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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/501

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THE GRASS FINCH, OR BAY-WINGED BUNTING.

Fringilla graminea, Gmel.

PLATE XCIV. Male.


I have never seen the Bay-winged Bunting in any portion of Louisiana, Missouri, Kentucky, or Ohio, and am therefore inclined to look upon it as a resident of the country lying to the eastward of the range of the Alleghanies. It there occurs from Georgia to Massachusets, both along the shores and inland, as far as the base of the mountains, and here and there on the mountains themselves, but seldom in places to which cultivation has not extended. I have thought it prepossessed in favour of sandy ground, and dry barren soils. It sings sweetly, and at times for half-an-hour, without changing its place, either from the tops of the Sassafras or Sumach bushes which grow along the fences, or from the upper bar or stake of a fence itself. During this little serenade, it is easily approached, but when on the ground, where it runs nimbly and with grace, it is rather shy. It is fond of scratching in the warm and dry sand, and of wallowing in it, to cleanse its body. Its flight, which is easy, consists of a succession of gentle undulations, and, when it is chased, sometimes extends over the whole of a field. It is a solitary bird, and is rather pugnacious, for when two males or two females happen to meet, little skirmishes frequently ensue. The nest, which is placed among the grass, and partly sunk in the ground, little attention being paid to its concealment, is prettily constructed. It is formed externally of leaves and fine grass, and is well lined with horse hair, so as to look neat and comfortable. The female lays from four to six eggs, about the middle of April, in favourable seasons, and generally rears two broods each year. I have shot these birds during winter, in the neighbourhood of Lancaster in Pennsylvania, where but few are seen. At the same period of the year they were found numerous along the sea-coast of Virginia and Carolina. Their food consists principally of the seeds of grasses and other plants, although they sometimes run after insects and eat them also. Their flesh is juicy, tender and savoury.

Having drawn the figure which you will see on referring to the plate, near the sea-shores of New Jersey, where the bird which it repre-