Birds of America
By John James Audubon, F. R. SS. L. & E.
THE YELLOW-CROWNED WOOD-WARBLER.
[Yellow-Rumped Warbler (see also Audubon's Wood-Warbler).]
SYLVICOLA CORONATA, Lath.
PLATE LXXVI.--MALE AND FEMALE.
This very abundant species I observed in East Florida, on the 1st of March,
1831, in full summer plumage. In South Carolina, no improvement on its winter
dress could be seen on the 18th of the same month. On the 10th of April, many
were procured by my friend BACHMAN and myself, in the neighbourhood of
Charleston. They were in moult, especially about the head and neck, where the
new feathers were still inclosed in their sheath; but so rapidly did the change
take place, that, before a few days had elapsed, they were in full plumage.
During a winter spent in the Floridas, I saw these birds daily, and so had
abundant opportunity of studying their manners. They were very social among
themselves, skipped by day along the piazzas, balanced themselves in the air,
opposite the sides of the houses, in search of spiders and insects, rambled
among the low bushes of the gardens, and often dived among the large cabbage
leaves, where they searched for worms and larvae. At night they roosted on the
branches of the orange trees, in the luxuriant groves so abundant in that
country. Frequently, in the early part of warm mornings, I saw flocks of them
fly off to sea until they were out of sight, and again observed their return to
land about an hour after. This circumstance I considered as indicative of their
desire to migrate, and as shewing that their journeys are performed by day.
In the beginning of May, I found them so abundant in Maine, that the skirts
of the woods seemed alive with them. They appeared to be merely waiting for
warmer weather, that they might resume their journey northwards. As we advanced
towards Labrador, I observed them at every place where we happened to land.
They were plentiful in the Magdeleine Islands; and when we landed on the
Labrador coast, they were among the first birds observed by our party.
As Professor MACCULLOCH of Halifax, Nova Scotia, informed me, few breed in
the province of Nova Scotia, nor had his sons, who are active collectors, ever
found one of their nests in the vicinity of that town. I am indebted to his
liberality for a nest with four eggs, which formed part of his fine collection.
Although they are abundant in Labrador, we did not find any of their nests; but
we had the good fortune to procure several young birds scarcely able to fly.
The nest above mentioned was placed near the extremity of the branch of a low
fir-tree, about five feet from the ground. It resembles that of the Sylvia
aestiva of Latham, being firm, compact, the outer parts formed of silky fibres
from different plants attached to the twigs near it by means of glutinous
matter, mixed with stripes of the inner bark of some tree unknown to me. Within
this is a deep and warm bed of thistledown, and the inner layer consists of
feathers and the fine hair of small quadrupeds. The eggs are rather large, of a
light rosy tint, the shell thin and transparent; they are sparingly dotted with
reddish-brown near the larger end, but in a circular manner, so that the
extremity is unspotted.
This species feeds on insects, is an expert fly catcher, and a great
devourer of caterpillars. During winter, however, its principal food consists
of berries of various kinds, especially those of the myrtle and pokeweed. They
also feed on the seeds of various grasses. When, at this season, a warm day
occurs, and the insects are excited to activity, the Warblers are sure to be
seen in pursuit of them. The rows of trees about the plantations are full of
them, and from the topmost to the lowest branches, they are seen gliding
upwards, downwards, and in every direction, in full career after their prey, and
seldom missing their aim. At this time of the year, they emit, at every
movement, a single tweet, so very different from that of any other Warbler, that
one can instantly recognise the species by it among a dozen. They rarely enter
the woodlands, but prefer the neighbourhood of cultivated or old fields, the
nurseries, gardens, and trees about towns, villages, or farmhouses, or by the
sides of roads. They are careless of man, allowing him to approach within a few
yards, or even feet, without manifesting much alarm. As they breed so far
north, it is probable that they raise only one brood in the season. They return
south early in September, already clad in their winter dress.
YELLOW-RUMP WARBLER, Sylvia coronata, Wils. Amer. Orn.,
vol. ii. p. 138.
SYLVIA CORONATA, Bonap. Syn., p. 78.
YELLOW-CROWNED WARBLER, or MYRTLE BIRD, Sylvia coronata, Nutt. Man.,
vol. i. p. 361.
YELLOW-RUMP WARBLER, Sylvia coronata, Aud. Orn. Biog.,
vol. ii. p. 303.
Second quill longest, third scarcely shorter, first longer than fourth;
tail slightly emarginate. Male with the upper parts deep ash-grey, streaked
with black; crown, rump, and a patch on the sides of the body, rich yellow:
secondary coverts, and first row of small coverts tipped with white, which forms
two bars on the wing; quills dark brown, margined with light greyish-brown;
tail feathers brownish-black, margined with ash-grey, the outer three on each
side with a white patch on the inner web near the end; a slender white line over
the eye; feathers of the eyelids white; lore and cheek black; throat white;
lower neck, fore part of breast and sides variegated with black, the tips of the
feathers being white; the rest of the lower parts white. Female without the
yellow spot on the crown, although the feathers there are tinged with that
colour at the base; the upper parts tinged with light brown, the yellow spots on
the sides and rump paler.
Male, 5 1/4, 8 1/2.
From Texas northward, and throughout the interior. Extremely common.
IRIS VERSICOLOR, Willd., Sp. Pl., vol. i. p. 233.
Pursch, Fl. Amer. Sept.,
vol. i. p. 29.--TRIANDRIA MONOGYNIA, Linn.--IRIDES, Juss.
Beardless; the stem round, flexuous, equal in height to the leaves, which
are ensiform; the stigmas equalling the inner petals; capsules ovate, with their
angles obtuse. This iris is extremely common in all the swampy parts of the
Southern States, and extends far up along the Mississippi. In many places I
have seen beds of a quarter of an acre. It is cultivated here and there in