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

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ten days, and unfortunately one egg was destroyed in cleaning. — ^Wil-
bur F. Lamb, Holyoke, Mass.

Persistency at Nest-Building in a House-Wren. — A House-Wren
(Troglodytes aSdon) has this season manifested a strong predilection for the
nozzle of a pump for a nesting- site. The pump being in daily use, the
nozzle, much to our surprise, was repeatedly found to be obstructed with
sticks. An investigation of the novel incident led to the discovery of the
cause, it being found that a House-Wren was industriously at work carry-
ing materials into the pump for the construction of its nest The bird
was finally left one morning to carry on his work, when, at the end of two
hours, it was found that he had filled the pump so full that water could
not be obtained until a p€urt of the sticks had been removed. The nest,
through the necessary use of the pump, was three times destroyed before
the persevering little fellow abandoned his work. — Abbott W. FrazaBi
Watertown^ Mass.

A New Bird to Massachusetts. — Mr. Charles W. Townsend, of
Boston, shot, July 28, 1876, a male specimen of PUctrophanes omatus.
It was taken in Magnolia, near Gloucester, Mass., in a field near the sea-
shore, and has been by Mr. Townsend presented to the New England col-
lection of the Boston Natural History Society. It is an adult male, in
worn plumage. — T. M. Brewer, Boston^ Mass,

A NEW Form op Surnia to New England. — Two fine specimens of the
Hawk Owl have recently been taken in Houlton, Maine, and have been
mounted by Mr. Welch in his usual superior style. They are both males,
and while one is in the plumage usually known as Surnia hudsonia, the
other is in that distinguished by the separate name of Surnia tUtda^ and
supposed to be exclusively PalsBarctic. — T. M. Brewer, Boston^ Mass.

Capture op the Philadelphia Vireo in New Hampshire. — A
specimen of this bird (Vireo philadelphicus) was shot in Hollis, New
Hampshire, May 26, 1876, by Mr. A. F. Eaton. It was feeding in com-
pany with two other birds of the same kind, in some low oak-bushes. —
W. H. Fox, Concord, Mass.

Occurrence op Pasberculus princspb in New Yore. — One of my
correspondents, Mr. Frank £. Johnson, of Gravesend, Long Island, writes
me that when out collecting, on December 20, 1876, on Coney Island, in
New York harbor, he shot three specimens of a Sparrow new to him.



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ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. 79

wliich weie shown to Mr. George N. Lawrence, and pronoanced to be the
Ipewich Sparrow (Passerculus princeps). They were shot on the salt
meadows of the island, and were in company with Savannah Sparrows
{Pa$9erculu» Mvanna) and Swamp Sparrows (Melospiza pcUustrii), This is
the most southern record of this species.* — H. B. Bailey, Newtoriy Mass.

The Pigeon-Hawk (Falco columbarius) at Sea. — While returning firom
a trip to Labrador, last summer, I observed small Hawks, undoubtedly of
this species, at a considerable distance from land, on two occasions.

The first occasion was on the 6th of September. We were crossing the
Gulf of St. Lawrence, and were in sight of the coast of Newfoundland,
which was about twelve or fifteen miles distant. As many as four Hawks
were seen, which came so near that we were able to recognize them as
Pigeon-Hawks. They seemed to be perfectly at home, flying over the
water, and showed no fear of the vessel, several times alighting on the

rigging.

The first that appeared had a Leach's Petrel, dead, in his talons. He
alighted with this, on the fore-crosstrees, and proceeded to eat it. The
sailors were unwilling that we should fire into the rigging, so a young
man went up the fOre-rigging, land nearly caught the Hawk, which flew
off, leaving his prey behind him. Three other Hawks came off to the ves-
sel during the day, and were all shot, but all, unfortunately, fell into the
water and could not be secured. The day was bright, clear, and warm,
with a light wind from the north, so that we made very little progress.
The Hawks appeared to come from the direction of Newfoundland.

The second occasion was during our run from Cape Sable to Boston,
about fifty miles from the nearest land. It was the 10th of September, a
bright day, with a strong northwest wind. A small Hawk, probably a
Pigeon-Hawk, passed the vessel, flying to windward. Dr. Coues, in his
" Notes on the Ornithology of Labrador," mentions that a Hawk of this
species came on board their vessel during their return voyage, in a very
exhausted condition. This bird, however, was very shy, and was imme-
diately frightened away from the vessel. He also mentions seeing sev-
eral Sparrow-Hawks while in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, off Cape Breton
Island, which " circled quite closely around the vessel, showing but little
fear," — John Murdoch, Cambridge^ Mass.

Capture of a Second Specimen op Helminthophaga leucobron-
CHiALis. — In the first number of tiie Bulletin for the year 1876, Mr. Wm.
Brewster described a new species of Helminthophaga (if. leuccbronchialis),
which he obtained in Newtonville, Mass., on May 18, 1870. He says in
his articlei '' Whether it must be placed in the same category with the

* For other records of ocoorrence of this species see this BulletiD, VoL I,
pp. 18, 5S^ and VoL II, p. S7.



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80 BULLETIN OF THE NUTTALL

unique Etupixa totimsendif Begvlus cuvierij etc, or, like Dendraca kirUandif
will turn up occasionally in the future at different points, or still again,
as in the case of Centronyx hairdii, will be found in large numbers, time
alone can decide." It is with pleasure, therefore, that I can announce the
capture of a second specimen of this species, so new to Ornithology, and
particularly also because it was taken in a locality so far distant from
where the first one was obtained. The specimen under consideration was
shot by Mr. Christopher D. Wood, on the afternoon of May 12, 1877, in
an apple orchard near Clifton, Delaware County, Pa. It proved to be a
male, and answered to the description given by Mr. Brewster. It is, with-
out doubt, a veritable specimen of H. leucobronchialis, and goes to prove
the species a good one. It was first called to my attention by Mr. Wood
himself, who told me that he had shot a specimen' of H. leucohronchialii
near Clifton. He afterwards showed me the bird, which he had been com-
paring with the plate of the former specimen, and found it to be identical.
Whence these rarities come, whether they are abundant in certain sections,
and the characters of the females, are matters not yet known ; yet it is more
than likely that at no very distant day both the present species, as well aa
Hdminthophaga latorencei, may prove to be nearly if not quite as abun-
dant as the other species of the same genus. — Spenceb Trotteb, Phila-
delphia, Pa.

The Mottled Owl as a Fisherman. — On November 29, 1876, I
took from a Mottled OwFs hole {Scops asio) the hinder half of a Woodcock
(Philohela minor). Within two weeks after I took two Owls from the same
hole, and on the 19th of January last I had the good fortune to take an-
other. After extracting the Owl I put in my hand to see what else there
was of interest, and found sixteen Homed Pouts (Amiurus atrariiLs), four
of which were alive. When it occurred to me that all the ponds in the
vicinity were under at least two feet of snow and ice, I could scarcely conjec-
ture where the Homed Pouts could have been captured. After visiting all
the ponds, I foimd they had most probably been captured in one fully a mile
away, where some boys had been cutting holes through the ice to catch
pickerel bait. The Owl probably stationed himself by the edge of the
hole and seized the fish as they came to the surface. What a busy time he
must have had flying thirty-two miles after sixteen Homed Pouts I I may
also state in this connection that I once found the ground under a Gi^t
Homed Owl's nest (Bvho virginianus) literally strewn with fish-bones. —
A. M. Frazab, Watertovm, Mass,

BBEEDiNa OF Leach's Petrel on the Coast 07 Maine. — In the Jan-
uary number of the Bulletin (VoL II, 1877) Mr. N. C. Brown refers to
the Leach's Petrel (Thalassidroma leueorrhcsa, Linn.) "as found for the first
time breeding on the New England coast/' and mentions meeting with its



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ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. 81

nests on the Green Islands in Casco Baj. That Mr. Brown was not the first
person to find it breeding even on the Green Islands would not be a fact
of sufficient moment to call for correction did not his statement suggest
the quite important error implied : that it is not known, and has not been
known, to breed elsewhere on the coast of Maine. That this Petrel breeds
along the greater part of the coast of Maine has been known as a fact for
many years. Whether Casco Bay is its most western point remains to be
ascertained.

In June, 1850, I made several weeks' explorations in the neighbor-
hood of Eastport, and found this bird breeding in all the Grand Menan
group — which geographically, if not politically, are part of the Maine
coast — on the island of Eastport itself, and on a small island between
Eastport and Machias. An account was published (Bost. Jour. Nat.
Hist, VoL VI, p. 297). On the following year, in company with Dr.
H. R. Storer, I continued these explorations, and ascertained that this
species breeds abundantly on every suitable island as far west as Mt.
Desert Several years afterwards, in the summer of 1865, and again in
1856, in company with Dr. Dixon, of Damariscotta, we traced their breed-
ing, in considerable numbers, as far west as Round Pond harbor, in Bris-
tol, and in the Damariscove Islands, in the ocean, not far from the mouth
of the Kennebec. In 1873, on Peakes Island, I saw specimens of the eggs
and birds taken by Messrs. Franklin Benner and Spencer Baird Biddle in
Casco Bay the same summer. On the strength of these observations, made
by others as well as myself, in my Catalogue of the Birds of New Eng-
Lmd (Proc. Bost Soc. Nat Hist, VoL XVII, p. 450), I spoke of this
Petrel as a summer resident on the coast of Maine. I have by me, in
MS., the letters of both these gentlemen in regard to their observations.
I subjoin a brief extract from the notes of Mr. Benner : —

** The first visit was made to Junk-of-Pork Island, about three miles
northeast of Peakes, in Casco Bay, on July 16, 1873. The island has an
area of half an acre at low water, and in the centre is an almost perpen-
dicular piece of rock about forty feet in diameter and nearly twenty-five
feet high. A dozen or more burrows of this Petrel, each with their single
egg, were found in the earth that had accumulated on the top of this rock.
The eggs were about half incubated. In two nests young were found only
a day or two old. One of the parent birds was found in each burrow, and
in one instance both.

" On the 22d of the same month I visited White Bull Island, located
twelve miles farther to the eastward, and comprising a much larger extent
of surface than the first Here were also found the nests of the Petrel
among many of the Terns. Young birds were foimd in many of them, and
some eggs."

He speaks of having found them " abundant," and probably breeding in
several other " of the many barren islands in the neighborhood." — T. M.
Bbbwsb, Boston, Mass,



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82 BULLETIN OF THE NVTTALL

Nest aih) Egos of the Alaskan Wren. — In a small collection of
birds' skinfl, nests, and eggs recently acquired by the Museum of Compara-
tive Zoology, collected at the Pribylow Islands, Alaska, is the nest and
two eggs of the Alaskan Wren (Troglodytes parmdua var. alaacenns), which
are believed to be the first ever seen by naturalists. The nest is quite large
and very compactly built, being composed externally of fine moss of a
bright green color, interwoven with fine roots, and lined heavily with hair
and feathers. Conspicuous among the latter are the rosy-tipped feathers of
the Leucosticte griseinucha. The hairs are rather coarse and white, three
to four or five inches in length, and appear to be hairs of the Polar Bear.
The nest was obtained in June, 1876, on St George Island, by Mr. W. J.
Mclntyre, to whom it was brought by a native. It is said to have been
placed deep down in the crevices of large rocks, and to have originally
contained twelve eggs, all but two of which were broken before they came
into Mr. Mclntyre's possession. These measure, respectively, .68 by .51
and .60 by .50. Their general color is dull white, with a very few
minute dots of reddish, so few and small as to be easily overlooked. The
nest is represented to be very hard to find, being placed so deeply among
the rocks, this being the only one Mr. Mclntyre could obtain during two
years' residence at the Islands, although he had a standing offer for them
of about ten dollars in gold each. — J. A. Allen, Cambridge, Mass.

JuNOO 0RBG0NU8 IN ILLINOIS. — October 14, 1875, 1 saw a flock of some
dozen birds in a willow-tree, and killed one with a sling. The rest flew,
off, and were not seen again. The specimen was sent to Mr. K W. Nel-
son, who identified it as Junco oregonus, the first one of this species cap-
tured in this State, its extreme eastern range as heretofore known being
Kansas. — H. K. Coale, Chicago, III.

Leptoptila albiprons, a Pigeon new to the United States Fauna.
— Mr. George B. Sennett, a diligent and zealous ornithologist, who has
been making collections and observations in Southern Texas, writes as fol-
lows from Hidalgo, Tex., under date of May 2, 1877 : —

" I have a dove which I do not identify, and accordingly send you a
description of a specimen killed April 18. This is a male. I have secured
four specimens, and hope to find the nest, as I am satisfied they breed
here. Their cooing is low and short, ending with a falling inflection, and

is easily recognized by its peculiarity Length, 12.50 ; extent,

19.50 ; wing, 6.35 ; tail, 4.50 ; tarsus, 1.37, middle toe and claw the same ;
bill, .62, black. Iris yellow. Orbital space small, faintly red and blue.
Tail square, of twelve feathers. Upper parts greenish-olive, the metallic
coloring purple with bronzy-green reflections, and restricted to back of
neck. Crown drab, shading to nearly white on the forehead. Chin white.
ForenCck creamy-slate. Belly white. Sides ashy. Wings brown, slaty
beloW) and whole underwing-coverts are bright chestnut, which color ex*



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ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB. gS

tends eren on the sides. Middle tail-feathers like the back ; otiiers brown
above, and tipped with white in increasing amonnt, till the onter ones are
white for Jialf an inch ; tail below black, with the white tips, as just said.
Under tail-coverts {^re white. In general habits, the bird is quiet and
not readily alarmed ; it associates with the White-winged Doves {Melopelia
kucoptera), and prefers tall trees to undergrowth.''

I sent my correspondent's letter to Mr. Ridgway, who kindly compared
the description with specimens of Leptotila albifrons in the National
Museum, and made this identification. — Elliott Coues, Wa$hington,D, 0.

MsLOPELiA. LEUCOPTBBA IN COLORADO. — Mr. E. L. Berthoud, writing
fifom Grolden, CoL, March 7, 1877, informs me of the occurrence 6f this
species near timber line on the head of Cub Creek, Jefferson County. He
saw a dozen or more of the birds — rare in this region — in July, 1869.
This verifies my surmise (Birds of the Northwest, p. 386) of the actual
occurrence of the species beyond hitherto recorded limits. — Eluott
Coues, Washington, D. C.

Thk Ruff and the Purple Qalunulb in Ohio. — Dr. Theodore
Jasper, of this city, obtained, November 10, 1872, at the Licking Reser-
voir, thirty miles east of Columbus, a Wader which remained uniden-
tified till recently. I was of the opinion that it would prove to be either
PhUanuichus pugnax, or a nondescript. On communicating my views to
Mr. H. "W. Henshaw, of Washington, he kindly offered to compare the
specimen with others in the National Museum. He writes that the bird,
which was a male (probably young), is positively identical with specimens
of that species in the collection of the National Museum.

I have also just received from my friend, Dr. Howard K Jones, a fine
skin of the Purple Gallinule (Porpkyrio martinica\ killed by him at Circle-
ville, Ohio, May 10, 1877. This bird is now recorded for the first time, on
unimpeachable authority, as a visitor to this State. Dr. Jones tells me that
it has been seen before in the vicinity of Circleville. In my Catalogue of
the Birds of Ohio (Ohio Agric. Rep., 1860), it was inserted on what I after-
ward discovered to be insufficient authority, and for that reason it was
omitted firom a subsequent list (Food of Birds, etc. 1875). I have several
times been favored with reports, and once or twice with skins, presumed
to be of this species, which proved, however, to be those of the Florida
Qallinule, which is not a rare summer resident throughout the State. —
J. M. Wheaton, Columbusy 0.

Notes on Ntctale Acadioa. — Although not generally common in
sny locality, the Acadian or Saw-whet Owl has been of quite frequent
occurrence in Chicago and immediate vicinity during the past three years.
A female of this species in my collection was caught alive while sleeping
on one of the lower branches of a pine-tree, June 23, 1874. In July of
the same year three adult specimens wer^ shot by a boy, who saved only



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84 BULLETIN OF THE NUTTALL CLUB.

the wings, as he did not understand preserring skins. November 4 an
adult female was shot in a small grove of pine-trees near the south city-
limits. It measured, 8.12 X 18.60; wing, 5.50. March 26, Mr. C. C.
Whitacre caught an adult male at the same place. It was kept alive for
several days, when it died from being caught between the bars of its cage.
He afterwards shot two adult females in the same grove (which has since
gone by the name of the Acadian Grove), and also found one dead in
his yard. March 28 Mr. J. B. Osborne shot an adult female, and June 15
a young female, both of which are now in my possession. The latter
measured, 7.37 X 19.25 ; wing, 5.62. Disc dark brown ; forehead, wings,
and tail beginning to show white markings, as in the adult. July 10 a
second young specimen was brought to me alive. Although just cap-
tured, it showed no fear on being handled. In the shade the iris waif
hardly visible, while in the sun the pupil contracted so much as to appear
as only a small black spot The bird always sat, when perched, with two
toes before and two behind, puffing out its feathers at times so that it
looked nearly as h)und as a ball. The white markings were more clearly
defined than in the other, extending farther back on the forehead, and
entirely round the outer edge of the disc This specimen is in the collec-
tion of Dr. J. W. Velie, who also found one dead on the lake shore at
Hyde Park, DL July 16 a third juvenile was shot in a poplar-tree oppo-
site my residence. It was still more advanced toward adult plumage than
either of the others, especially about the head and wings. J. Strickland
(taxidermist) has a young specimen which was caught here about a year
ago. December 20 Mr. G. F. Clingman shot an adult female in Aca-
dian Grove, and March 4, 1876, a second specimen was shot in the same
place. These, with one male and two females which are also in collections
here, make a total of twenty, including two adult males, fourteen adult
females, and four in immature plumage. — H. K. Coale, Cliicago, IlL

Probable Breeding op the Acadian Owl (NyctaU acadica) in
Massachusetts. — The capture of this species in the adult state is by no
means of rare occurrence in Massachusetts, but its presence is generally
detected in the winter months. Of its breeding so far south in New Eng-
land I think there has hitherto been no instance recorded. We are now
able, however, to note the capture of three specimens in the plumage of
the so-called " cUbifronsJ* The first was taken in Newton, Mass., on June
28, 1876 ; and the second at Hingham, Mass., on July 5, 1876 ; the third
was captured in one of the cells in the Penitentiary on Deer Island, Bos-
ton Harbor, on the 8th of the same month, by an inmate of the prison.
These localities being some ten or fifteen miles apart, it would seem hardly
probable that these three Owls belonged to the same brood. On April 4,
1877, a specimen in adult plumage was captured in the Penitentiary on
Deer Island, where the above-mentioned immature specimen was taken. I
am indebted to Mr. Wm. J. Knowlton, of Boston, for the above facts, and
from him I obtained one of the young specimens. — Ruthven Deans,
CambridgCf Mass,



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BULLETIN

OP THB

NUTTALL ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB.

Vol. 11. OCTOBER, 1877. No. 4.

NOTES ON MOLOTHRUS jENEUS, Waol.

BT J. a MBRRILL^ ASSISTANT SUBOBON, U. 8. A.

Thb occurrence of this species north of Mexico was noted in the
Bulletin of November, 1876 (VoL I, p. 88). It is now more than
a year since it was first observed, and during that time I have had
ample opportunity to study its habits, a short account of which
may be of interest. This Oowbird is found in Mexico, Guatemala,
and Yeragua, as well as in Southern Texas ; how fiar it penetrates
into the latter State I am unable to say. My first specimens were
taken at Hidalgo, on the Rio Grande, seventy miles northwest of
Fort Brown, where, however, they are not so abundant as lower
down the river. Here they are common throughout the year, a
small proportion going south in winter. Those that remain gather
in large flocks with the Long-tailed Grackles, common Cowbirds, and
Brewer's, Red-winged, and Yellow-headed Blackbirds ; they become
very tame, and the abundance of food about the picket-lines attracts
them for miles around. A£, ameus is readily distinguishable in
these mixed gatherings from the other species by its blood-red iris
and its peculiar top-heavy appearance, caused by its habit of puffing
out the feathers of the head and neck. This habit is most marked
during the breeding-season and in the male, but is seen throughout
the year.

About the middle of April the common Cowbird, Brewer's, and
Yellow-headed Blackbirds leave for the North; the Long-tailed
Grackles have formed their colonies in favorite clumps of mesquite
trees ; the Redwings that remain to breed have selected sites for
their nests ; the dwarf Cowbirds (Mohthrus pecans var. obscurus)



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86 BULLETIN OF THE NUTTALL

arrive from the South, and M, ameus gather in flocks by themselves,
and wait for their victims to build. The males have now a variety
of notes, somewhat resembling those of the common Cowhird
(Molothrus pecoris)t but more harsh. During the day they scatter
over the surrounding country in little companies of one or two
females, and half a dozen males, returning at nightfall to the vicin-
ity of the picket lines. While the females are feeding or resting in
the shade of a bush, the males are eagerly paying their addresses
by puffing out their feathers, as above noted, strutting up and
down, and nodding and bowing in a very odd manner. Every now
and then one of the males rises in the air, and, poising himself two
or three feet above the female, fluttejrs for a minute or two, follow-
ing her if she moves away, and then descends to resume his puffing
and bowing. This habit of fluttering in the air was what first
attracted my attention to the species. In other respects their
habits seem to be like those of the eastern Cowbird {M. pecorts).

My first egg of if. ceneus was taken on May 14, 1876, in a Car-
dinal's nest. A few days before this a soldier brought me a similar
egg, saying he found it in a Scissor-tail's (Milvulus) nest ; not rec-
ognizing it at the time, I paid little attention to him, and did not
keep the egg. I soon found several others, and have taken in all
twenty-two specimens the past season. All but two of these
were found in nests of the Bullock's, Hooded, and small Orchard
Orioles (Icterus spurius var. affinis). It is a curious fact that al-
though Yellow-breasted Chats and Red-winged Blackbirds breed
abundantly in places most frequented by these Cowbirds, I have
but once found the latter's egg in a Chat's nest, and never in a Red-
wing's, though I have looked in very many of them. Perhaps they
feel that the line should be drawn 'somewhere, and select their
cousins the Blackbirds as coming within it ; the Dwarf Cowbirds
are not troubled by thid scruple, however. Several of these parasitic
eggs were found under interesting conditions. On six occasions I



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