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Bulletin of the Nuttall Ornithological Club (Volume v.6 1881) online

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Nuttall Ornithological Club

& «?uartcr(n fourtral of ^rnttblogn



Associate (! : i)itovs,


1 88 1 .

\V. //. Wheeler, Printer,

,-, J iy Brighton Street, Cambridge, Mas




Prof. Spencer F. Baird, Secretary of the Smithsonian Insti-
tution, Washington, D. C.
Dr. Elliott Coues, U. S. A., Washington, D. C.
Daniel Giraud Elliot, New Brighton, L. I., N.Y.
George N. Lawrence, New York, N. Y.
Robert Ridgway, Washington. D. C.


Prof. J. V< Barboza du Bocage, Royal Museum, Lisbon.

Henry E. Dresser, F. Z. S., London.

Dr. Otto Finsch, Bremen.

Dr. Henry Hillyer Giglioli. Royal Superior Institute Flor-

Dr. Gustay Hartlaub, Bremen.

Allan O. Hume, C. B., Calcutta.

Prof. Alfred Newton. M. A., F. R. S.. V. P. Z. S., Univer-
sity of Cambridge, England.

Dr. August yon Pelzeln, Gustos am k. k. zoologischen Cab-
inete in Wien.

Prof. J. Reinhardt, Kongelige Naturhistoriske Museum i

Prof. Tommaso Salyadori, Royal Museum. Turin.

Osbert Salvin, M. A., F. R. S., London.

Dr. Philip Lutley-Sclater. M. A., F. R. S.. etc.. London.




Door-yard Birds of the Far North. By E. W. Nelson . . i

On the Fingers of Birds. By J. A. Jeffries .... 6

Notes on a Few Birds observed at Fort Hamilton. Long.

Island, N. Y. By De L. Berier . . . . . .11

On Birds observed in Sumpter, Levy, and Hillsboro Coun-
ties. Florida. By W. E. D. Scott 14

Insectivorous Birds in their Relation to Man. By J. A.

Allen ....... . .... 22

Remarks on the present State of the System a Avium. Bv

P. L. Sclater .28

With the Birds on a Florida River. By William Brewster . 3S


Coues's Third Instalment of American Ornithological Bibliography,
44 ; Coues's Fourth Instalment of Ornithological Bibliography. 46 ;
Harvie-Brown on the Capercaillie in Scotland, 46; Steere on the
Birds of Ann Arbor, Michigan, 46; Minor Ornithological Papers.


Capture of the Hudsonian Titmouse in Rhode Island, 54; A Second
Occurrence of the Hudsonian Titmouse (Pants kudsonicus) in
Massachusetts, 54; The Great Carolina Wren ( Thryothorus ludo-
vicianus) in New Hampshire. 54; Swainson's Warbler (Heloncea
sivainsoni) in Texas. 54; Notes on the Habits of the Cliff Swallow
(Petrochelidon lunifrons), 55; Another Capture of the Logger-
head Shrike in Massachusetts, 55 ; A Third Capture of the Phil-
adelphia Vireo (Vireo philadelphicus) in Massachusetts, 56;
Occurrence of Vireo philadelfhicus in Mercer County, New Jersey,
56; The Red Crossbill {Loxia curvirostra americana) in Ten-
nessee, 56; Description of the Nest and Eggs of Coturniculus
henslo-wi obtained near Falls Church, Va., 57 ; The Lark Finch
on Long Island, N. Y., 58; The Golden Eagle in New Brunswick,
58; The Bald Eagle {Haliaetus leucocefihalus) as a Hunter, 58;
Breeding of the Wild Pigeon in Confinement. 60: Evidence of
the Former Existence of the Wild Turkey at Mount Desert Island,
Maine, 60; Recent Occurrence of Baird's Sandpiper (Tringa
bairrfi) in Maine. 60; Occurrence of Baird's Sandpiper, (Tringa
bairdi) on the New Hampshire Coast, 61 ; Note on Tryngites
rtifescens in Texas, 61 ; A Second Massachusetts Specimen of the
Clapper Rail (Ra/li/s longirostris) , 62; Notes on the Breeding
Habits of the Caspian Tern, 63; List of Occurrences of North
American Birds in Europe, 63.

Errata ............ 64

Co ut cuts of Volume VI.


Notes on Some Birds from Arizona and New Mexico, with a
Description of a supposed New Whip-poor-will. By Wil-
liam Bretvstcr . . ....... 65

Remarks on the present State of the Systema Avium. By

P. L. Sclatcr 73

Description of a New Species of the Family Procellariidce.

By Charles B. Cory 84

Field Notes on the Birds of San Juan County, Colorado. By

Frank M. Drew S5

Critical Notes on a Petrel new to North America. By

William Brewster .......... 91

Some Observations on the Migration of Birds. By W. E. D.

Scott 97

On the Affinities of certain Polioptilce, with a Description

of A New Species. By William Bre-vster .... roi


Vogt on the Second fossil Archceopteryx, 107; Nehrling's Ornitholog-
ical Observations in Texas, 109; Shufeldt's Osteologieal Memoirs.
109; Forbes on the Food of Birds. Insects, and Fishes, no;
Reichenow and Schalow's Record of the Literature of Ornith-
ology for 1S79, JII > Reichenow and Schallow's Compendium of
newly described Genera and Special of Birds, in; Cory's " Beau-
tiful and Curious Birds of the World," in ; Minor Ornithological
Papers, 1 12.


Abundance of the Hermit Thrush in winter near Washington. D. C,
113; The Hudsonian Titmouse in Massachusetts, 114; On the
Range of Lophophanes atrocristatus in Texas, 114; The Con-
necticut Warbler {Oporornis agilis) — a Correction, 114; Strange
nesting habits of a pair of Chats, 114: Song of the White-bellied
Swallow (fridoprocne tricolor), 115; The White-bellied Swallow
(Tachycineta bicolor) on the New Jersey Coast in November 115;
A New Bird {Plectrophanes pictus) for South Carolina, 115, The
Ipswich Sparrow (Passerculus princeps) at Squan Beach, New
Jersey. 116; Note on the Field Sparrow (Spizella p/tsilla)* 116;
Bell's Finch {Poospiza belli nevadensis) in New Mexico, 116;
Peculiar Nidification of the Bobolink. 117: Southern Range of
the Raven on the Atlantic Coast of the United States, 118; The
White-necked Raven {Corvus cryptoleucus) in New Mexico, 118;
Remarkable Persistency in Nesting of the Western Yellow-bellied
Flvcatcher, 119; Notes on the Black-backed Three-toed Wood-
pecker and Canada Jay, 119; Capture of the Red-bellied Wood-
pecker (Centurus carolinus) in Eastern Massachusetts, 120; Novel
Nesting-sites of Woodpeckers {Colaptes auratus) and Melan-
erpes erythrocephalus), 120; An Unaccountable Migration of the
Red-headed Woodpecker, 120; Breeding of the Wild Pigeon in
confinement, 122; Large Eagles, 122; Eagles attempting the
rescue of a wounded companion, 122; Richardson's Owl in Rhode
Island. 123; The Avocet (Recuroirostra americana) in Massa-

Contents of J r olume I I.

chusetts, 123; The Whistling Swan in Massachusetts, 123; The
Harlequin Duck and the Glossy and Wood Ibises in Southern
Illinois, 124; The White-winged Gull {Larus leucopterus) in
Massachusetts, 124; The Caspian Tern in California, 124; The
Short-tailed Tern {Hydrochelidon nigra) in New England, 124;
Notes on Leach's Petrel (Cymochorea leucorr&oa), 125; Birds
and Windows, 125; Notes on Birds Rare or accidental on Long
Island, N. Y., 125; Distribution of Birds as influenced by in-
crease of Water Area, 126; Supplementary List of Birds of the
Island of Santa Lucia, W. I., 12S; Winter Birds of Fort Walla
Walla, W. T., 12S.



Description of Four New Species of Haitian Birds. {Plate

I.) By Charles B. Cory . . . . . . . .129

Habits of the Black Brant in the Vicinity of St. Michaels,

Alaska. By E. W. Nelson

Field Notes on the Birds of San Juan County, Colorado.

By Frank M. Drew 13S

Breeding of the Acadian Owl {Nyctale acad/ca) in Masschu-

setts. By William Brexvster ....... 143

Songs of the Western Meadow Lark {Stumella neglecta). By

Charles JV. Allen. .......... 14^

List of the Birds of Hayti, taken in Different Parts of

the Island between January i and March 12, 1S81. By

Charles B. Cory . . . . . . . . . . i£;i

On the Number of Primaries in Birds. By J. Amory Jeffries . 156


Ridgway's Nomenclature of North American Birds, 164; Ridgwav's
Re\ ised Catalogue of the Birds of Illinois. 171 ; Mearns's Birds of
the Hudson Highlands. 172 ; Rathbun's " Bright Feathers or some
North American Birds of Beauty," 172; Holterhoff's Notes on
Western Birds, 173; Ridgway on a Duck new to the North
American Fauna, 173; Ridgway on the Amazilia yucatanensis,
Cabot, 173 ; Harvie-Brown's Second Report on Scottish Orni-
thology, 174; Godman and Salvin's '• Biologia Centrali-Ameri-
cana," 174.


Nest and Eggs of the Painted Flycatcher, 176; Breeding of the
Horned lark in Eastern New York. 1,77; Behavior of Leucosticte
tephrocotis in Confinement, 177; Hesperiphona vespertina in
Central Illinois, 179; Habits of the Swamp Sparrow in Confine-
ment, 179; the Snowbird {jfunco hyemalis) in Southern Illinois
in June, 180; A singular Cage Plumage of the Rose-breasted
Grosbeak. 1S0; Carnivorous Propensities of the Crow Black-
bird, 180; Icterus baltimorei and Populus tremuloides, [S3;
A Peculiar Nest of the Baltimore Oriole, 1S2 ; The Three-toed
Woodpecker (Picoides arcticus) in Massachusetts, 1S2 ; A Second
Massachusetts Specimen of the Red-bellied Woodpecker ( Centurus
carolinus), 1S3; A curious Colaptes, 1S3 ; A Vernacular Synonymy,
183; Nesting of Kennicott's Owl, 1S5 ; Breeding of the Acadian Owl
in Eastern Massachusetts, 1S5 : Early arrival in New England of
the Least Bittern, 186; The Least Bittern in Northwestern Minne-

i Contents of I oiitme I 1.

sota, 1S6; Occurrence of the Purple and Florida Gallinules near
St. John, New Brunswick, 186; The Yellow Rail (Porzana novebo-
racensis) in Massachusetts, 186; Exceptional Abundance of the
Shoveller at Portland, Me., 187 ; The Velvet Scoter at Green Bay,
Wise, 187 ; Larus gtaucus in Texas, 187 ; The Ivory Gull (Pago-
phila eburnea) at St. John, New Brunswick, 1S7; A Correction,
188; Migration of Birds at Night, iSS: Birds and Windows. 188.


On Some of the Causes Affecting the Decreasc of Birds.

Bj //. W. Hensha-w 1S9

On the Ossicle of the Antibrachium as found in some of
the North American Hawks. By A'. J(". Shufeldt, M. £>.,
Capt. Med. Dept. U, S. Army . . . . . . .197

Oological Notes from Montana. By Dr. J. C. Merrill, U. S. A. 203

On a tropical American Hawk to be added to the North

American Fauna. By Robert Ridgway . . . . .207

On Podiceps occidentalis and P. clarkii. By //. IF. Henshavt . .214

On the Relationship of Helminthophaga leucobronc&ialis, Brew-
ster, and Helminthophaga laivrencei, Herrick : with SOME
Conjectures respecting certain other North American
Birds. By William Brewster ■ ■ . . . . . 21S

Preliminary List of Birds ascertained to occur in the Adi-
rondack Region, North-eastern New York. By C. Hart
Merriam, M. D 225


Stearns and Coues's "New England Bird Life," 236; Cory's "Beautiful
and Curious Birds." 239; Minot's "Land and Game Birds of New
England," 241.


The Golden-crested Wren breeding in the Colorado Valley, 2-14:
Notes on the Winter Wren {Anortkura troglodytes hyemalis),
244: Two more specimens of Helminthophaga leucobronch ta-
lis) from Sing Sing, N. Y., 245: Another specimen of Siurus
motacilla at Lake George. N. V., 245; Myiodioctes canadensis
in Kansas 246; Capture of the Worm-eating Warbler in Massa-
chusetts. 246: Melospiza lincolni breeding in New York again,
246; Xanthocephalus icterocephalus in Lower Canada. 246:
Colaptes auratus-\-C. mexicanus, 247; Further Notes on the Lab-
rador Gvrfalcon taken on Long Island, N. Y., 247; Probable
Occurrence of Sarcorhamphus papa in Arizona. 24S; Nyctkerodius
violaceus in Kansas, 248; Capture of the Snowy Heron ( Garzetta
candidissimd) on Long Island. 248; Lobi-pes hyperboreus at 9500
feet. 249; Breeding of Barrow's Golden-eye in Lower Canada,
249: Notes on a few Maine Birds. 249; Destruction of Birds by
a storm while migrating, 250; Additions to the Avi-fauna of the
United States, 252.

Index 253



VOL. VI. JANUARY, l88o. No. I.



Deprived by confining duties of the opportunity for fre-
quent excursions, I have passed many pleasant hours in the com-
panionship of my feathered friends, that, happily, in place of
requiring to be sought out. appear to become the seekers and
find me. Before we proceed, however, let me introduce the
surroundings. The locality is St. Michael's, Alaska, which,
thanks to its 63 of north latitude and relative geographical
position, enjoys a sub-arctic climate, if enjoyment can be ex-
tracted from gloomv skies and a barren, gale-swept coast. The
Redoubt, as it is familiarly termed here, is built about twenty
feet above high-tide mark upon a small point of St. Michael's
Island extending into a narrow bay three miles wide, which
makes in from Norton Sound, and separates this part of the
island from the mainland. About a dozen, low, one-story houses,
mainly ranged in the form of a imperfect parallelogram some
thirty-five by fifty yards in diameter, with the breaks between
the houses closed by a high board fence, and the remainder of
the buildings scattered irregularly outside, go to complete the
metropolis of Northern Alaska. On the land side, extending to
within a few feet of the houses, is the perennially wet land so
eminently characteristic of Arctic countries. Fortunately, how-
ever, owinof to the more fertile character of the soil in the

2 Nelson on Door- Yard Birds of the Far North .

immediate vicinity of the houses, the sponge-like mosses, cover-
ing all the surrounding country, have retreated fifty or sixty yards
and given place to a belt of luxuriant grasses, which, in turn,
makes way in places in favor of dense patches of weeds. From
the north-eastern to the southern side the sea approaches to
within thirty yards, the grassy slope ending abruptly at a beach
formed of dark, angular fragments of basalt; this, with a hard-
trodden court-yard, absolutely bare of vegetation, and a small
kitchen-garden, completes the immediate surroundings. On
distant hillsides a few patches of dark green show where small
groups of hardy alders have secured a foothold, beyond which,
excepting a few dwarf willows, not a bush raises its head for
many miles.

To all appearances, not a very tempting locality for birds,
would be one's decision at first sight : but a closer acquaintance
will prove the contrary. Some cheerless morning in May, on
the border line between winter and spring, as we walk about
the buildings, we are greeted by the sharp /.v//>. tsip., of the Tree
Sparrow which lias arrived over-night and now holds possession
of the weed patches, whence it makes foraging expeditions into
the yard, ready to skurry back to its stronghold upon the least
alarm. As the weather becomes milder, their number is aug-
mented, and. in company with the plump, rosy-breasted little
Redpoll, they are seen every where, from the top of the wind-
vane to the kitchen window, whence they peep in from the
sundial. As the snow decreases the Tree .Sparrows slowly
retire, pre-empting summer houses in the alder bushes, where
they hold possession by right of numbers ; they are not. however,
too conservative to share their haunts with inoffensive strangers.
The Redpolls also now seek more congenial haunts, and are soon
lost to view. Meanwhile the Savanna Sparrows have arrived
and enliven the borders of the numerous muddy spots sur-
rounding the place, running in and out. mouse-like, among
the dead grass, as they playfully pursue each other. At the
first alarm they dive into the cover of standing weeds and grass
only to reappear, a moment later, on the further side. As the
season advances, the males mount the woodpile or other con-
spicuous object to pour forth their weak, unmusical notes, which
they at times also utter from the ground.

Gambel's Finch now makes its appearance, and, capturing the

Nklson on Door- Yard Birds of the Far North. 3

woodpile from its smaller relative, proceeds to favor us with its
sweetly modulated song. A little earlier than this the familiar
form of the Barn Swallow has taken its place in the scene, and,
as it circles about, utters its chuckling notes as though fairly
bubbling over with delight at reaching home once more after
spending the winter in a distant soul hern clime. Pleasant sun-
shiny davs follow, and we human animals sit and bask in the
grateful rays upon the veranda, watching, with careless eve. the
passage overhead of various water-fowl : while the occasional
appearance of a Gyrfalcon. a Goshawk, of other bird of prey
lends further interest to the view.

On fine evenings our ear is greeted by the clear Thrush-like
whistle of the Fox-colored Sparrow, generally from the top of
the cross surmounting the roof of the Russian church just back
of the houses.

As June arrives we obtain a glimpse of one or two Black-
capped and Yellow Warblers as thev investigate the insect pre-
serve in the garden, after which we must seek amusement in
the struggles of the Swallows to master unwieldy feathers, or to
carry oft" straws, one end of which is embedded in the gi'ound,
varied by numerous hand-to-hand conflicts between the pug-
nacious little males as thev roll about on the ground and pummel
each other heartily, som/times for half an hour together ; the
object of all this battling, in the form of some charming female,
stands close by, looking on as complacentlv as a lady of olden
time upon the tournament, and it need not be said that the victor
receives the homage, now. as then. All obstacles are finally
overcome and in various snug nooks under the eaves the birds
hover with pride over their treasure-filled nests. At the same
time a pair of Savanna Sparrows keep watch and ward over
their egg-laden nest.- neatlv hidden on the sloping bank close
under the ice-house.

Spring passes into summer and from the middle of July until
well into August the smaller birds make the Redoubt a general
rendezvous. The Redpolls return in family parties, the roseate
flush of youth worn from the parental breast by the cares of
family life, all being now clad in dull brown. Like neglected
children, who. if thev have no costlv garments, are determined
to enjoy themselves and make merry, so these little plebians stuff
themselves to repletion with the good things of the garden and

4 Nelson o>i Door- Yard Birds of the Far A T orth.

weed patches, chirping and frolicing as merrily as though adorned
with the most brilliant hues. They invest the Redoubt, flitting
from place to place ; one moment see-sawing on a tall weed, the
next, hopping carelessly along the walk before you or peering from
the eaves with an odd expression of lilliputian gravity. In return
for this good-natured familiarity they are prime favorites with all.
They do not, however, come unattended, for, in the yard, or
outside of it, wherever a bare spot of ground is seen, are con-
gregated parties of young Lapland Longspurs, which are nearly
as careless of our presence as the Redpolls : they are, however,
more sedate and business-like, and appear solely intent upon
gormandizing. They run from place to place with their bills
pointing downward, their eyes intently scanning every inch of
ground, oblivious to their surroundings until a passing footstep
starts them away to a short distance, where they resume their
search for food. Thev have none of the pretty confiding ways
of the Redpoll and consequently awaken but little interest.

The young Yellow Wagtails {Budytes ffava) are also now
numerous, searching, with a jaunty air. damp spots in and near
the yard for insects, their tails constantly oscillating as though
their owners were trying to maintain an ever changing equipoise.
When the tide goes down they gather along high-water mark to
feast upon the fare there provided. Flitting from rock to rock,
or picking their way daintily from place to place, thev afford a
pleasing picture, until, their hunger satisfied, thev rise, and.
uttering a sharp metallic note, pass one after the other to their
haunts upon the bare hillside, where they remain until the calls
of appetite allure them back again.

The garden, meanwhile, has been the centre of attraction for
various species of Warblers which revel among the insects found
in the lettuce and turnip beds. The Black-capped Flycatcher
is the most numerous though at times the Black-capped
Warbler is about equally common. A Yellow Warbler at times
enlivens the place, like a ray of sunshine ; peering into the crevi-
ces of the fences, with an occasional foray among the spiders
and other insects along the eaves of the houses, are seen the
young of the Golden-crowned and the Kennicott's Warblers.
From the wet paths leading away from the houses, or, at times,
even from the yard itself, are started stray Water Wagtails ( Siurus
ncev/us) and Titlarks.

Nelson on Door- Yard Birds of the Far North. 5

Golden-crowned Sparrows ( Zonotrichia coronatci) and Gam-
bel's Finches claim their share of attention as they levy their tax
upon the garden or flit from fence to fence, diving into the shelter
of the weed patches on the first suspicions occurrence. The Fox-
colored Sparrows return to take a short, though timid farewell
before seeking winter quarters, followed by the Tree Sparrow.

A stray Robin shows itself once or twice during the summer,
but a single visit to the garden appears sufficient, and the solitary
voyageur is seen no more. A few Olive-backed Thrushes flit
silently about for a day or two, and, if we are fortunate, we
catch a glimpse of a rare visitant from Asia in the form of the
Wheat-ear (Saxicota cenanthe) as it skulks around the end of
the house and hastens to take shelter in the crevices among the
rocks along the beach. I fear my thoughts are animated by a
spirit of destruction, when such a visitant as this or Kennicott's
Warbler is seen, which generally results in a tragedy in which
the hapless little wanderer plays the part of victim. A few
White-bellied Swallows fraternize with the Barn Swallows for
a short time before leaving, the latter being now busily engaged
in preparing their young for the long journey before them.

At times a pair of Black-breasted Turnstones are caught in-
vestigating the wet places about the houses, while the Semipal-
mated Sandpiper is quite numerous. Adventurous individuals
of the latter even pass under the fence to explore the yard after
a rain-storm. Once I even caught a Golden Plover making
itself free within the fence, but as I stepped out of the house it
hastily retreated.

The August moon rises, fills, and is on the wane ; the air
becomes chilly ; one by one the sprightly forms, which, until now,
have surrounded us with joyous life, slip away, so imperceptibly,
however, that scarcelv is one missed until we awake to the fact
that of all the goodlv company only a few stragglers remain.
We may now look for a visit from one or two solitary Downy
Woodpeckers, which, clinging pensively to the side of a log
house, are evidently ruminating upon the strange phenomenon
of barkless trees ranged in a series one over, the other at right
angles" to the position in which experience has proven all prop-
erly conducted trees should extend. With a parting tap to make
sure his eyes have not been deceived, he relinquishes his hold
and departs for the interior where primitive nature still holds
undisputed sway.

6 Jeffries on the Fingers of Birds.

During September we are visited by various birds of prey.
Every autumn brings one or two Hawk Owls to perch upon the
top of the flag-staff or wind-vane, while young Goshawks and
Gyrfalcons circle about, frequently alighting for a short time upon
the fence or any convenient post. More rarely, a Pigeon Hawk
appears for a moment, only to vanish as quickly. Several times
during the evening, I have surprised a Short-eared Owl perched
upon the fence or hovering over the yard, probably attracted by
the mice which gather about the buildings at this season. One
fall, in October, a Great Horned Owl for several successive
evenings converted the woodpile into a lookout station, but was
careful to decamp before a gun could be brought into requisition.

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