Birds of America
By John James Audubon, F. R. SS. L. & E.
EMBERIZA PUSILLA, Wils.
This diminutive and elegant species of Bunting may certainly be ranked
among our constant residents, numerous individuals remaining during the winter
within the limits of the Union. In Louisiana and the countries along the
Mississippi, as far as Kentucky, and in all the Southern States, as far as
Maryland, they are to be found in the coldest weather. In South Carolina they
are met with along every hedge-row and in every briar-patch, as well as in the
old fields slightly covered with tall slender grasses, on the seeds of which
they chiefly subsist during the inclement season. Loose flocks, sometimes of
forty or fifty, are seen hopping along the sandy roads, picking up particles of
gravel. On the least alarm, they all take to wing, and alight on the nearest
bushes, but the next moment return to the ground. They leave the south as
early as March, move northwards as the season advances, and appear in the States
of New York and Pennsylvania about the middle of April.
The song of the Field Sparrow is remarkable, although not fine. It trills
its notes like a young Canary Bird, and now and then emits emphatical, though
not very distinct sounds of some length. One accustomed to distinguish the
notes of different birds can easily recognise the song of this species; but the
description of it, I confess, I am unable to accomplish, so at least as to
afford you any tolerable idea of it.
It is a social and peaceable bird. When the breeding season is at hand
they disperse, move off in pairs, and throw themselves into old pasture
grounds, overgrown with low bushes, on the tops of which the males may be heard
practising their vocal powers. They usually breed on the ground, at the foot of
a small bush or rank weed; but I have also found several of their nests on the
lower branches of trees, a foot or two from the ground. The nest is simple,
formed chiefly of fine dry grasses, in some instances scantily lined with
horse-hair or delicate fibrous roots, much resembling hair. The eggs are from
four to six, of a light ferruginous tint, produced by the blending of small dots
of that colour. So prolific is this species, that I have observed a pair raise
three broods in one summer, the amount of individuals produced being fifteen.
The young run after their parents, leaving the nest before they can fly, and are
left to shift for themselves ere they are fully fledged; but as they find every
where abundance of insects, berries, and small seeds, they contrive to get on
These birds are fond of orchards, enter our country towns in autumn, alight
on the tallest trees in open woods, and migrate solely by day. Their flight is
rapid, even, and occasionally sustained; for, when fairly alarmed, they move at
once over fields of considerable extent.
I saw few in Maine, and none in the British provinces, in Labrador or in
The colour of the bill varies with the seasons, being in winter of a dingy
reddish-brown, and in summer assuming a tint approaching to orange. There is no
perceptible difference in the size or colour of the sexes. The young acquire
their full plumage the first autumn.
Travelling from Great Egg Harbour towards Philadelphia, I found a nest of
this species placed at the foot of a bush growing in almost pure sand. Near it
were the plants which you see accompanying the figure.
From Texas to Maryland, in Kentucky and the intermediate parts, during
winter. Breeds from Maryland to Maine. Abundant.
FIELD SPARROW, Fringilla pusilla, Wils. Amer. Orn., vol. ii. p. 121.
FRINGILLA PUSILLA, Bonap. Syn., p. 110.
FIELD or RUSH SPARROW, Fringilla juncorum, Nutt. Man., vol. i. p. 499.
FIELD SPARROW, Fringilla pusilla, Aud. Orn. Biog., vol. ii. p. 229.
Bill short, rather small, strong, conical, acute; upper mandible rather
narrower than the lower, very slightly declinate at the tip, rounded on the
sides, as is the lower, which has the edges inflected and acute; the gap-line
very slightly arched, slightly deflected at the base. Nostrils basal, roundish,
partially concealed by the feathers. The general form rather robust. Legs of
moderate length, slender; tarsus longer than the middle toe, covered anteriorly
with a few longish scutella; toes scutellate above, free, the lateral ones
nearly equal; claws slender, slightly arched, that of the hind toe scarcely
larger, much compressed, acute.
Plumage soft, blended, rather compact on the back; wings shortish, curved,
rounded, the third quill longest, the second and fourth scarcely shorter; tail
Bill reddish-brown or cinnamon-colour. Iris chestnut. Feet pale
yellowish-brown. Upper part of the head chestnut; anterior portion of the back
and scapulars of the same tint, but marked with blackish-brown spots, the middle
part of each feather being of that colour; sides of the neck pale bluish-grey,
and a line of the same over the eye; rump and tail yellowish-grey, the inner
webs of the latter light-brown; quills and coverts blackish-brown, margined with
whitish, the two rows of coverts slightly tipped with brownish-white; the under
parts are greyish-white; the sides of the neck and fore part of the breast tined
Length 6 inches, extent of wings 8; bill along the back 1/4, along the edge
The female is rather less, and somewhat duller beneath, but in other
respects is precisely similar.
CALOPOGON PULCHELLUS, Brown.--CYMBIDIUM PULCHELLUM, Willd., Sp. Pl.,
vol. iv. p. 105. Pursch, Fl. Amer. Sept., vol. ii. p. 592.--GYNANDRIA
MONANDRIA, Linn.--ORCHIDEAE, Juss.
Root tuberous, of an oblong form; radical leaves linear-lanceolate, nerved;
scape few-flowered; lip at the back clawed, the inside bearded; five distinct
petals of a light purplish-red. It grows in sandy soils from Maine to the
Floridas; I have not observed it in the more Southern or Western States.
THE DWARF HUCKLEBERRY.
VACCINIUM TENELLUM, Willd., Sp. Pl., vol. ii. p. 353. Pursch, Flor.
Amer. Sept., vol. i. p. 289.--DECANDRIA MONOGYNIA, Linn.--ERICAE, Juss.
The branches angular, green; leaves sessile, ovato-lanceolate, mucronate,
serrulate, glossy on both sides; flowers in sessile clusters; corolla ovate.
This plant grows in most of the lands of the Middle and Eastern Districts, both
in woods and in open places. Its berries are eaten by various birds, as well as