The Small Green Crested Flycatcher is not abundant, even in South Carolina, in the maritime parts of which it occasionally breeds. It merely passes through Louisiana, in early spring and in autumn; but it is found distributed from Maryland to the eastern extremities of Nova Scotia, proceeding perhaps still farther north, although neither I nor any of my party observed a single individual in Newfoundland or Labrador.
It is a usual inhabitant of the most gloomy and secluded parts of our deep woods, although now and then a pair may be found to have taken possession of a large orchard near the house of the farmer. Almost as pugnacious as the King-bird, it is seen giving chase to every intruder upon its premises, not only during the season of its loves, but during its whole stay with us. As soon as it has paired, it becomes so retired that it seldom goes farther from its nest than is necessary for procuring food.
Perched on some small spray or dry twig, it stands erect, patiently eyeing the objects around. When it perceives an insect, it sweeps after it with much elegance, snaps its bill audibly as it seizes the prey, and on realighting, utters a disagreeable squeak. While perched it is heard at intervals repeating its simple, guttural, gloomy notes, resembling the syllables queae, queae, tchooe, tchewee. These notes are often followed, as the bird passes from one tree to another, by a low murmuring chirr or twitter, which it keeps up until it alights, when it instantly quivers its wings, and jerks its tail a few times. At intervals it emits a sweeter whistling note, sounding like weet, weet, weet, will; and when angry it emits a loud chirr.
Early in May, in our Middle Districts, the Small Green Crested Flycatcher constructs its nest, which varies considerably in different parts of the country, being made warmer in the northern localities, where it breeds almost a month later. It is generally placed in the darkest shade of the woods, in the upright forks of some middle-sized tree, from eight to twenty feet above the ground, sometimes so low as to allow a man to look into it. In some instances I have found it on the large horizontal branches of an oak, when it looked like a knot. It is always neat and well-finished, the inside measuring about two inches in diameter, with a depth of an inch and a half. The exterior is composed of stripes of the inner bark of various trees, vine fibres and grasses, matted together with the down of plants, wool, and soft moss. The lining consists of fine grass, a few feathers, and horse hair. The whole is light, elastic, and firmly coherent, and is glued to the twigs or saddled on the branch with great care. The eggs are from four to six, small, and pure white. While the female is sitting, the male often emits a scolding chirr of defiance, and rarely wanders far from the nest, but relieves his mate at intervals. In the Middle States they often have two broods in the season, but in Maine or farther north only one. The young follow their parents in the most social manner; but before these birds leave us entirely, the old and the young form different parties, and travel in small groups towards warmer regions.
I have thought that this species throws up pellets more frequently than most others. Its food consists of insects during spring and summer, such as moths, wild bees, butterflies, and a variety of smaller kinds; but in autumn it greedily devours berries and small grapes. Although not shy with respect to man, it takes particular notice of quadrupeds, following a minx or polecat to a considerable distance, with every manifestation of anger. The mutual affection of the male and female, and their solicitude respecting their eggs or young, are quite admirable.
The flight of the Small Green Flycatcher is performed by short glidings, supported by protracted flaps of the wings, not unlike those of the Pewee Flycatcher; and it is often seen, while passing low through the woods or following the margins of a creek, to drink in the manner of Swallows, or sweep after its prey, until it alights. Like the King-bird, it always migrates by day.
SMALL GREEN CRESTED FLYCATCHER, Muscicapa querula, Wils. Amer. Orn., vol. ii. p. 77.
SMALL PEWEE, Nutt. Man., vol. i. p. 288.
MUSCICAPA ACADICA, Bonap. Syn., p. 68.
SMALL GREEN CRESTED FLYCATCHER, Muscicapa acadica, Aud. Orn. Biog., vol. ii. p. 256; vol. v. p. 427.
Bill broad and much depressed; second quill longest, third a little shorter, first shorter than fourth; tall scarcely emarginate, upper parts dull greenish-olive, the head darker; wings and tail dusky-brown; two bands of dull pale yellow on the wing, the secondary quills broadly edged and tipped with the same; a narrow ring of yellowish-white round the eye; throat greyish-white; sides of neck and fore part of breast greyish-olive, the rest of the lower parts yellowish-white.
Male, 5 1/2, 8 1/2.
From Texas northward. Migratory.
LAURUS SASSAFRAS, Willd. Sp. Pl., vol. ii. p. 485. Pursch, Fl. Amer. Sept., vol. i. p. 277.--ENNEANDRIA MONOGYNIA, Linn.--LAURI, Juss.
The Sassafras grows on almost every kind of soil in the Southern and Western States, where it is of common occurrence. Along the Atlantic States it extends as far as New Hampshire, and still farther north in the western country. The beauty of its foliage and its medicinal properties render it one of our most interesting trees. It attains a height of fifty or sixty feet, with a proportionate diameter. The leaves are alternate, petiolate, oval, and undivided, or three-lobed. The flowers, which appear before the leaves, are of a greenish-yellow colour, and the berries are of an oval form and bluish-black tint, supported on cups of a bright red, having long filiform peduncles.