Slike strani
PDF
ePub

Group First-Omnivorous Perchers. It has already been stated that many climbers are omnivorous, and so are some of other orders. The present group comprises some lately included among the singers, but not properly musical, unless taught to whistle, being very imitative.

The American Raven (57. Corvus carnivorus) is a common bird in California, especially in desert regions. It has many of the habits of the vulture, being a scavenger, though occasionally killing small animals for itself.

The Western Crow (59. Corvus caurinus) is a third smaller than the raven, and more gregarious, but otherwise much resembles that bird. It appears to differ from the eastern species.

Nuttall's, or the Yellow-billed Magpie (59. Pica Nuttalli), is common in the valleys west of the Sierra Nevada, and a very beautiful bird, differing but little from that of Europe. It has the same cunning, mischievous habits, and eats anything it can catch or steal. The Blackbilled Magpie (Pica Hudsonica) is probably also found east of the Sierras.

Steller's Jay (60. Cyanura Stelleri) is a dark blue species, with black head and crest, found in all the coniferous forests along this coast.

The California Jay (61. Cyanocitta Californica) is a light blue, uncrested species, inhabiting the oak and other woods in the valleys. It is known from the next by being white beneath.

Maximilian's Jay (62. Gymnokitta cyanocephala) is entirely dark blue, crestless, and inhabits the juniper groves near the summits and eastern slopes of the Sierras, feeding on berries and anything else eatable.

The American Nutcracker, or Clark's Crow (63. Picicorvus Columbianus), is a sort of Jay inhabiting the pine forests near the crests of the Sierra and northward, feeding on their seeds, occasionally on insects and berries. It is light gray, with black and white wings, and very noisy, large flocks chattering through the forests.

The Canada Jay (64. Perisoreus Canadensis) is only about half the size of the other jays, light gray like the last above, and yellowish-white beneath. They are scarce in this State except near the summits of the mountains, and extend north to the Arctic circle.

The Belted Kingfisher (65. Ceryle Alcyon) is abundant along this coast and throughout the United States. It seems to feed wholly on fish, but some foreign species eat insects and berries. It is said that the smaller Green Kingfisher (Ceryle Americana) is found along the Lower Colorado, as well as on the Rio Grande and southward.

near.

Group Second-Insectivorous Perchers. This includes a large number of species, of which we can only mention particularly the most striking or interesting.

The Flycatchers are mostly rathor plain plumaged birds, living chiefly on insects which they catch on the wing, though usually sitting perched on some high branch or shrub, watching until their prey comes

The first genus comprises those called King-birds, Bee-birds, and Tyrants. The first is black and white, the other two gray, white and yellow-all with a red spot in the middle of the crown, and about six inches in length. Only the first is found east of the Mississippi. (66. Tyrannus Carolinensis; 67. T. verticalis; 68. T. vociferans). Another, of similar habits, is smaller and plainer, without a red crown. (69. Dłyiarchus Mexicanus.)

Two species are of the same genus as the well-known and favorite Pewee, or Phoebe, of the East, and similar in habits. The first, black and white, is a constant and familiar resident about houses west of the Sierras. The other lives in summer on their eastern side, only visiting us in winter. It is mostly brown in color. (70. Sayornis nigricans, and 71. S. sayus.)

Then we have a group of six small, plain species, which are scarcely noticed except by naturalists, though each has peculiarities interesting to the lover of nature. (72. Contopus borealis; 73. Empidonax Richardsonii; 74. E. Traillii; 75. E. flaviventris; 76. E. Hammondii ; 77. E. obscurus.) One alone of the northern flycatchers has a brilliant red color, with black wings, and this is found only along the Colorado and southward. (78. Pyrocephalus Mexicanus)

The Poorwill (79. Antrostomus Nuttalli) is only half as large as the eastern Whippoorwill, and its nocturnal cry sounds like "Poor Will, ” as if answering in a plaintive, pitying tone, the harsh command of that bird. It is a summer visitor, and common in many wooded districts, though oftener heard than seen, being nocturnal.

The Night Hawk (80. Chordeiles popetue) is the same species found throughout the Atlantic States, and also visits us in summer, but remains during that season in the northern part of the State or on high mountains. The night hawk family has the same relation to the flycatchers, as have the owls to the true hawks.

The Humming-birds, those tropical gems, are more partial to our State than any other north of Mexico, and one or two species even spend the winter with us. All are distinct from the single species found in the Eastern States.

[ocr errors]

66

The Purple-throated Hummer (81. Trochilus Alexandri) is green, with the throat a brilliant violet-purple. It frequents the valleys near the coast. The Rufous Hummer (82. Selasphorus rufus) is fox-colored, with the throat brilliant scarlet, and frequents only the coast and high mountains in summer, going far north of us also. The Broad-tailed Hummer (83. Selasphorus platycercus) is green, with a red throat, and is found east of the Sierras. The Anna Hummer (84. Atthis Anna) is the largest we have, green, with the entire head brilliant metallic-red. It is common along the coast, and winters in the southern counties. The Coast Hummer (85. Atthis costo) is found also inland to the Gila river ; it is green, the entire head metallic-violet. The Calliope Hummer (86. Callothorax calliope) is a little known Mexican species, found as far north as Fort Tejon.

The females and young of all are very similar to each other, metallicgreen, without the more brilliant feathers of the head or throat. They all eat small insects as well as suck honey from flowers.

The Swallows are numerous in species and individuals, forming two groups, one plain, the other quite varied in plumage. The first are also allied to the hummers in anatomical characters. They are called

swifts,” and “chimney swallows," although none of them among us inhabit chimneys, but prefer lonely forests or rocky cliffs, where little of their habits has yet been observed. (87. Panyptila melanoleuca, 88. Nephocætes niger, 89. Chcetura Vauxii.)

Of the true swallows we have seven species. The Bank Swallows (90. Cotyle riparia, and 91. C. serripennis) are plain brown and white little birds, nestling in holes burrowed in sand-banks, and found also eastward. The Barn Swallow (92. Hirundo horreorum) is well known as an inhabitant of the entire country.

The Cliff Swallow (93. H. lunifrons) is much more abundant here, and its bottle-shaped nests of mud are built in every favorable situation throughout the warm parts of the State.

The Bicolored Swallow, (94. H. bicolor), dark-green above, white below, is also common, building in knot-holes, bird houses, and other similar places, and some remain in this state throughout the year.

The Sea-green Swallow (95. H. thalassina) is a small kind, varied with rich green, purple, black and white, frequenting the oak groves, and not found in the East.

The Purple Martin (96. Progne purpurea) is a large and beautiful swallow, common in summer in all the interior of the State, where it shows the same familiar disposition, and gives us the same musical notes as in the Atlantic States.

The Waxwing (97. Ampelis garrulus) is a beautiful bird, found throughout Northern America and Europe, but rare in this State as far as known. The smaller species, often called Cedar-bird, or Cherrybird (93. Ampelis cedrorum) is common in the regions where berries abound, and is increasing in numbers as the small fruits are more cultivated, though living in great part on insects also. It is very similar to the preceding, but smaller, and when fat considered very good eating.

Two birds allied to these, and peculiar to this coast, deserve notice. The Shining Flycatcher (99. Phainopepla nitens) is a beautiful steelblue-black species, found along the Colorado and Sierras, possessing some melody of song, unlike the waxwings.

Townsend's Flycatcher (100. Myiadestes Townsendii) should be called a nightingale, on account of its charming song, and resembles that celebrated bird in its plain brownish plumage, varied with white. It seems to frequent chiefly the juniper groves on the eastern flanks of the Sierras, occasionally appearing on their western side. It resembles in appearance the king-birds.

The Shrikes, or Butcher-birds, are of two species. The Northern, (101. Lanius borealis), found also in the northeastern States in winter, is very much like the mocking-bird in general appearance, but has little melody, and is notable as the most rapacious of our insectivorous birds, killing even mice and sparrows, which it either eats, or leaves suspended on a thorn or branch until wanted. The Western Shrike (102. L. excubitoroides) is a common resident throughout the State, and is often seen perched on a telegraph-pole or wire, watching for grasshoppers or young mice.

The Greenlets, or Vireos, seem to come nearest to the shrikes, though quite different in plumage, being more or less olivaceous, yellow, and white. We have three or four small species, difficult to distinguish from Eastern kinds, but all easily known to the field naturalist, by the differences in their melodious songs. They live entirely in the groves, each preferring peculiar kinds of trees, feeding on insects and berries. (103. Vireo Swainsonii, 104. V. solitarius, 105. . V. Huttoni, 106. V. pusillus).

The Tanagers are among our most brilliant plumaged songsters. The Summer Tanager (107. Pyranga æstiva), common in the Atlantic States in summer, is also found in the Colorado valley. The male is entirely brilliant red; the female olive.

The Western Tanager (108. Pyranga Ludoviciana) is yellow, wings and back black, head red; the female entirely yellowish. This species

spends the summer in this State and northward, and is brilliant both in plumage and song.

The Yellow-breasted Chat (109. Icteria longicauda) is olive-green above, yellow beneath. It scarcely differs from a common Eastern species, and is one of our finest songsters, frequenting river banks and thickets, where it sings in summer both by day and night, often flying at the same time with antic jerks and odd notes, as if it held the place of buffoon among the small birds.

Twelve small species follow, known by the general name of Warblers, and as only those who have the desire and means of observing them closely, can know the many interesting facts connected with the variations of their beautiful plumage, the sweetness of their songs and the details of their habits, we must limit this notice to the names by which further information may be obtained from other authors. (110. Geothlypis trichas; 111. G. Macgillivrayi; 112. Helninthophaga celata; 113. H. ruficapilla; 114. H. Luciæ; 115. Dendroca occidentalis; 116. D. nigrescens; 117. D. coronata; 118. D. Audubonii; 119. D. cestiva; 120. D. Townsendii ; 121. Myiodioctes pusillus.) Numbers 110, 112, 113, 117, 119 and 121 are found also in the Atlantic States.

The American Titlark (122. Anthus Ludovicianus) is a little bird of plain brownish plumage, visiting the whole United States in winter; to be seen running along roads, water-courses, and roofs of houses, even in the cities, pursuing insects, and constantly jerking its tail. In its far northern summer resort it is said to show fair musical powers in the spring.

The Water Ousel (123. Hydrobata Mexicana) is a very curious bird, little larger than a sparrow, entirely slate color and with a short tail, which lives on the shores of mountain torrents and feeds on water insects, which it obtains by diving, swimming, walking or flying, under water. Though not web-footed, it shows more power of locomotion in this element than many truly aquatic birds, and has besides a sweet song usually uttered during spring, as the male sits on some rock in the brook, and the female is perhaps on its nest. This is built entirely of mosses, generally under a dam or rill where the water trickles over the roof, keeping the nest green and thus concealed. The Thrush family, of which the Ousel is one, furnishes us with several other species.

The Robin-Thrush (124. Turdus migratorius) though resembling the European robin only in its red breast, has also become a favorite in America. It is well known as a good singer, familiar and harmless in habits, and unfortunately is considered good eating in winter. With

« PrejšnjaNaprej »