Florence Merriam Bailey.

Handbook of birds of the western United States : including the Great Plains, Great Basin, Pacific Slope, and lower Rio Grande Valley online

. (page 29 of 65)
Online LibraryFlorence Merriam BaileyHandbook of birds of the western United States : including the Great Plains, Great Basin, Pacific Slope, and lower Rio Grande Valley → online text (page 29 of 65)
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Distribution. The only specimens known came from the Huachuca
Mountains, Arizona.


436. Stellula calliope Gould. CALLIOPE HUMMINGBIRD.

Six middle tail feathers contracted in the middle and widened at end ;
adult male with feathers of chin and throat narrow, those on the
outside of the ruff elongated ; base of ruff white.

Adult male. Gorget rose purplish, white bases giving effect
of streaking ; upper parts metallic green ; tail feathers dusky,
bases edged with rufous, tip wider than base ; under parts white ;
sides tinged with brown and green. Adult female : upper parts bronzy
green ; tail rounded and tail feathers greenish gray basally with touch of
rufous, black-banded, and tipped with white, except middle pair, which
are green, ending in dusky. Young : similar, but under parts washed with
rufous, throat specked with dusky. Male : length 2.75-3.00, wing 1.50-




From Ridgwtty, Smithsonian.
Fig. 320. Calliope Hummingbird.

1.60, tail .90-1.10, exposed culraen .55-.5S.
Female: length 3.50, wing 1.75-1.80, tail
1.10-1.15, bill .58-60.

Remarks. This is the smallest humming-
bird in the United States, and may be distin-
guished by its size together with the large
amount of rufous on its under parts and the
small amount on its tail.

Distribution. Breeds in Canadian and
perhaps Transition zone in western moun-
tains from British Columbia to southern Cali-
fornia, and east to Colorado ; migrating as far
south as mountains of Guerrero, Mexico.

Nest. Willow down, protectingly col-
ored with bits of bark and shreds of cone,
placed on or against a dry cone or dead
limb of a pine. Eggs : 2, white.

"The Calliope hummingbird is the smallest of the Trochilidm
found within the United States. It is a mountain-loving species,
and during the breeding season is rarely met with below altitudes
of 4000 feet, and much more frequently between 6500 to 8000 feet.
Its favorite resorts are the open timber found about the edges of
mountain meadows and parks, and the rocky hillsides covered here
and there with straggling pines and small aspen groves." (Bendire.)

At*Fort Sherman, Idaho, Dr. Merrill says its arrival in spring is
coincident with the blossoming of the wild hawthorn.


437. Ca-lothorax Lucifer (Swains.). LUCIFER HUMMINGBIRD.

Bill distinctly curved ; tail forked, three outer feathers narrow ; females
with tail double-rounded and deeply emarginate.

Adult male. Bill long and curved ; gorget elongated on sides, metallic
lilac, or violet purple ; upper parts bronzy
green ; forked tail with narrow outer f eath-
ers purplish black, four middle feathers
green; median under parts white; sides
green and rufous. Adult female : similar, but
bronzy green above, under parts plain pale
rufous ; tail less deeply forked than in male
and feathers broader, the three outer ones ru-
"^V^^ f otis at base and white at tip. Male : length

H^ 8.40-3.60, wing 1.40-1.60, tail 1.25-1.35,

j^ exposed culmen .85 .90. Female : wing 1.65-

H ira/' LSO > tail 1-20-1.25, exposed culmen .75-.90.

Remarks. The female may be distin-
y* ^^ guished by its curved bill.

Distribution. From western Texas and
southern Arizona south to the city of Mexico
and Puebla.

Nest. Cotton or thistle down covered
with scales of white lichen. Eggs : 2, white.

from Kidgway, Smithsonian.

Fig. 321.
Food. Insects found in flowers of agaves and other plants.


In the Chisos Mountains in western Texas Mr. Bailey found the
Lucifer hummer with several other species common in June about the
big agaves, which were then in full flower.


General Characters. Nasal scale large and swollen, nasal slit entirely
exposed ; bill light-colored, dark-tipped, broad and flattened at base ; tail
forked or eraarginate ; sexes alike.


1. Upper tail coverts brown tzacatl, p. 243.

1'. Upper tail coverts green chalconota, p. 243.

438. Amizilis tzacatl (De la Llave). RIEFFER HUMMINGBIRD.
Adults. Whole body dark peacock green except belly, which is brown-
ish gray ; wings purplish ; square tail and its coverts chestnut, tail feathers
marked with bronze. Young : similar, but xump tinged with rufous and
forehead washed with rusty. Length: 4, wing 2.00-2.35, tail 1.45-1.70,
exposed culmen .70-.90.

Distribution. From the valley of the Lower Rio Grande in Texas south
through Central America to Ecuador.

Nest. Grass and plant fiber covered with green moss, often in orange,
lemon, or lime trees, 4 or 5 feet from the ground. Eggs : 2, white.

The Rieffer hummingbird is a Central American species apparently
only straggling across the Mexican line in Texas.

439. Amizilis cerviniventris chalconota (Oberh.). BUFF-


Adults. Upper parts mainly light bronzy green, upper tail coverts green ;
tail forked, brown, feathers (except outer) tipped with bronzy or violet ;
throat green ; rest of under parts buffy brown. Length : 4.00-4.50, wing
2.15-2.30, tail 1.50-1.70, exposed culmen, .70-.80.

Distribution. From the lower Rio Grande Valley, Texas, south in win-
ter to eastern Mexico.

Nest. In bushes or small trees, made of shreds of vegetable fiber, lined
usually with thistle down ; covered with bits of blossoms, lichen, and shreds
of bark fastened by spider web.

"The buff -bellied hummingbird proves to be an abundant summer
visitor, and I have nowhere found it so abundant as on the military
reservation at Fort Brown. Here it seems perfectly at home among
the dense tangled thickets, darting rapidly among the bushes and
creeping vines, and is with difficulty obtained. A rather noisy bird,
its shrill cries usually first attract one's attention to its presence."
(Dr. Merrill, quoted by Bendire.)


440.1. Basilinna leucotis (VieilL). WHITE-EARED HUMMING-

Nostrils exposed ; tail emarginate, the feathers broad and rather stiff ;
tarsus densely feathered.



Adult male. Forehead and chin deep blue, throat and upper parts of
chest metallic emerald green ; a conspicuous white stripe behind eye ; tail
mainly blackish. Adult female and young : under parts gray, spotted with
green ; head marked with stripes as in male ; middle tail feathers entirely
green or bronzy, the others black, the outer pairs tipped with grayish.
Length: 3.25-3.40, wing 2.00-2.30, tail 1.30-1.50, exposed culmen .65-68.

Distribution. From mountains of southeastern Arizona, south to Nica-

Food. Insects found in honeysuckles and other flowers.

In the Chiricahua Mountains Dr. Fisher found a white-eared hum-
mingbird on a bush of the wild honeysuckle from which the other
hummingbirds of the neighborhood the broad-tailed, Rivoli, and
blue-throated were regularly feeding.


441. lache latirostris (Swains.). BROAD-BILLED HUMMINGBIRD.

Bill wide at base ; tail deeply emarginate in male, less so in female.
Adult male: gorget, peacock blue; rest of body metallic green, some-
times bronzy on back ; tail blue black, tipped with gray. Adult female :
upper parts green, becoming gray on fore-
head ; under parts soiled grayish ; tail with
middle feathers and basal half of outer green,
corners blue black tipped with gray ; a whit-
ish streak behind eye, with dusky streak below
it. Young male : similar to adult female,
but tail as in male ; lower tail coverts white,
feathers of upper parts edged with buff ; new
feathers on throat bluish green, becoming
more bluish toward chin. Young female :
similar to adult, but feathers of upper parts
bordered with pale buff. Male : length 3.50-
3.75, wing 2.00-2.20. tail 1.35-1.50 (forked
for .25-35), bill .75-.S5. Female: length
3.88-4.10, wing 2.00-2.15, tail 1.25-1.30
(forked for .15), bill .7S-.85.

Distribution. From mountains of south-
ern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico
south to the city of Mexico.

Nest. Saddled to a drooping twig made of bark and plant fibers, out-
side decorated with strips of bark, fine stems, and lichen.

In Arizona where Mr. Stephens found the broad -billed humming-
birds they were always near water, usually along streams in high
mountain canyons. They perched on dead twigs where they could
command a view, apparently preferring sycamores to other trees.
He describes their notes as flat, differing from those of other hum-

Fig. 322.






441.1. Platypsaris albiventris (Lawr.). XANTUS BECARD.

Nostrils partly hidden by bristly feathers ; tip of bill slightly hooked ;
second quill in male small or rudimentary.
Adult male : throat mainly rose pink ; rest of
under parts gray, fading 1 to white below ;
top of head black ; rest of upper parts slate
gray, paler on forehead and back of, neck.
Adult female and young male : top of head slaty ; rest of upper parts brown-
ish gray or grayish brown ; under parts shading from deep brown to
whitish. Length : 6.50-7.00, wing 3.40-3.68, tail 2.70-3.00, exposed cul-
men, .5S-.65.

Distribution. Western Mexico ; recorded from Huachuca Mountains,

As Mr. W. W. Price found an adult male becard in the Huachuca
Mountains, Arizona, in breeding plumage, apparently accompanied
by its mate, the interesting birds will doubtless be found breeding in
the mountains of southern Arizona.



1. Tail edged or tipped with white.

2. Tail deeply forked Muscivora, p. 246.

2'. Tail not forked Tyrannus, p. 247.

1'. Tail not edged or tipped with white.

2. Upper mandible curved on both edges .... Ornithion, p. 265.
2 '.Upper mandible straight for most of its length.

3. Tail marked with rufous or rusty (except sometimes Myiarchus

lawrencei olivascens).

4. Breast ash gray in contrast to yellow belly. Myiarchus, p. 251.
4'. Breast yellow like belly ; throat white.

5. Streaked Myiodynastes, p. 250.

5'. Not streaked Fitangus, p. 250.

3' . Tail not marked with rufous or rusty.

4. Wing at least six times as long as tarsus . . Contopus, p. 256.
4'. Wing not more than five times as long as tarsus.

5. Sexes different, male scarlet, females and young grayish
brown Fyrocephalus,p. 264.


5 . Sexes similar, largely olivaceous, brown, or black.

6. Wing more than 3.25 , . Sayornis, p. 254.

6'. Wing less than 3.25 Empidonax, p. 259.


General Characters. Outer primary cut out ; tail deeply forked ; bill
flattish, notched, and hooked ; feet small and weak.


1. 3 or 4 primaries emarginate tyrannus, p. 246.

1'. Only 1 primary emarginate forficata, p. 246.

[442.] 'Muscivora tyrannus (Linn.). FORK-TAILED FLYCATCHER.

Adult male. Tail black, long, and forked, outer feathers edged with
white ; under parts pure white ; head black, with concealed yellow patch ;
back gray ; wings blackish brown, with grayish edgings. Adult female :
similar, but smaller, tail shorter, and yellow crown patch restricted.
Young : like adults, but tail shorter, sometimes scarcely forked, colors
duller, wing coverts bordered with rusty, and crown patch absent. Male :
length 12.00-14.50, wing 4.10-4.75, tail 9-10.

Distribution. From southern Mexico south through Central America
and most of South America ; accidental in the United States (Mississippi,
Kentucky, New Jersey, and southern California).

Nest. Of soft materials, often almost entirely wool, lined with thistle
down, which is cemented with gum, making a hard smooth bottom. Eggs :
4, cream color, spotted chiefly at the larger end with chocolate.

Food. Aerial insects ; also elderberries and other small fruits.

The fork-tailed flycatcher is only an accidental straggler in the
United States.

443. Muscivora forficata (Gmel). SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCH-

Adult male : Tail forked, white, tipped with black ; body ash gray, whiter
on throat ; wings blackish ; under wing coverts, axillars, and tail coverts
salmon ; head with concealed red spot and upper parts marked with red.
Adult female: similar, but smaller; tail shorter and colors duller. Young:
like adult female, but crown patch wanting. Male: length 12-15, wing
4.40-5.15, tail 7-10.

Distribution. Breeds in Lower Sonoran zone from southwestern Mis-
souri to western Texas ; migrates to Costa Rica ; straggling rarely to Mani-
toba and Hudson Bay (York Factory).

Nest. Generally 5 to 15 feet from the ground, in open situations,
preferably mesquite, but also other trees and thorny bushes; made
usually of fine rootlets and plant stems lined with plant fibers, wool, and
feathers ; but sometimes of gray moss, cotton, rags, and seaweed. Eggs :
usually 5, generally clear white, marked with browns and purples.

Food. Moths, butterflies, beetles, grasshoppers, locusts, crickets, cot-
ton-worms, and some berries.

In visiting the southwestern prairie country the scissor-tail is one
of the first new birds you notice. Discovering him first perched on
the chaparral you are struck by his long white tail and glistening
black, white, and salmon plumage. In perching, the tail is closed



thin, and the black of the wings contrasts well with the bright sal-
mon sides. He sits quietly like any every-day bird, giving only an
occasional bee-bird like note, till suddenly up he darts into the air,
and with delighted wonder you watch his odd figure and odder
gyrations in the sky.

One of his favorite performances is to fly up and, with rattling
wings, execute an aerial seesaw, a line of sharp-angled VWWVV's,
helping himself at the short turns by rapidly opening and shutting
his long white scissors. As he goes up and down he utters all the
while a penetrating scream, ka-quee -ka-quee -ka-quee -ka-quee -ka-
quee . the emphasis being given each time at the top of the ascending

Frequently when he is passing along with the even flight of a
sober-minded crow and you are quietly admiring the salmon lining
of his wings, he shoots rattling into the air, and as you stare
after him, drops back as suddenly as he rose. He does this appar-
ently because the spirit moves him, as a boy slings a stone at the
sky, but fervor is added by the appearance of a rival or an enemy,
for he is much like a Tyrannus in his masterful way of controlling
his landscape. He will attack caracaras and white-necked ravens,
lighting on their backs and giving them vicious blows while scream-
ing in their ears.


General Characters. Adults with a bright-colored concealed crown
patch ; feet small and weak ; tarsus not longer than middle toe with
claw ; bill notched and hooked, broad at base, its width at nostrils much
more than half the distance from nostril to tip ; adults with outer quills
abruptly narrowed at tip.


1. Under parts white tyrannus, p. 247.

1'. Under parts yellow.
2. Tail even.

3. Primaries with gradually narrowed tips . . verticalis, p. 248.

3'. Primaries with abruptly narrowed tips . . vociferans, p. 249.

2'. Tail decidedly emarginate couchii, p. 248.

444. Tyrannus tyrannus (Linn.}. KINGBIRD.

Adults. Under parts and band on end of tail pure white ; head and tail
black ; rest of upper parts slate gray ; middle of crown with a concealed
patch of orange red. Young : crown patch wanting and colors duller, wing
and tail coverts edged with brownish, tail band and chest tinged with
brownish. Length: 8-9, wing 4.45-4.75, tail 3.40-3.75, bill from nostril
.50-. 57.

Distribution. Breeds in Transition and Sonoran zones of temperate
North America from the British Provinces chiefly east of the Rocky
Mountains to the southern border of the United States. Not recorded
from Arizona. Migrates to middle and South America.



From Biological Survey, U. S. Dept. of

Fig. 324. Kingbird.

Nest. Made largely of weed stems, twine, wool, or Spanish moss, lined
with grass, rootlets, and horsehair, placed in bushes or trees 4 to 40 feet

from the ground. Egys : 3 or 4, from
white to rose pink, spotted or blotched
with brown or lavender.

Food. Principally grasshoppers,
crickets, butterflies, weevils, wild bees,
wasps, caterpillars, and gadflies.

In general habits the eastern king-
bird resembles the western members
of the Tyrannus family, though more
commonly a bird of the garden and

He has been accused of eating
honey-bees, but in the stomach ex-
aminations made by the Depart-
ment of Agriculture, of 218 only
14 contained any trace of honey-
bees, and nearly all these were drones. Ninety per cent, of his food
consists of insects, mostly injurious kinds.

446. Tyrannus melancholicus couchii (Baird). COUCH KING-


Adult male. Belly brilliant yellow, fading through greenish gray to
white on throat and under tail coverts ; upper parts gray washed with
green ; wings and tail brownish edged with whitish, tail notched ; concealed
orange patch on head. Adult female : similar, but smaller, tail less notched
and crown patch restricted. Young : like female, but without crown patch,
yellow duller, and wing coverts bordered with buffy. Length : (male) 9-
10, wing 4.40-5.00, tail 3.75-4.40.

Distribution. From the valley of the lower Rio Grande in Texas south
to Guatemala.

Nest. As described by Sennett, Spanish moss and twigs, lined with
rootlets ; placed near the end of a horizontal limb on a large elm. Eggs :
3 or 4, creamy pink, blotched with brown and purple over whole surface,
or in wreath around larger end.

447. Tyrannus verticalis Say. ARKANSAS KINGBIRD.

Adult male. Upper parts and breast light ash gray ; throat paler ; belly
lemon yellow ; tail black, outer web of outer feather
abruptly white ; wings brown, end of long quills with
gradually narrowed points ; concealed crown patch
red. Adult female: similar, but tips of outer quills
less narrowed and crown patch restricted. Young :
like adults, but crown patch wanting and colors
duller, wing coverts bordered with buffy. Length :

Fig. 325.

8.00-9.50, wing 4.75-5.25, tail 3.65-4.00, bill from nostril .50-.55.

Remarks. Verticalis, though very similar to vofciferans, can be distin-
guished in the field by the abruptly white and sharply contrasting outer
edge of the black tail, and in the hand by the attenuated wing feathers.

Distribution. Breeds in Transition and Upper Sonoran zones of west-
ern United States from Nebraska and Kansas to the Pacific; and from



Assinlboia and British Columbia south through Lower California ; migrates
through western Mexico to Guatemala.

Nest. In bushes or trees usually not far from the ground, made of
twigs, weed stems, plant fibers, rootlets, wool, cocoons, hair, feathers,
string, thistle down, and paper. Eggs: usually 4, similar to those of Tyran-
nus tyrannus.

Food. Mainly grasshoppers, with moths, butterflies, flies, winged ants,
caterpillars, and large black crickets.

The Arkansas kingbird is a masterful, positive character, and when
you come into his neighborhood you are very likely to know it, for
he seems to be always screaming and scrimmaging. If he is not over-
head twisting and turning with wings open and square tail spread
so wide that it shows the white lines that border it, he is climbing
up the air claw to claw with a rival, falling to ground clinched with
him, or dashing after a hawk, screaming in thin falsetto like a scis-
sor-tail flycatcher. A passing enemy is allowed no time to loiter
but driven from the field with impetuous onslaught and clang of
trumpets. Be he crow, hawk, or owl, he is escorted to a safe dis-
tance, sometimes actually ridden by the angry kingbird, who, like
the scissor-tail, enforces his screams with sharp pecks on the back.

When there is no one within scrapping distance he may be seen
perching on a meadow fence or telegraph wire, for he is a bird of
the open country. When perched he is on the lookout for insects,
and dashes out for one to soar back on outspread wings and tail,
shrieking triumphantly as he comes. His notes have the thin high
pitch and something of the emphasis and iteration of the coyote.

448. Tyrannus vociferans Swains. CASSIN KINGBIRD.

Adults. Upper parts and breast dark gray, chin abruptly white ; belly
lemon yellow ; tail dull black indistinctly
tipped with grayish, outer web of outer feather
indistinctly edged with grayish ; wing with tips
of longest primaries abruptly cut out ; crown with
concealed red patch. Young : duller, wing
coverts edged with rusty, crown patch wanting.

326 Length: 8.75-9.00, wing 5.00-5.40, tail 3.70-

4.20, bill from nostril .55-.60.

Distribution. Breeds irregularly in Transition, but chiefly in Upper
and Lower Sonoran zones from the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains
to southern Wyoming, western Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, and from
Oregon south to L*>wer California and the mountains bordering the Mexi-
can tablelands ; straying south to Costa Rica.

Nest. Bulky, of similar materials to that of verticalis, placed generally
20 to 40 feet from the ground, near the end of a horizontal limb in syca-
more, cottonwood, or other tree. Eggs : 2 to 5, similar to those of Tyran-
nus tyrannus.

Food. Mainly insects, including grasshoppers, locusts, and caterpillars.

The Cassin kingbird, Major Bendire says, is neither as noisy nor as
quarrelsome as the Arkansas. Though it nests in the valleys with


the Arkansas, it also breeds at higher altitudes, and is, apparently,
more a bird of the mountains.


449. Pitangus derbianus (Kaup). DERBY FLYCATCHER.!

Bill as long- as head, straight, narrow ; wings rounded ; tail shorter
than wings, nearly even ; tarsus about as long as middle toe and claw ;
under parts, except for white throat, and including under wing coverts,
hright sulphur yellow ; top and sides of head black, separated by white
line which incloses black crown ; crown erectile, with partly concealed
yellow center ; rest of upper parts brown, rufous on wings and tail.
Length: 10-11, wing 4.90-5.10, tail 3.90-4.00, exposed culmen 1.15-1.25.

Distribution. Breeds from Central America to the lower Rio Grande
Valley in Texas ; migrates to northern South America.

Nest. Dome-shaped, with entrance on the side, composed of such
coarse materials as straw and lichens ; placed usually on forks of branches
or thorny trees, 25 or 30 feet from the ground. Eggs : generally 5, light
cream color with small reddish specks.

Food. Mainly insects, but also small fish minnows.

The Derby flycatcher is rather a rare summer visitor in the lower
Rio Grande Valley in Texas.


451. Myiodynastes luteiventris Scl. SULPHUR-BELLIED FLY-

Bill turgid, broader than high at nostrils ; wings long and pointed ;
tail shorter than wings, nearly even ; feet small and weak. Adults : broad
blackish A from bill inclosing white throat patch ; rest of under parts sul-
phur yellow, streaked along sides ; upper parts brownish, streaked with black ;
head with concealed yellow crown patch and white or yellowish bands
over eye and along sides of throat ; rump and tail bright rufous ; bill very
broad. Young : without crown patch. Length : 7.75-8.00, wing 4.25-4.60,
tail 3.30-3.60, bill .80-.90.

Distribution. From the mountains of southern New Mexico and Ari-
zona south to Panama.

Nest. 25 to 50 feet from the ground, a hole in a sycamore, lined
thickly with stems of walnut leaves. Eggs : 3, creamy buff, profusely
blotched, principally around the larger end, with purple and reddish

Mr. Lusk, who found the sulphur-bellied flycatcher in Arizona,
states that they frequent streams bordered with large trees. " The
width and size of their bills, together with their short necks," he
says, " gives them a peculiar appearance even at a distance." Mr.
O. W. Howard found the birds very quiet during the breeding sea-
son, but bold and noisy afterwards. He compares their notes to the
squeaking of a wheelbarrow.

1 [450.] Myiozetetes similis supercttiosus (Bonap.). GIRAUD FLYCATCHER. This species
is omitted from doubt of Giraud's Texas record.



Fig. 327. Flycatqhers.

1. Crested Flycatcher. 2. Wood Pewee. 3. Phcebe. 4. Kingbird. 5. Least


General Characters. Head slightly crested by length-

Online LibraryFlorence Merriam BaileyHandbook of birds of the western United States : including the Great Plains, Great Basin, Pacific Slope, and lower Rio Grande Valley → online text (page 29 of 65)