Birds of America
By John James Audubon, F. R. SS. L. & E.
LINARIA PINUS, Wils.
PLATE CLXXX.--MALE AND FEMALE.
During the winter months, the Pine Finch is such a wanderer, that it ranges
at irregular periods, from the coast line westward to the banks of the Ohio, and
southward to the Carolinas. Now and then, during severe weather with occasional
storms of snow, I have seen flocks of a hundred individuals or more, rambling in
search of a place in which to alight and seek for nourishment. In December
1833, I shot several near Charleston in South Carolina, and on a previous winter
procured five near Henderson in Kentucky. Their visits to those districts,
however, are of short duration, the least increase of temperature seeming to
recall them to their more northern haunts; and as soon as spring commences, they
all disappear from the districts south of Maine and the adjacent countries.
In August and September 1832, while travelling, in the British provinces, I
and my companions frequently met with flocks of these birds, in company with the
American Crossbill, feeding amid the branches of the tallest fir trees, as well
as on the seeds of the thistles of that country, much in the manner of the
American Goldfinch, and the European Siskin. When disturbed, they would rise
high in the air in an irregular flight, emitting their peculiar call-note as
they flew; but would always realight as soon as another group of thistles was
seen by them. When feeding, they often hung head downwards, like so many
Titmice, and as often would balance themselves on the wing, as if afraid to
alight on the sharp points of the plants, which after all they appeared greatly
to prefer to all others.
While among the Madeleine Islands, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, I
frequently observed groups of five or six of these birds arriving from afar, and
in different directions. In some instances, these flocks alighted on the spars
and rigging of our vessel, the Ripley, as if to rest, when they would plume
themselves, issue their plaintive call-notes, as if to announce to others
(unseen by us) that they had alighted, and in a few minutes would leave us, and
direct their course toward the nearest shores, perhaps following in the wake of
At the Harbour of Bras d'Or, on the coast of Labrador, in the end of July,
we met with a great number of these birds. They were then accompanied by their
young, and moved in flocks composed of a single family, or at most of two. They
haunted low thickets of willows and elders in the vicinity of water, and were
extremely fearless and gentle, allowing the members of my party to approach them
very near, so that we procured as many of them as we desired. No difference was
observable either in the males or the females as to plumage, compared with that
which they have in the winter, only that the yellow of the wings was brighter
and richer than it is at that season. The young were already fully fledged, had
the whole head of a clean plain grey tint, and although exhibiting the different
markings elsewhere seen on the old birds, they had those markings depicted in
feeble tints. Not a nest could we find, although I have no doubt that the birds
which we saw had been reared in the immediate neighbourhood.
In the State of Maine they are always abundant during winter. My young
friend, THOMAS LINCOLN, informed me that at that season, they flock in company
with Crossbills, the Pine Grosbeak, the White-winged Crossbill, and other
species, are easily caught, and require no particular care in keeping.
This species sings while on the wing, as the Goldfinch is wont to do. Its
notes are sweet, varied, clear and mellow, and although somewhat resembling
those of the bird just mentioned, are yet perfectly distinct from them. Its
flight, however, is almost the same as that of the Goldfinch. Like that bird,
it glides through the air in graceful deep curves, emitting its common call-note
at every effort which it makes to propel itself.
Those which I saw while in South Carolina, in company with my esteemed
friend JOHN BACHMAN, fed entirely on the seeds of the sweet gum, each bird
hanging to a bur for awhile, and passing from one to another with great
celerity. They are fond of open grounds, and alight on detached trees, when
these are high, but at most times they prefer thickets of bushes.
Wanders during winter to South Carolina, Louisiana, and Kentucky. Breeds
north of the United States, in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Labrador.
Columbia river. Plentiful.
PINE FINCH, Fringilla pinus, Wils. Amer. Orn., vol. ii. p. 133.
FRINGILLA PINUS, Bonap. Syn., p. 111.
PINE FINCH, Fringilla pinus, Nutt. Man., vol. i. p. 511.
PINE FINCH, Fringilla pinus, Aud. Orn. Biog., vol. ii. p. 455; vol. v.p. 509.
Bill rather short, conical, very acute; upper mandible a little broader
than the lower, almost straight in its dorsal outline, rounded on the sides, as
is the lower, which has the edges sharp and inflected; the gap-line almost
straight, slightly deflected at the base. Nostrils basal, roundish, concealed
by the feathers. Head of moderate size, the general form compact. Legs of
moderate length, slender; tarsus compressed, covered anteriorly with a few
longish scutella, sharp behind; toes scutellate above, free, the lateral ones
nearly equal, the hind toe strong; claws arched, much compressed, very acute.
Plumage soft, blended, with very little gloss. Wings of ordinary length,
the first quill longest, the second and third a little shorter; secondaries
short, emarginate. Tail of ordinary length, forked, the lateral feathers
straight, but spreading.
Bill light yellowish-brown, dusky at the tip. Iris brown. Feet
purplish-brown. The general colour of the upper parts is yellowish-grey,
streaked with dark brown; the wings and tail dusky, margined with greyish-white;
the bases of the secondary quills, the tips of their coverts, and the margins of
the rump feathers, cream-coloured. The lower parts are greyish-white, tinged
with brown on the fore neck, and all streaked with dull brown.
Length 4 9/12 inches, extent of wings 8 1/2; bill along the ridge 5/12,
along the edge 7/12; tarsus 6/12.
The female scarcely differs from the male in external appearance.
THE BLACK LARCH.
PINUS PENDULA, Pursch, Fl. Amer. Sept., vol. ii. p. 645. Lambert, Monogr.,p. 55. pl. 36.--MONOECIA POLYANDRIA, Linn.--CONIFERAE, Juss.
Abundant in the Northern States, where it attains a great size. It
resembles the European Larch (Pinus Larix) in appearance, and in the quality of
its wood. The leaves are deciduous and fasciculate, the cones small, oblong,
their scales rounded with inflected margins. It is usually known by the names
of tamarack or hackmatack.