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WOOD THRUSH.

[Plate II.--Fig. 1.)

BARTRAM, p. 290.--Peale's Museum, No. 5264.

This bird is represented on the plate of its natural size; and particular attention has been paid to render the figure a faithful likeness of the original. It measures eight inches in length, and thirteen from tip to tip of the expanded wings; the bill is an inch long, the upper mandible of a dusky brown, bent at the point, and slightly notched; the lower a flesh colour towards the base; the legs are long, and, as well as the claws, of a pale flesh colour, or almost transparent. The whole upper parts are of a brown fulvous colour brightening into reddish on the head, and inclining to an olive on the rump and tail; chin white; throat and breast white, tinged with a light buff colour, and beautifully marked with pointed spots of black or dusky, running in chains from the sides of the mouth, and intersecting each other all over the breast to the belly, which, with the vent, is of a pure white; a narrow circle of white surrounds the eye, which is large, full, the pupil black, and the iris of a dark chocolate colour; the inside of the mouth is yellow. The male and female of this species, as indeed of almost the whole genus of Thrushes, differ so little as scarcely to be distinguished from each other. It is called by some the Wood Robin, by others the Ground Robin, and by some of our American ornithologists Turdus minor, though, as will hereafter appear, improperly. The present name has been adopted from Mr. William Bartram, who seems to have

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• Turdus mustelinus, Gmelin, which name must be adopted :---We add the following synonymes:–T. mustelinus. Gmel. Syst. 1. p. 817.-Lath. Syn. III, p. 28.--Vieill. Ois de l'Am. Sept. pl. 62.--7'avony Thrush, Arel. Zool. II, p. 337, No. 198.

been the first and almost only naturalist who has taken notice of the merits of this bird.

This sweet and solitary songster inhabits the whole of North America from Hudson's bay to the peninsula of Florida. He arrives in Pennsylvania about the 20th of April, or soon after; and returns to the south about the beginning of October. The lateness or earliness of the season seems to make less difference in the times of arrival of our birds of passage than is generally imagined. Early in April the woods are often in considerable forwardness, and scarce a summer bird to be seen. On the other hand vegetation is sometimes no farther advanced on the 20th of April, at which time (e. g. this present year 1807) numbers of Wood Thrushes are seen flitting through the moist woody hollows, and a variety of the Motacilla genus chattering from almost every bush, with scarce an expanded leaf to conceal them. But at whatever time the Wood Thrush may arrive, he soon announces his presence in the woods. With the dawn of the succeeding morning, mounting to the top of some tall tree that rises from a low thick-shaded part of the woods, he pipes his few but clear and musical notes in a kind of ecstasy; the prelude, or symphony to which, strongly resembles the double tongueing of a German flute, and sometimes the tinckling of a small bell; the whole song consists of five or six parts, the last note of each of which is in such a tone as to leave the conclusion evidently suspended; the finale is finely managed, and with such charming effect as to sooth and tranquillize the mind, and to seem sweeter and mellower at each successive repetition. Rival songsters, of the same species, challenge each other from different parts of the wood, seeming to vie for softer tones and more exquisite responses. During the burning heat of the day, they are comparatively mute; but in the evening the same melody is renewed, and continued long after sun-set. Those who visit our woods, or ride out into the country at these hours, during the months of May and June, will be at no loss to recognize, from the above description, this pleasing musician. Even in dark, wet and gloomy weather, when scarce a single chirp is heard from any other bird, the clear notes of the Wood Thrush thrill through the dropping woods, from morning to night; and it may truly be said that, the sadder the day the sweeter is his song.

The favourite haunts of the Wood Thrush are low, thick shaded hollows, through which a small brook or rill meanders, overhung with alder bushes that are mantled with wild vines. Near such a scene he generally builds his nest, in a laurel or alder bush. Outwardly it is composed of withered beech leaves of the preceding year, laid at bottom in considerable quantities, no doubt to prevent damp and moisture from ascending through, being generally built in low wet situations; above these are layers of knotty stalks of withered grass, mixed with mud, and smoothly plastered, above which is laid a slight lining of fine black fibrous roots of plants. The eggs are four, sometimes five, of a uniform light blue, without any spots.

The Wood Thrush appears always singly or in pairs, and is of a shy retired unobtrusive disposition. With the modesty of true merit he charms you with his song, but is content and even solicitous to be concealed. He delights to trace the irregular windings of the brook, where by the luxuriance of foliage the sun is completely shut out, or only plays in a few interrupted beams on the glittering surface of the water. He is also fond of a particular species of lichen which grows in such situations, and which, towards the fall, I have uniformly found in their stomachs; berries, however, of various kinds, are his principal food, as well as beetles and caterpillars. The feathers on the hind head are longer than is usual with birds which have no crest; these he sometimes erects; but this particular cannot be observed but on a close examination.

Those who have paid minute attention to the singing of birds know well, that the voice, energy, and expression, in the same tribe, differ as widely, as the voices of different individuals of the human species, or as one singer does from another. The powers

of
song

individuals of the Wood Thrush have often surprised and delighted me.

Of these I remember one, many years ago, whose notes I could instantly recognize on en

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VOL. II.-P

tering the woods, and with whom I had been as it were acquainted from his first arrival. The top of a large white oak that overhung part of the glen, was usually the favourite pinnacle from whence he poured the sweetest melody; to which I had frequently listened till night began to gather in the woods; and the fire-flies to sparkle among the branches. But alas! in the pathetic language of the poet,

• One morn I miss'd him on th' accustom'd hill,
Along the vale, and on his favourite tree-
Another came, nor yet beside the rill,
Nor up the glen nor in the wood was he.'

A few days afterwards, passing along the edge of the rocks, I found fragments of the wings and broken feathers of a Wood Thrush killed by the Hawk, which I contemplated with unfeigned regret, and not without a determination to retaliate on the first of these murderers I could meet with.

That I may not seem singular in my estimation of this bird, I shall subjoin an extract of a letter from a distinguished American gentleman to whom I had sent some drawings, and whose name, were I at liberty to give it, would do honour to my humble performance, and render any further observations on the subject from me unnecessary.

“As you are curious in birds, there is one well worthy your “ attention, to be found, or rather heard, in every part of “ America, and yet scarcely ever to be seen. It is in all the “ forests from spring to fall, and never but on the tops of the “ tallest trees, from which it perpetually serenades us with some “ of the sweetest notes, and as clear as those of the nightingale. " I have followed it for miles without ever but once getting a “good view of it. It is of the size and make of the mocking“ bird, lightly thrush coloured on the back, and a grayish white “ on the breast and belly. Mr. -, my son-in-law, was in “possession of one which had been shot by a neighbour, he “pronounced it a Muscicapa, and I think it much resembles " the Mouche rolle de la Martinique, 8 Buffon, 374, Pl. En

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« lum. 568. As it abounds in all the neighbourhood of Phila“delphia, you may, perhaps, by patience and perseverance (of “which much will be requisite) get a sight, if not a possession “of it. I have for twenty years interested the young sportsmen “ of my neighbourhood to shoot me one; but as yet without 46 success.

It may seem strange that neither Sloane, * Catesby, Edwards nor Buffon, all of whom are said to have described this bird, should say any thing of its melody; or rather, assert that it had only a single cry or scream. This I cannot account for in any other way than by supposing, what I think highly probable, that this bird has never been figured or described by any of the above authors.

Catesby has, indeed, represented a bird, which he calls Turdus minimus,t but it is difficult to discover, either from the figure or description, what particular species is meant; or whether it be really intended for the Wood Thrush we are now describing. It resembles, he says, the English Thrush; but is less, never sings; has only a single note, and abides all the year in Carolina. It must be confessed that, except the first circumstance, there are few features of the Wood Thrush in this description. I have myself searched the woods of Carolina and Georgia, in winter, for this bird, in vain, nor do I believe that it ever winters in these states. If Mr. Catesby found his bird mute during spring and summer, it was not the Wood Thrush; otherwise he must have changed his very nature. But Mr. Edwards has also described and delineated the Little Thrush, and has referred to Catesby as having drawn and engraved it before. Now this Thrush of Edwards I know to be really a different species, one not resident in Pennsylvania, but passing to the north in May, and returning the same way in October, and may be distinguished from the true Song Thrush (Turdus melodus) by the spots being much broader, brown, and not descending below the breast. It is also an inch shorter, with the cheeks of a bright tawny colour. Mr. William Bartram, who transmitted this bird, * Hist. Jam. ji, 305. 7 Catesby, Nat. Hist. Car. i, 31. | Edwards, 296.

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