Vol 2, #6 – The Yellow-breasted Chat

Yellow-breasted Chat (Icteria virens) for Birds Illustrated

Yellow-breasted Chat (Icteria virens) for Birds Illustrated

From col. F. M. Woodruff. Copyrighted by
chicago colortype co. Nature Study Pub. Co., 1897, Chicago.

THE YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT.

I am often heard, but seldom seen. If I were a little boy or a little girl, grown people would tell me I should be seen and not heard. That’s the difference between you and a bird like me, you see.

It would repay you to make my acquaintance. I am such a jolly bird. Sometimes I get all the dogs in my neighborhood howling by whistling just like their masters. Another time I mew like a cat, then again I give some soft sweet notes different from those of any bird you ever heard.

In the spring, when my mate and I begin house-keeping, I do some very funny things, like the clown in a circus. I feel so happy that I go up a tree branch by branch, by short flights and jumps, till I get to the very top. Then I launch myself in the air, as a boy dives when he goes swimming, and you would laugh to see me flirting my tail, and dangling my legs, coming down into the thicket by odd jerks and motions.

It really is so funny that I burst out laughing myself, saying, chatter-chatter, chat-chat-chat-chat! I change my tune sometimes, and it sounds like who who, and tea-boy.

You must be cautious though, if you want to see me go through my performance. Even when I am doing those funny things in the air I have an eye out for my enemies. Should I see you I would hide myself in the bushes and as long as you were in sight I would be angry and say chut, chut! as cross as could be.

Have I any other name?

Yes, I am called the Yellow Mockingbird. But that name belongs to another. His picture was in the June number of Birds, so you know something about him. They say I imitate other birds as he does. But I do more than that. I can throw my voice in one place, while I am in another.

It is a great trick, and I get lots of sport out of it.

Do you know what that trick is called? If not, ask your papa. It is such a long word I am afraid to use it.

About my nest?

Oh, yes, I am coming to that. I arrive in this country about May 1, and leave for the south in the winter. My nest is nothing to boast of; rather big, made of leaves, bark, and dead twigs, and lined with fine grasses and fibrous roots. My mate lays eggs, white in color, and our little ones are, like their papa, very handsome.

Yellow-Breasted Chat (Icteria virens) WikiC

Yellow-Breasted Chat (Icteria virens) WikiC


THE YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT.

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COMMON name for this bird, the largest of the warblers, is the Yellow Mockingbird. It is found in the eastern United States, north to the Connecticut Valley and Great Lakes; west to the border of the Great Plains; and in winter in eastern Mexico and Guatemala. It frequents the borders of thickets, briar patches, or wherever there is a low, dense growth of bushes—the thornier and more impenetrable the better.

“After an acquaintance of many years,” says Frank M. Chapman, “I frankly confess that the character of the Yellow-Crested Chat is a mystery to me. While listening to his strange medley and watching his peculiar actions, we are certainly justified in calling him eccentric, but that there is a method in his madness no one who studies him can doubt.”

By many observers this bird is dubbed clown or harlequin, so peculiar are his antics or somersaults in the air; and by others “mischief maker,” because of his ventriloquistic and imitating powers, and the variety of his notes. In the latter direction he is surpassed only by the Mockingbird.

The mewing of a cat, the barking of a dog, and the whistling sound produced by a Duck’s wings when flying, though much louder, are common imitations with him. The last can be perfectly imitated by a good whistler, bringing the bird instantly to the spot, where he will dodge in and out among the bushes, uttering, if the whistling be repeated, a deep toned emphatic tac, or hollow, resonant meow.

In the mating season he is the noisiest bird in the woods. At this time he may be observed in his wonderful aerial evolutions, dangling his legs and flirting his tail, singing vociferously the while—a sweet song different from all his jests and jeers—and descending by odd jerks to the thicket. After a few weeks he abandons these clown-like maneuvers and becomes a shy, suspicious haunter of the depths of the thicket, contenting himself in taunting, teasing, and misleading, by his variety of calls, any bird, beast, or human creature within hearing.

All these notes are uttered with vehemence, and with such strange and various modulations as to appear near or distant, in the manner of a ventriloquist. In mild weather, during moonlight nights, his notes are heard regularly, as though the performer were disputing with the echoes of his own voice.

“Perhaps I ought to be ashamed to confess it,” says Mr. Bradford Torrey, after a visit to the Senate and House of Representatives at Washington, “but after all, the congressman in feathers interested me most. I thought indeed, that the Chat might well enough have been elected to the lower house. His volubility and waggish manners would have made him quite at home in that assembly, while his orange colored waistcoat would have given him an agreeable conspicuity. But, to be sure, he would have needed to learn the use of tobacco.”

The nest of the Chat is built in a thicket, usually in a thorny bush or thick vine five feet above the ground. It is bulky, composed exteriorly of dry leaves, strips of loose grape vine bark, and similar materials, and lined with fine grasses and fibrous roots. The eggs are three to five in number, glossy white, thickly spotted with various shades of rich, reddish brown and lilac; some specimens however have a greenish tinge, and others a pale pink.

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Summary:

YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT.Icteria virens.

Range—Eastern United States to the Great Plains, north to Ontario and southern New England; south in winter through eastern Mexico to Northern Central America.

Nest—In briar thickets from two to five feet up, of withered leaves, dry grasses, strips of bark, lined with finer grasses.

Eggs—Three or four, white, with a glossy surface.


Yellow-breasted Chat (Icteria virens) by Daves BirdingPix

Yellow-breasted Chat (Icteria virens) by Daves BirdingPix

Lee’s Addition:

Like a crane or a swallow, so I chattered; I mourned like a dove; My eyes fail from looking upward. O LORD, I am oppressed; Undertake for me! (Isa 38:14 NKJV)
Oh, sing to the LORD a new song! Sing to the LORD, all the earth. (Psa 96:1 NKJV)

The Yellow-breasted Chat (Icteria virens) is a large songbird in the Muscicapidae – Chats, Old World Flycatchers Family. They are one of 313 members of that family. Another one of the Lord’s beautiful creatures. I haven’t seen that many, but they would sure be a delight to see.

Identification Tips: From USGS

Length: 6.25 inches
The largest warbler
Thick bill
White spectacles
Yellow throat and breast
Whitish belly and undertail coverts
Olive upperparts
Fairly long tail
Dark legs
Females and males similar in plumage
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Yellow-Breasted Chat (Icteria virens) USGS

Yellow-Breasted Chat (Icteria virens) USGS

The song of this bird is an odd, variable mixture of cackles, clucks, whistles and hoots. Their calls are harsh chak’s. Unlike most warblers, this species has been known to mimic the calls of other birds. Thus, less experienced field birdwatchers sometimes overlook chats after mistaken their song for species such as Gray Catbirds and Brown Thrashers, which share similar habitat preferences and skulking habits, though are generally much more abundant. During the breeding season, Chats are at their most conspicuous as they will usually sing from exposed locations and even fly in the open while gurgling their songs.


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Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

The above article is an article in the monthly serial for October 1897 “designed to promote Knowledge of Bird-Live.” These include Color Photography, as they call them, today they are drawings. There are at least three Volumes that have been digitized by Project Gutenberg.

To see the whole series of – Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

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(Information from Wikipedia and other internet sources, with editing)

Next Article – Volume II. July to December 1897 Index

The Previous Article – More Bird Miscellany

Sharing The Gospel

Links:

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Vol 2, #6 – More Bird Miscellany

American Robin (Turdus migratorius) in nest ready to eat ©WikiC

American Robin (Turdus migratorius) in nest ready to eat ©WikiC

BIRD MISCELLANY.

Knowledge never learned of schools
Of the wild bee’s morning chase,
Of the wild-flowers’ time and place,
Flight of fowl and habitude
Of the tenants of the wood;
How the tortoise bears his shell;
How the woodchuck digs his cell;
And the ground-mole makes his well;
How the robin feeds her young;
How the oriole’s nest is hung.
—Whittier.


Mangrove Warbler (Dendroica petechia) (aka Yellow) by Anthony747

Mangrove Warbler (Dendroica petechia) (aka Yellow) by Anthony747

Consider the marvelous life of a bird and the manner of its whole existence…. Consider the powers of that little mind of which the inner light flashes from the round bright eye; the skill in building its home, in finding its food, in protecting its mate, in serving its offspring, in preserving its own existence, surrounded as it is on all sides by the most rapacious enemies….

When left alone it is such a lovely little life—cradled among the hawthorn buds, searching for aphidæ amongst apple blossoms, drinking dew from the cup of a lily; awake when the gray light breaks in the east, throned on the topmost branch of a tree, swinging with it in the sunshine, flying from it through the air; then the friendly quarrel with a neighbor over a worm or berry; the joy of bearing grass-seed to his mate where she sits low down amongst the docks and daisies; the triumph of singing the praise of sunshine or of moonlight; the merry, busy, useful days; the peaceful sleep, steeped in the scent of the closed flower, with head under one wing and the leaves forming a green roof above.
—Ouida.


Asian Openbill (Anastomus oscitans) on nest by Nikhil

Asian Openbill (Anastomus oscitans) on nest by Nikhil

THE BIRD’S STORY.

“I once lived in a little house,
And lived there very well;
I thought the world was small and round,
And made of pale blue shell.

I lived next in a little nest,
Nor needed any other;
I thought the world was made of straw,
And brooded by my mother.

One day I fluttered from the nest
To see what I could find.
I said: ‘The world is made of leaves,
I have been very blind.’

At length I flew beyond the tree,
Quite fit for grown-up labors;
I don’t know how the world is made,
And neither do my neighbors.”


Lee’s Addition:

By them the birds of the heavens have their home; They sing among the branches. (Psalm 104:12 NKJV)

These three miscellaneous articles give various lessons. The Bird Miscellany informs us that book learning only goes so far, then you need to go out and observe what is going on around you. Same way with bird watching. You can read all the books, but you won’t become a birdwatcher until you go watch birds.

The second segment talks of a peaceful bird just enjoying its life. Last, the Bird’s Story reminds us of growing up.

Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it. (Psalm 34:14 NKJV)

Better is a dry morsel with quietness, Than a house full of feasting with strife. (Proverbs 17:1 NKJV)

If you have an opinion, leave a comment. Always interesting to hear different points of view.

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Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

The above article is an article in the monthly serial for October 1897 “designed to promote Knowledge of Bird-Live.” These include Color Photography, as they call them, today they are drawings. There are at least three Volumes that have been digitized by Project Gutenberg.

To see the whole series of – Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

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(Information from Wikipedia and other internet sources, with editing)

Next Article – The Yellow-breasted Chat

The Previous Article – The Ring-necked Pheasant

ABC’s of the Gospel

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Vol 2, #6 – The Verdin

Verdin (Auriparus flaviceps) for Birds Illustrated

Verdin (Auriparus flaviceps) for Birds Illustrated

From col. F. M. Woodruff. Copyrighted by
Nature Study Pub. Co., 1897, Chicago.

THE VERDIN.

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DAINTY little creature indeed is the Yellow-headed Bush Tit, or Verdin, being smaller than the largest North American Humming Bird, which inhabits southern Arizona and southward. It is a common bird in suitable localities throughout the arid regions of Northern Mexico, the southern portions of Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and in Lower California. In spite of its diminutive size it builds a remarkable structure for a nest—large and bulky, and a marvel of bird architecture. Davie says it is comparatively easy to find, being built near the ends of the branches of some low, thorny tree or shrub, and in the numerous varieties of cacti and thorny bushes which grow in the regions of its home.

The nest is globular, flask-shaped or retort shape in form, the outside being one mass of thorny twigs and stems interwoven, while the middle is composed of flower-stems and the lining is of feathers. The entrance is a small circular opening. Mr. Atwater says that the birds occupy the nests during the winter months. They are generally found nesting in the high, dry parts of the country, away from tall timber, where the thorns are the thickest. From three to six eggs are laid, of a bluish or greenish-white or pale blue, speckled, chiefly round the larger end, with reddish brown.

Verdin (Auriparus flaviceps) ©WikiC

Verdin (Auriparus flaviceps) ©WikiC


“The woods were made for the hunters of dreams,
The brooks for the fishers of song.
To the hunters who hunt for the gunless game
The woods and the streams belong.
There are thoughts that moan from the soul of the pine,
And thoughts in the flower-bell curled,
And the thoughts that are blown from the scent of the fern
Are as new and as old as the world.”

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Summary:

VERDIN.Auriparus flaviceps. Other name: “Yellow-headed Bush Tit.”

Range—Northern regions of Mexico and contiguous portions of the United States, from southern Texas to Arizona and Lower California.

Nest—Globular, the outside being one mass of thorny twigs and stems interwoven, and lined with feathers.

Eggs—Three to six, of a bluish or greenish white color, speckled with reddish brown.


Verdin (Auriparus flaviceps) by Daves BirdingPix

Verdin (Auriparus flaviceps) by Daves BirdingPix

Lee’s Addition:

but when it is sown, it grows up and becomes greater than all herbs, and shoots out large branches, so that the birds of the air may nest under its shade.” (Mar 4:32 NKJV)

Verdins are in the Remizidae – Penduline Tits Family which only has 12 members. The Verdin (Auriparus flaviceps) is a species of penduline tit. It is the only species in the genus Auriparus, and the only species in the family to be found in the New World.

The Verdin is a very small bird. At 4.5 inches in length, it rivals the American Bushtit as one of the smallest passerines in North America. It is gray overall, and adults have a bright yellow head and rufous “shoulder patch” (the lesser coverts). Unlike the tits, it has a sharply pointed bill.

Verdins are insectivorous, continuously foraging among the desert trees and scrubs. They are usually solitary except when they pair up to construct their conspicuous nests. Verdins occasionally try to obtain tidbits of dried sugar-water from hummingbird feeders.

Verdins are permanent residents of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, ranging from southeastern California to Texas, throughout Baja California and into central Mexico, north of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt.

The common name of the family reflects the tendency of most species to construct elaborate pear-shaped nests. These nests are woven from spiderweb, wool and animal hair and soft plant materials and is suspended from twigs and branches in trees. The nests of the African genus Anthoscopus are even more elaborate than the Eurasian Remiz, incorporating a false entrance above the true entrance which leads to a false chamber. The true nesting chamber is accessed by the parent opening a hidden flap, entering and then closing the flap shut again, the two sides sealing with sticky spider webs.

Verdins are known to build two types of nest; one for raising chicks and one for the winter, which has thicker insulation. A nest built in the summer has the opening toward the prevailing winds.

Following are a series of photos showing Verdins working on their nests. (From Verdin and Nest Photographs and Sound Recording @Earle Robinson)

Verdin (Auriparus flaviceps) Building Nest 1 ©Earle Robinson

Verdin (Auriparus flaviceps) Building Nest ©Earle Robinson

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Verdin (Auriparus flaviceps) Building Nest 2 ©Earle Robinson

Verdin (Auriparus flaviceps) Building Nest ©Earle Robinson

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Verdin (Auriparus flaviceps) Building Nest 3©Earle Robinson

Verdin (Auriparus flaviceps) Building Nest ©Earle Robinson

(Wikipedia and other internet sources)

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Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

The above article is an article in the monthly serial for October 1897 “designed to promote Knowledge of Bird-Live.” These include Color Photography, as they call them, today they are drawings. There are at least three Volumes that have been digitized by Project Gutenberg.

To see the whole series of – Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

*

(Information from Wikipedia and other internet sources, with editing)

Next Article – The Bronzed Grackle

The Previous Article – The American Flamingo

Wordless Birds

Links:

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Vol 2, #6 – The American Flamingo

American Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber) for Birds Illustrated

American Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber) for Birds Illustrated

From col. Chi. Acad. Sciences. Copyrighted by
Nature Study Pub. Co., 1897, Chicago.

THE AMERICAN FLAMINGO.

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N this interesting family of birds are included seven species, distributed throughout the tropics. Five species are American, of which one reaches our southern border in Florida. Chapman says that they are gregarious at all seasons, are rarely found far from the seacoasts, and their favorite resorts are shallow bays or vast mud flats which are flooded at high water. In feeding the bill is pressed downward into the mud, its peculiar shape making the point turn upward. The ridges along its sides serve as strainers through which are forced the sand and mud taken in with the food.

The Flamingo is resident in the United States only in the vicinity of Cape Sable, Florida, where flocks of sometimes a thousand of these rosy vermillion creatures are seen. A wonderful sight indeed. Mr. D. P. Ingraham spent more or less of his time for four seasons in the West Indies among them. He states that the birds inhabit the shallow lagoons and bays having soft clayey bottoms. On the border of these the nest is made by working the clay up into a mound which, in the first season, is perhaps not more than a foot high and about eight inches in diameter at the top and fifteen inches at the base. If the birds are unmolested they will return to the same nesting place from year to year, each season augmenting the nest by the addition of mud at the top, leaving a slight depression for the eggs. He speaks of visiting the nesting grounds where the birds had nested the previous year and their mound-like nests were still standing. The bird’s nest in June. The number of eggs is usually two, sometimes only one and rarely three. When three are found in a nest it is generally believed that the third has been laid by another female.

The stature of this remarkable bird is nearly five feet, and it weighs in the flesh six or eight pounds. On the nest the birds sit with their long legs doubled under them. The old story of the Flamingo bestriding its nest in an ungainly attitude while sitting is an absurd fiction.

The eggs are elongate-ovate in shape, with a thick shell, roughened with a white flakey substance, but bluish when this is scraped off. It requires thirty-two days for the eggs to hatch.

The very fine specimen we present in Birds represents the Flamingo feeding, the upper surface of the unique bill, which is abruptly bent in the middle, facing the ground.

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Summary:

AMERICAN FLAMINGO.Phœnicopterus ruber.

Range—Atlantic coasts of sub-tropical and tropical America; Florida Keys.

Nest—Mass of earth, sticks, and other material scooped up to the height of several feet and hollow at the top.

Eggs—One or two, elongate-ovate in shape, with thick shell, roughened with a white flakey substance, but bluish when this is scraped off.


American Flamingos Many With Foot Up by Lee at Gatorland

American Flamingos Many With Foot Up by Lee at Gatorland

Lee’s Addition:

Honor and majesty are before Him; strength and beauty are in His sanctuary. (Psalms 96:6 AMP)

The American Flamingo is a member of the Phoenicopteridae – Flamingos Family which has six (6) species. We were just at Gatorland, in Orlando, today and were able to see and photograph some American Flamingos. (The photos are today’s – Forgot that this next article was about the Flamingo, so these were very handy.)

The American Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber) is a large species of flamingo closely related to the Greater Flamingo and Chilean Flamingo. It was formerly considered conspecific with the Greater Flamingo, but that treatment is now widely viewed as incorrect due to a lack of evidence. It has also been known as the Caribbean Flamingo, but the species’ presence in the Galápagos makes that name problematic. It is the only flamingo which naturally inhabits North America.

Adult American Flamingoes are smaller on average than Greater Flamingoes but are the largest flamingoes in the Americas. They measure from 47 to 57 in (120 to 145 cm) tall. The males weigh an average of 6.2 lb (2.8 kg), while females average 4.9 lb (2.2 kg). Most of its plumage is pink, giving rise to its earlier name of Rosy Flamingo and differentiating adults from the much paler Greater Flamingo. The wing coverts are red, and the primary and secondary flight feathers are black. The bill is pink and white with a restricted black tip, and the legs are entirely pink. The call is a goose-like honking.

American Flamingos with foot up

American Flamingos with foot up at Gatorland

Flamingos often stand on one leg, the other tucked beneath the body. The reason for this behavior is not fully understood. Recent research indicates that standing on one leg may allow the birds to conserve more body heat, given that they spend a significant amount of time wading in cold water. However, the behaviour also takes place in warm water. As well as standing in the water, flamingos may stamp their webbed feet in the mud to stir up food from the bottom. (It definitely was warm today-95 degrees)

Young flamingos hatch with greyish reddish plumage, but adults range from light pink to bright red due to aqueous bacteria and beta-Carotene obtained from their food supply. A well-fed, healthy flamingo is more vibrantly coloured and thus a more desirable mate; a white or pale flamingo, however, is usually unhealthy or malnourished. Captive flamingos are a notable exception; many turn a pale pink as they are not fed carotene at levels comparable to the wild.

American Flamingo Beak at Gatorland by Lee

American Flamingo Beak at Gatorland by Lee

Flamingos filter-feed on brine shrimp and blue-green algae. Their beaks are specially adapted to separate mud and silt from the food they eat, and are uniquely used upside-down. The filtering of food items is assisted by hairy structures called lamellae which line the mandibles, and the large rough-surfaced tongue.

American Flamingo Beak cropped

American Flamingo Beak cropped

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Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

The above article is an article in the monthly serial for October 1897 “designed to promote Knowledge of Bird-Live.” These include Color Photography, as they call them, today they are drawings. There are at least three Volumes that have been digitized by Project Gutenberg.

To see the whole series of – Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

*

(Information from Wikipedia and other internet sources, with editing)

Next Article – The Verdin

The Previous Article – The Black Grouse

ABC’s of the Gospel

Links:

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Vol 2, #6 – The Black Grouse

Black Grouse (Lyrurus tetrix) for Birds Illustrated

Black Grouse (Lyrurus tetrix) for Birds Illustrated

From col. C. E. Petford. Copyrighted by
Nature Study Pub. Co., 1897, Chicago.

THE BLACK GROUSE.

Alone on English moors I’ve seen the Black Cock stray,
Sounding his earnest love-note on the air.
—Anon.

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ELL known as the Black Cock is supposed to be, we fancy few of our readers have ever seen a specimen. It is a native of the more southern countries of Europe, and still survives in many portions of the British Islands, especially those localities where the pine woods and heaths afford it shelter, and it is not driven away by the presence of human habitation.

The male bird is known to resort at the beginning of the nesting season to some open spot, where he utters his love calls, and displays his new dress to the greatest advantage, for the purpose of attracting as many females as may be willing to consort with him. His note when thus engaged is loud and resonant, and can be heard at a considerable distance. This crowing sound is accompanied by a harsh, grating, stridulous kind of cry which has been compared to the noise produced by whetting a scythe. The Black Cock does not pair, but leaves his numerous mates to the duties of maternity and follows his own desires while they prepare their nests, lay their eggs, hatch them, and bring up the young. The mother bird, however, is a fond, watchful parent, and when she has been alarmed by man or a prowling beast, has been known to remove her eggs to some other locality, where she thinks they will not be discovered.

The nest is carelessly made of grasses and stout herbage, on the ground, under the shelter of grass and bushes. There are from six to ten eggs of yellowish gray, with spots of light brown. The young are fed first upon insects, and afterwards on berries, grain, and the buds and shoots of trees.

The Black Grouse is a wild and wary creature. The old male which has survived a season or two is particularly shy and crafty, distrusting both man and dog, and running away as soon as he is made aware of approaching danger.

In the autumn the young males separate themselves from the other sex and form a number of little bachelor establishments of their own, living together in harmony until the next nesting season, when they all begin to fall in love; “the apple of discord is thrown among them by the charms of the hitherto repudiated sex, and their rivalries lead them into determined and continual battles, which do not cease until the end of the season restores them to peace and sobriety.”

The coloring of the female is quite different from that of the male Grouse. Her general color is brown, with a tinge of orange, barred with black and speckled with the same hue, the spots and bars being larger on the breast, back, and wings, and the feathers on the breast more or less edged with white. The total length of the adult male is about twenty-two inches, and that of the female from seventeen to eighteen inches. She also weighs nearly one-third less than her mate, and is popularly termed the Heath Hen.

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Summary:

BLACK GROUSE.Tetrao tetrix. Other name: “Black Cock.” (or Lyrurus tetrix)

Range—Southern Europe and the British Islands.

Nest—Carelessly made, of grasses and stout herbage, on the ground.

Eggs—Six to ten, of yellowish gray, with spots of light brown.


 Black Grouse (Lyrurus tetrix) Cock ©WikiC

Black Grouse (Lyrurus tetrix) Cock ©WikiC

Lee’s Addition:

Like the partridge that gathers a brood which she did not hatch and sits on eggs which she has not laid, so is he who gets riches by unjust means and not by right. He will leave them, or they will leave him, in the midst of his days, and at his end he will be a fool. (Jeremiah 17:11 AMP)

The Black Grouse (Tetrao tetrix or Lyrurus tetrix) is a member of the Phasianidae – Pheasants, Fowl & Allies Family. There are twelve Grouse in the family of Turkeys, Partridges, Ptarmigans, Snowcocks, Francolins, Quail, Tragopans, Pheasants and even Peafowl in that family along with a few others. A total of 182 species are found in the Phasianidae Family.

(From Wikipedia with editing) – The Black Grouse or Blackgame (Tetrao tetrix) is a large game bird in the grouse family. It is a sedentary species, breeding across northern Eurasia in moorland and bog areas near to woodland, mostly boreal. The Black Grouse is closely related to the Caucasian Grouse.

The female is greyish-brown and has a cackling call. She takes all responsibility for nesting and caring for the chicks, as is typical with gamebirds.

Black Grouse (Lyrurus tetrix) Egg ©WikiC

Black Grouse (Lyrurus tetrix) Egg ©WikiC

The Black Grouse is one of the many species first described in the 10th edition of Systema Naturae in 1758 by Carl Linnaeus, and still bears its original binomial name. Both Tetrao and tetrix come from Ancient Greek words referring to some form of game bird.

The male and female are sometimes referred to by their folk names, Blackcock and Greyhen respectively. These names first occur in the literature with John Ray in 1674. Heathcock and Heathhen are also common names.

Black Grouse is a large bird with males being around 21 in (53 cm) long and weighing 2.2–3.2 lb (1,000–1,450 grams) and females approximately 16 in (40 cm) and weighing 1.7–2.4 lb (750–1,110 grams). The cock is very distinctive, with black plumage, apart from red wattles and a white wingbar, and a lyre-shaped tail, which appears forked in flight. His song is loud, bubbling and somewhat dove-like.

Black Grouse can be found across Europe (Swiss-Italian-French Alps specially) from Great Britain (but not Ireland) through Scandinavia and Estonia into Russia. In Eastern Europe they can be found in Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, Romania and Ukraine. There is a population in the Alps, and isolated remnants in Germany, France, Belgium and the Netherlands. It formerly occurred in Denmark, but the Danish Ornithological Society (DOF) has considered it extinct since 2001.

Black grouse have a very distinctive and well-recorded courtship ritual or game. At dawn in the spring, the males strut around in a traditional area and display whilst making a highly distinctive mating call. This process is called a lek – the grouse are said to be lekking. In western Europe these gatherings seldom involve more than 40 birds; in Russia 150 is not uncommon and 200 have been recorded.

The tails of black-cocks have, since late Victorian times, been popular adornments for hats worn with Highland Dress. Most commonly associated with Glengarry and Balmoral or Tam O’Shanter caps, they still continue to be worn by pipers of civilian and military pipe bands. Since 1904, all ranks of the Royal Scots and King’s Own Scottish Borderers have worn them in their full-dress headgear and that tradition is carried on in the dress glengarries of the current Scottish-super regiment, The Royal Regiment of Scotland.

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Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

The above article is an article in the monthly serial for October 1897 “designed to promote Knowledge of Bird-Live.” These include Color Photography, as they call them, today they are drawings. There are at least three Volumes that have been digitized by Project Gutenberg.

To see the whole series of – Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

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(Information from Wikipedia and other internet sources, with editing)

Next Article – The American Flamingo

The Previous Article – The Green-winged Teal

Gospel Message

Links:

Black Grouse – xeno-canto.org

Black Grouse – Wikipedia

Black Grouse – ARKive

Black Grouse – IBC

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Vol 2, #6 – The Green-winged Teal

Green-winged Teal (Anas carolinensis) for Birds Illustrated

Green-winged Teal (Anas carolinensis) for Birds Illustrated

THE GREEN-WINGED TEAL.

Just a common Duck?

No, I’m not. There is only one other Duck handsomer than I am, and he is called the Wood Duck. You have heard something about him before. I am a much smaller Duck, but size doesn’t count much, I find when it comes to getting on in the world—in our world, that is. I have seen a Sparrow worry a bird four times its size, and I expect you have seen a little boy do the same with a big boy many a time.

What is the reason I’m not a common Duck?

Well, in the first place, I don’t waddle. I can walk just as gracefully as I can swim. Your barn-yard Duck can’t do that. I can run, too, without getting all tangled up in the grass, and he can’t do that, either. But sometimes I don’t mind associating with the common Duck. If he lives in a nice big barn-yard, that has a good pond, and is fed with plenty of grain, I visit him quite often.

Where do I generally live?

Well, along the edges of shallow, grassy waters, where I feed upon grass, seeds, acorns, grapes, berries, as well as insects, worms, and small snails. I walk quite a distance from the water to get these things, too.

Can I fly?

Indeed I can, and very swiftly. You can see I am no common Duck when I can swim, and walk, and fly. You can’t do the last, though you can the first two.

Good to eat?

Well, yes, they say when I feed on rice and wild oats I am perfectly delicious. Some birds were, you see, born to sing, and flit about in the trees, and look beautiful, while some were born to have their feathers taken off, and be roasted, and to look fine in a big dish on the table. The Teal Duck is one of those birds. You see we are useful as well as pretty. We don’t mind it much if you eat us and say, “what a fine bird!” but when you call us “tough,” that hurts our feelings.

Good for Christmas?

Oh, yes, or any other time—when you can catch us! We fly so fast that it is not easy to do; and can dive under the water, too, when wounded.

Something about our nests?

Oh, they are built upon the ground, in a dry tuft of grass and weeds and lined with feathers. My mate often plucks the feathers from her own breast to line it. Sometimes she lays ten eggs, indeed once she laid sixteen.

Such a family of Ducklings as we had that year! You should have seen them swimming after their mother, and all crying, Quack, quack, quack! like babies as they were.

Green-winged Teal (Anas carolinensis) by Bob-Nan

Green-winged Teal (Anas carolinensis) by Bob-Nan


THE GREEN-WINGED TEAL.

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HANDSOME little Duck indeed is this, well known to sportsmen, and very abundant throughout North America. It is migratory in its habits, and nests from Minnesota and New Brunswick northward, returning southward in winter to Central America and Cuba.

The green wing is commonly found in small flocks along the edges of shallow, grassy waters, feeding largely upon seeds of grasses, small acorns, fallen grapes or berries, as well as aquatic insects, worms, and small snails. In their search for acorns these ducks are often found quite a distance from the water, in exposed situations feeding largely in the night, resting during the day upon bogs or small bare spots, closely surrounded and hidden by reeds and grasses.

On land this Duck moves with more ease and grace than any other of its species except the Wood Duck, and it can run with considerable speed. In the water also it moves with great ease and rapidity, and on the wing it is one of the swiftest of its tribe. From the water it rises with a single spring and so swiftly that it can be struck only by a very expert marksman; when wounded it dives readily.

As the Teal is more particular in the selection of its food than are most Ducks, its flesh, in consequence, is very delicious. Audubon says that when this bird has fed on wild oats at Green Bay, or soaked rice in the fields of Georgia or Carolina, it is much superior to the Canvas back in tenderness, juiciness, and flavor.

G. Arnold, in the Nidologist, says while traveling through the northwest he was surprised to see the number of Ducks and other wild fowl in close proximity to the railway tracks. He found a number of Teal nests within four feet of the rails of the Canadian Pacific in Manitoba. The warm, sun-exposed banks along the railway tracks, shrouded and covered with thick grass, afford a very fair protection for the nests and eggs from water and marauders of every kind. As the section men seldom disturbed them—not being collectors—the birds soon learned to trust them and would sit on their nests by the hour while the men worked within a few feet of them.

The green-winged Teal is essentially a fresh-water bird, rarely being met with near the sea. Its migrations are over the land and not along the sea shore. It has been seen to associate with the Ducks in a farmer’s yard or pond and to come into the barn-yard with tame fowls and share the corn thrown out for food.

The nests of the Teal are built upon the ground, generally in dry tufts of grass and often quite a distance from the water. They are made of grass, and weeds, etc., and lined with down. In Colorado under a sage brush, a nest was found which had been scooped in the sand and lined warmly with down evidently taken from the bird’s own breast, which was plucked nearly bare. This nest contained ten eggs.

The number of eggs, of a pale buff color, is usually from eight to twelve, though frequently sixteen or eighteen have been found. It is far more prolific than any of the Ducks resorting to Hudson’s Bay, and Mr. Hearn says he has seen the old ones swimming at the head of seventeen young when the latter were not much larger than walnuts.

In autumn the males usually keep in separate flocks from the females and young. Their notes are faint and piping and their wings make a loud whistling during flight.

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Summary:

GREEN-WINGED TEAL.Anas carolinensis.

Range—North America, migrating south to Honduras and Cuba.

Nest—On the ground, in a thick growth of grass.

Eggs—Five to eight, greenish-buff, usually oval.


Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca) by Ian

Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca) by Ian

Lee’s Addition:

Of all clean birds ye shall eat. (Deuteronomy 14:11 KJV)

Unfortunately, at least for me, people do eat ducks and teals. I prefer to go birdwatching and only “shoot” the birds with my camera. They just seem too pretty to harm, but I can’t condemn those who eat them. I do have a problem with those who only kill them to hang them on a wall. Anyway.

The Green-winged Teals are in the Anatidae – Ducks, Geese & Swans – Family which has currently 172 species of which 24 are Teals. Are North American ones, according to Sibley’s, are the Green-winged, Blue-winged and the Cinnamon Teals.

The Green-winged Teal (Anas carolinensis) or (Anas crecca carolinensis) is a common and widespread duck that breeds in the northern areas of North America except on the Aleutian Islands. It was considered conspecific with the Common Teal (A. crecca) for some time but the issue is still being reviewed by the American Ornithologists’ Union; based on this the IUCN and BirdLife International do not accept it as a separate species at present. However, nearly all other authorities consider it distinct based on behavioral, morphological, and molecular evidence.

This dabbling duck is strongly migratory and winters far south of its breeding range. It is highly gregarious outside of the breeding season and will form large flocks. In flight, the fast, twisting flocks resemble waders.

Green-winged Teal (Anas carolinensis) by Daves BirdingPix

Green-winged Teal (Anas carolinensis) by Daves BirdingPix

This is the smallest North American dabbling duck. The breeding male has grey flanks and back, with a yellow rear end and a white-edged green speculum, obvious in flight or at rest. It has a chestnut head with a green eye patch. It is distinguished from drake Common Teals (the Eurasian relative of this bird) by a vertical white stripe on side of breast, the lack of both a horizontal white scapular stripe and the lack of thin buff lines on its head.

The females are light brown, with plumage much like a female Mallard. They can be distinguished from most ducks on size, shape, and the speculum. Separation from female Common Teal is problematic. In non-breeding (eclipse) plumage, the drake looks more like the female.

It is a common duck of sheltered wetlands, and usually feeds by dabbling for plant food or grazing. It nests on the ground, near water and under cover. It is plentiful enough to make it a species of Least Concern if it were; it is far more plentiful than the Common Teal. It can be seen in vast numbers in the Marismas Nacionales of western Mexico, a main wintering area.

This is a noisy species. The male has a clear whistle, whereas the female has a feeble “quack”.

All three Green-winged Teal subspecies occur in the northern hemisphere during summer and in winter extend to northern South America, central Africa, southern India, Burma, and the Philippines. In North America, ssp.carolinensis occurs across the continent and is joined in the Aleutian Islands by ssp. nimia, which remains there throughout the year. Anas crecca breeds in Iceland, Europe, and Asia. It is also seen occasionally during the winter in North America along the Atlantic Coast. The American green-winged teal winters from southern Alaska and southern British Columbia east to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and south to Central America. It also winters in Hawaii.

The American green-winged teal breeds from the Aleutian Islands, northern Alaska, Mackenzie River delta, northern Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and Labrador south to central California, central Nebraska, central Kansas, southern Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland, and the Maritime Provinces. Nesting chronology varies geographically. In North Dakota, Green-winged Teal generally begin nesting in late April. In the Northwest Territories, Canada, Green-winged Teal begin nesting between late May and early July. At Minto Lakes, Alaska, Green-winged Teal initiate nesting as early as June 1 and as late as July 20. 

Green-winged Teal lay 5 to 16 eggs. The incubation period is 21 to 23 days. They often fledge 34 to 35 days after hatching or usually before 6 weeks of age. Young Green-winged Teal have the fastest growth rate of all ducks. Male Green-winged Teal leave females at the start of incubation and congregate on safe waters to molt. Some populations undergo an extensive molt migration while others remain on or near breeding grounds. Females molt on breeding grounds.

Green-winged Teal are among the earliest spring migrants. They arrive on nesting areas almost as soon as the snow melts. In early February, Green-winged Teal begin to depart their winter grounds, and continue through April. In central regions Green-winged Teal begin to arrive early in March with peak numbers in early April.

In northern areas of the United States, Green-winged Teal migrating to wintering grounds appear in early September through mid-December. They begin migrating into most central regions during September and often remain through December. On their more southerly winter areas, Green-winged Teal arrive as early as late September, but most do not appear until late November.

Green-winged Teal inhabit inland lakes, marshes, ponds, pools, and shallow streams with dense emergent and aquatic vegetation. They prefer shallow waters and small ponds and pools during the breeding season. Green-winged Teal are often found resting on mudbanks or stumps, or perching on low limbs of dead trees. These ducks nest in depressions on dry ground located at the base of shrubs, under a log, or in dense grass. The nests are usually 2 to 300 feet (6–91 m) from water. Green-winged teal avoid treeless or brushless habitats. Green-winged teal winter in both freshwater or brackish marshes, ponds, streams, and estuaries. As they are smaller birds, they tend to stay in the calmer water.

Green-winged Teal, more than any other species of duck, prefer to seek food on mud flats. They usually eat vegetative matter consisting of seeds, stems, and leaves of aquatic and emergent vegetation. Green-winged Teal appear to prefer the small seeds of nutgrasses, millets and sedges to larger seeds, but they also consume corn, wheat, barley, and buttonbush seeds. In marshes, sloughs, and ponds, Green-winged Teal select the seeds of bulrushes, pondweeds, and spikerushes. To a lesser extent they feed upon the vegetative parts of muskgrass, pondweeds, widgeongrass and duckweeds. They will occasionally eat insects, mollusks, and crustaceans.[8][10] Occasionally during spring months, Green-winged Teal will gorge on maggots of decaying fish which are found around ponds.

Common predators of Green-winged Teal include humans, skunks, red foxes, raccoons, crows, and magpies.

Green-winged Teal (Anas carolinensis) by Daves BirdingPix

Green-winged Teal (Anas carolinensis) by Daves BirdingPix

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Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

The above article is an article in the monthly serial for October 1897 “designed to promote Knowledge of Bird-Live.” These include Color Photography, as they call them, today they are drawings. There are at least three Volumes that have been digitized by Project Gutenberg.

To see the whole series of – Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

*

(Information from Wikipedia and other internet sources, with editing)

Next Article – The Black Grouse

The Previous Article – The Allen’s Humming Bird

Falling Plates

Links:

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