Golden-Winged Swamp-Warbler

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Birds of America

By John James Audubon, F. R. SS. L. & E.


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[Golden-winged Warbler.]

[Vermivora chrysoptera.]


Although I have met with this species entering the United States from the Texas in the month of April, and have procured several specimens in Kentucky and Louisiana, as well as a single one in New Jersey, I never had the good fortune to find its nest. When it first makes its appearance in Louisiana or Kentucky, it usually resorts to the higher branches of trees, where, amid the opening leaflets and blossoms, it actively searches for its insect food, occasionally following its prey on wing to some distance, and moving by short leaps among the twigs, in the manner of Helinaia carbonata, which, in its elongated and slender shape, it in some measure resembles. The flight of this species is, unlike that of the Cape May Warbler, Sylvicola maritima, elevated, swift, and irregularly undulated, until it is about to alight, when it dives toward the spot selected by it, as most Warblers are wont to do. I never saw a bird of this species in autumn, and therefore infer that its southward journey must be accomplished in a very secret and careful manner, or by night. A male and a female are figured in their perfect spring plumage.

GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER, Sylvia crysoptera, Wils. Amer. Orn., vol. ii.p. 113.
SYLVIA CHRYSOPTERA, Bonap. Syn., p. 87.
GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER, Sylvia chrysoptera, Nutt. Man., vol. i. p. 411.

GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER, Sylvia chrysoptera, Aud. Orn. Biog., vol. v. p. 154.

Male in spring.

Bill shorter than the head, slender, conical, compressed toward the end, tapering to an acute point; upper mandible with the dorsal line almost perfectly straight, being very slightly convex toward the end, the ridge narrow, the sides sloping at the base, rounded toward the end, the edges a little inflected, without notch, the tip acuminate; nostrils basal, oblong, operculate; lower mandible with the angle rather short and obtuse, the dorsal line straight, the sides convex, the edges inflected, the tip acuminate, the gape-line nearly straight.

Head of moderate size, ovate; neck rather short; body slender. Feet of moderate length, slender; tarsus longer than the middle toe, much compressed, covered anteriorly by seven scutella, posteriorly by two plates meeting so as to form a very thin edge; toes small, much compressed; hind toe comparatively large, lateral toes nearly equal, middle toe much longer; claws moderate, well curved, much compressed, laterally grooved, acute.

Plumage very soft and blended. Wings of moderate length, the second quill longest, the third scarcely shorter, the first and fourth about equal, the first with the outer web narrowed in its whole length, the next three toward the end; secondaries long, rather narrow, rounded. Tail rather long, nearly even, the middle feathers being scarcely a twelfth of an inch shorter than the lateral.

Bill and feet black; iris brown. The general colour of the upper parts is light ash-grey, of the lower white; the upper part of the head, and a patch on the wing, formed by the first row of small coverts and the secondary coverts, bright yellow; a band from the bill to the eye, continued under it, and enlarging behind, so as to include the ear-coverts, together with the throat, to the extent of about an inch, black; a white band from over the eyes to behind the ears, and another from the lower mandible down the side of the neck, enlarging as it proceeds; the sides under the wings very pale ash-grey. The quills and tail-feathers are brown, edged with ash-grey; the outer three feathers of the tail have a large portion of the inner web white.

Length to end of tail 4 1/4 inches, to end of wings 3 7/8; extent of wings 7 5/8; bill along the ridge (5 3/4)/12, along the edge of lower mandible (7 1/2)/12; wing from flexure 2 8/12; tail 2 1/4; tarsus (8 1/2)/12; hind toe 3/12, its claw 3/12, middle toe 5/12, its claw 2/12.

Adult Female.

The female resembles the male, but has the tints less bright, the sides of the head and the throat grey instead of black, and the white bands on the head narrower and less extended.

Length to end of tail 4 inches, to end of wings 3 5/8; extent of wings 7 1/4.

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