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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/472

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Corvus Floridanus, Bartram.

PLATE LXXXVII. Male and Female.

This beautiful and lively bird is a constant resident in the south-western parts of Florida, from which country it seldom if ever removes to any great distance. It is never seen in the State of Louisiana, far less in that of Kentucky, and when Charles Bonaparte asserts that it occurs in these districts, we must believe that he has been misinformed. It is so confined to the particular portions of Florida which it inhabits, that even on the eastern shores of that peninsula few are to be seen. I have never observed it in any part of Georgia, or farther to the eastward.

The flight of the Florida Jay is generally performed at a short distance from the ground, and consists either of a single sailing sweep, as it shifts from one tree or bush to another, or of continuous flappings, with a slightly undulated motion, in the manner of the Magpie (Corvus Pica) or of the Canada Jay (Corvus canadensis). Its notes are softer than those of its relative the Blue Jay (Corvus cristatus), and are more frequently uttered. Its motions are also more abrupt and quicker. It is seen passing from one tree to another with expanded tail, stopping for a moment to peep at the intruder, and hopping off to another place the next minute. It frequently descends to the ground, along the edges of oozy or marshy places, to search for snails, of which, together with berries of various kinds, fruits and insects, its food consists. It is easily approached during the breeding season, but is more shy at other times. It is a great destroyer of the eggs of small birds, as well as of young birds, which it chases and kills by repeated blows of its bill on their heads, after which it tears their flesh with avidity.

The Florida Jay is easily kept in a cage, where it will feed on recent or dried fruits, such as figs, raisins, and the kernels of various nuts, and exhibits as much gaiety as the Blue Jay does in a similar state. Like the latter, it secures its food between its feet, and breaks it into pieces before swallowing it, particularly the acorns of the Live Oak, and the snails which it picks up among the Sword Palmetto. No sooner have the seeds of that plant become black, or fully ripe, than the Florida Jay