Birds of America
By John James Audubon, F. R. SS. L. & E.
BULLOCK'S TROOPIAL, ORIOLE, OR HANG-NEST.
[Northern Oriole (see also Baltimore Oriole).
ICTERUS BULLOCKII, Swains.
PLATE CCXVIII.--MALE, FEMALE, and YOUNG MALE.
According to Mr. NUTTALL, who has favoured me with so many observations
relative to the birds described in this and the preceding volumes, "BULLOCK's
Oriole occurs in nearly the same localities as the Yellow-headed Troopial.
About fifty or sixty miles to the north-west of the usual crossing-place of that
branch of the La Platte called Larimie's Fork, we observed it making a nest
quite similar to that of the Baltimore-bird. This species, which I have since
seen in upper California, where it arrives (around Santa Barbara) in the
beginning of May, has the same plaintive fifing warble, but more brief and less
varied. The males also, as usual, arrive in flocks considerably before the
females. They have likewise the same habit of concealing themselves for a
length of time carefully gleaning for small larvae, or sipping the nectareous
juices of the opening blossoms of the trees they delight to frequent. On the
Platte, the only trees they can resort to are the balsam poplars, which border
the stream. In all respects this species resembles the Common Baltimore-bird,
which it supersedes from the first great bifurcation of the Platte, to the
shores of the Columbia, extending at least as far as the borders of Old
California. Mr. BULLOCK, its discoverer, also met with it throughout the
table-land of Mexico."
Since the above notice was transmitted to me, I have received another from
Mr. TOWNSEND. He says, "it inhabits the Rocky Mountains near the Black Hills
and the forests of the Columbia river. In the latter place it is a rather
plentiful species. Its usual note consists of a single quavering call somewhat
like one of the notes of the Scarlet Tanager, Tanagra rubra. At other times it
warbles a little, but not with half the sweetness or compass of its near
relative the Baltimore. It is a very active species, so much so indeed that it
is very difficult to get a shot at it while sitting, but it is easily killed on
the wing. It evidently breeds here, and has probably now a nest (June 16th),
but I have not been able to find it. The female is rarely seen, and is
particularly shy and noiseless."
XANTHORNUS BULLOCKII, Swains. Syn. of Mex. Birds, Phil. Mag. 1827, p. 436.
BULLOCK'S TROOPIAL, Icterus Bullockii, Aud. Orn. Biog., vol. v. p. 9.
Male, 7 1/4, wing, 4 1/12.
Rocky Mountains, Columbia river, and California. Common. Migratory.
Bill a little shorter than the head, conical, very slightly decurved,
compressed, tapering to a very attenuated point; upper mandible with the dorsal
line almost straight, being very slightly convex, the ridge narrow, its basal
extremity tapering, the sides convex, the edges overlapping, the tip extremely
sharp; lower mandible with the angle long and of moderate width, the dorsal line
and that of the crura slightly concave, the sides erect and nearly flat at the
base, convex toward the end, the edges slightly inflected, the tip extremely
slender; gap-line straight, declinate at the base. Nostrils elliptical, with a
small operculum above, in the fore part of the nasal membrane, half-way between
the ridge and the margin.
Head ovate, of moderate size; neck short; body rather slender. Feet of
moderate length, rather stout; tarsus much compressed, with seven large anterior
scutella, and two longitudinal plates behind forming a very thin edge; toes of
moderate size, the hind toe much stronger, the lateral about equal, the third
and fourth united at the base. Claws rather long, moderately arched, much
compressed, laterally grooved, very acute.
Plumage soft and blended, the feathers ovate and rounded. Wings of
moderate length, the first four quills nearly of equal length, the first being
scarcely two-twelfths shorter than the second, which is the longest, but
scarcely exceeds the third. Tail rather long, straight, rounded and slightly
emarginate, the middle feathers being one-twelfth, and the lateral
three-twelfths shorter than the longest.
Bill greyish-blue, dusky along the ridge; feet and claws light blue. The
upper part of the head, the hind neck, and the anterior portion of the back,
with the loral space, some feathers at the base of the lower mandible, and a
rather narrow longitudinal band on the fore neck, deep black; the anterior part
of the forehead, a band over the eye, the cheeks, sides of the neck, and the
breast, rich orange-yellow; the rest of the lower parts paler; the lower
wing-coverts and the anterior edge of the wing pale yellow; the hind part of the
back and the upper tail-coverts yellow, tinged with olive, purer on the rump;
wings brownish-black, with a large patch of white formed by the outer small
coverts, and the edges of the secondary coverts, besides which the quills are
all margined externally with white, the secondaries more broadly. The four
middle tail-feathers are black, all the rest orange-yellow, with a dusky patch
near the end, broader on the inner, narrower and fainter on the outer.
Length to end of tail 7 1/4 inches; bill along the ridge 9/12; wing from
flexure 4 1/2; tail 3 5/12; tarsus (10 3/4)/12; hind toe (4 1/2)/12, its claw
4/12; second toe 5/12, its claw 3/12; third toe (7 1/2)/12, its claw 4/12;
fourth toe 5/12 its claw (2 3/4)/12.
The female is smaller and differs greatly in colouring. The bill and feet
are as in the male. The upper parts are greyish-olive, lighter on the rump, on
the head and upper tail-coverts tinged with yellow; the loral space dusky, the
anterior part of the forehead, a band over the eye, the cheeks, and sides of the
neck, with the fore part of the breast, light greenish-yellow; the throat dull
white, the lower wing-coverts and edge of the wing very pale yellow, the rest of
the lower parts greyish-white, slightly tinged with olive. The wings are dark
brown, the larger small-coverts tipped with greyish-white, the secondary coverts
and quills edged with the same. The tail dull olivaceous-yellow. This
description is taken from an individual killed on the 21st of June, 1836, on the
Length to end of tail 7 inches.
A young male, killed on the Columbia river, on the 21st of June, 1836, and
in its first plumage, resembles the female in all the upper parts, including the
tail, of which the four outer feathers, however, are more yellow. The loral
space, and a streak on the throat, shorter and narrower than in the old male,
are black; the band on the eye, the cheeks, the fore neck, and part of the
breast, pale yellow; the rest of the lower parts as in the female.