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GENUS XXII. PICUS. WOODPECKER.
SPECIES 1. PICUS PRINCIPALIS.
[Plate XXIX. -Fig. 1.]
Picus principalis, Linn. Syst. 1, p. 173, 2.-Gmel. Syst. 1, p. 425.
- Picus niger Carolinensis cristatus, Briss. iv, p. 26, 9.-l'ic noir à bec blanc, Buff. VII, p. 46.- Pl. Enl. 690.-King of the Woodpeckers, KALM, vol. II, p. 85.White-billed Woodpecker, Catesb. Car.*1, 16.-- Arct. Zool. 11, No. 156.—Lath. Syn. II, p. 553.-BARTRAM, p. 289.—PEALE's Museum, No. 1884.
This majestic and formidable species, in strength and magnitude, stands at the head of the whole class of Woodpeckers hitherto discovered. He may be called the king or chief of his tribe; and Nature seems to have designed him a distinguished characteristic, in the superb carmine crest, and bill of polished ivory, with which she has ornamented him. His eye is brilliant and daring; and his whole frame so admirably adapted for his mode of life, and method of procuring subsistence, as to impress on the mind of the examiner the most reverential ideas of the Creator. His manners have also a dignity in them superior to the common herd of Woodpeckers. Trees, shrubbery, orchards, rails, fence-posts, and old prostrate logs, are alike interesting to those, in their humble and indefatigable search for prey; but the royal hunter now before us, scorns the humility of such situations, and seeks the most towering trees of the forest; seeming particularly attached to those prodigious cypress
swamps, whose crowded giant sons stretch their bare and blasted, or moss-hung, arms midway to the skies. In these almost inaccessible recesses, amid ruinous piles of impending timber, his trumpet-like note, and loud strokes, resound through the solitary, savage wilds, of which he seems the sole lord and inhabitant. Wherever he frequents, he leaves numerous monuments of his industry behind him. We there see enormous pine-trees, with cartloads of bark lying around their roots, and chips of the trunk itself in such quantities, as to suggest the idea that half a dozen of axemen had been at work for the whole morning. The body of the tree is also disfigured with such numerous and so large excavations, that one can hardly conceive it possible for the whole to be the work of a Woodpecker. With such strength, and an apparatus so powerful, what havoc might he not commit, if numerous, on the most useful of our forest trees; and yet with all these appearances, and much of vulgar prejudice against him, it may fairly be questioned whether he is at all injurious; or, at least, whether his exertions do not contribute most powerfully to the protection of our timber. Examine closely the tree where he has been at work, and you will soon perceive, that it is neither from motives of mischief nor amusement that he slices off the bark, or digs his way into the trunk. For the sound and healthy tree is not in the least the object of his attention. The diseased, infested with insects, and hastening to putrefaction, are his favourites; there the deadly crawling enemy have formed a lodgement, between the bark and tender wood, to drink up the very vital part of the tree. It is the ravages
of these vermin which the intelligent proprietor of the forest deplores, as the sole perpetrators of the destruction of his timber. Would it be believed that the larvæ of an insect, or fly, no larger than a grain of rice, should silently, and in one season, destroy some thousand acres of pine-trees, many of them from two to three feet in diameter, and a hundred and fifty feet high! Yet whoever passes along the high road from Georgetown to Charleston, in South Carolina, about twenty miles from the former place, can have striking and melancholy proofs of