Observations on Faunal Changes. 5
OBSERVATIONS ON FAUNAL CHANGES.
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
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
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
CLASS MAMMALIA: MAMMALS.
SUB-CLASS MONODELPHIA: PLACENTAL MAMMALS.
ORDER CARNIVORA: FLESH-EATERS.
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
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.
ORDER UNGULATA: HOOFED ANIMALS.
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.
ORDER RODENTIA: RODENTS OR GNAWERS.
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
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,
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
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.
CLASS AVES: BIRDS.
ORDER PASSERES: PERCHERS.
SUB-ORDER OSCINES: SINGERS.
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
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.
SUB-ORDER PICI: PICIFORM BIRDS.
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
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.
ORDER PSITTACI: PARROTS.
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.
ORDER RAPTORES: BIRDS OF PREY.
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.
ORDER COLUMBÆ: COLUMBINE BIRDS.
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.
ORDER GALLINÆ: GALLINACEOUS BIRDS.
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
Contents of Bulletin No.1
Brookville Society page
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