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the bark, just sufficient to admit his bill, after that a second, third, &c. in pretty regular horizontal circles round the body of the tree; these parallel circles of holes are often not more than an inch, or an inch and an half, apart, and sometimes so close together, that I have covered eight or ten of them at once with a dollar. From nearly the surface of the ground, up to the first fork, and sometimes far beyond it, the whole bark of many apple-trees are perforated in this manner, so as to appear as if made by successive discharges of buck-shot; and our little Woodpecker, the subject of the present account, is the principal perpetrator of this supposed mischief. I say supposed, for so far from these perforations of the bark being ruinous, they are not only harmless, but, I have good reason to believe, really beneficial to the health and fertility of the tree. I leave it to the philosophical botanist to account for this; but the fact I am confident of. In more than fifty orchards, which I have myself carefully examined, those trees which were marked by the Woodpecker, (for some trees they never touch, perhaps because not penetrated by insects) were uniformly the most thriving, and seemingly the most productive; many of these were upwards of sixty years old, their trunks completely covered with holes, while the branches were broad, luxuriant, and loaded with fruit. Of decayed trees, more than three-fourths were untouched by the Woodpecker. Several intelligent farmers, with whom I have conversed, candidly acknowledge the truth of these observations, and with justice look upon these birds as beneficial; but the most common opinion is, that they bore the tree to suck the sap, and so destroy its vegetation; though pine and other resinous trees, on the juices of which it is not pretended they feed, are often found equally perforated. Were the sap of the tree their object, the saccharine juice of the birch, the sugar-maple, and several others, would be much more inviting, because more sweet and nourishing, than that of either the pear or apple-tree; but I have not observed one mark on the former, for ten thousand that may be seen on the latter; besides, the early part spring is the season when the sap flows most abundantly; where
VOL. II. -F
as it is only during the months of September, October, and November, that Woodpeckers are seen so indefatigably engaged in orchards, probing every crack and crevice, boring through the bark, and, what is worth remarking, chiefly on the south and south-west sides of the tree, for the eggs and larvæ deposited there, by the countless swarms of summer insects. These, if suffered to remain, would prey upon the very vitals, if I may so express it, of the tree, and in the succeeding summer, give birth to myriads more of their race, equally destructive.
Here then is a whole species, I may say genus, of birds, which Providence seems to have formed for the protection of our fruit and forest trees, from the ravages of vermin; which every day destroy millions of those noxious insects, that would otherwise blast the hopes of the husbandman; and which even promote the fertility of the tree; and, in return, are proscribed by those who ought to have been their protectors; and incitements and rewards held out for their destruction! Let us examine better into the operations of nature, and many of our mistaken opinions, and groundless prejudices, will be abandoned for more just, enlarged, and humane, modes of thinking.
The length of the Downy Woodpecker is six inches and three quarters, and its extent twelve inches; crown black; hind-head deep scarlet; stripe over the eye white; nostrils thickly covered with recumbent hairs, or small feathers, of a cream colour: these, as in the preceding species, are thick and bushy, as if designed to preserve the forehead from injury during the violent action of digging; the back is black, and divided by a lateral strip of white, loose, downy, unwebbed feathers; wings black, spotted with white; tail-coverts, rump, and four middle feathers of the tail, black; the other three on each side white, crossed with touches of black; whole under parts, as well as the sides of the neck, white; the latter marked with a streak of black, proceeding from the lower mandible, exactly as in the Hairy Woodpecker; legs and feet bluish green; claws light blue, tipt with black; tongue formed like that of the preceding species, horny towards the tip, where for one-eighth of an inch it is
barbed; bill of a bluish horn colour, grooved, and wedge-formed, like most of the genus; eye dark hazel. The female wants the red on the hind-head, having that part white; and the breast and belly are of a dirty white.
This, and the two former species, are generally denominated Sap-suckers; they have also several other provincial appellations, equally absurd, which it may, perhaps, be more proper to suppress, than to sanction by repeating.
SPECIES 8. PICUS QUERULUS.
[Plate XV.-Fig. 1.]
PEALE's Museum, No. 2027.
This new species I first discovered in the pine woods of North Carolina. The singularity of its voice, which greatly resembles the chirping of young nestlings, and the red streak on the side of its head, suggested the specific name I have given it. It also extends through South Carolina and Georgia, at least as far as the Altamaha river. Observing the first specimen I found to be so slightly marked with red, I suspected it to be a young bird, or imperfect in its plumage, but the great numbers I afterwards shot, satisfied me that this is a peculiarity of the species. It appeared exceedingly restless, active, and clamorous; and every where I found its manners the same.
This bird seems to be an intermediate link between the Redbellied and the Hairy Woodpecker, represented in plates VII and IX of this work. It has the back of the former, and the white belly and spotted neck of the latter; but wants the breadth of red in both, and is less than either. A preserved specimen has been deposited in the Museum of this city.
This Woodpecker is seven inches and a half long, and thirteen broad; the upper part of the head is black; the back barred with twelve white, transversely, semicircular lines, and as many of black, alternately; the cheeks and sides of the neck are white; whole lower parts the same; from the lower mandible, a list of black passes towards the shoulder of the wing, where it is lost in small black spots on each side of the breast; the wings are black, spotted with white; the four middle tail feathers black, the rest white spotted with black; rump black, variegated with white;
the vent white, spotted with black; the hairs that cover the nostrils are of a pale cream colour; the bill deep slate; but what forms the most distinguishing peculiarity of this bird, is a fine line of vermilion, on each side of the head, seldom occupying more than the edge of a single feather. The female is destitute of this ornament; but in the rest of her plumage differs in nothing from the male. The iris of the eye, in both, was hazel.
The stomachs of all those I opened were filled with small black insects, and fragments of large beetles. The posterior extremities of the tongue reached nearly to the base of the upper mandible.