The circumstance of their leaving the United States so early in autumn, has inclined me to think that they must go farther from them than any of our migratory land birds. This, however, is only conjecture, of which, kind reader, you may better judge when you have read my account of the Cliff Swallow.
Hirundo purpurea, Linn. Syst. Nat. vol. i. p. 844.—Lath. Ind. Ornith. vol. ii. p. 578.—Ch. Bonaparte, Synopsis of Birds of the United Slates, p. 64.
Purple Martin, Hirundo purpurea, Wils. Americ. Ornith. p. 58, Pl. xxxix. fig. 1. Male ; fig. 2. Female.
Adult Male. Plate XXII. Fig 1, 1.
Bill short, rather robust, much depressed and very broad at the base; compressed towards the tip; upper mandible notched near the tip, which is rather obtuse and a little declinate; lower mandible nearly straight; gap as wide as the head, and extending to beneath the eye. Nostrils basal, lateral, roundish. Head large. Neck short. Body rather elongated and depressed. Feet very short; tarsus and toes scutellate anteriorly, lateral toes nearly equal, the outer united to the second joint; claws short, weak, arched, rather obtuse.
Plumage silky, shining, and blended. Wings very long and slender, sickle-shaped when closed, the first primary longest. Tail of ordinary length, shorter than the wings, forked, when spread even, of twelve straight, narrowish feathers.
Bill deep brownish-black. Iris dark brown. Feet purplish-black. The plumage is generally of a deep blackish-blue, with intense purplish-blue reflections; the quills and tail-feathers brownish-black.
Length 7½ inches, extent of wings 16; bill along the back ⅓, along the gap 1, width of the gap ¾; tarsus ¾, middle toe the same.
Adult Female. Plate XXII. Fig. 2, 2.
Fore and upper part of the head brownish-grey, mottled with black; upper parts generally of the same tints as the male, with more grey. Throat, fore neck, and upper breast, dark grey, transversely lined with black. The rest of the under parts lightish grey, longitudinally streaked with blackish, darker and transversely streaked on the sides, and under the tail nearly white, with slight lines.