy. The Puffin appeared to form no impediment to the flight of the
Hawk, which merely shook itself after rising in the air, as if to arrange
its plumage, as the Fish Hawk does when it has emerged from the water
with a fish in its talons.

The four Falcons mentioned were all that were seen of this species during
our expedition, and I am inclined to think that these birds must be rare
in that part of Labrador. On dissecting them, I found them to be a male
and a female, and saw that the latter had laid eggs that season. It is
therefore probable that the two which left the nest at the approach of
the party were the young birds.

I made my drawing of them the day after their death. It was one of
the severest tasks which I ever performed, and was done under the most
disagreeable circumstances. I sat up nearly the whole of the night, to
sketch them in outline. The next day it rained for hours, and the water
fell on my paper and colours all the while from the rigging of the Ripley.

The weight of the female was 3 pounds 2 ounces, that of the male 2
pounds 14 ounces avoirdupois. Their flesh was tough and bluish, and
their whole structure was remarkable for the indications of strength
which it exhibited. The intestines measured 4 feet 9 inches. The heart
was extremely large, and very remarkable for its firmness. The liver
also was large. The stomach, which was thin, contained remains of fish,
feathers, and hair.

From the account which I received from my son and his companions, I would
willingly suppose that no one had ever before disturbed their solitude.
They flew about and close to them, as if altogether unacquainted with
the effects of a gun. The young appeared full grown, and, as if aware
of the fate of their parents, alighted only on the highest and most
inaccessible parts of the rocks around. Both the specimens procured were
carefully skinned and preserved. One is in my possession; the other I
gave to my worthy and generous friend JOHN BACHMAN.

When I first saw this noble pair of Falcons, I thought, as I have above
said, that they were new; but since my return to Europe, I have seen
several specimens, which, though not altogether similar in the tints of
the plumage, agree in most other respects with them, in so far as I can
judge from the comparison of skins shrunk or distended beyond measure,
such as we too often see in museums. These specimens are said to be young
birds of the famous Iceland Falcon, and I am disposed to think that my
birds belong to the same species.

That this species, as well as many others, should mate and produce young,
before obtaining its full plumage, is not a singular phenomenon. I am
persuaded that many years elapse before it obtains its perfect plumage,
from the remarks made by a gentleman not yet personally known to me,
although acquainted with my son VICTOR, Mr JOHN HEPPENSTALL, of Upper
Thorpe, near Sheffield, who has kept one of these birds alive for more
than three years. Of his letter to my son, which is dated "5th month 14th
1834," the following is an extract. "The bird thou saw when at my house
is yet living, in perfect health, which it has always been in since I
possessed it. I have now had it a little more than three years. It came
over from Iceland in a whaler to Hull, and was presented by the owner
of the vessel to a friend of mine, from whom I obtained it. I believe
it must have been a bird of the preceding year's brood. It is therefore
four years old, not less certainly, and may be considered adult. It
has always moulted early, and has already cast a number of its primary
quill-feathers, and several of the scapulars, although not disfigured.
It is a very powerful, strong bird, and were it to be carried such a
distance in confinement, it would struggle so much, that I am afraid it
would very much injure its this year's moult at this time, and I think
thou should have much difficulty in securing it. I shall now describe
the bird, that thy father may be able to judge how far it may probably
be of the same species as the one he has lately discovered and brought

"In length I should think it does not much exceed the Rough-legged Falcon,
but in every other respect is larger, being very broad and powerful,
the legs and thighs much stronger and formidable. When seen with its
head towards you, in the act of tearing its food, it conveys an idea of
very great power. Its breadth, and particularly its powerful thighs, are
then seen to very great advantage. The legs and feet are very much the
type of the Peregrine Falcon, and indeed the whole form of the bird,
only that it is so much stronger, even more than its increased bulk
alone would occasion. It has always got through the moult very well and
nothing can be more perfect than its general state of plumage, and it
is a very cleanly bird.

"The head, neck, throat, breast, belly, and legs (which are feathered to
within an inch of the toes), are the most pure white, and the plumage
very compact. The first year I had it, all these parts were slightly
marked with delicate pencilled lines lengthwise, but have now totally
disappeared, except one or two faint ones on the outside of the thighs.
The back and tail are also pure white; the two middle feathers of the tail
are a little barred on each side the shaft, which is dark coloured, as
also the primary quills of the wings. The back, scapulars, wing-coverts,
and primary quills, are all elegantly marked with a dark mouse colour,
the markings on the primary quills, which are chiefly towards the tip,
approach nearly to black. The tail when closed is a little rounded at
the tip; the under side of the wings and vent pure white. The bill, which
is notched in a very graceful form, is pale blue, inclining to black at
the tip and also at the notchings. Cere, orbits, and legs, yellow, which
seems to increase in depth. When I first had it, they were not then tinged
with yellow, but the colour of a very white-legged fowl: claws black
and powerful, inner one largest. The eye, which is exceedingly bright
and piercing, and does not appear to have changed, seems black, but on
close inspection, in a good light, is evidently dark-brown. Between the
cere and the orbits, and under the eye, the hairy feathers, which lie
close, and are pure white, are intermixed with hairs of black, which
lie pretty close to the head.

"Were I to guess the weight, I should say it was double that of the
Rough-legged Falcon. The wings reach nearly to the tip of the tail."

The above detailed account appears to me to furnish a better description
of the adult Jer Falcon than any that I have met with, and cannot fail
to be acceptable to ornithologists.

On inquiring of a Mr JONES, who had been a resident in Labrador for twenty
years, I was informed that these Hawks feed on and destroy an immense
number of hares, Rock Partridges, and Willow Grous; but he could not
give me any information as to the change of plumage, never having seen
them in any other state than that of the individuals represented in my
plate, which I shewed to him. The fishermen called them Duck Hawks, and
some of them reported many exploits performed by them, which I think it
unnecessary to repeat, as I considered them exaggerated.

FALCO ISLANDICUS, _Lath._ Ind. Ornith. p. 32. Adult—F. RUSTICOLUS,
Idem, p. 28. Adult—F. GYRFALCO, Idem, p. 32. Young.—F. SACER,
F. OBSCURUS, and F. LAGOPUS β, Idem.—_Temminck_, Manuel, part i.
p. 17.—_Swains. and Richards._ Fauna Bor.-Amer. vol. ii. p. 27.

GYRFALCON, FALCO ISLANDICUS, _Nuttall_, Manual, part i. p. 51.

Male in immature state. Plate CXCVI. Fig. 1.

Bill shortish, as broad as deep at the base, the sides convex, the dorsal
outline curved from the base; upper mandible cerate, the edges a little
inflected, rather obtuse, nearly straight to the tooth-like process,
which is rather rounded, the tip trigonal, descending, acute; lower
mandible involute at the edges, truncate at the end, with a notch near
it on either side, corresponding to the process above. In an individual
which I have seen, the margin line of the upper mandible was undulated,
or formed a festoon behind the tooth, but in my two specimens, the skin of
one of which is now before me, it is quite straight when viewed directly,
although when placed obliquely it shews a slight undulation. Nostrils
round, basal, lateral, with a soft papilla in the centre, connected with
the upper edge. Head rather large and round; neck shortish; body ovate,
anteriorly broad; the whole conformation indicative of great strength and
activity, such as befit a hunter. Legs robust, short; tarsus feathered
more than half way down, their exposed part covered anteriorly with small
quincuncial transversely oblong scales, as is the proximal portion of
all the toes, posteriorly with smaller papillar scales (there are no
broad scales or other scutella on the tarsus, as in most other Hawks,
and in the Peregrine). Toes, excepting at the base, covered above with
broad scales or scutella, scabrous and tubercular below; middle and outer
toes connected by a membrane; second and fourth toes nearly equal, the
latter very little longer, the hind toe shortest, but with the longest
claw; claws strong, curved, acute, marginate beneath, convex above.

Plumage compact, imbricated. Feathers of the head short and narrow, of
the back rounded, of the neck and breast broadly oblong, of the thighs
long and rounded. Space between the bill and eye covered with short
bristly feathers. Wings long, about four inches shorter than the tail;
the third quill longest, but scarcely longer than the second, the first
and fourth of the same length. The first and second are cut out or
sinuated on the inner edge towards the tip, the second slightly. The tail
is long, straight, slightly rounded, of twelve broad feathers, which at
the end suddenly taper to a point. When worn, they seem rounded, but in
my specimens the plumage was new.

Bill and cere pale blue, the rather narrow ridge of the upper mandible
darker. Iris brownish-black. Feet greyish-blue, the under parts of the
toes greenish-yellow; claws dusky. The general colour of the plumage
above, is brownish-grey, the feathers having a very narrow margin of
paler. Some of the upper tail-coverts are tipped with brownish-white,
and the base or concealed part of the posterior cervical feathers is
of that colour. The quills are more or less mottled with brownish-white
on the inner webs. The tail is transversely barred with _thirteen rows_
of transversely oblong spots of brownish-white, confined chiefly to the
inner webs, although there are some on the outer ones towards their end;
the tips are of the same light colour. A few of these spots appear on
the upper surface of the feathers towards their extremities. The tail is
moreover very obscurely barred with darker. The two middle feathers are
without white spots. The throat is brownish-white, finely streaked with
brown. The lower parts in general are brownish-white, longitudinally
patched with dark brown, the central part of each feather being of the
latter colour. The under wing-coverts are similarly marked, as are the
under tail-coverts, which are alternately barred with brown and white.

Length 22½ inches, extent of wings 4 feet 1 inch; bill 1-4/12 along the
ridge, 1½ along the edge; tarsus 2.

The Female in the same state. Plate CXCVI. Fig. 2.

The above description applies in all particulars to the female, only
the two middle tail-feathers were spotted like the rest.

Length 2 feet, extent of wings 4; bill 1-4/12 along the ridge; tarsus 2.

It is remarkable that the female, although the heaviest and apparently
the strongest bird of the pair, has the alar extent less by an inch than
that of the male, which she exceeds in length by 1½ inches.




This species I have found more abundant in Maine, and in the British
provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, than any where else. Although
I have met with it as early as the month of August in the Great Pine
Forest of Pennsylvania, I have never seen its nest. Many persons in the
State of Maine assured me that they had found it on pine-trees in the
middle of winter, and while the earth was deeply covered with snow. The
people employed in cutting pine timber at that season, when it is easier
to remove the logs to the rivers, in which they are subsequently floated
when the ice melts, have very frequently told me, that on felling a
tree they have caught the young Crossbills, which had been jerked out
of their nest. Several of my acquaintances in that district promised
to send me nests, eggs, and young; but as yet, I am sorry to say, none
of them have reached me. While at Labrador I was much disappointed at
not finding a single bird of this species, although the White-winged
Crossbill was tolerably abundant there; and in Newfoundland matters were
precisely the same.

The Crossbill lives in flocks, composed apparently of several families,
and is an extremely gentle and social bird. They are easily approached,
caught in traps, or even killed with a stick. So unsuspicious are they
with respect to man, that they not unfrequently come up to the very door
of the woodman's cabin, and pick the mud with which he has plastered
the spaces between the logs of which it is composed. When the huts are
raised on blocks, to prevent dampness, they are often seen under them,
picking up the earth for want of better food, while the weather is at
its coldest.

Their food consists principally of the seeds contained in the cones of
different species of the pine and fir. In the pine forests of Pennsylvania
I saw them feeding on those of the white pine, the hemlock, and the
spruce, as well as on various kinds of fruits. Wherever an apple-tree
bore fruit, the Crossbills were sure to be on it, cutting the apples to
pieces in order to get at the seeds, in the manner of our Parakeet of
the south. Nothing can exceed the dexterity with which they extricate
the seeds from the cones with their bill, the point of the upper mandible
of which they employ as a hook, placing it at the base of the seed, and
drawing it up with a sudden jerk of the head. They frequently stand on
one foot only, and employ the other in conveying the food to their bill,
in the manner of parrots. They are fond of all saline matter.

The flight of this species is undulating, firm, tolerably swift, and
capable of being protracted over a large space. While travelling they
pass in the air in straggling flocks, and keep up a constant noise, each
individual now and then emitting a clear note or call. They move with
ease on the ground, alight sidewise on the walls of houses and on trees,
on the twigs of which they climb with the aid of their bill. When caged
they soon become tame, and are fed without any difficulty.

I have presented you with a flock of these Crossbills, composed of
individuals of different ages, engaged in their usual occupations, on
a branch of their favourite tree, the hemlock pine.

Much has been said and repeated respecting the colours of this species
as connected with the differences of sex and age. Accustomed as I am
to judge of every thing relating to ornithology on the spot where I
can procure specimens, and examine them with all necessary care, I have
not failed to employ this method in the present case, and I now give it
as my opinion that, although learned naturalists may contradict what I
am about to state, it will eventually be acknowledged to be correct. I
have shot as many specimens of this Crossbill as I could desire, and on
opening perhaps more than sixty, which I should suppose enough to know
their sexes, in early spring, summer, autumn and winter, I found the
young of the year in July invariably similar to the females which had
evidently laid eggs that season, excepting that they were smaller, and
had their tints duller. The males, which had either been paired or not
that season, but which, however, were older than the first (a fact easily
ascertained by the inspection of their stronger bills, legs and claws,
and their stronger, harder and tougher flesh), shewed a considerable
quantity of red mixed with yellow on the rump, head and breast. Others
having equal appearances of age were of a dull olive-yellow, and proved
to be females. In such specimens as had the bill very much worn on its
edges, and the legs and feet diseased from the adhesion of the resinous
matter of the fir trees, on which they spend most of their time, and
roost on them at night, were of a bright brick-red in certain lights,
changing alternately to carmine or vermilion, on the whole upper parts
of the body. Females bearing the same appearances of old age, were as
I have represented them in my plate.

Reader, as men may commit errors when most anxious to arrive at the
truth, you will greatly oblige me by undertaking a series of observations,
similar to those which I have made, and stating the result.

LOXIA CURVIROSTRA, _Linn._ Syst. Nat. vol. i. p. 299.—_Lath._
Synops. vol. i. p. 361.—_Ch. Bonaparte_, Synops. of Birds of
the United States, p. 117.

Ornith. vol. iv. p. 44. pl. 21. fig. 1, 2.

COMMON CROSSBILL, _Nuttall_, Manual, part i. p. 583.

Adult Male. Plate CXCVII. Fig. 1, 1.

Bill of ordinary length, strong, convex above and beneath; mandibles
crossing each other and compressed towards the tips, which are incurvate
and acute. Nostrils small, basal, rounded, covered by the small incumbent
feathers of the forehead. The general form is compact and robust, the
head and neck large. Feet rather short, strong; tarsus short compressed,
anteriorly scutellate, sharp behind; toes separated, the two lateral
nearly equal, and considerably shorter than the middle one; claws
compressed, very acute, curved, the hind one largest.

The plumage is blended, but rather firm. Wings of ordinary length,
curved, acute, the first and second primaries longest. Tail short, small,

Bill brown, horn-colour on the edges, and darker at the tip. Iris hazel.
Feet dusky. The general colour of the plumage is a dull light red,
inclining to vermilion, darker on the wings. Quills and tail-feathers
brownish-black; the red colour is paler on the lower parts, and on the
belly passes into whitish.

Length 7 inches, extent of wings 10; bill along the ridge 8/12; tarsus

Young Male after the first moult. Plate CXCVII. Fig. 2.

At this age the colours of the male are paler and duller, but are
similarly distributed. There is an admixture of yellow tints on the
back, and more especially on the rump.

Young Male fully fledged. Plate CXCVII. Fig. 3.

In its second plumage the young male is of a dull green colour mixed with
brown above, greyish-yellow, tinged with green beneath, the sides of the
head over the eyes greenish-yellow, and the rump and upper tail-coverts
of the same colour.

Adult Female. Plate CXCVII. Fig. 4, 4.

The upper parts are greyish-brown, tinged with green, the rump dull
greyish-yellow; the sides of the head and neck of the same colour as the
back; the under parts pale greyish-yellow, brighter on the fore part of
the breast.

Young Female fully fledged. Plate CXCVII. Fig. 5.

The young female resembles the old one, but has less yellow on the rump
and under parts.

I have carefully compared skins of the American bird with others of that
found in Scotland, but have not succeeded in detecting any differences
sufficient to indicate a specific distinction.


PINUS CANADENSIS, _Mich._ Arbor. Forest. vol. i. p. 137. pl. 13.
_Pursh_, Fl. Amer. Sept. vol. ii. p. 640.—MONŒCIA MONADELPHIA,
_Linn._ CONIFERÆ, _Juss._

The Hemlock or Canadian Spruce is characterised by its solitary, flat,
somewhat distichous leaves, and very small ovate terminal cones. It
is one of the most majestic and beautiful trees of the forests of the
Middle States, where it grows abundantly in certain parts, such as the
Great Pine Forest, the Pocano Mountains, &c., extending from Carolina
to the extremity of Maine. The wood is not considered equal to that of
the true pines and unless kept dry very soon decays, but the bark is
excellent for tanning. The height sometimes reaches a hundred feet, and
the diameter near the base is often six feet or more.




Shortly after the death of WILSON, one of the wise men of a certain city
in the United States, assured the members of a Natural History Society
there, that no more birds would be found in the country than had been

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