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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1. Crown marked with black and yellow.

2. Coloration duller satrapa, p, 463.

^'.Coloration brighter olivaceus, p. 464.

1'. Crown not marked with black and yellow ; male with red crown patch.

2. Upper parts grayish olive calendula, p. 404.

2'. Upper parts sooty olive grinnelli, p. 465.

748. Regulus satrapa Licht. GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET.

Adult male. Crown encircled anteriorly with black, bordered inside by
yellow, with a central orange patch ; rest of upper parts gray-
ish olive, more olive toward rump ; wings with two whitish
bands ; under parts dingy whitish. Adult female : similar,
but crown patch wholly yellow. Young : crown patch want-
ing but white line over eye ; breast washed with fawn Fig. 589.


color. Length : 3.15-4.55, wing 2.10-2.25, tail 1.60-2.00, exposed culmen

Distribution. North America generally, breeding in Boreal zone forests
of the northern parts of the United States northward; migrating to

Nest. A ball-like mass of green moss attached to end of branch in
pine or fir ; lined with hair and feathers. Eggs : 5 to 10, white or buffy,
faintly specked, chiefly around larger end, with deeper buffy.

7 48 a. B. s. olivaceus Baird. WESTERN GOLDEN-CROWNED

Similar to satrapa, but brighter, crown colors sharper, upper parts
greener, and under parts more washed with buffy brown.

Distribution. Pacific coast region of North America from California
northward ; migrates to Guatemala.

The notes that you hear from a family of golden-crowns are a
thin ti-ti-ti-ti-ti; little more, but the white line over the eye of the
young ones tells its story.

749. Regulus calendula (Linn.). RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET.
Adult male. Crown patch bright red ; upper parts grayish, brightening
to greenish on rump, and with greenish yellow edges to
feathers ; wings with two narrow whitish bands ; under parts
dingy whitish. Adult female and young : similar, but with-
out crown patch. Length: 3.75-4.60, wing 2.20-2.30, tail
Fig. 590. 1.85-1.90, bill from nostril .20-.22.

Distribution. North America from the arctic coast to Guatemala ;
breeds in Boreal zone chiefly north of the United States, and in the Rocky
Mountains, Sierra Nevada, and mountains of Arizona ; migrates to Guate-

Nest. Semi-pensile, bulky, made of shreds of bark, feathers, and
green moss, lined with hair and feathers ; attached to end of pine or
spruce branch, or placed in the top of a small tree, 10 to 20 feet from the
ground. Eggs : 5 to 9, whitish or buffy, faintly spotted, chiefly around
larger end, with light brown (sometimes nearly plain).

In the high Sierra one of the notes that you hear most frequently
from the impenetrable tops of the highest firs comes apparently
from this bit of a kinglet ; and as you crane your neck and strain
your eyes day after day and week after week in riding under the
trees in the vain attempt to see him do it, the rolling notes shape
themselves ungrammatically to your aggravated query, who-be' -you ?
who-be' -you ? who-be' -you ?

The scolding chatter of the ruby-crowned kinglet with the plump
little figure's lift of the wing, however far overhead, always tells an
unmistakable tale. The cheery, busy little chap brings his own wel-
come in the timber, chatting sociably as he hunts with microscopic
care over the twigs and flutters hummingbird-fashion under the
green sprays ; but when he sings you regard him with a new feel-
ing of wondering admiration, such a volume of song and such a
well-modulated, liquid, ringing melody 1



749a. R. C. grinnelli W. Palmer. SITKAN KINGLET.

Adult male. Similar to calendula, but smaller and darker ; upper
parts sooty olive, darkening to blackish along sides of vermilion crown
patch ; wing with dark parts nearly black ; throat and breast dusky gray ;
belly whitish, tinged with yellowish. Young male : rich brownish olive,
much darker than corresponding calendula, and under parts brighter.
Wing: 2.17, tail 1.70, bill .16.

Distribution. Sitka district, Alaska ; migrating south to California.


General Characters. Bill shorter than head, broad and flat- ^===j^.
tened at base, narrowing to slender notched and hooked tip ;

nostrils exposed ; wings rounded ; tail graduated ; tarsus scaled ; "*^^^^^

toes short, side ones only about half as long as tarsus. Fig. 591.


1. Outer tail feather with exposed portion entirely white.

2. Crown light bluish gray. From Colorado east.

caerulea, p. 465.

Fig. 592.

2'. Crown dark bluish gray. Western Texas to California.

obscura, p. 466.
1'. Outer tail feather with exposed portion partly black.

2. Outer tail feather with outer web entirely white.

plumbea, p. 466,

Fig. 593.

Fig. 504.

2'. Outer tail feather with outer web black, edged with
white. Southern California . californica, p. 466.

751. Polioptila cserulea (Linn.). BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER.

Adult male. Upper parts bluish gray, brightest on crown, fading to
lighter on rump ; forehead and
line over eye black ; tail black with
exposed part of outer feathers en-
tirely white ; under parts white
washed with bluish on sides.
Adult female and young : simi-
lar, but duller, and without black
on head ; young with iipper parts
washed with cinnamon. Length :
4.05-5.50, wing 2.00-2.20, tail

Distribution. Breeds in Up-
per Sonoran zone in the eastern
and central United States west
to Colorado and western Texas ;
winters from the southern Atlan-
tic and Gulf states to Guatemala,
Cuba, and the Bahamas.

Nest. In trees, cup-shaped, Fi S- 595 -


compact, made of leaves, feathers, and plant fibers, and decorated with
lichens. Eygs : 4 or 5, pale greenish white, spotted with reddish brown,
lilac, and slate, confluent around larger end.

The gnatcatchers are active, high-strung little sprites, never still a
minute, but going about whipping their tails from side to side, cock-
ing their heads over to look up or gaze down, and crying tsang',
tsang', here I am, here' I am, with nervous emphasis, talking to
themselves when no one is by. They are most entertaining birds to
watch, always saying or doing something original, jaunty individual
scraps, full of their quaint airs and graces.

With all their airs they are most painstaking, skillful builders, and
parents who know no fear, flying boldly at the big birds who molest
them and driving them off with good set blows.

75 la. P. C. obscura Eidgw. WESTERN GNATCATCHER.

Similar to ccerulea, but darker, less blue above, and black superciliary
less distinct ; white on tail feathers more restricted.

Distribution. Western Texas and New Mexico to Arizona, California,
Lower California, and Mexico.

Nest. As described by Nelson, in a bush 3 feet from the ground, made
of shreds of bark lined with finer shreds and feathers. Eggs : 4 or 5,
marked with reddish brown and purplish, most heavily around larger end.

752. Polioptila plumbea Baird. PLUMBEOUS GNATCATCHER.
Adult male. Top of head glossy blue black, in sharp contrast to light

gray of back ; tail black, outer tail feather with
outer web entirely white, inner web tipped with
_____^ white ; under parts white, washed with bluish

Fie 596 S TSL J on sides. Adult female and young : simi-

. lar, but without black on head, and gray of
back sometimes washed with brownish. Length : 4.25-4.60, wing 1.90-2.00,
tail 2.15-2.25.

Remarks. The plumbeous and black-tailed gnatcatchers may be dis-
tinguished by the outer web of the outer tail feather, which in the black-
tailed is black edged with white ; in the plumbeous, wholly white.

Distribution. Breeds in Lower Sonoran zone from western Texas to the
eastern edge of the Mohave Desert ; south along eastern coast of Lower

Nest. One near Terlingua, Texas, in f ouquiera bush, made of gray
fibers of wood and bark, wound with spider web, and lined with cactus
wool. Eggs : 2, pale blue, spotted with brown, most thickly around larger

The small bluish figure of plumbea is a familiar sight in the brushy
canyon mouths of the Guadalupe Mountains in Texas and in the
orchard-like juniper and pinon pine tops of the mountains.

753. Polioptila calif ornica Brewst. BLACK-TAILED GNAT-


Adult male. Crown black ; rest of upper parts dark gray ; tail black,
outer feather with outer web black edged with white, and inner web narrowly


tipped with white ; under parts gray, tinged with brown on lower belly.
Adult female : similar, but without black on head. Young: like female,
but with browner wash and black of adult male appearing gradually.
Length: 4.15-4.50, wing 1.90-2.00, tail 2.15-2.25.

Distribution. From southern California along the Pacific coast of Lower

Nest. As described by Anthony, in fork of a weed, 2- feet from the
ground, made of shreds of weeds and grass stalks lined with rabbit hair.
Eggs : 4, bluish green, lightly spotted and wreathed around larger end with
reddish brown.



i. Plumage largely or wholly blue Sialia, p. 475.

1 ' . Plumage largely gray or brown.

2. Under parts reddish or yellowish brown.

3. Chest with a dark band ........ Ixoreus, p. 473.

3'. Chest without dark band . ... ..... Merula, p. 472.

2'. Under parts white, buffy, or grayish.

3. Tail white basally, black terminally .... Saxicola, p. 475.

3'. Tail not white basally or black terminally.

4. Wings with two light bars Myadestes, p. 467.

4'. Wings plain . Hylocichla, p. 468.


754. Myadestes townsendii (Aud.). TOWNSEND SOLITAIRE.

Bill short, flattened, widened at base, deeply cleft; legs weak; tail
feathers tapering. Adults : brownish
gray, paler beneath ; wings with two
whitish wing bars, bases of primaries
and secondaries buffy or yellowish

brown ; tail feathers with outer web Fig. 597.

and tip of inner web grayish white.
Young : wings and tail as in adult ; rest of plumage, including wing cov-
erts, conspicuously spotted with buff. Length : 7.80-9.50, wing 4.35-4.85,
tail 4.15-4.70.

Distribution. Breeds in mountains mainly in Canadian zone from Brit-
ish Columbia south to Zacatecas, Mexico, and from the Black Hills to the
Pacific ; winters south to southern Arizona and northern Lower Califor-

Nest. On the ground, on logs or stumps, on banks of streams or among
rocks, bulky, made largely of sticks and pine needles. Eggs : 3 to 6, whit-
ish, spotted with reddish brown.

The name Myadestes is associated with the choicest spots of the
mountain heights. In the Sierra Nevada we found the birds on their
nesting ground on the granite knob above Donner Pass, at 7900 feet.
They evidently had a nest somewhere along a steep, wooded stream
bed, which was flanked with bare granite, from which woodchucks
whistled and conies barked. But while nutcrackers, Richardson


pewees, green-tailed chewinks, and mountain song sparrows made
themselves conspicuous, the pair of solitaires were too conscious of
intruders to give any information. The male, who suggested a meek
mockingbird, guarded the brook in an aggravatingly non-committal
way, perching on dead branches or flying to the ground, where he
ran over the rocks with the run-and-halt motion of a robin, or sat on
a stone quivering his wings slightly at his sides. His mate would
sometimes slip away from the nest and appear on a branch by his
side, and once I followed the pair over the boulders and up the cliff,
thinking they had gone to their nest in some other place, only to be
led back over the rocks to their little brook under the evergreens.
Then, as the setting sun lit up the tops of the hemlocks that stood by
the brook, turning their yellow lichen-covered branches to golden
arms, the solitaire, perched on a sunlit branch, sang a low evening-
song in the mellow light. At other times, and when not on guard,
the bird's song would fairly ring through the air. When given
freely it is a strong, clear song with a flavor all its own. Heard
from the tips of the highest trees on the crest of the range, as it so
often is, the song has the freshness and invigoration of the air from
the snow-banks, and is given with the strong freedom of the moun-
tain tops. In the rocky solitudes of the Garden of the Gods it is said
that the solitaire's voice is sometimes all that breaks the silence.


General Characters. Bill slender, but widened and flattened at base,
notched near end ; tarsus decidedly longer than middle toe and claw.


1. Sides as well as breast heavily spotted ; head golden brown. Eastern

United States *. mustelina, p. 469.

1'. Sides gray or brown, unspotted ; head not golden brown.
2. Eye without distinct lighter orbital ring.

3. Upper parts and cheeks dark gray. Migrant in Rocky Mountains.

aliciae, p. 469.
3'. Unper parts and cheeks light brown. Rocky Mountain region.

salicicola, p. 469.

2'. Ey.e with distinct white or buffy eye ring.
3. Chest marked with narrow triangular spots.
4. Upper parts olive brown. Pacific coast region.

ustulata, p. 470.

4'. Upper parts olive gray. Oregon and California, cedica, p. 470.
3'. Chest marked with wide triangular spots.
4. Tail rufous in sharp contrast to back.
5. Tail dark rufous ; length 6 to 7.

6. Lighter. Breeds mainly north of United States ; migrates

to Colorado and Texas guttata, p. 471.

6'. Darker. Breeds from Washington to Sierra Nevada ; mi-
grates to Arizona and Mexico nana. p. 472.


5'. Tail light rufous ; length 7.50-8.25. Rocky Mountain region.

auduboni, p. 471.
4'. Tail not sharply contrasted with back.

5. Upper parts olive. Migrant in Colorado and Texas.

swainsoiii, p. 470.
5'. Upper parts hair brown. Alaska and Rocky Mountains.

almae, p. 471.

755. Hylocichla mustelina (Gmel). WOOD THRUSH.

Adults. Head and back of neck rusty or golden brown, fading to olive on
rump and tail ; under parts white, marked
with large blackish wedge-shaped spots.
Young : like adults, but feathers of crown
streaked with buff ; wing coverts tipped
with rusty yellow triangular spots ; breast
washed with brownish yellow. Length : s '

7.50-8.25, wing 4.10-4.50, tail 3.00-3.30, exposed culmen .G2-.75.

Distribution. Breeds in the Upper Sonoran and Transition zones of the
eastern central United States west to western Kansas ; migrates to Cuba
and Guatemala.

Nest. Usually saddled on a horizontal branch of a small tree, very
compact, composed partly of mud. Eggs : 2 to 5, plain greenish blue.

Food. Partly ants, beetles, millipeds, and berries.

756a. Hylocichla fuscescens salicicola Eidgw. WILLOW

Upper parts uniform olive brown, chest pale huffy, marked with triangular
brown spots ; median under parts white, sides gray. Length : 6.90-7.90,
wing 3.80-4.25, tail 2.95-3.40, bill .55-.60.

Distribution. Breeds in Transition and Canadian zones from Hudson
Bay and British Columbia south through the Rocky Mountain region to
southern Colorado, east to the Dakotas and Newfoundland, and occa-
sionally to Illinois ; winters south to southern Brazil.

Nest . On or near the ground, made largely of leaves. Eggs : 4, plain
greenish blue, very rarely with a few specks of brown.

Food. Caterpillars, ants, and other insects, with wild berries and

lu Montana, Mr. Williams says, salicicola is the commonest and
most widely distributed of the thrushes, ranging from the lower
valleys to the foothills and canyons, but keeping near water in
thickets of willow, rose, or box elder, away from the heavy timber.
Its notes are the same as those of its eastern representative, the veery,
who has the curious bleating call, the quiet whistle ichee-ough, and
the tremulous beautiful song.

757. Hylocichla aliciae (Baird). GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH.

Upper parts grayish olive ; sides of head gray ; chest buffy, with wedge-
shaped spots of brown ; median under parts white ; sides olive gray.
Length : 7.00-7.75, wing 3.75-4.40, tail 2.95-3.40, bill .45-.S8.

Remarks. In general coloration the gray-cheeked resembles the olive-
backed, but it lacks the buffy eye ring and tawny wash on sides of head.

Distribution. Breeds north of the United States from the arctic coast,
Siberia, and Alaska, southeast through Hudson Bay region to Labrador ;


migrates through the United States west to the Rocky Mountains and
south to Costa Rica.

Nest . In low bushes or on. the ground, bulky, and compact, composed
largely of mosses. Eggs : 3 or 4, greenish blue, spotted with rusty

758. Hylocichla ustulata (Nutt.). RUSSET-BACKED THRUSH.

Upper parts olive brown, wings and tail often browner ; buffy eye ring
distinct ; sides of head tinged with tawny ; chest pale buff, whitish in
summer, marked with narrow triangular spots; under parts white, sides
tinged with olive brown. Length: 6.90-7.60, wing 3.60-4.00, tail 2.80-
3.30, bill .50-.60.

Remarks, The ustulata group is distinguished by conspicuous buffy
eye ring and tawny or buffy cheeks ; and ustulata and its subspecies cedica
and almce are to be distinguished from swainsoni by their brown tails,
that of swainsoni being olive like the back.

Distribution. Breeds in Boreal and Transition zones of the Pacific coast
region from Alaska to California ; winters in Lower California and from
Mexico to Guatemala.

Nest. In bushes or small trees, usually near water, bulky and compact,
made largely of mosses and shreds of bark. Eggs : 4 or 5, light greenish
blue, averaging decidedly paler than those of alicice, spotted with rusty

Food. Ants, caterpillars, weevils, beetles, moths, and other insects,
with small fruit.

At Gray's Harbor, Washington, Mr. Lawrence says, the russet-
backed thrush is very common throughout the river-bottoms, and
common on the small prairies and in the timber. It comes about
the time the salmon berry bushes blossom, and goes when their
berries are gone.

758a. H. U. swainsoni (Cab.). OLIVE-BACKED THRUSH.

Upper parts uniform olive or grayish olive ; buffy eye ring conspicuous ;
sides of head buffy, marked with darker ; chest bright buff, marked with
wide blackish streaks; under parts white, sides olive brown. Length:
6.35-7.55, wing 3.80-4.10, tail 2.80-3.10, bill .50-.55.

Remarks. The olive-backed is distinguished from the rest of the
ustulata group by having the tail of the same or nearly the same color as
the back, and by its darker and broader chest streaks. It is also distin-
guished from the gray-cheeked by its buffy cheeks and buffy eye ring.

Distribution. Breeds in Canadian zone in eastern North America ;
migrates to Cuba and through Colorado and Texas, south to Guatemala
and South America.

Nest and eggs. Like those of the russet-backed thrush.

Food. Among other things, caterpillars, rose hips, and the fruit of
smilax and hackberry.

758b. H. U. CBdica Oberh. MONTEREY THRUSH.

Similar to swainsoni, but olive of upper parts somewhat tinged with
brown, tail and tail coverts brown, and sides and flanks browner. Com-
pared with ustulata, ozdica is much less rufous.

Distribution. Breeds from the interior of southern Oregon south
through California, except along the northern coast ; winters in Arizona
and Mexico.


758c. H. U. almse Oberh. ALMA THRUSH.

Similar to swainsoni, but grayer, especially on rump and upper tail cov-
erts ; the upper parts hair brown, only lightly tinged with green instead
of being clear olive, and the tail partly clear brown and partly uniform
with back.

Distribution. Yukon Basin south to the Rocky Mountain region of the
United States, west to Utah and eastern Nevada ; in winter south to Mex-

759. Hylocichla guttata (Pallas). ALASKA HERMIT THRUSH.!

Upper parts dark grayish brown, more olive in winter, tail deep rufous ;
chest thickly marked with broad, wedge-shaped spots. Length : 6-7, wing
3.25-3.80, tail 2.60-3.00, bill .45-.52.

Remarks. The Alaska hermit thrush can be distinguished from the
Audubon hermit by its smaller size and darker coloration.

Distribution. Northwest coast region from Alaska to southern British
Columbia, and southward in winter.

Nest. On ground in damp or swampy woods, composed largely of dead
leaves and dried grasses. Eggs : 4 or 5, plain greenish blue, paler than
in the wood and willow thrushes.

Food. Flies, weevils, ants, caterpillars, moths, pepper berries, and
small fruits.

The hermit thrushes have a marked habit of raising and lowering
their reddish tails, and their call-note is a single chuck. As a group
their songs rank as the best of the rare thrush songs.

759a. H. g. auduboni (Baird). AUDUBON HERMIT THRUSH.

Similar to guttata, but larger, and upper parts lighter, grayer, with rufous
of tail much lighter (fulvous). Length: 7.50-8.25, wing 3.65-4.35, tail
2.95-3.45, bill .53-.60.

Distribution. Rocky Mountain region, from near the northern border
of the United States south to Guatemala ; east to Texas and west to the
mountains of Arizona and southern Sierra Nevada in California.

Nest. In bushes or low trees, 3 to 10 feet from the ground ; partly
made with moss.

Food. Flies, ants, weevils, and other insects and berries.

As you travel through the spire-pointed fir forests of the western
mountains, you know the thrush as a voice, a bell-like sublimated
voice, which, like the tolling of the Angelus, arrests toil and earthly
thought. Its phrases can be expressed in the words Mr. Burroughs
has given to the eastern hermit, ' Oh, spheral, spheral! oh, holy,
holy !' and the first strain arouses emotions which the regularly fall-
ing cadences carry to a perfect close. The fine spirituality of the
song, its serene uplifting quality, make it fittingly associated with
nature's most exalted moods, and it is generally heard in the solemn
stillness of sunrise, when the dark fir forest is tipped with gold, or

1 Hylocichla guttata slevini Grinnell. MONTEREY HERMIT THRUSH.

A pale ashy form ; upper parts hair brown ; upper tail coverts and tail Isabella color ;
spots on breast few and small.

Distribution. Breeds in humid coast belt of California from southern Monterey
County to Sonoma County. (The Auk, xviii. 259.)


in the hush of sunset, when the western sky is aglow and the deep
voice rises from its chantry in slow, soul-stirring cadences, high-up-
high-up, look-up, look-up.

75 9c. H. g. nana (And.). DWARF HERMIT THRUSH.

Like guttata, but color darker and richer ; upper parts brownish oliva-
ceous, tending toward raw umber ; top of head and rump browner than
back ; upper tail coverts and tail burnt umber ; under parts more buffy
than in guttata. Wing: 3.25, tail 2.75, bill .50, tarsus 1.12.

Distribution. Pacific coast region, from Washington southward, breed-
ing south to Sierra Nevada region ; east in migrations to Nevada and Ari-
zona, and south to Lower California and western Mexico.


General Characters. Bill slender and compressed,
"O"7" notched near end ; nostrils wholly exposed ; tail more than
three times as long as tarsus ; under parts spotted in
Fig. 599. young.


1. Outer tail feather with distinct white spot at tip of inner web ; colors

darker migratoria, p. 472.

1'. Outer tail feather without distinct white tip to inner web ; colors paler.

propinqua, p. 472.

761. Merula migratoria (Linn.}. ROBIN.

Like M. m. propinqua, but outer tail feather with a distinct white spot

at tip of inner web ;
anterior portion of
back usually some-
what clouded with
black in fully adult
birds. Length : 9-10,
wing 4.90-5.40, tail
Di stribution.
Breeds from Alaska
and the arctic coasts
southeast through
Hudson Bay region
and the Rocky Moun-

From Biological Survey, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture. ta j ng to Kansas, Vir-

Fig. 600. ginia, and the Atlan-

tic coast ; winters from southern Canada southward.

Nest and eggs. Like those of M. m. propinqua.

Food. Crickets, grasshoppers, and other noxious insects, seeds, wild
fruit, and berries.

76 la. M. m. propinqua Eidgw. WESTERN ROBIN.
Adults. Head, wings, and tail blackish ; rest of upper parts slaty


gray, black of hind neck sharply contrasting with gray of anterior part of
back ; outer tail feather without distinct white tip, often with no white ;
throat black, streaked with white ; rest of under pa'rts, except tail coverts,

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 53 of 65)