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

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concealing black centers. Adult female in

fall and winter : like summer female, but

plumage softer, and sides of throat and chest

more grayish. Young female injirst autumn:

like fall adult female, but crown and hind

neck like back instead of gray, throat and

chest yellowish instead of grayish ; marks on

eyelids yellowish, and streak over lores pale

yellow. Male: length (skins) 4.67-5.44,

wing 2.34-2.56, tail 2.08-2.48, bill .43-.46.

Female : length (skins) 4.63-5.04, wing 2. 15-

2.36, tail 1.91-2.28. bill .42-.4S. Flg ' ^ Macgilhvray Warbler.

Distribution. Breeds in British Columbia and western United States,
from the eastern foothills of the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific coast
ranges ; winters in Lower California and Mexico, and from Central Amer-
ica to Colombia.

Nest. Near ground in clumps of weeds or bushes, often in open places
in mountains, made of dried grasses lined with finer grass, and sometimes
horsehair. Eggs : 3, white or buffy, speckled on larger end with dark
brown and lilac gray, with a few pen lines and rusty stains.

The Macgillivray warbler is one of the commonest of western war-
blers, frequenting chaparral and underbrush especially near water,
from the lower levels to the high mountains, and the appearance of
a little gray head peering out shyly from the bushes becomes a pleas-
antly familiar mountain sight.

681 a. Geothlypis trichas occidentalis Brewst. WESTERN


Adult male. Forehead and sides of head black, bordered above with
white, sometimes tinged with yellow ; rest of upper parts plain olive
green ; under parts deep yellow. In win-
ter, washed with brown. Adult female :
without black, ashy, or white ; upper parts
olive brown, often tinged with reddish
brown on crown, greenish on tail ; under
parts pale yellowish or yellowish white.
Young male in first winter : like adult, but
black mask less distinct. Male : length
(skins) 4.53-5.00, wing 2.17-2.36, tail 2.01-
2.22, bill .43-.47. Female : length (skins)
4.33-4.76, wing 2.05-2.15, tail 1.93-2.09,
bill .41-.43. Fig. 536.

1 Geothlypis trichas scirpicola Grinnell. TULE YELLOW-THBOAT.

Like occidentalis^ but brighter colored and larger, with longer tail.

Distribution. Resident in fresh water tule beds along coast of southern California.
(The Condor, Hi. 65.)

Geothlypis trichas sinuosa Grinnell. SALT MARSH YELLOW-THROAT.

Like occidentalis, but smaller, and back and sides darker.

Distribution. Resident about salt marshes of San Francisco Bay and vicinity. ( The
Condor, iii. 65.)


Distribution. Breeds from British Columbia to Arizona, and from the
Mississippi Valley to the Sierra Nevada and Cascades ; migrates to Central

Nest. On or near the ground, supported by weed or sedge stalks,
deeply cup shaped, usually with a thick foundation of grass or leaves, some-
times lined with hair. Eggs : often 4, white, finely speckled on larger end
with dark brown and black, sometimes with a few larger spots or lines.

The yellow -throats are found in damp brushy thickets, swampy
patches of rank vegetable growths, and tule marshes. As they
clamber over the stalks the little yellow birds stop to raise their odd
black-masked heads, and sing out a loud penetrating, ringing wreech-
ity, wreech-ity, wreech-ity, wreech-ity, which varies greatly with the
individual. In addition to this ordinary song they have an impas-
sioned love-song which they give in air with something of the excited
posturing of the chat.

The songs of the males are as conspicuous as their coats, and they
look out from their thickets upon passers-by with mild interest, but
their mates, with only the family chack and plain dull yellowish coats
are timid little creatures, and if they accidentally come to the edge
of their bush when you are by, slip back out of sight in a trice.

68 lc. G. t. arizela Oberh. PACIFIC YELLOW-THROAT.

Similar to occidentalis, but smaller, and with smaller bill, shorter wing
and tail, duller coloration, and white band on head narrower ; yellow of
under parts less orange. Male: length (skins) 4.49-4.92, wing 2.07-2.28,
tail 1.94-2.24, bill .S9-.43. Female: length (skins) 4.25-4.72, wing 2.00-
2.08, tail 1.89-1.97, bill .39.

Distribution. Pacific coast region from British Columbia to northern
Lower California, east to the Cascades and the Sierra Nevada ; south in
winter through Lower California and western Mexico.

Subgenus Chamsethlypis.

682.1. Geothlypis poliocephala ralphi Eidgw. Rio GRANDE

Adult male. Lores black; top of head bluish gray; rest of upper
parts olive green, tinged with gray, especially on tail ; under parts yellow,
becoming buffy whitish on belly and anal region. Male : length (skins)
5.16-5.63, wing 2.17-2.44, tail 2.20-2.64, bill .39-.47. Female: length
(skins) 5.0CW5.31, wing 2.00-2.16, tail 2.17-2.36, bill .43-.47.

Distribution. Lower Rio Grande Valley, in Texas.


683a, Icteria virens longicauda Latvr. LONG-TAILED CHAT.
Bill curved, stout, higher than broad at nostrils, without notch or bris-
tles ; wings much rounded ; tail long, feet
stout ; outside of tarsus almost without
scales ; tarsus decidedly longer than mid-
dle toe with claw, its scutella indistinct or
obsolete on outer side. Adults : throat and

breast vivid yellow ; belly white ; upper parts olive gray ; superciliary,


orbital ring, and malar stripe, white; lores, and line under eye black.
Young : upper parts olive ; lores gray instead of black ; throat whitish,
chest, sides, and flanks grayish ; rest of under parts white. Male : length
(skins) 6.26-7.28, wing 2.95-3.31, tail 3.01-3.39, bill .5S-.59. Female.
length (skins) 6.38-6.97, wing 2.87-3.15, tail 2.83-3.23, bill .53-.S9.

Distribution. Transition and Upper Sonoran zones, from British
Columbia south to Lower California and northern Mexico, and from the
Plains to the Pacific coast ; breeds south to Valley of Mexico ; United States
birds mainly migrate to southern Mexico.

Nest. In briery thickets, made largely of dry leaves, strips of grape-
vine bark, and grasses, lined with finer grasses. Eggs : 3 to 5, white or
pinkish, spotted with gray and shades of brown.

Food. Beetles and other insects, and berries.

The chat's coming in the spring is like the arrival of a brass band.
In Farmington, Utah, one May, when he appeared he fairly per-
vaded the village that is, his voice did his yellow-fronted person
was in sight just once, to my best knowledge. But as you went along
the streets he fairly shouted in your ears from inside dark thickets
behind fences. And if you appeared in front of the bush on which
he was singing, he would at once raise his voice from the next bush
behind ! And so he would lead you through bush and briar, skulk-
ing out of sight and crying as if consciously deriding your awkward
attempts at intrusion, So! ho! tut-tut-tut-tut-tut-tut-tut ! One of
his favorite amusements is to give a whistle, as if he were calling a
dog and meant to be obeyed. When not whistling, or scolding like
an oriole, calling like a cuckoo, or piping like a shrill-voiced rock
squirrel, he will bark like a dog.

The chat is not only moved to mock his neighbors, but performs
in most remarkable manner in his own proper person in air. Mr.
Torrey gives a good description of chat antics. " I caught the fel-
low," he says, "in the midst of a brilliant display of his clownish
tricks, ridiculous, indescribable. At a little distance it is hard to
believe that he can be a bird, that dancing, shapeless thing, bal-
ancing itself in the air with dangling' legs, and prancing, swaying


General Characters. Bill not more than half as long as head, broad
and flattened at base ; rictal bristles distinct ; wings pointed, longer than
tail ; tarsus decidedly longer than middle toe with claw.


1. Throat with black necklace ; crown gray . . canadensis, p. 428.
1'. Throat without black necklace ; crown black.

2. Upper parts brighter green, forehead often orange. Great Basin to

Pacific pileolata, p. 428.

2'. Upper parts duller green, forehead always yellow. From higher
Rocky Mountains northeast pusilla, p. 428.


685. Wilsonia pusilla ( Wils.}. WILSON WARBLER.

Similar to pileolata, but not so bright ; wings and tail shorter, bill broader
and darker colored. Male : length (skins) 4.05-4.45, wing 2.09-
2.64, tail 1.83-1.97, bill .2S-.35. Female: length (skins) 4.10-
4.45, wing 2.05-2.17, tail 1.81-1.95, bill .31-35.

Distribution. Breeds from the Hudson Bay region south to
Fig. 538. Maine ; migrates sometimes through the Rocky Mountain district
to eastern Mexico.

Nest. Imbedded in ground in swampy woods, made of leaves and
grasses, lined with finer grasses and hairs. Eggs : 4 or 5, white or creamy,
speckled with reddish brown and purplish.
Food. Largely winged insects.

685a. W. p. pileolata (Pa//.). PILEOLATED WARBLER.!

Adult male. Crown glossy blue black ; back bright yellowish olive
green ; under parts vivid yellow ; forehead often orange yellow. Adult
female : similar, but crown patch often wanting. Young : like adult
male, but black of crown nearly obscured by olive wash. Male : length
(skins) 4.13-4.49, wing 2.17-2.36, tail 1.85-2.05, bill .2S-.35. Female:
length (skins) 4.13-4.57, wing 2.15-2.24, tail 1.87-1.97, bill .30-.35.

Distribution. Breeds from the Great Basin to the Pacific, and north
to Alaska, migrating through western Texas to Costa Rica.

Nest. In willow thickets and among blackberry vines, on or near the
ground* made of willow leaves, weed stems, and grasses. Eggs : 2 to 4,
creamy, spotted with reddish and lilac over entire surface or around larger

Seen in migration when the dainty pileolated warbler has plenty
of leisure, his airy ways are peculiarly charming. He usually hunts
in low bushes, and as he suddenly appears through a chink in the
dull chaparral wall the intense brilliant yellow of the little beauty
set off by his shining jet black crown gives you a thrill of surprise
and delight.

He is winningly trustful and wilt come close to you and with
wings hanging turn his head and look up at you from under his
jaunty cap, then whip along with a jerk of his tail. As he goes he
stops to run up a twig, leans down to peck under a leaf, flutters
under a spray like a hummingbird, and then flies off singing his
happy song.

On his breeding grounds in the mountain meadows when feeding
young he has much to occupy his mind, and flies back and forth
through his willow thicket in a preoccupied way, giving his flat
chip and inspecting you with an anxious parental air in passing.

686. Wilsonia canadensis (Linn.), CANADIAN WARBLER.
Adult male. Under parts yellow ; throat bordered by black lines, and

1 Wilsonia pusilla chryseola Ridgway. GOLDEN PILEOLATED WAEBLEE.

Like pileolata, but slightly smaller and much brighter colored.

Distribution. Pacific coast district of United States and British Columbia, breeding
from British Columbia to southern California ; migrating to eastern Oregon, Arizona,
Lower California, and northern Mexico. (Birds of North and Middle America, ii. 714.)



chest with necklace of black streaks; orbital ring white or yellowish;

crown black, feathers edged with gray ; rest of upper parts

gray. Adult female and young in fall : similar, but black

replaced by gray tinged with olive. Young female : chest

markings sometimes obsolete. Young, first plumage : upper

parts brownish, gray below the surface ; wings with two

buffy bars ; sides of head, throat, and chest buffy brown ;

rest of under parts yellow. Male: length (skins) 4.76-5.17, Fig. 539.

wing 2.54-2.64, tail 2.15-2.26, bill .40-44. Female: length Canadian War- '

(skins) 4.57-4.91, wing 2.38-2.54, tail 2.00-2.10, bill .S9-.45. bler '

Distribution. Breeds in Canadian zone of northeastern North America,
from Lake Winnipeg, Hudson Bay, southern Labrador, and Newfoundland
south to southern New England, Wisconsin, and the Alleghanies ; casually
to Colorado ; winters from Mexico south to South America.

Nest. In clumps of weeds or tussocks of grass in swampy woods, made
of leaves and lined with pine needles, rootlets, and horsehair. Eggs : 3 to
5, white or buffy white, spotted around larger end with reddish brown and
lilac, usually mixed with a few black specks or pen lines.


General Characters. Bill about half as long as head, much depressed,
broad at base, sharply ridged for basal half or more, straight, decurved at
tip ; rictal bristles reaching beyond nostrils ; wings pointed, vail long and
fan-shaped, with broad flat feathers widening at ends ; feet slender ; tarsus
with scutella distinct.


1. Under parts mainly white, with orange patches . . ruticilla. p. 429.
1'. Under parts mainly dark rose red picta, p. 430.

687. Setophaga ruticilla (Linn.). AMERICAN REDSTART.

Adult male. Black with bluish gloss, except for white belly and
under tail coverts, and salmon or orange patches on sides of breast,
wings, and tail. Adult female : black of male replaced by
grayish olive, and orang'e by yellow. Immature male : similar
to female, but smaller, browner, and color patches deeper ;
after first winter plumage interspersed with black feathers.
Immature female : like adult female, but gray more brownish,
throat and chest tinged with brownish buff ; yellow of breast
less distinct, and that on wings partly or wholly concealed.
Young, first plumage : upper parts grayish brown ; under parts grayish
white, pale gray on chest ; breast without yellow ; wings and tail like
older birds, but with two whitish or yellowish bands. Male : length
(skins) 4.61-5.00, wing 2.40-2.64, tail 2.05-2.28, bill .28-35. Female:
length (skins) 4.41-4.76, wing 2.28-2.60, tail 1.93-2.28, bill .31-.35.

Distribution. Breeds from British Columbia and Fort Simpson to the
Gulf of Mexico and from the Atlantic west regularly to the Great Basin ;
casually to California, Oregon, Arizona, and Lower California ; winters
in the West Indies, and from southern Mexico to northern South Amer-

Nest. Cup-shaped, compact, made largely of plant fibers and strips of
bark and web, 7 to 30 feet from the ground. Eggs : 3 to 5, white, green-
ish or grayish, spotted chiefly around larger end with brown and lilac.

Food. Insects.


The American redstart is a bird of the open deciduous woods,
building usually in saplings. It goes about its work with drooping
wings, its long fan-tail opening and shutting to show its bright color
patches as it flashes about tumbling through the air after insects.
Of its two characteristic songs the longer one is hurried and accented
at the end.

688. Setophaga picta Swains. PAINTED REDSTART.

Adults. Black, except for red belly and white of eyelid, wing patch, under
tail coverts, and outer tail feathers. Young, first plumage : upper parts sooty
black ; wings and tail like adults, but white wing patch tipped with buff ;
under parts sooty gray, becoming white on middle of belly ; breast spotted
or streaked with blackish. Male : length (skins) 4.84-5.04, wing 2.68-2.95,
tail 2.40-2.68, bill .31-.35. Female : length (skins) 4.92-5.32, wing 2.64-
2.76, taU 2.36-2.54, bill .33-.35.

Distribution. From mountains of New Mexico and Arizona south to
Mexico, Vera Cruz, Hidalgo, Oaxaca, Guatemala, and Honduras.

Nest. In cavities in banks or among rocks, near water ; made of vege-
table fibers and leaves, and lined with grass and hair. Eggs : 3 to 4, white,
finely speckled with reddish brown and lilac.

The red, white, and black painted redstarts frequent the evergreen
oaks and the pines and alders of the mountain ranges of southern
Arizona. They are usually found near springs and waterfalls. In
motions they are typical redstarts, Mr. Henshaw says, passing rapidly
along the branches of trees with half-shut wings and outspread tail,
now and then darting after a passing fly. Mr. H. O. Howard says
they may be seen hopping about on mossy banks and stumps of large


690. Cardellina rubrifrons (Giraud). RED-FACED WARBLEB.

Bill not more than half as long as head, high at base, curved ; rictal
bristles stiff ; wings long ; tail shorter than wings, nearly even ; feet small ;
tarsus longer than middle toe and claw.

Adults. Throat, forehead, and stripe back to nape bright red ; crown
black ; nuchal patch and rump white ; rest of upper parts gray ; under
parts soiled whitish. Young in first fall and winter : duller, black re-
placed by brown ; red paler ; white of under parts and nuchal patch tinged
with buffy or salmon. Male : length (skins) 4.65-5.32, wing 2.58-2.78, tail
2.24-2.40, bill .31-.35. Female : length (skins) 4.45-4.96, wing 2.48-2.76,
tail 2. 18-2.40, bill .29-.35.

Distribution. From southern Arizona and New Mexico south to Guate-

Nest. On the ground, under a vine or bunch of grass, or near a fallen
log; made largely of fine straws, rootlets, strips of bark, leaves, and hair.
Eggs: 4, white, spotted with reddish brown over the entire shell, most
thickly around the larger end.

The red-faced warbler is found on the mountains in the southern
parts of Arizona and New Mexico among the pines and spruces. Its
habits, Mr. Henshaw says, combine those of the chickadees, red


starts, and other warblers. Its favorite hunting places are the tips
of spruce branches, over which it passes with a quick motion and a
peculiar and constant sidewise jerk of the tail. Mr. Scott says it
has a clear whistling song.



General Characters. Bill shorter than head, about as wide as high at
base, compressed, acute, and notched at tip ; wings longer than tail.


1. Hind claw decidedly longer than toe spragueii, p. 432.

1'. Hind claw about equal to toe pensilvanicus, p. 431.

Subgenus Anthus.

697. Anthus pensilvanicus (Lath.). PIPIT.

Hind claw about equal to toe. Adults in summer: upper parts gray-
ish brown, indistinctly
streaked ; wing blackish
^^^^ brown, with two buffy

wine 1 bars and light edg-

r iir. >4 1 . . i *i i i i i

ings ; tail blackish, inner

web of outside feather largely white, second feather
tipped with white ; superciliary stripe and under parts Fig 543.

light buffy, chin lighter, chest streaked with dusky.
Adults in winter : browner above, lighter below, streaks on breast usually
broader. Young: similar, but washed with brown, and more distinctly
streaked. Length : 6-7, wing 3.20-3.50, tail 2.65-2.85.

Distribution. North America at large, breeding in the higher parts of
the Rocky Mountains, Cascades, and subarctic districts, wintering in the
Gulf states, Nevada, California, Mexico, and Central America.

Nest. On ground, bulky and rather compact, made of dried mosses
and grasses, lined with hair and feathers. Eggs : 4 to 6, nearly uniform
brown from dense spotting.

Food. Small shells, crustaceans, insects, and small seeds.

Flocks of these strange little northerners with demure garb, plain-
tive voices, and the ways of wanderers are often met abroad in the
land in spring and fall. In some parts of the dry country they are
seen more generally in the seasons of heavy rainfall. They may be
met in a ploughed vineyard, on a vacant city lot, or in the open
country. If startled they rise from the ground showing their white
tail feathers, with a wild cheep fly for a short distance, wheel, and
return to their feeding ground. The earth usually matches their
tints so well that it is difficult to see them, though their wagging
heads and tilting tails help to catch the eye.

In Colorado the pipits nest above timberline at an altitude of from
11,000 to 13,000 feet, and in August many of the birds wander to the


tops of the peaks at 14,000 feet. In the breeding season the males
have a flight song similar to that of the oven-bird, often ascending a
hundred feet singing as they go, and afterwards dropping almost
straight to the ground.

Subgenus Neocorys.

700. Anthus spragueii (Aud.). SPRAGUE PIPIT.

Hind toe and claw longer than tarsus. Adults in summer : upper parts
broadly streaked with blackish brown and grayish
buff ; wings dusky, with pale edgings ; two outer
pairs of tail feathers chiefly white ; outside pair
sometimes wholly white ; under parts dull buffy
white, more buffy across chest, where narrowly
streaked with dusky. Adults in winter: browner
above, more buffy below, and chest streaks broader.
Young : upper parts brownish buff, broadly streaked
Fig. 543. with black ; feathers of back and scapulars tipped

with buffy or whitish ; chin, throat, and sides of

neck whitish, lower throat and sides of neck streaked with dusky; rest of
under parts light buff; chest and sides of breast streaked with black.
Length : 5.75-7.00, wing 3.20-3.40, tail 2.35-2.60.

Distribution. Breeds on the interior plains of North America from the
Saskatchewan to Nebraska, and from the Red River west, probably, to the
Rocky Mountains ; winters in Louisiana, Texas, and northern Mexico ; acci-
dental in South Carolina.

Nest. Like that of A. pensilvanicus, but eggs pale purplish buffy or
buffy white, thickly spotted with purplish brown.
Food. Insects, and seeds of weeds and grasses.

The habits of the Sprague pipit closely resemble those of the other
pipits. In Coues's Birds of the Northwest there is an enthusiastic
description of the flight song of spragueii.


701. Cinclus mexicanus Swains. WATER OUZEL: DIPPER.

Bill shorter than head, slender, and compressed ; wing short, stiff,

rounded, with ten primaries,
the first spurious ; tail shorter
than wing, soft, of twelve
broad rounded feathers
almost hidden by coverts ;

,-,. _.. tarsus without scales ; claws

strongly curved. Adults in

summer : whole body nearly uniform slate gray, a trifle lighter below ;
head and neck faintly tinged with brown. Adults in winter : similar,
but feathers of wings and under parts lightly tipped with white. Young :
similar to winter plumage, but under parts more or less mixed with white
and tinged with rusty. Length: 7.00-8.50, wing 3.40-3.81, tail 1.90-2.12,
bill .60-.70.

Distribution. Mountainous parts of central and western North America


from the Yukon to Guatemala ; east, in the United States, to the eastern
base of the Rocky Mountains ; mainly resident throughout its range.

Nest. Among- rocks, near running water, often behind a cascade ; a
bulky oven-shaped structure open on the side, made of green mosses.
Eggs : 3 to 5, white.

To all his friends, the name water ouzel calls up pictures of foam-
ing cascaded streams in the heart of the grand old western moun-
tains. What a quickening touch of life and good cheer the songster
gives to the lonely canyons and forests ! And how fascinating it is
to watch him as he pokes about in wren-like fashion under the banks
of streams, disappearing in dark grottoes and behind miniature water-
falls or stepping off into the pools, where he sinks under water as
easily as a grebe !

When resting against the background of dark rocks he would be
almost invisible did he not keep up a persistent winking, for at each
wink you get a flash from his white nictitating membrane. He also
has a trick of bobbing, winter wren style, that tells the tale of his

In a southern California canyon we once found a typical ouzel
nest on a ledge of rock opposite a waterfall whose spray doubtless
kept the moss of the nest fresh. While we were admiring the nest,
one of the old birds appeared and ran up the slippery face of the
wet rock beside the waterfall with easy unconcern.

The ouzels do not leave their breeding grounds when their family
cares are over, but stay in the mountains until the streams are
frozen, and Mr. Batchelder has seen one swim downstream under
the ice. In the Wasatch in December, one crisp, clear morning
when the still pools were frozen over and there was ice along the
edges of the streams and iced spray on the bushes, Mr. Bailey's ear
was caught by a beautiful song, and following upstream he discov-
ered an ouzel sitting on a cake of ice in the bright sun singing as
gayly as a bobolink in June.

(See Muir's Mountains of California and Olive Thorne Miller's
Bird-Lover in the West.)




1. Rictal bristles conspicuous.

Fig. 545.

2. Tail shorter than wing Oroscoptes, p. 435.

2 . Tail longer than wing.



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 49 of 65)