In the beginning of May 1808, I shot five of these birds, on a very cold morning, near Pottsgrove, in the State of Pennsylvania. There was a slight fall of snow at the time, although the peach and apple trees were already in full bloom. I have never met with a single individual of this species since. They all had their wings drooping, as if suffering severely from the sudden change of the weather, and had betaken themselves to the lower rails of a fence, where they were engaged in searching after insects, particularly spiders. I procured every one of those which I met with that morning, and which were five in number, two of them males, and the rest females.
Where this species goes to breed I am unable to say, for to my inquiries on this subject I never received any answers which might have led me to the districts resorted to by it. I can only suppose, that if it is at all plentiful in any portion of the United States, it must be far to the northward, as I ransacked the borders of Lake Ontario, and those of Lakes Erie and Michigan, without meeting with it. I do not know of any naturalist who has been more fortunate, otherwise I should here quote his observations.
The females had the ovaries furnished with numerous eggs, about the size of the head of a common pin. The stomach of all the birds which I killed contained some grass seeds of the preceding year, and a few small black spiders; but the birds appeared half starved. Having procured them near the ground, I have placed them on a plant which grows about the fields, and flowers in the beginning of May.
CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER, Sylvia icterocephala, Wils. Amer. Orn., vol. i. p. 99.
SYLVIA ICTEROCEPHALA, Bonap. Syn., p. 80.
CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER, Sylvia icterocephala, Nutt. Man., vol. i. p. 380.
CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER, Sylvia icterocephala, Aud. Orn. Biog., vol. i. p. 306.
Outer three quills nearly equal, second slightly longer; tail slightly emarginate. Male with the upper part of the head light yellow, a small part of the forehead white; loral space and two bands proceeding from it, one over and behind the eye, the other downwards, black; upper parts bluish ash-grey, tinged behind with greenish-yellow, and streaked with black; secondary coverts and first row of small coverts largely tipped with pale yellow; quills and tail-feathers brownish-black, primaries edged with greyish-white, secondaries with yellowish-green; outer three tail-feathers on each side with a white patch on the inner web at the end; lower parts white, sides of the neck and body deep chestnut. Female similar, but with the chestnut on the sides less extended, and the yellow on the head tinged with green.
Male, 5 1/4, 8.
From Texas northward. Rather common. Migratory.
THE MOTH MULLEIN.
VERBASCUM BLATTARIA, Willd., Sp. Pl., vol. i. p. 1005. Pursch, Flor. Amer., vol. i. p. 142. Smith., Engl. Flor., vol. i. p. 513. --PENTANDRIA MONOGYNIA, Linn.--SOLANEAE, JUSS.
A biennial plant, distinguished from the other species of the same genus by its amplexicaul ovato-oblong, rugose, serrated, glabrous leaves, and one-flowered solitary pedicels. The ordinary colour of the flowers is yellow, but the plant represented is of a variety with larger whitish or pale rose-coloured flowers. It grows in fields and bye-roads, and is of common occurrence.
For more on this species, see its entry in the Birds of North America Field Guide.