Ornithological Biography/Volume 1/Blue-winged Yellow Warbler
THE BLUE-WINGED YELLOW WARBLER.
Sylvia solitaria, Wils.
PLATE XX. Male and Female.
This pretty little Warbler is migratory, and arrives in Louisiana from the south, in the beginning of spring. It is found in open woods, as well as in the vicinity of ponds overgrown with low bushes and rank weeds. Along with a pair of Blue-winged Yellow Warblers, I have represented a species of Hibiscus, which grows on the edges of these ponds. Its flowers are handsome, but unfortunately have no pleasant odour.
The species which now occupies our attention is a busy, active bird, and is seen diligently searching among the foliage and grasses for the small insects on which it feeds, mounting now and then towards the tops of the bushes, to utter a few weak notes, which are in no way interesting.
Its nest, which is singularly constructed, and of an elongated inversely conical form, is attached to several stalks or blades of tall grass by its upper edge. The materials of which it is formed are placed obliquely from its mouth to the bottom. The latter part is composed of dried leaves, and is finished within with fine grass and lichens. The female lays from four to six eggs, of a pure white colour, with a few pale red spots at the larger end. The first brood is out about the middle of May, the second in the middle of July. The young disperse as soon as they are able to provide for themselves, this bird being of solitary habits.
It leaves Louisiana in the beginning of October. I have never seen the species farther eastward than the State of Jersey, where I killed several within a few miles of Philadelphia, not however until my last visit to that State in 1829. It is frequent in the barrens of Kentucky, and up the Mississippi, as far at least as St Genevieve, where I shot two individuals many years ago.
Its flight is short, undetermined, and is performed in zig-zag lines, as in most of its tribe. It sometimes ascends twenty or thirty yards in the air, as if with an intention of going to a great distance, but still moving in a zig-zag manner, when it suddenly turns about, and comes down near the place from which it set out. It does not chase insects on wing, but feeds in a great measure on the smaller kinds of spiders, not neglecting, however, to seize other insects when they come within reach. It remains almost constantly among the bushes, and is seldom seen on trees of any size.
Sylvia solitaria, Ch. Bonaparte, Synops. of Birds of the United States, p. 87.
Blue-winged Yellow Warbler, Wils. Amer, Ornith. vol. ii, p. 109. PI. 15. Fig.4.
Adult Male. Plate XX. Fig. 1.
Bill nearly as long as the head, straightish, subulato-conical, acute, as deep as broad at the base, the edges acute, the gap line a little deflected at the base. Nostrils basal, lateral, elliptical, half-closed by a membrane. Head rather small. Neck short. Body slender. Feet of ordinary length, slender; tarsus longer than the middle toe, covered anteriorly by a few scutella, the uppermost long; toes scutellate above, the inner free, the hind toe of moderate size; claws slender, compressed, acute, arched.
Plumage soft, blended, tufty. Wings of ordinary length, acute, the second quill longest. Tail longish, rounded when expanded, slightly forked when closed.
Bill black, with a pale margin. Iris dark brown. Feet and claws flesh-colour, tinged with yellow. Forehead, crown, and under parts of a rich bright-yellow. Back of the head and neck, the back and upper tail coverts bright grass-green. Lore black. Wings greyish-blue, slightly margined with paler, the first two rows of coverts tipped with whitish. Four middle tail-feathers greyish-blue, the outer webs of the rest, and an oblique portion of the outer feather at the end, of the same colour, their inner webs white..
Length 4¾ inches, extent of wings 7; bill along the ridge ½, along the gap 1.
Adult Female. Plate XX. Fig. 2.
The female scarcely differs from the male in appearance, and is of nearly the same dimensions.
Large-flowered Hibiscus, Cotton Rose, or Wild Althæa.
Hibiscus grandiflorus, Mich. Fl. Amer. vol. ii. p. 46. Pursh. Fl. Amer. p. 455.—Monadelphia Polyandria, Linn. Malvaceæ, Juss.
This beautiful species of Hibiscus, which does not precisely agree with any that I have seen described, although it is probably the above, is characterised by its ovato-cordate, obtusely and irregularly serrated, acute, venous tough leaves, and its large rose-coloured flowers, which are deep-red at the base, and streaked with the same colour. The corolla is about five inches in diameter, the anthers yellow. The stem and leaves are smooth. It grows in salt marshes, and by the edges of pools.