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inches. The figure in the plate was drawn and coloured from a very elegant living specimen.
Notwithstanding the care which this bird, in common with the rest of its genus, takes to place its young beyond the reach of enemies, within the hollows of trees; yet there is one deadly foe, against whose depredations neither the height of the tree, nor the depth of the cavity, is the least security. This is the Black snake (Coluber constrictor,) who frequently glides up the trunk of the tree, and, like a skulking savage, enters the Woodpecker's peaceful apartment, devours the eggs or helpless young, in spite of the cries and flutterings of the parents; and, if the place be large enough, coils himself up in the spot they occupied, where he will sometimes remain for several days. The eager school-boy, after hazarding his neck to reach the Woodpecker's hole, at the triumphant moment when he thinks the nestlings his own, and strips his arm, lanching it down into the cavity, and grasping what he conceives to be the callow young, starts with horror at the sight of a hideous snake, and almost drops, from his giddy pinnacle, retreating down the tree with terror and precipitation. Several adventures of this kind have come to my knowledge; and one of them that was attended with serious consequences; where both snake and boy fell to the ground; and a broken thigh, and long confinement, cured the adventurer completely of his ambition for robbing Woodpecker's nests.
[Plate IX.-Fig. 2. ]
Picus varius, Linn. Syst. 1, 176, 20.-Gmel. Syst. 1, 438.-Le
pic varie de la Caroline, BUFF. VII, 77. Pl. Enl. 785.—Yellowbellied Woodpecker, CATESB. I, 21.-Arct. Zool. II, No. 166.LATH. Syn. 11, 574, 20. Id. Sup.p. 109.—PEALE's Museum, No.
This beautiful species is one of our resident birds. It visits our orchards in the month of October, in great numbers; is occasionally seen during the whole winter and spring; but seems to seek the depths of the forest, to rear its young in; for during summer, it is rarely seen among our settlements; and even in the intermediate woods, I have seldom met with it in that season. According to Brisson, it inhabits the continent from Cayenne to Virginia; and I may add, as far as to Hudson's Bay; where according to Hutchins, they are called Mekisewe Paupastaow;* they are also common in the states of Kentucky and Ohio, and have been seen in the neighbourhood of St. Louis. They are reckoned by Georgi, among the birds that frequent the lake Baikal, in Asia,t but their existence there has not been satisfactorily ascertained.
The habits of this species are similar to those of the Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers, with which it generally associates; and which are both represented in the same plate. The only nest of this bird which I have met with, was in the body of an old pear-tree, about ten or eleven feet from the ground. The hole was almost exactly circular, small for the size of the bird, so that it crept in and out with difficulty, but suddenly widened, descending by a small angle, and then running downwards about fifteen inches. On the smooth solid wood lay four white eggs. This was about the twenty-fifth of May. Having no opportunity of visiting it afterwards, I cannot say whether it added any more eggs to the number; I rather think it did not, as it appeared, at that time, to be sitting.
The Yellow-bellied Woodpecker is eight inches and a half long, and in extent fifteen inches; whole crown a rich and deep scarlet, bordered with black on each side, and behind forming a slight crest, which it frequently erects;* from the nostrils, which are thickly covered with recumbent hairs, a narrow strip of white runs downward, curving round the breast, mixing with the yellowish white on the lower part of the breast; throat the same deep scarlet as the crown, bordered with black, proceeding from the lower mandible on each side, and spreading into a broad rounding patch on the breast; this black, in birds of the first and second year, is dusky gray, the feathers being only crossed with circular touches of black; a line of white, and below it another of black, proceed, the first from the upper part of the eye, the other from the posterior half of the eye, and both lose themselves on the neck and back;back dusky yellow, sprinkled and elegantly waved with black; wings black, with a large oblong spot of white; the primaries tipt and spotted with white; the three secondaries, next the body, are also variegated with white; rump white, bordered with black; belly yellow; sides under the wings more dusky yellow, marked with long arrow-heads of black; legs and feet greenish blue; tail black, consisting of ten feathers, the two outward feathers, on each side tipt with white, the next totally black, the fourth edged on its inner vane, half way down, with white, the middle one white on its interior vane, and spotted with black; tongue flat, horny for half an inch at the tip, pointed, and armed along its sides with reflected barbs; the other extremities of the tongue pass up behind the scull in a groove, and end near the right nos
* This circumstance seems to have been overlooked by naturalists.
tril; in birds of the first and second year, they reach only to the crown; bill an inch long, channelled, wedge-formed at the tip, and of a dusky horn colour. The female is marked nearly as the male, but wants the scarlet on the throat, which is whitish; she is also darker under the wings, and on the sides of the breast. The young of the first season, of both sexes, in October, have the crown sprinkled with black and deep scarlet; the scarlet on the throat may be also observed in the young males. The principal food of these birds is insects; and they seem particularly fond of frequenting orchards, boring the trunks of the apple-trees, in their eager search after them. On opening them, the liver appears very large, and of a dirty gamboge colour; the stomach strongly muscular, and generally filled with fragments of beetles and gravel. In the morning they are extremely active in the orchards, and rather shyer than the rest of their associates. Their cry is also different, but though it is easily distinguishable in the woods, cannot be described by words.
[Plate IX.–Fig. 3.]
Picus villosus, Linn. Syst. 1, 175, 16.-Pic chevelu de Virginie,
Buffon, vii, 74.—Pic varie mâle de Virginie, Pl. Enl. 754. Hairy Woodpecker, Catesby, I, 19, fig. 2.-Arct. Zool. 11, No. 164.-Lath. Syn. II, 572, 18. Id. Sup. 108.-PEALE's Museum, No. 1988.
This is another of our resident birds, and, like the former, a haunter of orchards, and borer of apple-trees, an eager hunter of insects, their eggs and larvæ, in old stumps, and old rails, in rotten branches, and crevices of the bark; having all the characters of the Woodpecker strongly marked. In the month of May, he retires with his mate to the woods, and either seeks out a branch already hollow, or cuts out an opening for himself. In the former case, I have known his nest more than five feet distant from the mouth of the hole; and in the latter, he digs first horizontally, if in the body of the tree, six or eight inches, and then downwards, obtusely, for twice that distance; carrying up the chips with his bill, and scraping them out with his feet. They also not unfrequently choose the orchard for breeding in; and even an old stake of the fence, which they excavate for this purpose. The female lays five white eggs, and hatches in June. This species is more numerous than the last in Pennsylvania, and more domestic; frequently approaching the farm-house, and skirts of the town. In Philadelphia, I have many times observed them examining old ragged trunks of the willow and poplar, while people were passing immediately below. Their cry is strong, shrill and tremulous; they have also a single note or chuck, which they often repeat, in an eager manner, as they