Only one species of this Old World family is found in America. It is a brown,
much mottled bird, that creeps spirally around and around the trunks of trees
in fall and winter, pecking at the larvae in the bark with its long, sharp
bill, and doing its work with faithful exactness but little spirit. It uses
its tail as a prop in climbing, like the woodpeckers.
Family Paridae: NUTHATCHES AND TITMICE
Two distinct subfamilies are included under this general head. The nuthatches
(Sittinae) are small, slate-colored birds, seen chiefly in winter walking up
and down the barks of trees, and sometimes running along the under side of
branches upside down, like flies. Plumage compact and smooth. Their name is
derived from their habit of wedging nuts (usually beechnuts) in the bark of
trees, and then hatching them open with their strong straight bills.
The titmice or chickadees (Parinae) are fluffy little gray birds, the one
crested. the other with a black cap. They are also expert climbers, though not
such wonderful gymnasts as the nuthatches. These cousins are frequently seen
together in winter woods or in the evergreens about houses. Chickadees are
partial to tree-tops, especially to the highest pine cones, on which they hang
fearlessly. Cheerful, constant residents, retreating to the deep woods only to
Family Sylviidae: KINGLETS AND GNATCATCHERS
The kinglets (Regulinae) are very small greenish-gray birds, with highly
colored crown patch, that are seen chiefly in autumn, winter, and spring south
of Labrador. Habits active; diligent flitters among trees and shrubbery from
limb to limb after minute insects. Beautiful nest builders. Song remarkable
for so small a bird.
The one representative of the distinctly American subfamily of gnatcatchers
(Polioptilinae) that we have, is a small blue-gray bird, whitish below. It is
rarely found outside moist, low tracts of woodland, where insects abound.
These it takes on the wing with wonderful dexterity. It is exceedingly
graceful and assumes many charming postures. A bird of trees, nesting in the
high branches. A bird of strong character and an exquisitely finished though
Family Turdidae: THRUSHES, BLUEBIRDS, ETC.
This group includes our finest songsters. Birds of moderate size, stout build;
as a rule, inhabitants of woodlands, but the robin and the bluebird are
notable exceptions. Bills long and slender, suitable for worm diet. Only
casual fruit-eaters. Slender, strong legs for running and hopping. True
thrushes are grayish or olive-brown above; buff or whitish below, heavily
streaked or spotted.
Wilson's Thrush (Veery).
Order Columbae, PIGEONS AND DOVES
Family Columbidae: PIGEONS AND DOVES
The wild pigeon is now too rare to be included among our bird neighbors; but
its beautiful relative, without the fatally gregarious habit, still nests and
sings a-coo-oo-oo to its devoted mate in unfrequented corners of the farm or
the borders of woodland. Delicately shaded fawn-colored and bluish plumage.
Small heads, protruding breasts. Often seen on ground. Flight strong and
rapid, owing to long wings.
Mourning or Carolina Dove.