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sun, with the glass at 90^ in the shade, was not favorable to a full census
of all the pairs inhabiting this remote region. We saw enough to satisfy
us of its actual presence in considerable numbers. — T. M. Bbswer, Bos^
Um, M<u$.

A Hint to Egg-Collectobs. — The u«ual method of emptying eggs
through one small hole with a bent blow-pipe is doubtless supposed to be
a very modem trick ; but it dates back to 1828, when M. Danger* pro-




posed " a new method of preparing and preserving eggs for the cabinet,"
which is substantially identical with the operation as now universally
practised, though he used a three-edged needle to punch the hole, instead
of our modem drill, and did not refer to some of our late ways of man-
aging the embryos. I refer to the paper less as a matter of history than
for the purpose of bringing to notice one of the tools which M. Danger
recommends, and which I think would prove very useful indeed. In fact,
I am rather surprised that it has been so long neglected, and strongly
advise a trial of the instmment, as something better than fingers for
holding the egg during drUling and blowing. The instmment is so sim-
ple, that it will be understood without description by a glance at the
accompanying figure. The oval rings are covered with some light fabric,
like mosquito netting, and do not touch the ^;g, which is held lightly but
securely in the netting. Such an instmment would cost but a trifle, and
it seems worth ascertaining whether we may not avoid danger by Danger's
own method. — Elliott Coues, Washington^ D, C.

The Kentucky Warbler (OporonUs formoiud) at Sing Sing, N. Y.
— At this place, in June, 1875, I found the nest, containing three fresh
eggs, and secured the two old birds of this species.f The woods where
they were found is a long belt, which lies on both sides of a stream which

* Memoire sor one nouvelle m^thode de preparer et de rendre durables les
collections d'csufs destin^ auz cabinets d'histoire natnrelle ; par M. F. P.
Danger. Annalea dea Scienees NaturelUs, 1^ s^r. Y, 1828, pp. 338 - 348, pL 10.

t Am. Nat, Yol. IX, No. 10, October, 1876, p. 673.



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192 Gmeral Notes.

originally must have been much lai^^r. It bas worn away ravines some
thirty or forty feet deep ; in other places it has expanded into shallow
flats. The length of the stream is about three miles, and it runs in a ra-
vine through the very heart of our village, and empties into the Hudson.
The stream now is quite small, and the level places along the banks of the
upper portion are covered by weeds, ferns, and scanty undergrowth. The
woods which overhang the stream along its course, only broken now and
then by a field or pasture, are composed of lai^e hemlock, oak, and chest-
nut trees, under which there is little undergrowth, and the rays of the sun
hardly penetrate their thick foliage, making a cool and shady retreat.
Here, this spring and summer, seemed the very paradise for the Kentucky
Warbler. While collecting. May 21, 1 saw four flitting here and there
among the small plants, and secured two ; May 22 I collected four more ;
the 24th, four were seen, and I shot three ; the 27th, I saw two ; on the 29th,
a mile up the stream, I saw another, and my fnend, Mr. George Hyles,
shot one still higher up. June 1 and 4 I saw a pair near where the first
ones were seen, and on the 20th of June found their nest containing five
young, which left it June 29. June 9, in a woods some miles distant, I
saw a male. June 26 1 saw still another, and from its actions it must have
had a nest or young near, but from want of time I did not look for it.
July 5 a male came under my window, and, perching on a shrub, warbled
out his short but lovely song. The same day Mr. Hyles saw a male four
miles south of this place. Allowing the same ones were sometimes seen
twice, there have been at least sixteen individuals here, and undou][)tedly
four nests. — A. K. Fishee, Sing Svng^ N. Y.

The Snow-Bird in Summer on Mount Wachusett. — Mr. Brad-
ford Torrey writes : "On the 8th of July (1878) I saw a pair of Snow-
Birds (Junco hyemalu) on the summit of Mount Wachusett, and, as I do
not find any mention of their breeding there either in the * History of
North American Birds' or in Mr. Allen's * Catalogue of the Birds of
Massachusetts,' I venture to send you this item, trusting that you will
overlook the seeming presumption if the fact is one well known." Al-
though there is, I think, no record of the presence in the breeding season
of the Snow-Bird on Mount Wachusett, it is well known to occur there
at that season, where it has been met with by Mr. Brewster and other
observers repeatedly during the last few years. The occurrence of an
isolated colony of these birds on Mount Wachusett seems well worthy of
record. — J. A. Allen, Cambridge, Mass.

An Albino Anna Humming-Bird. — I had sent to me, July 10, 1878^
a fine specimen of an albino Hummer of the species Calypte anna. It
was taken in San Rafael, Marin Co., Cal., by parties unknown to me.
The bird has the head, neck, and under parts bluish-white ; back and tail
with a pale creamy tint ; three longest feathers in upper tail-coverts pale
cinnamon ; bill and feet flesh-color ; eyes pinkish ; primaries and secon-
daries pure white ; eyelids with a creamy tinge. The bird was a young



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• General Notes. 193

one, and the sex could not be readily detennined. — C. A. Allen, Nicasio,
Marin Co., Col.

Wilson's Thrush, with Spotted Eggs and nesting on a Tree. —
In a collection of neste and eggs received from Vermont this season was
the nest of this species built upon a horizontal limb of a tree, fifteen feet
from the ground, and containing four spotted eggs. This is the only in-
stance I have ever known either of the nest being much above the ground
or of the eggs being other than immaculate. But I find it is not without
precedent. Mr. George 0. Welch several years since found a nest of this
Thrush in Lynn at a height of twenty-five feet above the ground, and Mr.
Allen has recorded (Proc. Bost. Soc Nat. Hist, XVII, 48) an instance of
its having spotted eggs. This case combines both. The nest is lai^ and
bulky, was saddled over quite a large limb, the impress of which is shown
in the base. The ground-color of one egg is unusually deep, as deep as
that of a Catbird, but of a different shade. The spots are of a bright
golden-brown, in one egg very strongly marked, in the other three not so
much so. The parent was sent with the nest, and before I received it its
identity had been carefully verified by that veteran ornithologist, Charles
S. Paine, Esq., of Randolph, Vt — T. M. Brewer, Bostariy Mass,

The Pygmt Owl (Olaucidium ecUifomicum). — On the 13th of August,
1877, about dusk, I heard near the house a great fuss among a lot of Brewer's
Blackbirds, which had nested in a small clump of red- woods near by. On
approaching the spot, out went a bird, to which all the Blackbirds gave
chase. When all had settled in a red-wood tree near by, I saw a Pygmy
Owl sitting on a limb, — the cause of all the noise. I had my gun
brought to me, when I shot the Owl, which proved to be a female. Again
on July 8, 1878, at nine o'clock a. m., I heard a disturbance among the
Blackbirds in the same clump of trees, and, suspecting the cause, took my
gun and went to see what was the matter. On approaching the spot, out
flew a lot of birds of different species, and among them a 0, ecUifomicum^
which, after much trouble, I shot as it was flying over some low bushes ;
this one was a male. There were fighting the Owl one pair of Tyrannus
verticalis, one pair of Bullock's Orioles, one pair of Bewick's Wrens, three
Banded Tits (Chamcea fasciata), one pair of Pipilo oregonus, one pair of
P. crismliSf and about twenty Blackbirds (ScoUcophagus cyanocephalus).
The bravest birds of the troop were Bewick's Wren and Bullock's Oriole,
which kept darting at the Owl's head as it sat on the ground devouring a
young Blackbird. I have seen a Pygmy Owl dart down and lift a Chip-
ping Squirrel with ease and carry it off. — C. A. Allen, Nicasio, Col,

The Carolina Wren in Massachusetts. — My friend, Mr. Geo. 0.
Welch, secured a fine specimen of the Thryothorus Itidovicianus in Lynn,
on the 6th of July. The imprudent stranger ventured within an easy
range of his work-room window, in the very heart of the city, and now
remains as tangible evidence of its right to a place on the list of the birds
of this State as well as New England. — T. M. Brewer, Boston, Mass,



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194 General Notes.

The Titlabk {Anik%a Utdovioianwi) in Massachusetts in June. —
The occurrence of the Titlark on the coast of Massachusetts so late as the
8th of June, with just the possible suspicion that it was about to breed
there, is a very interesting and characteristic fact in the history of the
eccentric and abnormal habits of this species. It has been claimed to
breed regularly in Central New York, thou^ its presence there in mid-
summer would seem, of itself, so improbable as to inquire confirmation.
The example now referred to as taken on our coast was shot by Mr. Wm.
A. Jeffries, on a small island off the shore, at Swampscott, on Saturday,
June 8. Its mate, if it had one, could not then be found, nor any trace of
a nest We cannot be certain of its having been a mated bird, but the
condition of its reproductive organs rendera this supposition probable.
The occurrence of this species on our coast, in the height of the breeding
season, while it does not necessarily confirm that of Mr. Gilbert of Penn
Tan (see Bull, III, p. 35), goes a good way to establish its eccentric and no-
madic habits, and prepare us to accept as possible, irregularities that would
be improbable in almost any other species. — T. M. Brewer, Boston, Mau,

Nests and Eogb of Helhinthophaoa pinub. — Mr. S. N. Roads, of
West Chester, Pa., writes respecting two nests of this bird, the nidifica-
tion of which is as yet none too well known. On the I2th of June, 1878,
he found a pair of these Warblers 'showing unmistakable signs of having
a nest, which latter he soon discovered, as he saw the male fly to it with
a worm in his bill. It was built in the midst of a clump of tall swamp-
grass, on the outskirts of a forest where there was a good deal of weedy
undergrowth not over two feet high. The nest rested slightly on the
ground, and was quite bulky for the size of the bird ; the cavity was
nearly three inches deep by two inches in width. The structure was com-
posed externally of beech and oak leaves of the preceding year, which
'* seemed to have been carelessly strewn and stuck in as if to form a barri-
cade around the brim/' The lining consisted of fine strips of grape-vine
and inner bark of the oak, together with some straws. This nest contained
four young birds about two days old.

Mr. Roads shortly afterward procured two eggs from another nest which
he found about a quarter of a mile from the same spot. These were pure
white, dotted with red at the greater end, and were of just the size of
those of Ohryfomitris tristiSf but less pointed. He also examined another
set of eggs procured by a friend in the same vicinity. — Elliott Coues,
WoihingUm, D. C.

The Winter Wren breeding in Southern New York. — Six miles
south of Ithaca, N. Y., and leading eastward from Enfield Falls into the
Cayuga Valley, is a beautiful glen. It is long, deep, and narrow, with
steeply diverging walls rising, on either side, some three hundred feet
above the bed of the stream. Large hemlock, pine, and beech trees are
00 closely crowded together in it as to preclude effectually the sun's rays,



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OtiMTol N(dee. 195

and, wiih the stream mnning below them, to secure for the glen a tem-
perature and humidity not unlike what is to be found in the forests of
Northern Wisconsin.

In company with my friends, F. H. Severanoe and W. Trelease, I
paid a visit to this glen June 21, 1878. Just below the Falls, where
the glen widens, a group of five Winter Wrens {AfwrOiwra troglodytes vai^
hyemaiis) were discovered darting in and out of a brush-pile which lay a
short distance back from the stream. Ob securing one of these, it was
found to be a fully fledged young bird, but so immature as to leave no
doubt that it was one of a brood which had been reared in the glen.

It may be added that two Winter Snow-Birds were observed in this glen
on the same date, and that an Acadian Flycatcher was obtained there. -^
F. H. King, Ithaca, N. Y.

The Sooty Tern in New Hampshire. — Up to the present time
record has been made of the capture of nine specimens of this Tern in
New England,* all these examples having been taken in Massachusetts,
Rhode Island, and Connecticut, since September, 1876. I now record the
tenth and most northern specimen, a fine adult male, taken at Newmar-
ket, N. H., about September 14, 1878, by Mr. D. C. Wiggin. I am in-
debted to Mr. Charles I. Goodale, who has preserved the specimen, for the
above facts. — Ruthven Deans, Cambridgey Ma$s.

Sabine's Gull in Maine. — Mr. O. A. Boardman writes that among
the rare birds taken by him last spring (1878) near Calais, Me., is a Sa-
bine's Gull (Xema sahinet), in very nearly full plumage. I am also
informed that a specimen of the same species was taken not long since at
Portland, Me. The only other New England record for the species is
Boston Harbor, Mass., September 27, 1874 (Bretoiter, Amer. Sportsman,
V, 1875, 370 ; Breicer, Proc. Bost. Soc. Nat Hist., XVII, 1876, 449). —
J. A. Allen, Cambridgey Mass,

The White-crowned Sparrow breeding in Vermont.— One of my
correspondents, Mr. H. E. Boughton, of Rutland, Vt, writes me that he
has, the present summer, found a pair of Zonotrichia leticophrys breeding in
that locality. As I know of no other record of this bird breeding in New
England, I send the item, with all he writes me in regard to it *'The
nest," he says, ''was taken by myself, and was situated in a clump of black-
berry and maple bushes, and was about three and one half feet from the
ground. It is composed entirely of straw and gross, is very bulky, being
almost as lai^ as the nest of a Robin on the outside, and about one and one
half inches in diameter on the inside. When the nest was approached
the bird, which was very shy, would dart off from it and into the bushee
like a shot ; but by concealing myself I obtained a good view of her when
she returned.'' — T. M. Brewer, Boston, Mass.

* Merriam's Review of the Birds of Connecticut, pp. 134, 1S5 ; BulL Nutt
Omith. Club, Vol. II, pp. 22, 27, January, 1877.



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196 General Notes.

Nesting Habits op the Red-bellied Nuthatch. — Having been
observing the nesting habits of the Red-bellied Nuthatch (SiUa eanaden-
tis\ I will give the readers of the Bulletin the results of my observations.
June 2, I found a nest on Little Deer Isle, Penobscot Baj. It was in
a white-birch stub some ten feet from the ground ; the entrance was one and
one half inches wide by one and one fourth deep. The hole ran slanting for
three inches, and then straight down for four inches more. It contained six
eggs, which were white, with small specks of reddish-brown on the small
end, and heavily spotted with the same on the larger end, a great deal more
brown than the eggs of the White-bellied Nuthatch. Incubation had not
commenced. For two inches below the centre of the hole, and for half an
inch on either side, the birch bark was coated with fir balsam. June 20,
I found another in Holden, Me., which the young had just left. It was
in a poplar stub some twelve feet from the ground. Hole one and one half
inches by one inch, slanting down four inches, and then four inches
straight down. This hole had fir balsam one fourth of an inch thick for
two inches below the hole, and then thinner, and running down in large
drops for twenty-one inches below the hole. The pitch extended an inch
on either side, and more than three inches above the hole, in all more than
could be heaped upon a large tablespoon. It was stuck full of the red
breast-feathers of the bird, but there were no signs of any insects having
been fastened by it This nest had been occupied two years. Near both
the nests were other holes not so deep, probably used for one of the birds
to occupy while the other is sitting, as is the case with most Woodpeckers.
Both nests were composed of fine short grasses and roots. I notice that
in making the hole the bird makes a circle of holes round a piece about
as large as a ten-cent-piece, and then takes out the piece of bark entire. I
have one nest which has near it a piece circled in this manner, but not re-
moved. My friend, Mr. Harry Merrill of Bangor, found a nest last year
surrounded by pitch just as in those found by me. So that it seems
certain that in most cases they do this, though for what purpose I am
as yet unable to determine. The pitch certainly was placed there by
the birds, as neither birch nor poplar contains pitch, and there were no
overhanging trees from which a drop could come. I think it would take
the bird several days of steady work to obtain what was around the nest
in the poplar. I think that more nests would be found if people did not
mistake them for holes of the Downy Woodpecker, which are of the same
size, though rounder. Audubon speaks of their being placed four feet
from the ground ; but while this is sometimes the case, they are oftener
ten to fifteen feet from the ground. It is easy to tell even an old nest
from that of either a Downy Woodpecker or Black-capped Titmouse, as the
Woodpecker lays directly upon fine chip*, without any nest, and the Tit-
mouse makes a nice nest of fur and feathers, and neither place any pitch
round the holes, while the Nuthatch makes its nest of short fine
and protects with pitch outside the hole. — Manly ILvbdy, Brewer^ Me,



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Ommd Notes. 197

Tragic Fate of a Summer Warbler. — A pair of Dendrceea osstiva
built for their second brood in a bush in the garden. Being interested to
learn the progress of their domestic lives, I visited the spot frequently.
On the fifth day I found the poor mother-bird hanging dead from the half-
finished neat by a piece of cord which was twisted tightly around her
neck.-— W. L. Collins, Frankfort P. 0., Pa. {Communicated by E. 0.)

Eggs of the Solitary Sandpiper (Rhyacophilus solitarius, Bp.). — The
egg of this species has remained, to the present time, an unknown and
much-desired addition to our cabinets. From time to time eggs claimed
to be of this bird have been described, or have had a nominal existence
in collections. But these claims have always been open to suspicion and
doubt The eggs have all either faaii so strong a resemblance to either the
^g of the Spotted Tatler (THngoides maculariM*) or to that of the Kill-
deer (^gialitis vociferus) as to cause the belief that their identification
could not have been correctly made. During the last year eggs were sent
to me for verification from five different parties, and all were deemed not
worthy of credence. A few days ago, hearing of a Solitary Tatler having
been shot near her nest, and an egg obtained, in Castleton, Vt., I at
once wrote to the party, and have obtained from him a temporary loan of
both parent and egg, with permission to describe the same in the Bulletin.

The bird and egg were taken by Mr. Jenness Richardson about the mid-
dle of May, — I have not the exact date, — 1878, at Lake Bomaseen,
on the ground, in a pasture bordering on a swamp. The bird was on her
nest when first discovered, but fluttered off when approached, ran a short
distance, then stood still, watching him until she was secured. There was
no actual nest, only a small depression in the groimd. I am informed by
Mr. Richardson that the bird is quite common in that locality, but very
shy. This egg resembles no egg in my possession, and in its appearance
there is something suggestive of an egg prematurely cut from its parent
It is smaller than I anticipated, measuring only 1.37 X .95, while the
egg of Totanus ochropuSf which bird closely corresponds in size and appear-
ance with our Solitary, measures 1.50 X 1.10. The ground-color is a light
drab, similar to that of the egg of ^gialitis mdodm. Over this are scat-
tered small rounded markings of brown, some of these quite dark, nowhere
confluent, and never large enough to be called blotches. At the larger
end there are a few faint purplish or lilac discolorations or shell-marks.
In shape it is an elongated pyriform. — T. M. Brewer, Boston, Mass,

Lincoln's Finch {Melospiza lincolni) breeding in Hamilton County,
N. Y. — On the 13th of June, 1878, while on a fishing trip in the wilderness
of New York, my companions and myself were skirting (two on one side
and two on the other) a beautiful little pond in Hamilton County, N. Y.,
which is dignified with the name of " Moose Lake," when one of the party
from the opposite side called across to me, " Do you want a bird's nest ? "
On my expressing surprise at such an unnecessary question, he shouted



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198 ffm$ral Note$.

back as his excuse^ ** O, it i» nothing bnt a little brown bird." Such ia
the deplorable ignorance of the majority of mankind. The little brown
bird turned out to be Melospiza ImcoltU.

On arriving on the opposite side of the pond, I found the bird, driven
from her nest hj my friend, had not returned; we therefore retired a little,
and in a few minutes she came back to her treasures and was sacrificed to
science. The nest was placed on the ground, where it was almost spongy
with water, within about two rods of the pond, and about the same dis-
tance from the edge of the forest. It was not under the protection of
any bush or stone, but was quite well concealed in some last year's tall
grass. It was composed entirely of dried grasses both inside and out,
the lining being neatly made of the finer spears, and contained three
eggs, a few days advaiiced in incubation. These measured .74 X .56.
The ground was a pale greenish, covered with spots and blotches of dif-
ferent shades of reddish-brown. On one of them the spots were so nu-
merous as to become confluent and almost conceal the ground-color, while
on another they were much smaller, so that the greenish-white of the
ground-color was the predominant tint, except at the large end, where the
spots became larger and more confluent, as indeed they did on all three.

This Moose Lake is a small body of water situated about fifteen milea
northeast of Wilmurt P. 0., Herkimer County, and must not be con-
founded with its larger namesakes, which are situated farther north, —
Moose in Herkimer County, Big Moose on the line, and North Moose in
Hamilton County. The outlets of these three all empty into the Moose
River, while that of the one here referred to runs into the West Canada
Creek. This I think is farther south than the Lincoln's Finch has been
found breeding east of the Great Lakes, and, in fact, is but little north of
Racine, which is the southern limit of its breeding, according to Baird,
Brewer, and Ridgway's " History of North American Birds." Nor can
I, with the limited number of books at my command, find any record of
the bird having been taken in this part of the State. — Egbert Baqg, Jb.,
Utica, N. Y.

OccaBRENCB OF THE WHiBTLiNa SwAN {GygnuB (vmericanus) in Massa-
chusetts. — During a recent visit to Nantucket I had the pleasure of
examining a fine specimen of the Whistling or American Swan in the
possession of Mr. H. S. Sweet of that place. Through Mr. Sweet* s kind-
ness I am enabled to give the full particulars attending its capture. It
was first seen about December 27, 1877, on Sacacha Pond, at the east end
of Nantucket, in company with five Canada Geese. The latter were all
killed in the course of a few days, but the Swan, though repeatedly fired
at, seemed to bear a charmed life, and for a long time evaded all attempts
at its capture. Through the succeeding two months it was frequently
seen either in Sacacha Pond or Polpis Harbor, between which points it
appeared to confine its wanderings. The winter was a very mild one on
the island, and it accordingly had little difficulty in obtaining food. It



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Oeneral Notes. 199

was finally shot, March 4, 1878, on Coskata Pond, by Mr. F. P. Chad-
wick, and bj him presented to Mr. Sweet The bird is apparently in
nearly perfect plumage, with the otherwise pure white only partially
obscured by a plumbeous wash upon the top and sides of the head, and



Online LibraryNuttall Ornithological ClubBulletin of the Nuttall Ornithological Club: a quarterly jjournal of ornithology → online text (page 48 of 50)