Birds of America
By John James Audubon, F. R. SS. L. & E.
THE YELLOW-THROATED VIREO, OR GREENLET.
VIREO FLAVIFRONS, Vieill.
While the small White-eyed Vireo rambles among the low bushes and brambles
of the fields of all parts of the United States, the Yellow-throated species
takes possession of the forest, and gleans with equal ease among the branches of
the tallest trees, to which it seems to give a marked preference during the
spring and summer. It is fond of the quietest solitudes, and in its habits is
nearly allied to the Red-eyed Vireo. Like it also, it is a slow, careful, and
industrious bird, never imitating the petulant, infantile, and original (if I
may so speak) freaks of its gay relative, the White-eyed. It is more silent
than either of the species above mentioned, although its notes have a strong
resemblance to those of the Red-eyed. These notes are more measured and
plaintive than those of any of its tribe, sometimes consisting of sounds
resembling the syllables pree-a, pree-a, rising and falling in sweet modulation.
One might imagine them the notes of a bird lost in the woods, and they make a
strong impression on the mind of the listener. Now and then the sight of his
mate seems to animate the male, when he repeats the same syllables eight or ten
times in succession. When sitting pensively on a twig, as if waiting for an
invitation to sing, it utters a kind of whining sound, and in autumn, as well as
during its retrograde march towards the south, it becomes quite silent.
When searching for food, it ascends the branches of trees by regular short
hops, examining with care every leaf and bud in its way, never leaving a branch
for another until it is quite assured that nothing remains on it. When flying
to some distance, its motions, although quick, are irregular, and it passes
among the boughs at a moderate height.
This species is at all times extremely rare in Louisiana, where I have seen
it only during early spring or late in the autumn. My friend BACHMAN has never
observed it in South Carolina. Indeed, it is only from Pennsylvania eastward
that it is met with in any quantity. During summer it feeds entirely on
insects, devouring with equal pleasure caterpillars, small moths, wasps, and
wild bees. The summer over, it ranges among the low bushes in search of
berries, accompanied by its young, and at that time enters the orchards and
gardens even of our villages and cities. It arrives in Pennsylvania and New
Jersey about the end of April, and in Massachusetts and Maine about a month
The nest of the Yellow-throated Vireo is truly a beautiful fabric. It
sometimes extends to five or six inches in depth, and as it is always plated at
the extremity of small twigs, it is very conspicuous. It is attached to these
twigs with much care by slender threads of vines, or those of other trees at its
upper edges, mixed with the silk of different caterpillars, and enclosed with
lichens, so neatly attached by means of saliva, that the whole outer surface
seems formed of them, while the inner bed, which is about two and a half inches
in diameter, by an inch and a half in depth, is lined with delicate grasses,
between which and the bottom coarser materials are employed to fill the space,
such as bits of hornets' nests, dry leaves, and wool. The eggs, which are four
or five in number, are of an elongated form, white, spotted with reddish-brown
or black. The young are out about the beginning of July. In Maine it raises
one brood only, but farther south not unfrequently two.
YELLOW-THROATED FLYCATCHER, Muscicapa sylvicola, Wils. Amer. Orn.,
vol. ii. p. 117.
VIREO FLAVIFRONS, Bonap. Syn., p. 70.
YELLOW-THROATED VIREO, Nutt. Man., vol. i. p. 302.
YELLOW-THROATED FLYCATCHER or VIREO, Vireo Flavifrons,
Aud. Orn. Biog.,vol. ii. p. 119; vol. v. p. 428.
Upper parts light green, the rump, scapulars, and smaller wing-coverts
bluish-grey; quills and coverts brownish-black; two bands of white on the wing,
formed by the tips of the secondary coverts and first row of small coverts;
primaries narrower, edged with yellowish-green, secondaries broadly with white;
tail-feathers brownish-black, the outer edged with white; sides of the neck
yellowish-green; a line over the eye, throat, and breast yellow, the rest of the
lower parts white.
Male, 5 3/4, 9 1/2.
From Texas to Nova Scotia. Rare in the interior, more abundant in the
middle Atlantic districts. Migratory.
The egg of this bird measures thirteen-sixteenths of an inch in length, by
five-eighths, is of a slightly elongated form, oval, from the smaller end being
rather rounded, and is marked with a few scattered spots of a deep
brownish-crimson, on a beautiful flesh-coloured ground.
In a male preserved in spirits, the roof of the mouth is slightly concave,
with two palatal ridges, and an anterior median ridge; the posterior aperture of
the nares is linear-oblong, 5 twelfths in length, its margins papillate. The
tongue is rather short, 4 1/2 twelfths long, narrow, triangular, very thin,
emarginate and papillate at the base, flat above, tapering to a horny, deeply
slit, lacerated point. The width of the mouth is 4 1/2 twelfths. The
oesophagus, Fig. 1,
is 1 inch 9 twelfths long, funnel-shaped at the commencement, at the
distance of half an inch its width is 1 3/4 twelfths, and thus continues until
it enters the thorax, soon after which it enlarges to form the proventriculus,
of which the breadth is 3 twelfths. The stomach is of moderate size, of a
broadly elliptical form, considerably compressed; its length 6 twelfths, its
breadth 5 twelfths, its muscles pretty large and distinct, its tendons of
moderate size; the epithelium thin, reddish-brown, with eight longitudinal rugae
on one side, and five on the other. The belt of proventricular glandules is 2
1/2 twelfths broad. The intestine is 5 3/4 inches long, from 1 1/2 twelfths to
1 twelfth in width, the rectum 2 twelfths at first, the cloaca globular, about 4
twelfths; the coeca 1 1/4 twelfths long, about 1/4 twelfth wide, and placed at
the distance of 9 twelfths from the extremity.
The trachea is 1 inch 2 twelfths long, from 1 twelfth to 3/4 twelfth in
width, moderately flattened, its rings rather firm, about 50, with 2 dimidiate;
the muscles disposed as in the Thrushes and Warblers, there being four pairs of
inferior laryngeal on each side, besides the sterno-tracheal. The bronchi
short, slender, of about 10 half rings.
THE SWAMP SNOWBALL.
HYDRANGEA QUERCIFOLIA, Willd., Sp. Pl., vol. ii. p. 634. Pursh, Flor.
Amer. Sept., vol. i. p. 309.--DECANDRIA DIGYNIA, Linn.
This plant is found on the broken sandy banks bordering small
water-courses, and is abundant in such situations in the uplands of Louisiana.
It seldom grows beyond the size of a bush. The blossoms are lasting, and
although without odour, are pleasing to the eye, on account of their pure white
colour when first expanded; they dry on the stalks, retaining their form, and
remaining until winter. The species is characterized by its oblong, deeply
sinuate leaves, which are downy beneath, and its radiated loosely thyrsiform