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Aud. Birds Oct. 1 - 200

Plates from John James Audubon's first octavo edition of The Birds of America Plates 1 - 200

AUDUBON, John James (1785 - 1851). Plate 75, Wilson's Flycatching Warbler

AUDUBON, John James (1785 - 1851). Plate 75, Wilson's Flycatching Warbler


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Hand-colored lithograph by Ralph Trembly for the firm of J.T. Bowen after John James Audubon (1785 - 1851)

From Vol. 2 of the first octavo edition of the The Birds of America, From Drawings Made in the United States and Their Territories. New York: J. J. Audubon; Philadelphia: J. B. Chevalier, 1840 - 1841.

Paper dimensions: approximately 10 x 6 ½ inches

Octavo part number: 15

Current name: Wilson's Warbler, Cardellina pusilla

Corresponding Havell edition plate number: 124, Green Black Capt Flycatcher

Included in this composition is white turtlehead.

Audubon described Wilson's Flycatching Warbler as follows:

"This species passes rapidly through the United States on its way to the Northern Districts, where it breeds and spends the summer. WILSON saw only a few specimens, which he met with in the lower parts of Delaware and New Jersey, and supposed it to be an inhabitant of the Southern States, where, however, it is never found in the summer months. It is not rare in the State of Maine, and becomes more abundant the farther north we proceed. I found it in Labrador and all the intermediate districts. It reaches that country early in June, and returns southward by the middle of August. 

It has all the habits of a true Flycatcher, feeding on small insects, which it catches entirely on the wing, snapping its bill with a smart clicking sound. It frequents the borders of the lakes, and such streams as are fringed with low bushes, from which it is seen every moment sallying forth, pursuing its insect prey for many yards at a time, and again throwing itself into its favourite thickets. 

The nest is placed on the extremity of a small horizontal branch, amongst the thick foliage of dwarf firs, not more than from three to five feet from the ground, and in the centre of the thickets of these trees so common in Labrador. The materials of which it is composed are bits of dry moss and delicate pine twins, agglutinated together and to the branches or leaves around it, and beneath which it is suspended, with a lining of extremely fine and transparent fibres. The greatest diameter does not exceed 31 inches, and the depth is not more than 1 1/2. The eggs are four, dull white, sprinkled with reddish and brown dots towards the larger end, where the markings form a circle, leaving the extremity plain. 

The parents show much uneasiness at the approach of any intruder, skipping about and around among the twigs and in the air, snapping their bill, and uttering a plaintive note. They raise only one brood in the season. The young males shew their black cap as soon as they are fully fledged, and before their departure to the south. The head of the young female is at first of the same tint as the back, but I could not ascertain if they acquire their full colour the first autumn. 

I found these birds abundant in Newfoundland, but perceived that they had already begun to migrate on the 20th of August; they were moving from bush to bush, and seldom flew farther than thirty or forty yards at a time; yet when crossing the arms of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, they are obliged to fly forty miles or more without alighting. The little Winter Wren must perform the same task, it being found in the same countries, to which some individuals travel from the United States. I observed the Green Black-capped Flycatcher in considerable numbers, in the northern parts of Maine, in October 1832, and concluded that the individuals seen must have come from a great distance. 

GREEN BLACK-CAPT FLYCATCHER, Muscicapa pusilla, Wils. Amer. Orn., vol. iii. p. 103. 
SYLVIA WILSONII, Bonap. Syn., p. 86. 
GREEN BLACK-CAPT WARBLER, Nutt. Man., vol. i. p. 149. 
GREEN BLACK-CAPPED FLYCATCHER, Muscicapa Wilsonii, Aud. Orn. Biog., vol. ii. p. 148. 

Wings short, the second and third quills longest and about equal, the first much shorter than the fourth and a little longer than the fifth; tail even. Back, rump, and upper tail-coverts yellowish-green; crown glossy bluish-black, bordered on the forehead and over the eyes with a broad band of bright yellow, of which colour are all the lower parts; wings and tail dusky brown, the feathers margined with yellowish-green. Female similar to the male, but with the black of the crown of much less extent. Young similar to the female, without black on the head. 

Male, 4 1/2, 6 3/4. 

From Texas northward, Columbia river, and intervening regions. Not in the Fur Countries. Rather rare. Migratory. THE SNAKE'S HEAD. 

CHELONE GLABRA, Willd., Sp. Pl., vol. iii. p. 225. Pursch, Flor. Amer. Sept., vol. ii. p. 427. --DIDYNAMIA ANGIOSPERMIA, Linn.--SCROPHULARINAE, Juss. 

This plant grows on the banks of rivers and swamps, in the Middle and Southern States. It is herbaceous and perennial, with opposite lanceolate-oblong, acuminate, serrate leaves, and dense terminal spikes of pale red flowers, not remarkable for beauty."

From: AUDUBON, John James: The Birds of America, From Drawings Made in the United States and Their Territories; New York and Philadelphia: J. J. Audubon and J. B. Chevalier, 1840 - 1844.


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