Plate 179

Wood Wren

I feel much pleasure in introducing this new species to you, a family of which were shot by my sons in a deep wood, eight or ten miles from Eastport in Maine, in the summer of 1832. The young were following their parents through the dark and tangled recesses of their favourite places of abode busily engaged in search of their insect prey; but their nest was not seen. Some weeks afterwards three adult birds of the same kind were shot near Dennisville in the same district; and, on shewing them to my young and intelligent friend THOMAS LINCOLN, Esq. he told me that they bred in hollow logs in the woods, and seldom if ever approached the farms. He had seen the eggs, but, considering it a common species there, had made no notes of their number or colour; nor had he attended to the form or materials of their nest. My drawing was made at that place. 

In winter, while at Charleston, South Carolina, I saw many of them: they had much the same habits as in Maine, remaining in thick hedges along ditches, in the woods, and also not far distant from plantations. I procured several through the assistance of my friend JOHN BACHMAN, which now form part of my large collection of skins of our birds. The notes of this species differ considerably from those of the House Wren, to which it is nearly allied. I hope to be more familiar with the Wood Wren before any labours are completed, in which case I shall not fail to make you acquainted with the result of my observations. 

An egg of this bird, procured in the State of Vermont, and presented to me by Dr. T. M. BREWER of Boston, differs from those of all our other Wrens: it measures six-eighths of an inch in length, four and a half eighths in breadth; its ground-colour is dull yellowish-white, blotched all over with rather large markings of pale purplish-red, and zigzag streaks of deep blackish-brown, more numerous around the middle than at either end. 

WOOD WREN, Troglodytes Americana, Aud. Orn. Biog., vol. ii. p. 452;vol. v. p. 469. 

Adult Male. 

Bill of moderate length, nearly straight, slender, acute, subtrigonal at the base, compressed towards the tip; upper mandible with the ridge rather sharp, the sides convex towards the end, the edges acute and overlapping, the tip slightly declinate and acute; lower mandible narrow, the side's convex, the sharp edges inflected. Nostrils elliptical, straight, basal, with a cartilaginous lid above, open and bare. Head ovate, neck short, body rather full. Legs of ordinary length, rather large; tarsus rather long, compressed, covered anteriorly with seven scutella, sharp behind; lateral toes equal and smallest, hind toe strongest; claws rather long, slender, acute, arched, much compressed. 

Plumage soft, blended, slightly glossed. No bristly feathers about the base of the beak. Wings short, broad; the first quill half the length of the second, which is much shorter than the third; the fourth and fifth longest. Tail rather long, broad, graduated, of twelve rounded feathers. 

Bill dusky brown above, lower mandible brownish-yellow, the tip dusky. Iris hazel. Feet flesh-colour tinged with brown. The general colour of the upper parts is dark reddish-brown, duller, and tined with grey on the head, indistinctly barred with dark brown; wings and tail undulatingly banded with dark brown, the edges of the outer primaries lighter. The under parts are pale brownish-grey, faintly barred on the fore-neck, breast, and sides, the under tail-coverts distinctly barred. 

Length 4 7/8, extent of wings 6 3/12; bill along the ridge (5 1/2)/12, along the edge 8/12; tarsus 8/12. 

This species is most intimately allied to the House Wren, from which it can hardly be distinguished in description, the colours being nearly the same in both. The present species, however, is considerably larger, wants the light coloured line over the eye which is conspicuous in the House Wren, and has the tail much more graduated. 

ARBUTUS UVA-URSI, Willd. Sp. Pl. vol. ii. p. 618.--DECANDRIA MONOGYNIA, Linn. 

This small creeping plant grows in pine barrens, and in rocky and mountainous places in the Northern and Eastern States. The berries are scarlet, dry and unpalatable.

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