Agassiz Association. Wilson Ornithological Chapter.

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in northern Ohio will be remembered for the late beginning of the first
wave of migration and for the extreme variations from normal of many
migration records of first arrival and dates for the arrival of the bulk.
The curve of migration was about sixty-five per cent abnormal. The
Carolina Chickadee made its first appearance in Oberlin and for the
general region on February 27 and remained in the village to April 21.
There was a single individual.

Bewick's Wren was taken on April 20. It has been found in the region
on three other occasions, but never before in the village.

In this connection it may be worth notice that the Hooded and Pro-
thonotary Warblers were more numerous than ever before.

Lynds Jones, Oberlin, Ohio.

Field Notes 107


The morning of May ;!0 in crossing the mall to the Smithsonian Insti-
tution, I noticed what appeared to be a fight between a Purple Graekle
and an English sparrow, and stopped to see the outcome. The Graekle
held the sparrow by wing or leg under its feet and peeked savagely at
the head. The fluttering sparrow escaped two or three times, but was
instantly recaptured. Presently the Graekle began swallowing the
grewsome contents of its bill obtained from the still fluttering sparrow.
I did not wait to see more, but at noon I sought the spot and found
a dead female English sparrow with the back of the head laid bare to the
skull. So far as I could see it was not injured elsewhere.

Is the Purple Graekle a bird of prey or was it a fight to the death
only, the blackbird swallowing his billsful merely to get rid of them?
Was he after a meal or after revenge f As the little corpse was covered
with ants when I found it I could not be sure whetlier the Graekle had
eaten the brains or wliether the ants had emptied the skull they now filled.

Dejt. Agriculture, Washington, D. C. Agnes Chase.


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No. 88.




By T. C. Stephens.

Ou July 4, 1914, our entire camp* was takeu on an excur-
sion along the southwest shore of Lake Okoboji, Iowa. At
noon the party was to eat lunch at a point on the west shore
known as Elm Crest. They had been carried in relays across
Emerson's Bay so that the first to reach the destination had
some time at their OAvn disposal before the last ones arrived.

As I came up I Avas met by Mr. H. C. Pollock Avho, Avith
evident excitement, informed me that he had seen a bird
which he thought must be a Prothonotary Warbler. I Avas
naturally a little skeptical as to the identification, but never-
theless anxious to see Avhat he had found.

We were in the immediate \ucinity of a summer cottage
OAA-ned by Mr. A. J. Goodell, Avhich had, as j'et, not been
opened for the season. It Avas surrounded by a heavy groAvth
of timber, mostly oaks. Very soon Ave heard a clear, but gentle,
"weet, weet, tveet, weet," and Mr. Pollock exclaimed, ''There
is the bird"; and it was but a moment till aa'c had our glasses
focused upon her.

'.Students of the Jlacbride (Iowa) Lakeside Laboratory.



1 ... ^^Ca^i^^^






Thp: Pkothuxotaky Warbler 111

The head, throat, and lireast appeared to be a bright lemon
yellow (the orange tinge was not noticeable at this distance) ;
the wings and tail were dark, the former appearing to have
a distinctly bluish cast. Alcove the nearly black tip of the
tail there was a distinct band of white. The black bill was
unusually long for a warbler. As we watched a second bird
came within view.

These characters, so clearly recognized, convinced us at
once that we had, indeed, stumbled upon a pair of Prothono-
tary Warblers (Protf)notaria citrca). My next thought was
that the birds must be breeding; and after about five min-
utes' close watching, I saw one of the birds fly low and direct
to an empty tin can nailed to the trunk of a tree not more
than ten feet from the cottage. Immediate examination
revealed a single young l)ird, which was almost ready to leave
the nest.

The location of the nest Avas a thickly wooded and elevated
point of land projecting into the lake on the west shore. At
the highest elevation, l)ut scarcely over fifty feet from tlie
shore line, stood the cottage. The underbrush had been
cleared away from the front of the cottage, and at the sides
for a distance of perhaps a rod.

We now noticed tliat on the trees around the dwelling, at
intervals of ten to fifteen feet, there had been put up empty
tomato cans for the use of Ifirds — especially the house wrens,
which are so aliundant around the lake. These were mostly
at about the height of a man's uplifted hand, viz., about seven
feet. The warblers had selected one whose opening faced the

The photograph will desrrilie the external appearance of
the nest site sufficiently.

Subse(iuently the nest was removed from the can for exam-
ination. Only two materials seemed to enter into its com-
position to any noticeable extent. The great bulk, or
"foundation," consisted of a tangled mass of moss. The
lining consisted of dried grass of rather coarse grade.
Roughly, the cavity of the nest measured 70 mm. in

112 The Wilson Bulletin — No. 88

While we were watching the birds, the owners of the cottage
arrived for their summer sojourn. We explained to them that
the grounds were already tenanted, and found them to be
very much interested in the welfare of their distinguished
bird guests.

The next day ]\Ir. Goodell walked a good mile around the
lake shore, about noon, to tell me that the young warbler had
left the nest that morning about nine o'clock, and that the,y
Mere keeping track of its whereabouts until I could arrive.
About two o'clock the young bird was banded with the num-
ber 16291. and returned to its home — the tin can — where it
seemed perfectly contented to remain. By this procedure we
hoped to entice the parents to visit the nest and feed, in order
that we might make photographs. In this we were entirely
successful, for within five minutes one of the parents had
discovered the young and visited it with food.

The feeding visits were then continued with frequency
during the remainder of the afternoon, and we made over a
dozen exposures of the old bird in the process of feeding.
Unfortunately, all but two of the plates were underexposed.
The photograph here reproduced shows this bird in a some-
what ditferent attitude from that usually depicted in the
illustrated accounts of the species.

Usually, if undisturbed, the parent flew directly' to the
nest, alighting on the disc of tin cut out for an entrance and
bent into a horizontal position. However, if at all alarmed
the approach was made more cautiously. It would, under
such circumstances, alight on the tree trunk or small twigs
ten or fifteen feet above the nest, and descend by hopping
from twig to twig; or, hy simply clinging to the bark of the
tree, and hopping, neither backward nor head-first, but side-
wdse. Of course it is quite possible that the two methods of
approaching the nest here mentioned may have belonged to
the male and female birds respectively, but in the short time
the sexes were not distinguished.

No effort Avas made to recognize the food brought, Init in
one instance a green larva was noticed. The photograph also
shows some insect in the bird's bill.

The Prothoxotaky AVarbleu 113

It was very (evident from the old bird's actions that she was
trying to coax the young one ont of the nest. She would
remain nearby twittering and calling for a considerable time
before going to the nest to deliver the food she carried. The
young bird left the nest the following day (Monday) and
neither young nor old birds were seen again, although the
vicinity of the nest was visited a number of times later.
Although no other young were seen, it is quite likely that
the one we found was the last one of a larger brood to leave;
the nest.

The distribution of the Prothonotar}^ AVarbler in Iowa does
not seem to be fully known. It has been observed along the
Missouri river as far north as jMills county, Iowa, and pos-
sibly at 8ioux City. Its plentiful occurrence along the upper
Mississippi river is well recorded by Dr. T. S. Roberts (see
the Auk, XVI, 1899, pp. 236-246). The only published
account, apparently, of its distribution within the state of
Iowa occurs in Anderson's Birds of Iowa, from Avhich the
following paragraph may be quoted :

"It is a bird of southern distribution and is only tolerably
common along the bottom lands of the larger rivers in south-
ern Iowa. It reaches to about its northern limit on the Iowa
river in Johnson county, on the Cedar river in Blackhawk
county (Peck), and the Des Moines river in "Webster county
(Somes). Dr. Trostler reports it as a common summer resi-
dent, but becoming scarce, in Mills county on the INIissouri,
while Dr. Rich reports it as rare at Sioux City. Dr. B. H.
Bailey shot two males at Lansing, Allamakee county. Iowa, in
1904. The most northern record outside of the ]\Iississippi
bottoms was one male, seen along the Des Moines river in
Kossuth county, by W. H. Bingaman, May 20, 1901. The
liird was not taken, but identity is positive, Mr. Bingaman
having found many nests in southern Illinois."

Dr. Roberts (Auk, XVI, p. 240) refers to an "indefinite
record" for the region of Heron Lake. INIinnesota, only about
twenty-five miles directly north of Lake Okoboji, but which
he thought was a mistake in identity. I have no information
as to the authoritv for this record and am unable to judge as


The Prothoxotary Warbler 115

to its value. This Okoboji record, however, Avould tend to
make the Heron Lake record probable.*

An interesting pro])leni which naturally arises is as to the
route by which these birds reached the lake region (refer-
ring solely to the Okoboji record). It is not a great distance
along tlie Des Moines river from Webster county, where the
species has ))een recorded, to the lake region. But the Des
Moines valley lies on the of the divide, while the lakes
are on the west; and there are no streams or valleys connect-
ing. The actual distance across from the Des Moines valley
to the lakes at this point ^\•ould only be about eighteen miles.

However, if the V)irds follow the river valleys strictly in
their migration (and, conse((uently, in extending their range)
we must look to the JMissouri river drainage basin for the
route of the Okolioji l)irds. From the investigations of Loucks,
Roberts, Adams, and others, it seems to be pretty well estab-
lished that the species in question is very closely restricted
to the river valleys in its movements, as well as its breeding.

The outlet of Lake Okoboji is through a chain of several
smaller lakes (including the Upper and Lower Gar lakes, and
Lake ]\Iinnewashta) into a shallow and swampy creek which
empties into the Little Sioux river about a mile below the
town of Milford. This river, after traversing the north-
western portion of Iowa, finally empties into the JMissouri
river a1)0ut midway between Sioux City and Council Bluffs.

Taking into account the ]Missouri river records above re-
ferred to, it seems very probable that the Prothonotary
Warbler has pushed up the Little Sioux valley to the lake
region of Iowa. We may, therefore, await with some interest
reports from points in the Little Sioux valle}' with reference
to this species.

The authors cited are as follows :

1. Loucks, AV. E. The Life History and Distribution of the
Prothonotary Warbler in Illinois. Bull. 111. State Lab. Nat.
Hist., IV, 1895, pp. 10-35.

* In response to an inquiry Dr. Thos. S. Roberts writes me under date of
August 21. 1914, in wliicli he states tliat the Heron Lake Record has never
been published otherwise tlian by tlie negative reference in his article above
cited. He also assures nie that his reference to the bird in this locality must
not be considered a "record." for he placed no reliance on the information
as it reached him.

116 The Wilsox Bulletin — No. 88

2. Roberts, Dr. Thos. S. The Prothouotary or Golden
Swamp Warbler (Protonotaria citrea) a Common Summer
Resident of Southeastern Minnesota. Auk, XVI. 1899. pp.

3. Adams, C. C. The Migration Route of Kirtland's War-
bler. Bull. Mich. Ornith. Club, V, 1904, pp. 14-21.

4. Anderson, R. M. The Birds of Iowa. Davenport. Iowa,

Sioux City, Iowa.



By ED^YIN D. Hull.


The following notes are the result of three winters" study
of the habits of the Old-squaw in Jackson Park, Chicago, 111.,
from 1912 to 1914 inclusive. It is regretted that observa-
tions could not have been made for a few years more, and
it is conceivable that exceptions to some of the statements
contained herein might be made through additional study,
but it seems advisable to publish what observations there are,
as the stock of information concerning our waterfowl is gen-
erally conceded to be woefully deficient.


I have been able to find l»ut two extensive papers on tiie
habits of this bird, both of which have been noted carefully.
In 1892 G. H. Mackay (Auk 9: 330-337. 1892) gave an
excellent account in a general way of the species in New
England, where the birds were observed almost exclusively
on salt-water. In 1913 a more intensive study was recorded
by J. G. Millais (British Diving Ducks, Vol. 1, 112-131. 1913) .
The notes here, however, relate mainly to the habits of the
species in the Old World, and likewise on salt-water. No

Habits op the Old-S(^ua\v 117

extended aeeoiiiit of the habits of the species inland seems to
have been -written, and it is in part to supply this deficiency
that tlie following notes are recorded.


Jackson Park is noted for its beautiful chain of lagoons,
which bears a striking resemblance to a large river. Both
ends of the chain are connected with Lake j\Iieliigan. at the
connections being spanned by bridges. The lagoons in thi?
main are broad and fairly deep at the middle, l)ut become
very narrow in places, more especially at the several bridges.
Along the sides in shallow water are broad zones of the
crisped pondweed {Potamogeton crispns), a European plant,
not long in this region, but already exceedingly abundant and
vigorous. With this species occur a few less conspicuous
plants. Rocks have been thrown in about the edges in places.
The lake itself which borders the park on the east is shel-
tered much by a harbor and somewhat by piers built into it.
The plants, rocks and piers constitute a very favorable habitat
for immense swarms of silvery minnows (Notropis atJicri-
noidcs), which seem to be almost if not entirely the solo
source of food for the 01d-S(iuaw in this locality.


Where two or more birds are found together tliey do not
appear until severe weather sets in, and the lake is covered
more or less with ice, l)ut leaving several open places here and
there, especially about the piers, Avhere the birds are able
to obtain food. My earliest record is January 28, 1912, when
eleven were seen, and the latest February 27, 1913. when
four Avere seen. The occurrence of flocks and twos is cer-
tainly determined by the weather. Solitary individuals may
appear much earlier and remain much later. 'Sly earliest
record is December 14, 1913, and the latest :\Iay 6. 1912.
Another very late record is April 8, 1914. In two cases at
least these early or late birds appeared following a cold wave,
but they were associated with the Lesser Scaup, and in all

118 The Wilson Bulletin — No. 88

probability were not so much dependent on the weather as on
the migrations of the Scaups, less boreal in habit and the
most abundant ducks in this region. They may, however,
remain after the Scaups have left for the south, and also
leave ahead of the Scaups in the spring, after sojourning with
them a day or more, so that the weather plays a role even
here, but is not the only factor.

The ducks in twos or more keep to the lake or more rarely
in the harbor, and only the solitary ducks enter the lagoons,
and not then except when they occur with the Scaups. In
midwinter the lagoons are usually frozen solidly over, but
exceptions occur, so that the absence of the flocks from them
cannot be always thus explained.

The birds seem to be growing scarcer every j-ear. The size
of the flocks is decreasing rapidly, and single birds are very
common. The largest flock noted was eleven in 1912, and the
next largest six in 1913.


The birds when more than one keep to themselves, but
when isolated are (juite likely to be seen with other species,
although occasionally utterly alone. If the birds are mated
at this season of the year it is hardly possible to pick out the
pairs on account of all the birds keeping together. Further-
more, even numbers, which might indicate pairs, are not one-
half so common as odd numbers, which show, of course, at
least one unmated bird. The birds seen in twos are not paired,
either, so far as can be ascertained. Single birds have been
found associated with the Lesser Scaup and the American
Goldeneye, particularly during periods of inactivity, although
when feeding they may desert the other species. Quite often
the Scaups feed in too shallow water, as along the edges of
the lagoons, to suit the tastes of tlie Old-squaw, while the
Goldeneyes often feed in water entirely too deep. A bird seen
February 17, 1914, with a small flock of American Groldeneyes
out in the lake quite a distance from the piers left the flock
when it wanted to feed, and came to the piers, where the
water was much more shallow, but after its hunger was

Habits op the Old-Squaw 119

satisfied returned to its companions. Even when the Golden-
eyes were diving vigorously in the deeper water the Old-squaw
made no attempt to imitate them. In their association with
these other species the Old-squaws keep somewhat aloof, and
never display the same familiarity with the birds of a dif-
ferent species as do the individuals of a single species tOAvard
each other. They generally keep a certain distance away
from the birds of another species, and may even attack them
if they get too close ; similarly the birds of another species
may attack them.


The feeding ground is a place apart, but mainly close to
the resting ground, so that it is reached by a brief swim.
After feeding the birds return to their resting ground. When
a suitable feeding locality is once found the birds return to
it again and again, and likewise the same resting ground is
repeatedly chosen.

The food no dou])t is almost entirely animal, and would
seem to be restricted to a single species of fish, the silvery
minnow, a long slender fish which fairly swarms about the
piers and in the lagoons. The stomach of an adult female
found floating in a lagoon April 1, 1912, contained approxi-
mately 140 of these minnows, all entire, besides many fi'ag-
ments of the same fish, but no other food. The fish averaged
about two inches in length. Another fish very abundant in
this region is the yellow perch, but it is rough and spiny,
and is no doubt avoided, as so much better food can be had.
AVhether any vegetable food is utilized is uncertain. An adult
male was seen to be nibbling along the sides of a bit of loose
piling, as if scraping off algae, but this may not have been
the case.

The food is swallowed under water. Millais says concern-
ing a pair of tame birds that they swallowed pieces of food
smaller than a minnow below usually, Avhile larger pieces
w^ere brought to the surface and vigorously shaken. I have
yet to see, however, any bringing of food to the surface of
the water.

120 The Wilson Bulletin — No. 88


Millais says that iu diving- thej' use the feet only, but
according to Chapman after Towusend they use their Avings
(Birds of Eastern North America, p. 198, 1912). My owji
observations confirm those of Townsend. March 13, 1914, I
Avas fortunate in witnessing the diving of an exceedingly tame
bird about the piers. In this bird the movement of the wings
was very plainly visible for some time as it dived obliquely
in the clear water.

In all but one instance the birds spread their wings and
disappear almost immediately, but the bird of March 13, 1914,
just noted, adopted a much more leisurely method. It first
put its head under water, then moved forward a feAV feet
with wings folded, then flapped its wings a few times, moving
forward all the while, and finally disappeared beneath the
surface. In feeding this action was invariable in all the
observations made. When frightened, however, this bird dove
as quickly as any other. The diving as observed in this bird,
as I have stated, was in a very oblique direction. The bird
started many feet out, diving towards the pier, and on reach-
ing it turned and worked along the pier for some distance
before rising to the surface. Once it was seen to dash just
beneath the water for the pier, and on reaching it come at
once to the top. In diving much splashing is made, which
is not the case in a duck which dives with folded wings, as
in the Lesser Scaup. The time spent under water was noted
in nineteen instances, the maximum being twenty-five seconds,
minimum ten seconds, average about eighteen seconds. Food
was probably easily obtained, however, and the water rela-
tively shallow. No doubt a much longer time could be
endured. Millais gives the usual time as being from thirty
seconds to one minute.


In flocks the Old-squaws are noisy birds, as noted by
]\Iackay, and their cries are adequately described by him.
I have found single birds, however, with but one exception,
absolutelv silent. The single exception was the bird occur-

Haljits op the Old-Squaw 121

ring- Avitli the Goldeneyes February 17, 11)14, cited under
''Social Life." This bird in leaving its companions for the
piers to feed, on its way called a few times at fairly definite
intervals, a subdued call of two notes, best described, perhaps,
as 0-0 nc. The significance of this brief cry could not be
determined with certainty. It was noted that the bird in
going to its feeding ground was alert, so that this call may
have indicated a slight alarm.


IMrds in flocks are often very active, but single birds are
inclined to fly very little if at all. Even Avhen badly fright-
ened they will try to escape by diving instead of taking wing.
In spring, hoAvever, when they are about to depart for the
north, they become more active. The bird seen April 8, 1914,
took wing Avheu scared, and another seen March 22, 1914,
would sometimes fly from its feeding ground about the piers
farther out into the lake, Avhere it rested. But ordinarily
single birds will not fly even AA'hen the other ducks Avitli which
they are associated take flight. This unwillingness to fly
would seem to bear no relation to age, for a bird which could
not be induced to take flight under any circumstances was
an adult male upon which I made observations from Decem-
ber 14 to December 28, 1913 (see Auk 31: 244, 245. 1914).
According to Millais, however, j^oung birds will not rise on
their first arrival from the north, differing in this respect
from the adults.


Bathing is not undertaken except after diving for food,
and in one instance, where the bird made a single dive, no
bathing followed at all. Occasionally after feeding the bird
delays bathing in order to preen, but more often preening
follows bathing. In cases of prolonged feeding bathing may
take place at different intervals, a period of diving being fol-
lowed by a period of bathing. Once after a bird had bathed
it climbed out on a bit of piling, and on getting oft' bathed
again. Bathing very seldom takes place on the feeding

1^2 The Wilson Bulletin — No. 88

ground, the action being delayed until the resting place is
reached. In one instance, however, a bird was seen to bathe
Avhile coming from its feeding ground.

Bathing is a very leisurely process at first, being merely a

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