Page:Ornithological biography, or an account of the habits of the birds of the United States of America, volume 1.djvu/459

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THE BLUE-GREY FLY-CATCHER.

Musicapa Cœrulea, Wils.

PLATE LXXXIV. Male and Female.


This diminutive lively bird is rendered peculiarly conspicuous by its being frequently the nurse or foster-parent of the young Cow Bunting, the real mother of which drops her egg in its nest. A few individuals of this species remain in Louisiana during spring and summer, and breed there; but the greater number proceed far eastward, and spread over the United States, although they are not common in any part.

The Blue-grey Fly-catcher arrives in the neighbourhood of New Orleans about the middle of March, when it is observed along the water-courses, flitting about and searching diligently, amidst the branches of the Golden Willow, for the smaller kinds of winged insects, devouring amongst others great numbers of moschettoes. Its flight resembles that of the Long-tailed Titmouse of Europe. It moves to short distances, vibrating its tail while on wing, and, on alighting, is frequently seen hanging to the buds and bunches of leaves, at the extremities of the branches of trees. It seldom visits the interior of the forests, in any portion of our country, but prefers the skirts of woods along damp or swampy places, and the borders of creeks, pools, or rivers. It seizes insects on wing with great agility, snapping its bill like a true Fly-catcher, now and then making little sallies after a group of those diminutive flies that seem as if dancing in the air, and cross each other in their lines of flight, in a thousand various ways.

When it has alighted, its tail is constantly erected, its wings droop, and it utters at intervals its low and uninteresting notes, which resemble the sounds Tsee, Tsee. It seldom if ever alights on the ground, and when thirsty prefers procuring water from the extremities of branches, or sips the rain or dewdrops from the ends of the leaves.

Its nest is composed of the frailest materials, and is light and small in proportion to the size of the bird. It is formed of portions of dried leaves, the husks of buds, the silky fibres of various plants and flowers, and light grey lichens, and is lined with fibres of Spanish Moss or horse-