Page:Ornithological biography, or an account of the habits of the birds of the United States of America, volume 1.djvu/252

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224
ORCHARD ORIOLE.

This species makes its first appearance in Louisiana early in March, and remains until October, being seen for several weeks after the Baltimore Oriole has set out. In reaches the Middle Districts in the beginning of April. I have met with it as far as the province of Maine and the head waters of the Mississippi. It is fond of high ground and the neighbourhood of mountains during the breeding season, after which it removes to the meadows and prairies in considerable numbers. Whilst in these meadows, it feeds principally upon a small species of cricket, ground spiders and small grasshoppers. Their flesh is very good at that late season, and is much esteemed by the Creoles of Louisiana.

The French of that State give it the name of Pape de Prairie, while they designate the Baltimore Oriole by that of Pape de Bois, which arises no doubt from the marked preference which the former manifests to the plains in autumn, where a great number are shot or caught in trap cages. It is easily kept in cages, where it sings with all the liveliness which it shews in its wild state, and may be fed on rice and dry fruits, when fresh ones cannot be procured. I have known one of these birds, a beautiful male, kept for upwards of four years by a friend of mine at New Orleans. It had been raised from the nest, and having passed through the different changes of its plumage, had become perfect, was full of action, and sung delightfully.

The nest represented in the plate was drawn in Louisiana, and was entirely composed of grass. It may be looked upon as a sample of the usual form and construction. The branch of Honey Locust on which you see these birds belongs to a tree which sometimes grows to a great height, without much apparent choice of situation. It is more abundant to the west of the Alleghanies, and towards the Southern Districts, than in the Middle States. The wood is brittle and seldom used. The trunk and branches are frequently covered with innumerable long, sharp, and extremely hard spines, protruded in every direction, and in some instances placed so near to each other as to preclude the possibility of any person's climbing them. It bears a long pod, containing a sweet substance, not unlike that of the honey of bees, and which is eaten by children, when it becomes quite ripe. The spines are made use of by tobacconists for the purpose of fastening together the different twists of their rolls.