Ornithological Biography/Volume 1/Bonaparte's Fly-catcher

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Ornithological Biography by John James Audubon
Bonaparte's Fly-catcher
Bonaparte's Flycatcher (Audubon).jpg

BONAPARTE'S FLY-CATCHER.

Muscicapa Bonapartii.

PLATE V. Male.


Whilst I have the pleasure of honouring this beautiful new species with the name of so distinguished a naturalist as Charles Lucien Bonaparte, Prince of Musignano, I regret that I am unable to give any account of its habits, or even of its manner of flight, and must therefore confine my remarks upon it within very brief space. The following extractfrom my journal contains all that I have to say respecting it.

"Monday, August 13th 1821.—Louisiana.—On arriving at the Cypress Swamp (about five miles from St Francisville), I saw a great number of small birds of different species, and as I looked at them I observed two engaged in a fight or quarrel. I shot at them, but only one fell. On reaching the spot, I found the bird was only wounded, and saw it standing still and upright as if stupified by its fall. When I approached it to pick it up, it spread its tail, opened its wings, and snapped its bill about twenty times sharply and in quick succession, as birds of the genus do when seizing insects on wing. I carried it home, and had the pleasure of drawing it while alive and full of spirit. It often made off from my hand, by starting suddenly, and then would hop round the room as quickly as a Carolina Wren, uttering its tweet, tweet, tweet all the while, and snapping its bill every time I took it up. I put it into a cage for a few minutes, but it obstinately thrust its head through the lower parts of the wires. I relieved it from this sort of confinement, and allowed it to go about the room. Next day it was very weak and ruffled up, so I killed it and put it in spirits." To this account I have only to add, that I have not seen another individual since.


Muscicapa Bonapartii. Plate V.


Bill of moderate length, straight, subtrigonal, depressed at the base, acute, upper mandible slightly notched and a little inflected at the tip, lower mandible straight. Nostrils basal, lateral, roundish, partly covered by the frontal feathers. Head and neck moderate. Eyes large. Body slender. Legs of ordinary size; tarsus a little longer than the middle toe; inner toe a little united at the base; claws compressed, acute, arched.

Plumage ordinary, blended. Wings rather long, somewhat acute, second primary longest. Tail rather long, nearly even, straight. Basirostral feathers bristly and directed outwards.

Bill brown above, yellowish beneath, orbits yellow. Iris deep brown. Feet and claws flesh-colour. The upper parts of a light greyish-blue, the quills dusky, their outer webs blue, the two first margined with white. Under parts and forehead ochre-yellow, under tail-coverts whitish; a few dark spots on the upper part of the breast.

Length 514 inches; bill along the ridge 512, along the gap 23; tarsus 56.




The Great Magnolia.

Magnolia grandiflora, Wild. Sp. Pl. vol. ii. p. 1255. Pursh, Flor. Amer. vol. ii. p. 380. Mich. Arbr. Forest, de l'Amer. Sept. vol. iii. p. 71. P. i—Polyandria Polygynia, Linn. Magnoliæ, Juss.

The magnificent tree, of which a twig, with a cone of ripe fruit, is represented in the plate, attains a height of a hundred feet or even more. The bright red bodies are the seeds, suspended by a filament for some time after the capsules have burst. The trunk is often very straight, from two to four feet in diameter at the base, with a greyish smooth bark. The leaves which remain during the winter are stiff and leathery, smooth, elliptical, tapering at the base. The flowers are white, and even or eight inches in diameter. It is known by the names of Large Magnolia, Big Laurel and Bay-tree, and occurs abundantly in some parts of Carolina, Georgia, the Floridas and Louisiana.