Birds of America
By John James Audubon, F. R. SS. L. & E.
THE WHITE-EYED VIREO, OR GREENLET.
VIREO NOVEBORACENSIS, Gmel.
This interesting little bird enters the State of Louisiana often as early
as the 1st of March. Indeed, some individuals may now and then be seen a week
or ten days sooner, provided the weather be mild. It throws itself into the
thickest part of the briars, sumachs, and small evergreen bushes, which form
detached groves in abandoned fields, where its presence is at once known by the
smartness of its song. This song is composed of many different notes, emitted
with great spirit, and a certain degree of pomposity, which makes it differ
materially from that of all other Flycatchers. It is frequently repeated during
These birds become at once so abundant, that it would be more difficult not
to meet one, than to observe a dozen or more, during a morning walk. Their
motions are as animated as their music. They pass from twig to twig, upwards or
downwards, examining every opening bud and leaf, and securing an insect or a
larva at every leap. Their flight is short, light, and easy. Their migrations
are performed during the day, and by passing from one low bush to another, for
these birds seldom ascend to the tops of even moderately tall trees. Like all
our other visiters, they move eastward as the season opens, and do not reach the
Middle States before the end of April, or the beginning of May. Notwithstanding
this apparently slow progress, they reach and disperse over a vast expanse of
country. I have met with some in every part of the United States which I have
Many remain in Louisiana, where they rear two broods, perhaps sometimes
three, in a season. Of this, however, I am not quite certain. I never saw them
alight on the ground, unless for the purpose of drinking, or of procuring
fibrous roots for their nests. They are fond of sipping the dew drops that hang
at the extremities of leaves. Their sorties after insects seldom extend beyond
About the first of April, the White-eyed Flycatcher forms a nest of dry
slender twigs, broken pieces of grasses, and portions of old hornets' nests,
which have so great a resemblance to paper, that the nest appears as if studded
with bits of that substance. It is lined with fine fibrous roots, and the dried
filaments of the Spanish moss. The nest is of the form of an inverted cone, and
is fastened to two or three twigs of a green briar, a species of smilax abundant
in the old fields and along the fences. The eggs are from four to six, of a
pure white, with a few dark spots near the larger end. In those districts where
the Cow-bird is found, it frequently drops one of its eggs among them. I have
seen the first brood from the nest about the middle of May. Unless when
disturbed while upon its nest, this bird is extremely sociable, and may be
approached within a few feet; but when startled from the nest, it displays the
anxiety common to almost all birds on such occasions. The difference of colour
in the sexes is scarcely perceptible.
I have ascertained that this species is a constant resident in the Floridas
during winter, as well as in the lower parts of Alabama and Georgia. A great
number, however, pass beyond our limits, for at Galveston Island I found them
arriving from the south. It extends its movements across the whole continent,
Mr. Townsend having met with it on the Columbia river. Along our Atlantic
districts it is found sparingly in summer as far as Nova Scotia, and a few were
seen by me in Labrador. The eggs measure four-eighths and three-fourths in
length, and half an inch in breadth.
The figure of a male has been given on a branch of the tree called in
Louisiana the Pride of China, an ornamental plant, with fragrant flowers. The
wood is extremely valuable on account of its great durability, and is employed
for making posts and rails for the fences. Being capable of receiving a
beautiful polish, it is also frequently made into various articles of furniture.
For these reasons, the planters have found it expedient to adopt measures for
increasing the propagation of this tree. It bears a pulpy fruit inclosing a
hard seed, which is swallowed by different birds during the winter months. It
has been thought deleterious, but without reason. A decoction of the root is
used by the planters as an effectual vermifuge.
WHITE-EYED FLYCATCHER, Muscicapa cantatrix, Wils. Amer. Orn., vol. ii.p. 266.
VIREO NOVEBORACENSIS, Bonap. Syn., p. 70.
WHITE-EYED VIREO or FLYCATCHER, Vireo noveboracensis, Nutt. Man., vol. i.p. 806.
WHITE-EYED FLYCATCHER or VIREO, Vireo noveboracensis, Aud. Orn. Biog.,vol. i. p. 328; vol. v. p. 431, 433.
Male, 5, 7.
Throughout the United States and Nova Scotia. Columbia river. Migratory,
but great numbers spend the winter in the Southern States.
Bill shortish, nearly straight, rather strong, conico-acuminate, compressed
towards the end; upper mandible slightly notched, and a little deflected at the
tip; lower mandible ascending at the tip. Nostrils basal, rounded. Head and
neck of ordinary size; body rather slender. Feet of ordinary length, slender;
tarsus anteriorly scutellate; Literal toes nearly equal.
Plumage blended, soft and tufty. Wings shortish, the third quill longest.
Tail even, of twelve rounded feathers.
Upper mandible blackish-blue, lower light blue. Iris white. Feet
greyish-blue. The general colour of the upper parts is light olive, the head
greener. Sides of the head, including a line above the eye, and the loral
space, bright yellow. Quills, large coverts, and tall, wood-brown, the quills
edged externally with greenish-yellow, the larger coverts tipped with white,
forming two bands. Sides of the neck tinged with bluish-grey; the under parts
greyish-white, excepting the sides, which are yellow.
Length 5 inches, extent of wings 7; bill along the ridge 5/12, along the
The female scarcely differs from the male in external appearance.
THE PRIDE OF CHINA, or BEAD-TREE.
MELIA AZEDARACH, Linn., Sp. Plant., p. 550.--DECANDRIA MONOGYNIA, Linn.
Distinguished by its bipinnate shining leaves, with ferruginous dots
beneath. In the south of Europe, the nuts are bored and strung by the Roman