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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/220

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GOLDEN-WINGED WOODPECKER.

he appears to be speaking to her on the most tender subjects, and when fatigued, is at once assisted by her. In this manner, by the alternate exertions of each, the hole is dug and finished. They caress each other on the branches, climb about and around the tree with apparent delight, rattle with their bill against the tops of the dead branches, chase all their cousins the Red-heads, defy the Purple Grakles to enter their nest, feed plentifully on ants, beetles and larvae, cackling at intervals, and ere two weeks have elapsed, the female lays either four or six eggs, the whiteness and transparency of which are doubtless the delight of her heart. If to raise a numerous progeny may contribute to happiness, these Woodpeckers are in this respect happy enough, for they have two broods each season; and as this might induce you to imagine Woodpeckers extremely abundant in America, I may at once tell you that they are so.

Even in confinement, the Golden-winged Woodpecker never suffers its naturally lively spirit to droop. It feeds well, and by way of amusement, will continue to destroy as much furniture in a day as can well be mended by a different kind of workman in two. Therefore, kind reader, do not any longer believe that Woodpeckers, I mean those of America, are such stupid, forlorn, dejected and unprovided for beings, as they have hitherto been represented. In fact, I know not one of the seventeen species found in our extensive woods, that does not exhibit quite as much mirth and gaiety as the present bird. They are serviceable birds in many points of view, and therefore are seldom shot at, unless by idlers, their flesh, moreover, not being very savoury. They have ample range, and wherever they alight, there is to be found the food to which they at all times give decided preference.

The flight of this species is strong and prolonged, being performed in a straighter manner than that of any other of our Woodpeckers. They propel themselves by numerous beats of the wings, with short intervals of sailing, during which they scarcely fall from the horizontal. Their migrations, although partial, as many remain even in the middle districts during the severest winters, are performed under night, as is known by their note and the whistling of their wings, which are heard from the ground, although by no means so distinctly as when they fly from a tree or from the earth, when suddenly alarmed. When passing from one tree to another on wing, they also fly in a straight line, until within a few yards of the spot on which they intend to alight, when they suddenly raise themselves a few feet, and fasten themselves to the bark of the trunk by their