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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/314

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RICE BIRD.

made among them in the Middle Districts, they follow the coast, and reach the rice plantations of the Carolinas in such astonishing numbers, that no one could conceive their flocks to have been already thinned. Their flesh is extremely tender and juicy. The markets are amply supplied, and the epicures have a glorious time of it.

By the end of October, few are found remaining in the States of New York and Pennsylvania; and by the first of December they have left the United States.

The food of these birds varies according to the seasons, and consists of grubs, caterpillars, insects of various kinds, such as beetles, grass-hoppers, crickets, and ground-spiders, and the seeds of wild oats, wheat, barley, rice, and other grasses. They cling or climb along the stalks of rank weeds, reeds, and corn, with great activity and ease, and when at roost place themselves as near the ground as possible.


Icterus agripennis, Ch. Bonaparte, Synops. of Birds of the United States, p. 53.

Emberiza oryzivora, Linn. Syst. Nat. vol. i. p. 311.—Lath. Ind. Ornith. vol. i. p. 408.

Rice Bunting, Lath. Synops. vol. iii. p. 188—Wils. Amer. Ornith. vol. ii. p. 48, PI. xii. fig. 1, 2.


Plate LIV. Fig. 1. Adult Male in summer.

Bill of ordinary length, robust, conical, compressed; upper mandible narrower, inflected at the edges, the dorsal outline a little convex, the ridge slightly prolonged on the forehead, the palate furnished with a hard tubercle; under mandible with the dorsal outline convex, as are the sides, the edges inflected; the gap line much deflected at the base, straight. Nostrils basal, oval, in a short deep grove, nearly concealed by the feathers. Head large, neck thick, body full. Feet of ordinary length, rather strong; tarsus compressed, anteriorly covered with six scutella, posteriorly acute; toes scutellate above, the outer united at the base; claws arched, compressed, acute, the hind one very long.

Plumage compact, glossy. Wings of ordinary length, the second quill longest. Tail of ordinary length, composed of twelve acuminate feathers.

Bill dark brown above, bluish-grey beneath. Iris hazel. Feet light reddish-brown. Upper and fore part of the head, cheeks, tail, quills, and the whole under parts, black. Back of the head and neck brownish-