Open main menu

Page:Ornithological biography, or an account of the habits of the birds of the United States of America, volume 1.djvu/428

This page has been validated.

of an abandoned flat-boat, fastened to the shore, a small distance below the city of New Orleans. When its song was finished, the bird went on creeping from one board to another, thrust itself through an auger-hole, entered through the boat's side at one place, and peeped out at another, catching numerous spiders and other insects all the while. It sometimes ascends to the higher branches of a tree of moderate size, by climbing along a grape-vine, searching diligently amongst the leaves and in the chinks of the bark, alighting sidewise against the trunk, and moving like a true Creeper. It possesses the power of creeping and of hopping in a nearly equal degree. The latter kind of motion it employs when nearer the ground, and among piles of drifted timber. So fond is this bird of the immediate neighbourhood of water, that it would be next to impossible to walk along the shore of any of the islands of the Mississippi, from the mouth of the Ohio to New Orleans, without observing several on each island.

Amongst the many species of insects which they destroy, several are of an aquatic nature, and are procured by them whilst creeping about the masses of drifted wood. Their chirr-up and come-to-me come-to-me seldom cease for more than fifteen or twenty minutes at a time, commencing with the first glimpse of day, and continuing sometimes after sunset.

The nest of the Carolina Wren is usually placed in a hole in some low decayed tree, or in a fence-stake, sometimes even in the stable, barn or coach-house, should it there find a place suitable for its reception. I have found some not more than two feet from the ground, in the stump of a tree that had long before been felled by the axe. The materials employed in its construction are hay, grasses, leaves, feathers, and horse-hair, or the dry fibres of the Spanish moss; the feathers, hair or moss forming the lining, the coarse materials the outer parts. When the hole is sufficiently large, the nest is not unfrequently five or six inches in depth, although only just wide enough to admit one of the birds at a time. The number of eggs is from five to eight. They are of a broad oval form, greyish-white, sprinkled with reddish-brown. Whilst at Oakley, the residence of my friend James Perrie, Esq. near Bayou Sara, I discovered that one of these birds was in the habit of roosting in a Wood Thrush's nest that was placed on a low horizontal branch, and had been filled with leaves that had fallen during the autumn. It was in the habit of