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Bulletin of the Nuttall Ornithological Club: a quarterly jjournal of ornithology online

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#oun1ie1i bs iicrbate sutocrfptron, fn 1861.

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NuTTALL Ornithological Club;

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Univiksity Prbss : Wilck, Bigelow, & COt

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DnoBSPnoH of a Kxw Spsoibs of HfeLMurrHOPHAOA. B j WUKam Breio-

Her. With a Plata 1

Thb Commoh Bu£2ABD Hawk {BuUo vntgarig) of Ectbofx ni Nobtb Am bb-

IGA. By C. /. MayMrd 1

Knmro of ths Goldbr-wdiosd Wabbueb { He lM m tkop k aga dkr^9opUra)

nr MAaaAoarsSTTB. By /. Warren 6

HoTsa OH THS RouoH-wnroKD Swallow {Sirmdo ierripemm) or Pxmr-

BTLYAiriA. By Walter Van FUei 9

Ox TBB BioBDno OF THB Blaok-thboatbd Bujb Waxblbb {Dendrmoa

emrmUeeeng) nr Gobbbotiout. By C. M, Jcmte 11

Om Two EifFiDOBAOBa, Tbaillh axd AOADicua. By H. W, Hen$kaw . U
Oooitbbbbob of obbtaib BiBDa IN thb Nbw Ebolabd STATBa. By WU-

Uam Brtwater ' • • 17

Albihibm abd Mblabum amobo Nobth Ambbioab BiBDa. By BMiven

Jhom SO

NoTBa OB BiBDa foubd bbbbdibo OB CoBB*a LuJLBD, Ya. By J7. B. BaUey 24


Thb Nitttall Obbitholooioal Club f • M

Bboabdibo Botbo vuLOABia iH North Ambbioa. By Robert Bidgwoff 82

AoDinoBa to thb Ati-fauba of iLLnoia, with Korsa ob othbb Spb-

oiBa OF iLUBOia BiBDa. By E, W. Ntieon 89

KoTsa OB THB Bbbbdibo HABrra of CLARKB*a Crow {Pieioorvui ooUnn-

KoMtf ), WITH AB AooouBT OF Ra KsaT ABD Eooa. By Captain CharUe

BewKrt, U. S. A. 44

D bbcbifii ob of a bbw Duok from WAaHiBGTOB laLABD. By Thomae H,

iSereete, if. D., Paased AMUtaat SorgaoD, U. S. N. 46


LBwroDoa's Deieription of New Species of American Birda, 47. — Sdow*8 Birds
of Kansas, 47. — Kidder's Omitliology of Kergaelen Island, 48. — Kidder and
Conas's ** A Study of CkUmU minor,** etc, 48.— Marsh's Extinct Birds
with Teeth, 49. — Gentry's " Life-Historiea of the Birds of Eastern Penn-
ayhrania," 48. '

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Broedlng of the Otnada Goom in Trees, 50.— Tanal Envelope in Cbi^pybrAyf^
cAiM and allied Genera, 60. — Oooorrenoe of the Cnrlew Sandpiper in Mae-
•achnsetts, 61. — The Ipewich Sparrow in New Bmntwick, 62. — Potier-
ddnu prineqn and Partu hudtonieui in Gonneoticat| 6S. — Amer routt in
Or^^oo, 62*


DbOBSASB of BlBDt IX 1CA88ACHU8BTT8. By J. A, AlUn .... 68

Oh thb Numbbr of Primarixs in Oscurxs. By iV. EUioU Ooue$, U. S. A. 60
Thb Tellow-bbllcbd Woodpecksr {Spkntrqricui foriug), Bj WSUam
BrmPtUr 68


Omitholoflr of tiie Wheeler Expedition, TO. — Field and Feceet, Tl. — The Port^
kndTen, 7L — The Birda of Bitchie Co., Weel Yifsinia, 78. — Brewe^*t
BIrda of New Eo|^d, 72.


The PhOad^phla Yireo fai New England, 74. — Geegraphlcal Variation in the
Number and Sizeof the Eggs of Birds, 74. —The Nest and Eggs of TrsiU*a
Fljreatcher, as observed In Maine, 76. — Singolar Food of the Least Bitten,
76.— Intelligeooe of a C^w, 76* —The Great OarollDa Wren in Mais»-
ohnsetts, 76.



LBT8. By Emui IngenoU 77

NBariHO Habits of thb CALtFORKiAir Housb Wbbv {Troghdyiu aedon

Tar.^wHbfMXfMit). By Dr. J. 6. Cooper 78

Ov Gboobaphioal Yabiatioii IX Dbhdbocoa palmabum. By Robert Kidgway 81

NoTBa OH Tbxab Birdb. By /. C MerriU, M, D., Assistant Surgeon, U. S. A. 88

BiBDa OF Nbw Ebolabd. By Thomae M. Brewer 89


LawTSooe's Birds of Southwestern Mexico, 08. — Jordan's Manual of Yertebimte


Capture of the Orange-crowned Waibler in Massachusetts, 94. — Variable
Abundance of Birds at the same Localities in different Tears, 96. — Occur-
rence of the Wood Ibis in Pennsylvania and New York, 96. — Peculiar Nest-
ing-site of the Bank-Swallow, 96.

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Vol. !• JL^HTJJf 187G. No. 1.



Helminthophaga leucobronchialis. Pl. 1*

Adult male : summer plumage. Crown, bright yellow, slightly tinged
with olive on the occiput Greater and middle wing coverts, yellow, not so
bright as the crown. Superciliary line, cheeks, throat and entire under parts;
silky-whitei with a slight tinge of pale yellow on the breast Dorsal surface,
—exclusive of nape which is clear ashy — washed with yellow, as are also the
outer margins of the secondaries. A narrow line of clear black passes from
the base of the upper mandible, through and to a short distance behind the
eye, interrupted however by the lower eyelid, which is distinctly white. No
trace of black on the cheeks or throat, even upon raising the feathers. Bill
black. Feet, dark brown. Dimensions — length, 5.I9 /extent, 7.88 ; wing, 2 .45 ;
tarsus, .71; tail, 1.86; culmen, .53.

It will be seen from the above description that this bird
resembles most closely the Golden-winged Warbler, (Helmin-'
ihopJiaga chrysoptera,)

The entire absence of black or ashy on the -cheeks and
throat, the peculiar character of the superciliary line, and the
white lower eyelid, present however differences not to be rec-
onciled with any known seasonal or accidental variation of that
species. The restricted line of black through the eye gives the
bead a remarkable similarity to that of Helminthophaga pintiSy
but the semblance goes no farther.

The specimen above described was shot by the writer in
Newtonville, Mass., May 18, 1870. It was in full song when
taken and was flitting about in a thicket of birches near a
swampy piece of oak and maple woods. As nearly as can be
remembered it did not differ much in either voice or actions

* The original of our plate was drawn and colored by Robert Ridgeway,
Esq., of the Smithsonian Institution^ and presented by him to Mr. Brewster.

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from JST. chrysoptera. The first notice of this specimen appeared
in the "American Sportsman," vol. 5, p. 83. To speculate on the
probable home or range of a bird so little known would be at
the present time idle. Whether it must be placed in the same
category with the unique JSuspiza Townsendij Begtdus CuvierU
etc., or like Dendrcnca Kirklandi^ will turn up occasionally in
the future at different points, or still again as in the case of Cen-
tronyx Bairdii^ will be found in large numbers, time alone
can decide. Every fixed species of bird is probably common
somewhere. There is always some well stocked reservoir how-
ever restricted in area, from which the choicest rarities emanate,
but to locate this avian well-spring is not seldom an undertak-
ing of difllculty.

As previously remarked the differences in coloration in the
present bird from any of its allies are so great, and of such a
nature, as to render any theory of accidental variation exceed-
ingly unlikely, while hybrids — at least among the smaller spe-
cies of undomesticated birds — are of such shadowy and proble-
matical existence that their probable bearing upon the present
case is hardly worthy of consideration.

It is not a little remarkable that another species* in the same
genus as this, and one too apparently quite as strongly charac*
terized, should have been brought to light at so nearly the same



Late in the autnmn of 1873 I received a box of bird skins
from Mr. J. D. Allen, of Paw Paw, Mich. They consisted
mainly of Hawks, among which was a specimen that instantly
attracted my attention, for it was quite peculiar in its markings.
The skin was evidently that of a Buteo^ but I could not make it
agree with any of the plumages of the species which had come
under my observation. This was the result of a hasty examin-
ation, for being extremely busy at the time I laid it one side for
further comparison.

Later study upon it proved as nearly as possible, without

• Helminthophaga Lawrencii, Herrick. Proc. Acad. Natural Science,
Phlla,, 1874, pi. 16, p. 220.

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actual comparison with like skins, that it was identical with the
Buteo vulgaris of Europe. Supposing that Mr. Allen had quite
probably received it from abroad the matter rested here ; but as
there was still some uncertainty as to whether it was that spe-
cies, on account of my not having compared it with tj'pical
epecimens, the question would arise in my mind every time
I. saw the skin.

Various ornithological friends examined the specimen and
expressed some opinion about it, yet all were inclined to be-
lieve that it was a European bird, while I never gave the time
necessary for settling the matter by writing Mr. Allen. Thus
the skin had been lying in my collection until the past autumn,
when at the request of Mr. Brewster I showed it to our mutual
friend, Mr. Henry Henshaw, who urged me to let him take it to
Washington, that it might be examined by Mr. Rob't RidgVay.

Shortly after this Mr. Henshaw informed me, per letter, that
it was indeed Bateo vulgaris^ but that there was a decided im-
probability that it was taken on this side of th,e Atlantic. Cu-
rious to know its history I wrote to Mr. Allen, asking him if
he remembered the specimen, and if he could tell me where
it was taken.

The reply was quite unexpected, for Mr. Allen stated that he
remembered the bird well, and as there were peculiar circum-
stances connected with its capture he recollected clearly that it
was shot in Michigan. I then wrote again, giving him for the first
time an account of the interest which was attached to the capture
of this species in the United States, and begged him to relate
ail he knew about it. To this epistle I received the following
reply. As Mr. Allen's account is not only interesting hut im-
portant as proving beyond the shadow of a doubt that the bird
in question was actually taken in Micnigan, I give his letter
verbatim. I will, however, preface it by saying that all the oth-
er Hawks sent to me by Mr. Allen were correctly labeled" Red-
tailed," " Red-shouldered," etc., but this bore the simple legend
*' Hawk." This fact, together with its extremely peculiar plu-
mage, rendered it easy for him to remember what particular
ekin was under consideration.

**Paw Paw, Mich,, Jan. 16, 1876.
Mb. Matnard —

Dear Sir:— Yours at hand and noted. I am surprised as well as
pleased to learn that the Hawk proves to be so valuable and interest-
ing a specimen. When I shot it I was unable to decide what it was»

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bat ratber thought it was an immature specimen of Buteo Uneatusf
but being unceitain did not give it a specific name when I sent it to
you. The circumstances connected with its capture are as follows :

Retuniing one morning from the head of a small pond in the vi-
cinity of Paw Paw, Mich., where I had been duck shooting, I discov-
ered a Hawk perched on the dead branch of a leaning tree that grew
from the bank at the water's edge.

I was in my boat, and at least twepty-five rods from the tree, in
full view of the bird, which was eyeing me attentively, so I had no
chance of approaching him except in full view, and as he appeared
about to fly I gave up all hopes of getting a shot at him. But to my
Burpi-ise he described a complete circle and came nearly over my
head, when I fired at him.

He continued his flight in an awkward and laborious manner until
he reached the shore ; then dropped dead within a few feet of the
very tree Irom which he stalled.

I think that this was about the first of October, 1873, but am not
certain about the exact date. I have often thought of the peculiar
movement of this bird. Here, when I had given up all hopes of ap-
proacbinff him he should fly to me, as it were, to receive his death
wound, then return again to the shore to suffer himself to fall on dry

f round. I may add that I have never had any birds directly from
urope, and none larger than an English Fieldfare.
Respectfully, yours,


Although this species has l)een excluded from our ornithologies
for many years, yet this is not the first instance on record of the
capture of Buteo vulgaris in North America. As early as 1838,
Audubon[J|made mention of it. In Vol. IV, page 508 of Orni-
thological Biography he says, speaking of bis illustration, [PI.
872] : " The specimen from which the figure before you was ta-
ken was shot by Dr. Townsend on a rock near the Columbia
River, on which it had its nest."

Then follows Audubon's description, which agrees in every
particular with my specimen ; differing utterly from that of
Swainson's Hawk {Buteo Swainsoni)^ which I have before me,
and which more recent authors appear to think Audubon had in
band when he made his description. I give below the main
points of difference between Audubon's description and Swain-
son's Hawk, which will also apply equally to my specimen : —
"Feet; short, robust." Swainson's has quite slender tarsi.
" Wings ; long, broad, the fourth quill longest." Swainson's
has the third the longest. " The third next, the fifth very little
shorter, the second longer than fifth." Swainson's has the
fourth next longest, the fifth fully an inch shorter than the third
whilst the fifth is a little longer than the second, making quite
a differently formed wing from that of vulgaris. " First four
abruptly cut out on the inner web." Now it is a well known
character of Swainson's to have but three incised primaries.

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Speaking of primaries, Aadubon says, ^^ A greater part of
the inner web, with the shaft white ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ the white of
the inner webs of the primaries forms a conspicuous patch, con-
trasted with the grayish-black of their terminal portion.*' This
is a remarkable feature not noticeable in Swainson's. Audu-
bon's bird had the " lower wing-coverts white barred wibh dus-
ky." Swainson's has rufous under wing-coverts.

The above are the principal differences, and together with
Audubon's fine plate, which is a perfect facsimile of my bird,
give a most emphatic contradiction to all assertions that Audu-
bon was unable to distinguish the difference between Buteo vuU
garis and what to him would have been a new bird. This noted
ornithologist was constantly on the lookout for new species with
which to embellish his book, and it is extremely improbable
that he would have let such an opportunity escape him.

The descriptive points given are enough to separat e Audu-
bon's bird from all others, but as if to give more weight to his
testimony we find him saying as a final to his article : '^ When
compared with European specimens, mine have the bill somewhat
stronger ; but in all other respects, including the scutella and
scales of the feet and toes, and the structure of the wings and
tail, the parts are similar."

It will be noticed that he uses the plural " mine," for before
this was appended he had received another, also shot by Dr.
Townsend, on the plains of the Snake River.

Swainson and Richardson, in ^^ Fauna Boreal! Americana,"
Vol. II, page 47, also make mention of a species under the name
of Buteo vulgaris^ and give a figure of the same. They were,
however, without doubt mistaken in their identification, the
bird which they had being really BtUeo Swainsoniy as both
description and figure clearly indicate. Reverting once more to
Audubon, I will answer a query which will arise in almost
every one's mind, viz : — How was it that Aubudon did not find
the common B, Swainsoniy and yet have specimens of the rarer
vulgaris pass through his hands?

First — The country inhabited by this Hawk (Swainson's) was
comparatively unknown at that time, and consequently not much
traversed by naturalists.

Second — ^Audubon never noticed some of our most common
species, while he discovered and described many rare ones that
were closely allied to them. Notably among these was the

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Least and Yellow-bellied Flycatchers {Empidonax minmus et
flavioentris)^ both of which were unknown to him until pointed
out by Prof. S. F. Baird. Accident or perhaps a singular chain
of circumstances will often prevent a collector from finding spe-
cies which are very common. During my first visit to Florida
I took nearly every species which was known to exist in the
section which I visited, yet never saw a single specimen of the
Tufted Titmouse {Lophoplumes bicolor), which I have since
found there in abundance.

Lastly — Is BiOeo vulgaris very rare in the Northwest? I
know that this section has been ransacked by good collectors,
yet sometimes birds will escape observation for years, and at
last be found common. Such certainly has been the case with
Baird's Bunting {Passerctibis Bairdii) ; and Sprague's Lark
(Neocorys Spraguei) In conclusion, then, I may add, that
as three specimens of the Common Buzzard hftve actually been
taken within pur limits it is extremely probable that it will be
found of regular occurrence in the Northwest.



Op all our warblers there are few that surpass the Golden-
wing in elegance of plumage. Though comparatively common
with us during the spring migrations but few appear to remain
jbo breed, and yet our State has been considered about its north-
ern limit on this coast. They arrive in eastern Massachusetts
from the second to the third week in May, when they are very
active, flitting through the trees and young growth, diligently
searching for their food, which consists of insects and their lar-
Vfle, occasionally giving vent to a rather loud, peculiar and un-
mistakable song, which, though not so musical as that of most
of the other individuals of this family, is very pleasing. The
Golden-wings do not seem to confine themselves wholly to
swampy situations, as is usually stated, but are sometimes found
on higher ground, quite remote from such places. They pair
shortly after arriving, and commence to build from the latter
part of May to the first of June. The first authentic uest found

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in this section of the country was that collected by Mr. C. J.
Maynard, Jane 12, 1869, and admirably described by him on
page 100 of the "Naturalist's Guide." This nest was placed on
a slightly elevated tuft of moss, near a swampy thicket, within
a short distance of a travelled road, and contained four eggs,
and also one of the Cow Bird {Molothrus pecoris)^ which were
within a few days of hatching. Since this nest was found there
have been no others taken, to my knowledge, until the past year
when three were discovered ; one each by my friends, E. B.
Towne, Jr., and W. W. Eager, who have kindly allowed me to
use their notes, and the third by my brother and myself.

We were out collecting on the afternoon of June 8th, 1875,
and while passing through a strip of swampy land on the out-
skirts of a small wood, flushed a bird from under a plant known
as " Skunk Cabbage," (Symplocarpua fostidus.)

Upon searching we found the nest ooncealed by the large
leaves of the plant. ' It was raised about two inches above the
wet ground by dead oak and maple leaves which were quite
damp. The owner soon came back, and hopping excitedly from
branch to branch of an alder thicket a few yards away, almost
continually uttered a sharp chirp of alarm,. betokening her strong
dislike to the intruders ; but, strange to say, her mate did not
make his appearance, although we could hear him distinctly
zee-zee-zeeing, a few rods away. As it w&s fast growing dark,
and feeling satisfied that she had laid her set, we shot her.

The nest, which closely resembles that of the Maryland Yel-
low-throat (Geothlypis trichasjy is composed outwardly of dry
oak and maple leaves, interspersed with long stripes of the out-
er bark of the grape vine ; and is lined with fine fibrous shreds
of the same of a reddish tint, interwoven with one or two very
small pieces of dry grass. The measurements are as follows :
height, 2.75 inches ; width, 4.25 ; diameter inside, 2.30 ; depth
inside, 1.60.

The eggs are three in number, two pure white ; the third
sparsely spotted on the larger end, and measured respectively,
.69x.53, .68x.51, and .65x.49. One of them was out of the nest,
and had three smaM holes close to each other on the upper side,
through which a little of the albumen had leaked out and dried.
I cannot with certainty account for this, as I feel quite positive
that no other person had ever molested the nest, but think that
a squirrel, or other rodent, had eaten one of the eggs, pulled

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Online LibraryNuttall Ornithological ClubBulletin of the Nuttall Ornithological Club: a quarterly jjournal of ornithology → online text (page 1 of 50)