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Le Conte's Sharp-tailed Bunting

Le Conte's Sharp-tailed Bunting

The definitive website on wildbirds & nature

Birds of America

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


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[LeConte's Sparrow.]

[Passerherbulus caudacutus.]


Although we procured several specimens of this pretty little Sharp-tailed Finch, I have at present only one by me, a fine male, however, shot by Mr. J. G. BELL, of New York, on the 24th of May.

At first sight one might easily mistake it for the Henslow Bunting, but on comparing these two species, not only are distinct characters easily observed, but the localities wherein the present species is found are different, as well as its curious notes and general habits of keeping only among the long green slender grasses that here and there happen to grow in patches of less or greater extent along the margins of creeks found in the different parts of the prairies through which we passed, whilst in the pursuit of the buffalo or bison.

So closely does it keep in the coverts which it resorts to, that it is difficult to force it to rise on the wing, when only, it can be procured. Its song is sharp, shrill and of a querulous nature. We never could find its nest or young, and cannot give any further accounts of its habits.

I have named this interesting species after my young friend Doctor LE CONTE, son of Major LE CONTE, so well known among naturalists, and who is, like his father, much attached to the study of natural history.


4 (5 1/2)/8.

Upper Missouri prairies. Common.


Bill much more slender than in Emberiza Henslowii (AUD.); first quill the longest, the rest diminishing rapidly. Tail emarginate and rounded, with the feathers acute. Upper parts light yellowish-red, streaked with brownish-black, the margins of the feathers and scapulars pale yellowish-white. Tail feathers dusky, margined with light yellowish. Lower parts, with the cheeks and a broad band over the eyes, fine buff. Medial line yellowish-white. The buff extending to the femorals and along the sides, streaked with brownish-black; throat, neck, and upper parts of the breast without any streaks, and plain buff.

Total length 4 (5 1/2)/8 inches; wing from flexure 2 1/8; first quill longest; tail 1 7/8; bill along the ridge 3/8, along the edge nearly 1/2; both mandibles dark blue, lighter along the edges. Eyes brown. Legs, feet and claws, dull flesh colour. Tarsus (4 1/2)/8; middle toe 1/2, its claw 1/8; hind toe 3/8, its claw rather more than 1/4.

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