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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/261

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SUMMER RED BIRD.

by striking the latter smartly. The female lays four or five eggs of a light blue colour. The male and female sit upon them alternately for twelve days, and are as anxious about their safety as most species. The young are seen about the beginning of June, and follow their parents until the time of the migration of the latter, which takes place a fortnight earlier than that of the young birds. They raise only one brood in a season.

The alterations of plumage which appear in the young birds between the period at which they leave the nest, and the ensuing spring, are as great as those of the Orchard Oriole. They are at first nearly of the colour of the female. The males become a little mottled with dull reddish-orange, towards the time of their departure for the south, the females only deepening their tints. The following spring, the male appears either spotted all over the body with bright red and yellowish- green, or only partially so, having sometimes one wing of a greenish hue, whilst the other is tinged all over with a dull vermilion tint. All these spots and shades of colour gradually disappear, giving place to vermilion, which, however, is yet dull; nor is it until the third spring that the full brilliancy of the plumage is attained.

I have several times attempted to raise the young from the nest, but in vain. Insects, fruits, and eggs, mixed with boiled meat of various kinds, always failed, and the birds generally died in a very few days, uttering a dull note, as if elicited by great suffering. The same note is emitted by the young in their state of freedom, when, perched on a branch, they await the appearance of their parents with their proper food.

I have represented an adult male, his mate, and a young bird in its singularly patched state, to enable you to judge how different a family of these birds must appear to the eye of a person unacquainted with the peculiarity of these differences and changes of plumage.

The Vine on which you see them is usually called the Muscadine. It grows everywhere in Louisiana, and the State of Mississippi, and that most luxuriantly. In those States you may see vines of this species fifteen inches in diameter near the roots, either entwined round the trunk of a large tree, and by this means reaching the top branches and extending over them and those of another tree, or, as if by magic, swinging in the air, from roots attached at once to some of the uppermost branches. In favourable seasons, they are laden with grapes, which hang in small