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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/206

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178
WORM-EATING WARBLER.

moving about, rustling among the leaves, and scarcely ever removing from one situation to another until after they have made a full inspection of the part in which they have been employed.

This species reaches the Central Atlantic Districts in the middle of May, and breeds there, as well as farther northward. I have found them more numerous in the Jerseys than in any other portion of the Union. In Kentucky and Ohio I have seen only a few of them; nor have I ever found their nests in either of these States.

The plant on which you see a pair of Worm-eating Warblers is well known throughout the United States by the name of Poke-berry. It grows in every situation, from the tops of the most arid mountain-ridges to the lowest and richest valleys; and it is almost impossible to follow a fence for a hundred yards without seeing some of it. Its berries are food for numerous species of our birds, and produce a beautiful dark crimson juice, which is used instead of red ink by some of the country people, although it does not retain its original colour for many days. This plant grows to the height of four or six feet, and is eaten when it first shoots from the ground as a substitute for asparagus, quantities of it being not unfrequently exposed in the markets. The juice of the berries is taken in cases of ague and continued fever, but requires to be used with judgment, as too large a doze proves deleterious.


Sylvia vermivora, Lath. Ind. Ornith. vol. ii. p. 544.—Ch. Bonaparte, Synops. of Birds of the United States, p. 86.

Worm-Eating Warbler, Sylvia vermivora, Wils. Americ. Ornith. voL iii. p. 74. vol. xxiv. fig. 4.


Adult Male. Plate XXXIV. Fig. 1.

Bill longish, nearly straight, rather strong, elongated-conical, as deep as broad at the base, with sharp, nearly straight edges. Nostrils basal, oval, half concealed by the feathers. Head rather large, neck short. Body short and full. Feet of ordinary length, rather slender; tarsus compressed, covered anteriorly with a few long scutella, acute behind, longer than the middle toe; toes scutellate above, free; claws arched, slender, compressed, acute.

Plumage blended, soft and tufty. Wings of ordinary length, considerably curved, the second quill longest, the first little shorter. Tail rather short, a little rounded, of twelve rather narrow, obtuse feathers.