THEIR CHARACTERISTICS AND THE REPRESENTATIVES OF EACH FAMILY
INCLUDED IN "BIRD NEIGHBORS'
Order Coccyges: CUCKOOS AND KINGFISHERS
Family Cuculidae: CUCKOOS
Long, pigeon-shaped birds, whose backs are grayish brown with a bronze lustre
and whose under parts are whitish. Bill long and curved. Tail long; raised and
drooped slowly while the bird is perching. Two toes point forward and two
backward. Call-note loud and like a tree-toad's rattle.
Song lacking. Birds of low trees and undergrowth, where they also nest; partial to neighborhood of
streams, or wherever the tent caterpillar is abundant. Habits rather solitary,
silent, and eccentric. Migratory.
Family Alcedinidae: KINGFISHERS
Large, top-heavy birds of streams and ponds. Usually seen perching over the
water looking for fish. Head crested; upper parts slate-blue; underneath
white, and belted with blue or rusty. Bill large and heavy. Middle and outer
toes joined for half their length. Call-note loud and prolonged, like a
policeman's rattle. Solitary birds; little inclined to rove from a chosen
Order Pici: WOODPECKERS
Family Picidae: WOODPECKERS
Medium-sized and small birds, usually with plumage black and white, and always
with some red feathers about the head. (The flicker is brownish and yellow
instead of black and white.) Stocky, high-shouldered build; bill strong and
long for drilling holes in bark of trees.
Tail feathers pointed and stiffened to serve as a prop. Two toes before and two behind for clinging. Usually seen
clinging erect on tree-trunks; rarely, if ever, head downward, like the
nuthatches, titmice, etc. Woodpeckers feed as they creep around the trunks and
branches. Habits rather phlegmatic.
The flicker has better developed vocal powers than other birds of this class, whose rolling tattoo, beaten with their
bills against the tree-trunks, must answer for their love-song. Nest in
Order Macrochires: GOATSUCKERS, SWIFTS, AND HUMMING-BIRDS
Family Caprimulgidae: NIGHTHAWKS, WHIPPOORWILLS, ETC.
Medium-sized, mottled brownish, gray, black, and white birds of heavy build.
Short, thick head; gaping, large mouth; very small bill, with bristles at
base. Take insect food on the wing. Feet small and weak; wings long and
powerful. These birds rest lengthwise on their perch while sleeping through
the brightest daylight hours, or on the ground, where they nest.
Family Micropolidae: SWIFTS
Sooty, dusky birds seen on the wing, never resting except in chimneys of
houses, or hollow trees, where they nest. Tips of tail feathers with sharp
spines, used as props. They show their kinship with the goatsuckers in their
nocturnal as well as diurnal habits, their small bills and large mouths for
catching insects on the wing, and their weak feet. Gregarious, especially at
the nesting season.
Family Trochilidae: HUMMING-BIRDS
Very small birds with green plumage (iridescent red or orange breast in
males); long, needle-shaped bill for extracting insects and nectar from
deep-cupped flowers, and exceedingly rapid, darting flight. Small feet.
Order Passeres: PERCHING BIRDS
Family Tyrannidae: FLYCATCHERS
Small and medium-sized dull, dark-olive, or gray birds, with big heads that
are sometimes crested. Bills hooked at end, and with bristles at base. Harsh
or plaintive voices. Wings longer than tail; both wings and tails usually
drooped and vibrating when the birds are perching.
Habits moody and silent when perching on a conspicuous limb, telegraph wire, dead tree, or fence rail
and waiting for insects to fly within range. Sudden, nervous, spasmodic
sallies in midair to seize insects on the wing. Usually they return to their
identical perch or lookout. Pugnacious and fearless. Excellent nest builders
and devoted mates.
Great Crested Flycatcher.