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loculator visits San Francisco Bay and vicinity every year. Could he
have been deceived by hearing Spatula clypeata called " Spoon-bill " ?

59. Anser segetnin ((riiteL). ^ Probably on Northwest coast in winter,"
Nuttall, 1832. The evidence for the occurrence of this species anywhere
in North America is very slight, although it is quoted by Swainson and
Richardson from Heame. [Doubtless A, canadensis (Cones).]

60. Anas obsoura, Gmel " Oregon," Aud., 1839, Townsend's List,
" California," Woodhouse, 1853. This, probably a melanistic form of
the Mallard, has not recently been found west of Utah. (See Henshaw,
Bept, 1875.)

61. Dafila urophasiana (Vig.\ 1829. ^Northwest coast" This
South American species has not been confirmed as from North America,
and, if found, occurs only as a straggler.

62. Lams beloheri, Vig^ 1829. " Pacific coast of North America."
Though confounded by some with L, heermanni, this species is probably
limited to South America, and the range of the two species does not

63. ChrcBOooephalus atrieilla (Linn.), "Colorado River," Coues,
1868, but not yet obtained on Pacific side north of Cape Saint Lucas.

64. Sterna antillamm (Less,). In exactly the same category as the

65. Hydroohelidon nigrum (Linn.). ''Oregon," Towns., 1839;
"California," Heermann, 1858. According to Coues (Mon. Laridae), the
common American bird is H, larifarmis (Linn.), so that the H. nigrum is
not likely to occur, except as a straggler, in the West, where all I have
seen were the common kind. [This is probably what Townsend and
Heermann meant by " nigrum" (Coues). Saunders (Proc. Zool. Soc 1876,
p. 642) makes them identical (Lawrence).]

66. Xema fuxoatum (Neboux)y 1840. *^ Coast of California." As this
remarkable species has not been confirmed from the West coast, the
locality may well be doubted, like too many recorded by the same author.
[Recently stated by Salvin to be an inhabitant of the Qallapagos (Law-

67. Chraculns oarbo (LinnJ). *^ Nootka Sound," Nutt, 1834, << Ore-
gon," Towns., 1839. Not confirmed by collections from the West coast,
and no doubt confounded with other species.

68. Bula bassana (Linn.), ''Northwest coast of America," Nutt,

69. Sula fiber (Linn,) ^r^fusca, VieilL " Off coast of California from
San Francisco south," Newberry, 1857. The species seen were probably S,
piseator (Linn,), and 8, cyanops, Sund., which have been obtained from the
West Mexican coast, but not farther north, and I have not seen them
along the coast north of lat 30^ during several voyages.

70. Diomedea clilororhjnoha (Chnd.). " Off the coast of Oregon,"

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Towns., 1839, Aud., 1839-44. Audubon's figured type proves to be D.
culminaUi, Qoxxld, and was probftbly obtained too far from our coast to be
included in its Avifauna, as none have been found lately alongshore or in
sight of land. Townsend does not include it in his list of Oregon birds.

71. Diomedea loligincwa, ChneLj^D, fu$ca, Aud., 1839-44. In-
cluded in Townsend's List, but not recently confirmed, and as he does not
mention D. nigripesy And., he may have referred to the type of that
species. The South Pacific D. exulans and Daption capensis should also
be excluded.

72. JBstreUta haMitata (KiM.). '' CaUfomia," Lawrence, 1853, by
error for Priofinus cinerevs (Gmel.). No record of the former from the

73. IhjdBnvM ohBOWcum (GmeL). ''Northwest coast of America,'' Nut-
tall,p.834. No late record of its occurrence in the Pacific.

74. Podicepa minor ((Tytm/.). ''Oregon," Townsend, 1839. Given by
Nuttall as North American, but not lately obtained, being a common
European species, and confounded by Townsend with either P. comtUut or
P. auritiu,

75. Podloeps dominions (Xinn.). " California," Gambel, 1847. Prob-
ably not obtained north of the Gulf, and not confirmed as Hving north of
lat. 32**.



I HAD oommenced an article in reference to the two forms of the
SeUuphortts nifus of authors, as observed in California and Mexico,
when the July number of the Bulletin of the Nuttall Ornithological
Club reached me, containing an interesting paper by Mr. Henshaw,
on the California bird, which be describes as new under the name
of ^S'. alleni. That there are two well-defined species, as the term is
usually understood nowadays, I have for a long time been well
satisfied in my own mind, and the peculiar shape of the lateral
rectrices would seem to be sufficient to establish the specific differ-
ences of the two birds. Mr. Henshaw has done good service in
pointing these out ; but unfortunately he has conferred a new name
upon the wrong bird, for it is the southern form that requires to be
designated, and not the northern, or to be perhaps more exact, it is
the red-backed bird with the broad tail-feathers, and not the green-
backed one with the narrow tail-feathers, that is in need of a name.

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To prove this it would be necessary to go back in the history of the
species, and commence at the beginning. Gmelin seems to be the
first author who conferred a Latin name upon the Rufous-throated
Hummer, which be did in his " Systema Natures " (1788), VoL I, p.
497, sp. 57, and described it as follows : *' Trochilus rufus ....
rostrum pedesque nigri ; colli pennsB laterales nonnullee elongatse mo-
biles ; tectrices alarum obscure virescentes ; rectrices splendide rufee
aciiminatce, linea media longitudinali et apice nigris; cauda ettneata."
Moreover, he gives the habitat as " in sinu Americee Natka,*^ and
quotes as his synonyms the Ruffed Honey-Sucker of Pennant's
"Arctic Zoology," Vol. II, p. 290, No. 177, and the Ruff-necked
Humming-Bird of Latham's " Synopsis," Vol. II, p. 785, No. 56, t. 35,
whose specimen, as Latham informs us, came from Nootka Sound.
Now, as it is well known that the southern bird with the broad rec-
trices has a wide dispersion, going far to the north on the PaciBc
coast, it might be said, " How are we to know that the specimen from
Nootka Sound was not this species, and that it was the one called
alUni by Mr. Henshawl" Fortunately this can be satisfactorily
determined, and all doubts removed, by turning to the " Fauna
Boreali Americana " (Birds), and on page 324 we find that Swain-
son, in his article on the Trochilus (Selcuphorus) ruftis of Gmelin,
makes the following statement : ** The discovery of this superb
species in the cold and inhospitable regions of Nootka Sound is due
to our great navigator, Captain Cook, while to Dr. Latham belongs
the honor of first making it known to science. By a singular chance
we have at this moment he/ore us one of the identical specimens^ in per-
fect preservation^ collected by the naturalists of tliat expedition ; it was
presented by the late Sir Joseph Banks to Mr. Bullock, and was
purchased by us at a very high price at the dispersion of that col-
lector s museum by public auction." In his description of the form
of this bird, he says : ** The tail, although short, is more cuneated
than rounded, the two middle pairs being longest, all are narrowed
and obtusely pointed at their extremities, but the two outer pairs are
particularly narrow" It will thus be seen, I think, that the species
described by Gmelin from Nootka Sound was, without doubt, the
bird with narrow rectrices, as Swainson's specimen was a typical
one, if indeed it may not have been the original type ; and he was
too keen a naturalist not to have noticed the peculiar notch in the
rectrices next the median pair, observed in the bird with the
broad tail-feathers. He also speaks of the throat as being equally

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brilliant with that of T, moschilus (!) (which, so far as I have seen, is
never the case with the other species), and it has, he says, more of
a red than an orange gloss," and the tints are " exquisitely splen-
did " ; a perfectly accurate description of the California bird, but not
of the other, which has the gorget orange, and not at all brilliant. To
come a little nearer to our own time, we have Audubon, who, in his
" Birds of America " (8vo edition. Vol. IV, p. 202), thus describes
the Sela^horu$ rufu9 as he knew it from the specimens collected
on the Blue Mountains of the Columbia River and at Nootka
Sound by Messrs. Nuttall and Townsend : " Tail rather long,
broad, graduated, the lateral feathers four and a half twelfths of an
inch shorter than the centi'al; the latter are extremely broad,
measuring four and a half twelfths across, and the rest gradually
diminish to the lateral, which are very narrow, all obtusely pointed."
Not a word, it will be noticed, is said of the notch on the first
rectrices from the central ones. The throat is also stated to be
"splendent fire-red," etc. Baird, in the " Birds of North America**
(1860), p. 134, in his description of the S. rufus, says that "the
tail is strongly cuneate ; the outer feather .40 of an inch shorter
than the middle, which projects .14 of an inch beyond the rest. The
outer feather is very narrow, not exceeding .11 of an inch in width ;
the rest widen and lengthen rapidly to the central one, which is
very broad (.35 of an inch) ; the central feathers are all ovate-acu-
ninate. The entire throat, including a short ruff on the side of the
neck (about .40 of an inch long), is metallic red, of the same shade
as in the Ruby-throat, although with brassy reflections in some
lights." Gould, in his " Monograph of the Trochilidce,^' has appar-
ently confused the two species together, but he makes no mention
of the notched rectrices, but states they are all of a " broad lanceolate
form,'* and his figures would seem to be taken from the California
bird. I might go on and multiply the instances where writers in
their descriptions of S, rvfus have spoken only of the birds with the
narrow rectrices, although, as in Mr. Gould's case, they may have
had both Caljfornian and Mexican specimens before them, but,
regarding them as one species, they have always selected for their
descriptions the specimens with the brilliant throats (as being in
more perfect plumage, as they supposed), rather than the duller-
throated examples, and so these last have escaped receiving a dis-
tinctive name, as they deserved. But I think enough has been
said to show that authors generally, and the older ones especially,

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always described the bird with all the lateral rectrices narrow, and
destitute of any notch.

I have not said anything, in comparing the species, about the
color of the back, as I consider this is not altogether a satisfactory
character by which to distinguish the birds, though Mr. Henshaw
makes it one of his principal ones. Latham, in his original descrip-
tion, states that the " crown " was " glossy green,'' and also that there
was a ''greenish gloss between the wings." In the first place, the
females of both are entirely green in their upper surface, and this is
not always pure green, as I have specimens now before me, collected
by Boucard at Oaxaca, Mexico, in which the back is a yellowish-
bronze, precisely like young males in my collection from California
of the other form, collected by Dr. Heermann. Again, I have
young males, also collected by Boucard at Oaxaca, which have the
back of such a curious reddish-cinnamon that it is difficult to say
what color it exactly is ; and Mr. Henshaw says, in his article
(p. 55), that " in California, however, where the S, nifun occurs in
its typical condition, that is, with an unmixed rufous back, specimens
are not uncommonly found which exhibit a strong approach to the colora-
tion of S. alleni " ; although, as he farther says, " they never apppear
to pass beyond a certain point"; It is, however, indisputable, that the
two species do vary in the amount of green upon their upper sur-
face, and also that at times they approach each other in coloration
so nearly that, were there no other differences existing, it would be
impossible to separate them. For this reason I do not place much
reliance upon the amount of green on the back as a specific charac-
ter. But there are other differences, I think, not mentioned by Mr.
Henshaw, to be observed in the females, by which this sex of the
two species can be distinguished. The female of the Mexican*
species has the rectrices broad.

In addition to the superior width of its rectrices, the Mexican
bird has the lateral tail-feathers, for more than a third of their
length in the central portion, jet black, the base light rufous, and
the tips white, so that when the tail is closed, and looked at from

♦ I use the terms Mexican and Califomian to designate the birds with broad
and narrow rectrices respectively, for the term rufous has been so misapplied that
I cannot employ it at present without risk of adding to the confusion. At the
same time the bird called alleni is not restricted to California, as I have al-
ready shown, but goes as far north at least as Kootka Sound, and may in winter
pass into Lower California, perhaps into Mexico.

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beneath, it appears all black, tipped with white. In the other
species the rufous of the basal portion is more extended, and the
blackish bar narrower, and does not occupy all the space between
the tips of the under-coverts and the white tips, at least on the
lateral feathers. I do not think that the females have any metallic
feathers on the throat; those mentioned as females, with these
feathers, being usually young males. These last generally have the
median rectrices cinnamon, the tips only being metallic green. As,
therefore, it will be necessary to bestow a new name upon the bird
with the metallic-orange throat and notched rectrices next to the
central pair, the synonymy of the species will stand somewhat as

The descriptions are taken from specimens in my collection from
California and Mexico respectively.

Belasphortui mlns.

Trodiilus rujusy Gmel., Syst Nat, Vol I, p. 497. (1788.)
Ruff-necked Humming-Bird^ Lath., Gten. Syn., Vol. II, p. 785, pL 35.

Trochilus {Selaspharua) rufusy Swains., Faun. Bor. Amer., VoL II, p.

324. (1831.)
Selasphorus rufuty AuD., B. Amer., 8vo ed. VoL IV, p. 20a Baird,*B.
Amer. (1860), p. 134. Gould, Mon. Troch., Vol. Ill, pi. 137 (partim).
Selagphorus ruber, Bon., Consp. G^n. Av., p, 82. •

Omismya soisin, Less., Hiat. Nat Ois. Monch., p. 190, pis. 66, 67-
SeUuphorus aMeni, Henshaw, Bull. Nutt Omith. Club, Vol. 11, p. 64

HabitaL In summer the
Pacific coast of America from
California to Nootka Sound.
In winter — ]

MaU. Top of head and
back brouzj'-green, dullest
on the forehead. Sides of
the head, rump, flank, ahdd-
men, and under tail-^overts
rufous. A gorget of metal-
lic feathers, covering all the throat and extending on to the sides of the
neck, brilliant coppery-red, with brassy reflections in certain lights. Up-
per part of breast white. Wings purplish-brown. Tail short, cuneate,

* Figures reprinted from Mr. Henshaw's article (this volume, p. 63), with
change of names.

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all the feathers acutely pointed. Median rectrices rather broad, lateral
ones narrowing rapidly to the outermost, which is extremely narrow.
Bill straight, black.

Female. Above entirely green, with a slight cinnamon shade on the
rump. Under surface grayish- white, with a slight brownish tinge on the
breast. Tail-feathers rufous at base, then a narrow subterminal bar of
violaceous-black, and tipped with white.

The next species I propose to call

Selasphortts henshawi

Trochilus rufuiy Henshaw, Bull. Nutt Omith. Club, Vol. II, p. 53

. (1877).

Habitat Mexico, northward along the Pacific coast to Sitka.

MdUe, Top of the head metallic-green, rest of upper parts cinnamon,
but some specimens have green feathers intermixed with the rufous on the
back. Throat metallic-orange, not brilliant as in the other species. Breast,
and the centre of the abdomen, white ; flanks and under tail-coverts
rufous. Tail rufous, tipped with dark brown ; feathers pointed at tip,
median pair broad, lateral ones growing narrower to the outermost, which
is the most attenuated. On the inner web near the tip of the rectrices next the
central pair is a conspicuous well-developed notch. Bill black. Total
length, 3} inches ; wing, 1^ ; tail. If ; cubnen, |.

FemcUe. Entire upper parts shining grass-green, dullest on the croi^-n.
Throat white, spotted with brown. Under parts white ; washed with
rufous on the breast and flanks. Under tail-coverts buff. Median rec-
trices green ; lateral ones rufous at base, then a band of metallic-green,
succeeded by a subterminal broad black bar, and tips white. Bill black.
Length, 3| inches ; wing, 1 J ; tail, 1^ ; culmen, f. Young males similar
to the females, with a few metallic spots on the throat.



It is indeed surprising that a bird so generally distributed through-
out the Southern States as the above-named species should be so lit-
tle known. In " History of North American Birds" (Vol. I, p. 241),
Dr. Brewer prefaces his account of its habits by the remark that
its history " is very imperfectly known,** and then proceeds to draw
upon the meagre and conflicting descriptions given by Wilson,
Audubon, and Nuttall. Although I cannot myself claim an ac-

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quaintance of very loog standiog with this beautiful h'ttle species,
still for live or six weeks during the past spring scarcely a day
passed that I did not see one or more individuals. I first met with
them at Mellonville, Florida, where, on March 14, I shot two speci-
mens, both females, in the pine woods near the town. They were
associated with Pine Warblers, Nuthatches, and Woodpeckers.
During a trip up the Wekiva River, March 19 to 23 inclusive, I
heard at frequent intervals a Warbler that I did not recognize sing-
ing in the cypresses, but from the impenetrable nature of the
swamps, and the great height of the trees, I was unable to get even
a glimpse of the bird. A week later, while descending the St.
John's River by steamer, 1 again constantly heard, both from the
cypress swamps and the open piny woods, the notes of this, to me,
unknown species, and although I felt almost certain of its identity,
it was not until I reached St. Mary's, Georgia, that I proved to my
satisfaction that my suspicions were correct. There, from the 6th
of April to the 4th of May, I enjoyed abundant opportunities of
studying its habits, for it was everywhere, in suitable localities,
if not one of the most abundant, at leaat a generally distributed
species. At the time of my arrival the males were in full song and
mating. A few individuala haunted the moss-hung live-oaks that
shaded the village streets, but the open piny woods were their fa-
vorite abode. There, with the Summer Redbird (Pyranga cestiva)^
the Pine Warbler {Dendroeca pinvs), the Brown-headed Nuthatch
(Sttta pusilla), and a variety of Woodpeckers, they frequented the
beautiful Southern pines. Indeed, so great was their attachment
to this tree that, with the exception of those heard in the cypress
swamps of the Upper St. John's, and the few that inhabited the
oaks in the town, I do not remember to have seen one in any other
tree. So marked and unvarying was this preference, that on more
than one occasion I made use of the notes of this bird to guide me
out of some bewildering thicket, feeling sure that beyond where it
was singing I should find the more open pine-clad country.

Nearly all the authors who have written on the Yellow-throated
Warbler from personal observation compare his movements along
the branches to those of the Black-and-white Creeper (i/nto<t^^a varta).
At first I was inclined to the same opinion, but after my eagerness
to secure specimens had somewhat abated, through success in col-
lecting them, I felt more at leisure to watch the pretty little birds
before takii]^ their innocent lives, and, having spent many hours in

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carefully studying their habits, I became convinced of the error of luy
earlier impressions. Their movements are much slower than those
of the MniotUta^ and there is less of that crouching, creeping motion.
They do, indeed, spend much of their time searching the larger
branches for food, but it is much more in the manner of the Pine
Warbler, and their motion is rather a hopping than a creeping one.
I have never seen them ascend the trees from the roots to the top-
most branches, as Audubon relates, but I occasionally observed one
clinging against the main trunk for a moment, to seize an insect,
as will the Bluebird (StcUia nalts) and many of the Warblers. Their
hunting-ground is for the most part, however, among the higher
branches, and a considerable part of their time is spent at the ex-
tremities of the limbs, searching for food among the pine needles.
Their bright yellow throats, brought out by contrast with the dark
evergreen foliage, give them a certain resemblance to the Black-
bumian Warbler {Demlrceca blackbumice). The males are not very
persistent singers. I rarely heard them during the warm hours
of the day, even when pairing was almost their sole occupation.
Their song is very pretty ; it may be nearly imitated by the syl-
lables Twsee-twsee-twsee, twsee-see, the last two rising and terminat-
ing abruptly. It most nearly resembles that of the Nashville
Warbler {Uelminthopkaga rtificapilla), beginning in almost the
same way, but ending differently, and, indeed, throughout the notes
are much sweeter. Both sexes utter a chirp similar to that of other
Warblers, but sharper.

By the middle of April there was a marked decrease in the
number of Yellow-throated Warblers about St. Mary's. This was
partly owing to my having shot many for specimens, but not en-
tirely to this, for extended researches over new ground convinced
me that the greater number had passed on, probably to the north-
ward. A few, however, still remained ; perhaps on ah average one
pair to every hundred acres of pine forest. While collecting near
St. Mary's, April 18, I was in the act of shooting a female when I
noticed that she was gathering material for building, and, tracing
her flight, I was fortunate enough to discover her half-completed
nest. Visiting the spot at frequent intervals, I invariably found
both birds feeding among the pines in the vicinity, although the
nest, as far as I could judge, seemed finished. At length. May 2,
a friend, ascending the tree, found the female sitting. She remained
on the nest until he nearly touched it, although the limb shook

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violently under his weight. When she did finally leave it she sailed
down into a smaller tree a few rods off, where she remained a silent
and seemingly unconcerned spectator of what followed. The nest
and its contents being safely lowered to the ground, I shot both the
female and her mate. The latter was singing, as usual, a short
distance off, and apparently took no more interest than the female
in the destruction of their mutual hopes. Embryos of spiall size
had already formed in the eggs, so that incubation must have
begun three or four days previously. This nest was placed at the
height of about thirty-five feet from the ground, on the stout hori-
zontal branch of a Southern pine, one of a thinly scattered grove
or belt that stretched along the edge of a densely wooded hummock.
It was set flatly on the limb, •— not saddled to it, — nearly midway
between the juncture with the main trunk and the extremity of the
twigs, and was attached to the rough bark by silky fibres. It is
composed externally of a few short twigs and strips of bark bound
together by Spanish moss (TiUandsia usjieoideB) and a silky down
from plants. The lining consists of a few hair-like filaments of
moss and soft cottony vegetable down. *The whole structure is
neatly and firmly compacted, though essentially simple in appear-
ance, and, from the nature of the component materials, of a grayish
inconspicuous color. In size, shape, and general formation it very
nearly resembles nests of the Black-throated Green Warbler {Den-
drceca virens) in my collection. It measures externally 2.80 inches
in diameter by 1.70 in depth; internally, 1.77 inches in diameter by
1.30 in depth. The eggs, four in number, measure .69 by .53 of an

Online LibraryNuttall Ornithological ClubBulletin of the Nuttall Ornithological Club: a quarterly jjournal of ornithology → online text (page 23 of 50)