National Geographic : 1914 May
Photo by Frank M. Chapman GREAT-TAILED GRACKLES, NEAR VERA CRUZ, MEXICO tropical birds in abundance one must go at least to South America; but I have yet to find, in a somewhat extended experi ence, any place where certain eminently characteristic tropical species are more abundant than we found them at this camp on the Tamesi River distant less than four days from Chicago! A BIRDLAND BABEL We were awakened by the loud calls of flying parrots, not passing over at a great height, en route to some distant feeding-ground, as one usually sees them, but stopping, with much conversational chatter, to join scores which were break fasting in the trees overhanging our tents. At once we recognized the "double yellow-head" (Amazona oratrix) of the bird stores, rated by dealers as second only to the gray, red-tailed African par rot in its power of speech, and second to none as a whistler. With it was a slightly smaller, red-capped parrot (Amazona viridiginalis), which, whatever it may be in a cage, is vocal enough in nature. Parrakeets of two species, with darting, dove-like flight, shot through the clearing, uttering their sharp, rolling cry, or, enter ing a tree-top, disappeared with incom- prehensible completeness until, assured of the safety of their surroundings, they began slowly to move about in search of food. Red-billed pigeons (Columba flaviros tris) nearly as large as our domestic bird, shouted their emphatic "hurrah," and the dainty little scaled doves filled in the gaps with their quaint put-a-coo, put-a-coo; ground doves mourned gently, if incon solably, and the pygmy owl (Glaucidium) whistled with clock-like regularity from the top of a leafless tree-a perch which this diurnal, light-loving midget prefers. Great-tailed grackles creaked, sniffled, whistled, choked, and rattled; queer little Mexican crows, looking not much larger than blackbirds, perched in flocks in the leafless trees, snoring and grunting; fly catchers (Myiozetetes texensis and Ty rannus melancholicus) twittered excit edly; Derby flycatchers (Pitangus) cried hip, hip, hurray; gold and black orioles whistled like school - boys homeward bound; anis whined; golden- fronted woodpeckers coughed; and ever and again the big Mexican pileated woodpecker sprang his thumping, reverberating rattle with astonishing effect.