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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/176

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148
SOLITARY FLY-CATCHER.

hold its prey under its foot in the way of the Yellow-throated Fly-catcher or Vireo, a habit which allies the latter to the Shrikes. On account of all these circumstances, I look upon this bird as deserving the attention of systematic writers, who probably will find its proper place in the general arrangement.

The flight of this bird is performed by a continued tremor of the wings, as if it were at all times angry. It seldom rises high above its favourite cane-brakes, but is seen hopping up and down about the stems of low bushes and the stalks of the canes, silently searching for food, more in the manner of the Worm-eating Warbler than in that of any other bird known to me. Their confidence at the approach of man is very remarkable. They look on without moving until you are within a few feet, and retire only in proportion as you advance towards them. In this respect it resembles the White-eyed Fly-catcher.

When wounded by a shot, it remains quite still on the ground, opens its bill when you approach it, and bites with all its might when laid hold of, although its strength is not sufficient to enable it to inflict a wound. I have never heard it utter a note beyond that of a querulous low murmuring sound, when chasing another bird from the vicinity of its nest. The young all leave the nest, if once touched, and hide among the grass and weeds, where the parents continue to feed them. I once attempted to feed some young birds of this species, but they rejected the food, which consisted of flies, worms, and hard-boiled eggs, and died in three days without ever uttering a note. In 1829, I shot one of these birds, a fine male, in the Great Pine Swamp. This was the only individual I ever saw to the eastward of Henderson on the Ohio. As this happened in the beginning of September, it is probable that some migrate to a considerable distance north-east; but I am at the same time of opinion that very few of these birds enter the United States.

I have represented a pair of them killed near a nest in a cane-brake. A general description of the American Cane will be found in the present volume.


Vireo solitarius, Ch. Bonaparte. Synops. of Birds of the United States, p. 70.

Solitary Fly-catcher, Muscicapa solitaria, Wils, Amer. Ornith. vol. ii. p. 143. PI. xvii. fig. 6.


Adult Male. Plate XXVIII. Fig. 1.

Bill rather short, broad and depressed at the base, strong, nearly