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more than fifty years ago, to Mr. Edwards, by whom it was drawn and engraved, examined the two species in my presence; and on comparing them with the one in Edwards, was satisfied that the bird there figured and described is not the Wood Thrush (Turdus melodus,) but the tawny-cheeked species above mentioned. This species I have never seen in Pennsylvania but in spring and fall. It is still more solitary than the former, and utters, at rare times, a single cry, similar to that of a chicken which has lost its mother. This very bird I found numerous in the Myrtle swamps of Carolina in the depth of winter, and I have not a doubt of its being the same which is described by Edwards and Catesby.
As the count de Buffon has drawn his description from those above mentioned, the same observations apply equally to what he has said on the subject; and the fanciful theory which this writer had formed to account for its want of song, vanishes into empty air; viz. that the Song Thrush of Europe (Turdus musicus) had, at some time after the creation, rambled round by the Nothern ocean, and made its way to America; that advancing to the south it had there (of consequence) become degenerated by change of food and climate, so that its cry is now harsh and unpleasent, as are the cries of all birds that live in wild countries inhabited by savages.”*
For a figure and description of this passenger Thrush see the following species.
Buffon, vol. iii, 289, The figure in PL Enl. 398, has little or no resemblance to the Wood Thrush, being of a deep green olive above, and spotted to the very vent, with long streaks of brown.
[Plate XLIII. Fig. 2.)
Little Thrush, CatesbY, 1, 31.-EDWARDS, 296.—Brown Thrush,
Arct. Zool. 357, No. 199.-PEALE's Museum, No. 3542.
The dark solitary cane and myrtle swamps of the southern states are the favourite native haunts of this silent and recluse species, and the more deep and gloomy these are, the more certain we are to meet with this bird flitting among them. This is the species mentioned while treating of the Wood Thrush, as having been figured and described more than fifty years ago by Edwards, from a dried specimen sent him by my friend Mr. William Bartram, under the supposition that it was the Wood Thrush (Turdus melodus.) It is however considerably less, very differently marked, and altogether destitute of the clear voice and musical powers of that charming minstrel. It also differs in remaining in the southern states during the whole year; whereas the Wood Thrush does not winter even in Georgia; nor arrives within the southern boundary of that state until some time in April.
The Hermit Thrush is rarely seen in Pennsylvania, unless for a few weeks in spring and late in the fall, long after the Wood Thrush has left us, and when scarcely a summer bird remains in the woods. In both seasons it is mute, having only, in spring, an occasional squeak like that of a young stray chicken.
* Turdus minor, GMELIN, which name having the priority must be adopted.
We add the following synonymes:— T. minor, GM. Syst. 1, p. 809.-LATH. Syn. III, p. 20. No.5.- Mauvis de la Caroline, Buff. Pl. Enl. 556, fig. 2. Turdus fuscus, GMEL. Syst. 1, p. 817.--Laty. Syn. III, p. 28, No. 16.
Along the Atlantic coast in New Jersey they remain longer and later, as I have observed them there late in November. In the cane swamps of the Chactaw nation they were frequent in the month of May, on the twelfth of which I examined one of their nests on a horizontal branch immediately over the path. The female was sitting, and left it with great reluctance, so that I had nearly laid my hand on her before she flew. The nest was fixed on the upper part of the body of the branch, and constructed with great neatness; but without mud or plaster, contrary to the custom of the Wood Thrush. The outside was composed of a considerable quantity of coarse rooty grass, intermixed with horse hair, and lined with a fine green coloured, thread-like grass, perfectly dry, laid circularly with particular neatness. The eggs were four, of a pale greenish blue, marked with specks and blotches of olive, particularly at the great end. I also observed this bird on the banks of the Cumberland river in April. Its food consists chiefly of berries, of which these low swamps furnish a perpetual abundance, such as those of the holly, myrtle, gall bush, (a species of vaccinium,) yapon shrub, and many others.
A superficial observer would instantly pronounce this to be only a variety of the Wood Thrush; but taking into consideration its difference of size, colour, manners, want of song, secluded habits, differently formed nest, and spotted eggs, all unlike those of the former, with which it never associates, it is impossible not to conclude it to be a distinct and separate species, however near it may approach to that of the former. Its food, and the country it inhabits for half the year being the same, neither could have produced those differences; and we must believe it to be now, what it ever has and ever will be, a distinct connecting link in the great chain of this part of animated nature; all the sublime reasoning of certain theoretical closet philosophers to the contrary notwithstanding.
Length of the Hermit Thrush seven inches, extent ten inches and a half; upper parts plain deep olive brown, lower dull white; upper part of the breast and throat dull cream colour, deepest where the plumage falls over the shoulders of the wing, and marked with large dark brown pointed spots; ear feathers and line over the eye cream, the former mottled with olive; edges of the wings lighter, tips dusky; tail coverts and tail inclining to a reddish fox colour. In the Wood Thrush these parts incline to greenish olive. Tail slightly forked; legs dusky; bill black above and at the tip, whitish below; iris black and very full; chin whitish.
The female differs very little, chiefly in being generally darker in the tints, and having the spots on the breast larger and more dusky.
[Plate XLIII.—Fig. 3.]
PEALE's Museum, No. 5570.
This species makes its appearence in Pennsylvania from the south regularly about the beginning of May, stays with us a week or two, and passes on to the north and to the high mountainous districts to breed. It has no song, but a sharp chuck. About the twentieth of May I met with numbers of them in the great Pine swamp, near Pocano; and on the twenty-fifth of September, in the same year, I shot several of them in the neighbourhood of Mr. Bartram's place. I have examined many of these birds in spring, and also on their return in fall, and found very little difference among them between the male and female. In some specimens the wing coverts were brownish yellow; these appeared to be young birds. I have no doubt but they breed in the northern high districts of the United States; but I have not yet been able to discover their nests.
The Tawny Thrush is ten inches long, and twelve inches in extent; the whole upper parts are a uniform tawny brown; the lower parts white; sides of the breast and under the wings slightly tinged with ash; chin white; throat and upper parts of the breast cream coloured, and marked with pointed spots of brown; lores pale ash, or bluish white; cheeks dusky brown; tail nearly even at the end, the shafts of all, as well as those of the wing quills, continued a little beyond their webs; bill black above and at the point, below at the base flesh coloured; corners of the mouth yellow; eye large and dark, surrounded with a white ring; legs long, slender and pale brown.
Though I have given this bird the same name that Mr. Pennant has applied to one of our Thrushes, it must not be consid