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there is a tendency to this in some specimens.''

2. Setophaga mtioilla, (Linn^) Swainson. Bedbtart. — A male of
this species, which I took here, is also remarkable for its high state of devel-
opment (No. 1003 i, May 17, 1876, E. A. M.). It is a fully adult and
highly plumaged bird. Its chief peculiarity consists in the extreme
development of the orange-red on the ventral surface, and the restriction
of the black to the forepart of the breast, where its maigin is quite
sharply defined, being abruptly intercepted by the orange-red, which oc-
cupies the uikole under parti and sides of the hody, with the exception of the
under taH-coverte, which are white at base, the longest feathers being black-
ish. The orange-red at the base of the rectrices and remiges is also much
less restricted than in the normally plumaged individual.

3. Ampelia oedronun, (Linn^) Sclater. Cedar-Bird. — I have been
so struck by the great variation in different specimens of this species, in
regard to the red wax-like appendages, that I have taken particular pains
to procure a large series of specimens illustrating this difference. In this
series I can scarcely detect any sexual difference in that respect, except
that the particularly well-developed specimens are all males. In the
normal plumage the waxen appendages are confined to the tips of the
secondary remiges, but in my cabinet are several specimens which have
them affixed to the primariee, and in several instances even to the rec-
trices ; but they are usually small and few in number. One specimen has
several of these attachments to the primaries, which are nearly as well
developed as those on the secondaries. But the most remarkable speci-
men is a handsome male (No. 54d, g ad., April 11, 1875, Highland Falls,
N. Y., E. A. M.), having these ornaments attached, not only to each of
the secondaries and three of the primaries^ but each of the rectrices is
embellished by a well-developed red appendage. Several other specimens
have large red tips to each of the rectrices ; and one (No. 1558 ^,
Feb. 23, 1878, E. A. M.) has five of its primary remiges (5th to 9th) tipped
with yellow. Professor Baird t says : " A specimen from Guatemala
(No. 50,455 ^) is almost identical with examples from the United States,
but differs in having a small spot of yellow at the tip of each primary ;
also there are red appendages on the tip of a few tail-feathers, as well as
the longest feather of the lower tail-coverts" J

While speaking of this species, it may be well to add, that in specimens
taken in worn plumage, late in summer, the colors are very much bleached,
all of the colors being very much paler ; the white band across the fore-

• Birds of N. Am., by Baird, Cassin, and Lawrence (VoL IX of Pacific Rail-
road Reports), p. 244, 1858.

t Baird, Brewer, and Ridgway, Birds N. Am., VoL I, p. 401, 1874.
t Italics my own.



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Mearns*s Description of Unvaucdly Developed Species, 71

head is yerj much broadened, and the black of the chin much lightened.
The top of the head and neck has an ochraceous suffusion, and the cinna-
mon-color of the back extends into, and partially subdues the ash of the
rump.

4. Helminthophaga peregrina, (Wilson) Cabanis. Teknessbb War-
bler. — I have a curious albinistic variety of this species (No. 92 ^,
May, 1874, E. A. M.). It was shot among the blossoms of a plum-tree,
where it was seen skipping about in the liveliest manner. Its head is
pure white, except a very slight* sulphury suffusion on the crown ; the
residue of the plumage is much lightened, and with occasional patches of
sulphury-white feathers on the back.

5. Dendroeoa pannsylTanica, (Linn^) Baird. Chestnut-sided War-
BLBR. — A spring female of this species (No. 1437 $, May 19, 1877,
£. A. M.) seems to have passed by its spring moult, since it is still in the
autumnal plumage, except for the appearance of a few black streaks on
the back. The plumage is worn and dingy, and exhibits no trace of the
chestnut side-stripe.

6. Corvns ameriocmus, Audubon. Common Crow. — There is a
peculiarity of the plumage of the Crow, which I have noticed in a num-
ber of specimens shot during the breeding season, in May. All specimens
shot at this season do not exhibit this peculiarity, and some show it in
a more marked degree than others. These specimens are characterized by
the entire absence of the violet gloss on the wings and tail, those parts
being of a lustreless, purplish-brown color. Some specimens have the
concealed bases of the feathers of a fine, violet-glossed black, and the
residue of a rich bronze hue.

My attention was first attracted to this state of plumage by two birds
which I shot in the very act of devouring the eggs of the Night Herons,
in the heronry on Constitution Island, in the Hudson River, on the 23d
of May, 1877. These birds were extreme examples. This condition of
plumage may not be limited to the breeding season, for I have a specimen
shot in winter, which has one of the rectrices of a rich, purplish bronze-
color ; but I found this plumage prevailing in the greater number of speci-
mens shot during the last week in May.

7. Pious pnbesoens, Linn^ Downt Woodpecker. — A female of
this species (No. 449 9> February 26, 1875, E. A. M.) presents a very un-
usual appearance. It still retains a number of red feathers on both sides
of the nape. The red feathers on the crovm are said to be characteristic
of the young female. It is interesting to know that the red feathers are
retained so late in the season. The red patches on the nape were ^ con-
spicuous in the living bird as to cause it to be shot.

8. MyiodiootesmitratuSiCGmelin) Audubon. Hooded Warbler. —
Mr. C. Hart Merriam, in his late " Review of the Birds of Connecticut"
(pp. 26 and 29), rectifies an error in the recent descriptions of the females
of this species. I wish to add my testimony to his conclusions, " that the



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72 Brewer's Notes on Junco Caniceps.

female bird, like the male, is several years — at least tliree — in attaining
its full plumage ; and that the two sexes, when fully adult, can only be
distinguished by the fact that, in the female, the throat, though strongly
tinged with black, is never pure black as in the male.** Long ago I dis-
covered these facts, as the bird is an abundantly breeding summer resi-
dent here, where I have taken several of their nests in a single walk.
With a large series of specimens before me, I can fully indorse Mr.
Merriam's views. The females of the second summer are entirely with-
out any black upon the head, and I have frequently found them sitting
upon their eggs in this condition. Males of the same age show very evi-
dent traces of black. Only in extreme examples does the black on the
hood and throat of the female approach the purity of those parts in the
male.

9. Siunift motaollla, (Vieillot) Coues. Large -billed Water-
Thrush. — I wish to call attention to the fact that the chin and throat of
this species are not " entirely immaculate,'' ♦ as described in the books. On
the contrary, I have never seen a specimen, in the large number of birds
belonging to this species which I have handled, that lacked minute mark-
ings of brown on the chin and throat, though these are much less strong
than in S. naviiis. There is also a whitish stripe extending from the base
of the maxilla to the l)ack of the eye, involving the under lid, and sepa-
rated, anteriorly, from the superciliary line, extending from the bill,
above the eye, to the nape, by a narrow dark band. This stripe is often
quite conspicuous.



NOTES ON JUNCO CANICEPS AND THE CLOSELY ALLIED

FORMS.

BY T. M. brewer.

Among a collection of nests and eggs received the past season
from Colorado, coming from the vicinity of Summit County, the
highest inhabited portion of that State, are three nests of the Junco
caniceps. They are assigned to the common resident Junco of that
region by Mr. Edwin Carter, who identified them ; the parents, in
each instance, having been shot on the nest, and ascertained to be
the bird there known as the Cinereous Snow-bird. Unfortunately
the individual parents were not preserved with their nests, so that
it is now impossible to verify these identifications. It therefore re-
mains an interesting question whether the eggs of the Junco caniceps
exhibit such surprising variations as are shown in these sets, or

* Baird, Brewer, and Ridgway, Hist, of N. Am. Birds, Vol. I, p. 287, 1874.



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Bbeweb's Notes on Junco Caniceps. 73

whether there is more than one species that breed in the high moun-
tain-regions of Colorado. I use the word " species *' for the mere
convenience of expression, but not as assuming that the several
forms of cinereus, dorsalts, caniceps, etc. are bona fide species.

There are in the Smithsonian collection well-identified sets of the
eggs of Junco cineretigj dorsaliii, and caniceps, one set of each. Of
course this is not enough to establish the typical peculiarities of
their eggs. The set of Junco cinereus were taken by Mr. Henshaw
in the mountains of Southern Arizona, at an altitude of 9,500 feet.
It was taken August 1st, the eggs were fresh, and it was probably
the second laying of the season. They appeared to me to be of an
unmixed greenish or bluish white. When taken they were said,
while almost immaculate, to show the presence of a few minute
punctate reddish-brown spots, irregularly disposed over the surface,
and Mr. Henshaw writes me, under date of February 18, 1878, " two
of the four eggs still show the minute reddish-brown punctulations
— they can scarcely be said to be spots — alluded to in my report,
though these are fainter than when first collected. There are per-
haps twenty of these isolated dots scattered over the surface ; with-
out a critical notice the eggs would be passed by as immaculate.
The ground-color of these eggs is now a dead bluish-white, and
shows no trace of green." *

The set of Junco dorsalis was also taken by Mr. Henshaw in the
mountains near Camp Apache, Arizona. These four eggs had the
same pale greenish-white ground-color, and all exhibit, on careful
examination, brownish-red spots, very minute, and scattered over
the whole surface, — in one egg much more abundantly, — forming a
confluent curve around the larger end. The eggs of the two sets
are about equal in size, ranging from .84 to .77 of an inch in length,
and averaging about .63 in breadth. *

" The set of Junco caniceps,^' Mr. Henshaw writes me, " were taken
in Colorado by Mr. J. H. Batty. There were originally five in the
nest. The measurement of the remaining four are .82 x .61, .83 x
.61, .78 X .60 .86 x .62 ; ground-color bluish-white (probably origi-
nally with a tinge of greenish), profusely overlaid with small irregu-
lar spots, and blotches of reddish-brown and lilac. The eggs of this
set vary considerably in the amount of markings and the manner
of distribution. In two these consist of minute punctulations that

* In his report Mr. Henshaw describes it as greenish-white.



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74 Brewer's Notes on Jnnco Uaniceps,

over-cloud the ground-color. In the rest the markings are bolder
and very conspicuouB at the larger end, where they are confluent in
a ring."

Of the three sets of the eggs of Junco caniceps, from Mr. Edwin
Carter, in one the eggs are almost entirely white, with a very slight
tinge of greenish, and measure .83 of au inch in length, and from
.59 to .61 in breadth. More or less diffused over the whole sur&ce
of the eggs are very minute and quite obscure reddish dots. Around
the larger end in each case are fainter cloudings of purple, clearly
perceptible, if looked for, but liable to escape notice if not carefully
observed. This set, in its general characteristics, is very similar to
the eggs of Junco cineretts above mentioned, and intermediate be-
tween them and those of the Junco dorsalis. In regard to its iden-
tity there seems to be no doubt Mr. Carter writes me : " Of the
set in your possession I am positive. I took it, June 23, 1873, hav-
ing walked four miles to secure it On the same day, and in the
same locality, I found another nest, which was secured. Both birds
were startled from their nests and shot, without leaving my sight."

The second set mentioned is now in my possession, and is more
plainly and strongly marked than either of the sets referred to in
the Smithsonian, more so even than that of Junco caniceps. The
eggs, three in number, measure .82 x .60, .80 x 61, .81 x .60. The
markings are a combination of rusty and purplish brown, often con-
fluent and concentrated in greater blotches about the larger ends,
while also more or less diffused over the whole surface of the eggs.

The third set, now in the Cambridge Museum, was taken by Mr.
Carter's partner, Mr. Wilkinson, in the high mountains bordering
the South Park. He flushed the parent from its nest and shot it,
b it unfortunately did not preserve it. For the following description
of this set, I am indebted to Mr. J. A. Allen : "* Cinereous Snow-
bird, South Park, Colorado, July 12, 1876. Nest on ground ; four
eggs.' The above is a full transcript of the collector's label. No
nest was sent. Coll. M. C. Z., No. 1685. Ground-color white, mi-
nutely sprinkled all over with reddish-brown surface-markings, and
deeper ones of a pale lilac. The markings are much more abundant
near the larger end, where they form a rather broad band ; in some
of the specimens the smaller end is merely sprinkled rather thickly
with minute dots, extending over the whole end. The reddish-
brown markings are much the coarser and more prominent, and on
one specimen form quite large blotches. The eggs measure, respec-
tively, .88 X .63, .88 X .62, .90 x .65, .89 x .62."



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MUKDOCH an Migration of Birds. 75

Their large size and the peculiarity of their markings, so different
from those of any Junco that I have ever seen, suggested a suspicion
that they might be the eggs of the Junco aikeni, but this Mr. Car-
ter does not regard as probable. The nests of the first two present
nothing peculiar in their construction. They are saucer-shaped,
and are merely loose aggregations of grasses and stems of plants,
lined with fine material of a like nature.

Mr. Carter is confident that he has never met with more than
three forms of Junco in Colorado, namely, caniceps, oregomu, and
aikeni;, the latter two he has known since 1859, when he 6rst met
with them in large numbers near Central City, but his observations
have been mainly confined to the higher altitudes. He met with
aikeni in the greatest abundance on the eastern slope of the main
range, at an elevation of eight thousand feet, twelve years before
Mr. Aiken first brought it to the attention of naturalists. The lat-
ter's first specimens were procured in the lower and eastern limit of
theii" habitat, which will account for his speaking of their scarcity
and their straggling habits. The same winter (1871-72) Mr. Car-
ter, in his camp, a few miles west, and at an altitude greater by
some three thousand feet, met with these individuals every day, in
flocks of from a few individuals to those of a hundred or more.

Mr. Carter is also quite sure that all the adults of this species, of
both sexes, are always found to possess the white wing-bands well
defined, and that it is only the birds of the first year, in immature
plumage, that furnish what has been mistaken for an intermediate
form between this species and the typical Junco hyemalis. Mr.
Carter has never, to his knowledge, met with oregonus or aikeni in
Colorado during the breeding season, but thinks that they all move
farther north to nest.



EFFECTS OF THE WARM WINTER ON THE MIGRATION

OF BIRDS.

BT JOHN MURDOCH.

It is well known that in ordinary winters all our summer resi-
dents and autumnal visitors have taken their departure from the
neighborhood of Boston by the month of December. From the



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76 Murdoch on Migration of Birds.

early part of September, when the Warblers and other gay summer
visitors begin to leave us, the fall is a season of successive depart-
ures, until, when the ground is fairly covered with snow, nothing
remains but those birds, like the Chickadee, who pass the whole year
-^ith us, and our regular winter-guests from more northern districts,
who find our winters, severe as they are, more genial than the rigors
of Canada and Labrador.

This winter, however, matters have been somewhat different. The
delightful autumn weather persistently continued, until one began
to doubt whether we were to have any winter at all. Up to the
30th of December there had not fallen an inch of snow, and the
ponds and streams were hardly frozen, while in many places the
grass was still green.

Naturally, some of our migratory birds took advantage of the
clemency of the season to avoid starting on their long and tiresome
journey, before they were actually forced to.

On December 29, while walking at a short distance fron\ my
house, in Hoxbury, Mass., I was somewhat surprised to see a pair of
Bluebirds (SicUia sicUia) fly up from a fence, near at hand, and alight
upon a tree not far off. There was, of course, no doubt as to their
identity, as a Bluebird is not easily mistaken. This bird usually
leaves us by the early part of November. On the same day, in
Sharon, Mass., a friend of Mr. Ruthven Deane actually shot a Blue-
bird out of a small flock.

The Catbh-d (Mimus caroUnensis) generally departs by the mid-
dle of October, but Mr. C. W. Townsend, a member of this Club,
informs me that one of these birds was taken by J. F. Carleton, in
a field at Woods Hole, Mass., on the 28th of last December.

Mr. Townsend also saw as late as the first of January small
flocks of the Yellow-rumped Warbler (Dendrceca coroncUa), in. the
woods, near the shore, at Magnolia, Mass. This bird has been
known to linger as late as the early part of December on Cape
Cod, but never so far north of the Cape.

These instances all point to the probability that many of our
autumn visitors took advantage of the season to prolong their stay
beyond their usual custom.



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JRecent Literature, 77



^tctnt iliterature^

Sharpens " Catalogue of the Birds in the British Museum.** —
Three volumes of this iDiportant work have now appeared. The first, de-
voted to the Diurnal Birds of Prey, was published in 1874 ; the second,
embracing the Owls, in 1875 ; and the third, treating of several families
of Passerine birds, in 1877.* These volumes are intended to embrace de-
scriptions of all the known species of the groups treated, and hence form
invaluable hand-books. The descriptions are generally very detailed,
embracing an account of the various stages of plumage through which the
different species pass, and copious bibliographical references are given.
While the labor bestowed upon these volumes is evidently very great,
they are not in all respects what we should like to see them. No generic
diagnoses, for instance, are given beyond what may be gleaned from the
" Keys to the Qenera " of each subfamily, and generally no comparative
characters of the species, except those afforded by the "Keys" accom-
panying the genera. The keys themselves, both of the genera and
species, are a great help in determining the species, but do not always
fully serve their intended purpose. The species are generally described
without direct comparison with their near allies, and although the descrip-
tions are sometimes greatly extended, they too often fail to duly emphasize
important or distinctive points. By a judicious grouping of common
characters and contrasted diagnoses, the essential points of difference be-
tween closely allied forms would have been made more prominent, and
the amount of text rather lessened than increased. Our gratitude for
a general work on the birds of the world, containing so many points of
excellence as the present, ought perhaps to soften our criticism, especially
when it is remembered how few have either the courage, the endurance, or
access to the necessary material, for the great task Mr. Sharpe has so ener-
getically undertaken and is so ably carrying out.

The Raptorial Birds are treated as an order (Accipitres), with three sub-
orders, FaUones, PandioneSj and Striges, For the Diurnal Birds of Prey,
the old family divisions of VtUfuridc^ and Falconidce are retained, except
that the Fish- Hawks (genera Pandion and Polioaehts) are removed from
the latter to form the wholly untenable " suborder ** Pandiones. The

* Catalogue of the Birds in the British Museum. Vol. I. Catalogue of the
Accipitrest or Diurnal Birds of Prey. By R. Bowdler Sharpe. 8vo. pp. xiii.
480, pis. xir. London, 1874. Vol. II. Cataogue of the Striges, or Nocturaal
Birds of Prey. By the same. 8vo., pp. xi, 326, pis. xiv. 1876. Vol. III.
Catalogue of the Coliomorphie, containing the families Corvidae, Paradiseidae,
Oriolidfe, Dicruridse, and Prionopidse. By the same. 8yo, pp. xiii, 344, pis.
xiv. 1877.



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\



78 Becent Literature.

Owls (Striges) are all referred to the family Buhonida^ except the genera
Strtx and PhodUtUy which alone constitute the family Strigida,

Mr. Sharpe gives the number of species of the Diunial Birds of Prey as
three hundred and seventy-seven, of which twenty-there are regarded as
doubtful. Of the remainder three hundred and twenty-five are repre-
sented in the collection of the British Museum, the total number of
specimens falling little short of twenty-five hundred.

Brespecting the North American species, it may be noted that our com-
mon Rough-legged Hawk is considered as specifically distinct from the
European, the two bearing the names respectively of ArchibtUeo $anctijo-
hannii and A, lagopus. The Gulden Eagles (Aquila ekrysouitui\ the Pere-
grine Falcons {Faleo wmrMinxt), and the Fish-Hawks {Pandion haliaetui),
on the other hand, are regarded as identical. The generic term Cerchn£u
(Boie, 1826) is adopted for the Sparrow-Hawks, of which several of Mr.
Ridgway's varieties are raised to the rank of species.

Of the Owls, about one hundred and ninety species are recognized, of
which ten are regarded as doubtfuL They* are represented in the British
Museum by about eleven hundred specimens. The Snowy Owl (Nyctea
tcandiaca) of North America, contrary to the opinion of some American
writers, is held to be identical .with that of Europe, the two being con-
sidered as not separable even as races, Mr. Sharpe being unable to appre-
ciate any differences of color, but admitting a slight difference in the amount
of feathering of the toes. The Long-eared Owls (for which the generic
name Atioy Brisson, 1766, is adopted) of America and Europe he admits
as subspecies of a circumpolar "ilno otusJ* The nearly cosmopolite
Short-eared Owl (called " A$io accipitrintu '*) he divides into several races
or subspecies, of which the American (its habitat including both North
and South America) forms " fi. Atio camni/* Richardson's Owl is re-
garded as identical with the European Tengmalm's Owl (Nyctale tengmal-
mt). Of the Bam-Owls (Strix flammea), while recognizing a number of
" striking forms," he says : " My conclusion with regard to the Bam Owls
is, that there is one dominant type which prevails generally over the con-
tinents of the Old and New Worlds, being darker or lighter according
to different localities, but possessing no distinctive specific characters.
Insular birds vary, but cannot be specifically distinguished, as they can
always be approached by continental specimens in a laige series.''

In the third volume Mr. Sharpe enters upon the great series of Passerine
Birds, of which he here treats the families Corvidix, Paradiseida, Oriolida^
DicTuridcRy and Prumopidce, which he unites to form the group Coliomor-
ph<E, equal to the Coliomorpha of Sundevall, with some genera added and
others excluded. The species here described by Mr. Sharpe number three
hundred and sixty-seven, all but about fifty of which are represented in
the British Museum, the number of specimens being a little over two
thousand. Of these four families the Corvidce, or Crows and Jays, are
alone represented in America, the others being mainly African, Indian, and



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Recent Literature, 79

Australian. In respect to North American species, the Eaven {Corvu$
corax) is not separated even varietally ixom the Haven of the Old World,
Mr. Sharpe stating that the characters given by authors for their separation
do not hold good in his series of specimens. In respect to changes of



Online LibraryNuttall Ornithological ClubBulletin of the Nuttall Ornithological Club: a quarterly jjournal of ornithology → online text (page 34 of 50)