130 CHESTNUT CROWNED TITMOUSE
|My friend NUTTALL'S account of this Titmouse is as
follows.--"We first observed the arrival of this plain and
diminutive species on the banks of the Wahlamet, near to its confluence
with the Columbia, about the middle of May. Hopping about in the hazel
thickets which border the alluvial meadows of the river, they appeared
very intent and industriously engaged in quest of small insects,
chirping now and then a slender call of recognition. They generally flew
off in pairs, but were by no means shy, and kept always in the low
bushes or the skirt of the woods. The following day I heard the males
utter a sort of weak monotonous short and quaint song, and about a week
afterwards I had the good fortune to find the nest, about which the male
was so particularly solicitous as almost unerringly to draw me to the
spot, where hung from a low bush, about four feet from the ground, his
little curious mansion, formed like a long purse, with a round hole for
entrance near the summit. It was made chiefly of moss, down, lint of
plants, and lined with some feathers. The eggs, six in number, were pure
white, and already far gone towards being hatched. I saw but few other
pairs in this vicinity, but on the 21st of June, in the dark woods near
Fort Vancouver, I again saw a flock of about twelve, which, on making a
chirp something like their own call, came around me very familiarly, and
kept up a most incessant and querulous chirping. The following season
(April 1836) I saw numbers of these birds in the mountain thickets
around Santa Barbara, in Upper California, where they again seemed
untiringly employed in gleaning food in the low bushes, picking up or
catching their prey in all postures, sometimes like the common
Chickadee, head downwards, and letting no cranny or corner escape their
unwearied search. As we did not see them in the winter, they migrate in
all probability throughout Mexico and the Californian peninsula at this
According to Mr. TOWNSEND, "the Chinooks name it a-ha-ke-lok. It is a constant resident about the Columbia river; hops about in the bushes, and frequently hangs from the twigs in the manner of other Titmice, twittering all the while with a rapid enunciation resembling the words thshish, tshist, tsee, twee. The irides are bright yellow."
PARUS MINIMUS, Chestnut-crowned Titmouse, Towns. Jour. Acad. Nat. Sc. Philadelphia, vol. vii. p. 190.
CHESTNUT-CROWNED TITMOUSE, Parus minimus, Aud. Orn. Biog., vol. iv. p. 382.
Bill short, strong, compressed; upper mandible with its outline arched, the sides sloping and convex; the edges sharp, the tip descending, acute, and considerably exceeding that of the lower; which has the angle short, the dorsal line ascending and very slightly convex, the edges sharp, the tip acute. Nostrils round, basal. Head rather large, broadly ovate, convex in front; neck short; body slender. Feet of moderate length, tarsus proportionally longer than in any other American species, stout, compressed, with seven anterior scutella, and two lateral plates, forming a very sharp edge behind. Toes moderately stout, the first with its claw equal to the third, the anterior united as far as the first web. Claws rather large, arched, compressed, acute.
Plumage soft and blended. Wings short, very broad, concave, rounded; first quill half the length of the second, which is a quarter of all inch shorter than the outer secondaries. Tail very long, being half the entire length of the bird, slightly arched, much rounded, and a little emarginate.
Bill black; feet and claws dusky or blackish-brown. Upper part of the bead and hind neck dull greyish-brown; upper parts brownish-grey; wings and tail dusky brown, tinged with grey, the margins of the quills and tail-feathers greyish-white. Cheeks of a paler tint than the head; all the lower parts brownish-white, the sides tinged with reddish.
Length to end of tail 4 1/2 inches; wing from flexure 1 (10 1/2)/12; tail 2 2/12; bill along the ridge (4 1/4)/12; tarsus 7/12; hind toe (2 3/4)/12, its claw (2 3/4)/12; middle toe 4/12, its claw 2/12.
The female is rather smaller, and its colours are somewhat paler.
A nest presented to me by Mr. NUTTALL is of a cylindrical form, nine inches long and three and a half in diameter. It is suspended from the fork of a small twig, and is composed externally of hypna, lichens, and fibrous roots, interwoven so as to present a smoothish surface, and with a few stems of grasses, and some feathers of Garrulus Stelleri intermixed. The aperture, which is at the top, does not exceed seven-eighths of an inch in diameter; but for two-thirds of the length of the nest, the internal diameter is two inches. This part is lined with the cottony down of willows, carefully thrust into the interstices, and contains a vast quantity of soft feathers, chiefly of Steller's Jay, with some others, among which can be distinguished those of Tetrao urophasianus, Columba fasciata, and Tanagra ludoviciana. The eggs, nine in number, are pure white, (4 1/2)/8 of an inch in length, by (3 1/2)/8 broad, and are rather pointed at the small end.