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hop about, and dig into the crevices of the tree. They inhabit the continent, from Hudson's Bay to Carolina and Georgia.
The Hairy Woodpecker is nine inches long, and fifteen in extent; crown black; line over and under the eye white; the eye is placed in a black line, that widens as it descends to the back; hind-head scarlet, sometimes intermixed with black; nostrils hid under remarkably thick, bushy, recumbent hairs or bristles; under the bill are certain long hairs thrown forward, and upwards, as represented in the figure; bill a bluish horn colour, grooved, wedged at the end, straight, and about an inch and a quarter long; touches of black, proceeding from the lower mandible, end in a broad black stripe, that joins the black on the shoulder; back black, divided by a broad lateral strip of white, the feathers composing which, are loose and unwebbed, resembling hairs, whence its name; rump and shoulders of the wing, black; wings black, tipped and spotted with white, three rows of spots being visible on the secondaries, and five on the primaries; greater wing-coverts also spotted with white; tail as in the others, cuneiform, consisting of ten strong-shafted and pointed feathers, the four middle ones black, the next partially white, the two exterior ones white, tinged at the tip with a brownish burnt colour; tail-coverts black; whole lower side pure white; legs, feet and claws, light blue, the latter remarkably large and strong; inside of the mouth flesh coloured; tongue pointed, beset with barbs, and capable of being protruded more than an inch and a half; the os hyoides, in this species, pass on each side of the neck, ascend the scull, pass down toward the nostril, and are wound round the bone of the right eye, which projects considerably more than the left for its accommodation. The great mass of hairs, that cover the nostril, appears to be designed as a protection to the front of the head, when the bird is engaged in digging holes into the wood. The membrane, which encloses the brain, in this, as in all the other species of Woodpeckers, is also of extraordinary strength, no doubt to prevent any
bad effects from violent concussion, while the bird is employed in digging for food. The female wants the red on the hind-head;
and the white below is tinged with brownish. The manner of flight of these birds has been already described, under a former species, as consisting of alternate risings and sinkings. The Hairy Woodpeckers generally utter a loud tremulous scream, as they set off, and when they alight. They are hard to kill, and, like the Red-headed Woodpecker, hang by the claws, even of a single foot, as long as a spark of life remains, before they drop.
This species is common at Hudson's Bay; and has lately been found in England. Dr. Latham examined a pair, which were shot near Halifax, in Yorkshire; and on comparing the male with one brought from North America, could perceive no difference, but in a slight interruption of the red that marked the hind-head of the former; a circumstance which I have frequently observed in our own. The two females corresponded exactly.
SPECIES 7. PICUS PUBESCENS.
[Plate IX.-Fig. 4.]
Picus pubescens, Linn. Syst. I, 175, 15.—GMEL. Syst. 1, 435.
Petit Pic rarie de Virginie, BUFFON, VI1, 76.-Smallest Woodpecker, CATESB. 1, 21.–Arct. Zool. 11, No. 165.—Little Wood. pecker, Lath. Syn. 11, 573, 19. Id. Sup. 109.-Peale's Museum, No. 1986.
This is the smallest of our Woodpeckers, and so exactly resembles the former in its tints and markings, and in almost every thing, except its diminutive size, that I wonder how it passed through the count de Buffon's hands, without being branded as “a spurious race, degenerated by the influence of food, climate, or some unknown cause.” But though it has escaped this infamy, charges of a much more heinous nature have been brought against it, not only by the writer above mentioned, but by the whole venerable body of zoologists in Europe, who have treated of its history, viz. that it is almost constantly boring and digging into apple-trees; and that it is the most destructive of its whole genus to the orchards. The first part of this charge I shall not pretend to deny; how far the other is founded in truth, will appear in the sequel. Like the two former species, it remains with us the whole year. About the middle of May, the male and female look out for a suitable place for the reception of their eggs and young. An apple, pear or cherry tree, often in the near neighbourhood of the farmhouse, is generally pitched upon for this purpose. The tree is minutely reconnoitred for several days, previous to the operation, and the work is first begun by the male, who cuts out a hole in the solid wood, as circular as if described with a pair of
compasses. He is occasionally relieved by the female, both parties working with the most indefatigable diligence. The direction of the hole, if made in the body of the tree, is generally downwards, by an angle of thirty or forty degrees, for the distance of six or eight inches, and then straight down for ten or twelve more; within roomy, capacious, and as smooth as if polished by the cabinet-maker; but the entrance is judiciously left just so large as to admit the body of the owner. During this labour, they regularly carry out the chips, often strewing them at a distance to prevent suspicion. This operation sometimes occupies the chief part of a week. Before she begins to lay, the female often visits the place, passes out and in, examines every part, both of the exterior and interior, with great attention, as every prudent tenant of a new house ought to do, and at length takes complete possession. The eggs are generally six, pure white, and laid on the smooth bottom of the cavity. The male occasionally supplies the female with food, while she is sitting; and about the last week in June, the young are perceived making their way up the tree, climbing with considerable dexterity. All this goes on with great regularity, where no interruption is met with; but the House Wren, who also builds in the hollow of a tree, but who is neither furnished with the necessary tools, nor strength for excavating such an apartment for himself, allows the Woodpeckers to go on, till he thinks it will answer his purpose, then attacks them with violence and generally succeeds in driving them off. I saw, some weeks ago, a striking example of this, where the Woodpeckers we are now describing, after commencing in a cherry-tree, within a few yards of the house, and having made considerable progress, were turned out by the Wren: the former began again on a pear-tree in the garden, fifteen or twenty yards off, whence, after digging out a most complete apartment, and one egg being laid, they were once more assaulted by the same impertinent intruder, and finally forced to abandon the place.
The principal characteristics of this little bird are diligence, familiarity, perseverance, and a strength and energy in the head, and muscles of the neck, which are truly astonishing. Mounted on the infected branch of an old apple-tree, where insects have lodged their corroding and destructive brood, in crevices between the bark and wood, he labours sometimes, for half an hour, incessantly at the same spot, before he has succeeded in dislodging and destroying them. At these times you may walk up pretty close to the tree, and even stand immediately below it, within five or six feet of the bird, without in the least embarrassing him; the strokes of his bill are distinctly heard several hundred yards off; and I have known him to be at work for two hours together on the same tree. Buffon calls this, “ incessant toil and slavery,”—their attitude, “ a painful posture,” and their life, “a dull and insipid existence;" expressions improper, because untrue; and absurd, because contradictory. The posture is that for which the whole organization of his frame is particularly adapted; and though to a Wren, or a Hummingbird, the labour would be both toil and slavery, yet to him it is, I am convinced, as pleasant, and as amusing, as the sports of the chase to the hunter, or the sucking of flowers to the Humming-bird. The eagerness with which he traverses the upper and lower sides of the branches; the cheerfulness of his cry, and the liveliness of his motions while digging into the tree, and dislodging the vermin, justify this belief. He has a single note, or chink, which, like the former species, he frequently repeats. And when he flies off, or alights on another tree, he utters a rather shriller cry, composed of nearly the same kind of note, quickly reiterated. In fall and winter, he associates with the Titmouse, Creeper, &c. both in their wood and orchard excursions; and usually leads the van. Of all our Woodpeckers, none rid the apple-trees of so many vermin as this, digging off the moss, which the negligence of the proprietor had suffered to accumulate, and probing every crevice. In fact, the orchard is his favourite resort in all seasons; and his industry is unequalled, and almost incessant, which is more than can be said of any other species we have. In Fall, he is particularly fond of boring the apple-trees for insects, digging a circular hole through