Birds of America
By John James Audubon, F. R. SS. L. & E.
(State Bird of Oklahoma)
MILVULUS FORFICATUS, Gmel.
Not having seen this handsome bird alive, I am unable to give you any
account of its habits from my own observation; but I have pleasure in supplying
the deficiency by extracting the following notice from the "Manual of the
Ornithology of the United States and of Canada," by my excellent friend THOMAS
"This very beautiful and singular species of Flycatcher is confined wholly
to the open plains and scanty forests of the remote south-western regions beyond
the Mississippi, where they, in all probability, extend their residence to the
high plains of Mexico. I found these birds rather common near the banks of Red
river, about the confluence of the Kiamesha. I again saw them more abundant
near the Great Salt river of the Arkansas, in the month of August, when the
young and old appeared, like our King-birds, assembling together previously to
their departure for the south. They alighted repeatedly on the tall plants of
the prairie, and were probably preying upon the grasshoppers, which were now
abundant. At this time also, they were wholly silent, and flitted before our
path with suspicion and timidity. A week or two after, we saw them no more,
they having retired probably to tropical winter-quarters.
In the month of May, a pair, which I daily saw for three or four weeks, had
made a nest on the horizontal branch of an elm, probably twelve or more feet
from the ground. I did not examine it very near, but it appeared externally
composed of coarse dry grass. The female, when first seen, was engaged in
sitting, and her mate wildly attacked every bird which approached their
residence. The harsh chirping note of the male, kept up at intervals, as
remarked by Mr. SAY, almost resembled the barking of the prairie marmot, 'tsh,
'tsh, 'tsh. His flowing kite-like tail, spread or contracted at will while
flying, is a singular trait in his plumage, and rendered him conspicuously
beautiful to the most careless observer."
SWALLOW-TAILED FLYCATCHER, Muscicapa forficata, Bonap. Amer. Orn.,
vol. i. p. 15.
MUSCICAPA FORFICATA, Syn., p. 275.
SWALLOW-TAILED FLYCATCHER, Muscicapa forficata, Nutt. Man.,
vol. i. p. 275.
SWALLOW-TAILED FLYCATCHER, Muscicapa forficata, Aud. Orn. Biog.,
vol. iv. p. 426.
Tail longer than the body; upper part of the head, cheeks, and hind neck
ash-grey; back brownish-grey, rump dusky; anterior wing-coverts scarlet, quills
brownish-black, tail-feathers deep black, the three outer on each side
rose-coloured to near the end; lower parts white before, rose-coloured behind.
Male, 11, wing 5 1/8.