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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/502

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474
GRASS FINCH.

sents was shot while walking among little groups of the plant there vulgarly called the Prickly Pear, I have represented it also. It shoots up its fleshy stems from among the driest sand, and there flourishes in the greatest perfection and abundance. The flower is destitute of scent, but the fruit is agreeably acid, and is often eaten by children. I have observed a plant of the same genus about the sterile cliffs of the Kentucky River, and in particular near the town of Frankfort, as well as in Louisiana on Alexander's Creek, at which place it grows to a great size. This is probably a distinct species. I have not observed Cactuses growing in a wild state in any other part of the Union.


Fringilla graminea, Gmel. Syst. Nat. vol. i. p. 922.—Lath. Ind. Ornith. vol. i. p. 445.—Ch. Bonaparte, Synops. of Birds of the United States, p. 108.

Grass Finch, Lath. Synops. vol. iii. p. 273.

Emberiza graminea, Bay-winged Bunting, Wils. Amer. Ornith. vol. iv. p. 51. Pl. 31. fig. 5.


Adult Male. Plate XCIV.

Bill shortish, robust, conical, acute; upper mandible broader than the lower, slightly declinate at the tip, the edges of both mandibles straight to near the base, where they are a little deflected. Nostrils basal, roundish, open, partially concealed by the feathers. Head rather large. Neck short. Body robust. Legs of moderate length, slender; tarsus of the same length as the middle toe, covered anteriorly with a longitudinal plate above, and a few transverse scuta below; toes scutate above, free, the lateral ones nearly equal; claws slender, arched, compressed, acute, that of the hind toe largest.

Plumage ordinary, compact. Wings of ordinary length, third and fourth quills longest, first and second little shorter. Tail longish, nearly equal, or slightly forked.

Bill dark brown on the back of the upper mandible, pale on the sides and below. Iris hazel. Tarsi, toes, and claws, flesh-colour. The general colour of the upper parts is light brown, streaked and mottled with darker. Lesser wing-coverts bright reddish-brown or bay, the larger deep brown, edged with pale brown; quills also deep brown, the first margined externally with white. Tail-feathers dark brown, the outer marked with an oblique band of white, including the outer web and part of the inner towards the tip, the next three margined externally with white, changing into pale brown on the other. A narrow circle of white