National Geographic : 1917 Apr
MARYLAND YELLOW-THROAT (Geothlypis trichas and variety) Length, about 53 inches. Mostly green above, yellow below. Distinguished from other war blers by broad black band across forehead, bor dered narrowly with white. Range: Breeds from southern Canada to southern California, Texas, and Florida; win ters from the southern United States to Costa Rica. This little warbler is common throughout the Eastern and Southern States, frequenting thickets and low bushes on swampy ground. He is not a tree lover, but spends most of his time on or very near the ground, where he hunts assiduously for caterpillars, beetles, and various other small insects. Among the pests that he devours are the western cucumber beetle and the black olive scale. He has a cheery song of which he is not a bit ashamed, and when one happens to be near the particu lar thicket a pair of yellow-throats have chosen for their own, one has not long to wait for vocal proof that the male, at least, is at home. The yellow-throat has the bump of curiosity well developed, and if you desire a close ac quaintance with a pair you have only to "squeak" a few times, when you will have the pleasure of seeing at least one of the couple venture out from the retreat far enough to make sure of the character of the visitor. YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT (Icteria virens and subspecies) Length, about 72 inches. Its size, olive green upper parts, and bright yellow throat, breast, and upper belly distinguish this bird at a glance. Range: Breeds from British Columbia, Mon tana, Wisconsin, Ontario, and southern New England south to the Gulf States and Mexico; winters from Mexico to Costa Rica. The chat is one of our largest and most notable warblers. It is a frequenter of brushy thickets and swampy new growth, and, while not averse to showing itself, relies more upon its voice to announce its presence than upon its green and yellow plumage. Not infre quently the chat sings during the night. The song, for song we must call it, is an odd jumble of chucks and whistles, which is likely to bring to mind the quip current in the West, "Don't shoot the musician; he is doing his best." In this same charitable spirit we must accept the song of the chat at the bird's own valuation, which, we may be sure, is not low. Its nest is a rather bulky structure of grasses, leaves, and strips of bark, and is often so conspicuously placed in a low bush as to cause one to wonder how it ever escapes the notice of marauders fond of birds' eggs and nestlings. The chat does no harm to agricultural inter ests, but, on the contrary, like most of the warbler family, lives largely on insects, and among them are many weevils, including the alfalfa weevil and the boll weevil so destruct ive to cotton. (See Biol. Surv. Bull. 17, p. 18 et seq.; also Circular 64, p. 5 .) OVEN-BIRD (Seiurus aurocapillus) Length, a little over 6 inches. Above mostly olive green; below white, breast and sides streaked with black. Range: Breeds from southern Mackenzie, Ontario, southern Labrador, and Newfoundland south to Wyoming, Kansas, southern Missouri, Ohio Valley, and Virginia; also in mountains of Georgia and South Carolina; winters in southern Florida, southern Louisiana, Bahamas, West Indies, and southern Mexico to Colombia. The oven-bird is one of our best-known birds and one the woodland stroller is sure to get acquainted with, whether he will or no, so common is it and so generally distributed. In moments of ecstacy it has a flight song which has been highly extolled, but this is only for the initiated; its insistent repetition of "teacher, teacher, teacher," as Burroughs happily phrases it, is all the bird vouchsafes for the ears of ordinary mortals. Its curious domed-over grass nest is placed on the ground and is not hard to find. The food of the oven-bird does not differ greatly from that of other warblers, notwithstanding the fact that the bird is strictly terrestrial in habits. It consists almost exclu sively of insects, including ants, beetles, moths, span worms, and other caterpillars, with a few spiders, millepods, and weevils. (See Biol. Surv. Bull. 17; also yearbook for 1900, p. 416.) RED-FACED WARBLER (Cardellina rubrifrons) Range: Mainly in Transition Zone in moun tains of southern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico and south through Mexico to the highlands of Guatemala. So differently colored from our own North American warblers generally is the little red face that one might at once suspect it to be a stranger from a strange land. So at least it seemed to me when, in the mountains near Apache, Arizona, in July, 1874, I saw the first - one ever detected within our borders. Later in the same year I found others on Mount Graham. It is a Mexican species which has obtained a foothold along our southern borders in Arizona and New Mexico. As I noted at the time, I saw flocks of ten or fifteen among the pines and spruces, the birds frequenting these trees almost exclusively, only rarely being seen on the bushes that fringed the stream. In habits red-faced warblers are a rather strange com pound, now resembling the common warblers, again recalling the redstart, but more often, perhaps, bringing to mind the less graceful mo tions of the familiar titmice. Their favorite hunting places appear to be the extremities of the limbs of spruces, over the branches of which they quickly pass, with a peculiar and constant sidewise jerk of the tail. Since 1874 other observers have had a better chance to study the bird and a number of nests have been taken. These were under tufts of grass, and in the case of one found by Price was "such a poor attempt at nest-building and made of such loose material that it crumbled to frag ments on being removed."