The Ornithologist and Oölogist. Vol. VIII, No. 11, November, 1883 Birds: Their Nests and Eggs by Various

ORNITHOLOGIST —AND— OÖLOGIST.

$1.00 per Joseph M. Wade, Editor and Publisher. Single Copy Annum. Established, March, 1875. 10 Cents. VOL. VIII. BOSTON, NOVEMBER, 1883. No. 11.

Mississippi Valley Migration.

Note.—The stations and observers, to which these numbers refer, are given in the O. and O. for April.

A group of entirely different habits and of comparatively rare occurrence is composed of the Cape May Warbler, (_P. tigrina_,) Bay-breasted Warbler, (_D. castanea_,) and the Connecticut Warbler, (_O. agilis_.) These all leave the United States to winter, and pass entirely beyond it to breed; at least, we know the first two do so, and it is generally supposed that the last does also, although its nest and eggs have never yet been found. No. (30) was the only observer who saw the first two, and he found the Cape May Warbler on the 2d of May, and the Bay-breasted for the first time May 3d, and the last time both male and female were seen on the 21st of that month. Both (30) and (52) observed the Connecticut Warbler, which is the rarest regular migrant in the Mississippi Valley, during the Spring, and on the Fall return seems to shun its Spring course and passes southward through New England. No. (30) saw it on 5-14, 5-18 and the last one 5-24, while (52) procured his first specimen 5-26, and saw it three times afterward, the last being 5-29. Different in habits from the rest of their Warbler brethren are the Warbler Thrushes, the Golden-crowned Thrush, or Oven-bird, (_S. auricapillus_,) the Small-billed Water Thrush, (_S. nævius_,) and the Large-billed Water Thrush, (_S. motacilla_.) Their ranges differ widely. The bulk of all of them winter beyond our limits, though a few of the first remain in Florida, and numbers of the second are scattered over all the Southern States and occasionally as far north as Southern Illinois. But while the first two breed over all the Mississippi Valley, the last breeds regularly only to Middle and Northern Illinois and sometimes as far north as Southern Minnesota. The first Golden-crowns reached (30) 4-17, and passing north with medium speed (38) found them about 4-26, (52) 4-28, and (51) on 5-5, while farther west, like the other Warblers, they were somewhat later, appearing at (21) on 5-5, and (45) on 5-6. No. (30) found a nest 5-15, with three eggs and a Cowbird’s, while only three days before they were just beginning to be common at (52), and the height of the season was not until 5-19. The Large-billed was the earliest of the three to migrate, arriving at Southern and Central Illinois about the 10th of April, and at (21) on the 14th, but after that, moving rather slowly, reached its usual northern limit at (41) on 5-10. It will be convenient to study five more Warblers together, not because they migrate at the same time, but because their places of wintering and breeding are the same, and their habits, during migration and even the general appearance of some of them, are alike. He must have sharp eyes who can recognize at sight, while in the trees, the Nashville Warbler, (_H. ruficapilla_,) the Orange-crowned Warbler, (_H. celata_,) and the Tennessee Warbler, (_H. peregrina_;) while the Black-capped Yellow and the Canadian Fly-catching Warblers, (_M. pusillus_) and (_M. canadensis_,) share with them a liking for low shrubs, and are not uncommonly found with them.

The first three spend the Winter in the Southern States and the last two withdraw entirely from our country. All nest regularly in British America and more or less frequently in the northern tier of States. The Nashville Warbler was seen by (30) only on 5-2, and by (52) for the first time 5-10. Only five birds were seen before 5-19, then they were more common for a few days and the last left 5-26. The Orange-crowned is comparatively rare east of the Mississippi River. It does occur in both Illinois and Wisconsin, but was not seen this year by either (30) or (52.) The only note is from (57) of one seen 5-14, but it migrates at the same time or a little earlier than the Nashville and Tennessee and is sometimes found in their company. The Tennessee Warbler is much more common. Indeed, the banks of Mississippi seem to be its favorite Spring route. They reached (30) 4-25 and (21) 5-14. They were very numerous at (30) from 5-3 to 5-18. By 5-24 the last one was gone. No. (52) found some females 5-17, but no males until 5-22. The other two Warblers are among the last to migrate, and their passage is usually rather rapid. The Black-capped Yellow reached (21) on 5-8, (30) 5-9, and were most numerous there 5-14 to 5-18, the last one leaving 5-21. At (52) one was seen 5-12, and no more until 5-20. The height of the season was 5-21, and the last one 5-29. The Canadian Fly-catching Warbler was observed only at (52,) where it appeared 5-14 and left 5-24, and at (52) where the first one was seen 5-24 and the last 5-29. Nearly all the rest of the Warblers can be considered together. They are the Blue-winged Yellow, (_H. pinus_,) the Golden-winged, (_H. chrysoptera_,) the Blue Yellow-backed, (_P. americana_,) the Cerulean, (_D. Cærulea_,) and the Mourning Warbler, (_G. philadelphia_.) But few notes have been contributed on these species, which are as a whole, rather southerly. All are handsome and one, the Blue Yellow-backed, is the smallest of our Warblers. All winter beyond our borders except a few of the Blue-winged Yellow and the Blue Yellow-backed, that linger behind in Florida. The Blue-winged Yellow and the Golden-winged breed regularly from the Gulf to Northern Illinois, and casually to Minnesota, and a few of the latter to British America. They were seen only by (30) who found a few of the former in song 4-17, and of the latter, which is not common anywhere, a fine male in song was seen 5-2, and both male and female were seen on the 14th and 15th of May. The Blue Yellow-backed made its appearance at (30) 4-17, and remains to breed, from a little south of St. Louis to British America. It reached (41) 5-3. No. (52) saw it the next day, and the next day it was (57.) The Cerulean Warbler, although breeding over the whole of the Mississippi Valley was seen only by (35) who reports it on 4-11. Among the rather rare Warblers may be counted the Mourning Warbler, whose retiring habits make it difficult to find at any place. It breeds regularly to Southern Wisconsin, and occasionally to Middle Minnesota. It was first seen by (30) 5-16 and three days later at (52) where for the species it was quite abundant, having been seen more than a dozen times in as many different places.

There remains to be treated only three Warblers, and those all well known. They are the Chestnut-sided Warbler, (_D. pennsylvanica_,) the Black and White Creeper, (_M. varia_,) and the Maryland Yellow-throat, (_G. trichas_.) Of these the first entirely leaves the United States for the Winter; the second almost follows its example, a few remaining in Florida and some may remain even farther north, as (13) found it in December; but the last is a common Winter resident of all the Southern States. While the first does not stop to nest until Northern Illinois is reached, the other two nest from the Gulf northward. All three reach British America.

The Chestnut-sided Warbler reached (30) on 4-27, when an old male was seen, but no more until 5-2. About the middle of the month it was most numerous, and the last one left 5-24. At (43) it came 5-5 and four days later at (44.) In the timber they moved a little faster and appeared at (52) 5-7. The bulk of the males came 5-12, followed on the 17th by the females, the species then being at its height; two days later, on the 19th, nearly all left. A few remained to breed—about four to six pairs in as many square miles. One nest was found and the birds seen during all the month of June. Passing north (57) found them May 17, and (60) May 20, but as usual on the prairie (56) did not see them until later—May 24.

The Black and White Creeper migrated somewhat earlier. No. (35) found them for the first time on 4-10 and the next day they were quite numerous. On 4-14 the first arrived at (21,) being almost the only Warbler which was seen there before it was at (30,) at which place it did not appear until fifteen days later, on 4-29. After this they traveled faster, appearing at (41) and (52) on 5-3; at (51) and (57) on 5-7; and at (60) on 5-9. No. (45) found his first one 5-6. At both (30) and (52) they were numerous 5-5, but the height of the season at (52) was not until 5-12. The Maryland Yellow-throat was found by (13) all through the Winter, but though remaining so much farther north than most Warblers, it was no earlier in its migration. A few males came to (30) 4-17, and to (38) 4-29. No. (21) reports them 5-3; four days later (57) saw them and they reached (60) 5-12, and (56) 5-20. Some other dates, as for instance, (35) the first one on 4-30, (41) the first 5-8, and the first at (52) on 5-12, may be taken as later than the facts of the case, owing to the retiring habits of the bird and its not being sought in the marshy spots it usually frequents. At (30) 5-1 was the height of the season and four days later the transient visitors departed.—_W. W. Cooke, Ripon, Wisconsin._

Ruby-Crowned Kinglet.

Found one set of eight slightly incubated eggs, immaculate, 58 × 40, 57 × 43, 54 × 43, 54 × 43, 54 × 43, 53 × 42, 55 × 43, 53 × 49. Nest on a low pine, in a clearing that had grown up to underbrush, three or four feet from the ground. It was pendant (contrary to Dr. Coues’ Bds. of Colo. Val.) from the under side of some small branches that inclined downward and about four inches from the stem. It is much the shape of a “R. R. lunch station” coffee cup, but longer and flattened at the bottom, mainly of green moss interwoven with the fibrous outer covering of plants. This fibre also holding it to the twigs. A very few fine straws are woven into the lower end. The cavity is quite deep for its width, lined with soft shreds of burlaps and re-lined with soft feathers. Altogether it is a very soft concern. Outer height 6 inches, diameter 4 inches, inner depth 2½ inches, diameter 1¾ inches. Am sure of its identity, as I stood some time with my face close to the parent on the nest. While I was packing the nest and eggs the parents were hopping about, uttering their loud cherp, cherp, cherp, cherup, that seemed to be of too much force and volume for so tiny a creature. Right here let me make a correction to my mass of mistakes in the February O. and O. I am not positive of ever seeing but one pair of Yellow-crowned Kinglets anywhere near here. Last year a pair of them alighted near me while at Murphy, and I took it for granted that they were all Yellow-crowns. This season I have paid considerable attention to the Kinglets, but have failed to see anything but Ruby-crowns, which are quite numerous in this locality.

August 1, watched a pair of Kinglets carrying food to their young, and soon discovered their nest in the top of a slender pine about forty feet up. Climbed up, but the top was so small it would not bear my weight. So I waited till the young had flown and then felled the tree. This nest, also, is pensile but not exactly like the other. It is suspended from small twigs and connected to the stem by small fibers caught to the rough bark. It is of moss, fine grass, plant fiber, very small rootlets, and a few feathers loosely woven and lined with soft feathers. Outer diameter 3½ inches, height 4½ inches, inner diameter 2 inches, depth 2½ inches.

It is amusing to note their antics when a Jay happens in the vicinity of their nest. I have often been attracted some distance by their constant chirp, and find them fluttering around some sedate looking Jay, bent on obtaining its breakfast, and at short intervals pouncing down on its back as if to impress upon him their importance. In a corner of the timber near my shanty I have witnessed these proceedings several times, and it is a strong indication that their nest is not far away.—_D. D. Stone, Hancock, Colorado._

Short-eared Owl.

This little owl, so far as my observation has extended, seems peculiar to the coast, where among the reeds and thick marshes of the shores and neighboring islands it finds a covert from the noisy world. Having found such a place they, unlike all other New England owls, build in colonies. A locality not far from here has been from my earliest recollection a breeding place for these owls. The situation is most desirable, being a meadow or flat level with the coast, over which the tide completely flows, but leaves it entirely dry when it recedes. This meadow is covered with a coarse grass and surrounded by tall brakes and reeds. In these latter they gather together the remains of last year’s frost-bitten reeds and place them in a promiscuous heap on a tussock. This is afterward hollowed out and the set of eggs is then laid. Six is the largest number I ever found, with the exception of one nest, in which I found ten; but these were laid by two females who sat together on the same nest in perfect harmony. Incubation was difficult to determine, but I cannot make it out to be more than twenty-one days. If any of your readers would be kind enough to give me the exact time it would be gratefully received. No owl is more interesting to watch. Take some dark, cloudy day in May or June, repair to their haunts and they will be found lightly skimming over the surface of the ground seeking for food left by the receding tide, or again diligently searching the immediate upland for any unwary mouse. Or watch them again in the deepening twilight, as silently, without a single note, they flit past, seeming but a passing thought or fanciful vision, until you hear from the shore the shrill cry of a Tern or Sandpiper in his talons; then you awaken to the fact that it is a rapacious bird acting well its part in nature’s great drama, “The Survival of the Fittest.”—_F. H. Carpenter, Rehobeth, Mass._

Clarke’s Crow in Southeastern Dakota.

A few days ago a farmer called my attention to two, to him, strange birds eating corn in his hog pasture. I borrowed his gun loaded with buckshot, and to my surprise found the victim to be a Clarke’s crow. Now the question is, what did these two strangers want here in a country so unsuited to their wants and habits? Their nearest habitat from here is 400 miles off in a bee line in the Black Hills, where they are not uncommon.—_G. Ayersborg, Vermillion, Dakota._

August O. and O.

J. N. Clark is a little incredulous about the nesting of the Greater Yellow Legs in New Jersey, saying they are abundant during migration at Saybrook, Conn. The Pigeon Hawk’s nest in Delaware and the cross-bills on Long Island are equally surprising to him.

Correction.

In Mr. F. H. C.’s article on the Great-horned Owl, in place of two little “Buteos” read two little Bubos, &c.

Plain English

“We desire not the prostration of science, but we would strip from it the robe of omnipotence improperly assumed, and

That cold, repulsive skeleton anew would dress, Then warm it into life and loveliness.”—_Prof. Hosford._

Is not always pleasant but it is sometimes necessary to bring us to our senses, and we have a small dose of it which we will administer sugar-coated in behalf of the little fellows that are growing up and will soon be among us giving us old stagers ideas of observations we never dreamed of.

Some years ago there was an ornithological association formed in Cambridge, Mass., which has not accomplished the task it set out to do, and for several reasons—1st. It has been too exclusive—too much of the Pharisee order—it has ignored the “bone and sinew” of our beautiful science, and it could not saw its own wood. 2d. It has hung out false colors. It advertised year after year that it was the “only, &c.,” until we gently reminded them that the world would notice it when the sign was taken in. 3d. It has announced as its editors, Prof. S. F. Baird and Dr. Elliott Coues. We, as a corresponding member, have ventured to protest against this deception. We were told that Prof. Baird would not like it if his name was removed, and that it had a good effect abroad, &c., &c. One member informed us that “_all_” the proof was submitted to Dr. Coues. We cannot contradict this, but outsiders don’t believe it, and all of this is a load that the Nuttall Club has failed to carry to its destination. A meeting of the most exclusive kind has recently been held in New York. And this convention of scientists have named their new society “The American Ornithological Union.” The mistake is, it is not American, and it is formed too much on the principle of our city social clubs where each member carries a Yale key. It won’t work in science, gentlemen; all nature belongs to all men. You sadly mistake the importance of this mission. It matters little what you call him, the Blue Jay screams just as loud for rich and poor, for boy and man alike. It is a mystery to us why the names of our birds should be such a bone of contention. It always reminds us of a lawyer discovering during a trial a nice point of law and forgetting that he has a client to look after. We are told that great harmony prevailed and that the disturbing element that has existed so long in our science has calmed down like a bright May morning.

Boston has six members while the State of Yale and Dr. Wood, Coe, Sage and Clark were ignored. R. I. was too small to be remembered; all birds passing through R. I. will be expected to stop at Cambridge and register, and yet the State of Rhode Island is big enough to hold our friend Jencks, and occasionally a rare bird gets one wing over the State. There were six members from Mass., four from Washington, seven from New York, one each from Oregon, Louisiana, Iowa, and Maine, two from Canada, and J. M. Wheaton from Ohio, whose last work should be read by all seeking advanced knowledge. Prof. Maynard seems to have been overlooked, and yet he was studying bird life when many of the present members were toddling around in petticoats. We do not agree with Maynard, but we recognize his right all the same, and fortunately no Union can curtail that right. We are sorry to say he is not well and will winter in the tropics, and as the Union is not represented south of New York the birds will not have heard of it. This purely American? Union did not consider the editor of this paper and all his correspondents as worthy of a seat in the gallery even—but we believe some of them were elected corresponding members, which means that they will be allowed to study bird life and send their notes to some member who will condescend to assume the honor of editing, and yet the birds come and go with the season.

The convention was unique. It brought together a remarkable body of men that nothing else could have done. There was Prof. S. F. Baird, who to our regret and great loss gave up his first love and went a fishing. There was that model scientist Geo. N. Laurence, not “American,” but of the world. The learned Allen from Cambridge was there who gives us the technical “straight.” The Doctors were there in force. Dr. Shufeldt from La., who commences to study our game birds just where we like to leave them. Dr. J. B. Holden and Dr. A. K. Fisher, Sing Sing, N. Y., who reads the O. and O. and of course keeps posted, and Dr. Edgar A. Mearns of Highland Falls, N. Y., who wrote a good thing on the Birds of N. Y., and forgot to send a copy to this office. Dr. C. Hart Merriam was there a moving spirit. His style and accuracy will tell in the secretary’s chair. The hard working Dr. Elliott Coues was there, whose graceful pen and kindness of heart has led him to endorse men who were n. g. in the science. Brewster of Cambridge, Purdie from under the gilded dome, and Chamberlain from over the border was there, and many others not well known to us as they are not advanced enough in ornithology to read the latest news from the bird world in the O. and O.

Robert Ridgway, who has so carefully corrected the errors in O. and O., was there. The boys in the west noticing this trait have honored a newly formed club with his name; and may its constitution be like the science it advocates, broad enough to admit all honest workers on this continent. The ornithologist and oologist of this generation, Capt. Chas. E. Bendire, left Fort Klamah, Oregon, on receipt of notice of the meeting, and reached New York at 7 a. m. on the morning of the day of the meeting. While others are wasting valuable time over the name of a bird, the Captain has been raking in the birds and eggs to an extent little thought of. Although stationed in the wilderness he is better posted on eastern collections than any other man. The following officers were elected: Pres. J. A. Allen; Vice Pres., Dr. Elliott Coues and Robert Ridgway; Sec. and Treas., Dr. C. Hart Merriam, Locust Grove, N. Y.

Nature is truth. Science is a method of describing nature with the pen. Art is nature transferred to canvas by mechanical means. Science and art are necessary to bring nature to our firesides regardless of nature’s wars outside, and also to teach the student who is not endowed with the faculties of observation.

Downy Woodpecker.

Late in October, 1882, a Downy Woodpecker excavated a hole in an old cherry tree, near a much used door in my yard, of the size and shape of its usual nest, and occupied it nightly for more than six weeks. In April following a pair of Bluebirds took possession and reared two broods of five birds each; but now, October 2d, ’83, the Woodpecker has occupied his old quarters for several nights and frequents the locality during the day. This habit of the Downy in making a winter home is a new one to me.—_John M. Howey, Canandaigua, N. Y._

Least Bittern.

While collecting on a large marshy meadow in this vicinity on June 10th, 1883, I started a Least Bittern from a clump of flags. Thinking there might be a nest there, I commenced searching and soon found it. It was a mere hollow in a bunch of matted flags scantily lined with water grass, and contained two fresh laid eggs. In shape and size they resembled eggs of the Yellow-billed Cuckoo. In color they were of pale blue, almost white. Fearing other collectors might find them I took them, though probably not a complete set. I also secured the bird. I afterwards secured three more finely plumaged males on the same meadows, which are now in my cabinet.—_Charles H. Neff, Portland, Conn._

Nests and Eggs of the Birds of Ohio is delayed for want of fresh nests and eggs to draw. This is a work of sterling merit.

The Hawks of ’83.

The first March walks in the woods showed that many of the old hawks’ nests were “winter killed?” Weakened and disintegrated by the action of the constant snow and ice, they had been tumbled from the trees by the last fierce breath of winter. So at the outset it was clear that to secure the annual complement of eggs would involve wider and closer search than usual. Though shadowing them closely, I was finally baffled as to the nesting-places of several pairs of these evicted hawks, and the season’s work gave but eighty eggs against over 100 for the year before. Still the hawks were as common as ever and will continue so, doubtless, as long as their chief quarry the red squirrel is so abundant here. In this series the sets of Red-tailed were all in pairs, and the Red-shouldered all in trios—the Red-tailed of course being larger and less showily marked. In average sets of _borealis_ one egg will be plain and the other nearly so, while in a large series of Red-shouldered there will be some half dozen types constantly recurring, many gradations, and a few sets of absolute brilliancy. Though the season was cold and late, the Red-tailed bred as early as usual, while its congener showed itself as heretofore affected by extreme weather in the breeding season.

In blowing the incubated eggs of _B. lineatus_, three sets were found which held one stale egg each. It is not clear that cold or wet caused this, but it is true that a wet season makes the Buteo’s eggs dull and nest-stained. A single heavy rain, occurring when the clutch is just laid, affects their brightness and beauty. And full sets suffer by comparison with single eggs taken when laid, as every day of exposure fades all hawk’s eggs. So the series of ’83 is uninteresting and dull as a whole, while ’82, which was a dry season, presents a uniformly showy lot. To remove nest-stains is not easy. If freshly laid the markings will at once wash out of the eggs of Fish Hawks and Buteos, so the corner of a damp cloth only should be used on the plain surface between the markings. Dr. Wood says soap and water are cheap and should be freely used. But as eggshells are porous, soap is at once absorbed in the shell and afterwards when heated comes out over the surface in yellow, waxy exudations.

The Buteo’s eggs of this season were all from the old haunts of last year, and presumably most of them were from hawks’ which had been often robbed. I also took sets of Cooper’s Hawks and Marsh Hawks from old birds grown wary by the loss of many clutches. Tuesday, June 26, I took a set of three bright eggs of Sharp-shinned Hawk from a new nest in a secluded swamp after leaving them vainly seven days for a larger set. A pair of Sharp-shinned with unfledged young were shot in a hemlock clump within the city limits, in July this year, by milkmen, who nailed the hapless family on the side of a barn as scare-crows. Now, if I had only gone through the grove in June, as I always have done in former years, the old birds might be alive to-day, and my collection the richer by one more set of Sharp-shinned hawk’s eggs.—_J. M. W., Norwich, Conn._

Downy Woodpecker.

Late in October, 1882, a Downy Woodpecker excavated a hole in an old cherry tree, near a much used door in my yard, of the size and shape of its usual nest, and occupied it nightly for more than six weeks. In April following a pair of Bluebirds took possession and reared two broods of five birds each; but now, October 2d, ’83, the Woodpecker has occupied his old quarters for several nights, and frequents the locality during the day. This habit of the Downy in making a winter home is a new one to me.—_John M. Howey, Canandaigua, N. Y._

Baltimore Oriole.

On looking over some of the back numbers of the O. and O., I noticed a query as to the adaptability of the Baltimore Oriole (_Icterus galbula_) to cage life. I happen to be in a position to answer that, when taken young, and when a reasonable amount of care is bestowed on it, it makes an excellent cage bird. I know of one which was taken from the nest in July, 1879, and he is apparently as healthy and happy as any of his confreres, who are in the full enjoyment of their liberty. He is quite tame, and very fond of his mistress, and he shows his affection plainly by his manner when she approaches his cage. He will eat almost anything, but he is particularly fond of hard boiled egg, bread and finely chopped meat. He has also a great partiality for fresh fruit; but if that cannot be obtained, he takes very kindly to any kind of preserves, as a substitute. He will eat all kinds of bird-seed, if previously bruised with a rolling-pin, but not otherwise. He has never known an hour’s illness; his song is as loud, clear and varied as that of any Oriole I have ever heard, and he sings continually. During our long and severe Winter great care is necessary to prevent the Orioles suffering from the cold, and for this reason an old shawl is thrown over his cage every evening, and removed in the morning. He has got so used to this that during the cold weather he watches for the shawl every night, and refuses to go to sleep without it. But the most remarkable thing about him is that he is in beautiful plumage, with not a feather soiled or broken, although his cage is not a particularly large one.—_W. L. Scott, Ottawa, Canada._

Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

Dec. 21, 1882, Jack sang his full notes for the first time; on the 26th sang his canary notes, while bunched up like a sick bird, as usual; sang several times through January, and soon got into his full notes, and sang as loud as ever, it being his fifth year. July 6, when in his prime, he was stolen from his cage on the piazza. We found him in a bird store in the city and bought him back. It was a severe strain on him; he was not so lively afterward, but sang up to October. To-day, Nov. 22, 1883, he is in as fine condition as he ever was, but not in song. He will consume nearly his full weight in celery each day, besides his regular feed.

Nature is truth. Science is a method of describing nature with the pen. Art is nature transferred to canvas by mechanical means. Science and art are necessary to bring nature to our firesides regardless of nature’s wars outside, and also to teach the student who is not endowed with the facilities of observation.

A New Species of Ostrich.

Dr. Reichenow, the ornithologist of the Berlin Museum, describes a new ostrich, under the name of _Struthio molybdophanes_. A living example is in the Zoological Gardens at Berlin. The habitat of this species is stated to be the deserts of Somali Land and the Western Galla Country, extending on the east coast of Africa from 10 deg. N. lat. to the Equator.—_Land and Water._

Least Bittern.

While collecting on a large marshy meadow in this vicinity on June 10th, 1883, I started a Least Bittern from a clump of flags. Thinking there might be a nest there, I commenced searching and soon found it. It was a mere hollow in a bunch of matted flags scantily lined with water grass, and contained two fresh laid eggs. In shape and size they resembled eggs of the Yellow-billed Cuckoo. In color they were of pale blue, almost white. Fearing other collectors might find them, I took them, though probably not a complete set. I also secured the bird. I afterwards secured three more finely plumaged males on the same meadows, which are now in my cabinet.—_Charles H. Neff, Portland, Conn._

Great Blue Heron.

I had the good fortune to shoot a specimen on Nov. 7.—_L. R. Rich, Saratoga, N. Y._

[Illustration: Owls]

“Monkey-Faced Owls.”

Enclosed please find a photograph of a pair of Owls which have been on exhibition here for two or three weeks. The owner says they are the only pair in the United States of North America, and are native birds of Tartary. The photo is a very fair representation. He calls them “Monkey-faced Owls.” The bill proper is very small, but the mouth extends almost to the eyes. Eyes as near as I could see were very small. Iris dark hazel. Back dark brown, marked very finely, breast speckled with brown, bill blackish, crown finely mottled, no tufts, tarsi long. Two pair were taken at the fort at St. Augustine, Florida, last February. One pair was bought for some scientific institute in Ohio but escaped. P. T. Barnum, the man says, offered him $500 but he refused.

If they are American birds they are a cross of Barn Owl and something else.—_W. P. Tarrant, Saratoga._

A specimen of the “Monkey-faced Owl,” a rare bird, was recently captured by Captain Pitts, of Orlando, Fla., in the Everglades. It is described as being somewhat smaller than the Hooting Owl. The plumage has the soft, furry texture of the owl family, but a tinge of orange enters into the color. The head and face are those of a baboon, the face being white, while the eyes are much smaller than those of an owl of the same size, coal-black and somewhat almond-shaped, opening and closing with lids like those of an animal. In fact, they more nearly resemble the eyes of an otter than a bird.—_Ed._

Interesting Notes.

The article in September O. and O. about Flying Squirrels reminded me of my experience with a tame Gray Squirrel that I had last year. I had a number of stuffed birds standing on the mantel in my room, unprotected. The _Sciurus_ had the run of the room, and one day took it into his head to gnaw off the bills of every bird he could find. He must have eaten them, for I could find no trace of them anywhere, and I was afraid at first he had poisoned himself, but no evil effects followed. One day while out collecting I saw a Kingbird engaged in a fight with a Great-crested Flycatcher, and in a few moments the latter fell to the ground completely exhausted, and probably injured internally, as I could find no marks on it except a badly bunged eye. I took it home and placed it in a cage open at the top, and after a few minutes absence, returned just in time to find that Master _Sciurus_ had climbed into the cage, killed the bird and was engaged in gnawing its bill, ruining its value as a specimen, for which I had intended it. After that I was careful to leave no birds where he could get at them.

In the summer of last year I found a nest which I have never been able to identify, as no bird was near. It was in New Castle Co., Del., and was placed in the centre of a clump of hazel bushes, growing in a swamp, so that I had to wade at least fifty yards before reaching it. It resembled a Wood Thrush’s nest, being built of mud, but was an inch deeper than any nest of that kind I ever saw. The diameter was about the same. It was placed about two feet above the water and contained four eggs, much like a runt Catbird’s egg, and of a dark blue color, with a slight greenish cast. The latter is hardly distinguishable when placed beside a Catbird’s egg. Now can any reader of O. and O. tell me what bird it belongs to? It was not a case of a Catbird laying in an old nest, for I had been through that same thicket several times before, and would have seen it. If any one can cite an instance of a Catbird building a mud nest, that may solve the question, and the slight differences in size, shape and color might be passed over as accidental. In visiting a colony of Purple Grackles I found another curious set. There is no doubt of their identity for I saw the female on the nest, which was a common P. G’s nest. There were four eggs; three of them dark brown, scratched, mottled and blotched all over with darker brown. The fourth was a light olive green, with large blotches of light brown or bronze. There were no scratches of any kind on this egg and all the colors were very light, though entirely different from a normal Grackle egg, as well as from the other three. An experienced collector to whom I showed one of the dark eggs (without telling its history) pronounced it a Nighthawk’s (_Chordeiles popetue_) egg. I don’t suppose this is a new species, but it certainly is a curious freak of nature.

I would like to correct a couple of the printer’s errors in my note on the Pigeon Hawk’s nest in O. and O. for September. The date, “March 2” should read “March 22,” and in the sentence “marked unevenly with five dots of reddish brown” read “fine dots.”—_Charles D. Gibson, Renovo, Pennsylvania._

A Surprised Bluejay.

At the back end of my store, and just outside of a window, is a box on which we mix the dough to feed the chicks. On Sunday morning when I shaved myself I took my mirror to the window so I could have a good light. Just as I finished my work I noticed an old Bluejay drop down on the box and begin eating the dough from the pan of chicken feed. As I was on the opposite side of the glass it did not see me. I looked at it for a moment and then “for fun” turned the mirror around so the glass would face the bird. It was just taking a mouthful of dough as it looked up and saw, as it supposed, another Jay with its mouthful also. It seemed greatly astonished and failed to swallow its food for some time, but soon did so, and then in Bluejay style “bowed,” as much as to say “good morning, sir.” As a matter of course the glass made the other Jay bow also, and the next salutation was “kechunk! kechunk!” I suppose that is Jay language, but I do not understand it. Then it proceeded to fill its mouth full of dough again and its shadow did the same. This seemed to anger it very much, and after giving one Bluejay war-whoop, it flew against the glass. Its astonished look at the result of its attack was laughable. The first thing it did was to retreat to the farther side of the box, and from there eye the antagonist. After gazing for some time its hunger overcome it and it took another mouthful, “as did its shadow.” The Jay stopped with full mouth, turned its head first one way then the other, and finally hopped around the glass and stood face to face with me. Our faces were not more than six inches apart, and I never expect to see a more astonished look than was in its eyes just then. But one look was enough; and after another big Jay yell it made as good time from there as a Bluejay ever made, I guess; and my dough has remained undisturbed ever since.—_S. H. N., McLeanborough, Ill., in Germantown Telegraph._

Ridgway Ornithological Club.

A meeting of the Ornithologists of Chicago was held on Friday, September 7, and an organization effected. The society adopted the name of The Ridgway Ornithological Club of Chicago, in honor of Mr. Robert Ridgway, Curator of Ornithology at the United States National Museum. A constitution and by-laws were adopted, and officers were duly elected as follows: President, Dr. J. W. Velie; Vice-President and Treasurer, George F. Morcom; Secretary, H. K. Coale; Curator, Joseph L. Hancock; Librarian, F. L. Rice.

Transcriber’s Notes

—Silently corrected a few typos.

—Retained publication information from the printed edition: this eBook is public-domain in the country of publication.

—Several paragraph-length notices are duplicated on different pages in the printed text.

—Page numbers are duplicated in the printed text; in the eBook, added an alphabetic character to keep page numbers duplicate.

—In the text versions only, text in italics is delimited by _underscores_.