Open main menu

Page:Ornithological biography, or an account of the habits of the birds of the United States of America, volume 1.djvu/402

This page has been validated.
374
WOOD THRUSH.

that on such occasions their music is more than ordinarily effective, as it then exhibits a degree of skilful modulation quite beyond my power to describe. These concerts are continued for some time after sunset, and take place in the month of June, when the females are sitting.

This species glides swiftly through the woods, whilst on wing, and performs its migrations without appearing in the open country. It is a constant resident in the State of Louisiana, to which the dispersed individuals resort, as to winter quarters, from the different parts of the United States, to which they had gone to breed. They reach Pennsylvania about the beginning or middle of April, and gradually proceed farther north.

Their food consists of different kinds of berries and small fruits, which they procure in the woods, without ever interfering with the farmer. They also occasionally feed on insects and various lichens.

The nest is usually placed in a low horizontal branch of the Dog-wood Tree, occasionally on smaller shrubs. It is large, well saddled on the branch, and composed externally of dry leaves of various kinds, with a second bed of grasses and mud, and an internal layer of fine fibrous roots. The eggs are four or five, of a beautiful uniform light blue. The nest is generally found in deep swampy hollows, on the sides of hills.

On alighting on a branch, this Thrush gives its tail a few jets, uttering at each motion a low chuckling note peculiar to itself, and very different from those of the Hermit or Tawny Thrush. It then stands still for a while, with the feathers of the hind part a little raised. It walks and hops along the branches with much ease, and often bends down its head to peep at the objects around. It frequently alights on the ground, and scratches up the dried leaves in search of worms and beetles, but suddenly flies back to the trees, on the least alarm.

The sight of a fox or raccoon causes them much anxiety, and they generally follow these animals at a respectful distance, uttering a mournful chuck, well known to hunters. Although, during winter, these birds are numerous in Louisiana, they never form themselves into flocks, but go singly at this period, and only in pairs in the breeding season. They are easily reared from the nest, and sing nearly as well in confinement as while free. Their song is occasionally heard during the whole winter, particularly when the sun reappears after a shower. Their flesh is extremely delicate and juicy, and many of them are killed with the blow-gun.