Page:Ornithological biography, or an account of the habits of the birds of the United States of America, volume 1.djvu/257

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
229
CEDAR BIRD.

nestles less frequently in the low lands than it does in the upper parts of the country, preferring the immediate neighbourhood of mountains. These birds are more careful of themselves during the intrusion of strangers to their nest, than perhaps any other species, and sneak off, in a very unparental manner, quite out of sight, without ever evincing the least appearance of sorrow on the occasion. I have not been able to ascertain whether they raise more than one brood in a season.

When wounded by a shot, they fall to the ground as if dead, and remain there in a stiffened posture, as if absolutely stupid. When taken up in the hand, they merely open their bill, without ever attempting to bite, and will suffer a person to carry them in the open hand, without endeavouring to make off. Their crest at such times is laid flat and close to the head. It is lowered or raised at the will of the bird, but more usually stands erect. Their plumage is silky. The females do not exhibit the waxen appendages on the wings so soon as the males; but these appendages form no criterion as to the sex. I have seen males and females with them, both at the extremities of the scapulars and tail-feathers, seldom more than two or three attached to the latter, whilst there were five or six at the former. Very few of these birds remain the whole winter in the Middle States.

Now, kind reader, can you give a reason why these birds are so tardy in laying their eggs and rearing their young? It cannot be through want of fruit for the food of their progeny, as the young birds, being at first fed on insects, might continue to be so, at a season when these abound, and as the old birds themselves evince pleasure at seizing them on the wing on all occasions.


Bombycilla carolinensis, Briss. vol. ii. p. 337—Ch. Bonaparte, Synops. of Birds of the United States, p. 59.

Ampelis garrulus, var. Linn. Syst. Nat. vol. i. p. 297.—Lath. Ind. Ornith. vol. i. p. 364.

Chatterer of Carolina, Lath. Synops. vol. iii. p. 93.

Cedar Bird, Ampelis americana, Wils. Amer. Ornith. vol. i. p. 107. Fig. 1.


Adult Male. Plate XLIII. Fig. 1.

Bill short, straightish, broader than deep at the base, compressed towards the end; upper mandible convex in its dorsal outline, with the edges sharp, overlapping, and marked with a notch close upor the decli-