BIRDS OF FRANKLIN COUNTY, INDIANA.
FAMILY VULTURIDÆ --THE VULTURES -- GENUS CATHARTES.
Cathartes Aura -- Turkey Buzzard. Numerous during the warmer
parts of the year; never seen in very cold weather. Two or three warm
days during the winter, happening in succession, scarcely ever pass without
a visit from these vultures. This is the only vulture I have ever seen
in the county.
SUB-FAMILY FALCONIDÆ -- THE FALCONS.
Falco columbarius -- Pigeon Hawk. Occasionally seen following
the flight of pigeons in their migrations; very rarely seen at other times.
Falco sparverius -- The Sparrow Hawk. This beautiful little
hawk is very abundant, and a constant resident.
SUB-FAMILY ACCIPITRINÆ -- THE HAWKS.
Accipiter Cooperii -- Cooper's Hawk. Probably the most
numerous of all the hawks. They destroy more young chickens and quails
than all the other hawks together. They fly with amazing rapidity, and
scarcely ever miss taking their prey.
Accipiter fuscus -- Sharp-shinned Hawk. These little hawks
are quite common, but, like the sparrow hawk, are too small to do much
mischief in the poultry-yard.
SUB-GENUS BUTES.[should read: BUTEO]
Buteo borealis -- The Red-tailed Hawk. Very numerous here, as
well as throughout the wooded districts of the western country. They
prey upon domestic fowls, hares, squirrels, the tufted [should read:
ruffed] grouse, and quails.
S. G. R. -- 14.
Archibuteo Sancti Johannis -- The Black Hawk. I have seen but
two or three of these birds; these I think were not residents, but
Nauclerus furcatus -- The Swallow-tailed Hawk. I have seen but
a single specimen of this hawk. It is a remarkably beautiful bird, looking
something like a gigantic swallow.
Aquila Canadensis -- The Golden Eagle. Frequently seen. More
numerous in fall and winter than at other seasons.
Haliætus Washingtonii -- The Washington Eagle. This
magnificent bird has been seen along White Water almost every winter for
fifty years. I have myself seen them very frequently.
Haleætus leucocephalus -- The Bald Eagle. Very common
in fall and winter.
Pandion Carolinensis -- The Fish Hawk -- Osprey. This
beautiful eagle is often seen in the spring and fall. They do not breed
Bubo Virginianus -- The Great Horned Owl. This powerful and
rapacious bird is numerous, probably as much so as any other owl.
Scops Asio -- The Screech Owl. This pretty little owl is
Syrnium nebulosum -- The Barred Owl. This is a very common
owl in all the western country; usually most numerous in densely wooded
districts, but I have seen two of them in prairies, miles from any tree.
Nyctale acadica -- Saw-whet Owl. I have seen but a single
specimen of this owl in the county, but have heard of others having been
GENUS CONURUS -- PARROT FAMILY.
Conurus Carolinensis -- Parakeet -- Carolina Parrot. I have
seen but a single flock of these birds, in June, many years ago. There
[should read: They]
were in the first settlement of the county, were [should read: we] are
told by the old inhabitants, very numerous.
Coccygus Americana -- Yellow-billed Cockoo. This curious bird
is very numerous, arriving late in May. Its strange hammering or pounding
note may frequently be heard in the woods both day and night. These birds
should be sacredly protected, because they feed principally upon the
caterpillar, of which they destroy immense numbers.
FAMILY PICIDÆ -- THE WOODPECKERS -- GENUS CAMPEPHILIS.
Campephilus principalis -- Ivory-billed Woodpecker. A former
resident in the county. None have been seen for many years.
Picus villosus. -- The Hairy Woodpecker. Resident. Very
abundant. There are two or three varieties of this woodpecker, varing
slightly in size.
Picus pubescens -- Downy Woodpecker. Resident. This is a
very abundant species. Often seen in our orchards, as well as among
ornamental trees around our residences. This and the former species are
erroneously called Sapsuckers. Neither of them is the bird which bores
holes in the bark of living trees for the purpose of drinking the sap.
The only holes they bore are made in searching for worms
mostly in dead limbs or decaying wood. They should be protected as friends,
and not destroyed as enemies.
Sphyropicus varius -- Yellow-bellied Woodpecker. Quite
Hylotomus pileatus -- Black Woodpecker. Resident. This large
woodpecker was once numerous, but is now rarely seen.
Centurus Carolinus -- Red-bellied Woodpecker. The true
Sapsucker. This woodpecker is very common in spring and autumn. This is
the bird which bores holes in the sugar maple, apple trees, etc., for the
purpose of drinking the sap. These holes, when bored in the bark of the
apple tree in October, fill up with a viscid sweet sap, which the bird
collects from day to day; and so with the sugar maple, hickory, and some
other trees. They are very quiet birds, and not so often seen as many
other less numerous species. They have a peculiar squealing note when
frequenting the orchards, which is often heard when the bird itself is
not to be seen without considerable search. Resident.
Melanerpes erythrocephalus -- Red-headed Woodpecker. This is
the most numerous and showy of all the woodpeckers, and the most universally
known. In seasons when there is no mast, acorns and beechnuts, they all
migrate to warmer regions, but when there [should read: these] are plenty
most of them remain.
They lay up sufficient stores of these to support themselves during the
winter. They deposit beechnuts in holes in decaying trees -- the acorns
they generally hull, split into two parts, and drive them into the cracks
of dry trees. During the whole time they are laying up these
stores, and, in fact, during the whole winter, there is constant turmoil,
strife and fighting going on amongst them, caused by a universal propensity
to rob their neighbors, which, of course, is resisted, hence the noise and
strife everywhere heard in the woods upon the ripening of the mast. When
they migrate they never return until the weather becomes settled and warm
-- about the first of May.
Colaptes auratus -- Flicker, Yellow-hammer, High-holder. This
is a very common bird. It feeds mostly upon worms and insects, and is
especially beneficial to the farmer from the millions of larvæ, etc.,
which it destroys during the year. A constant resident.
Trochilus colubris -- Ruby-throated Humming Bird. This beautiful
little bird is very numerous. Though so small and apparently frail it
early in spring -- about the 10th to 15th of April. Migratory.
Chætura pelasgia -- Chimney Swallow. Migratory. This
is a very numerous species. They arrive late in May, behind all other
swallows, but remain some six weeks longer in the fall than the others.
Antrastomus vociferus -- Whip-poor-will. This noisy bird
always has been numerous here. They make no nest at all, simply laying
their two eggs on a leaf or the ground. The young are beautiful, little
downy creatures before the wing and tail feathers have become visible.
Chordeiles Americanus --Night Hawk, Bull Bat. The night hawk
is very numerous in the month of May, re-
maining some time before passing on to their usaul breeding-places farther
north. A few breed here. Many persons confound this bird with the
whip-poor-will. They belong to the same family, but there is a very great
difference in the appearance of the two birds. On their return from the
north in September, their number seems to be much greater than in the
Ceryle alcyon -- Belted Kingfisher. Resident. The Kingfisher
is very numerous along all our streams, winter and summer. This is the
only kingfisher we have.
Tyrannus Carolinensis -- King Bird. Migratory. Very common;
arriving late in the season, and departing early in autumn. They are the
most courageous of all the smaller birds (except the Parus atricapillus),
fearlessly attacking eagles, hawks, ravens and crows indiscriminately.
Myiarchus crinita -- Great Crested Flycatcher. Very numerous;
arriving about the first of May. They build their nests in hollow trees.
GENUS SAGORNIS. [should read: SAYORNIS]
Sagornis [should read: Sayornis] fusca -- Pewee.
Migratory. This bird is familiar to
every one, and is numerous; arriving usually in March, and remaining until
the weather begins to get cold.
Cantopus virens -- Wood Pewee. Migratory. Very numerous;
arrive about the first of May.
Empidonax Traillii -- Traill's Fly-catcher; migratory. Rare.
I have seen probably not to exceed a dozen in a residence of forty years.
Empidonax acadica -- Green-crested Flycatcher; migratory. Very
common in thickly wooded districts; more common among beech timber than
elsewhere. Nearly always build their nests upon the lower branches of
beech trees, from four to fifteen feet from the ground, in caves [should
read: coves] or near
ravines, where the nest is protected from the winds. The nest is
hanging, suspended from the two branches of a
forked limb, very similar in form and material to the nest of the Red-eyed
Flycatcher, but not so deep.
Turdus mustelinus -- Wood Thrush; migratory. Numerous here,
and all over the wooded districts of the western country. The male and
female sit by turns during incubation. Of all the thrushes, its notes are
the most beautiful, clear, and full, varying through many tones impossible
to describe, ending in a metallic vibratory sound, which to be appreciated
must be heard.
Turdus Pallasi -- Hermit Thrush; migratory. Occasionally,
though rarely, seen.
Turdus fuscescens -- Wilson's Thrush; migratory. Have seen
a few specimens; does not breed here.
Turdus Swainsonii -- Olive-backed Thrush; migratory. Have
seen but a single specimen.
Turdus migratorius -- Robin; semi-migratory. This is by all
odds the most numerous of the thrushes. Most of them go south during the
winter, but it is not uncommon to see large numbers of them during that
season. In the latter part of the winter these birds occasionally roost
at a given place in vast numbers, as pigeons are in the habit of doing.
I have known this to be the case in two instances in the neighborhood of
Brookville. Thousands of them were killed by ruthless "pot-hunters."
Sialia Sialis -- Blue Bird; resident. This popular and familiar
bird is very abundant; seen at all seasons.
Regulus Calendula -- Ruby-crowned Wren; migratory. These
diminutive birds are common in fall and winter.
Regulus satrapa -- Golden-crested Wren; migratory. Common in
fall and winter. About as numerous as the ruby-crowned wren.
Mniotilta varia -- Black and White Creeper. Very abundant.
Its note may be heard at any time in the woods during spring and early
summer. They build their nests on the ground.
Geothlypsis trichas -- Have seen but a few specimens.
Icteria viridis -- Yellow-chested Chat. Very common upon
all brushy points where there are but few forest trees. Never found in
deep wooded solitudes.
Helminthophaga pinus -- Blue-winged Yellow Warbler. I have
seen but a single bird of this species, at least that I recognized as
Seiurus aurocapillus -- Oven Bird, or Golden-crowned Thrush.
This is a very common bird, arriving about the first of May. In passing
through the woods, one is scarcely ever out of the sound of their voice.
Seiurus noveboracensis -- Water Thrush; migratory. These
noisy little thrushes are heard along all the smaller streams in early
spring, usually arriving in March.
Dendroica virens -- Black-throated Green Warbler; migratory.
Occasionally seen as they pass to and from their breeding grounds in the
Dendroica coronata -- Yellow-rumped Warbler; migratory. Quite
Dendroica æstiva -- Yellow Warbler; migratory. These
pretty little birds are quite common, and build their nests in rose bushes
and other trees and shrubs, close to our dwellings in the town.
Dendroica superciliosa -- Yellow-throated Warbler. Common.
Myiodioctes mitratus -- Hooded Warbler; migratory. The most
numerous probably of all the warblers. This bird most always attracts
the attention of all who see it, from the curious contrast of intense
black and deep yellow which mostly characterize its plumage. Builds its
nest upon low shrubs.
GENUS LETOPHAGA. [should read: SETOPHAGA]
Setophaga ruticilla -- Red Start; migratory. This beautiful
little bird is very numerous, and may be seen any day in warm weather,
pursuing gnats and flies, in catching which they are very expert. It
builds its nest, usually, in the forks of bushes from eight to fifteen
feet from the ground. It arrives about the first of May, and departs in
Pyranga rubra -- Scarlet Tanager; migratory. Arrives last of
April. This beautiful bird is very numerous through all our woods. It is
the only one of the genus found here. The Summer Red Bird I have never
FAMILY HIRUNDINIDÆ -- THE SWALLOWS -- GENUS HIRUN
Hirundo horreorum -- Barn Swallow. This bird, so familiar to
every one, is very numerous. It arrives early in April, and departs in the
forepart of September.
Hirundo lunifrons -- Cliff Swallow. Republican Swallow. This
swallow has been quite numerous since the summer of 1849. During that year,
for the first time, they built their nests in the county. Prior to that
time, I had occasionally seen them passing through the county. They are
now, probably, as numerous as any other swallow.
Hirundo bicolor -- White-bellied Swallow. I have seen a few
of these birds as they passed through to their breeding grounds further
north. They do not breed here, but in the northern part of the State,
near Warsaw, many of them build their nests. They are built in the hollows
of trees and the deserted holes of the woodpecker.
Cotyle riparia -- Bank swallow. Numerous along all the streams
with abrupt sandy banks, into which they burrow and build their nests. They
often arrive in March.
Cotyle serripennis -- Rough-winged Swallow. Occasionally seen,
but hard to distinguish from the former.
Progne purpurea. -- Purple Martin. These birds are numerous,
and a great favorite with our people. I have seen them as early as the
17th of March. They generally all leave by the first week in September.
Ampelis cedrorum. -- Cedar Bird, resident. These birds are
common. They breed from June to September. I have seen three of their
nests in the town, two in June and
one in September. All three were upon shade trees on the principal
business street of the town, under which people were constantly passing
Collyrio borealis. -- Shrike -- Butcher Bird. Frequently seen
in autumn and winter. In 1854, I saw a Butcher bird flying with a Goldfinch,
which it had just caught. Going in the direction it flew, a short time
afterwards, I found it upon a small elm tree eating the bird, having
suspeneded it in the cleft of a small split elm. The idea instantly
occurred to me that the habit this bird has of sticking pieces of flesh and
insects upon thorns and other sharp substances, is done as a matter of
convenience, enabling them to eat at their leisure, and saving the labor
of holding them with their feet, which are rather feeble, and not for
the purpose of decoying other birds, as many persons have supposed. I have
upon one occasion, myself, seen a Butcher bird fly to a thorn bush, and
take off a piece of a bird which it had previously stuck upon one of the
thorns -- showing that this habit, in addition to its convenience, should
be considered as one of economy, enabling it to save, for future wants,
that which is not necessary for present use.
Vireo olivaceus. -- Red-eyed Flycatcher, migratory. This bird
is so numerous that a traveler through our woods, during the summer is
scarcely ever out of the sound of their voices.
Vireo noveboracensis. -- White-eyed Vireo. These little birds
are quite common. Their nests are suspended, like those of the Red-eyed
Fly-catcher, from a forked limb.
Mimus polyglottus. -- Mocking Bird, migratory. This celebrated
songster occasionally strays this far north. I
have seen two or three, and have heard the song of a few others here,
within the last forty years.
Mimus Carolinensis. -- Cat Bird. Migratory. The Cat bird
arrives about the first of May. They are numerous all over the west. I
have seen them in numbers as far north as St. Paul, Minnesota, in the
month of October. It is not popular on account of the habit it has of
eating the eggs and young of other small birds. They hatch as many as
three broods of young occasionally, though, generally, but two during
Harporhynchus rufus. -- Brown Thrush, migratory. The Brown
Thrush arrives about the first of April. It is very numerous, and the
best imitator of all the thrushes except he Mocking bird.
Thryothorus ludovicianus. -- Great Carolina Wren. Numerous,
and resident throughout the year.
Thryothorus Bewickii. -- Bewick's Wren. Occasionally seen.
Does not breed here.
Troglodytes aeden. -- House Wren, migratory. Have seen but
two in the county. None breed here.
Troglodytes hyemalis. -- Winter Wren. This beautiful little
Troglodyte is very common during the winter. I have heard it sing but
once -- that song was beautiful.
Certhia Americana. -- American Creeper. Occasionally seen,
though not numerous.
Sitta Carolinensis. -- White-bellied Nuthatch. This familiar
bird is very numerous, and known to our citizens by the name of Tom-tit.
It is a permanent resident.
Sitta Canadensis. -- Red-bellied Nuthatch. This bird does
not reside or breed here, but is occasionally seen late in autumn and
Polioptila cærulea. -- Blue-gray Flycatcher. This lively
little bird is very little larger than a Humming-bird. It arrives early in
April, and proceeds immediately to construct its nest. It chooses for its
situation a smooth limb of a tree, from ten to sixty feet from the ground,
not horizontal, but inclining slightly downwards; upon this it begins its
nest by placing small pieces of lichens in a circle, fastening them down
with fibers of spiders' web. This process it continues until the nest is
of sufficient height, the whole surface being covered with small pieces of
gray lichens. But the most remarkable thing in this fabric, is the fact
that every piece of lichen is placed with its proper side out, just as it
grew upon the tree -- looking to a person not familiar with the nest very
much like a lichen-covered knot.
Lophophanes bicolor. -- Tufted Titmouse. Very numerous, and
seen at all seasons of the year. They build their nests in the hollows
of trees and limbs, often in our decaying apple-trees.
Parus atricapillus. -- Black-cap Titmouse. Very numerous, and
a constant resident. They build their nests in small holes and in cavities
of limbs, fence-rails, etc., if they can find such; if not, they peck out
a hole in rotten stems and trees to suit themselves. The nest is always
ground. Though so small, they are the most courageous birds I know. If
you disturb their young when nearly ready to fly, they will actually dash
against your hand if placed in or near the nest.
Carpodacus purpureus. -- Purple Finch. Frequently seen in
winter and spring. They breed in the north and winter in more temperate
Chrysomitris tristis -- Yellow Bird, Thistle Bird. Very
numerous and a constant resident. Breed from June to September.
Curvirostra Americana -- Red Crossbill. Seen here almost
every winter -- feeding upon sunflower seeds and seeds of the larch.
Plectrophanes nivalis -- Snow Bunting. I have seen these birds
occasionally during severe winters.
Passerculus Savanna -- Savanna Sparrow. I have seen a few
of these birds. Rare.
Pooecetes gramineus -- Bay-winged Finch. Very common in all
our fields. Build their nests on the ground.
Zonotrichia leucophrys -- White-crowned Sparrow. They seem to
spend the winter here, and are seen until near the first of June, when they
disappear, and are seen no more till fall.
Zonotrichia albicollis -- White-throated Sparrow. Common in
winter and spring.
Junco hyemalis -- Snow Bird. Very abundant from October to
middle of April.
Spizella monticola -- Tree Sparrow. Very numerous in winter,
keeping company with the snow birds. The habits of the two birds are
Spizella pusilla -- Old-field Sparrow. Very numerous during
summer in old fields, partly covered with briers, upon which they build
their nests. They are similar in general appearance and size to the
Spizella socialis -- Chipping Sparrow. These social birds are
very numerous, appearing about the first of April, and remaining in the
fall until the appearance of frost.
Melospiza melodia -- Song Sparrow. Resident. Very numerous
both winter and summer; frequently making their nests among the shrubbery
of our yards, and raising two or three broods during the summer and
Guiraca ludoviciana -- Rose-breasted Grosbeak. This showy and
beautiful bird is frequently met with late in May and early June. I have
never met with its nest, and cannot be sure that it breeds here, but,
having on one occasion seen the bird in August, I am inclined to believe
they occasionaly do.
Cyanospiza cyanea -- Indigo Bird. Migratory. Quite numerous
on the borders of our fields. Like to build their
nest in fields upon isolated bushes, not often more than four feet from
the ground. I have seen a nest on a rosebush within a foot of a front
door of one of the residences in the town.
Cardinalis Virginianus -- Red Bird, Cardinal Grosbeak. The
Red bird is very abundant here, as it is in all districts of the Western
country. The male is a good singer, and on this account is kept in cages
by many of our citizens. It is a constant resident.
Pipilo erythrophthalmus -- Ground Robin, Chewink. Found usually
in thickets and about brush piles -- keeps mostly upon the ground, and runs
much more than it flies. Builds its nest upon the ground. Constant
Dolichonyx oryzivorus -- Bobolink, Reed Bird. Ortolan. I have
occasionally seen this bird in our grassy fields in the last of May and
first of June. They occasionally stay a week or two, but never breed
here to my knowledge.
Molothrus pecoris -- Cow Black Bird, Cow Bunting. This is a
very numerous species -- seen at all seasons of the year. It never builds
a nest of its own, but lays all its eggs in the nests of other and smaller
birds than itself. They lay but one in each nest. I have frequently found
their eggs in the nests of the red-eyed flycatch, indigo blue-bird,
blue-gray gnatcatcher, redstart, etc. When this egg hatches, the young bird,
being larger than the legitimate nestlings, it crowds all the latter out
of the nest, and remains the sole occupant, and is reared with labor by
its foster parents. As soon as it becomes fully grown it joins the first
flock of its kindred it meets with. These birds
during the latter part of summer are found following the cows as they
feed along in the pastures, keeping close to their heads, usually some on
each side, and moving as they move. It is not certainly known why they
do this, but most probably they do it for the purpose of catching such
insects as the cow may scare up in her progress.
Agelaius Phoeniceus -- Swamp Blackbird. These blackbirds are
common about marshy grounds, but, from the scarcity of swamps in the county,
they are few in comparison to the vast numbers found in the northern part
of the State. A few make their nests here.
Sturnella magna. -- Meadow Lark. Resident. This starling is
abundant in all our meadows. Its nest is built upon the ground.
Icterus spurius. -- Orchard Oriole. Migratory. This very
noisy bird is numerous. Arrives about the first of May.
Icterus Baltimore. -- Baltimore Oriole. Migratory. Quite
numerous; arriving during the first week of May. It breeds here, building
a pendulous nest, which it hangs from the drooping ends of long branches
of trees, as far from the body of the tree as possible, with a view of
protecting the nest from climbing enemys.
Quiscalus versicolor. -- Crow Blackbird. Very abundant,
arriving in March, and building their nests in April and May. After
rearing their young, they proceed north about the first of August, and
return, going south in the month of October.
S. G. R. -- 15.
Corvus carnivorus. -- American Raven. The raven was once
numerous in this section, yet now so rare that I have seen but one during
the past twenty years.
Corvus Americanus. -- Common Crow. Rather numerous at all
seasons of the year except in extreme cold weather, when they are seldom
seen. A few days of warm weather in the winter seldom pass without the
crows making their appearance.
Cyanura cristata. -- Bluejay. The bluejay is the dandy of the
corvidæ family, and seems disposed to show himself on all occasions to
the best advantage. For many years they were in the habit of building
their nests in the ornamental and fruit trees of the town; but they are
not very popular neighbors, for, like the cat-bird, they rob the nests of
the social sparrow and other small and helpless birds.
Ectopistes migratoria. -- Wild Pigeon. Still seen in large
numbers, though evidently they have been constantly diminishing in numbers
for the last forty years, and are probably not half so numerous as they
In the months of January and February, 1854, these birds roosted about
two miles from Brookville, notwithstanding the country is thickly inhabited.
No one who did not see them, or who has not seen a "pigeon roost," can
form any adequate conception of their numbers.
Zenaidura Carolinensis. -- Turtle Dove. Very abundant. A
constant resident throughout the year.
Meleagris gallopavo. Wild Turkey. I can remember when wild
turkeys were very numerous, but it is doubtful whether at this time there
is even a solitary individual left. This is not the bird from which the
stock of our tame turkeys originated. Our species cannot be domesticated.
It has often been tried, but finally they all wander off and become wild.
The wild turkey has no wattle under its chin and throat as the tame species
have, neither do they have any white feathers. The domestic turkey
originated most probably in Mexico or some of the West India islands,
where there are wild turkeys marked with white.
FAMILY TETRAONIDÆ -- THE GROUSE -- GENUS BONASA.
Bonasa umbellus. -- Ruffed Grouse: Partridge: Pheasant
This beautiful grouse, once so numerous, is becoming rare. There are
still a few of them lingering among the brush of our uncultivated hillsides.
The curious drumming noise which this bird is in the habit of making during
the breeding season in the spring, and upon warm days in the latter part
of October and first of November, is familiar to all who live near its
haunts; but the manner in which this sound is produced seems to have
escaped the observation of nearly every one. Even the great Audubon, whose
observations were usually so correct, was mistaken as to the manner of its
production. He says it "beats its sides with its wings, in the manner of
the domestic cock, but more loudly, and with such rapidity of motion, after
a few of the first strokes, as to cause a tremor in the air not unlike the
rumbling of distant thunder." This is well told, and true, with the single
exception that the bird in drumming does not beat its sides.
The drumming is produced thus: The pheasant, standing upon the trunk
of a prostrate tree, usually surrounded by brushwood, erects his body to
its full height, and produces the drumming sound by striking the
convex surfaces of his outstretched wings together behind his
back, just as
we often see boys swinging their outstretched arms behind them, so as to
make the backs of their hands meet behind and opposite the spine. This is
the truth of the matter. Audubons' idea that the pheasant could produce a
louder noise than the domestic cock, nearly four times his size, by
beating its small compact body with its wings, is, to say the least, a
curious mistake. The hollow rumbling sound could not be
produced in this manner.
Ortyx Virginianus. -- Quail -- Bob White. The quail is still
rather common, but not so numerous as formerly. In addition to its other
enemies, the red fox has recently made its appearance in this county, and
probably destroys more of them than all the others.
FAMILY GRUIDÆ -- THE CRANES -- GENUS GRUS.
Grus Canadensis -- Sand-hill Crane. -- I have never seen but
three sandhill cranes in the county. They are very numerous in the
northwestern part of the State. The white or great whooping crane is seen
there also occasionally.
FAMILY ARDEIDÆ -- THE HERONS -- GENUS GARZETTA.
Garzetta candidissima. -- Snowy Heron. Frequently seen along
Whitewater in August and September.
Ardea Herodias -- Great Blue Heron or Crane. Very frequently
seen -- occasionally even in winter.
Ardetta exilis -- I have never seen but two of these beautiful
little bitterns in the county.
Botaurus lentiginosus -- Bittern -- Stake-driver. This bittern
is rare here -- have seen three individuals. In the
northwestern part of the State they are quite numerous. Some of the
people there call them Thunder-pumpers.
Butorides virescens -- Green Heron -- Fly-up-the-Creek. This
is by far the most numerous of the heron family. They breed here.
Nyctiardea Gardeni -- Night Heron. I have seen two of these
herons only. They are rare.
Tantalus loculator -- Wood Ibis. These large and curious birds
occasionally visit the Whitewater valley in the month of August. Some years
ago I kept one (which had a broken wing) about six weeks. In that time it
became very tame, learned its name, and would come when called. We fed it
upon living fish, which it would swallow with amazing rapidity, except catfish,
which required labor and time to dispose of. It died from having eaten a
mackerel which had been placed in a basin to soak.
Charadrius Virginicus -- Golden Plover. Have occasionally
seen this plover.
Ægialitis vociferus -- Killdeer. This noisy plover is
very numerous, and a constant resident throughout the year.
Strepsilas interpres -- Turnstone. Have seen a few flocks of
these birds passing through the country.
Philohela minor -- American Woodcock. The woodcock is not,
nor never has been, very numerous in this part of Indiana, owing mainly,
I apprehend, to the fact that we have but little swampy land of the
character which they frequent. They are, however, occasionally seen.
Gallinago Wilsonii -- Wilson's Snipe. Where swampy meadows
are found these birds may occasionally be seen in the latter part of
March and through the month of April.
Tringa maculata -- Jack Snipe. The jack snipe is not numerous,
though I have occasionally seen it about ponds.
Tringa Wilsonii -- Least Sandpiper. Frequent our rivers, though
by no means abundant.
Symphemia semipalmata -- Willet. This noisy bird is frequently
seen along Whitewater in early spring and autumn. It is a fisher, and catches
small minnows by running them down in shallow water, all the while uttering
its shrill discordant notes, which may be heard at the distance of half
Rhyacophilus solitarius -- I have frequently observed this bird,
though they are by no means numerous.
Tringoides macularius -- Spotted Sandpiper. This noisy restless
sandpiper is much the most numerous of all the family of this region. They
build their nests near the banks of the river, in a bunch of reeds or under
bush. Their eggs are much larger in proportion to its size than those of
any other bird I have ever known.
Actiturus Bartramius -- Bartram's Sandpiper -- Field Plover.
I have seen but two of these birds in the county. In southern Illinois
they are numerous all over the prairies.
Numenius longirostris. -- Long-billed Curlew. Very rare only
one or two have been seen.
Porzana Carolina. -- Sora. Common Rail. Frequently seen in
spring on their way north. They breed in Kosciusko and other northern
Fulica Americana. -- Coot. Mud Hen. When overtaken by storms
these birds frequently stop in our streams and remain a few days. They do
not breed here.
Gallinula galeata. -- Florida Gallinule. I have seen two
gallinules which had been caught in the neighborhood. They seem to have
very little fear of man, and are easily tamed.
Anser hyperboreus. -- Snow Goose. Occasionally seen flying
over in their migrations.
Anser Cærulescens. White-headed goose. I have seen one
flock containing four of these geese.
Bernicla Canadensis. -- Wild Goose -- Canadian Goose. Seen in
large flocks every fall and spring in their semi-annual migrations. They
rarely ever stop, except they become bewildered during dense fogs.
Bernicla Brenta. -- Brant. Occasionally seen flying over
Anas boschas. -- Mallard -- Green-head. This duck is probably
more numerous in our waters than any other species.
Dafila acuta. -- Pintail -- Sprigtail. Has rarely been seen
within the past ten years.
Nettion Carolinensis. -- Green-winged Teal. This beautiful
little duck is regularly seen here in the spring and fall.
Querquedula discors. -- Blue-winged Teal. This diminutive
duck appears here about the first of October, usually remaining several
days. They are very unsuspecting birds, and easily approached by the
gunners, and are therefore much sought after by "pot hunters."
Spatula clypeata. -- Shoveler Duck. This very curiously marked
duck is common late in April, when most other ducks have disappeared.
Mareca Penelope. -- Widgeon. In the year 1855 a few widgeons
were shot here. This is the only instance known of their appearance here.
Aix sponsa. -- Summer Duck. Wood Duck. This, decidedly the
most beautiful of all the ducks, is very common along Whitewater. They
always build their nest in hollow trees, and never upon the ground, as is
the custom of all other ducks.
Fulix marila. -- Big Black Head Duck.
Fulix affinis. -- Little Black Head. Both these ducks are
occasionally seen, though by no means abundant.
Aythya Americana. -- Red Head. Pochard. But a single instance
know of their having appeared here -- 1855.
Aythya vallisneria. -- Canvas Back Duck. This far-famed duck
made its appearance here for the first and only time, to my knowledge, in
the month of March, 1855. One of them was shot by a friend, which I had
a chance to examine and afterwards to taste. It was very tender and juicy,
but had such a fishy flavor that it could scarcely be eaten. I supposed
they had come from the southern seacoast, where they had fed upon
shell-fish instead of eelgrass, which seems to be necessary to perfect their
Bucephala Americana. -- Golden Eye. Quite common in spring.
Bucephala albeola -- Butter Ball. Quite numerous through
the fall and winter.
Melanetta velvetina -- Velvet Duck. Numerous in winter.
Mergus Americanus -- Sheldrake. These birds are very numerous
in Whitewater during the whole winter, which they visit for the purpose of
fishing. The stream is remarkably clear, and, being very rapid, seldom
freezes over, but the water becomes cold enough to benumb the fish, which
thus fall an easy prey to these expert divers. I have known one of them to
hatch and rear its brood in this vicinity.
Lophodytes cucullatus -- Hooded Merganser. This handsome little
merganser is very numerous during the colder periods of the year.
Larus argentatus -- The Silvery Gull. Occasionally seen in
autumn and spring.
Chroicocephalus Philadelphius -- Bonaparte's Gull. Frequently
seen all over the State. A small but beautiful bird.
Sterna paradisea -- The Roseate Tern. I have frequently seen
this tern along the river and canal.
Pelecanus onacrotalus -- Rough-billed Pelican. The pelican
occasionally visits us, but its visits are like those of the angels, "few
and far between."
Graculus carbo -- Common Cormorant. I have seen a single
specimen in the winter.
Colymbus torquatus -- Loon, Great Northern Diver. The loon is
frequently seen in our waters in the fall and spring. Those I have seen
in the water were great divers, but could not be forced to take wing. The
solitary cry or wail of the loon is, to my ear, the most melancholy sound
I have ever heard, conveying to the mind the idea of utter hopelessness
Podylimbus podiceps -- Didapper. Grebe. Very common in our
waters in October and November. They generally remain about three weeks.
This concludes the list of all the birds of the county which I have
observed and been able to identify. Doubtless many others visit this
section which I have not observed, and I have seen many which I have not
been able to identify.
1869 Table of Contents
Geology Library, Indiana