Open main menu

Page:Ornithological biography, or an account of the habits of the birds of the United States of America, volume 1.djvu/227

This page has been validated.

( 199 )


Parus bicolor, Linn.

PLATE XXXIX. Male and Female.

Although this smart little bird breeds in the State of Louisiana and the adjacent districts, it is not there found in so great numbers as in the Middle States, and farther to the northward. It generally prefers the depth of the forests during summer, after which it approaches the plantations, and even resorts to the granaries for corn.

Its flight is short, the bird being seldom seen on the wing long enough to cross a field of moderate extent. It is performed by repeated flaps of the wings, accompanied by jerks of the body and tail, and occasions a rustling noise, as it takes place from one tree to another. It moves along the branches, searches in the chinks, flies to the end of twigs and hangs to them by its feet, whilst the bill is engaged in detaching a beech or hazel nut, an acorn or a chinquapin, upon all of which it feeds, removing them to a large branch, where, having secured them in a crevice, it holds them with both feet, and breaks the shell by repeated blows of its bill. They are to be seen thus employed for many minutes at a time. They move about in little companies formed of the parents and their young, eight or ten together, and escorted by the Nuthatch or the Downy Woodpecker. It is pleasing to listen to the sound produced by their labour, which in a calm day may be heard at the distance of twenty or thirty yards. If a nut or an acorn is accidentally dropped, the bird flies to the ground, picks it up, and again returns to a branch. They also alight on the ground or on dry leaves, to look for food, after the trees become bare, and hop about with great nimbleness, going to the margins of the brooks to drink, and when unable to do so, obtaining water by stooping from the extremity of a twig hanging over the stream. In fact, they appear to prefer this latter method, and are also fond of drinking the drops of rain or dew as they hang at the extremities of the leaves.

Their notes are rather musical than otherwise, the usual one being loud and mellow. They do not use the tee-tee-tee of their relative the Black-capped Titmouse, half so often as the latter does, but emit a con-