BIRDS OF NEW ENGLAND AND EASTERN NEW YORK - HOFFMANN

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[FINCHES: FAMILY FRINGILLIDÆ]

EUROPEAN GOLDFINCH. Carduelis carduelis
5.50 in.

Ad.— Region about the base of the bill bright red; top of the head and a stripe down the side of the neck black; sides of head white; back brown; rump white; wings and tail black, the former crossed by a broad band of bright yellow; under parts dull white, sides brown; bill reddish-white, tipped with black.

Nest, a neat cup, in bushes or small trees. Eggs, bluish-white or greenish-white, marked with purplish around the larger end.

The European Goldfinch has been introduced in the neighborhood of New York city, and seems to have become permanently established in Central Park and other favorable places in the upper part of the city. It is resident throughout the year; in the neighborhood of Boston it occurs rarely. It is restless and active, flies like our Goldfinch in undulations, but is more at home in trees than on the ground.

A common note is like the syllables steeglit. It may easily be known by the broad band of yellow across the black wing. Its under parts are white, unstreaked, while the Pine Siskin, which has a smaller yellow bar across the wing, is everywhere streaked.


PINE SISKIN; PINE FINCH. Spinus pinus
5.00 in.

Ad.— Upper parts grayish-brown, streaked with black; a yellow bar across the wing, partly concealed by a whitish wing-bar; bases of tail-feathers sulphur-yellow, these and the wing-patch showing in flight; under parts gray, streaked with brownish; bill sharply pointed.

Nest, in coniferous trees. Eggs, pale greenish blue, speckled chiefly around the larger end with reddish brown.

The Pine Siskin is an abundant resident of the great coniferous forests of northern New England and New York.

Occasionally it moves southward in great flocks, and spends the winter in southern New England and New York, often in company with Crossbills and Redpolls. An occasional migrant flock or single bird generally appears in October, and in April or May. The Siskin, like the other northern finches, is restless and yet fearless. It occasionally feeds on the ground, and may then be approached almost within reach. It generally feeds on the seeds of birches, and on those of pines and spruces, clinging easily to the twigs or cones.

The common call-note resembles the syllables chee-ee given in a husky tone; when flying it utters a note like the syllables tit-i-tit. Another very sweet call, often given by a single bird to call back the flock, is identical with a note of the American Goldfinch. The song heard even in March in the depths of the spruce forests is a rather formless succession of sweet notes, varied occasionally by a screeching note, like the noise made by blowing through a comb covered by paper.

Siskins may be told from Goldfinches, with which they often associate, by the thick streaking over the entire under parts, and from Redpolls by the thicker streaking on the belly, and by the absence of the blackish throat.

[graphic]

Pine Siskin



AMERICAN GOLDFINCH. Astragalinus [Pinus] tristis
5.10 in.

Ad. ♂.— Crown black; body bright yellow; wings and tail black, spotted with white. Ad. ♀.— Upper parts brownish-olive; under parts yellowish, with a dusky wash on the throat and breast; wings and tail like the male's, but duller. ♂ in winter.— Like the female, but with black-and-white wings and tail. Im.— Like winter adults, but browner, the wing-markings brownish instead of white.

Nest, a gray cup, lined with down, placed in fork from five to thirty feet up. Eggs, white.

The Goldfinch is a common permanent resident of New England and New York. As winter approaches, flocks, sometimes of over fifty birds, gather together and wander about, feeding on the seeds of birches or on the seeds of weeds and grasses in neglected fields. At all seasons the birds are fond of the seeds of composite flowers; a gay company often scatter over the lawn and feed on dandelion heads; bachelor's buttons, thistles, and sunflowers also attract them. By May the males have recovered their yellow and black, and begun to twitter their sweet if rather characterless song. They are still in flocks, even when other birds are building. By June, however, they are met with in pairs, the dark female with the bright male, and by July they are building in the sugar maples or apple-trees.

While the female is brooding the male goes swinging over in deep undulations, calling te tee' de de, and she answers with a simple te' de dee, te' de dee. When the male sings on the wing, he flies around in circles, with broad, fluttering wings, and keeping the same level; but the ordinary flight is undulating, and in midsummer the male often seems to accent the curve, as if enjoying the great plunge through the air. The voice is always sweet; one call-note is very like a call of the Canary, swee-ee, with a rising inflection. The young bird, just out of the nest, has a peculiar call, chi-pee', a characteristic sound in late summer.

Goldfinches often associate with Redpolls and Siskins, when these visit southern New England, but may be distinguished from them at all seasons by the black and white in the wings and tail, and by their unstreaked breasts. The winter plumage of the male is very different from the bright yellow and black of spring, but there is always a tinge of yellow on the throat.



[COMMON] REDPOLL. Acantis linaria [flammea]
5.32 in.

Ad. ♂.— Crown crimson; back streaked with gray and brown; faint whitish wing-bars; middle of throat blackish; rump slightly tinged with pink; breast and upper belly suffused with rose; sides streaked with brown. Ad. ♀.— Similar, but no rose on rump or breast. Im.— Similar to ♂, but without crimson crown.

The Redpoll is a very irregular winter visitant in southern New York and New England, often absent for periods of from five to ten years. In northern New England it occurs more frequently. It varies, too, in abundance, occurring at times in large flocks, and throughout the country, at other times in small flocks, and only here and there. It frequents neglected fields, feeding on the seeds of weeds and grasses, or visits groves of birch, picking the seeds from the ripe catkins. It is often found near the sea beaches.

The Redpoll has a sweet call-note, almost identical with a note used both by the Goldfinch and by the Pine Siskin.

[graphic]

Redpoll


It also utters, especially when flying in flocks, a rattling note, like the syllables tshủ, tshủ, tshủ.

A flock is generally composed of birds in many stages of plumage; some show no red, others have only a small dark red cap, still others have a suffusion of rose over the breast as well. They may be distinguished from the Pine Siskins, with which they are often associated, by their grayer tone, by the smaller amount of streaking on the under parts, and by the blackish throat.


WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL. Loxia leucoptera
6.05 in.

Ad. ♂.— Head, rump, and under parts rose-red; middle of back black, streaked with rose; wings and tail black; two broad bars on the wing white; tips of the mandibles erossed. Ad. ♀ and Im.— The red of the ♂ replaced by gray, tinged with olive-yellow, and streaked with black; rump yellow; wings and tail almost black; wing-bars as in male. Im. ♂.— Often shows stages between the plumages of the ad. ♀ and ♂.

Nest, in coniferous trees. Eggs, pale greenish, dotted about the larger end with brown.

The White-winged Crossbill is a very irregular winter visitant in southern New York and New England, often absent for a period of many years. In northern New England and in the Adirondacks, it breeds sparingly, and is a not infrequent winter visitant in the valleys. Its callnote is a sweet monosyllable, resembling the syllable peet. It has also a chattering note, uttered when it flies. Its disposition and habits are similar to those of the Red Crossbill, from which it may always be distinguished by the presence of conspicuous white wing-bars. The red of the adult male is a rose-red, different from the vermilionred of the Red Crossbill.

[graphic]

White-winged Crossbill



AMERICAN CROSSBILL; RED CROSSBILL. Loxia curvirostra minor
6.19 in.

Ad. ♂.— Entire body dull vermilion-red, brightest on head, rump, and belly; wings and tail dark; tips of the mandibles crossed. Ad. ♀ and Im.— Entire body gray, with a greenish wash on the breast; rump greenish-yellow.

Nest, in coniferous trees. Eggs, pale-greenish, spotted with purplish-brown.

The Red Crossbill is a common permanent resident of the coniferous forests of northern New England. A few Crossbills may be seen in any month of the year on the upland of Berkshire County, Mass., and in southern New Hampshire and Vermont (see Map), but in southern New England they are very irregular visitors, occurring abundantly in some winters, at other times being wholly absent, or appearing only as rare migrants in spring and fall. When they spend the winter in southern New England, they resort to the cone-bearing evergreens - the hemlocks, spruces, and pines - and feed on the seeds, hanging to the cones and forcing their scales apart, or later on in the season picking up the fallen seeds from the ground. They also extract the seeds from the rotten apples left on the trees. Like the other northern visitors they are very tame, but when startled often fly off to a distance. Their call-note, always uttered when flying, is a loud kip-kip, kip-kip-kip, very like a note made by young chickens. The song resembles the syllables too-tee', too-teel, too-tee', tee, tee', tee. (See preceding species.)


PURPLE FINCH. Carpodacus [Haemorhous] purpureus
6.22 in.

Ad. ♂.— Entire body suffused with rose-red, strongest on the head, rump, and throat; back streaked with brownish; belly grayish; wings and tail brownish; tail rather deeply forked. Ad. ♀ and Im.— Upper parts grayish-brown, streaked; under parts grayish, streaked with brown; line behind eye gray. ♂ in first breeding season, like the female.

Nest, in evergreens, five to thirty feet up. Eggs, blue, spotted at large end with brownish.

The Purple Finch is a permanent resident of New England and New York, but of irregular occurrence in winter, sometimes very rare, often rather common. In southern New England and the lower Hudson Valley, it is a common migrant in April, and in September and October, but few remain through the summer. New England the summer residents arrive in April and stay until October. They are found, in winter, either in cedar groves or in hard wood, near groves of hop hornbeam, but they are active, restless birds, and may be heard anywhere flying overhead. In spring they frequent the same places, but come also to the evergreens about houses, and to the elms in the street, the swelling buds of which they bite off. In summer they build chiefly in conifers, and are numerous in the great northern forests. They utter, when flying, a single sharp pit, by which they may be easily identified.

Their song is vigorous and musical, a rapid, energetic warble, often lengthened in the height of the mating season to a long, passionate utterance (see Warbling Vireo). The male at this season walks, or rather dances, about the female, with wings spread and quivering, repeating the song in a low, pleading tone, or he flies off singing in the air in his loudest tones. A call-note, resembling the syllables -wee', is given by both sexes, and it is known that the female occasionally sings, though often when the song seems to be uttered by a female, the singer is really a male of the preceding summer. The large bill of the female should distinguish her from any brown, streaked sparrow.

[graphic]

Purple Finch, Female



CANADIAN PINE GROSBEAK. Pinicola enucleator leucura
9.08 in.

Ad. ♂.— Entire body rose-red, brightest on head and rump; middle of back spotted with black; wings brownish-black, with white wing-bars; tail brownish-black; bill short and stout; tail deeply forked. Ad. ♀ and Im.— Top of head, rump, and sometimes the breast, washed with saffron or reddish; rest of body dark gray; wings and tail as in male.

Nest, rather flat, of rootlets, in coniferous trees. Eggs, greenish or bluish, spotted with brown.

The Pine Grosbeak is a very irregular winter visitor in southern New York and New England, often absent for periods of several years, occasionally appearing in very large flocks, at other times less abundantly. The first flocks generally arrive in November or December, and all leave southern New England for the north before April. In western and northern New England it occurs less irregularly. A few birds breed on the high mountains of northern New England and in the vicinity of the Connecticut Lakes. When the Pine Grosbeak visits southern New England, it is remarkably unsuspicious, allowing people to approach almost near enough to touch it. It feeds on the fruit of the mountain ash, on cedar berries, on seeds of the white ash, and, towards spring, on the buds of pine, spruce, and maple. There are generally several red males in a large flock of grayish birds.

The common call of the Pine Grosbeak consists of two or three clear whistled notes, that suggest the notes of the Greater Yellow-legs; they may be written tee-ti, tee'-tee-ti, the last note lower than the others. They often utter a sharp peer, something like the cry of a Blue Jay; while the birds are feeding they utter a low musical twitter, and, when flying up suddenly, a low trilled whistle.

The size, the undulating flight, the short, stout bill, and the white wing-bars serve to identify the gray birds; the red ones are unmistakable.

[HOUSE FINCH]. Haemorhous Mexicanus
5-6 in.

[Common bird throughout North America nowadays but it was only in the Southwest before 1950's so it wasn't mentioned by Hoffmann.]



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