Page:Ornithological biography, or an account of the habits of the birds of the United States of America, volume 1.djvu/48

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20
YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO.

It makes no particular selection as to situation or the nature of the tree, but settles any where indiscriminately. The eggs are four or five, of a rather elongated oval form, and bright green colour. They rear only one brood in a season, unless the eggs are removed or destroyed. The young are principally fed with insects during the first weeks. Towards autumn they become very fat, and are fit for being eaten, although few persons, excepting the Creoles of Louisiana, shoot them for the table.

The branch, among the foliage of which you see the male and female winging their way, is one of the Papaw, a tree of small size, seldom more than from twenty to thirty feet in height, with a diameter of from three to seven inches. It is found growing in all rich grounds, to which it is peculiar, from the southern line of our States to central Pennsylvania, seldom farther eastward, here and there only along the alluvial shores of the Ohio and Mississippi. In all other places of like nature you may meet with groves of Papaw trees, covering an acre or more of ground. The fruit, which is represented in the plate, consists of a pulpy and insipid substance, within which are found several large, hard, and glossy seeds. The rind is extremely thin. The wood is light, soft, brittle, and almost useless. The bark, which is smooth, may be torn off from the foot of the tree to the very top, and is frequently used for making ropes, after it has been steeped in water sufficiently to detach the outer part, when the fibres are obtained, which, when twisted, are found to be nearly as tough and durable as hemp. The numerous islands of the Ohio and all the other western rivers are generally well stocked with this tree.


Coccyzus americanus, Ch. Bonaparte, Synops. of Birds of the United States, p. 42.

Cuculus americanus, Linn. Syst. Nat. vol i. p. 170—Lath. Ind. Ornith. vol. i. p. 219.

Carolina Cuckoo, Lath. Synopsis, vol. ii. p. 527.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Cuculus carolinensis. Wils. Americ. Ornith. vol. iv. p. 13. Pl. 28. fig. 1.


Adult Male. Plate II. Fig. 1.

Bill as long as the head, compressed, shghtly arched, acute, scarcely more robust than in many Sylviæ; upper mandible carinated above, its margins acute and entire; lower mandible carinated beneath, acute. Nostrils basal, lateral, linear-elliptical, half closed by a membrane. Feet short; tarsus scutellate before and behind; toes two before, separated;