Observations on Faunal Changes. 5


By A. W. Butler.

It seems eminently proper that whatever changes there have been in the fauna of this part of Indiana, should be studied from Franklin County. One of the earliest settled counties of the State, it is, at the same time, one in which attention has been directed towards its natural features for as long a period, perhaps, as any other.

The observations of Dr. Rufus Haymond extend over a period of more than sixty years. It is seldom, in this western country, that one can cull from so long a period of investigation.

Climate and environment are chief factors in changes of animal life. We notice, perhaps, as great a lapse of time in this division of Indiana, as in any other part of the State; and the country has become much changed by reason of its occupation by white men. Most of the original forest has been removed; what little remains is almost cleared of the accumulated debris of the virgin woodland. Draining of sloughs and marshes, and changes of our water courses have caused a rapid diminution of examples of all water loving species. Especially is this noticable in ducks and geese which, while never found in great quantities, were some years since

6 Observations on Faunal Changes.

much more numerous than now. The upland swamps have chiefly been drained leaving fewer haunts for the smaller waders. The only localities where I have ever taken Short-billed Marsh Wrens and Little Yellow Rails, one of my favorite snipe shooting grounds, has, within the last two years, been ditched and is now valued as tillable land.

I shall not speak of the animals which are generally recognized as having occupied this part of the Ohio Valley prior to the advent of the white race. The proximity of the "Big Bone Lick" in Kentucky, (about twenty-two miles nearly due south), would lead us to expect most of the prehistoric animals found there have been found in this County. The Whitewater and Big Miami Rivers form a natural water way in a south-easterly course to within five miles of this famous accumulation of remains.

Many species of mammals and birds are yet found in the newly settled portions of the State which have not been in this County for many years.

There are many minor changes in local natural history which have taken place in the last few years. I shall not take room at this time to speak of them in detail; a single instance will suffice. The English Sparrows have driven many species of birds from their accustomed haunts in towns and about the buildings of the farmers; Blue Birds, Carolina Wrens, and Robins have left many places they formerly frequented, while the Purple Martin has been almost driven from the County. The streets of our town no more resound with the pleasant notes of many familiar birds, but there may be seen this aggressive little foreigner whose garrulous notes are heard on every hand.

My attention, at this time, will be chiefly confined to notes on the mammals and birds of this County. My thanks are due Dr. Rufus Haymond and Edgar R. Quick for assistance in preparing these notes.

Family Felidæ: The Cats.

Felis concolor, Linnæus. -- Panther. -- A former inhabitant of this County; known under the names: Cougar, Catamount and Painter; but has been extinct for some years. Since the settlement of this country, they were never very common. But few have been seen since about 1835. Two young were seen about four miles east of Brookville in 1838. The last one was seen about twenty years ago.

Lynx canadensis, Rafinesque. -- Canada Lynx. -- The Lynx was never common in Franklin County. There are but few reliable accounts of its capture. None have been seen for many years.

Observations on Faunal Changes. 7

Lynx rufus, Rafinesque. -- American Wild Cat. -- Dr. Haymond (1869) says: "Occasionally there is a Wild Cat seen in this County, but they are rare." The last Wild Cat was seen here about fifteen years ago.

Family Canidæ: The Dog.

Canis lupus occidentalis, Coues. -- Wolf. -- This species which authors have separated into many varieties, and is known by many names, as: White Wolf, Gray Wolf, Red Wolf, Black Wolf, etc., was a former resident of this County. Wolves were a source of frequent annoyance to the early occupants of the Whitewater Valley. Some examples were taken up to within the last fifteen or twenty years, but the greater number had disappeared long before that.

Vulpes vulgaris pennsylvanicus, Coues. -- Red Fox. -- Dr. Haymond says (1869): "It is only within the last ten or fifteen years that the Red Fox has been observed in this County. Previously to that time we had none but the common Gray variety." Some authorities doubt the statement made above, but I have preferred to let it stand. I consider Dr. Haymond's statements, as a rule, worthy of acceptance. The Red Fox is now the common species in this locality.

Urocyon cinero-argentatus, (Schreber), Coues. -- Gray Fox. -- "This species is very rare, but on account of its shy habits is probably more numerous than the number taken would indicate. In a residence of more than twenty years I have seen but three specimens. It apparently inhabits the dense thickets and woodland, while the Red Fox is constantly found in all parts of the County." -- (E. R. Quick).

Family Mustelidæ: The Weasels.

Lutra canadensis, (Turton), Sabine. -- American Otter. -- "It is barely possible that a few of these animals still linger along Whitewater, though I have seen none for many years." -- (Haymond, 1869). Prior to the date of this report, skins of the Otter were occasionally sold to fur traders at this place. The last one killed in this County was taken on the East Fork of Whitewater about five miles from Brookville.

Family Ursidæ: The Bears.

Ursus americanus, Pallas. -- Black or Brown Bear. -- Black Bears were once numerous in this part of the State. Many of our old citizens can tell of Bear hunts. The last Black Bear was seen here about 1839. Dr. Haymond says, in 1869: "The prints of their claws are yet plainly to be seen upon the smooth bark of hundreds of beech trees in the forests." A skull of this species, taken with the remainder of the skeleton from the hollow of a tree in the northwestern part of this County, a few years since, is in the collection of E. R. Quick.

8 Observations on Faunal Changes.

Family Bovidæ: Bovine Animals.

Bos americanus, Gmelin. -- Bison. -- This species, wrongly called "Buffalo," was evidently at one time one of the characteristic mammals of this part of the State. The first residents of this County met with them; the only location where they have been seen, of which I can learn, is in the neighborhood of "Little Cedar Creek," about four miles southeast of Brookville. Mr. E. R. Quick thinks he has seen the remains of this animal here.

The range of the Bison has been determined by investigators as extending over the Ohio Valley into West Virginia. The last representative of the species was killed in West Virginia in 1810 (Am. Nat. Vol. XIX, p. 197). The greater part of the Bisons disappeared from Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky about the year 1800. The last one in Ohio was killed at Gallipolis in 1795. The occurrence of this species in many parts of the Ohio Valley is mentioned by old historians. Their remains are found, according to Prof. N. S. Shaler, to be very common in the later deposits at the "Big Bone Lick" in Kentucky. I find in the "Journal of Col. Crogan," published in the "Monthly American Journal of Geology and Natural Science," Philadelphia, December, 1831, an account of his voyage down the Ohio River in 1765, the following notes which it may be proper to insert here: "May 30th, we passed the great Miame River, about thirty miles from the little river of that name, and in the evening arrived at the place where the Elephants' bones are found."

"31st. Early in the morning we went to the great Lick, where these bones are only found, about four miles from the river, on the southeast side. In our way we passed through a fine timbered clear woods; we came into a large road which the Buffaloes have beaten, spacious enough for two waggons to go abreast, and leading straight into the Lick." This author speaks of the "Buffalo" as frequently as of any other game, and from his notes I think it was as common as any of the larger animals.

Considering all these facts it is quite evident these animals left this country almost contemporary with its occupation by white men.

Family Cervidæ: The Deer

Cervus canadensis, Erxleben. -- Wapiti. -- This species, commonly called Elk, was found to be comparatively rare in this vicinity at the time of its settlement. Like the Bison, the greater part of them had left the Whitewater Valley before many pioneers had penetrated this far into the wilderness. My grandfather bought a young Wapiti which was captured in the valley of Laughery creek, within the present limits of Ripley county, subsequent to 1810. The remains of this species are occasionally met with in various parts of the county. An antler was taken from the banks

Observations on Faunal Changes. 9

of "Big Cedar Creek" in 1881, and is now in the collection of the Society of Natural History, at Brookville.

Cariacus virginianus, Gray. -- Virginia Deer. -- The Virginia or Red Deer was formerly a well known resident of this County. Its flesh formed a very important article of food for the early occupants of this valley. These Deer were common up to about 1845. My friend, Henry Berry, Jr., reports seeing one in 1847, in Ray Township, this County, and Dr. Haymond thinks an occasional one may have been seen not more than ten years since. Specimens of this species have been killed in the adjoining county of Ripley almost every winter up to the last few years. I am informed that some specimens have been taken in that County the present winter. The remains of this species are occasionally found in this County. An antler, in the collection of the Brookville Society of Natural History, was found fifteen feet below the surface in digging a mill race at Fairfield in 1881. The antlers of this animal and of the Wapiti were used by the prehistoric inhabitants of this region for many purposes; there is scarcely a collection of archæological material in this part of the State but contains implements made of these materials.

Family Sciuridæ: The Squirrels.

Sciurus carolinensis leucotis, Allen. -- Northern Gray Squirrel; Black Squirrel. -- "The black form of this variety was very common, at times, in this locality, being almost as abundant as the gray. It has however been rare for about forty years. In one locality, about four miles south of Brookville, several have been killed in the last few years, two of them perfectly black and others intergrading between this and the gray form." -- (E. R. Quick).

Sciurus niger ludovicianus, Allen. -- Western Fox Squirrel. -- "About thirty years ago the Fox Squirrel made its first appearance in the neighborhood of Brookville, and has gradually increased in numbers until it has become the most numerous of the larger varieties" (Haymond, 1869). This species is still common in the County. They are residents and occupy the more open woodland. Frequently they inhabit for years a single tree, in an open field, some distance from any woods.

Family Castoridæ: The Beavers.

Castor fiber, Linnæus. -- Beaver. -- Beaver were at one time found, in some numbers, within the present limits of Franklin County. The remains of their houses and evidences of their work are still to be seen in some parts of Bath and Springfield Townships. There are persons still living who remember when Beaver were found in these localities. They were also found in certain localities along our rivers. A skull of this animal was obtained by Edward Hughes, in the spring of 1883, near the

10 Observations on Faunal Changes.

mouth of "Yellow Bank Creek." This specimen is now in the collection of the local Society of Natural History.

Family Muridæ: Mice and Rats.

Mus rattus, Linnæus. -- Black Rat. -- The Black Rat was the common representative of its genus in this County up to 1827; at this time the Norway Rat appeared and within a few years all of the former had left. A few lingered until about 1840.

Mus decumanus, Pallas. -- Brown or Norway Rat. -- "They first appeared in Brookville in the summer of 1827" (Haymond). This is now the common species; notwithstanding the means employed for its destruction, it appears to be as numerous as ever.

Mus musculus, Linnæus. -- House Mouse. -- This little pest is a common species. It does not stray far from the habitations of man. I cannot learn the date of its introduction into this region.

Family Hystricidæ: Porcupines.

Erethizon dorsatus, F. Cuvier. -- White-haired Porcupine. -- The Porcupine was at one time not uncommon in this vicinity. Many of the old residents tell of their occurrence. The last one, of which I can learn, was killed about 1865.

Family Troglodytidæ: The Wrens.

Thryomanes bewicki, (Aud.), Baird. -- Bewick's Wren. -- In 1856 Dr. Haymond had seen none of this species; between this time and 1869 he identified a few specimens. From that time to 1877 no specimens were recorded. In April of the latter year E. R. Quick identified four examples of this Wren. From that time to 1881 a few specimens were occasionally seen; since the latter date, however, each year has shown an increased number of specimens. At this time I consider it to be a summer resident and not uncommon.

Family Sylvicolidæ: Warblers.
Sub-Family Sylvicolinæ: Typical Warblers.

Dendroeca cærulea, (Wils.), Baird. -- Cærulean Warbler. -- Formerly unknown from this locality. A few years since it was considered a rare bird here; now, excepting the Redstart, it is the most common of the tree inhabiting warblers.

Observations on Faunal Changes. 11

Family Hirundinidæ: The Swallows.

Petrochelidon lunifrons, (Say), Lawr. -- Cliff Swallow, Eave Swallow. -- "These Swallows first built their nests in this County in 1849. Previous to that time they were occasionally seen as migrants" (Haymond). They are now very common in certain localities. They sometimes occupy an out-building for years as a nesting place and then leave for a new site, perhaps never to return. But few colonies are found along the river valleys; they appear to seek the upland.

Family Fringillidæ: Finches, Etc.

Chondestes grammica, (Say), Bp. -- Lark Finch. -- This species was not recognized in this part of the State by any early investigators. It was first recognized in this County about 1877, and has appeared regularly every year since in increasing numbers. It is now not uncommon as a summer resident.

Passer domesticus, (Linn.), Leach. -- European House Sparrow. -- A common and unwelcome alien, known everywhere as "English Sparrow." They first appeared in Franklin County in 1878. Since that time they have increased in numbers until they are now the most common representative of their family.

Spiza americana, (Gm.), Bp. -- Black-throated Bunting. -- Not recognized from this County until a few years since. Dr. Haymond had not seen it in 1869. Not its rattling note may be heard from almost every field of our upland farms.

Family Icteridæ: Orioles, Etc.
Sub-Family Agelainæ: Marsh Blackbirds.

Molothrus ater, (Bodd.) Gray. -- Cowbird. -- This species was, forty years ago, of rare occurrence in this region. It has steadily increased in numbers until it is now a common summer resident.

Family Corvidæ: The Crows.
Sub-Family Corvinæ: Typical Crows.

Corvus corax carnivorus, (Bart.), Ridg. -- Raven. -- None have been seen since 1868. They were formerly quite common in this County.

Family Picidæ: The Woodpeckers.

Campephilus principalis, (Linn.), Gray. -- Ivory-billed Woodpecker. -- "These birds were found in the swampy woodland in the eastern part of this County about sixty years ago" (Haymond).

Hylotomus pileatus, (Linn.), Baird. -- Pileated Woodpecker. -- A common resident at the time of the settlement of this County. This bird was known to the old settlers as "Woodcock" and "Black Woodcock."

12 Observations on Faunal Changes.

None have been seen here since 1845, but they are still found in the newly settled portions of the State.

Family Psittacidæ: Parrots.
Sub-Family Sittacinæ: Parroquets.

Conurus carolinensis, (Linn.), Kuhl. -- Carolina Parakeet. -- These birds were not uncommon at the early settlement of this County. Most of the old inhabitants know them by this name, and can give interesting accounts of their habits. The last Parakeets were seen here in 1828.

Family Strigidæ: Owls.

Strix nebulosa, Forst. -- Barred Owl. -- This Owl was formerly quite numerous in the Whitewater Valley. Of late years, they have been but rarely seen. In 1877 I obtained two specimens of this species which are the last I have known in the County.

Family Cathartidæ: American Vultures.

Catharista atrata, (Wils.), Less. -- Black Vulture. - - First identified in 1877; since which time it has been seen every winter. It is apparently becoming more common.

Family Columbidæ: Pigeons.

Ectopistes migratoria, (Linn.), Sw. -- Passenger or Wild Pigeon. -- Within the last twenty years Wild Pigeons have been very common, but since 1875 few have been seen. Our old citizens tell of immense flocks and wonderful "pigeon roosts" in this County. In January and February, 1854, there was a pigeon roost about two miles north of Brookville. I can scarcely credit accounts told me of their numbers at this time, yet the narrators are perfectly reliable and I am compelled to believe them. These birds are rapidly disappearing and in a few years will, I doubt not, be a thing of the past.

Family Meleagridæ: Turkeys.

Meleagris gallopavo americana, (Bartr.), Coues. -- Wild Turkey. -- Turkeys were as common here formerly, perhaps, as in any part of the Ohio Valley. They have gradually disappeared and I suppose there are none now to be found in the County. The last one was seen in this vicinity about six years ago. They are still occasionally killed in the adjoining County, Ripley.

The Flora of Franklin County. -- Exogens. 13

Family Perdicidæ: The Partridges.
Sub-Family Odontophorinæ: American Partridges.

Ortyx virginiana, (Linn.), Bp. -- Bob-White; American Quail. -- Formerly very numerous. They were found in considerable quantities up to the winter of 1878-9. The severe weather of that year destroyed many covies; since that time they have not increased much, if any in numbers.

It is very unsatisfactory to me, in studying the faunal changes of a locality, to find but a few notes in some local list of species. Thinking others may have found the same difficulty which I have encountered, I present above a compilation of my notes upon this subject. There is much more which I might include in this paper, but I have preferred to leave this with my notes on the other orders of our local fauna for a future article.

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