1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Sugar-bird

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SUGAR-BIRD, the English name commonly given in the West India Islands to the various members of the genus Certhiola (belonging to the Passerine family Coerebidae[1]) for their habit of frequenting the curing-houses where sugar is kept, apparently attracted thither by the swarms of flies. They often come into dwelling-houses, hopping from one piece of furniture to another and carefully exploring the surrounding objects with intent to find a spider or insect. In their figure and motions they remind a northern naturalist of a nuthatch, while their coloration—black, yellow, olive, grey and white—recalls to him a titmouse. They generally keep in pairs and build a domed but untidy nest, laying therein three eggs, white, blotched with rusty-red. Many species are recognized, some of them with a very limited range; three are continental, with a joint range extending from southern Mexico to Peru, Bolivia and south-eastern Brazil, while others are peculiar to certain of the Antilles, and several of them to one island only. Thus C. caboti is limited, so far as is known, to Cozumel (off Yucatan), C. tricolor to Old Providence, C. flaveola (the type of the genus) to Jamaica, and so on, while islands that are in sight of one another are often inhabited by different “species.” The genus furnishes an excellent example of the effects of isolation in breaking up an original form, while there is comparatively little differentiation among the individuals which inhabit a large and continuous area. The non-appearance of this genus in Cuba is very remarkable.  (A. N.) 

  1. Known in French as Guitguits, a name used for them also by some English writers. The Guitguit of Hernandez (Rer. medic. N. hisp. thesaurus, p. 56), a name said by him to be of native origin, can hardly be determined, though thought by Montbeillard (Hist. nat. oiseaux, v. 529) to be what is now known as Coereba caerulea, but that of later writers is C. cyanea. The name is probably onomatopoetic, and very likely analogous to the “quit” applied in Jamaica to several small birds.