Agassiz Association. Wilson Ornithological Chapter.

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dipping of the head under water, but soon increases in vigor,
being accompanied by much flapping of M'iugs and splashing
of water, followed in all instances by preening, whether or
not a preliminary preen was undergone before bathing com-
menced. In only one instance was bathing so vigorous as to
carry the bird completely under the surface.


Drinking takes place but seldom, only two instances having
been noted. The bird seen from December 14 to December
28, 1913, was seen to drink twice in rapid succession about
40 minutes after feeding, and another very hungry bird seen
March 13, 1914, was correspondingly thirsty, drinking again
and again between dives, often several times in succession.
Occasionally, however, the bill was merely dipped in the
water, the head not being thrown back nor the swallowing
reflex taking place afterward. Probabl}^ in most cases enough
water is taken in with the food.


Preening alwaA^s takes place after bathing, and occasionally
before, as I have said, and also at various intervals through-
out the day. The belly feathers are not given the same
attention that the other feathers are. In one instance the
bird would not preen these feathers until after it had climbed
out on a piling, and in another case the bird stood on its tail
in the water in the manner cited by IMillais. These were the
only instances noted, while the feathers of the back and sides
undergo a thorough preening continuously.


While the birds never come out on the shore, keeping
strictly to the water, a bit of piling stuck in the bottom of

The Kentucky Warbler 123

a lagoon in a slanting direction, with only a portion of the
top out of water, was made much use of by one bird to preen
and rest. AVhile on the piling, however, the bird Avas always
more or less alert, seeming to realize that it w' made by a gull, Avhich bird
may have been the cause of the Old-squawk's deatlL although
it does not appear likely. Dead birds have been found in
all winters except that of 1912-1913, the mildest of all. But
not even in the severest winters have I found a l)ii-d that was
starved to skin and bones, although besides the adult male
just referred to, none of them possessed any fat.


By H. W. We:isgerber, Salem, Ohio.

I am fully convinced that the Kentucky AVarbler is tirmly
establishing itself along the northern boundry of Columbiana
County, for a bird could scarcely appear for three successive
years in a given locality and not continue to do so. provided,
of course, that conditions remained the same.


Till' iii'ST is on the .i;i-iMiiid bcm nth the stick, .'is inrliintril hy vivr]

The Kp:ntucky Warbler 125

My first experience with the species was on May 5, 1907,
which was during tlie early years of my bird study career.
But l)efore going- on I wish to relate a rather funny incident
with that first observation. It was on a lovely Sundaj^ after-
noon and T had gone to the woods — just for a walk and with-
out my opera glasses — not expecting to find anything rare.
I found the bird nnder the thick cover of brush in a low, wet
spot in the woods. Across my path lay a large, partly
decayed hickory log with a few short stubs of limbs still upon
it. The bird was feeding about the earth-bank that still hid
the bnried roots, and in order to get a better view of it I
stepped upon the log and then leaned rather heavily with
my left hand upon one of the decayed limbs. Well, suddenly,
and without warning, the limb gave way and I found myself
astride the log, looking m the opposite direction from where
the bird was feeding. As might be expected, the bird flew
away and I failed to find him again.

It Avas in the height of the migration season of 1912 that
I again saAv him ; this time in woodland nearer the city, I
listed him several times during the "season," after which I
did not visit the woods until fall. I had the same experience
with him during the "season" of 1913, and while I suspected
a breeding pair, I never found more than one bird — the
male for he was in song.

During the 1914 "season" I had a collaborator, Mr. J. F.
]Machwart, of the high school faculty, whose great desire was
to ""list" a Kentucky Warbler, and very fortunately he found
it on a rainy morning when I was not wdth him. I listed
the bird the next morning and about every other morning
during the "season." It was some time after the migration
season that Mr. Maciiwart reported that he had seen a Ken-
tucky Warbler with nesting material in her beak and that she
was very much concerned about his presence.

On the afternoon of June 13th I was "hunting" with a
caiuei-a. and while waiting for a Red-eyed Yireo to return to
her nest a pair of Kentucky Warblers were greatly excited.
This was the first time that I had ever seen a pair.

After she had disappeared in a brush pile she went to the

Photo by II. W. Welsgerher, Salem, Oliio

The Kenticky AVarblkr 127

nest with food. Then it was found out that 1 had been
sitting within 10 feet of her nest and onee during that time
she liad perched upon the stick al)ove the I did not see
it (hiring my first hunt for it. At tliis time the young birds
were only a few days old and S(iuii'ined so much that they
spoiled the negative of the nest.

I notified Mr. George L. Fordyce, of Youngstown, Ohio, of
my find, and on the 18th he and ]Mr. John L. Young came to
Salem and got to see the old and young birds. At this time,
too. I obtained the negative of the young in the nest, for
they were old enough to remain perfectly quiet.

On the next visit to the place the nest was empt^^ and I
trust that the young made a safe getaway. Later I got the
nest and brought it home. It is a rather bulky affair com-
pjosed of dead leaves, the most of which no doubt were on
the ground and were simply pushed aside, while the nest
proper is composed of wild grapevine bark, grass and rootlets
with a lining of very fine rootlets and many horse hairs.

Prof. Wells W. Cooke, of the biological survey, in acknowl-
edging my report says: "You are to be congratulated on
finding the nest of the Kentucky warbler. It is a very rare
bird in northeastern Ohio. We have probably six or ten
records of it at different times and places, but no actual
finding of the nest. ' '

And here's a wish that they may continue to come and
multiply and spread over adjacent districts so that other
observers may list them. And in concluding may I suggest
that the casual observer look closely at what he thinks are
i\Iaryland yellowthroats that he finds in the thick underbrush
of the woodlands, and follow up all "oven-bird" songs that
sound the least bit off tune? I verily believe that many
observers have missed the Kentucky warbler on the two above

128 The Wilson Bulletin — No. 88

By George Finlay Simmons.

For several j'ears past, the writer has taken a particular
interest in the migratory movements of the more common
birds at Houston, Harris County, in southeastern Texas. Dur-
ing the spring migration of 1914, he made semi-weekly one-
day trips into the woodlands and fields within a mile or two
of the city limits with the special object of ascertaining as
near as possible what relation, if any, existed between bird
migration at Houston and the sudden changes of weather at
that point.

It is to be regretted that trips could not be made each day
during that season and the exact dates of arrival and depar-
ture ascertained. But the results obtained satisfy the writer
that, as Prof. Wells W. Cooke has already stated,^ local
weather conditions on the day of arrival are minor factors iji
determining the appearance of a species at that place and
time, and that the major factors in the problem are th(3
weather conditions far to the southward, where the night's
flight began.

The writer does find, however, that local weather condi-
tions greatly affect the dates of departure of our migrants for
their more northern summer homes, thus further strengthen-
ing the theor}^ set forth in the last clause of the preceding

Faunal Position. — Harris County, of which Houston is the
county seat, lies well within the semitropic or Gulf strip of
the Austroriparian zone of southeastern Texas. Houston
lies on Buffalo Bayou in the southeast-central part of the

With very few exceptions, the notes were all taken on the
south side of Buffalo Bayou, a coastal prairie region Avith few
farms or ranches ; the only timber in this section lies in strips
from a quarter to a half mile Avide along Buffalo and Bray's

1 CookP. "Wells W. The Relation of Bird Jligration to the AA'eather. Auk,
Vol. XXX, April, 1013, pp. 1'05-221. Cf. first parag-raph, p. 20.-,.

Spring Migration (1914) at Houston, Tex. 129

Bayous, both of which How eastward toward Galveston Bay,
the latter skirting the city on the south and joining the former
a few miles to the east. The remainder of the country is
flat, uncultivated prairie, sprinkled with small ponds or
grassy marshes.

A line drawn nortli and south through Houston Avould be
the center of the United Stat(^s; the city itself is a little
south of New Orleans, Louisiana, and St. Augustine. Florida,
and more than 200 miles south of California's southern

The majority of the walks were taken in two directions;
the first to the west of the city along the Buffalo Bayou
woods, the timber to the right and the prairie to the left, and
the second to the south of the city, passing Bray's Bayou and
its narrow strips of timber just after leaving Houston, and
then across the extensive prairie to Taylor's Ranch. Ti/o miles
south of Houston.

Weather Conditions. — It would Ix' far too tedious and of
no especial value to go into details of the weather conditions,
but before the reader can realize the truth of Prof. Cooke's
theories as seconded by this paper, he must appreciate the
unusual conditions Avhich accompanied the migration.

January was 4.9° warmer than is usual for this month, the
mean temperature being 58°, with the lowest at 32' and high-
est at 79°.

February was 1.4° warmer than is usual, tlie mean for
the month being 53°. Notwithstanding the fact that this con-
dition occurred, on seven days the mercury dropped suddenly
to 32°, on the 7th falling to 24°, the coldest day of the whole

On the other hand, March was 4.2° colder than usual, the
mercury ranging from 36° to 80°, with a meaDi of 59°.

The mean temperature for April was 68°, 1.7° below the
general average; lowest 38° and highest 86°.

Although the winter was quite dry, the whole of the migra-
tion season was unusually rainy, and during the early part
of May the region was nearly flooded by the unusually heavy
downpours. When one takes into consideration that, though

130 The Wilson Bulletin — No. 88

over 50 miles from the Gnlf of Mexico, Houston's altitude is
but 53 feet, and that the country is flat and the drainage
bad, one can understand how unfavorable to the student of
birds were the general weather conditions. For weeks after
even the slightest shower water stands in the woodlands and
on the prairies, making it almost impossible during the rainy
season to leave the graded roads.

The Migration. — Houston lies in the "fly-line" of birds
which skirt tiie western coast of the Gulf o£ Mexico, follow-
ing the tropical and semitropical coast regions northward,
and proceed up the Mississippi Valley and across the great
plains. Furthermore, it catches many of the migrants
which reach the ITnited States by flying across the Gulf of

Generally during the last week of Febrviary migrating
Blackbirds, ]\ieadowlarks and Graekles are observed, but this
year on account of the unsettled condition of the weather none
were noted until the first of March. In fact, only one migrant
was noted before March 1, the Purple Martin. It Avas first
observed February 22, but retreated immediately and was not
seen again until the return of real spring Aveather, about
March 15.

Though the season was late in commencing, and the weather
colder than usual, when it did start it came with a rush, for
the greater part of the migrants arrived slightly earlier. The
colder weather and excessive rains, especially in the early
part of JMay, seemed to have the efl^ect of detaining for a
longer period the birds which summer north of the region
under consideration.

Few water birds were noted, for I had not the time to
make extensive trips into the wilder sections of the county.

The following list graphically illustrates the migration of
1914 at Houston, the species being arranged according to the
order of their arrival from the south :^

-' The onlv papers on the birds of the region are:

Nehrling, H. List of Birds Observed at Houston, Harris County, Texas,
and Vicinity, and in the Counties Montgomery, Galveston and Fort Bend. Bull.
Nutt. Orn. Club, Vol. VII, 1882, 3 parts.

Singlev, .J. A. Notes on the Birds of Galveston Island. Texas Birds,
Report of Texas Geol. Survey, Austin, 1893, pp. 3.55-363.

"■ S. R. denotes summer resident.

Spring Migration (1914) at Houston, Tex. 131

Arrival. Departure.

Feb. 22. Purple Martin S. B.

March 1. Sprague 's Pipit March 28

March 14. Mississippi Kite S. R.

March 14. Sycamore Warbler S. R

March 15. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher S. R.

March 21. Upland Plover May 7

March 21. Swallow-tailed Kite S. R.

March 21. Crested Flycatcher S. R.

March 21. Black and White Warbler April 18

March 21. Western Parula Warbler May 7

March 21. Northern Yellow-throat May 12

March 21. Wood Thrush S. R.

March 23. Scissor-tailed Flycatcher S. R.

March 24. Chimney Swift S. R.

March 26. Bank Swallow May 10

March 26. Rough-winged Swallow May 7

March 28. Ruby-throated Hummingbird S. R.

March 28. Kingbird S. R.

March 28. Yellow-throated Yireo S. R.

March 28. White-eyed Yireo S. R.

March 28. Cerulean Warbler April 21

March 28. Black-throated Green Warbler May 16

March 28. Hooded Warbler May 9

March 28. Redstart May 9

March 29. Florida Red-wing S. R.

March 29. Red-eyed Yireo S. R.

March 30. Cliff Swallow May 2

4. Least Bittern S. R.

4. Swainson 's Hawk April 4

4. Whippoorwill ^ . . . . April 11

4. Summer Tanager S. R.

4. Prothonotary Warbler S. R.

4. Orange-crowned Warbler May 3

4. Yellow-breasted Chat S. R.

5. Baltimore Oriole April 11

11. Green Heron S. R.

11. Solitary Sandpiper May 16

11. Wood Pewee S. R,

11. Orchard Oriole S. R.

11. Painted Bunting S. R.

11. Scarlet Tanager May 2

11. Blue-winged Warbler April 11

1 1. Nashville Warbler May 9

11. Kentucky Warbler May 10


132 The Wilson Bulletin — No. 88


Gliuek-will 's-widow S. E.

Blue Grosbeak S. E.

Magnolia Warbler May 16

Barn Swallow S. E.

Worm-eating Warbler April 15

Yellow-billed Cuckoo . . . < S. E.

Least Flycatcher May 10

Indigo Bunting May 16

Yellow Warbler May 23

Grinnell 's Water Thrush May 9

Catbird May 10

Olive-backed Thrush May 9

Florida Nighthawk S. B.

Green-crested Flycatcher S. E.

Diekscissel S. E.

Ovenbird April 19

Virginia Eail May 2

Sora Eail May 9

Black Eail. April 21

Blaekburnian Warbler May 2

Wilson 's Warbler May 2

Willow Thrush May 9

Bobolink May 2

Eose-breasted Grosbeak April 26

Chestnut-sided Warbler April 26

Maryland Yellow-throat S. E.

Canada Warbler May 9

Bay-breasted Warbler May 2

White-rumped Saudi:>iper May 10

The following list gives the M'inter resident species and the
dates on which they were last seen :

Short-eared Owl March 28

Fox Sparrow March 28

Bewick 's Wren March 28

Short-billed Marsh Wren March 28

Brown Creeper March 28

Sparrow Hawk March 29

Tree Swallow March 29

White-rumped Shrike March 30

Sapsucker April 4

Phoebe April 4

Eed-winged Blackbird April 4



3 2.

























































Spring Migration (1914) at Houston, Tex. 133

Goldeu-erowned Kinglet April 4

Marsh Hawk April 11

Slate-eolored Junco April 11

White-breasted Nuthatch April 11

Hermit Tliriish April 11

Northern Flicker April 26

White-erowued Sparrow April 26

Pipit April 26

Brown Thrasher April 26

Eobiu April 26

Kuby-crowned Kinglet May 2

Brewer 's Blackbird May 3

White-throated Sparrow May 3

Towhee May 3

Ijark Bunting May 3

Myrtle Warbler May 3

Western House Wren May 3


In the foregoing condensed migration report there are a
few species that need explanation. In addition to these,
there were species which could not be classified. For that
reason this section is added.

Several species sul)specifically doubtful have not yet been
positively determined. Hylocichla fusccscens salicicola might
be 11. f.fuscescens (Veery). It is not certain that Sitta caro-
linensis carolinensis is the form of White-breasted Nuthatch
that winters in southeastern Texas, but it is presumedly so.
Gcothlijpis trichas trichas occurs as a summer resident, and
G. t. hrachidactyla as a migrant ; I watched carefully the sum-
mer resident haunts of the bird and noted the day it was
first observed there, giving that date as the arrival of G. t.
trichas and considering all other birds as migrants and be-
longing to G. t. hrachidactyla.

1. Larus franllini. Franklin's Gull. — April 18 a scattered flock of
these Gulls was noted flying high overhead about a half mile west of
the city. Eighteen were in sight at one time, some moving northward
with slow, easy Aving strokes, while others were floating, circling and
shifting back and forth. During the course of that day I observed
no less than eighty. On the 19th a few more were noted as they
passed over the city. None were again seen until ^lay C, on which

134 The Wilson Bulletin — No. 88

day a flock of some thirty birds passed over the city. A third and last
flight was witnessed on May 16, composed of perhajis seventy of these
graceful birds.

2. Branta canadensis Jmtchinsii. Hutchin's Goose. — While walking
along a shell road just west of the city on April 18, I was extremely
surprised to observe a Goose of this species fly up from the prairie about
two hundred feet from the road and go flapping off to the south, at no
time rising over fifteen feet above the ground. It was probably due
to my careless method of observation that I had not observed the bird
before it took wing, for the only shelter in the prairie pasture from
whence it flew was the scattered growth of ' ' sage-brush ' ' hardly a
foot tall.

Both B. c. canadensis and B. c. Imtcliinsii occur as migrants and are
not uncommon in winter. Small flocks of from ten to thirty birds passed
over the city on various dates in March and early April (March 3, 9,
11, 27; April 4).

3. Grus mexicana. Sandhill Crane. — On March 10 a flock of about
thirty, and on March 18 a flock of eighteen, were noted as they passed
northward over the western edge of the city. On April 11 I witnessed
a truly astonishing flight. I was observing a number of small Warblers
in a patch of tall oaks on the edge of the Buffalo Bayou Avoods about a
mile west of the city limits, when my attention was attracted by strange
noises which I could not for the moment locate. And then I discovered
the source, a flock of about seventy Sandhill Cranes flying northward
about a hundred yards overhead; following this flock at a distance of
about three hv;ndred yards came a second and larger flock, numbering
perhaps two hundred birds. Yet a third flock followed at some distance,
numbering approximately one hundred and twenty birds.

4. Creciseus jamaicensis. Black Kail. — On April 21, while beating
around in the sedge and tall grass of a tiny marsh about eight miles
south of Houston, looking for nests of the Louisiana Clapper Eail, I
nearly stepped on a small Eail which I at first took to be an early downy
bird of the Clapper variety. However, I soon recognized my mistake
and saw that the bird was the rare Black Eail; it ran just ahead of me
through the reeds and rushes for quite a distance, easily evading my
attempts to lay hands on it, until the edge of the marsh was reached,
there taking wing and flying about a hundred yards before dropping into
the next marsh.

The only other record for this region is that of Dr. Henry Nehrliug,
who states that one was taken April 29, 1879.

5. Gallinago delicata. Wilson's Snipe.- — Common winter resident on
the wet prairies and rice fields of the county; they began to move north-
ward about March 1, and were not at all uncommon in suitable localities
near the city from then until May 2, when the last two birds were
observed. They were most abundant and more distinctly migrating on

Spring Migration (1914) at Houston, Tex. 135

April 18, when inimbeis wei-e observed feeding along a shallow ditch
just west of Houston.

6. Fisohia maculata. Pectoral Sandpiper. — Quite a rare migrant on
the wet prairies and rice fields, but scarce near the city. Between March
7 and May 2, a few were noted feeding along the shillow ditch men-
tioned above, and a few in small flocks on the wet prairies.

7. PiscoMa fuscicollis. White-rumped Sandpiper. — May 9 a small
flock was noted on a small stretch of prairie just northeast of the
city, and the following day (May 10) on visiting the prairie west of the
city I observed numerous small flocks. That locality was well within
the city limits and but a short distance from the edge of the residence
district. Flock after flock passed and repassed me, their white rumps
standing out j^lainly as they wheeled this way and that.

8. Pisobia mimdiUa. Least Sandpiper. — Three were observed April
18, in company with a few Solitary Sandpipers along the small ditch
previously mentioned.

9. Elanoidcs forficaius. Swallow-tailed Kite; and

10. Ictinia misisippiensis. Mississippi Kite.— These two Kites, though
listed as summer residents, should more properly be stated to occur
irregularly during summer, for they are both very rare. Whenever noted,
the birds were seen singly and sailing rapidly overhead on motionless

11. Biilco phituplerus. Broad-winged Hawk.— From the few records
I have, I can hardly state just how the bird occurs. Generally they are
only noted during the spring migration, and then only rarely. This year
(1914) one was noted on the edge of the Buffalo Bayou woods west of
the city on March 21, and another in about the same locality April 18.

12. Asio wilsonianus. Long-eared Owl.— This year I had the pleasure
of examining an odoriferous specimen of this bird shot March 19 in the
deep woods on Buffalo Bayou a few miles west of the city, and called
to my attention two days later by the negro who caused the avieide,
though not until the body had been shorn of its wings and consigned to
the scrap heap. This is my second record for the region.

13. CJiordeiles virginianus chapmani. Florida Nighthawk. — The migra-
tion of Nighthawks during my five years in the vicinity of Houston has
been of particular interest to me because of the regularity of first
arrivals. My belief that they arrive each year on the 19th of April has
thus far held true, on that day a single bird being seen as it flew high

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