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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/222

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Raccoons and Black Snakes are dangerous enemies to this bird. The former frequently put one of their fore legs into the hole where it has nestled or retired to rest, and if the hole be not too deep, draw out the eggs and suck them, and frequently by the same means secure the bird itself. The Black Snake contents itself with the eggs or young. Several species of Hawks attack them on the wing, and as the Woodpeckers generally escape by making for a hole in the nearest tree, it is pleasing to see the disappointment of the Hawk, when, as it has just been on the point of seizing the terrified bird, the latter dives, as it were, into the hole. Should the Woodpecker not know of a hole near enough to afford it security, it alights on a trunk, and moves round it with such celerity as frequently to enable it to elude its pursuer.

Their flesh is esteemed good by many of the sportsmen of the Middle Districts, and is frequently eaten. Some are now and then exposed in the markets of New York and Philadelphia; but I look upon the flesh as very disagreeable, it having a strong flavour of ants.

The neck of this species is larger than that of any other with which I am acquainted, and consequently the skin of this bird is more easily pulled over the head, which it is difficult to do in the other species, on account of the slenderness of their neck, and the great size of the head.

Picus auratus, Linn. Syst. Nat. vol. i. p. 174.--Lath. Ind. Ornith. vol. i. p. 242.—Ch. Bonaparte, Synopsis of Birds of the United States, p. 44.

Gold-winged Woodpecker Lath. Synops. vol. ii. p. 597.—Wils. Americ. Ornith. vol. ii. p. 45. Pl. iii. fig. 1. Male.

Adult Male. Plate XXXVII. Fig. 1, 1, 1.

Bill slightly arched, strong, nearly as long as the head, compressed at the tip, which is a little abrupt; upper mandible convex on the sides, with acute, overlapping edges; lower mandible with acute, inflected edges, the dorsal outline nearly straight, a little convex towards the end. Nostrils basal, lateral, oval, partly covered by recumbent feathers. Head of ordinary size. Neck shortish. Body ovate. Feet short, rather robust; tarsus scutellate before, compressed; two toes before, and two behind, scutellate above; claws compressed, arched, acute.

Plumage rather compact and imbricated, blended on the head and neck. Wings longish, the third and fourth quills longest, the second much shorter, the first very small. Tail of ordinary length, rounded, consisting of ten