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rity for fair weather. It is neither venerated like those of the Society isles, nor dreaded like those of some other countries; but is considered merely as a bird that feeds on fish; is generally fat; relished by some as good eating; and is now and then seen exposed for sale in our markets.
Though the Kingsfisher generally remains with us, in Pennsylvania, until the commencement of cold weather, it is seldom seen here in winter; but returns to us early in April. In North and South Carolina, I observed numbers of these birds in the months of February and March. I also frequently noticed them on the shores of the Ohio, in February, as high up as the mouth of the Muskingum.
I suspect this bird to be a native of the Bahama islands, as well as of our continent. In passing between these isles and the Florida shore, in the month of July, a Kingsfisher flew several times round our ship, and afterwards shot off to the south.
The length of this species is twelve inches and a half, extent twenty; back and whole upper parts a light bluish slate colour; round the neck is a collar of pure white, which reaches before to the chin; head large, crested, the feathers long and narrow, black in the centre, and generally erect; the shafts of all the feathers, except the white plumage, are black; belly and vent white; sides under the wings variegated with blue; round the upper part of the breast passes a band of blue, interspersed with some light brown feathers; before the eye is a small spot of white, and another immediately below it; the bill is three inches long, from the point to the slit of the mouth, strong, sharp pointed, and black, except near the base of the lower mandible, and at the tip, where it is of a horn colour; primaries, and interior webs of the secondaries, black, spotted with white; the interior vanes of the tail feathers elegantly spotted with white on a jet black ground; lower side light coloured; exterior vanes blue; wing-coverts and secondaries marked with small specks of white; legs extremely short; when the bird perches it generally rests on the lower side of the second joint, which is thereby thick and callous; claws stout and black; whole leg of a dirty yellowish colour; above the knee bare of feathers for half an inch; the two exterior toes united together for nearly their whole length.
The female is sprinkled all over with specks of white; the band of blue around the upper part of the breast is nearly half reddish brown; and a little below this passes a band of bright reddish bay, spreading on each side under the wings. The blue and rufous feathers on the breast are strong like scales. The head is also of a much darker blue than the back; and the white feathers on the chin and throat of an exquisite fine glossy texture, like the most beautiful satin.
SPECIES 1. C. FAMILIARIS.
[Plate VIII.–Fig. 1. Male.]
Little Brown variegated Creeper, BARTRAM, 289.—Peale's Mu
seum, No. 2434.*
This bird agrees so nearly with the common European Creeper (Certhia familiaris), that I have little doubt of their being one and the same species. I have examined, at different times, great numbers of these birds, and have endeavoured to make a correct drawing of the male, that Europeans and others may judge for themselves; and the excellent artist to whom the plate was entrusted has done his part so well in the engraving, as to render the figure a perfect resemblance of the living original.
The Brown Creeper is an extremely active and restless little bird. In winter it associates with the small Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Titmouse, &c. and often follows in their rear, gleaning up those insects which their more powerful bills had alarmed and exposed; for its own slender incurvated bill seems unequal to the task of penetrating into even the decayed wood though it may into holes and behind scales of the bark. Of the Titmouse there are generally present the individuals of a whole family, and seldom more than one or two of the others. As the party advances through the woods, from tree to tree, our little gleaner seems to observe a good deal of regularity in his proceedings; for I have almost always observed that he alights on the body near the root of the tree, and directs his course with great nimbleness upwards to the higher branches, sometimes spirally, often in a direct line, moving rapidly and uniformly along, with his tail bent to the tree, and not in the hopping manner of the Woodpecker, whom he far surpasses in dexterity of climbing, running along the lower side of the horizontal branches with surprising ease. If any person be near when he alights, he is sure to keep the opposite side of the tree, moving round as he moves, so as to prevent him from getting more than a transient glimpse of him. The best method of outwitting him, if you are alone, is, as soon as he alights and disappears behind the trunk, take your stand behind an adjoining one, and keep a sharp look out twenty or thirty feet up the body of the tree he is upon, for he generally mounts very regularly to a considerable height, examining the whole way as he advances. In a minute or two, hearing all still, he will make his appearance on one side or other of the tree, and give you an opportunity of observing him.
* We add the following synonymes:- Certhia familiaris, Linn. Syst. ed. 10, vol. 1, 118. GHEL. Syst. 1, 469-Lata. Ind. Oin. 280.--Le Grimpereau, Burs. Pl. Enl. 681.
These birds are distributed over the whole United States; but are most numerous in the western and northern states, and particularly so in the depth of the forests, and in tracts of large timbered woods, where they usually breed; visiting the thicker settled parts of the country in fall and winter. They are more abundant in the flat woods of the lower district of New Jersey than in Pennsylvania; and are frequently found among the pines. Though their customary food appears to consist of those insects of the coleopterous class, yet I have frequently found in their stomachs the seeds of the pine tree, and fragments of a species of fungus that vegetates in old wood, with generally a large proportion of gravel. There seems to be scarcely any difference between the colours and markings of the male and female. In the month of March I opened eleven of these birds, among whom were several females, as appeared by the clusters of minute eggs with which their ovaries were filled, and also several well-marked males, and, on the most careful comparison
of their plumage, I could find little or no difference; the colours indeed were rather more vivid and intense in some than in others; but sometimes this superiority belonged to a male, sometimes to a female and appeared to be entirely owing to difference in age. I found, however, a remarkable and very striking difference in their sizes; some were considerably larger, and had the bill at least one-third longer and stronger than the others, and these I uniformly found to be males. I also received two of these birds from the country bordering on the Cayuga lake, in New York state, from a person who killed them from the tree in which they had their nest. The male of this pair had the bill of the same extraordinary size with several others I had examined before, the plumage in every respect the same. Other males, indeed, were found at the same time of the usual size. Whether this be only an accidential variety, or whether the male, when full grown, be naturally so much larger than the female (as is the case with many birds), and takes several years in arriving at his full size, I cannot positively determine, though I think the latter most probable.
The Brown Creeper builds his nest in the hollow trunk or branch of a tree, where the tree has been shivered, or a limb broken off, or where squirrels or Woodpeckers have wrought out an entrance: for nature has not provided him with the means of excavating one for himself. I have known the female begin to lay by the seventeenth of April. The eggs are usually seven, of a dull cinereous, marked with small dots of reddish yellow, and streaks of dark brown. The young come forth with great caution, creeping about long before they venture on wing. From the early season at which they begin to build, I have no doubts of their raising two broods during summer, as I have seen the old ones entering holes late in July.
The length of this bird is five inches, and nearly seven from the extremity of one wing to that of the other; the upper part of the head is of a deep brownish black; the back brown, and both streaked with white, the plumage of the latter being of a