Birds of America
By John James Audubon, F. R. SS. L. & E.
[Song Sparrow (see also Brown Song-Finch and Song-Finch).]
This species was discovered on the shores of the Columbia river, by Mr.
TOWNSEND, who sent me a perfect specimen, ticketed "Female, February 15th,
1836," together with the following notice. "I found this species numerous on
the plains of the Colorado of the west, in the Rocky Mountains. It is a very
active and rather shy bird, keeping constantly in the low bushes of wormwood,
and on the ground, in the vicinity. It appears to be partially gregarious, six
or eight being mostly seen together. Its voice is a sharp quick chirp, and
occasionally a low weak warble." It bears a considerable resemblance to
Fringilla iliaca of our Eastern Districts, but is darker, and wants the
light-coloured bands with which the wings of that species are marked. Other
differences will be found on comparing the description with that of the bird
above mentioned, to which, however, it is so nearly allied that it evidently
belongs to the same subordinate group.
Female, 7, 10 1/2
Colorado of the West. Rocky Mountains.
TOWNSEND'S FINCH, Fringilla Townsendi, Aud. Orn. Biog., Vol. V. p. 236.
Bill short, rather robust, conical, acute; upper mandible rather broader
than the lower, almost straight in its dorsal outline, as is the lower, both
being rounded on the sides, the lower with inflected sharp edges, the upper with
a slight prominence on the edges anterior to the nostrils; the gap-line nearly
straight, a little deflected at the base. Nostrils basal, roundish, open,
partially concealed by the feathers.
Head rather large, broadly ovate; neck shortish; body full. Legs of
moderate length, rather strong, tarsus shorter than the middle toe and claw,
covered anteriorly with seven long scutella; toes scutellate above, free, the
lateral nearly equal, the hind toe stout, and with its claw nearly as long as
the third. Claws very long, slightly arched, slender, compressed, laterally
grooved, acute, that of the hind toe largest.
Plumage soft and blended, the feathers ovato-oblong. Wings very short,
convex, rounded; the second, third, and fourth quills longest, and nearly equal,
the first a quarter of an inch shorter than the second, and equal to the sixth;
secondaries abruptly rounded. Tail longish, nearly even.
Bill dark brown above, the base of the lower mandible yellow, its tip
bluish; iris brown; feet flesh-coloured. The general colour of the upper parts
is a very deep olivaceous brown, in which there is apparent a slight tinge of
red, which becomes more conspicuous on the rump and outer webs of the
tail-feathers, and margins the wing-coverts and quills; there are no bands on
the wings. The ground-colour of the lower parts is the same as of the upper,
but the shafts of the cheek-feathers are whitish; there is a longitudinal band
of white spots from the angle of the lower mandible; the throat, fore neck,
middle of the breast, and hind part of the flanks are variegated with white, the
greater part of each feather being of that colour, and the tip only dusky brown;
the lower tail-coverts are reddish-brown in the centre, with broad
yellowish-white edges, the tibial feathers dull reddish-brown, the lower
surface of the wing greyish-brown.
Length to end of tail 7 inches; extent of wings 10 1/2; bill along the
ridge 5/12, along the edge of lower mandible 7/12; wing from flexure 2 11/12;
tail 2 11/12; tarsus (10 1/2)/12; hind toe 4/12, its claw 6/12; middle toe
(7 1/2)/12, its claw (4 1/2)/12.
The wing of this bird is much shorter than that of Fringilla iliaca, which
measures 3 6/12, inches; its tarsi are longer, but more slender, and its claws
are so much longer and more slender, as to suggest at first the idea of its
being a Plectrophanes, from which however it differs in the form of the wings.