Plate 369

Mountain Mocking bird and Varied Thrush

Read more about these species in our Bird Guide: Sage Thrasher, Varied Trush

This interesting and hitherto unfigured species was procured on the Rocky Mountains by Mr. TOWNSEND, who forwarded a single specimen to Philadelphia, where I made a drawing of it. The following notice by Mr. NUTTALL shews that it is nearly allied in its habits to the Mocking-bird:-- 

"On the arid plains of the central table-land, betwixt the northern sources of the Platte and the Colorado of the West, in the month of June, we frequently heard the cheering song of this delightful species, whose notes considerably resemble those of the Brown Thrush, with some of the imitative powers of the Mocking-bird. For a great part of the day, and especially early and late, its song resounds through the desert plains, as it warbles to its mate from some tall weed or bush of wormwood, and continues with little interruption nearly for an hour at a time. We met with it in the plains exclusively, till our arrival at Wallah Wallah, but we are not certain of having seen it in any part of California, it being apparently entirely confined to the cooler and open regions of the Rocky Mountains. Just before arriving at Sandy-Creek of the Colorado, while resting for refreshment at noon, I had the good fortune to find the nest in a wormwood bush, on the margin of a ravine, from whence the male was singing with its usual energy. It contained four almost emerald green eggs, spotted with dark olive of two shades, more numerous towards the greater end, the spots large and roundish. The nest itself was made of small twigs and rough stalks, lined with stripes of bark and bison wool. The female flew off to a little distance, and looked on her unwelcome and unexpected visiter, without uttering either call or complaint." 

ORPHEUS MONTANUS, Mountain Mocking-bird, Towns., Journ. Acad. Nat. Sc. Philadelphia, vol. vii. p. 192. 

MOUNTAIN MOCKING-BIRD, Turdus montanus, Aud. Orn. Biog., vol. iv. p. 487. 

Bill of moderate length, rather slender, compressed, straightish, pointed; upper mandible with the dorsal line slightly declinato-arcuate, the sides convex toward the end, the edges sharp, with a slight sinus-close to the narrow declinate tip; lower mandible with the angle short and narrow, the dorsal line straight, the edges sharp and a little declinate at the end, the tip narrow; the gape-line very slightly arched. 

Head oblong, of ordinary size; neck rather short, but somewhat slender. Feet longish, rather strong; tarsus compressed, anteriorly covered with seven large scutella, sharp-edged behind; toes of moderate length, slender, the hind toe stout, the lateral nearly equal, the anterior united for a short space at the base. Claws slender, arched, compressed, acute. 

Plumage soft and blended. Wings of moderate length, rounded, the first quill short, the third and fourth longest, the second and fifth equal, and about a quarter of an inch shorter than the fourth. Tall long, rounded, of twelve rather narrow rounded feathers. 

Bill dark brown, the base of the lower mandible paler. Feet yellowish-brown, claws dusky. The general colour of the upper parts is greyish-brown, the tips of the secondary coverts, the edges of the primary quills, and a large spot at the end of the three lateral tail-feathers, white; the lower parts whitish, marked with triangular dusky spots, of which there is a distinct line from the base of the bill; the throat, the middle of the breast, the abdomen, and lower tail-coverts unspotted. 

Length to end of tail 8 inches, to end of wings 5 3/4; wing from flexure 3 9/12; tail 3 1/2; bill along the ridge (7 1/2)/12; tarsus 1 2/12; hind toe 4/12, its claw 4/12; middle toe 8/12, its claw (3 1/4)/12.

For more on this species, see its entry in the Birds of North America Field Guide.