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Morton's Finch

Morton's Finch

The definitive website on wildbirds & nature

Birds of America

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


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[Rufous-collared Sparrow]

[Zonotrichia capensis.]


A single specimen of this pretty little bird, apparently an adult male, has been sent to me by Dr. TOWNSEND, who procured it in Upper California. Supposing it to be undescribed, I have named it after my excellent and much esteemed friend Dr. MORTON of Philadelphia, Corresponding Secretary of the Academy of Natural Sciences of that city.

North California.

MORTON'S FINCH, Fringilla Mortoni, Aud. Orn. Biog., vol. v. p. 312.

Adult Male.

Bill short, stout, conical, compressed toward the end; upper mandible with its dorsal outline declinate, almost straight, being slightly convex toward the end, the ridge indistinct, the sides rounded, the edges sharp and somewhat inflected, with a very faint notch close to the tip; lower mandible about the same depth and nearly as broad at the base, its angle very short and rounded, its dorsal line ascending, almost straight, being very slightly convex, the back and sides convex, the edges inflected, the tip acute. Gap-line considerably declinate at the base. Nostrils small, roundish, marginate, basal, in the fore part of the short nasal depression, and partially concealed by the feathers.

Head rather large, ovate; neck short. Feet of ordinary length, tarsus much compressed, with seven anterior scutella, and two plates behind meeting so as to form a very thin edge; toes rather stout, compressed, the first large, the second or inner scarcely shorter than the outer, which is united to the fourth as far as the second joint; claws rather long, much compressed, laterally grooved, moderately arched, acute.

Plumage soft and blended. Wings of moderate length, the first quill two-twelfths of an inch shorter than the second, which is almost equal to the third, the latter being the longest, the fourth scarcely half a twelfth shorter, the rest slowly decreasing; secondaries long, truncate or abruptly rounded. Tail of moderate length, nearly even, the middle feathers one-twelfth, the lateral half a twelfth shorter than the rest.

Bill dusky, bluish toward the base. Feet and claws yellowish-brown. The upper part of the head is ash-grey, with a longitudinal band of black on each side from the bill to the occiput, externally of which is a greyish-white band; loral space, cheek-coverts, and auriculars dusky, the feathers under the eye tipped with white; the throat white, surrounded with a black band; a light chestnut-red band surrounds the neck, except for a short space in front; the fore part of the back and scapulars are light dull yellowish-red, streaked with brownish-black, the hind part, rump, and upper tail-coverts yellowish-grey; the smaller wing-coverts yellowish-grey, the first row brownish-black toward the end, with the tip white, the secondary coverts and inner secondary quills brownish-black, broadly margined with light yellowish-red, the former tipped with white, the rest of the quill dusky brown, edged with yellowish-red fading on the outer to whitish; the tail-feathers blackish-brown, narrowly edged with pale yellowish-grey, the lateral of a lighter tint. The lower paints are dull brownish-white, the sides light greyish-brown, the lower wing-coverts yellowish-white.

Length to end of tail 5 1/2 inches; bill along the ride (4 3/4)/12, along the edge of lower mandible 6/12; wing from flexure 2 11/12; tail 2 4/12, tarsus (9 1/2)/12; hind toe (3 1/2)/12, its claw (4 1/2)/12; middle toe 7/12, its claw (2 3/4)/12.

In its colouring this bird is very similar to the White-crowned and White-chinned Finches, with which it also agrees in the form of its wings, but differs in having the tail much shorter, the bill less robust, the claws proportionally longer and less arched.

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