BIRDS OF NEW ENGLAND AND EASTERN NEW YORK - HOFFMANN

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CARDINALS: FAMILY CARDINALIDÆ

SCARLET TANAGER. Piranga erythromelas [olivacea]
7.25 in.

Ad. ♂.— Entire body bright scarlet; wings and tail black. Ad. ♀. — Upper parts greenish; wings and tail brown; under parts yellowish. Ad. ♂ in autumn.— Like the ♀, but wings and tail black. Im.— Like the ♀, but ♂ has black wing coverts.

Nest, in twigs, loosely built, on a limb, seven to twenty feet up. Eggs, bluish, with reddish-brown markings.

The Scarlet Tanager is a summer resident throughout New England and New York, common in southern New England, especially in oak and chestnut woods, rarer in the evergreen forests of northern New York and New England. It arrives early in May, and is occasionally seen in September. The Tanager is chiefly a bird of the forest trees, though it not infrequently nests about houses in wellwooded towns or villages. It is not a very active bird, and unless its note attracts attention, it escapes observation to such a degree that it is commonly considered rare.

Its song, rhythmical, hoarse, and not long sustained, suggests a Robin with a cold. Occasionally, in the height of the breeding season, it is a prolonged and sweet performance. Both sexes have a characteristic call-note, chip-churr, the last note lower. The female can hardly be confused with anything else; it is hard, however, to think of a yellowish bird, with greenish upper parts, as a Scarlet Tanager.

[The American Ornithological Society reassigned the Scarlet Tanager and other Piranga birds to the Cardinal family in 2009. Hoffmann had them in the family Tanagridae]


INDIGO BUNTING; INDIGO-BIRD. Cyanospiza [Passerina] cyanea
5.59 in.

Ad. ♂.— Entire body deep indigo-blue, deepest on the head, often with greenish reflections; wings and tail brown, the feathers margined with blue. Ad. ♀ and Im.— Upper parts light brown, unstreaked; under parts grayish, washed with brown, especially on the breast; wings and tail sometimes margined with bluish, Ad. ♂ in autumn. Like the ♀, but wings and tail decidedly bluish.

Nest, in low bushes, a foot or two from the ground. Eggs, white.

The Indigo-bird is a common permanent resident of New England and New York, very common on the upland region of New England, but not known to occur on Cape Cod. It arrives early in May, and remains till October. It frequents bushy roadsides, overgrown pastures, and the edges of woodland. In the fall it is found in low gardens or cornfields, or neglected weedy spots.

The male generally sings from the top of some low tree, where his deep color fades into the blue or light-colored background of the sky. The song is difficult for beginners to remember; it consists often of sets of phrases given in a high key, then repeated in a slightly lower key, growing feebler as the song ends. It resembles the syllables sweeswee-swee, swee-swee (slightly lower), sweet-sweet-sweet, swee-swee (slightly lower), swee, swee, swee. The song is heard constantly through July and into August.

The male can be confused only with the Bluebird, and then only if the under parts are not seen; no other New England bird is blue all over. The female may be known by her unstreaked brown back, her brownish under parts, and her habit of twitching the tail sideways as she appears and disappears in the roadside thickets.


ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK. Zamelodia ludoviciana [Pheucticus ludovicianus]
8.12 in.

Ad. ♂.– Head, throat, upper back, wings, and tail black; wings and tail much spotted with white; lower back white; breast rose-red, a stripe of this color often extending down the white belly, and a salmon tinge under the wings; bill large, white when seen from below. Ad. ♀.– The black of the male replaced by brown; back and breast streaked; bar across the wing and line over eye, white; line through crown white, streaked with brown; bill large, light colored. Ad. ♂ late summer and fall.– Head brown; line above eye whitish; back brown; rump whitish; breast pink, veiled with buff; wings and tail jet-black and white. Im. ♀.– Similar to ad. in late summer, but pink not so extensive; wings and tail brown.

Nest, of twigs, loosely constructed, from five to twenty-five feet up in bush or tree. Eggs, pale blue, with numerous brown markings.

The Rose-breasted Grosbeak is a summer resident throughout New York and New England, common in some regions, but rare in others, for instance on Long Island. It is said not to occur on Cape Cod, and in the upland of northern New England, though found even high up on the mountains, it is nowhere common. It arrives in May, and remains into September. Of late years it has shown a preference for villages, and even for city streets, if well shaded; it also occurs in orchards, but apparently its natural habitat is a growth of young trees or saplings, particularly in low ground. In midsummer it is often seen in potato fields, collecting the slugs of the potato-beetle to carry to its young.

The song of the Rose-breasted Grosbeak is a fine, powerful warble, with some of the cadence of the Robin's song, though faster; a “glorified Robin,” Burroughs has called it. Its alarm-note is a sharp, metallic click. The female looks like an overgrown sparrow, may readily be told by her large bill, the white line over her eye, and the white on the wing. As the male flies, he shows a ring of white, formed by the white in his wing.

[graphic]

Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Female


[NORTHERN] CARDINAL. Cardinalis cardinalis
8.25 in.

Ad. ♂.— Top and sides of head, conspicuous crest, and under parts bright red; forehead and throat black; back, wings, and tail tinged with gray; bill red. Ad. ♀.— Crest, wings, and tail dull reddish; upper parts brownish; throat gray; rest of under parts dull buffy, sometimes showing a trace of red on the breast; bill light-colored. Im.— Similar to ♀, but bill blackish.

Nest, in bushes or vines, of twigs, bark, and rootlets. Eggs, white or bluish-white, spotted with brown or lavender.

The Cardinal is a permanent resident of northern New Jersey, Staten Island, and the lower Hudson Valley, as far north as Hastings; it is rare on Long Island, but is not uncommon in Central Park; in New England it occurs only as an accidental visitor. It frequents thickets, especially along streams, mounting tall trees to utter its loud, pure whistle, but seeking its food in the shrubbery, or on the ground. In winter it frequents warm hollows on sheltered hillsides.

Its notes are too numerous to transcribe, but are nearly all loud and clear; the same note is generally repeated with energy and rapidly. Some common forms of the song resemble the syllables whoit, whoit, whoit, etc., , , , etc.; one form ends in a series of ee's so long continued that it apparently ends only when the singer becomes out of breath.” The female also has sweet whistled notes, and both sexes utter as an alarm-note a sharp tsip, slight in proportion to the size of the bird.

There is no other bird in New York or New England with which the male Cardinal can be confused; the Tanager has black wings and tail, and no crest. The female shows a reddish tinge in her crest, wings, and tail, and, like the male, has a trick of nervously jerking her tail upward.


[BLUE GROSBEAK]. Passerina caerulea
14.00 in. - 19.00 in.

Unknown why it was missing in the original book.

[SUMMER TANAGER]. Piranga rubra
6.7 in.

Not an uncommon vagrant in Southern New England and New York.


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