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Entereil according to Act of Cougress, in the year 187i,


in tlic Otlice of the Librarian of Congress, at Wasliiugton.


«^ <?*i'- (Sc^U-fi^


The present work is designed to meet the want, which has long been felt, of a descriptive account of the Birds of North America, with notices of their geographical distribution, habits, methods of nesting, cliaracter of eggs, their popular nomenclature, and otlier points connected with their life lustorv.

For many years past the only systematic treatises bearing upon this sub- ject have been " The American Ornithology " of Alexander Wilson, finished by that author in 1S14, and brought down to the date of 18:^7 by George Ord ; the "Ornithological Biography" of Audubon, bearing date of 1838, with a second edition, " Birds of America," embracing a little more of detail, and completed in 1844 ; and "A Manual of the Ornithology of the United States and Canada," by Nuttall, of which a first edition was published in 1832 and a second in 1840. Since then no work relating to American Ornithology, of a biographical nature, has been presented to the public, with the exception of some of limited extent, such as tliose of Giraud, on the " Birds of Long Island," in 1844; De Kay's "Birds of New York," 1844; Samuels's " Orni- thology and Oology of New England," 1868, and a few others ; together with quite a number of minor papers on the birds of particular hicalities, of greater or less moment, cliiefly puldished in periodicals and the Proceedings of Societies. The reports of many of the government exploring parties also contain valuable data, especially those of Dr. Newberry, Dr. Heermann, Dr. J. G. Cooper, Dr. Suckley, Dr. Kenuerly, and others.

More recently (in 1870) Professor Whitney, Chief of the Geological Survey of California, has published a very important volume on the ornithology of the entire west coast of North America, written by Dr. J. G. Cooper, and containing much original detail in reference to the liabits of the western spe- cies. This is by far the most valuable contrilmtion to the biograpliy of American birds that has appeared since the time of Audubon, and, with its typographical beauty and numerous and excellent illustrations, all on wood and many of them colored, constitutes one of the most notewortliy publica- tions in American Zoology.

Up to the time of the appearance of tlie work of Audubon, nearly all tliat was known of the great region of the United States west of tlie ]\Ii.ssouri River was the result of the journey of Lewis and Clark up the Missouri and

y[ PllEFACE.

across to the Pacific Coast, and that of John K. Townseud and Mr. Nuttall, both of whom made some collections and brought back notices of the coun- try, which, however, tliey were unable to explore to any great extent. The entire region of Texas, New llexico, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, and Cali- fornia was unvisited, as also a great portion of territory north of the United States boundary, including British Columbia and Alaska.

A work by Sir John Richardson, forming a volume in his series of " Fauna Boreali-Americana," in reference to the ornithology of the region covered by the Hudson Bay Company's operation;?, . was published in 1831, and has been nnuli used by Mr Audubon, but embraces little or nothing of the great breeding-grounds of the water birds in the neighborhood of the Great Slave and Bear Lakes, the Upper Yukon, and the shores of the Arctic coast.

It will tluis be seen that a tliird of a century has elajjsed since any at- tempt has been made to jjresent a systematic history of the birds of North America.

The object of the present work is to give, in as concise a I'orm as possible, an account of what is known of the birds, not only of the United States, but of the whole region of North America north of the boundary-line of Mexico, including Greenland, on the one side, and Alaska with its islands on tlie other. Tlie published materials for such a history are so copious that it is a matter of surprise that they have not been sooner utilized, consisting, as they do, of numerous scattered biographies and re])orts of nuiny government expe- ditions and ])rivate explorations. ]5ut the; most productive source has been the great amount of manuscri|>t contained in the arcliives of the Smithsonian Institution in the form of corresjiondcnce, elaborate reports, and the field- notes of collectors and travellers, the use of which, fur the jiresent work, has been liberally allowed by Professor Henry. By far the most important of these consist of notes made by the late liobert Kennicott in Britisli America, and received from him and otlier gentlemen in the Hudson Bay Territory, who were brought into intimate relationship with the Smithsonian Institu- tion through Mr. Kennicott's efforts. Among them may be mentioned more especially Mr. R. MacFarlane, Mr. B. R. Ross, Mr. James Lockhart, Mr. Lawrence Clark, Mr. Strachan Jones, and others, whose names will appear in the cour.se of the work. The especial value of the communications re- ceived from these gentlemen lies in the fact that they resided for a long time in a region to which a large proportion of the rapacioiis and water birds of North America resort during the summer for inculiation, and whicli until recently has been sealed to explorers.

Equally serviceable has been the information received from the region of the Yukon River and Alaska generally, including tlie Aleutian Islands, as supplied by Messrs. Robert Kennicott, \Villuun H. Dall, Henry M. Bannister, Henry W. Elliott, and others.

It should be understood that the remarks as to the absence of general works on American Ornithology, since the time of Audubon, apply only to the life


history of the species, as, iu 1858, one of the autliors of tlie present work published a systematic account of the birds of North America, constituting Vol. IX. of tlie series of I'acihc llailroad Eeports ; while from the pen of Dr. Elliott Cones, a well-known and eminent ornithologist, appeared in 1872 a comprehensive volume, entitled " .V Key to Xorth American Birds," con- taining descriptions of tlie species and higher groups.

The technical, or descriptive, matter of the present work has been prepared by ^Messrs. Baird and liidgway, that relating to the Piaiitorcs entirely by Mr. Eidgway ; and all the accounts of the habits of the species are from the pen of .Dr. Brewer. In addition to the matter supplied by these gentlemen, Tro- fessor Theodore N. Gill has furnished that portion of the Introduction de- fining the class of birds as compared with the other vertebrates ; wliile to Dr. Coues is to be given the entire credit for the pages embracing the tables of the Orders and Families, as well as for the Glossary beginning on page 535 of Vol. III.

Nearly all the drawings of tlie full-length figures of birds contained in the work were made directly on the wood, by Mr. Edwin L. Slieppard, of Phila- delphia, from original sketches taken from nature ; while the heads were exe- cuted for the most part by ilr. Henry W. Elliott and Mr. Eidgway. Both series have been engraved by Mr. Hobart H. Nichols of Washington. The generic outlines were drawn by Anton L. Schonliorn, and engraved by the peculiar process of Jewett, Chandler, & Co., of 15uffalo. All of these, it is believed, speak for themselves, and require no other commendation.

A considerable portion of the illustrations were prepared, by the persons mentioned above, for the Eeports of the Geological Survey of California, and published in the volume on Ornithology. To Professor Whitney, Chief of the Survey, acknowledgments are due for the privilege of including many of them in the present History of Nortli American Birds, and also for the Explanation of Terms, page 526 of Vol. III.

A few cuts, drawn by Wolf and engraved by Whymper, first published in "British Birds in their Haunts," and credited in their proper places, were kindly furnished by the London Society for the Diffusion of Chris- tian Knowledge ; and some others prepared for an unpublished volume by Dr. Blasius, on the Birds of Germany, were obtained from Messrs. Vieweg and Son, of Braunschweig.

The volume on the Water Birds is in an advanced state of preparation, and will lie jniblished with the least possible delay.


Smithsonian Institution, ■Washington, January 8, 1874.




IxTRonrcTioN xi

Family Ti'rdid.e. The Tlirushes 1

Subfamily Turdix.e 3

Subfamily JIimix.e 31

Family Cixclih.'E. The Dippers 55

Famil}' Saxicoi.id.«. The Saxicolas 59

Family SYLVilDiE. The Syhias . .69

Subfamily SylviiXjE 69

Subfamily Ef.gulinve 72

Subfamily POLIOPTILIX.E 77

Family ('iiam.ead.k. The Ground-Tits 83

Family Pa 111 D.E. The Titmice . ; 86

Subfamily Pakix.e 86

Subfamily Sittixj: . . 113

Family Certhiad^. The Creepers 1-24

Family Tkoglodytih.e. The Wrens 130

Family JIotacillid.e. The Wagtails 164

Subfamily Motacillix.e 165

Subfamily AXTHIX.E 169

Family Sylviciii.id.e. The Warblers 177

Subfamily Sylyicolix.e 179

Subfamily Geuthlypix.e ... " 279

Subfamily IcTERi.iXi 306

Subfamily Setophagix^: 311

Family Hiruxdixid.b. The Swallows 326

Family Vireoxidj:. The Vireos 357

Family Ampelid.e. The Chatterers 395

Subfamily Ampelix.e 395

Subfamily Ptilogoxatix.e 404

vol.. I. 6



Family Laniid^e. The Shrikes 412

Family C^kebid^e. The Guits 425

Family Tanagkid^. Tlie Tauagers 431

Family Fkingillid.e. Tlie Finches 446

Subfamily Coccothraustin^ 446

Subfamily Pyrgitix^ 524

Subfamily Spizellin^ 528

Index to the Plates.

Plates 1 - 26.


The class of Birds (Avcs), as represented iu the present age of the world, is composed of xery many species, closely related among themselves and distinguished by numerous characters comraon to all. For tlie purposes of the present work it is hardly necessary to attempt the definition of what constitutes a bird, the veriest tyro being able to decide as to the fact iu regard to any North American animal. Nevertheless, for the sake of greater completeness, we may say that, compared with other classes, ^ liirds are abranchiate vertebrates, with a brain filling the cranial cavity, the cerebral portion of wliich is moderately well de\'eloped, the corpora striata connected by a small anterior commissure (no corpus callosum developed), jirosen- cephalic hemisi)heres large, the optic lobes lateral, the cerebellum trans- versely multifissured ; the lungs and heart not separated by a diaphragm from the abdominal viscera ; aortic arch single (the right only being devel- oped) ; blood, with nucleated red corpuscles, undergoing a complete circula- tion, being received and transmitted by the right half of the quadrilocular heart to the lungs for aeration (and thus warmed), and afterwards returned by the otlier half througli the system (there being no communication be- tween the arterial and \'enous portions) ; skull with a single median convex condyle, chietly on the Ijasi-occipital (witli tlie sutures for the most part early obliterated) ; the lower jaw witli its rami ossifying from several points, con- nected with the skull by tlie inter\'ention of a (juadrate bone (homologous with the malleus) ; pelvis with ilia prolonged in front of the acetabulum, ischia and pubes nearly parallel with each other, and the ischia usually sepai'ated : anterior and posterior members much differentiated ; the former modified for flight, with the humerus nearly parallel with the axis of the body and con- cealed in the muscles, the radius and ulna distinct, with two persistent carpal bones, and two to four digits ; the legs with the bones peculiarly combined, (1) the proximal tarsal bones coalescing with the adjoining tibia, and (2) the distal tarsal coalescing with three (second, third, aiul fourth) meta- tarsals (the first metatarsal being free), and forming the so-called tarso- metatarsus ; dermal ai)pendages develo]ied as feathers : oviparous, the eggs being fertilized witliin the body, excluded with an oval, calcareous shell, and

' AVe are iudpbtctl to Profus-sor Theodore N. (iill for tlie present aceoiuit of tlie eliaracteiistics of the class of Birds as distinguished from other vertebrates, pages xi-xv.


hatched at a temperature ofaliout 104° F. (generally hy tlie incuhation upon them uf the motherj.^

Such are some of tlie features common to all the existing species f)l' birtls.^ Many others might be enumerated, but only those are given which contrast with the characteristics of the mammals on the one hand and those of the reptiles on the other. Tlie inferior vertebrates are distinguished liy so many salient characters and are so widely separated from tlie liiglicr that they need not be compared with the present class.

Although birds are of course readily recognizable by the observer, and are definable at once, existing under present conditions, as warm-blooded \ erte- brates, witli the anterior members primitively adapted for flight, they are sometimes aborti\-e, and covered with feathers, snch cliaracteristics do not sutiice to enable us to appreciate the relations of tlie class. The character- istics have been given more fully in order to ])eriiiit a comparison l)etween the members of the class and those of the mammals and rejitiles. The class is without exception the most homogeneous in the animal kingdom ; and among the living forms less differences are observable than between the repre- sentatives of many natural orders among other classes. But still the differ- ences between them and the other existing forms are sufficient, perhajis, to authorize the distinction of the group as a class, and such rank has always been allowed excepting by one recent naturalist.

But if we further comjiare the cliaracters of the class, it becomes evident that tho.se shared in common witli the reptiles are much more numerous than those shared with the mammals. In this respect the views of natural- ists have clianged within recent years. Formerly the two character- istics shared with the mammals the ([uadrihicular heart and Mariii l)lood were deemed evidences of the close allinity of the two groups, and they were consequently combined as a section of the vertebrates, under the name of W'arm-lilooded Vertebrates. But recenll\- llu^ tendency has been, and very justly, to consider the birds and reptiles as members of a common group, sejiarated on the one hand from the mammals and on tlie other from the batrachians ; and to this combination of liirds and reptiles has been given the name Scmropsida.

1 Dr. Coues, in lii,s "Key to North Aniprican Birds," gives an able and extended article on the general eharacteristies of birds, and on their internal and e.xtei'nal anatomy, to which we refer our readers. A paper by Profe.ssor E. S. Morse in the "Annals of the New Yoik Lyceum of Natural History" (X, 1869), " On the Carpus and Tarsus of Birds," is of niueli soientific value.

'^ Cai-us and C.ei-staecker (Handbneh der Zoologie, 1868, 191) present tlu' loUowing definition of liirds as a (^lass :

Aves. Skin eoveivd wholly or in jnirt with feathers. Anterior pair of limbs, rnnvertcd into wing.s, generally used in lliglit ; sometimes rudimentary. Occiput with a single cundyle. Jaws encased in horny sheaths, which form a bill ; lower .jaw of several elements and articulated behind with a di.stinct ijuadrate bone attached to the skull. Heart with double aniicle and double ven- tricle. Air-spaces connected to a greater or less extent with the lungs ; the .skeleton more or less pnc'\nnatic. DIaidiiagm incomplete. Pelvis generally open. Re))roducfion by eggs, fertilized within the body, and hatched externally, either by incubation or by solar heat ; the shells cal- careous and hanl.


As already indicated, the range of ^'ariation within this class is extremely limited ; and it our views respecting the tuxunomic value of the sub- divisions are infiueuced by this condition of things, we are obliged to deny to the groups of living birds the right which has generally been conceded of ranking as ortlers.

The greatest tlistinctions existing among the living members of the class are exhibited on the one hand by the Ostriches and Kiwis and the related forms, and on the other by all the remaining birds.

These contrasted groups have been regarded by Professor Huxley as of ordinal value; l)ut the differences are so slight, in comparison with those which have received ordinal distinction in other classes, that the expe- diency of gi^'ing them that value is extremely doubtful ; and they can be combined into one order, wliich may appropriately bear the name of £i'rhipidi'r/i.

An objection has been urged to this depreciation of the value of the sub- divisions of tlie class, on the ground that the peculiar adaptation for flight, which is the prominent characteristic of birds, is incapable of being combined with a wider range of form. This is, at most, an explanation of the cause of the slight range of variation, and should not therefore affect the exposi- tion of the fact (thereby admitted) in a classification based on morphological characteristics. But it must also be borne in mind that flight is by no means incompatible with extreme modifications, not only of the organs of flight, but of other parts, as is well exemplified in the case of bats and the extinct pterodactyls.

Nor is the class of birds as now limited confined to the single order of M'hicli only we liave living representatives. In fossil forms we have, if the differences assumed be confirmed, types of two distinct orders, one being represented by the genus Arclta-optcryj: and another Ijy the genera Ichthi/ornis and Apatornis of Marsh. The first has been named Sanrurw by Hffickel ; the second Irhthyornifhidcs by Marsh.

Compelled thus to question the existence of any groups of ordinal A'alue among recent birds, we proceed now to examine the grounds upon which natu- ral subdivisions should be based. The prominent features in the classification of the class until recently have been the divisions into groups distinguished by their adaptation for different modes of life ; that is, whether aerial or for progression on laud, for wading or for swimming ; or, again, into Land and Water Birds. Such groups liave a certain value as simjily artificial combi- nations, but we must not be considered as thereby committing ourselves to such a system as a natural one.

Tlie time has scarcely arrived to ju.stify any system of classification hitherto proposed, and we can only have a sure foundation after an exhaust- ive study of the osteology, as well as the neurology and splanchnology, of the various members. Enough, however, has already been done to convince us that the subdivision of the class into Land and Water Birds does not express


tlie true relations of the members embraced under those heads. Enough has also been adduced to eualile us to group many forms into families and somewhat more comprehensive groups, definable by osteological and other characters. Such are the Charadrimoi'phre, Cecomorphae, Alectoromorphse, Pteroclomorjihie, Peristeromorphte, Coracomorphie, Cypselomorpha?, Celeo- morplia', Aetomorjihie, and several others. But it is very doubtful whether the true clew to the afSnities of the groups thus determined has been found in the relations of tlie vomer and contiguous bones. The families, too, have been probably, in a number of cases, especially for the passerine birds, too much circumscribed. The progress of systematic ornithology, however, has been so rapid within the last few years, that we may be allowed to hope that in a second edition of this work the means may be furnished for a strictly scientific classification and sequence of the families. (T. N. G.)

A primary di\ision of recent birds may be made by separation of tlie («) Batitcc, or struthious birds and their allies, in which the sternum lias no keel, is developed from lateral paired centres of ossification, and in wliich there are numerous other structiiral peculiarities of high taxonomic import, from the (h) Carinaicr, including all remaining birds of the present geologic ejwcli. Other primary divisions, such as that into A/trices and I'nnvccs of Bonaparte, or the corresponding yet somewhat modified and injproved Pitilopaales and Ptilopa»hs of Sund(>\-all, are oj)en to the serious objections tliat tliey ignore tlie profound distinctions between struthious and other birds, require too numerous exceptions, cannot be primarily determined by examination of adult specimens, and are based upon pliysiological considera- tions not necessarily co-ordinate with actual physical structure.

In the following scheme, without attempting to indicate positive taxo- nomic rank, and witliout committing myself finally, I present a number of liigher gi'oups into which Carinate birds may be di\'ided, capalile of ap- proximately exact definition, and apparently of approximately equivalent taxonomic value. Poiuts of the arrangement are freely drawn from the writings of various authors, as will he perceived by those competent to judge without special references. I am particularly indebted, however, to the late admirable and highly important work of Professor Sundevall,' from wliich very many cliaracters are directly borrowed. The arrangement, in effect, is a modification of that adopted by me in the " Key to Xortli Ameri- can Birds," upon considerations similar to those herewith implied. Tlie main jMjints of difference are non-recognition of three leading groups of aerial, terrestrial, and natatorial birds, groups without morphological basis, resting simply upon teleological modification ; a general depreciation of the taxonomic value of the several groups, conformabl}' with the considerations presented in tlie preceding pages of this work ; abolishing of tlie group Grallatores ; and recognition of a primary group Sphcnisci.^

' Mctliodi naturalis avhim disponendarum. tentameM. Stockliolm, 1872-73.

° This group is insusceptible of definition. The wading birds, as usually allocated, do not


A. PASSERES.' Hallux invariably piesont, completely iucamlifiit, sepa- rately movable by specialization of the flexor haUucis longas, witli enlarged base and its claw larger than that of the middle digit. Neither second nor fourth toe versatile: joints of toes always 2, 3, 4, 5, from first to fourth. Wing-coverts comparatively short and few ; with the exception of the least coverts upon the plica alaris, arranged in only two series, the greater of which does not reach beyond the middle of the secondary remiges.' Rec- trices twelve (with rare anomalous exceptions). Musical apparatus [jresent in greater or less development and complexity. Palate wgithognathous. Sternum of one particular mould, single-notched. Carotid single (sinistra). Nature highly altricial and psilopiedic.

a. Oscines.^ Sides of the tarsus covered in most or all of their extent ^vitli two undivided liorny plates meeting behind in a sharp ridge (ex- cept in Alaudidm ; one of the plates imperfectly divided in a few other forms). Musical apparatus highly developed, consisting of several dis- tinct pairs of syringeal muscles. Primaries nine only, or ten with the first frequently spurious, rarely over two thirds the length of the longest, never equalling the longest.

b. Clamatores.'' Sides of the tarsus covered with divided plates or scales variously arranged, its hinder edge blunt. Musical apparatus weak and imperfect, of few or incompletely distinguished syringeal muscles (as far as known). Primaries ten with rare exceptions, the first usually equalling or exceeding the rest.

B. PICARI.a3.^ Hallux inconsiderable, weak or wanting, not always in- cumbent, not separately movable by distinction of a special muscle, its claw not longer than that of the middle toe unless of exceptional shape (e. g. Cen- t7-opiis). Second or fourth toe frequently versatile ; third and fourth fre- quently with decreased number of joints. Wing-covei'ts for the most part larger and in more numerous series than in Pusseres, the greater series reaching beyond the middle of the secondary quills (except in many Pici and some others). Rectrices commonly ten (eight to twelve). Primaries always ten, the first only exceptionally short (as in Pici). Musical appara- tus wanting, or consisting of a muscular mass, or of not more than three pairs of syringeal muscles. Palate desmognathous or Eegithognathous. Sternum of non -passerine charactei', its posterior border entire or doubly notched or fenestrate. Carotid single or double. Nature completely al- tricial, but young sometimes hatched with down" (e. g. Caprimuhjidm).

possess in common one single character not also to be found in other groups, nor is the colloca- tion of their characters jieculiar.

^ Corresponding closely with the Linn;ean and earlier Sundevalliaii acceptation of the term. E([uivalent to the later Oscincs of Sundevall.

^ As remarked by Sundevall, exceptions to the diagnostic pertinence of these two characters of hind claw and wing-coverts taken together are scarcely found. For, in those non-passerine birds, as Maplores and some fferodiones, in which the claw is enlarged, the wing-coverts are otherwise disposed ; and similarly when, as in many Pici and elsewhere, the coverts are of a pas- serine character, the feet are highly diverse.

' Laminiplaiitares of Sundevall plus Alaudidm.

* SciUcllij)! ante res of Sundevall minus Almi.dida;.

^ Nearly equivalent to the Linnajan Piac. Equal to the late (1873) Volucres of Sundevall.

° A polymorphic group, perfectly distinguished from Pasxcres by the above characters in which, for the most part, it appro.vimates to one or another of the following lower groups, from whifh, severally, it is distinguished by the inapplicability of the characters noted beyond. My divisions


a. Cypseli. Palate segithognathous. Wings lengthened in their ter- minal portions, abbreviated basally, with the first primary not reduced. Tail of ten rectrices. BUI fissirostral or tenuirostral. Feet never zygo- dactyle nor syndactyle, small, weak, scarcely fitted for locomotion ; hallux often elevated or lateral or reversed ; front toes usually webbed at base, or with abnormal ratio of phalanges in length and number, or both. Sternum deep-keeled, usually entire or else doubly notched or perforate. Syringeal muscles not more than one pair. h. Cuculi. Palate desmognathous. Wings not peculiar in brevity of proximal or length of distal portions, and with first primary not reduced. Tail of eight to twelve rectrices. Bill of indeterminate form, never cered; tongue not extensile. Feet variously modified by versatility or reversion of either first, second, or fourth toes, or by cohesion for a great distance of third and fourth, or by absence or rudimentary condi- tion of first or second ; often highly scansorial, rarely ambulatorial. Syringeal muscles two pairs at most.

c. Pici. Palate " exhibiting a simplification and degradation of the regithognathous structure " (Huxley) ; wings bearing out this passerine affinity in the common reduction of the first primary and the restriction of the greater coverts. Tail of ten perfect rectrices and usually a sup- plementary pair. Rostrum hard, straight, narrow, subequal to head, with commonly extensile and vermiform but not fin-eate tongue. Feet highly scansorial. Fourth toe permanently reversed ; basal phalanges of toes abbreviated. Sternum doul)ly notched. Salivary glands highly develo]ie(l. Hyoidean apparatus peculiar.

C. PSITTACI. Bill enormously thick, short, high, much arched from the base, the upper mandible strongly hooked at the end, cered at base, and freely movable by comi>lete articulation with the forehead, the under man- dible with short, broad, truncate symphysis. Feet permanently zygodactyle by reversion of the fourth toe, which articulates by a double facet. Tarsi reticulate. Syrinx peculiarly constructed of three pairs of intrinsic muscles. Tongue short, thick, fleshy. Sternum entire or fenestrate. Clavicles weak, defective, or wanting. Orbit more or less completed by approach or union of postorbital process and lachrymal. Altricial; psilopsedic.

D. RAPTORES. Bill usually powerful, adapted for tearing flesh, strongly (U'curved ami hooked at the end, furnished with a cere in which the nostrils open. Feet strongly flexible, with large, sharp, much curved claws gradually narrowed from base to tip, convex on the sides, that of the second toe larger than that of the fourili toe, and the hinder not smaller than the second one. Feet never permanently zygodactyle, though fom'th toe often versatile ; an- terior toes commonly with one basal web: hallux considerable and com- pletely incumbent (except Catliartidoe). Legs feathered to the suBVago or beyond. Rectrices twelve (with rare exceptions) ; primaries sinuate or emarginate (with rare exceptions). Sternum singly or doubly notched or fenestrate. Palate desmognathous. Carotids double. Syrinx wanting or developed witli only one pair of muscles. Altricial ; the young being weak and hflp]c-ss. vet ptilopa'dic. being downy at birth.

E. COLITMB^. Bill straight, compressed, horny at the vaulted tip, which is separated by a constriction from the soft membranous basal portion. Nos-

of Picarue correspond respectivfly to the Ci/psdomorpJue, Coccygomorphm, and Cdcomorphx of Hnxley, from whom many of the characters are borrowed.


trils beneath a soft, tumid valve. Tomia of the mandibles mutually apposed. Frontal feathers sweeping in strongly convex outUne across base of upper mandible. Legs feathered to the tarsus or beyond. Hallux incumbent (with few exceptions); and front toes rarely webbed at base. Tarsus with small scutella in front, or oftener reticulate, the envelope rather membranous than corneous. Head very small. Plumage without after-shafts. One pair of syringeal muscles. Sternum doubly notched, or notched and fenestrate on each side. Carotids double. Palate schizognathous. Monogamous, and highly altricial and psilopa^dic.

F. GALLIN.S:. Bill generally short, stout, convex, with an obtuse vaulted tiji, ccjineous except in the nasal fossa, and without constriction in its continuity. Nostrils scaled or feathered. Tomia of upper mandible over- lapping. Frontal feathers forming re-entrant outline at the base of upper mandible. Legs usually feathered to the tarsus or beyond. Hallux ele- vated, with few exceptions (e. g. Cracidos and Megapodidce), smaller than the anterior toes, occasionally wanting (as in the Hemipods). Tarsus, when not feathered, generally broadly scutellate. Front toes commonly webbed at base. Claws blunt, little curved. Wings strong, short, and concavo-convex. Eectrices commonly more than twelve. Head small. Plumage usually afler-shafted. Carotids double (except Turnicidce and Megapodidce). No intrinsic syringeal muscles. Sternum very deeply, generally doubly, notched. Palatu sc'liizoirnatlious. Chiefly polygamous. Priecocial and ptilopajdic.

G. I1IMICOL.S. Tibiffi bare of feathers for a variable (sometimes very slight) distance above the suffrago. Legs commonly lengthened, some- times excessively so, and neck usually produced in corresponding ratio. Tarsi scutellate or reticulate. Toes never coherent at base ; cleft, or united for a short distance by one or two small movable basal webs (palmate only in Recurvirostm, lobate only in Phnlaropodidce). Hallux always reduced, obviously elevated and free, or wanting; giving a foot of cursorial char- acter. Wings, with few exceptions, lengthened, pointed, and flat; the inner primaries and outer secondaries very short, forming a strong re-entrance on the posterior border of the wing. Tail shorter than the wing, of simple form, and of few feathers, except in certain Snipes. Head globose, sloping rapidly down to the contracted base of the bill, completely feathered (except Philomachus ^). Gape of bill short and constricted ; tip usually obtuse ; bill weak and flexible. Rostrum commonly lengthened, and more or less terete and slender; membranous wholly or in great part, without hard cut- ting edges. Nostrils narrow, placed low down, entirely surrounded with soft skin ; nasal fossa3 extensive. Palate schizognathous. Sternum usually doubly, sometimes singly, notched. Carotids double. Pterylosis of a par- ticular pattern. Nature priecocial and ptilop^dic. Comprising the " Plover- Snipe " group ; species of medium and small size, with never extremely compressed or depressed body ; more or less aquatic, living on plains and in open places, usually near water, nesting on the ground, where the young run freely at birth.

H. HERODIONES. Tibite naked below. Legs and neck much length- ened in corresponding ratio. Toes long, slender, never coherent at base, where cleft, or with movable basal webbing. Hallux (as compared with that of the preceding and following group) lengthened, free, and either perfectly incumbent or but little elevated, with a large claw, giving a foot of insessorial character. Wings commonly obtuse, but broad and ample, with- out marked re-entrance on posterior border, the intermediate reniiges not


being mucli abbreviated. Tail short and few-feathered. Head narrow, co- nico-elongated, gradually contracting to the large, stout base of the bill ; the loral and orbital I'egion, or the whole head, naked. Gape of the bill deeply fissured; tip usually acute; tomia hard and cutting. Bill conico-elongate, always longer than the head, stout and firm. Kostrils small, placed high up, with entirely bony and horny, or only .slightly membranous, surround- ings. Pterylosis nearly peculiar in the presence, almost throughout the group, of powder-down tracts, rarely found elsewhere ; pterylse very narrow. Palate desmognathous Carotids double. Altricial. Comprising the Herons, Storks, Ibises, etc. (not Cranes). Species usually of large stature, with com- pressed body and very long S-bent neck; perching and nesting usually in trees, bushes, or other high places near water; young hatching weak, scarcely feathered, and reared in the nest.

I. ALECTORIDES.' Tibije naked below. Neck, legs, and feet much as in the la.st gruiip, but liallux reduced and obviously elevated, with small claw, the resulting foot cursorial (natatorial and lobate in Fulka). AV'ings and tail commonly ;is in Herodinnes. Head less narrowed and conic than in the last, fully feathered or with extensive baldness (not with definite naked- ness of loral and orbital regions). Bill of various shape, usually lengthened and obtuse, never extensively membranous. Rictus moderate. Nostrils lower than in Ilerodiunes. Pterylosis not peculiar. Palate schizognathous. Carotids double. Nature piwcocial and ptilopxdic. Comprising the Cranes and Rails and their allies ; the former agreeing with the Herodiones super- ficially in st.iture, etc., but highly diverse in the schizognathous palate, pnwocial natiu-e, etc.

J. LAMELLIROSTRES. Feet palmate; tibi;iB feathered (except Ph«- nicupterus). Legs near centre of equilibrium of the body, its axis horizontal in walking ; not lengthened except in Phoenkopterus. Knee-joint rarely exserted beyond general skin of the body. Wings moderate, reaching wlien folded to, but not beyond, the usually short and rounded (exceptionally long and cuneate) tail. Feet tetradactyle (except sometimes in Phcenicopterus) ; hallux reduced, elevated and free, often independently lobate. Bill lamel- late, i. e., furnished along each commissural edge with a regular scries of mutually adajjted lamina; or tooth-like processes, with which correspond certain laciniate processes of the fleshy tongue, which ends in a horny tip. Bill large, thick, high at base, depressed towards the end, membranous to the broad obtuse tip, which is occupied by a horny " nail " of various shape. Nostrils patent, never tubular; nasal fossse slight. No gular pouch. Plu- mage dense, to resist water. Eyes very small. Head high, compressed, with lengthened, sloping frontal region. Palate desmognathous. Repro- duction pi-iccocial; young ptilopiedic. Eggs numerous. Carotids double. Sternum sinL'lc-niitnlied. Comprising Flamingoes and all the Anserine birds. K. STEGANOPODES. Feet totipalmat« ; hallux lengthened, nearly in- (Himljent, semilateral, completely united with the second toe by a full web. Tibia; feathered ; position of legs with reference to axis of body variable, but generally far po.sterior ; knee-joint not free. Wings and tail variable. Bill of very variable shape, never lamellate, wholly corneous; its tomia often serrate ; external nares very small or finally abortive. A prominent naked gular pouch. Tarsi reticulate. Sternum entire or nearly so ; furcu-

^ Groups O., H., and I. are respectively equal to the Charadriomnrpha:, Pelanjomarpha, and GeranomorpluE of Huxley.


luin connucnt witli its keel. Carotids douljje. Palate highly desmogna- thous. Reproduction aliricial; young psilopiedic or ptilop<edic. Eggs threap or fewer.

Li. LONGIPENNES. (To mo.st of the characters of the group here given the genus Ilalndroma is a signal exception, though unquestionably belong- ing here.) Feet palmate. Tibia; feathered. Legs at or near centre of equi- librium, affording horizontal position of axis of body in walking. Knee scarcely buried in common integument; tibia sometimes with a long apo- physis. Hallux elevated, free, functionless ; very small, rudimentary, or wanting. Rostrum of variable shape, usually compressed and straight to the hooked end, sometimes entirely straight and acute, commonly length- ened, always corneous, without serration or true lamellae. Nostrils of vari- ous forms, tubular or simply fissured, never abortive. No gular pouch. Wings very long and pointed, surpassing the base and often the end of the large, well-formed, few-feathered tail. Carotids double. Palate schizog- nathous. Reproduction altricial ; young ptilopiedic. Eggs three or fewer. Habit highly volueral.

M, PYGOPODES. Feet palmate or lobate. Tibia; feathered, often with a long apophysis, always buried in counnon integument nearly to the heel- joint, necessitating a more or less erect posture of the body on land, where progression is difficult. Hallux small, elevated or wanting; feet lobate or palmate. Bill of indeterminate shape, wholly corneous, never lamellate or serrate, nor with gular pouch. Nostrils not abortive. Wings very short, reaching scarcely or not to the base, never to the tip, of the .short, some- times rudimentary, tail. Palate schizognathous. Carotid usually double, sometimes single (in Podiceps and Mergulus). Nature altricial or prrecocial; young ptiloprrdir. Highly natatorial.

fi. SPHENISCI. With general characters of the last group, but dis- tinguished by unique ptilosis and wing-structure, etc. Plumage without apteria, of singularly modified scale-like feathers on most parts ; no devel- oped remiges. Wings unfit for flight, insusceptible of perfect flexion or extension, very short, with peculiarly flattened bones and stable articulations. Skeleton non-pneumatic. Many bones, terete in ordinary birds, here flattened. Metatarsal bone flattened transversely, doubly fenestrate. Hallux elevated, lateral, minute, free. No free pollex. Two anconal sesamoids ; patella from double centres; tibia without apophysis; a free tarsal ossicle. Ster- num with long lateral apophyses. Pelvic connections unstable. Caro- tids double. Comprising only the Penguins. Confined to the Southern Hemisphere.

Having thus presented and defined an arrangement of the higlier group.s into which recent Carinate birds are susceptible of division, I next proceed to the consideration of the North American Families of birds wliicli the autliors of the present work have provisionally adopted as suitable to the end they had in view. Professor Baird urges the caution that the scheme is intended merely for the convenient determination of the North American species, aware that in many instances diagnoses or antitheses of entire pertinence in such application would fail or be negatived by con- sideration of the e.xotic forms. The arrangement of tlie families here adopted is essentially that presented in 18.38 in Professor Baird's " Birds of


Xortli America," modified somewhat in accordance with more recent views of Professor Sundevall and others. But before proceeding to tlie analysis of the families, I will introduce an artificial clew to the preceding higlier groups as adopted, so far as they are rejiresented by North American species.


By means of which any North Amei-imn bird may be readily referred to tJuit group to xchich it

is lield to belong.

I. Toes 3 ; 2 in IVoiil, 1 Iji-liiiid (Pici) Vlcxv.\s..

II. Toe.s 3 ; all in front. Toe.s deft or semipalmate Limicolje.

Toe.s palmate. Nostrils tubular .... Loxgipesnes. Nostrils not tubular . Pygopodes.

III. Toes 4 ; 2 in front, '2 behind. Bill eered and hooked P.slTTACi.

Bill neither cered nor hooked. (Cucu/i or Pici) Pic.\ri.e.

IV. Toes 4 ; 3 in front, 1 behind.

1. Toes .syudactyle (Cuctili) Pic.4lil.E.

2. Toes totipalmate (all four full-webbed) ...... Steg.\nopodes.

3. Toes palmate. Bill eun-ed up ....... hniKOLlE.

Bill not eurved up ; lamellate . . Lamelliro.stres.

not lamellate ; hallux lobate . Pygopodes.

hallux not lobate LoNGIPENNES.

4. Toes lobate. Tail rudimentary . . . Py'gopodes.

Tail perfeet. A homy frontal .sliield Alectokides.

No horny frontal shield .... LlMlcoL^.

5. Toes semipalmate ; joined by evident movable basal web (A).

6. Toes cleft to the base, or there immovably coherent (B). A. Hind toe elevated above the level of the rest.

Tibiie naked below. Nostrils perforate Alectokides.

Nostrils imperforate. Tarsi reticulate. Head bald . HEnoDioxEs.

Head feathered Limicol*;. Tarsi scutellate in front . . Limicol.e.

Tibiffi feathered below. Nostrils perforate R-A.ptokes.

No.strils imperforate. Gape reaching below eye. (Cypseli) PiCAia.ffi. Gape not reaching below eye . Gallin.e. AA. Hind toe inserted on the level of the rest.

Tibia; naked below Hekodiones.

Tibiae feathered below. Bill cered and hooked Raptores.

Bill not cered. Nasal membrane soft an<l tumid . Columb*. Na-sal scale hard and flat . . . Gallin.jb. B> Hind toe elevated above the level of the rest.

Gape reaching below eye {Cyi>seli) Picaki*.

Gape not below eye. First priniaiy emarginate or about equal to 2d . . Limicol.^;. First primary not emarginate and much shorter than 2d, Alectorides. BB« Hind toe inserted on the level of the rest.

Nostrils opening beneath soft swollen membrane . . . . . Columb.e.

Nostrils otherwise. Bill cered and hooked Raptores.

Bill otherwise. Secondaries only .six . . (Cypseli) Picari.^.

Secondaries more than six («) . . . Passeres.

(a) Primaries 10 ; the 1st more than § as long as the longest. (GlamcUores) Passeres.

Primaries in; the 1st not? as long as the longest. ) (o,,,-„^,) , .Passeres.

Primaries 9. )


Keeurriug now to cousideratiou of the Xurtli Aiuerican Fnuti/ifs of the foregoiug higher groups, I take up the latter in the natural order in which they have been presented, giving under head of each such group an analysis of the North American families by which it is re^jresented, reiterating the caution that the characters are drawn up only with reference to the North American genera, and are, consequently, not necessarily or always applicable upon wider considerations. These analyses are made as nearly natural as the state of the case permits, but I seize upon any obvious external char- acters which may be afforded,