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nest.

The eggs were nearly ready to hatch, and I could not save but four, poor specimens. I examined the embryos, however, carefully, and they had the bill and feet of a Sialia. It is a variation entirely new to me, although I have seen hundreds of bluebirds' eggs. I have no doubt whaterer of its identity.

I also have another egg in my collection which is a nondescript. It is li' inches long, of a very light bluish-green, sprinkled all over with grains of light brown and many other obscure specks; globular. It was in a crow-blackbird's nest, which had besides its full complement of eggs, in a small swamp near Munroe, Michigan. That was in 1867, and though I have searched many blackbirds' nests since I have seen nothing like it, nor can I find any one who has ever seen such. There was but the one. I am confident that it is a parasitic egg, though manifestly not a cow-bunting's. – ERNEST INGERSOLL, Oberlin, Ohio.

GEOLOGY. NEW SPECIES OF Fossil HORSE IN MEXICO.-Prof. R. Owen has described the teeth belonging to an extinct horse, found in the newer Tertiary deposits of the valley of Mexico. “It is unlikely, seeing the avidity with which the Indians of the Pampas have seized and subjugated the stray descendants of the European horses, introduced by the Spanish * Conquestadors' of South America, and the able use the nomad natives make of the multitudinous progeny of those war horses at the present day, that any such tamable equine should have been killed off or extirpated by the ancestors of the South American aborigines.” Owen also doubts whether the fossil contemporaries of this horse (Equus conversidens), and its allies, the Equus Tau Owen (from the same locality), and Equus curvidens, etc., and also the Megatherium, Mylodon, Toxodon, Nesodon, Macrauchenia, Glyptodon, and Mastodon, were rendered extinct by human means. — Scientific Opinion, London.

ANSWERS TO CORRESPONDENTS. F. W. G., Newburg, N. Y. - The galls from the rose are probably those of Cynips bicolor Harris. They were each tenanted by the larta of a Chalcid parasite.

ERRATA. Page 215, line 11 from below, for arms, read arcus. Page 216, line 25 from below, for operculata, read opercula ; line 12 from below, read between November 18, and December 11; line 12 from below, for Lindquist's, read Lindqvist. Page 217, line 25 from below, for Durir, read Dunér, and for Nordenskjold, read Nordenskjöid; line 7 from below for “ it," read the Nora Acta Regia Societatis Scientiarum Upsaliensis (Ser. 3tiæ, vol. vi). Page 219, line 3 from above, for Törnkrist read Törnkvist ; line 5 from above, for Sparagmitis, read Sparagmitic; line 16 from above, for geodesical, read floral or floristical. Page 220, line 23 from below, for frondée, read trouvée, for Ballinoptère, read Baleinoptére; line 15, from below, for a Malmo Whale, read Malms' Whale; line 10, for last, read lost ; line 6, for Fljelt, read Hjelt. Page 221, line 6 from above, for vividula, read viridula.

T HE

AMERICAN NATURALIST.

Vol. III.-OCTOBER, 1869.- No. 8.

THE RED-TAILED HAWK.

BY DR. W. WOOD.

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This bird is generally known as the Hen-hawk (Buteo borealis). It is so seldom taken in this vicinity that when captured the hunters will tell you that they have killed "one of the real old-fashioned hen-hawks.”

Having recently had the young of the Red-tailed Hawk brought to me as something new and rare, and as there is such a dissimilarity between the adult and the young that no one except a naturalist would recognize them as the same bird, I will give a description of the bird in its different plumage, with an account of its habits.

On the Pacific the Red-tailed Hawk is supplanted by a closely allied species (Buteo montanus). It is peculiar to America, and in its adult plumage is easily recognized from any of its genus. It is extremely shy, and not easily taken unless approached in a wagon or on horseback. The flight of this bird is strong and firm, often sailing to a great distance without any apparent motion of its wings. Occasionally several of them will be seen very high in the air, sailing about in circles, sometimes rising in spiral turns, and then

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1869, hy the PEABODY ACADEMY OF SCIENCE, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts. AMER. NATURALIST, VOL. III. 50

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descending rapidly, uttering a clear shrill cry of kae, kae, kae, several times, and often continuing it some minutes. These gyrations occur more commonly in the spring ; perhaps it is a nuptial ceremony, or a bridal pilgrimage. This bird does not always live in that domestic peace and harmony after rearing its young as is proverbially true of birds of prey, often fighting over some game that it would most faithfully toil to procure for its companion and little ones during breeding season. An amusing instance of this kind occurred to my knowledge. One of these birds caught a snake and flew high into the air ; its mate followed and tried to force its companion to give up the coveted morsel. For a time I did not know but that they would have to settle it as did the two snakes, each of which had hold of a leg of the same toad, and neither being willing to lose its anticipated dainty repast, the largest snake not only swallowed the toad but also the smaller snake attached to his portion. (Query ---- Which got the toad?)

In their bill of fare snakes form quite an item in the spring and summer months, but in the winter mouths the wild game of our woods and the poultry-yard, satisfy the cravings of hunger. It is from the fact of its making such frequent inroads among our domestic fowls that it derives the name of hen-hawk. When capturing snakes they sometimes "wake up the wrong passenger.” A farmer living in this vicinity, while putting up a fence around his pasture, noticed a large hawk on the ground some forty rods from him, sometimes rising up two or three feet, then dropping down. Supposing him to be devouring some game he paid uut little attention to it at first, but from its continuing in the same place, and keeping up the same manæuvring for a long time, his curiosity was excited, and coming near the bird he discovered that the tail of a large black snake was coiled around the hawk's neck, and that the head and a part of its body was in a hole in the ground; the hawk was nearly exhausted. With a blow of his axe the farmer

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severed the snake, and brought the hawk to his bar where he kept him alive for some time. The part of the snake attached to the bird measured three feet, which was, probably, about one-half of its length. The hawk evidently seized the snake when he was partly in his hole and was unable to draw him out, and when found, the serpent was endeavoring to convince the would-be-capturer that "it is a poor rule that don't work both ways.” This was the adult Red-tailed Hawk. .;

In procuring food for their young they frequently act in concert, and if, perchance, they spy a squirrel on a tree one will dive at it while the other poises itself ready to seize it if it dodges to the other side to evade the grasp of the first hawk. From the two there is no escape. Grasping it firmly by the neck the assailant practicably demonstrates the possibility of garroting its victim, when the ill-fated squirrel is carried to the eyry, and torn in pieces to satiate the cravings of their rapacious young. I was informed by one of my collectors that he saw a mink taken in that way by a Redtailed Hawk, and carried off, although squealing piteously, and vainly endeavoring to extricate himself from the fatal grasp of its cruel talons.

For hours it may be seen sitting in the top of some tree, either sunning itself or watching for game, and woe be to the rabbit, squirrel, bird, or mouse, that attracts his keen eye. In sailing over fields, if it discovers game, it will either grasp it by a side stroke, or check its speed and alight on a tree, if near, where it can watch its motions, when with wings almost closed it will dart upon its prey with unerring aim.

When wounded, like all rapacious birds, it will turn on its back and defend itself with its claws and bill, grasping a stick presented to it so firmly as to be raised from the ground and carried some distance before relinquishing its hold. An instance was related to me illustrating the strength and tenacity of its grasp. A sportsman having winged one of these birds his dog ran up to it, when his nasal appendage was firmly seized by the enraged bird. Smarting under the chastisement he howled and yelled, shaking his antagonist with force enough, apparently, to dislocate every bone in its body. This was continued sometime before its claws were disengaged, when my informant said "that the dog's nose looked as though it had been chawed.

They formerly nested here, but I have not been able to find a nest for the last fifteen years. The nest is large and somewhat flat, composed mostly of sticks and twigs, and generally located where it is almost impossible to get at it. According to our writers on oölogy they lay from four to five eggs. This is a larger number than I have found; from two to four has been the usual number. They are dull white, sparsely covered with brown and dark-brown spots. Both birds assist during incubation. Its length is from nineteen to twenty-four inches, and the expanse of the wings from forty-five to fifty inches. The female is considerably larger than the male, as is the case with all our rapacious birds. The head of the adult is large and flat; the tip of the bill much incurved, with the entire upper parts brown, with fulvous edging on the head and neck. The tail is bright rufous, tipped with white, and a little rounded, with the subterminal band of black. The throat is white with longitudinal strips of brown; the under parts are yellowish white with longitudinal brown spots. The under tail-coverts are yellowish white, the legs are yellow, and the iris, hazel. In the young the upper parts are lighter brown than in the adult, with more white and fulvous spots; the tail has some nine or ten transverse brownish black bands and is tipped with white; the subterminal band is about an inch wide; the under parts are white with large ovate spots of brownish black; the under tail-coverts are spotted with brown. The smaller wing-coverts, from its flexure to the body, are rufous, and similar to the Red-shouldered Hawk, only not as bright rufous.

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