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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/255

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THE CEDAR BIRD.

Bombycilla carolinensis, Briss.

PLATE XLIII. Male and Female.


Louisiana affords abundance of food and pleasant weather to this species, for nearly four months of the year, as the Cedar Birds reach that State about the beginning of November, and retire towards the Middle Districts in the beginning of March. The Holly, the Vines, the Persimon, the Pride-of-China, and various other trees, supply them with plenty of berries and fruits, on which they fatten, and become so tender and juicy as to be sought by every epicure for the table. I have known an instance of a basketful of these little birds having been forwarded to New Orleans as a Christmas present. The donor, however, was disappointed in his desire to please his friend in that city, for it was afterwards discovered that the steward of the steamer, in which they were shipped, made pies of them for the benefit of the passengers.

The appetite of the Cedar Bird is of so extraordinary a nature as to prompt it to devour every fruit or berry that comes in its way. In this manner they gorge themselves to such excess as sometimes to be unable to fly, and suffer themselves to be taken by the hand. Indeed I have seen some which, although wounded and confined in a cage, have eaten of apples until suffocation deprived them of life in the course of a few days. When opened afterwards, they were found to be gorged to the mouth.

It is a beautiful bird, but without any song, even during the breeding season, having only a note which it uses for the purpose of calling or rallying others of its species. This note is feeble, and as it were lisping, yet perfectly effectual, for when uttered by one in a flock within hearing of another party, the latter usually check their flight, and alight pell-mell on the same tree.

Their flight is easy, continued, and often performed at a considerable height. The birds move in close bodies, sometimes amounting to large flocks, making various circumvolutions before they alight, and then coming down in such numbers together as to seem to be touching each other. At this particular moment, or while performing their evolutions, some