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Page:Ornithological biography, or an account of the habits of the birds of the United States of America, volume 1.djvu/128

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LOUISIANA WATER THRUSH.

heard the latter species sing, but merely utter a single smart twit, when started by surprise. It moreover frequently feeds on minute water-insects, none of which I have ever been able to discover on dissecting the present species.

The flight of this bird is easy, and continued amongst the trees, just above the canes, or closer over the ground, when it is passing along their skirts, gliding smoothly through the air. When alighted, its body is continually vibrating, the tail being at the same time alternately jerked out and closed again. It walks prettily along the branches, or on the ground, but never hops. It feeds on insects and larvæ, often pursuing the former on wing, as well as on the ground, yet in seizing them it does not produce the clicking sound heard from the bill of Flycatchers.

I think its proper station in a general system would be between the Golden-crowned Thrush and the Water Thrush. Its location, however, I leave to the consideration of better ornithologists than myself.

The nest of this species is commenced in the first days of April. I may here remark, that I am not aware that the Common Water Thrush breeds in the United States. It is placed at the foot and amongst the roots of a tree, or by the side of a decayed log, and is so easily discovered at times that my eyes have once or twice been attracted by it, whilst walking about in search of something else. The outer parts are formed of dry leaves and mosses, the inner of fine grasses, with a few hairs, or the dried fibres of the Spanish Moss, which so much resemble horse-hair as scarcely to be distinguished from it. The female lays four or five eggs, and takes fourteen days to hatch them. When disturbed on her nest at an early period of incubation, she merely flies off; but if discovered towards the conclusion of that period, she is seen tumbling and rolling about, spreading her wings and tail, as if in the last agonies of despair, uttering all the while a most piteous tone, to entice the intruder to follow her.

The young leave the nest in about ten days, and follow the parent from place to place, on the ground, where they are fed until able to fly. I have not been able to ascertain whether this bird rears more than one brood in a season, but am inclined to believe that it does not. The eggs are flesh-coloured, sprinkled with darker red on the large end.

During winter, this bird becomes so plump as to be a pure mass of fat, and furnishes extremely delicate eating. I have never seen this species farther eastward than Georgia, nor higher on the Ohio than the cane brakes about Henderson.