Page:Ornithological biography, or an account of the habits of the birds of the United States of America, volume 1.djvu/374

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346
IVORY-BILLED WOODPECKER.

verance, until it reaches the top branches, when it squats and hides, generally with great effect. Whilst ascending, it moves spirally round the tree, utters its loud pait, pait, pait, at almost every hop, but becomes silent the moment it reaches a place where it conceives itself secure. They sometimes cling to the bark with their claws so firmly, as to remain cramped to the spot for several hours after death. When taken by the hand, which is rather a hazardous undertaking, they strike with great violence, and inflict very severe wounds with their bill as well as claws, which are extremely sharp and strong. On such occasions, this bird utters a mournful and very piteous cry.


Picus principalis, Linn. Syst. Nat. vol. i. p. 173—Lath. Ind. Ornith. vol. i. p. 225.—Ch. Bonaparte, Synops. of Birds of the United States, p. 44.

White-billed Woodpecker, Lath. Synops. vol. ii. p. 553.

Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Picus Principalis, Wils. Amer. Ornith. vol. iv. Pl. 29, Fig. i.


Adult Male. Plate LXVI. Fig. 1.

Bill long, straight, strong, polyhedral, tapering, compressed and truncated at the tip; mandibles nearly equal, both nearly straight in their dorsal outline. Nostrils basal, oval, partly covered by recumbent bristly feathers. Head large. Neck long and slender. Body robust. Feet rather short, robust; tarsus strong, scutellate before, scaly on the sides; two toes before and two behind, the inner hind toe shortest; claws strong, arched, very acute.

Plumage compact, glossy. Feathers of the head elongated and erectile. Wings large, the third and fourth quills longest. Tail long graduated, of twelve tapering stiff feathers worn to a point by being rubbed against the bark of trees.

Bill of an ivory-white, whence the common name of the bird Iris bright yellow. Feet greyish blue. The general colour of the plumage is black, with violet reflections, more glossy above. The feathers of the middle and hind part of the head are of a vivid deep carmine. A broad band of white runs down the neck and back, on either side, commencing narrow under the ear, and terminating with the scapulars. The five outer primaries black, the rest white towards the end, the secondaries wholly white, so that when the wings are closed, the posterior part of