July, 1904 ] THE CONDOR 97
however, Leconte and California thrashers overlap while at Palm Springs the three species may be found.
For a nesting site the Leconte usually selects the interior of a thick cholla cactus though I have seen the nests in mesquites and thorn trees. But if cactus be available the nest is placed in nothing else. It is constructed of coarse twigs rather loosely put together and the lining is nearly always made of a woolly desert plant that can be felted or packed closely together. How the builders get the ltrge twigs into the middle of the bushy mass of spines is a puzzle. I have seen nests where to insert the hand it was necessary to cut away several branches of the cactus. The nests are from two to five feet from the ground-- average about two and a half feet. They are easily located but not so easily seen. This sounds contradictory, but not so. In riding along the desert, when you see a cholla cactus that appears thicker or denser than usual, go examine it for a Leconte's nest. Perhaps you ride within six feet without seeing any nest, when a gray or drab bird slips quietly from the opposite side and melts away into the sand- gray vegetation. A nearer approach shows a foreign mass in the center of the cactus and on peering into it from directly above three or four eggs may be seen resting on the gray felted lining of the nest. Occasionally the nest is in a more exposed position and may be distinguished at several rods distance But in look- ing for nests be sure to investigate all the dense bushy cholla cactuses you see. The bird is a close sitter and will rarely leave the nest before the intruder ap- proaches within ten feet of the home. Often the hand may come about twenty inches from her before she leaves. She makes no fuss or outcry but silently takes to the brush and is seen no more. Nest building begins very early in the season. February x7, x899, is my ear- liest record, three eggs in set; and the latest. June 4, 19o2, two fresh eggs--proba- bly incomplete set. Of the twenty-eight sets I have recorded--to set the Audu- bonion mind at rest I will state that recorded does not mean taken in this case-- four were in February, as follows: Feb. 17 , x899, Feb. x9, , Feb. 54, x9ox, and Feb. 56, . In March I have only two records and in April sixteen, but six of these were of young birds and nearly all the rest date near the first of the month. In May I find five records and in June one. Perhhps more than one brood is raised in a season but I doubt it. The eggs are light green in color, finely speckled with shades of brown, usu- ally on the large end but often scattered all over the egg. Sometimes the specks are larger, approaching spots or even blotches. The usual set contains three eggs but four are not uncommon and two are sometimes found. Of the records made I find six sets of four eggs, twelve of three, and four of two--complete sets as ad- vanced incubation showed. Other sets were obviously incomplete and sometimes the task of getting into the nest to count the young was too much for even scien- tific ardor. Of the twenty-eight nests all but four were in the cholla cactus, the others being as follows: one in a mesquite, one in an unidentified desert shrub and two in thorn trees, about as bad as the cholla. In size the eggs averge x.o9 by .75 inches. Some of the extremes measure 1. 7 by .77, x.x4 by .74, x.[5 by .78 and [.oo by -73. Climatic variations in the seasons appear to have an effect on the numbers of the birds. In seasons of more than normal rainfall they seem more numerous and nest more than it dry seasons. The spring of was a very favorable one, the desert enjoying heavy spring rains, and consequently an abnormal growth of veg- etation, making of the desert wastes a perfect flower garden. The sand hills were covered with desert primroses, acres of country were tinged pink with the sand