CROWS AND JAYS
Family Alaudidae: LARKS
The only true larks to be found in this country are the two species given
below. They are the kin of the European skylark, of which several unsuccessful
attempts to introduce the bird have been made in this country. These two larks
must not be confused with the meadow larks and titlarks, which belong to the
blackbird and pipit families respectively.
The horned larks are birds of the ground, and are seen in the United States only in the autumn and winter. In
the nesting season at the North their voices are most musical. Plumage grayish
and brown, in color harmony with their habitats. Usually found in flocks; the
first species on or near the shore.
Prairie Horned Lark.
Family Corvidae: CROWS AND JAYS
The crows are large black birds, walkers, with stout feet adapted for the
purpose. Fond of shifting their residence at different seasons rather than
strictly migratory, for, except at the northern limit of range, they remain
resident all the year. Gregarious. Sexes alike.
Omnivorous feeders, being partly carnivorous, as are also the jays. Both crows and jays inhabit wooded
country. Their voices are harsh and clamorous; and their habits are boisterous
and bold, particularly the jays. Devoted mates; unpleasant neighbors.
Family Icteridae: BLACKBIRDS, ORIOLES, ETC.
Plumage black or a brilliant color combined with black. (The meadow lark a
sole exception.) Sexes unlike. These birds form a connecting link between the
crows and the finches. The blackbirds have strong feet for use upon the
ground, where they generally feed, while the orioles are birds of the trees.
They are both seed and insect eaters.
The bills of the bobolink and cowbird are short and conical, for they are conspicuous seed eaters. Bills of the
others long and conical, adapted for insectivorous diet. About half the family
are gifted songsters.
Western Meadow Lark.
Family Fringillidae: FINCHES, SPARROWS, GROSBEAKS, BUNTINGS,
LINNETS, AND CROSSBILLS
Generally fine songsters. Bills conical, short, and stout for cracking seeds.
Length from five to nine inches, usually under eight inches. This, the largest
family of birds that we have (about one-seventh of all our birds belong to
it), comprises birds of such varied plumage and habit that, while certain
family resemblances may be traced throughout, it is almost impossible to
characterize the family as such. The sparrows are comparatively small gray and
brown birds with striped upper parts, lighter underneath.
Birds of the ground, or not far from it, elevated perches being chosen for rest and song. Nest in
low bushes or on the ground. (Chipping sparrow often selects tall trees.)
Coloring adapted to grassy, dusty habitats. Males and females similar. Flight
labored. About forty species of sparrows are found in the United States; of
these, fourteen may be met with by a novice, and six, at least, surely will